Wil Wheaton is on our show this week, and it is in that regard I thought I would comment on what I thought about his most famous character Wesley Crusher from STAR TREK: The Next Generation. Wil has done a lot of other things besides Next Gen, but his portrayal of Crusher is the one role he will always be remembered first for in the minds of scifi fans everywhere.
My commentary on Crusher came as a result of a response I made on a TU Forum discussion about Wesley Crusher. The forum thread-topic was created by someone obviously not a fan of the character, so I felt that perhaps a view from someone slightly older than most in that thread might benefit the reader — then again, maybe not.
First let me clarify that even though I am one of the producers of the Slice of SciFi podcast and XM broadcast and work closely with all the on-air personalities on the show, I have never had the personal privilege of meeting Wil Wheaton in the flesh. However, I would love to do so as I find him very affable in his interviews, an extremely knowledgable geek, and what’s more, I simply like his attitude about things, or as my generation would say, “I like the cut of his jib.”
Now to my take on his most famous character, Wesley Crusher:
Wesley Crusher was a well written character within the Star Trek franchise. Even believable, if you take into account the century being portrayed. For example, when my generation were teenagers we were on a completely different level technologically than our parents were. We had the new transistor technology that began doing away with big bulky tube-radios, color on tv, though rare to find, was just coming into its own and the dashboard pushbutton clutch was quickly being replaced by this neat on the steering-wheel thingy called automatic transmission.
Now let’s move that up to my kid’s generation, then my grandkid’s…. you can see what I am getting at. My grand kid’s gen. is so far ahead of my generation on the technology scale it is remarkable.
However, all that being said, they are still teenagers, dealing with the changes that occur in their minds, emotions and especially those harmones.
That is what I liked about Wesley Crusher. We have in his character a highly intellectual teenager that can talk about and understand quantum physics the same way my generation amazed our parents when we talked about our new small hand-held transistor radios, while at the same time, seeing this young man go through the same pangs and confusion that every teenager has gone through regardless of the era they lived in. Adolescence is the one constant in the universe that does not change regardless of the technological level of a society. Roddenberry, and later Berman was able to aptly portray that angst and wonder through the eyes of Wesley Crusher. Not an easy thing to do on camera, but Wheaton did it almost perfectly.
So, if Wes made you cringe at times…. bravo! That is exactly what teenagers have been doing since Adam looked at Cain and Abel and asked Eve, “What the hell were we thinking?”