If you’re not a big fan of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or of Wil Wheaton, you may not have heard about Wil’s latest book series, “Memories of the Future.” Imagine if Television Without Pity recappers had been writing about TNG back in 1987, only with more swearing, more digressions and more geeky in-jokes, plus behind-the-scenes memories for every episode. That’s what Vol. 1 does for the first half of the first season of TNG, from “Encounter at Farpoint” to “Datalore” — it’s just the thing for people who love TNG and snark. I decided to wait to read the book until the accompanying “Memories of the Futurecast” podcast wrapped up on Monday, which means I got to the last page of my paper copy this morning.
In the podcast, Wil talks about how working on Vol. 1 helped him come to terms with (and understand) the world’s hatred of Wesley Crusher. It’s a hatred I never had. I loved Wesley Crusher. When TNG premiered, I was just starting high school, and I was a serious know-it-all. Seeing a kid on TV who was essentially correcting his teachers, doing science projects and being a huge nerd all the time was kind of awesome. And enabling. I’m sure I was as annoying to the adults around me as Wesley was to adults trying to watch TNG.
But in listening to and reading “Memories of the Future,” I found a whole new reason to love Wesley. In episode 12 of “Memories of the Futurecast” (and the corresponding book chapter),Wil talks about how Wesley repairs the malfunctioning holodeck in “The Big Goodbye” with one zap of a magical holodeck fixing thing. In the middle of my morning train commute, I thought, “Ha ha ha, Wesley has a sonic screwdriver.” Then, accompanied by lots of mental capital letters and exclamation points, and possibly even a ZOMG, came the follow-up thought: “Wesley Crusher is a Time Lord!”
Maybe he’s even the Doctor in disguise.
It’s not just because Wesley transcends the bounds of space and time with the Traveler near the end of the series, although that’s the most obvious parallel between Wesley and the Doctor. If you’re a fan of “Doctor Who,” you know that the Doctor has a tendency to show up, tell people what to do and save the day, sort of like when Wesley walks onto the bridge, ignores all Star Fleet protocol and starts giving people orders. And while Wesley winds up banished from the bridge for his behavior, the Doctor winds up banished from such astute venues as the entire British Empire under Queen Victoria. And, as my astute friend Jack pointed out, Wesley shows up just in time for the wedding of Troi and Riker in “Nemesis,” just like the Doctor showed up just in time for the wedding of Sarah Jane Smith in “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” (Edit: And their wardrobes! Sure, Doctors nine through 11 are really understated, but the clothes on Doctors three through six could have given Wesley’s sweaters a run for their money.)
But the magical zapping fixing tools, which make plenty of other appearances in the series — those are what really seal the deal.
And I wonder — why is it that the Doctor gets to be a bossy know-it-all, but there was never a Usenet group called alt.the.doctor.die.die.die?