On Wednesday, I made a side comment during the show that while TNG was my home franchise, it was made so by the presence of performers like Michael Dorn.
My biggest issue with TOS (and its reboot movies) was simply that black people were the enemy. In fairness, TNG did have that horrible episode Code of Honor in its first season. *Black man connives and steals white woman. yawn*
To see black protagonists in a scifi show was very satisfying — their race and presence wasn’t the narrative source of tension and more importantly, they weren’t expendable. Now that our Dandiversary celebration has come and gone, I am going to share some of my favourite Star Trek people of colour.
Mr. Dorn’s first television series role was with CHiPs (the Erik Estrada vehicle, pun intended), and he is well-established as a voice actor,
but he is most famous for portraying the Klingon Starfleet officer Lieutenant J.G. Worf (later Lieutenant and then Lt. Commander) in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
The Worf character was well suited to wear many narrative hats – the outsider, the catalyst, the lover, the father, the hero. Unlike Riker, he did not need braggadocio to prove he was masculine. He was the consummate warrior. Worf had a good narrative arc for character development, he challenged the status quo for his Federation friends and helped them grow as well. There was mutual respect between Picard and Worf. He had romantic relations with Troi (TNG) and Jadzia Dax (DS9). He had a son Alexander, for whom he both wanted to lead by example and learn to let have his own path. He stood up for his traditions but did not force them on anyone else. He was an actualized individual, or through the lens of my youthful watching days, a worthy adult figure.
Way back (like back before there were graphic internet browsers), we roleplayed space faring folk using the GURPs ruleset and I made a Worf-esque character. The bat’leth was my weapon of choice and honour was my catch-phrase. Admittedly I acted more Ferengi than Klingon due to desire to WIN AT ANY COST!
For taking us on an interesting journey, my hats off to you Michael Dorn. You made me a merry man. Here is hoping Captain Worf gets made some day.
Postscript: If you’ve kept track, you’ll note that most of the Holodeck Follies show titles are puns on actual Star Trek episodes. Those paying closest attention will note how many are Worf driven episodes.