Walk into a geek bar, scream “Kirk/Picard is better than Kirk/Picard!” and you will have a riot like Tiananmen Square. Ever since Jean-Luc took command of the NCC-1701-D, geeks all around have asked the now-timeless question: which is better, Kirk or Picard? Wherever you go, there will be some heated discussion and passion revolving around this subject, so be careful what you say! Here, I’ll analyze each one and give you my opinion on the matter at the very end.
So, without any further ado…
Captain James Tiberius Kirk: The Original
Captain Jim first appeared in the original Star Trek on September 8, 1966. He boldly went where no man had gone before, splitting his infinitives like the badass iconoclast he was. Always making contact with new life, battling Klingons, and screwing around with Mr. Spock and “Bones,” (We believe Uhura was in there sometimes. Take that as you wish!), Cap’n Kirk was the first Star Trek captain ever, and set a very high standard and precedent. With no similar series at the time, Kirk was the first, both in space and on American television and, like all men, he had his ups and he had his downs. First, let’s go over the ups.
Being first is definitely a major plus. Kirk had nearly no competitors, so life was good and William Shatner gave everyone the first drawing of a captain on the clean Star Trek slate. In reality, this aspect of Kirk gives him many advantages. He is the one to set the tone for Star Fleet behavior and customs. Kirk introduced us to phasers and those awesome hissing doors. But one thing not many people think about it how much of a pioneering series Shatner starred in. His character, Kirk, actually gave the Civil Rights-era viewers hope of a brighter future where everyone could intermingle, no matter what color you are or how many fingers you had. So, for being the very first and offering hope in a dark time, Kirk wins a point.
Nevertheless, here’s the bad. Kirk is an anxious bastard, isn’t he? More than once, he simply plods on with his own agenda and violates directives here and there, as he pleases – more than once, Mr. Spock forces him to eat his own words. And, let’s face it, in his earlier days, Shatner was a hack actor who always paused in his sentences and never really seemed in the role; if you go watch an original series episode right now, you’ll see it. But, moving right along…
Engage! Jean-Luc Picard
Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard had some of the biggest shoes to fill when he first stepped on the bridge of his version of the Enterprise on September 28, 1987. Picard brought a new style and shine (yes, I am referring to his lack of hair) to Starfleet and audiences. With a completely new cast of characters and almost completely different plot and feel, Star Trek: The Next Generation was at the make or break point. It made it, with four more seasons than the original series and nearly more than twice the episodes.
Now, Captain Picard has some obvious advantages. First, look at the man who played him. Patrick Stewart is a damn good actor with a background in Shakespeare. His smooth deliveries and subtle emphases and intonations speak more than any catch phrase ever could. As well as the acting, the command style of Picard differs greatly than that of Kirk. In most episodes of The Next Generation, there is a conference of sorts with all the senior officers present and contributing – where is that in the original series? Picard took the time to listen to the opinions of everyone and, usually, he makes some good choices. Jean-Luc was nowhere near as pig-headed as Kirk was.
There is some bad to go with Picard, also. Namely, his series can never reach the status of “first” and there will always be the die hard fan boys who, no matter what captain they like better, will believe the original was the best (in some ways, they are right). In addition, Picard is not as good looking as Kirk was. I mean, come on: he’s baldino. But most of all, the groundbreaking stuff that the original series (and by association, Kirk) possessed just does not appear in The Next Generation. It was not the first, nor can it ever be.
So, who’s best?
For me, I say Picard, and I’ll say why. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is just a better captain and character all around. He has some grey and he is not just this wild man that does what his heart desires, like Kirk. Picard feels out most situations and makes solid decisions based on right, wrong, and the Starfleet code. Jean-Luc has better relationships with his shipmates and, let’s face it, he has some pretty cool catchphrases such as “Make it so,” and “Engage!” jump to the front of my mind.
Oh, one more thing: that move he does to get rid of the wrinkles in his shirt after standing up? You know, that whole pull-the-uniform-down maneuver? That has helped my appearance so much. Picard, you win. Hands down.Pick Your Side: Kirk or Picard?,