“People always ask who’s my favorite captain, and I say Picard because if I’m on his ship, I’ll probably survive,” Roddenberry told IndieWire. “I think the first Enterprise would’ve been blown away a long time ago. But [the Prime Directive] was for the most part always there, that they shouldn’t interfere. Although, they always did.”
Roddenberry also weighed in on five of his favorite episodes of “Star Trek.” Check out his picks and clips of each below:
“City on the Edge of Forever”
From “Star Trek: TOS,” Season 1, Episode 28
Premise: Bones somehow goes back in time to the 1930s, where he alters the timeline so that the Federation never exists. Kirk and Spock go back to fix events (and look dashing in period clothes) so that the timeline reverts, but in doing so make a huge sacrifice. Joan Collins guest stars.
Roddenberry’s Comments: “It’s a classic and everyone loves it, for good reason. The best thing about is the fact it’s not even a science fiction show. It’s drama. They’re on a planet, on Earth, back in time.”
“The Devil in the Dark”
From “Star Trek: TOS,” Season 1, Episode 26
Premise: The crew responds to a distress call from a mining planet that has had a mysterious creature kill off its people. Mysterious silicon spheres are littered everywhere. Upon further investigation and a Spock mind meld with the creature, he discovers that they are the Horta, a race that means no harm but is trying not to go instinct. The spheres are numerous Horta eggs ready to hatch if the conditions are right.
Roddenberry’s Comments: “That’s the first time I actually saw a ‘Star Trek’ or even really a TV show that had depth in its characters. The good guy wasn’t necessarily the good guy, and the bad guy wasn’t necessarily the bad guy. The rock monster, the Horta, was simply a mother protecting its young, and we were the ones killing its young. We were the bad guys. So when that hit me, I was like, ‘Wow.’ I didn’t know television could do this.”
“The Measure of a Man”
From “Star Trek: TNG,” Season 2, Episode 9
Premise: Under threat of Data being dismantled by a cyberneticist, Picard must prove that the android is a sentient being, with the full freedoms and rights under Federation law. Unfortunately, Riker has been assigned to prove that Data is merely in a machine.
Roddenberry’s Comments: “I’m a ‘Next Gen’ kid, that’s why I love the Data episodes. When Data’s on trial, it certainly is one of my favorites.”
“Elementary, Dear Data”
From “Star Trek: TNG,” Season 2, Episode 3
Premise: After Data proves that he can solve problems like Sherlock Holmes can, Geordi creates a Holodeck character who can outsmart Data. The only problem is that Data is a sentient android, and therefore the holographic character James Moriarty also has sentience. Picard must decide what to do with Moriarty, who asks to exist in the real world. (Moriarty also appears in the episode “Ship in a Bottle.”)
Roddenberry’s Comments: “The episodes with Moriarty, that is great. The ones that have to do with the Holodeck, that question: ‘Are these sentient beings in the Holodeck? Has the computer created life? Moriarty got the ability to understand his own existence, so therefore, was he alive?’ I love those episodes. That kind of dove into that question.
“The Nth Degree”
From “Star Trek: TNG,” Season 4, Episode 19
Premise: When the usually meek and bumbling Lt. Barclay gets hit by a flash from a Cytherian probe, he suddenly transforms into a confident guy whose intellect and creativity are off the charts. During an emergency, he hooks himself up to the ship itself, locking out Picard and everyone from the bridge.
Roddenberry’s Comments: “I just saw one again with Barclay, where his mind expanded and they hooked him up to the computer and was able to control the ship. And it was another alien’s way of bringing them to their galaxy. I love those ones that really go — I’m going to be cheesy — ‘where no one has gone before.’”