Over the weekend, Star Trek: The Next Generation actors Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby, and Jonathan Frakes participated in a GalaxyCon virtual panel. As usual, the former co-stars showed off their chemistry and friendship with an entertaining chat, and also as usual, Marina Sirtis showed off her absolute candor. One instance of this regarded how TNG treated her character of Troi and other female characters.
Sirtis wishes she had offered writers suggestions for Troi
When discussing what kind of input they had on their characters, Frakes talked about bringing a love of jazz and his ability to play the trombone to Riker, and Denise Crosby talked about how she’s the one who pitched the creation of Sela, daughter of her original character Tasha Yar. Marina Sirtis jumped in to say she lamented not trying to inject more into her character, who she felt needed more development:
No [I didn’t suggest anything for Troi], they weren’t interested. I used to say to them, “What does Troi do in her spare time, apart from working out?” What does she do? What does she like? We know nothing about her. And they’d say to me, “What do you want to do?” And I would be like, “You’re the writer, come up with something!” Which is the lesson I learned on Star Trek. When they’re writing for seven characters and a bunch of guest stars every week, they welcome input from their regulars. Because they’ve just got so much to think about. So when they said that to me, I should have come up with something. If I ever get another series, I have learned my lesson. I will put my thinking cap on and help the writers, because they are just so swamped. 26 shows a year with 10 actors every week. It’s a lot of people.
Issues with writers not developing more female relationships
Crosby added to Sirtis’ lament, reminding her of a scene they both read during their audition process which showed an entire storyline that was never used for their characters:
There was a scene for [Marina’s and my] auditions that was a great scene that was never shot. It was a beautiful scene where [Troi] is Tasha’s friend, but also her therapist. And Tasha’s really struggling with feeling worthy, that she has a place on the ship. And she was idolizing – too much – Captain Picard… And [Troi] was like, “Take it down a notch, you are fine.” You got here on your own skills and talent. You very much deserve to be here. You need to have fun. Go to the holodeck, go out and have a drink. Get laid, practically. It was that kind of scene. It was just a really beautiful friendship. I never understood why that wasn’t a piece of the show. It not only showed what Counsellor Troi was about, her skill and why she was there, but also this side of Tasha which is very insecure and vulnerable.
All of this had Sirtis point at the lack of gender diversity in the TNG writers’ room:
We didn’t have a lot of just female [scenes], with women relating to each other. And that was probably because until Jeri [Taylor] came along… all the writers were men, apart from the occasional Melinda Snodgrass episode. So they didn’t write women’s relationships. It was sad, because women have more interesting relationships, I think, because we open up much more than man do.
Praise for series finale (mostly)
Sirtis did offer praise when asked for her thoughts on the script for the series finale “All Good Things,” contrasting it favorably with the script for the series premiere:
That was so good. That was good. That was [as different as] chalk and cheese from “Encounter at Farpoint,” so we say. That whole last episode was just so emotional, it’s just so emotional. Even though we knew in a week we were going to be starting work on [Star Trek:] Generations. It had everything, that episode. We actually shot the poker scene – it was the last thing and we shot it last – and we just fell apart at the end. Of course Michael Dorn who had been saying, “I can’t wait for the show to be over, I can’t stand this bloody makeup.” But as soon as they say that’s a wrap guys on TNG, he started blubbering like a baby and cried so hard his nose fell off. It just came right off. It was so special, wasn’t it Johnny? We just sat there holding hands. We didn’t move. We just sat there.
But after Denise began talking about returning for the finale, Sirits jumped back in with one nitpick for the finale:
I was dead in the future in “All Good Things,” wasn’t I? Well, that was bloody rubbish. I just remembered. [laughs]