I don’t know much about brain scans…

Each entry in Memories of the Future is broken up into sections: the synopsis, some quotable dialog, the obligatory technobabble, a behind the scenes memory, the bottom line, and a final grade.

I'm striving to strike just the right balance among the main sections, and working very hard to be humors, reflective, and insightful in the appropriate places. I'm done with the synopses (the largest part of the book) and today and tomorrow I'm working on the behind the scenes and bottom line sections.

I've worked my way up to The Battle today, and I wanted to share its Behind The Scenes part:

I haven’t watched this episode in over a decade, but it’s probably one of the most important for me to see, because it clearly illustrates exactly why Wesley Crusher went from mildly annoying to vehemently hated character so quickly: First of all, acting ensign or not, having Wesley rush into the middle of the bridge and effectively tell Riker, “Hey, I figured this out before you all did because I’m so fucking smart” is quite possibly the worst way to help the audience accept that this kid is going to be part of the main crew. Having Wesley interrupt the ship’s first officer and then ignore the chain of command to tell another senior officer what to do is equally brilliant. Then the writers go for the win and have Wesley spout off some technobabble about being in Engineering and “playing around with boosting sensor output,” because everyone knows that “playing around” with something as important as the long range sensors is always a good idea.

Look, introducing Wesley – a teenager – as part of the main crew is like introducing a new product that consumers may not like. How the new product is framed and presented is incredibly important, because they must be convinced that the new product doesn’t threaten the things they are used to and love. I don’t think it is possible for the writers to have failed more spectacularly on any of those points than they did in this episode. We only get one chance to make a first impression, and what’s the first impression of Wesley as Acting Ensign Crusher? He “plays around” with things that are vital to the safety and operation of the ship, which implies a lack of respect for them. He barges onto the bridge, where Picard has made it very clear until the previous episode that he’s unwelcome, which implies a lack of respect for Picard. He interrupts and then ignores Riker, and breaks the chain of command to tell Geordi what to do.

Because that’s not bad enough, Wesley comes in at a crucial point in the third act, points out that he “glanced” at some brain scans which he doesn’t “really know anything about,” and magically deduced exactly what their origin is. To complete Wesley’s perfectly brilliant introduction to the audience, they actually have him make a snarky comment to himself after Troi and Dr. Crusher have left the scene. When they get back to the bridge, Troi – who is supposed to be an intelligent, qualified Starfleet officer – doesn’t even know what Wesley was talking about! Gosh, writers, what’s not to like?

The damage is done and it’s irreparable; we’ve made our first impression on an already skeptical audience (who, don’t forget, have had to endure some truly atrocious episodes) and we can’t ever take it back. After watching this episode, I finally understand – no, I grok – exactly why so many people hated Wesley so much. Hell, I played him for seven years and probably have more invested in him than anyone else in the world, and even I hated him while I watched this episode.

And, totally unrelated, in case you missed these two things on Twitter:

Me: OMG I'm trying to work, and the dogs are driving me nuts. Anne: With a little ship's wheel?

RT @AHGreenwood "…sometimes the best thing about following @wilw is Anne." It's also the best thing about BEING @wilw. :)

Anne and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in November. That's awesome.

67 thoughts on “I don’t know much about brain scans…”

  1. heh. I agree with @AHGreenwood. I always get a kick out of tweeted dialogue between you and Anne. Congratulations on 10!!!!!!!
    I actually dont remember “The Battle”. Guess I need to play catch up.
    Congrats again!

  2. Possibly the reason I never disliked Wesley is that I didn’t see that episode as my first exposure to the character. For some reason I missed that particular one in its first run.

  3. Just for the record – I never disliked Wesley. I may have been “slightly” biased by my intense <3 though!! haha
    I’ve tweeted this at you, but just to sort of RT myself: I adore you and Anne! 10 years is awesome! Big congrats and mega ((HUGS)) to you both!

  4. I enjoyed this entry. I found Wesley Crusher annoying as well, but I also thought that was his character. He was the annoying, know-it-all, awkward teenage son of a star fleet member. That’s why I liked your character. Oh, I too enjoy your tweets with Anne-mentions. I loved the one about you both wearing red shirts and her saying “it’s a good thing we’re not going to the same planet.” lol. Congratulations on 10 years of marriage. I wish y’all many more.

  5. The only reason I didn’t like Wesley Crusher is because I wanted to be him! I was so frakking jealous!!!
    Are you sure that’s a behind-the-scenes memory? Sounds more like philosophizing and reflection to me… not that I mind!
    Also, Anne is so completely perfect for you; it makes me smile every time you tweet about her.

  6. “Look, introducing Wesley – a teenager – as part of the main crew is like introducing a new product that consumers may not like.”
    So…Wesley was like the New Coke of ST:TNG? =D I always liked him; but that’s probably because I was a kid, watching another “kid” on a grown up show.

  7. I don’t get why everyone hated Wesley either, but I was a young girl while watching TNG and thought Wesley was brilliant. I was so jealous that someone sorta close to my age was on the BRIDGE of the ENTERPRISE. How cool is THAT!! Also, congrats on the 10-year wedding anniversary. It always gives me a good feeling when people are still in love after years of marriage.

  8. …I cant wait for this book. It looks like its going to be just as good as your other works sir. *gets clicking finger and credit card ready to order*

  9. Not having watched too many TNG episodes, every time I encountered an episode with Wesley, in contrast, I’ve always sympathized with him.
    I would feel so bad for him that Picard didn’t respect him just because he was a teenager. I remember wishing Wesley Crusher would finally get the chance to redeem himself on The Enterprise sometime in the series and be an important part of the crew/cast.
    Anyway…Congrats as well on reaching 10 years marriage :)

  10. Wesley usually playing right into my massive teenage ego.
    Watching it today I am annoyed at the writers, more than the character.
    Imagine how much better “Justice” would have seemed had Wesley, when asked if it was appropriate to get an adult hug, had responded, “I want to be treated like an adult.”
    Then he trips into some flowers while acting like a child. The law could have been written to excuse children, but Wesley had already claimed adulthood.

  11. I liked Wesley Crusher. But then again I was a kinda geeky teenage girl at the time and really wanted to be that one alien chick who had to unite her planet. I just spent 10 minutes trying to find out that character’s name. I stopped when I found Star Trek fanfic porn. Gah!

  12. Okay, I know I am definitely in the minority here, (okay, maybe not HERE, exactly,) but what I really hated was the horribly cliched, badly-written, melodramtically patronizing way the adults related to Wesley in the first few seasons. For me, all the icky stuff came from those characters, not from Wesley.

  13. Damn, Wil, you really have to let this ire for Wesley go, man. It was 20 something years ago! The writers were dicks, and it’s not as if you can go back in time and magically get a “do over” about it, so why waste your energy on shit you had absolutely no control over whatsoever? You have to remember that you were a teenager at the time and the adults in charge of Wesley’s character development obviously weren’t interested in your input about how he was written at the time.
    For the record, I remember being mildly amused whenever Wes would outsmart the old farts on the bridge crew. I was a teenager, too, so dorkiness aside, if he challenged their authority, I was all for it. I did a whole lot of that myself at that age. I went to Catholic school, so if anything, I could totally relate with Wesley as far as challenging authority and being taken seriously was concerned. In my mind, I was stuck smack dead in the middle of the Borg hive and absolutely refused to believe that resistance was futile. I spent a lot of time in detention because of that mind-set, consequently. And no, I don’t have any regrets about asserting myself. At all.
    Yeah, yeah, I remember my mostly guy friends who totally worshiped Worf making comments about Wesley being the show’s walking, talking, incessantly annoying Deus ex machina device in a lot of episodes, but for Christ’s sakes, he was a fictional character on a TV show, that was hardly a reason to hate you personally. I honestly think they were just jealous that they weren’t as smart as Wesley and that a lot of chicks our age had crushes on both him and you.
    As for you and Anne, you guys really do seem to compliment each other quite well. I think it’s so cute that after almost ten years of marriage that you obviously adore each other and the kids. Out of all of the narratives that you blog about, the ones about how you and your family interact with one another are always a treat for me to read, personally. Congrats, man. You truly hit the jackpot when you came into one another’s lives. Be happy about that. Make it so.

  14. I wish there was a word to express how much I am looking forward to the release of the this book. So, I am stuck with saying I am SO looking forward to the release of this book. :)
    Edit: Apparently, I am so stoked, I can’t even remember proper sentence construction.

  15. I positively loved Wesley, because at the time, I *was* Wesley. Today, I have the same understanding of why people hated Wesley so much… except it’s about why people hated ME so much.
    Probably has something to do with vehicle Voltron. ;P

  16. Heck I loved Wesley Crusher. Your the whole reason I started watching Star Trek. I know you’ve heard that so many times before. I’m actually collecting every movie you have been in and I have almost 20. I’ll post a pic of them on the flickr thing with your book and with all the magazines I have with you on the cover. You know, I don’t remember seeing The Battle. I’ll have to though. And dang, 10 years. Even though it still tortures me, I’m very happy for you. Have you heard the song “Right Down The Line” by Gerry Rafferty or “Heaven” by Bryan Adams? They are wonderful songs for happy couples. Horrible songs for people like me though. They’re 2 of my favorite songs though. If you haven’t heard them or don’t remember I suggest listening to them. OH YEAH. I’m buying 2 pin-ups of you. I’m super excited. Here’s a link to the 1st one http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/9323/19390683944499576.jpg and here’s the other one http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/3262/193907997599960946.jpg I love them both. You can STILL see the freckle on your lip in the 2nd one!! =] Like I said, congrats. Can’t wait until the book is done.

  17. Hahahaha! I just totally flashed back to High School when I clicked on those links because I remember seeing those pictures in random lockers all over my school. I was one out of only two girls who would actually own up to being a Next Gen fan, though. At least in the crowd that I ran with most of the time. It’s safe to say that my mostly guy friends who totally worshiped Worf didn’t have any pinups of Wil in their lockers, they all had Worf, obviously. Me and the one other girl who copped to being Next Gen fans had Riker and Data in our lockers. Is it weird that I had a crush on the android? Yeah, about as weird as having a total crush on “the same age as my Dad” Patrick Stewart. I would have never put him in my locker just for the sheer creepiness factor, but I loved the crap out of the bald guy. lol

  18. I get a burst of happiness every time you write about something awesome Anne does or says. You two seem just perfect together and it has been lovely and inspiring to have read about the awesome lives you have together for so many years and know that the awesome just keeps going.
    I guess all the characters in the first season were products to be sold on. They were new and strange to the existing Star Trek audience. For me, though, I just accepted the crew was the crew. TNG was my first Trek so I didn’t need to be sold on Wesley any more than I needed to be sold on Worf – all characters just existed as equally valuable to the show to me. Personally, while I see how Wesley is annoying sometimes now that I’m older I still think people were just being mean and petty about hating Wesley. The whole “the character was named for Gene Roddenberry and was created a little in his image” thing absolved Wesley of his bad writing at the hands of the early writers in my opinion. Also, how many of us Trek fans *weren’t* socially awkward, geeky, “we don’t quite get what’s appropriate behavior sometimes” teens? Geeky kid bonding should have bought Wesley more supporters.
    I cannot wait to read this book.
    Cheers!
    P.S. If anyone wants to read really good Wesley stories look to the TNG novels. It was a TNG novel by Peter David with a Wesley subplot that got me into Star Trek in the first place. Authors who decide to incorporate Wesley into their TNG novels as a main character for the novel (main or subplot) usually tend to actually have an ear for the character and seem invested in making him valuable and someone you finish the book caring for. If Mr. David hadn’t written Wesley so well I probably would not have become a Trek or Wil fan. And that would have been sad.

  19. Note to self: While the word “AWESOME” routinely applies to all things Wil & Anne perhaps three times in two sentences was a bit much. Time for a thesaurus? Bah, no way.

  20. Word. I used to (okay, still) get really upset when no one listened to or respected Wesley’s opinion. Yes, Wesley barged in somewhat inappropriately and often told everyone what to do – but he’s a genius and only 16 and doesn’t have the life experience to know how to not come across that way. What I hated and hate today is how, especially in the first season, the adults give him authority as an acting ensign and then cut him down repeatedly (“Shut up, Wesley.”). No wonder the adult audience at the time didn’t respect Wesley – the adults on the Enterprise had a hard time with it.

  21. Which novel are you referring to? I’ve got several of Peter David’s TNG novels, like Q-Squared, and Imzadi, but I’m drawing a blank on one with a Wesley sub-plot. I’d like to read it (or reread it), if you remember the title.
    And just to add my two cents, I never minded Wesley, either. I didn’t find his character any more annoying than I remembered myself being as a smart-ass teenager, so I could kind of relate. I was more pissed at the grownups for not understanding what he was going through.
    I mean, he saved the ship every other week, and they just treated him like a kid. And he only got one episode with Ashley Judd – how unfair is that???

  22. I totally agree about Peter David’s Trek novels. My absolute favorite one out of all of them is Q-Squared. I think I’ve read that book at least a dozen times in the course of the past 15 years. I enjoyed that book so much because of how it tied in with Trelane from TOS being a part of the Q Continuum and how all of the different parallel universes started to collide with one another. Now I want to go through my book collection and start reading it again. It’s been a few years, so why the hell not? It will probably quiet the “I want Wheaton’s new book, now!” voice for a couple of days at least.

  23. HA! That’s hilarious! Yeah like I’ve had to say on here before I’m a youngin and The Next Generation ended a year before I was born. So I’m the only person out of ALL of my friends that like Star Trek. I’m so different from them.. that’s why I’m always online so I can talk to people who share the same interests as I do! lol. Which they’re all in there 20′s or 30′s. =] Yeah you know I’ve never thought Patrick was a bad looking guy nor did I think the android or Riker were bad looking. They’re all cute to me:) Patrick is old enough to be my grandpa! Haha I have the same dilemma with Wil since he’s old enough to be my dad lol. It’s all good though, it’s all good. Who gives a crap. =}

  24. Oh, wow. You’re about the same age as my youngest niece, who just turned 15 a few months ago and totally thinks I’m lame for loving Star Trek, so I can only imagine what you must go through in your own peer group. Those of us in our 30′s thought we had it bad as Trekkie geek teenagers. I applaud your enthusiasm so much now that I know how young you are. Which BTW, means that you’re around the same age as some of my former students, which is so completely cool that you love TNG so much, at least IMO.
    Wait a second…if Wil’s old enough to be your Dad, that makes *me* old enough to be your Mom! I never had any kids of my own, but if I did, I know that I would definitely want them to be Star Trek fans. There is hope for the future yet, and you’re living proof of that, most definitely. That is totally awesome! Keep being yourself, sweetie, you are definitely cool enough to be considered a geek. That’s a good thing. -)

  25. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary. The ZenHusband and I will have ours just a few months after. People tell us we’re a perfect match because we balance each other. He zigs where I zag and we fit together juuust right.
    I see that in you and Anne, too. You complement each other so well. And you are obviously still madly in love with her. Which is no surprise, since she sounds like a smart, funny, positive, loving person.
    I’ve said this before, but it’s always lovely to read the little bits you share about your relationships with Anne and your boys. So, thanks and congrats to you both! :)

  26. Yeah — Wesley was like Lassie. The entire audience, including household pets, knew that Wesley was right, but we had to suffer through “What does he know?”

  27. Not sure if the writers intended or not, but having had some experience with teenagers whose brain was ahead of their social skills-
    It’s down right exciting when you “play with something” a minute and figure out something the adults didn’t see. And you want to show them, “hey look!, hey look!”
    And in hindsight, oh hell yeah- bad form! What a way to come off like some smart-ass brat!
    But again, he was a fourteen year-old wunderkind. The character came off as naive, smart, and socially hopeless. I think you and the writers nailed him, intentional or no.
    On the other hand, I just saw a movie where an inexperienced undergraduate, on disciplinary probation, was promoted to captain of a bazillion dollar federation flagship. And I was oddly OK with that, so maybe I should keep my opinions quiet.
    =)

  28. For me, watching TNG as a teenager Wesley was actually one of my least favourite crew members. This was a bit odd because as a geeky teen myself it should have been a natural fit. I think stuff like barging onto the bridge and upstaging the adults was what stopped me from warming to the character. If the writers had made Wesley a bit more unsure & self-conscious around the adults it would have ameliorated his ‘boy-genius’ aspects.
    Congrats on the upcoming anniversary!

  29. I’m really trying to not buy more books, and dammit, you’re not making it easy, Wheaton!
    I always appreciated that Wesley acted like a dumb kid sometimes. I mean, if they weren’t going to have him be as messed-up as most teenagers are, what would have been the point of having him BE a teenager?

  30. I found myself getting embarrassed for Wesley a lot throughout the series, from the second he first popped his head into the bridge and Picard said “I knew your father, Wesley” and he just kind of looks at Picard like “uhhhhhh….okay.”
    He was an endearing little spirit, though.
    Yeah, that’s it.

  31. Parallel universes colliding… Q… Gods, now I want to re-read the X-Men/Star Trek crossover comics!
    “Dr. McCoy!”
    “Yes?” (in stereo) :D

  32. See, this is where I prove myself the odd woman out again. The Battle is actually the first ep of TNG I ever watched and it’s the reason I became a fan and eventually converted whole heartedly into a card carrying geek. Of course, it helps that I was a 13 year old girl who started watching strictly to see the cute teenage boy in the funky uniform and then eventually got hooked on the rest of the show itself. But that’s another story. ;)

  33. I honestly think the “hatred” thing is to some extent, age related. I was born in Feb of ’72 and for me Wesley Crusher represented the fantasy of being on a starship at my age.
    He was someone I could relate to (yes, even the storming of the bridge). I was going through a hard time with my parents divorce and was raised in a single family home. I rebelled at school in my junior years and gave the teachers a hard time. I certainly wouldn’t have thought twice about barging in to the principal’s office if I *knew* I was right about something.
    Wesley was also raised in a single family home and even though you describe it as stupid Wil, I could relate to him storming on the bridge…I *would* have done that were I in his position.
    Many of my friends also related to Wesley on this level. Sorry, just couldn’t let you off that easily and let the debate die! :)

  34. My father is an old-school Trekker and he wouldn’t let me watch Next Gen until I had seen all of the original series – a feat which I did not accomplish until the third season of NG had already started. Plus I was pretty young (born in 85, and yes, my dad made me watch the original series when I was a toddler), so I probably didn’t approach it the way an adult viewer would.
    As a result, I honestly had no idea why people thought Wesley was annoying. It was only when I was in college watching reruns on Spike that I started to understand, and by then I was already a fan of Wil, and far enough along in my writing courses that I could spot a bad writing job a mile away.
    So chalk me up as one of the people who never hated Wesley Crusher. Never had a reason to.

  35. TNG #5 Strike Zone. It’s been a few years since reading it but the Wesley plot follows his attempts to find a cure for a friend’s terminal illness. He really gets caught up in the whole, “I’m Wesley Farking Crusher! I can do anything, right? I mean, everyone knows and expects me to be a wunderkid, right? I’ll save the day like I always do!” thing. Wesley goes a little manic about the whole thing – not sleeping, moving equipment into his quarters, etc. But his friend dies anyway and Wesley never finds a cure. But his crashing and burning is not done to break the character – it’s done to show that Wesley grows through learning limitations. I got a great sense of who Wesley was, what he cared about, what he saw as his mission in life and how much he cared for people from the book. And as a kid I really related to the whole, “You’re smart and different than the other kids – we expect more from you.” thing.
    It might not be as earth-shattering today as it was to me then, but it’s a good book.

  36. As a former child prodigy, I thought Wesley was very believable. I was frankly surprised when I discovered that is character elicited such ire. It makes me wonder if maybe I was the target of such anger as a child. I am so glad I did not know about it if it was in fact happening.
    I can only imagine how that must have felt for you at that age, just playing a prodigy on TV … wow!
    Katrina Messenger

  37. I think there’s a lot to be said about the strength of Chris Pine as an actor who clearly has a lot of experience and a good director, versus my inexperience as an actor when I was 14, too.

  38. I don’t remember much that’s specific about this particular director on this specific episode, but I know that – at least in 1987 on TNG – there was a fundamental difference between a director who worked in television and one who worked in film: film directors have more of it, and they can invest it into helping actors find their performance if the actor isn’t completely “there” yet.
    I go into this in greater detail in the book, but I can see a HUGE difference in my performances as a kid when I had a director who helped me find the best performance, and when I was left to my own devices. It makes sense: a 14 year-old kid doesn’t have the life experience and intellect necessary to find nuance in performance, so it’s left to the director to point that kid in the right direction, and it’s up to the kid to follow the direction.
    I could always follow direction, but if it wasn’t given to me, I was pretty rudderless and always made weak, obvious choices.

  39. OMG!Yes, you guys rock. Peter David and Michael Jan Friedman are great Trek novelists. Add to that Diane Duane and David Mack and you’ve got way more going on with this franchise than the show. That said, do you think we who refuse to participate in Wesley hating do so because we were reading along with watching?
    My senior year of highschool brought me into a circle of friends who met every Sat night. First we watched Simpsons and then ST:TNG. The only reason we did was because I couldn’t concentrate on Euchre (Epic Fail is an understatement)cause I was watching the show. So they started watching me watch TNG… and getting really angry on behalf of my “Space friends”. And I would find myself assuming Data’s tutorial manner, explaining why the antagonist was do damnably antogonizing.
    I think we were the kind of fan who could use memory/imagination to fill in where the writing was weaker and thus were less apt to see the plotholes. At least that’s what I think. I could be wrong.
    Having said that though, #48 Kobyashi Maru (OS) was an entertaining read. Kirk’s cheating made me absolutely have Kirk hate the way that others have Wesley hate. Thus, I find I surprised myself in being disappointed to see newKirk not cheat the way #48 wrote it. And for someone who didn’t follow the franchise Abrams seems to have been rather omniscient in this presentation. Someone was in charge of continnuity… I just know it.
    Congrats on the ten years.
    And since we all love Anne, why not let her guest write when your deadlines prevent you from frequently posting? Unless she is shy or something. Or you’re afraid of what she’d say about you;)

  40. Anne is not the ONLY reason I follow you on Twitter. There’s all the other comedy. (Did I just say your entire life was worthy of being turned into a sitcom? Uh oh…)
    And I never *hated* Wesley… I can blame that on missing about 1/2 of the first season due to scheduling conflicts. (My local station kept putting the show up against other shows I watched at the time, or when I was not home.) It might also be that I was 14 in 1991, and I hated about 80% of the Earth’s population, and he never rose above the simmering hate I had.
    That was a bit incoherent and rambly, wasn’t it?

  41. I have a fairly large collection of Trek novels, and that was probably one of the only thing that separated me from my other Trek friends, because I’ve always been a bookworm. They made fun of me mercilessly for always having my nose in some book, even Trek novels. There used to be this awesome independent book store in my neighborhood when I was growing up that I would go to and just stock up on anything Star Trek related that I could find. They also sold comic books, trading cards and Star Trek magazines (which I totally desecrated by ripping out the pages to display in my locker or the Star Trek section on my bedroom wall, in hindsight I really wish I hadn’t done that because they’re probably collectors items now), too.
    I remember Anne posting on the blog once in a while a few years back, I believe that it was filed under “Comments from th Wife” or something to that effect. She’s a total sweetheart, too, and always spoke very highly of Wil, sometimes to the point of embarrassing him, I think, because he would would regularly come back and edit her posts with his own notes in italics in brackets. I always found those entries to be so awesomely cute because it was almost like they behaved like teenagers in total love with one another. Which they did, really. And still do, obviously. The red shirt tweet from was so damn cute I actually audibly said “Awwwwww!” after reading it. I miss the Comments from the Wife stuff, Anne is totally awesome!

  42. Oh, me too! Because he wrote quite a few books that were novelezations of actual episodes, with a more in depth perspective, of course. I’m so glad that you brought this subject up because I had almost forgotten that I’m sitting on a virtual gold mine of Star Trek novels that will probably tide me over until Wil’s new book comes out. Not that I’m not practically dying in anticipation of that particular release, but it’ll definitely keep that voice quiet for a while…

  43. I’ve decided that I’m not particularly fond of this Google Chrome browser because I’m finding typos in almost every single comment I’ve written since yesterday. Again, the edit function on here is not my friend in regards to how quickly it expires…

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