Julia Houston - Riker: The Ambitious Son

By Amy
November 8, 2000 - 5:05 AM

"Of all the ranks and positions on the new Enterprise, [Riker] suffered the most from the TOS legacy" writes Julia Houston in this week's feature column, 'Riker: The Ambitious Son'. In it the About.com Star Trek guide takes a detailed look at the Next Generation's womanizing first officer and his struggle to prove himself throughout the series.

The original conception of Riker's character was somewhat shortsighted, and, of all the ranks and positions on the new Enterprise, suffered the most from the TOS legacy. Who in their right mind would want to try to fill Spock's shoes? As a consequence, Riker had a hard time really coming together as a character. However, when TNG finally conquered these problems with Riker's characterization, it just so happened to be in one of the best-ever Star Trek episodes, "The Best of Both Worlds."

Once the show started, Riker was quickly established as the hard-living ladies' man who didn't mind seducing female leaders or throwing a few punches in the line of duty, again aligning him with Kirk, rather than with Spock. In fact, he was given some characteristics that are as unSpockian as possible. He's highly ambitious, he's very open with his emotions and opinions, he loves a good joke, and he makes no secret about his personal life.

The problem with all this is that not long into TNG's run, Riker's ambition, drive, and charisma ran smack into the problem that Spock's lack of ambition and personal reserve avoided: we all started to wonder why Riker was staying on the Enterprise.

For the full article, please click here.

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