Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Star Trek TNG: Alternate Universe Uniform Colors

Yup, here it is. My most geeky, off-topic post ever. Sure, I've written before about virtual world software updates and quantum mechanics. But at least those things weren't fictional geekiness... they were based in some form of reality. This is the ultimate geek post, and I make no excuses or apologies for it.

I was never a fan of the original Star Trek series. By the time I was old enough to watch it, it had been in syndication for a long time, and the campiness of the show didn't float my boat. But Star Trek: The Next Generation started airing in 1987, when I was a full year out of high school, and in a great place to enjoy its utopian science fiction (usually accompanied by herbal substances to assist in the suspension of disbelief).

Well, as any good ST:TNG fan knows, there is a color code for the uniforms worn by Starfleet personnel. Using the uniform color shades from the year 2373 (I know, I know... getting my geek on, yessiree), which was the final version in the Star Trek timeline, note that each division has its own color.



The picture on top of this post shows the crew of NCC-1701-D in their proper colors. The Command Division are the people in charge of a ship, so people like Captain Picard and Commander Riker would generally be seen in this deep red color. The Operations Division includes engineering, security, and tactical personnel, which is why you'll see people like Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge and Security Chief Worf in gold. The teal blue uniforms are used by people in the Sciences Division (including medical), so Enterprise crew members Dr. Beverly Crusher and Counselor Deanna Troi (in the few episodes where they put her in a regular uniform) wear this shade.

If you want to be even geekier (if this is possible), in the original series, the red and gold uniforms were reversed, in that Command wore gold (like Captain Kirk) and operations wore red (like some poor ensign you'd never seen before who you knew was going to die on an away mission). But that's not relevant to this conversation. Just a side note.

Where No Geek Has Gone Before...
All this is fine and dandy, as long as we're having a normal day galavanting around the Alpha Quadrant at warp factor 6. But occasionally in the Star Trek universe, things get weird. Alternate timelines are created. Whole other universes come into play. And with these strange days come strange uniforms. In a moment of inspired geekdom, I decided that it would be nice if there was a place where you can see the rare sight of these familiar TNG crew members in uniforms other than the wones we know and love. And this is it! I can tell you're a-quiver with anticipation, so let's jump right in. Oh, by the way: I don't own the rights to any of these images. Paramount probably does. If they ask me to take them down, I happily will.

Picard in Blue: "Tapestry" (Season 6, Episode 15)

This is actually a really fun episode in which Captain Picard dies, and finds himself reincarnated by the omnipotent being known as Q. He finds that without having experienced some of the actions of his youth, he wouldn't turn out to be the person he became. Kind of a space-age combination of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life". As shown above, toward the end of the episode Picard is shown in the blue uniform of a Science officer (probably in astrophysics), as opposed to his regular Command red.

Worf in Red: "Parallels" (Season 7, Episode 11)

Worf, as we all know, is the Klingon tactical officer and security chief of the Enterprise. While he wore red during the first season of the series (one best forgotten for most TNG fans), for the subsequent six years, he wore the gold uniform of his role. But in the last season, a terrific episode had him popping back and forth between multiple universes, due to the warp field of his shuttlecraft having opened a rift in a quantum fissure and- well, let's stick to talking about uniforms, mmmkay? In at least one of these parallel universes, Worf was the first officer of the Enterprise, and wore the red of command.

Wesley Crusher in Gold: "Parallels" (Season 7, Episode 11)

In the same episode, Worf ends up in a universe where Wesley Crusher has remained on the Enterprise, and has been apparently promoted to lieutenant. He's at the tactical station, and is wearing the proper gold color of the post. Note that Wesley's clothing changed often throughout the series. He started as a civilian who was an acting ensign in a gray outfit, then was promoted to full ensign (pretty weird, but whatever), then went to Starfleet Academy to become a real officer. But when he was shown in uniform, it was generally the red color of command... except here.

Data in Red: "Future Imperfect" (Season 4, Episode 8)

Not a bad fourth season episode at all. In this one, Riker is led to believe that 16 years have passed, but his memories have been erased. This turns out to be untrue, but in the meantime, we get a look at a future version of the Enterprise crew that includes everyone's favorite android, Data, who has been promoted to first officer (Riker is now the captain of the ship). This is the only episode where Data wears red. I understand that he wears gold as the chief operations officer, but it always seemed to me that Data might be better suited as the chief science dude, and would have worn blue. Ah well.

Riker in Gold: "Second Chances" (Season 6, Episode 24)

Here's the only episode in this bunch that's not based on an alternate reality. In fact, heh heh, that's not the raffish Will Riker in the pic above at all. Instead, as a result of a freak transporter accident, Riker had been duplicated into two beings, and one of them was left stranded on a planet for eight years. He's eventually rescued, but as a lieutenant in the operations division, he still wears the gold uniform color he'd sported when he was left behind. This Riker ends up changing his name to Thomas (the middle name both Rikers share) and continuing his career in Starfleet... for awhile.

That's all, folks
As far as I'm aware, these are the only episodes in which the crew of Enterprise-D wore uniforms other than their own familiar colors, but I could easily be wrong. Feel free to add a comment to correct me, or to just call me a big ol' geek. I won't mind. I've accepted who I am by now, I promise.

1 comment:

MandyHunt12 said...

in the Season 6 Episode 11 Chain of Command part 2, Data is wearing a command red duty uniform because Captain Jellico who is temporarily Captain of the Enterprise relieves Riker of duty after they don't see eye to eye and temporarily promotes Lieutenant Commander Data to the position of first officer, i was watching the episode night