Throughput Video: Andrew and Mike Talk SciFi Captains

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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6 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    This was awesome. One surprisingly good captain (that has no military connection, as far as I can tell) is Jason Nesmith from Galaxy Quest.

    “He wasn’t a real captain! He only played one on television!”

    Yes. True. But the scene that kind of established his leadership was when he showed up for the convention and everyone else in the dressing room was starting to fall apart and he pulled Alexander Dane back together:

    Later on, he inspired enough loyalty among his co-actors that, after a (brief) mutiny, they went back and wanted to work with him on his gig.

    And then, you know, for the rest of the movie, he actually became the Captain he pretended to be.

    We could make distinctions between him at the beginning of his arc and at the end but he had raw material at the beginning and, at the end, he actually was a pretty decent captain.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    As I have gotten old, one of the things that strikes me that didn’t when I was younger is how hard the writers have to work to create the situations where this discussion even applies. Competing Great Powers, enormously long communication lags, strange ecologies with unknown lethal monsters… All smacks back to the Age of Sail.

    To pick one, how improbable is the situation in Star Trek with the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulans all in the same little corner of the galaxy and all within a century or so of the same level of technology? How many of Kirk’s “opportunities” simply don’t happen if there’s only Earth and no other Great Power?Report

    • Francis Braun in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Romulans as a Japanese standin simply copy other people’s tech, in a widespread “get with the program.”

      This implies some basic knowhow (or general goodwill), but it’s not all that difficult.

      Romulans as a Chinese standin simply let the Communists win the spy war.

      The Federation as a contemporary American standin hobbles itself and turns dramatically away from the Scientific Method, choosing to prefer “cooperation” and “Head Girls,” instead of von Braun and Lehrer.

      There are multiple angles that do not require precise technological synchronization.Report

  3. Ben Sears says:

    Fun list. I like that you set Adama and Picard above the rest. Can’t argue with that. I think Sisko’s best show, “Th Pale Moonlight,” gives him points for doing what needed to be done and loses him points for war crimes and small stuff like that so while I want him to be higher, I can’t disagree. I would have added that Mal wasn’t going to score at the top because he was not an officer. You two mentioned that but I think that he was a good man in the position of a leader and doing the best he could. Again, I wouldn’t have changed the ranking. I love Dallas because that movie was perfect and I feel the need to defend him even though I’m probably wrong and you are probably right. I don’t think he was a bureaucrat. I think he was a solid worker who got promoted from the ranks and had to deal with the bureaucratic stuff. He didn’t delegate very well because he was used to being the guy delegated at. All in all, fun.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Ben Sears says:

      Not sure why we care that Mal wasn’t an officer. We’re rating his leadership style. I *do* care that he’s haunted by the ghosts of his past and is a bit too easy to draw into a confrontation.

      I gave Sheridan top honors along with Picard and Adama. And of those three, Adama. I will now accept abuse for choosing anyone above Picard.Report

  4. Slade the Leveller says:

    Greyhould was an excellent flick. I watched it last year after a COVID affected disaster of an Xmas dinner. One sense you get from good war movies is that good leaders aren’t trying to be heroes, they’re just trying to get a job done while (secondarily, but still importantly) keeping his men alive.Report