Friday, July 1, 2005


I've always been a big fan of names; one reason I still find enjoyment in the line of work which keeps the roof over my head - I come across thousands of interesting names in any given year.

A great name has poetry and power, either summing up the traits of a character or making some kind of comment (ironic or otherwise) on that character.

Classics of literature are filled with great names - Ahab, Natty Bumppo, Hester Prynne, Bilbo Baggins, and Vito Corleone. And there are great ones in the movies - Waldo Lydecker, Margo Channing, Travis Bickle, Buckaroo Banzai, and Charles Foster Kane.

And as this is a website celebrating the universe of Television, of course we find there are great names in the annals of Toobworld as well - Archie Bunker, Maxwell Smart, Marcus Welby, Fred Mertz, and Dharma Finkelstein.

There were always the bland and the boring names over the years - Jeff Miller, Timmy Martin, Mark Craig, Mark Sloan, - but at least many of those characters were still interesting. Having a great name doesn't guarantees a great character or show, and the TV Landscape is littered with their headstones - Nick Freno, Royal Paine, Serena Southerlyn....

I know there will be naysayers but Chachi Arcola and Steven Urkel are interesting names, but the characters were a waste of prime time.

The bland names got out of hand with many sitcom characters who were played by big name stars; they'd use the same first name and just a plain, white-bread surname. Andy Taylor, Danny Williams, Lucy Carter, Mary Richards, Bob Hartley, Roseanne Conner, Tim Taylor..... Geez, Jerry Seinfeld just chucked it all and played himself.

Of course it probably didn't matter, since those shows provided lots of entertainment without the need for singular names. And at least there were always those characters who bucked the trend - Rob Petrie, Cliff Huxtable, Victor Sifuentes, Rhoda Morgenstern, Simka Gravas, and Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Why am I bringing this up? I've been thinking about 'Star Trek' now that we're facing a TV schedule with no 'Trek' for the first time in about 18 years.

And I finally saw the last 'Star Trek' movie, "Nemesis", just the other day. In a discarded final scene, Steven Culp showed up as the new First Officer on the Enterprise now that Riker was going off to helm the Titan. His name was Martin Madden - yeesh. Gives me those early Marvel Comics flashbacks.

Anyway, there always seemed to be this separation between the TV shows set in the present day "now" and 'Star Trek' in the future. Far too many contemporary shows refer to 'Trek' as a TV show, when they shouldn't even be aware of it; it's part of their unknown future.

It would have been nice if, over the years and the four different series, 'Star Trek' would occasionally have a character appear who had such a distinctive name that you just knew (s)he must have been descended from the TV character with the same moniker whom we knew in the past

But maybe this is a case where it's a good thing we had so many Toobworlders with those bland last names.
Timmy Martin? Perhaps the great-plus grandfather of Dr. Martin who was in charge of the sickbay after Dr. Crusher fell into a coma. ('Star Trek: The Next Generation' - "Violations").

Or Jeff Miller - perhaps he founded the family line that led to Wyatt Miller, who was betrothed to Deanna Troi when they were both very young. ('ST:TNG' - "Haven")

And Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise before James Kirk... well, we've hypothesized in the past that he was descended from Cyrus Pike, a young ex-gunfighter in the Old American West who could be found in a 'Gunsmoke' spin-off, 'Dirty Sally'.

There have been a few Ensign Tylers on different shows in the franchise - perhaps related to Rose Tyler of the new 'Doctor Who'?

So that's going to be one of my projects over the summer while there's a bit of a dry spell (at least from the major networks). I'll be poring through the personnel registrars of the various 'Star Trek' series. I'll be searching for those characters who might be descended from the TV characters of their past.

None of it will be conclusive, but it should be fun. Stay tuned!



WordsSayNothing said...

I know it's not exactly what you're looking for, but...Morn from DS9 and Norm from Cheers? Come on, you know they're somehow related.

Toby said...

I think I could make a pretty good case to include them in a chapter on reincarnation. Doesn't look like too much progress was made between lives, though.

He's just going a little farther for a drink....

Thanks for the idea!