May 23 2024


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McFadden: Missed Opportunities

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While playing Dr. Beverly Crusher was satisfying for Gates McFadden, the actress feels that more could have been done with the character.

At first, McFadden was excited about taking on the role, due to what she had been told Crusher would be. “The way that Gene Roddenberry had told me the part was, the reason I took the job was because it was a woman who had a very powerful position, was a commander, was a mother, was a good parent, was a leader and was somebody who cared about helping people. She had great humanity. She was that kind of a doctor, and it was very important to me that she was that kind of a doctor. And she was the love interest of Picard. So, she was a woman who also had sexuality.”

But it didn’t quite work out that way for the character development and McFadden believes part of that was due to another character replacing Crusher for a season. “I feel that that got lost. That got lost when I came back.

“The scripts were more for the Pulaski character, and I think it took several years for them to come back to it by that point. They’d gone in another direction, with more Klingon stories, with…beautiful stories…”

But Dr. Crusher was more of a lightweight character and opportunities that should have been there for interesting interactions weren’t used. “But I feel, if the women would have a scene together, it’d be working out in the space,” said McFadden. “Or I became drama coach. I felt that there wasn’t enough meat, actually. I felt there was much more to explore.

“For example, with her relationship with her son – and this was actually part of why I had arguments with Mr. (Maurice) Hurley – I have a son, and we have very amazing talks. It is not just pack your lunchbox. Yes, of course, you have to have some of that, but any time there was any crisis with Wesley, it was always a male character who talked to him, who gave him the wisdom. I felt that was something that bothered me. And I just said, ‘It seems to me that you can be a strong woman and you can also be a loving woman.’ I feel that now people are portraying that very well. I see that all over in things that are written. But there times I did feel that there was writing that was not as nuanced for the female characters.’

McFadden is currently working in the theater.

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26 thoughts on “McFadden: Missed Opportunities

  1. Her and every other actress in Hollywood. I think considering that character was on TV for 6+ years and a handful of movies the character was fully explored for what it was- i.e. not much.

  2. I agree that Crusher could have been explored so much further.. she got one of the rawest deals for TNG development. But having said that… “very powerful position, was a commander, was a mother, was a good parent, was a leader and was somebody who cared about helping people. She had great humanity.” That’s the impression I came away with of Crusher. That’s Crusher in a nutshell. So on that level, they got it right.

  3. I do think they could have done more with Crusher. She seemed to be more of a passive character from season three onwards, where as in season one she seemed to have a bit more fire to her. In “Encounter At Farpoint,” I thought they were going to make her a little bit like Number One (Majel Barrett) in that she was somewhat aloof and reserved.

  4. Wasn’t it her fault that she left for a season? She ran off to do Hunt for Red October and some other stuff, didn’t she? So, it’s not exactly the writers’ faults that they didn’t get back around to her character after she had already thrown a wrench in those cogs… I know I’m in the vast minority, but I actually thought Pulaski was more interesting.

  5. I agree. Pulaski was a far better character, and Diana Muldaur way more captivating than McFadden. Why did they bin Pulaski and go with Crusher again in season three? Dumb move if you ask me.

  6. I know when I was in high school I certainly wanted to explore Beverly much, much further. *ahem* Is it… is it getting warm in here?

  7. Because Dr. Pulaski, while being a much stronger character and having a great deal of potential, was also an abrasive character who did not engage that many viewers, and did not really gel with the rest of the ensemble. I feel the writers also either did not like the character much, or did not know what to do with her. Personally I always liked Dr. Pulaski and think it was a shame that she was so completely written out after the second season. She would have been a terrific recurring character.
    Come to think of it. The episode where Worf broke his back? The brilliant doctor with the dubious ethics? That should have been Pulaski.

  8. I never felt any sort of connection to Crusher. And, to be honest, even with their tension, I felt Pulaski would be a much better mate for Picard… his equal… whereas Crusher was hot, she was also rather boring… not to mention that he couldn’t really go forward with her because of the elephant in the room: Jack Crusher. I definitely feel they did a disservice to themselves and us by simply dropping Pulaski. She also reminded me of Bones, in a way… uncompromising ethics… and that’s the one place where I’d disagree with Kang, I don’t think she’d cross the ethical line. But at the very least, she should’ve been there at the wedding in Nemesis… Hell, at least there would be a reason for her to be in a Starfleet uniform, unlike Crusher’s whelp.

  9. ACTUALLY… no – she was FIRED. Gene Roddenberry was convinced by the production staff that they needed to go in a different direction with the doctor character – they needed a dynamic more like McCoy – more conflict. It was NOT her choice.

  10. Well, I’ve read that she didn’t get along with a number of the production staff over her character. One presumes that once she returned the character would’ve been drawn more in the way she wanted… which was far less interesting and far less dynamic… certainly less interesting than Pulaski, but also less interesting, even, than her own portrayal of the character which she apparently deemed insufficient enough to rile the producers into firing her… either way, I don’t see that she brought that much… I liked the character and her performance, but it wasn’t what it could’ve been. One wonders if she just let them do what they wanted and didn’t rock the boat if she would’ve actually been more interesting.

  11. I wouldn’t believe everything that you read… Gene Roddenberry addressed this himself in public at a convention in 1988 – and related the story I gave you above. He even when on to say when a group of fans protested that he loved the actress and the character – but that they wanted to try something different. In fact – a bigger part of the reason was the fact that they had kind of written themselves into a corner by hinting at a possible romantic relationship between her and Picard – and they decided that was a mistake and might damage future story opportunities. So, the idea that it had to do with tensions between the actress and the production staff is just post-facto armchair quarterbacking by gossipers who are counting on the passage of time to blur the reality. As an aside… I was at that convention when it was addressed…

  12. Because Gene Roddenberry had no reason to gloss over the situation? lol okay.
    I’ve seen video of Gates McFadden herself saying she left because she and the production staff couldn’t agree on the direction of her character.
    I mean, it’s not like there have ever been reports of the Great Bird of the Galaxy actually being a misogynist pig, right? Him saying that in 1988 couldn’t have been him covering up for the fact that a well liked actress was forced out of the series because she didn’t want to be eye candy or set dressing, right? Of course not… he’s Gene Roddenberry. Saint. pssst, let’s pretend Denise Crosby never existed, too……..

  13. I see truth has no room in your dojo… You admit that you even heard that Gates “left” (actor speak for fired) because they couldn’t agree on the direction of the character – as I said – the production staff didn’t want to limit opportunities this would place on the Picard character. As far as being “eye candy” – interesting that they would put her in a big baggy lab coat if that was their intent… It seems you have an agenda for bashing Roddenberry when in fact it has nothing to do with this decision. And it’s amusing that you bring up Denise Crosby – because SHE is the one who left because she suffered the “Uhura” syndrome and wanted more meaty storylines. And forgetting all the thousands of interviews in which she talked about her decision to leave – I’ll just take her word for it in the interview I conducted with her a few years ago – in which this was discussed… And guess what – none of your salacious intimations carry any weight. Did you actually live during the times these happened? Or are you just a younging who’s relying on a Rashomon hodgepodge collection of stories after the fact? Also – if we just look at the base accusation you make – if a loud mouth actor would lead to them getting fired… one has to wonder about other Trek actors like Robert Beltran who were known to be quite vocal – I wonder why they got to stay and others were fired for the behavior you claim was the cause.

  14. She had to be cajoled into coming back. That says rather a lot about who had more to do with the departure.

  15. Whatever you say… lol So, which was it? When I suggested that she left because she and the producers clashed, you claimed that was untrue. When I said that the reason she was ultimately terminated was because she wasn’t willing to do what they wanted, you claimed that was untrue. In other words, anything that is said is untrue. That’s cool. I wasn’t aware that we were dealing with such an eminent light of the Star Trek world. I mean, jeez, you conducted an interview. Wow. I didn’t mean to insult or contradict your eminence. Then again, I don’t see what I could’ve said here that you wouldn’t have contradicted. Again, when I pointed out exactly what I’ve seen her say, namely that she left because she and the producers couldn’t agree on the direction of the character, you say no… even though you admit that when an actor and producers can’t agree and it leads to the non-renewal of a contract, that that’s them firing her… okay… And? Whether it was ultimately them who handed her the pink slip, or she was the one to walk out on them, the result is the same and from the same source: She was unhappy with what they wanted, and if she wasn’t going to give them that, they didn’t want her… Had she conformed to what they wanted, she wouldn’t have been let go in the first place. So, fine, if you want to argue that she got herself fired by arguing with Producers about her character, okay… but that’s the same thing unless you’re splitting hairs. But, since you’re such an old and wise sage, that can’t be the case… except I’m probably older than you, but feel free to act the fool some more… or to come out and say that I’m entirely wrong again because you knew Gates McFadden in a former life and she whispered in your ear just how great you were and how she was fired… lol whatever, loser.

  16. Now you’re just being an ass. And trying to re-interpret what people say to fit into your delusion. Bottom line – several producers of the show and Gates McFadden herself have confirmed what happened. And its simply a matter of a creative staff not liking the direction of a character arc and wanting to try something new. You ascribe all this “emotion” to a very simple thing. Did you forget it’s show BUSINESS… Simple business decisions. And that was one of them. Try just doing a little research dunce instead of relying on innuendo. And as far as you saying “had she conformed to what they wanted…” Who the hell said that other than you… this had nothing to do with her altering her performance or bending her will. It was a creative decision. What don’t you get about that numnutz. So… eat my cock and try re-reading the past few posts. I’ve said the same thing several times now – and you’ve interjected nothing but rumor, what you “think happened” and a liberal dose of Roddenberry bashing. If you are older – then you are an old fool who obviously has no idea how Hollywood actually works. 😉 Live short and die horribly.

  17. Obviously she had to be cajoled… who said she didn’t. She was let go from a job… would YOU just go merrily back? So I’m not exactly sure what relevance your statement has. It doesn’t support Mike’s statement at all that they fired her for being difficult. Which – by the way – they didn’t. Too many production personnel have given statements over the years that verify the basic truth… her contract was terminated when they wanted to go in a new direction… when their new direction didn’t work out the way they hoped, they returned to Gates…

  18. lol Wow… somebody is testy… But I’m probably reading too much emotion into your unhinged rant, I guess! LOL You should consider some help, chum. Blood pressure medicine or something, perhaps…

  19. Hmmmm, let’s review… I don’t recall calling anyone an ass. I didn’t say you were delusional. I didn’t call you a dunce, nor numnutz… I certainly didn’t tell you to eat my cock. I didn’t call you a fool. And I don’t remember, but I don’t think I told you to live short and die horribly… So, maybe you need that mirror after all, chum.

  20. You called Gene Roddenberry a mysogynist pig… i didn’t know you knew him and could make a character evaluation. So right off the bat you’re full of crap. #2 – You said Gates didn’t get along with members of the production staff over her character – then you switch gears and say she disagreed – which is it? Vast difference saying someone didn’t like someone and left – and saying they left because they couldn’t reach an agreement. And then you accuse Gene Roddenberry of glossing over a situation – when Gates, Gene, and SEVERAL producers ALL said it was as simple as wanting to try something new in the character dynamics. So in the end – every name I called you was applicable because you’re obviously a tool yourself – or you just don’t read what you write.

  21. That Gene Roddenberry was a misogynist pig isn’t my opinion, it’s pretty commonly accepted. But, I’d think a scholar such as yourself would know that… Putting Majel Barrett as Number One doesn’t change everything else… If you really want to debate it, I can find plenty of quotes and specific documentation for it, but that’d be kind of ugly. I think most people accept that while Roddenberry was a visionary and was a humanitarian, he did have flaws… and womanizing and objectification of women was one of them. Sorry if that reality offends you. Secondly, “You said Gates didn’t get along with members of the production staff over her character – then you switch gears and say she disagreed – which is it?” Uhhhhhh, huh? I never switched at all. She didn’t get along with members of the production staff because she disagreed with them about her character. I don’t know what part of that is not clear to you, as I’ve stated it multiple times and in no uncertain terms… Frankly, at this point, given that quotation, I’m coming to the not-so-gradual conclusion that you’re an idiot. Nevertheless, I’ll soldier on….. I never said she didn’t like anyone. I said she didn’t get along with production staff. I later clarified that it was about the choices for her character… which I’ve seen video of her saying was the reason. You claim it was just about going in a different direction. From what I’ve directly seen, that’s just not true… Sure, did they decide to go in a different direction? Yes. After Gates McFadden and the writers couldn’t come to terms regarding her character. And yes, after that, Gene Roddenberry and any number of people with a vested interest in not appearing to be douchebags, glossed over the reality… A reality she has readily discussed… I’m sorry if, during your no-doubt excellent interview, she lied to you and glossed over it herself, but I tend to believe the video I’ve seen of her talking about her disagreements early on with producers over some guy on the internet who claims to be this, that, and the other, but is clearly rather unhinged… In the end, my advice is to step outside into the sun and get a couple friends in real life… You’ve clearly been caged for far too long… I await your next tantrum and set of juvenile insults while not understanding how A connects to B…… 🙂

  22. Try learning to read – your first post said she wanted to leave… then you said she had disagreements with the staff and wanted to leave. I’ve said from the very beginning and in EVERY post – she was let go so the production staff could try something different with the character dynamics. As far as Gene R – that has nothing to do with Gates departure – so your inclusion of it is just your pathetic way to justify your nonsense. Anud in your most recent message you talk about how you clarified your position… interesting – because my position has been the same EVERY TIME. And perhaps you should listen to her interview that you claimed to see again. At no point does she say she was let go because she didn’t agree with their terms. So the mirror is pointing back at you dunce. Once again I ask – do you know how Hollywood actually works – because your posts indicate nothing but some generalized sense Hollywood is a tabloid and not a bottom line business.

  23. Gates is so rude. Don’t come to social events if you are going to treat people so poorly. You’re no queen to The universe but you seem to think you are. You lost fans at Denver Comic Con. “No!!!! I NEVER let people take my picture!”

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