What with July 14th being Bastille Day, we here at the Poll of the Month have decided to examine the history of France in regards to Star Trek. Where should we begin?
Well, the most obvious place would be with Jean-Luc Picard, the most English Frenchman to have ever have existed. He’s up there in the list of most popular Star Trek characters of all time, is the only one to have his own spin-off show (so far, come on Star Trek: My People Have a Saying), and is one of the highest-ranking leads. But, without leaning into stereotypes, how much “Frenchness” does Jean-Luc really display? Sure, in both The Next Generation and his own eponymous show, we see plenty of the family chateau and vineyard, but the majority of the literature he engages with tends to be skewed to the English speaking world. Why doesn’t he try to teach Data about Moliere in the holodeck rather than Shakespeare, par exemple? Obviously, the out of character reason for this is that you don’t cast famed classical actor Patrick Stewart and not get him to whip out his Prospero…
So, what other examples are there that flit to mind? For me, the most obvious examples come from Voyager (and I don’t just mean Tom PARIS). The first, Chez Sandrine, is the holodeck bar that features fairly heavily in the show, it’s almost their Ten-Forward if you will. The Doctor teaches Seven how to dance there (although she does break that poor man’s arm) and the crew are trapped in there when the ship goes all curly-whirly (Twisted), to name but a few. Complete with pool hustlers and slightly dodgy accents, is this a fun representation of France?
The other obvious Voyager example is La Coeur de Lion and the Resistance movement from the (frankly brilliant) episodes “The Killing Game, Part One and Two”. Complete with Janeway in a white tuxedo and Mademoiselle de Neuf (plus, who isn’t a fan of French peasant Neelix, the best Neelix), this cell helps to take down the Nazi Hirogen (subtlety is not necessarily Voyager’s strong suit) but this does a really good job of displaying the gallic grit and valour that the Resistance movement showed during the Second World War.
As a final aside, the Federation President’s office is shown to be in Paris (well, unless they moved the Eiffel Tower) in Deep Space Nine’s Homefront. That’s fun.
What’s your favourite display of French culture in Trek? Is it one of these, or perhaps another?