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Kate Mulgrew Says She And Patrick Stewart Were The Only Real Star Trek Captains, Seems Unclear On The Concept

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Actress Kate Mulgrew has one of the coolest distinctions of any actor to appear in the Star Trek franchise: as Captain Kathryn Janeway, she played the only leading female commander role of the entire franchise so far. Sure, it was on what is arguably the worst of the Star Trek spinoffs, but still: it was a major landmark in fandom, and definitely something to be proud of. However, she seems to be confused about her other company in the Trek Captains Club. In a new interview she gives a confusing statement where she seems to argue that only her and Patrick Stewart’s Picard count as real captains. She then tries to clarify…and only makes things more confusing.

Mulgrew was speaking to Splitsider about her career in general, and specifically her work on the Adult Swim crime procedural parody, NTSF:SD:SUV (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle), where she plays Kove, the eyepatch-wearing leader of the anti-terrorism task force. That show was created by Paul Scheer (Andre from FX’s The League), and the interviewing journalist asks Mulgrew about a statement Scheer made to them, where he claimed that Mulgrew has said there were only two real Star Trek captains: her and The Next Generation’s Picard.

She seems hesitant to delve into it, since she’s worried her comments will “go viral.” (Too late!) When asked to clarify, Mulgrew says:

Well, there are only two captains who were lost in space who did seven years, okay? Deep Space Nine was a space station. Shatner only did three seasons. [Scott] Bakula was cancelled after four.

The interviewer then points out — incorrectly — that Avery Brooks was only a commander (he was promoted to captain during season three of Deep Space Nine). Mulgrew then continues.

That’s what I’m saying, it was a space station. He wasn’t in space, lost in space. Patrick Stewart and I – Picard and Janeway – were the only two intrepid, lost-in-space captains. I really think that’s true, right?

And after that I’m sure many Trek fans are right there with me: scratching our heads and wondering what the hell she’s talking about. Commanding a space station doesn’t make you a real captain? Or do you have to be “lost in space” on a starship to be a real captain? If so, that description really doesn’t fit any Star Trek captain other than her, right? Next Gen was a lot of things, but a “lost in space” show wasn’t one of them.

I’m not sure if Mulgrew just wasn’t expecting the question and got flustered trying to answer, or if she just failed to communicate what she meant. Either way, her logic for discounting all the other Trek captains other than her and Picard seems inexplicable at best, and factually inaccurate at worst. It’s so arbitrary. At this point she might as well claim that she’s the only real Star Trek captain because none of the others are named Kathryn. It makes nearly the same amount of sense.

Given the meticulous nature of the fans when it comes to arguing about the facts and trivia of the Trek universe, I have a feeling those comments are going to follow her for a long time. If she wants some peace and quiet it might be time to move to the Delta Quadrant.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/AaronKelly81 Aaron Kelly

    lol. this whole article needs to just end right here, none of it makes any sense.

  • Timsim

    She means they were both deep space missions. They didnt have the backup from the federation that deep space nine did.

  • Cyberdurc22

    I think I get what she’s saying, she means to say that both her and Picard were the only captains that actually lived up to the true meaning of Star Trek (space explorers). Her comparison was based on how long their shows lasted…not that confusing.

  • zirtoc

    She’s an actress, not a trekkie. Next story.

  • Neil

    Met her last year, rudest actress i’ve ever come across.

  • daff

    I lost all respect for this article when you said voyager was the worst spin off, DS9 & Enterprise were the worst spin off, Voyager and TNG were AMAZEBALLS!!

    • Sleeper99999

      Ridiculous. DS9 was the best overall TREK show. TNG and TOS had better individual episodes, but also a ton of really awful ones. DS9 was the most consistently entertaining of the five series.

    • CrimsonA

      DS9 was great. Voyager was awful. No one likes Voyager. I agree Enterprise wasn’t great I’d hardly call it the worst of the shows.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Troy-Carrington/1328851181 Troy Carrington

        actaully like both, different shows, different times. i have always noted how bajor somehow reminds me of the middle east.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.crispen Joe Crispen

    I get what she’s saying. It’s not that difficult if you use your brain. I actually liked Voyager. I don’t know why it gets so much slack. Deep Space Nine was actually my least favorite during it’s production, however, I’m growing pretty fond of it on Netflix these days.

  • Mr. Obnoxious

    uh, about the story: “Voyager” was the worst of the spinoffs? Then I got four words for you: “Scott Bakula in Enterprise”…

  • Ollie

    I see what she is saying though she may have articulated it a little better. I liked each of the shows in their own way and I wish Enterprise would have stayed on longer… and Battlestar Gallactica… and Firefly.

    • Echelon

      ….and SGU

  • baby fart mcgeeziaks

    Haha, I actually agree to an extent though I think that Shatner is very much in that club regardless of how many seasons.

  • http://twitter.com/ElevenPointTwo Paul Wren

    To come up to speed, Kate should watch this nice little documentary Bill Shatner made called The Captains. Oh wait she’s in it…

  • chinagreenelvis

    She’s only asserting that they were the only “real” captains of the era. It’s basically a No True Scotsman argument – like saying a “real” man never hits a woman.

  • Glen Bruton

    Janeway = The best star Trek captain. There i said it.

  • helios

    i’m with you, article writer. i think she may be losing it… captain kirk is *the* captain that started it all, and her issues with ds9 don’t make sense, especially considering sisko also had command of the defiant… it boils down to the fact that it did, indeed (figuratively) say ‘captain’ on all of their uniforms. janeway wasn’t the worst captain (*cougharchercough*, but she certainly wasn’t the best, and doesn’t deserve any special place among the 5 captains….

  • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

    She’s an idiot. Then and now. Also, she failed to mention she was the only ‘Captain’ with a voice so irritating it actually caused people to avoid the show altogether. (I only watched it for 7of9)
    P.S. Scott Bacula rocked, the show not so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juliamaxwell31 Julia Maxwell

    Wow looks like the writer has a thing against Janeway even before she made this comment. It really isn’t hard to understand. Picard and Janeway are the only two captains who did not have Starfleet to back them up. Meaning it wasn’t Starfleet giving directives. It was the Captains of each ship. Kirk, Sisko, and Archer cannot say the same. They got orders. From STARFLEET. Do you get it now little man? I would say this little article is gonna follow you for a very long time amongst all the Voyager fans out there. Good job :)

    • Sleeper99999

      Yes but that’s incorrect. Picard was constantly getting orders from Starfleet, AND getting support from them. And Kirk was constantly disobeying orders from Starfleet, AND was often out too far to get any help. And Sisko famously committed an act that not only violated Starfleet protocols but would have gotten him prosecuted as a war criminal. So that argument doesn’t hold up.

      • http://www.facebook.com/juliamaxwell31 Julia Maxwell

        You just stated exactly why Kirk and Sisko should not be considered real Captains. (Constantly disobeying orders, committed an act that violated Starfleet protocols). Janeway and Picard were on deep space missions (not because they were disobeying orders but because it was their job) while Sisko was on a space station, Kirk was on missions in the Alpha Quadrant, and Archer was even closer to Earth doing diplomatic sh**. What with all the ruckus Kirk and Sisko apparently made (according to you), if they are captains, Janeway is a freaking GODDESS and Picard is a GOD. So deal with it. Have a good day :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendy.booth Wendy Booth

    “And after that I’m sure many Trek fans are right there with me: scratching our heads and wondering what the hell she’s talking about.” NO HONEY. We’re scratching our heads and wondering that the hell YOU are talking about. …And why you intentionally missed the (very obvious) point she was making. …And why you then wrote a bitter, useless article about it. As an “aside”, sweetheart — any good fan of the franchise (especially one who would want his written drivel to actually be considered as something other than FLUFF) knows that it is in EXCEEDINGLY POOR FORM to “discount” any of the franchises shows. Ask ten different fans which Trek shows were the best and worst and you’ll get ten different answers. It is to be expected, if not completely encouraged. At any rate, bitterness is rolling off of you in waves — get your hands off the keyboard for a bit, eh?

  • viss3r

    I only want to say one thing… Voyager is my absolute favorite star trek.

  • Mitch

    I’m throwing a curve ball here. DS 9 was a rip-off of B5 (by way of it came from the pitch meetings with JMS, that he had with all the networks before PTEN took it).

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Troy-Carrington/1328851181 Troy Carrington

      mitch, DS9 was syndicated. while, yes, i can agree there are a lot similarities, they are different in their own ways.

  • Hordak Prime

    Since J J Abrams time travel movie Scott Bakula is the only Captain who’s continuity remains intact, so if could be argued that Captain Kirk and Captain Archer are the only two true captains.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gildor.imaldris Chris Lloyd Sherwood

    Well if Kirk isnt a real captian.. why did he have actual movies when She didnt?

    • spet67

      As I said above, Voyager didn’t even get a cartoon spinoff, much less a movie.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Troy-Carrington/1328851181 Troy Carrington

      actually, in Nemesis, she was an Admiral and Picard’s boss.

  • Munkz707

    You’re clueless as well as a hack. Go write for TMZ or some other useless site.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonny.f.mancini Sonny F Mancini

    Hola
    voyager sin dudas lo mejor de la franquicia startrek,, realmente decadente el nivel de interpretacion del responsable de la nota, hasta usando un pobre traductor online pude entender prefectamente a que se referia la actriz, queda totalmente expuesta la falta de objetividad del responsable de la nota!

  • Justin Iungerman

    Voyager: worst Trek spinoff. Salamanders… really?? Enterprise never happened.

    Anyway… Saying that Sisko was not a real captain because he was on a stationary base is like saying that the commander of Marines holding down a base in enemy territory is not a real leader. Starfleet didn’t exactly have Sisko’s back a lot of the time because they were only guests of the Bajorans. Add to that the enemies amongst the Bajoran people as well as the Cardassians and the Dominion constantly trying to destroy them and the Terran Empire as well, DS9 was the first defense for the entirety of the UFP and the Alpha Quadrant. DS9 was a HUGE target that was attacked nearly constantly. A lot of good came of the decisions made from the commander of that station.

    To say that Kirk was not a true captain is insane. He was a captain at a time when the Federation was much younger, much like our own military a hundred years ago. The galaxy was still largely unexplored and he was out there discovering all of the new worlds and new civilizations, building the foundations of the relationships with the races we have come to know over the years. Yes, the series didn’t last as long. People just weren’t as big into Sci-Fi quite yet and the show didn’t pick up it’s viral popularity until after it was cancelled. That’s why TNG did so much better; the fan base was already assembled.

    I know, Janeway was lost in another quadrant altogether. They really were by themselves. no backup from anyone. That’s not what makes her a ‘real captain’ however. Managing and mentoring your crew and keeping everyone alive while still upholding and defending the ideals and safety of the people of which you are representing makes you a ‘real captain’, just like Kirk, Sisko and Picard before her, and just as she did. I may not like her, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t do her job.

    Mulgrew may think that longevity in the rank and in the people’s favor is what determines your quality as a captain. There are many captains that make impossible ‘real captain’ decisions that protect people but put they themselves in the hot spot and it usually doesn’t work out as easily for them as it seems to for the famous captains. That is the kind of dedication that makes a real captain, not just being lost in deep space and living long enough to talk about it.

  • urapalefaceddweeb

    get a life losers

  • VD

    Kate Mulgrew is right. (its one of those moments when u think what u know is right and reconfirm is several times and then say the words aloud to the fans.)

    what she meant was the real captain who stayed the longest command in her space ship than other series made by startrek, ever. + longest seasons run time as a captain. See she is right.

    (Real captain – key words in statements what she meant

    “Real Captain +

    inside a Space Ship most of the time+

    longest season run time (more real captain merits awarded :) )

    Captain Picard and Janeway were both in there ship + more season time.

    - Kerk is a womanizer with more of a Childs mood to the character with leadership qualities (lasted three seasons) (but then again it was the 66′s.) I liked his character too.

    - Archer is anger man. (Vulcan’s didn’t trust earth humanity then so directors made captains role as angry as possible, i would have loved more of enterprise if only archers character wasnt so angry, but its all about a early story of star trek kind of first steps and humanities post age transition to future) (lasted four seasons) I liked archer in quantum more but he did managed to bring the light to enterprise series and hold it together despite the directors anger way. The opening credit song was not actually awesome, it had a little devil inside it, but that’s just my say. Hoped they could have had a different them and words sung by a more angel like person. The video clips and transition of the credits were great though.

    - Cisco is a captain not to mess with if u ever come across. more like a principle in a larger school. Commander (Seasons 1-3), Captain (only Seasons 3-7) the starship USS Defiant was introduced in season 3, but the station remained the primary setting for the show.

    (The series depended on darker themes, less physical exploration of space, and (in later seasons) an emphasis on many aspects of war. (lasted total seven seasons but exploring was still there to off worlds but less and of exploration more towards the war efforts he followed. Its a hold that fort thing). (this show showed me the ferenges like i never thought possible and appreciate the character and disgust the same time (but more towards appreciate). it’s a unique character but he is half Starfleet and half worm hole entity in the end. I did enjoy his character as it let other characters flourish in history and details

    Janeway – Voyager – show is set on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy, 75,000 light-years from Earth Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which became stranded in the Delta Quadrant to make the estimated 75-year journey home.

    She destroyed the Borg, (out of all the captains and federation. But we know it was all because of the right time and the right resource and the right captain of science to make that happen and team effort aboard voyager). Loved everyone “crew” on this series. The collective was destroyed by a women with assistance from the doctor + team, + save the time lines but timelines are overrated any ways if handled by awesome captains we fall for there actions as the just action to do and are held in our memories for ever.. + prevented a even stronger a inter-dimensional race more powerful than Borg to stay in there dimension. + Collected raw materials + had to deal with many hostile races number of which even threatned earth but made peace with many and brought as a future member for the federation + earned trust along the planets, + limited contact with Starfleet and loved once handled it lovingly but all of this for more duration of time in seasons and space than any captain or series in star trek. Loved the doctors character + databank knowledge and adaptability to new ideas to save lives and more, even be captain/singer/elegant its awesome than eternity of medical discipline characters in star trek.

    if Picard, Cisco, kerk or archer heard her say the real captain from janeway they would agree (but she should add the words like “real captain in a ship” she is safe then form the not so forgiving fans who grasp their meanings late), the doctor on voyager would agree too and send the nay Sayers to med lab for a full diagnostics including there mind.

    If I had a choice I would keep voyager because it had janeway. And the awesome doctor of all knowledge and more. Love all the crew.

     

    Startrek fan + many sci tv shows cant name them all, babylon5, would love to see the new battle star galactic series 2013, caprica was alright, would love even more if they would make Sarah corner chronicles season3 they kind of messed me in thinking whats next they and not made another season. Loved warehouse13 hope they make the seasons forever. Would like to see twilight zone but it must be the old way. Would like to see voyager again though but captain must be the same character of janeway. Younglings or daughter of janeway are welcome but it must be janeways character of speech and lovingness and decision making feel.

    1981nov30.VD.

  • VD

    Kate Mulgrew is right. (its one of those moments when u think what u know is right and reconfirm is several times and then say the words aloud to the fans.)

    what she meant was the real captain who stayed the longest command in her space ship than other series made by startrek, ever. + longest seasons run time as a captain. See she is right.

    (Real captain – key words in statements what she meant

    “Real Captain +

    inside a Space Ship most of the time+

    longest season run time (more real captain merits awarded :) )

    Captain Picard and Janeway were both in there ship + more season time.

    - Kerk is a womanizer with more of a Childs mood to the character with leadership qualities (lasted three seasons) (but then again it was the 66′s.) I liked his character too.

    - Archer is anger man. (Vulcan’s didn’t trust earth humanity then so directors made captains role as angry as possible, i would have loved more of enterprise if only archers character wasnt so angry, but its all about a early story of star trek kind of first steps and humanities post age transition to future) (lasted four seasons) I liked archer in quantum more but he did managed to bring the light to enterprise series and hold it together despite the directors anger way. The opening credit song was not actually awesome, it had a little devil inside it, but that’s just my say. Hoped they could have had a different them and words sung by a more angel like person. The video clips and transition of the credits were great though.

    - Cisco is a captain not to mess with if u ever come across. more like a principle in a larger school. Commander (Seasons 1-3), Captain (only Seasons 3-7) the starship USS Defiant was introduced in season 3, but the station remained the primary setting for the show.

    (The series depended on darker themes, less physical exploration of space, and (in later seasons) an emphasis on many aspects of war. (lasted total seven seasons but exploring was still there to off worlds but less and of exploration more towards the war efforts he followed. Its a hold that fort thing). (this show showed me the ferenges like i never thought possible and appreciate the character and disgust the same time (but more towards appreciate). it’s a unique character but he is half Starfleet and half worm hole entity in the end. I did enjoy his character as it let other characters flourish in history and details

    Janeway – Voyager – show is set on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy, 75,000 light-years from Earth Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which became stranded in the Delta Quadrant to make the estimated 75-year journey home.
    She destroyed the Borg, (out of all the captains and federation. But we know it was all because of the right time and the right resource and the right captain of science to make that happen and team effort aboard voyager). Loved everyone “crew” on this series. The collective was destroyed by a women with assistance from the doctor + team, + save the time lines but timelines are overrated any ways if handled by awesome captains we fall for there actions as the just action to do and are held in our memories for ever.. + prevented a even stronger a inter-dimensional race more powerful than Borg to stay in there dimension. + Collected raw materials + had to deal with many hostile races number of which even threatned earth but made peace with many and brought as a future member for the federation + earned trust along the planets, + had a very limited contact with Starfleet and loved once handled it lovingly but all of this for more duration of time in seasons and space than any captain or series in star trek. Loved the doctors character + databank knowledge and adaptability to new ideas to save lives and more, even be captain/singer/elegant its awesome than eternity of medical discipline characters in star trek.

    if Picard, Cisco, kerk or archer heard her say the real captain from janeway they would agree (but she should add the words like “real captain in a ship” she is safe then form the not so forgiving fans who grasp their meanings late), the doctor on voyager would agree too and send the nay Sayers to med lab for a full diagnostics including there mind.

    startrek website should have a table with of real captain based on merits ratings on the startrek.com website based on the lenght of service and the actions these captains took from various missions and total the merits and of them, janeway would have the most merits to win the Real Captain title.

    If I had a choice I would keep voyager because it had janeway. And the awesome doctor of all knowledge and more. Love all the crew.

    Startrek fan + many sci tv shows cant name them all, babylon5, would love to see the new battle star galactic series 2013, caprica was alright kind of distrubing due to anger issues(whats with all that anger issues. i know war leads to advancement quicker, or deadlines for out of box and easy life leads to slow progress), would love even more if they would make Sarah corner chronicles season3 they kind of messed me in thinking whats next and have not made another season since. Loved warehouse13 hope they make the seasons forever. Would like to see twilight zone but it must be the old way. Would like to see voyager again though but captain must be the same character of janeway. but it must be janeways character of speech and lovingness and decision making feel.

    1981nov30.VD.

    • http://shortstormtrooper.com/ Lee

      Technically Kirk/Shatner had seven films including Generations….

      yeah I didn’t want to be that guy either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Calliesky Deborah Bower

    Excuse me… I loved Voyager. You are very wrong here.

  • spet67

    Kirk counts. True, TOS was only around for 3 seasons. But, if it hadn’t caught on in syndication, Voyager never would have happened. Additionally, The original crew was in several movies & a cartoon spin off series. I’ve never heard of anyone even discussing giving Voyager a spin off cartoon series, much less making a voyager movie.

    As far as support from the federation, well, the federation was as often as much of a hindrance to Kirk as a help. He was always disobeying orders. Hell, he stole a star ship and was demoted. No Kirk counts.

  • VeNoMouS

    Hell no!!! Voyager was not a bad spin off… DS9 is by far the worst… that show sucked balls!!!

  • http://twitter.com/michaeldamboldt Michael Damboldt

    Calm your nerd-rage, author. She was trying to specify that the planet-to-planet themed, seven year shows were the only two of the franchise, and she was right.

    Sisko was captain of a space station, and TOS and ENT lasted three and four seasons, respectably. She was trying to say that there were only two seven-year, deep space exploration shows of the franchise. She was right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/a.s.rawlings Andrew Rawlings

    If you define ‘Captain’ as someone whose specific occupation is the command of a ship then Sisko is the only non-captain among them. Picard and Janeway are both the longest running ‘captains’ but Kirk and Archer (and Pike for that matter) are still real captains (even by her definition).

  • AJ2449

    I’m not a trekker, but Voyager was my fave after the original. C’mon it gave us the Borg.

    • Schloog

      Umm, no. TNG gave us the Borg. Many, many years earlier!

      • AJ2449

        Oh — [after quickly checking Wikipedia] that’s true.
        Still – if Voyager didn’t give us the Borg, it did give us Seven-of-Nine. A Great Character and crew member, which is what made the Borg seem even cooler. She and the Hologram-Doctor were the Best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Troy-Carrington/1328851181 Troy Carrington

    I kind of understand what she is talking about, but it sounds to me more she is like being very tongue and cheek about it, sort of like a couple of sports guys talking about, well, which is more pure?
    personally, Janeway took some time to get used to after having dealt with my favorite captain Sisko. (sorry not going to debate this, Sisko DID punch out Q, not find himself in bed with him, dealt with Dominon, Klingons and hand a hand in killing a Romulan senator, kicked Dukat’s butt while he was possessed by the Pa-raiths and the politics of Bajor). Does it make him less of a captain for not being one at the beginning of the show?
    and really was she the orginal captain of the USS voyager? in it’s inception and due to the rigors of tv filming, there was another Janeway, Nicole Janeway, played by Geneviève Bujold. But that is conjecture and may or may not have bearing in this.
    Simple truth is that all the actors, Stewart (although Star Trek the Next Generation was syndicated, does that count) Shatner ( the big man himself so if we count Syndication, do we count..ahem..film?) Mulgrew ( a great captain in her own right, a movie and a helluva a pinch hitter when Bujold left only two days into shooting) Brooks (definitely the most fleshed out of the captains and certainly the darkest of the all character wise) and Bakula (ok so we really needed a character to show why the prime directive was so important) They are all great. Tenure? Kirk has them all beat but he did take a very long vacation while everyone got on board for the STtMP (really a movie with 45minutes of enterprise exterior shots) and then rebounded with WoK.