Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top 5 Trek: TNG Guest Stars

TNG is a show that has a wealth of interesting stories, and a host of skilled actors to populate them. We've waxed rhapsodic many times on the talents of the main cast, but I wanted to take this time to discuss the guest cast, and ask the question - who are the top 5 guest stars in TNG? By guest stars, I intend to exclude "Regular" guest stars, such as John De Lancie as Q, Dwight Schultz as Barclay, Majel Barret's Lwaxana Troi, and so on. To me these are recurring guest actors, as opposed to guest stars per se.

All that said, a list like this, composed by one person, is of course fraught with personal opinions and biases. So be it. Perhaps we'll do a corresponding poll when the mood strikes me and I locate the arcane instructions again. Anyway, here goes:

5. Daniel Davis as Professor Moriarty (2 appearances)

No, Mr. Sheffield... I expect you to die!

What more needs to be said about Davis' portrayal of Moriarty? Kevin and I both loved him in each episode he appeared in. Say what you want about "create an adversary capable of defeating Data" as a story device, Davis truly delivered on the promise for the viewers. He was both charming and just a bit scary, and his English accent is spot on, at least to these American ears.

4. Suzie Plakson as K'Ehleyr (2) and Selar (1)

K'Ehleyr models the new Holodeck PowerGlove for the home audience. Gyromite sold separately.

Here is a member of the list who should not be here for one simple reason - she should have been a regular. K'Ehleyr as a character was a great foil for Worf, puncturing his Klingon pomposity and lightening his scenes. But as an actress, Suzie Plakson is even better. She pulls off, seemingly effortlessly, what many actresses struggle with - portraying a strong woman who can bust your balls but still retain all of her charm and allure. Let us also not forget her turn as the sexy Vulcan Dr. Selar. Sigh. Losing her may be TNG's greatest black mark.

3. Jerry Hardin as Samuel Clemens (2), Radue (1)

"Clipper ship my ass!"

Here is a guest actor that so embodied his role, that his portrayal is the primary image in my mind of Mark Twain. Time's Arrow was good enough for what it was, but Hardin's Twain probably could have saved a much worse episode, simply owing to how fun it was to watch him on screen, interacting with out favorite characters. He also played the mildly creepy Radue in "When the Bough Breaks."

2. Carolyn Seymour as Taris, Toreth, and Mirasta Yale (3)

Her ability to rock the awful shoulder pads puts her in good stead on this list.

Here is the spot reserved for "someone so good we had to keep asking her back." Her brief guest spot in "Contagion was memorable, as she distrustfully sparred with Riker. But she really came into her own as Mirasta Yale in "First Contact." The way she portrayed a scientist and dreamer yearning for a place in a larger universe was superb and emotionally resonant. Toreth in "Face of the Enemy" was an altogether different character played with similar panache. And I really don't think it's just her totally arch-sounding and elegant English accent swaying me here. Seymour can flat out act.

1. David Warner as Gul Madred (2)

Hogging not one, but four spotlights. (Or is it five?)

John De Lancie would have probably topped this list had he been more of a guest star, as opposed to a regular returner. Why? Because he could stand up to Patrick Stewart on the same stage and convince us that he really could outwit him. David Warner stands at the top of this list for the same reason - his role, jousting with Picard as the torturing interrogator Gul Madred, gave us the absolute best antagonist for Picard in the series. I really believed, on an emotional level, every threat, every retort, every bit of anger, that came from the character. David Warner just kicks ass, all told. He was great in Star Trek VI as Gorkon. Heck, he even did a fine job in Star Trek V as the federation ambassador.

Just for fun, here is the remainder of the list that I compiled when I was considering my picks. If you think I erred, let me know in the comments!

James Sloyan as Admiral Alidar Jarok (1)
Natalia Nogulich as Admiral Alynna Nechayev (4)
Andreas Katsulas as Commander Tomalak (4)
Ronny Cox as Captain Edward Jellico (2)
David Ogden Stiers as Dr. Timicin (1)
Eric Menyuk as The Traveler (3)
W. Morgan Sheppard as Dr. Ira Graves (1)
Robert O'Reilly as Gowron (4)
Roy Brocksmith as Sirna Kolrami (1)
Christopher McDonald as Richard Castillo (1)
Tricia O'Neil as Rachel Garrett (1)
Elizabeth Dennehy as Commander Shelby (2)
Ray Walston as Boothby (1)
Robert Duncan McNiell as Nicholas Locarno (1)
Shannon Fill as Sito Jaxa (2)
Famke Jannsen as Kamala (1)
J.C. Brandy as Ensign Marta Batanides (1)
Denise Crosby as Commander Sela (5)
Ashley Judd as Robin Lefler (2)
Tony Todd as Kurn (3)


  1. I must say, I would put Suzie Plackson on top. Her appearance was remarkable and really inspiring. I find the character of K'Ehleyr just great and I was incredibily disapointed when they just let her die!

  2. Okay I am going to go with the hottie factor and say that Ashley Judd and Shannon Fill needed to be on the list! But then the list would have need be a top 10 probably and maybe added Ronny Cox and Andreas Katsulas(one of my favorite villians) you also left out Tony Todd(unless you view him as recurring)

  3. Oh, I love me some Shannon Fill and Ashley Judd.

    And I left Tony Todd off by mistake. He was great. I amended the list. We'll do a poll soon.

  4. oh yeah I am well aware of your list of Trek women!!!!

  5. As someone who hated the Sherlock Holmes episodes and thought the Mark Twain character was silly in an otherwise epic two-parter, I cat believe Tony Todd is left off this list. Especially since he uttered the greatest line in TNG guest star history:
    "Just a short time ago I had to stop myself from killing Commander Riker"

  6. Well, the poll is now up. So all you haters can vote for whomever you prefer :)

  7. I disagree on the disliking of Holmes or Twain. Even if the Holmes episodes have philosophical gaps, the actors themselves are awesome, but I would say I would put Tony Todd on my top 5.