Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Remembering The Pakleds

I was listening to Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast this morning, and they mentioned a point early in the development of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Gene Roddenberry asked his team to make a list of ways they could have a character with a disability. The writer David Gerrold, who was the guest on the podcast telling about this, said one of the ideas was to create a character with Down Syndrome who would have a "brain augmentation" of some kind. Of course, in the end they opted for a blind character, Engineer Geordi LaForge, played by LaVar Burton, with his iconic "VISOR" device.

I was surprised Gerrold didn't mention the Pakleds. This was a humanoid species introduced in an episode of TNG that I vaguely remembered, called "Samaritan Snare". The Pakleds were was obviously supposed to be an entire humanoid species that was cognitively impaired. In a moment of deep nerdery, I looked up the Pakleds and that episode on the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki, and found evidence of a possible disability depiction train-wreck. Before I get into it, though, I'm going to watch the episode, so I can comment on it directly, and see if it's as terrible as the write-ups suggest it is.