Being sick has its bonuses. For example, recovering from this cold I’ve been able to marathon Star Trek The Next Generation on DVD. We started with season 2 on Saturday and now we’re most of the way thru season 3. You may ask why we didn’t start with Season 1– this is because we already marathoned thru that last summer.
This look back at season 2 has given me the opportunity to reconsider a somewhat forgotten character in the Star Trek canon. Dr. Kate Pulaski as portrayed by Diana Muldaur. From what I understand, when the show as picked up for a 2nd season the producers failed to reach an agreement with Gates McFadden to reprise her role as Dr. Beverly Crusher. This left the Enterprise without a chief medical officer and the cast incomplete. The producers then reached out to veteran Star Trek actor Diana Muldaur who had appeared more than once in the original series. They wrote the part of Dr. Katherine Pulaski to serve as the new Chief Medical Officer. She’s an interesting woman. She hates the transporter- much like Dr. McCoy did. She’s stubborn- much like Dr. Crusher is. She also is given a chance for character growth. She starts off with a prejudice against Data, seeing him as a machine only and not a true lifeform. It takes a couple episodes but eventually she comes around and respects and cares for Data like the rest of us do. Muldaur does a great job playing Pulaski. To be frank, I didn’t really find myself missing Dr. Crusher. It does seem strange that Wesley remains on board even though his mother has transferred to Starfleet Medical.
My biggest problem with Dr. Pulaski is how the writers wrote her out of the series. You see, they didn’t. Her last episode is Shades of Gray— an embarrassingly bad clip episode that focuses on Riker. Why couldn’t Dr. Pulaski have appeared in the first episode of season 3, Evolution. We could have seen her transfer off the Enterprise with some exciting opportunity or promotion while welcoming Crusher back on board. But instead we are given NOTHING. They acknowledge that Crusher is back from her “year at Starfleet Medical” and that she missed her son Wesley while away. But there is no mention of our dear Kate. We are left wondering whatever happened to our lost Doctor, Kate Pulaski. Where oh where did she go??