Monday, April 13, 2015

Character Insight No. 140: Boothby

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Mr. Boothby, a recurring character from TNG and Voyager.
(Replicated Boothby, courtesy

Mr. Boothby is the groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy. His character is referenced many more times than his actual appearances because he serves as a de facto mentor to many future powerful Starfleet officers. Captain Picard and Captain Janeway are two of these mentees who became something much greater than your average cadet at the Academy.

Boothby likes to give out grand tours of the Academy grounds to new cadets, and despite his curmudgeon appearance, he also loves to dole out wisdom and advice to the young future officers and servicemen of Starfleet. That wisdom can be invaluable, as it proved to save Picard's career following a mistake he made during his Academy days.

Likewise, Boothby also saw right through the ruse when Wesley Crusher and his elite Nova Squadron had an accident that claimed the life of one of the cadets during a training mission. His insight into the squadron and what they likely felt they had to do to keep their lofty reputation on campus led Picard to reveal the truth about the squadron practicing a dangerous and banned Kolvoord Starburst in the episode The First Duty. Just like with Picard, he ends up helping Picard mentor Crusher to save the young man's career.

From The First Duty:
Capt. Picard: You could use a good herbicide instead of pulling the weeds with your bare hands.
Boothby: M-hm... And you could explore space on a holodeck instead of a starship.

Much like other notable one-off or recurring characters, Boothby jumped series and made two appearances on Voyager, albeit not as the real Boothby. He is replicated by the leader of a group of Species 8472 when that species tries to infiltrate the Federation using Voyager as a first step. Janeway negotiates with the leader, playing as Boothby, for the mutual benefit of both parties.

He also shows up in hallucinations of Chakotay later that same year, caused by another group of aliens trying to use his subconscious to communicate with him telepathically. That includes one of the sillier scenes including Boothby, a boxing training scene where he speaks platitudes about the fight.

Quote from The Fight:
Boothby: [about boxing] It all comes down to the heart. Do you have the heart for this? That's the contest. It's not against him, it's against your own natural human desire not to get hurt. That's the real fight.

Boothby was also to appear in the movie Star Trek Insurrection, but his part got cut before filing began. Even without this callback, he is an interesting character who adds some much needed background on both the Academy and the captains of these shows. It would be fascinating to have seen more from this character, including any mentorship he had for others we know and love.

Boothby was played by Ray Walston. He died in 2001 at the ripe old age of 86, and two of his most famous appearances were on the movies Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the 80s and in My Favorite Martian in the 60s.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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