I don’t get huge amounts of opportunity to write freely lately, tied into Italian commitments and a huge piece about Bologna that I may complete one day (there’s a few ‘on the way’ posts of that in store, but for now indulge me.
Hypothesis: On Star Trek: The Next Generation, there is a whole other cast that we never see.
Reasoning: We grow very familiar with the Enteprise crew in TNG to the point that we not only see them at work, be it on the bridge or in various other locations around the ship, but also at play.
In rewatching the series, I am surprised by how many poker games go on on-board, though I recall the trips to Ten-Forward and Holodeck adventures. These spare time activities are carried out by the main crew, often together.
This suggests that the crew are working, if not a strict 9 to 5, then certainly a pattern that allows them time on and time off and, importantly, that time off is shared with those they know from their work days.
The Enterprise cannot be stationary during those ‘off’ periods; it must keep on seeking new life and new civilisations.
Who, then, is controlling the ship at those times?
It stands to reason that a workday for a Starfleet officer is either 8 hours or, at a pinch, 12 hours. Each 24 hour period is divisible (and it seems unlikely that even hundreds of years in the future, an organisation that uses Earth as its base would not use a 24 hour day) by each of those figures.
Should that be the case, then there is either 12 or 16 hours (50% or 67%) of the Enterprise’s time that is unshown on Star Trek TNG. In that case, it is likely that there is a parallel crew, perhaps having less adventure in their time at their helm, the captain is on the Day Crew after all, but spending enough time in charge of the vessel that their stories ought to be worth telling.
A series of freestanding stories with these shadow crews would be a way of extending the reach of the Star Trek franchise without requiring a whole new leap and set up.
It would even be possible for original ‘day’ crew members to make an appearance here and there.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Generation of Shadows, then.
What could go wrong?