Star Trek: Voyager Actor Keen to Reprise Fan Favorite Character
Robert Picardo has a plan for joining his Voyager castmates in returning to the Star Trek universe. But he doesn't want to come back as the Doctor.
Legacy sequels may be all the rage now, but they’ve always been an important part of the Star Trek universe. Ever since the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation let DeForest Kelley play an incredibly old Doctor McCoy, Trek has prided itself on making connections to previous entries. Not only did Next Generation feature appearances from other Original Series cast members such as Spock and Scotty, but original Klingon Kor appeared in several episodes of Deep Space Nine and a clever flashback in Voyager showed Tuvok serving under Captain Sulu. So when Picard brought back most of the major characters from Next Gen, Janeway and Chakotay returned on Prodigy, and Quark and Kira appeared on Lower Decks, it felt less like a stunt and more like the continuation of a Trek tradition.
Given the fact that many Voyager characters have made their return in either the form of holograms or, in the case of Tom Paris, a commemorative plate on Lower Decks, it seems like the Doctor would be an ideal character to show up on a modern Trek series. After all, the Doctor doesn’t die or age (a point used to great effect on several Voyager eps) and even if actor Robert Picardo is visibly older than the last time he played the role, producers managed to work around Brent Spiner’s aging for his return as Data.
To be sure, Picardo likes the idea of following his castmates back to the screen. But he has different ideas about how to do it. “It’s certainly something I’m open to and the character lives on inside me,” Picardo said during an interview on To Boldly Ask. However, the character that lives inside Picardo may not be the Doctor. In fact, he talks about not necessarily returning as the Doctor, but rather Doctor Zimmerman, the scientist who created Emergency Medical Holograms and modeled the first batch after himself. “I could easily play Doc Zimmerman again because Zimmerman is in the same timeline as certain of those Star Trek series,” he pointed out.
Not only would playing Zimmerman allow Picardo to literally act his age, but it also makes more sense storywise. Zimmerman interacted with characters in the Alpha Quadrant while the Doctor and Voyager were in the Delta Quad, but Starfleet quickly moved past Zimmerman. Rios’s ship on Picard has an EMH modeled on himself, and even during Voyager, we saw a later EMH with a non-Zimmerman model (given the fact that this EMH was played by Andy Dick, I’m not sure it was an improvement).
But for Picardo, the main appeal is less practicality and more humor, especially if he gets the chance to play a version of his EMH at the same time. “To me it’s a funny idea.,” he explained. “Let’s say you’re a 40-year-old person, imagine your 18-year-old self working side by side with you during the day on some very critical or important mission … Wouldn’t that annoy the hell out of you?” We know from previous Voyager episodes that Zimmerman and the Doctor did in fact annoy the hell out of each other, which means that Picardo’s return would actually involve two Trek traditions!