Pulaski was part of the rescue team responding to a Tholian attack on a Federation starbase in 2353. There was only one survivor, Kyle Riker, and it was at this time the two met. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")
Like her predecessor eighty years before, Dr. Leonard McCoy, Dr. Pulaski had a transporter phobia. She rarely used the transporter while posted to that vessel, preferring to use shuttlecraft whenever possible. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection", "Shades of Gray")
Pulaski joined Lieutenant commander Data and Lieutenant La Forge on a holodeck simulation of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. La Forge had unwittingly given the simulated Professor James Moriarty, Holmes' nemesis, sentience by giving the computer the directive to create an adversary which could defeat Data, not Holmes. Moriarty took control of the program and abducted Pulaski. She was held captive but unharmed until Captain Picard was able to convince Moriarty to release control of the holodeck. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")
The Enterprise was sent to investigate the disappearance of the USS Lantree and discovered that the entire crew had died as a result of premature aging. The Enterprise backtracked the Lantree's course and ended up at the Darwin Genetic Research Station on Gagarin IV. The scientists on the station, led by Dr. Sara Kingsley, were attempting to genetically engineer several children and accidentally caused their antibodies to become overzealous. The antibodies were designed to seek and destroy harmful organisms before they entered the bodies of the children. The Lantree first officer had been treated for the Thelusian flu prior to visiting Darwin Station, which triggered the immune systems of the children. The antibodies mutated and became airborne, attacking the Lantree crew as well as the scientists on the station. Dr. Kingsley was adamant that the children could not be carriers of the disease, given their isolation since the infection, plus the fact they have shown no signs. She pleaded with Dr. Pulaski to examine one of the children to rule out the possibility. Pulaski eventually convinced Captain Picard to let her beam one of the youths, encased in styrolite, aboard for examination. She was not content with scans of the child in stasis, and later had Commander Data take her and the teenager onto a shuttlecraft for revival in order to avoid risk to the Enterprise. Unfortunately, the children were indeed the source of the disease, and Pulaski was infected once the youth was removed from the styrolite. She and Data returned to the surface of Gagarin IV, where she worked to find a cure. Fortunately, a cure was devised by Picard and Data, with the help of Commander Riker, La Forge, and Chief O'Brien involving the transporter. Her DNA from before she was infected was obtained from a strand of hair, and it was used to instruct the biofilter on what elements were part of her normal genetic structure. The procedure was perilous; if the disease could not be removed via transporter, Pulaski's pattern would have been dispersed in space to prevent contamination of the Enterprise crew. The procedure was ultimately successful, and used to treat the station staff. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")
While visiting the Mariposan colony in 2365, Pulaski, along with Commander Riker, was briefly abducted. The Mariposans took epithelial cells from both, intending to use them to preserve their colony which was being affected by replicative fading. Once she and Riker learned of this, they returned to the planet and destroyed the two clones. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder")
Early in her career, Pulaski authored a groundbreaking research paper called "Linear Models of Viral Propagation". It was still the standard on the subject many years later. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")
She also performed two successful operations involving ocular implants. She offered the procedure to Lieutenant Geordi La Forge in 2365, although he turned down the opportunity. (TNG: "Loud As A Whisper")
She had an expertise in heart surgery, and when Picard initially tried to refuse her medical order to proceed to Starbase 515 for a cardiac replacement surgery, she said then that her and her staff would be able to perform the surgery on Enterprise. He refused because of his pride, saying it would be inappropriate for Pulaski to do so. Picard eventually did accompany Wesley Crusher to the starbase (Wesley was going to undergo testing to see if he could continue his Starfleet Academy studies aboard Enterprise), but when complications developed that put his life in jeopardy, the surgeons, who were unqualified to perform risky techniques that might save Picard's life, called for Katherine Pulaski, who was so qualified. When Picard awoke to see Pulaski in the OR, he was annoyed that she was there. When she says she was saving his life, he says that this was a routine operation but Pulaski says Picard is not a commonplace man and despite the fact that the entire crew now knows of what's happened, Pulaski tells Picard that he's still invincible in their eyes.(TNG: "Samaritan Snare")
Pulaski believed that traditional remedies were just as valuable as technological ones, perhaps even more so. When the Enterprise was affected by an Iconian software transmission, she instructed her staff to use splints and other primitive treatments while most of the ship's systems were down. (TNG: "Contagion") She also had her own blend of chicken soup, called PCS (Pulaski's chicken soup), which she prescribed to those with ailments such as the flu. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")
Pulaski entered a romantic relationship with Kyle Riker during his convalescence in 2353. She later recalled that she would have married him "in a cold minute", but quickly realized that his priorities were elsewhere and she would not have a stable place in his life. She did not hold this fact against him, though, and they remained amicable. Pulaski never mentioned this to his son Will Riker until Kyle came aboard the Enterprise in 2365 to brief Will on his promotion to captain of the USS Aries, a position Will later turned down.
Pulaski and Jean-Luc Picard butted heads over a number of issues during her year aboard the ship. Picard was somewhat offended that her first destination upon boarding the ship was Ten Forward. (TNG: "The Child") Pulaski was also upset that the Enterprise was going to do nothing to help the dying civilization on Drema IV. (TNG: "Pen Pals")
He also argued with her over the surgery needed to replace his cardiac implant. Dr. Pulaski believed she could perform the surgery on the Enterprise, but Picard felt it would be inappropriate and a sign of weakness in front of the crew. She gave him the option of going to Starbase 515, which he did. He nearly died on the operating table from complications, but the Enterprise rushed to the starbase and Pulaski transported down to complete the surgery. Her expertise saved Picard's life. (TNG: "Samaritan Snare")
Despite these conflicts, Pulaski had a deep respect for the captain. She admired him for some time prior to her assignment to the Enterprise, and jumped at the chance to transfer when the position became available. Picard did not learn of this until he spoke with Captain Taggert while Pulaski was affected by the virus on Gagarin IV. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")
Because of her discomfort with technology, Pulaski was not very kind towards Lieutenant Commander Data when she first boarded the ship. She saw him as no more than a machine, pronouncing his name "DAT-ah" rather than "DAY-ta", and did not understand that, as Data pointed out, "One is my name. The other is not." She was also confused when Counselor Troi decided to have Data with her during the delivery of her son, believing that the touch of a Human hand was better than that of an artificial lifeform. (TNG: "The Child") She was also condescending towards Data and often spoke to him through other crewmembers. (TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease") She believed that Data's methodical way of looking at situations meant that he could never solve a traditional Sherlock Holmes mystery, which led to the creation of the program which brought about the sentient Professor Moriarty. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")
Later during the year, however, she began to value Data and look upon him as an equal and as a sentient individual. The major turning point was during the crisis surrounding the Darwin Station children. Data stayed to support Pulaski for a long period of time after she had become infected, something for which she was very grateful. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection") Pulaski even challenged master Zakdorn strategist Sirna Kolrami to a game of Strategema, believing that Data could win. When Data was unsuccessful, he interpreted it as a possible weakness and relieved himself of duty. Dr. Pulaski tried to encourage Data to return to duty, and make him realize that one letdown doesn't necessarily mean total failure, though she was unsuccessful. Finally Captain Picard told Data that a loss can be had with no mistakes made and convinced him to return to duty. Data later forced Kolrami to a stalemate, much to Kolrami's chagrin. (TNG: "Peak Performance")
Pulaski had a certain fascination with Klingon culture. When Lieutenant Worf was diagnosed with the Klingon equivalent of measles, rop'ngor, Pulaski vowed that she would tell no one in order to spare Worf's pride. Worf, who later expressed disdain for any kind of doctors due to his Klingon heritage, considered that a friendly gesture on her part, an honorable act that won his friendship. In order to thank her, Worf had her partake in the Klingon tea ceremony. Pulaski had the presence of mind to give herself an antidote for a substance in the tea lethal to Humans. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder")
She did not find all parts of Klingon culture particularly appealing, however. She was not very interested in sampling Klingon cuisine (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor") and found the Second Rite of Ascension to be somewhat barbaric. Nevertheless, she honored Worf by her presence, proving her friendship to him. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")
Pulaski was also an accomplished poker player, and joined the Enterprise crew for several poker games. She used to make fun of Worf, because of his icy look during the game. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")
- - Pulaski expressing misgivings about Data offering to support Deanna Troi as she gives birth to her baby. (TNG: "The Child")
- - Pulaski recommending old-fashioned methods (namely, the use of a splint) to a disbelieving doctor. (TNG: "Contagion")
|Chief medical officers of the starships Enterprise|
|USS Enterprise:||April • Boyce • Piper • McCoy • Chapel|
|USS Enterprise-D:||Crusher • Pulaski • Ogawa|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||Phlox|
|ISS Enterprise NCC-1701:||McCoy|
|USS Enterprise:||Puri • McCoy|
- "The Child"
- "Where Silence Has Lease"
- "Elementary, Dear Data"
- "Loud As A Whisper"
- "The Schizoid Man"
- "Unnatural Selection"
- "A Matter Of Honor"
- "The Measure Of A Man"
- "The Dauphin"
- "The Royale"
- "Time Squared"
- "The Icarus Factor"
- "Pen Pals"
- "Samaritan Snare"
- "Up The Long Ladder"
- "The Emissary"
- "Peak Performance"
- "Shades of Gray"
Dr. Pulaski was portrayed by actress Diana Muldaur.
Pulaski first appeared in TNG: "The Child", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season. She proceeded to appear in the vast majority of that season, though she is not present in the episodes "The Outrageous Okona" and "Q Who". Her final appearance was in second season finale "Shades of Gray", and beyond brief references in TNG: "Who Watches The Watchers" and TNG: "Ship in a Bottle", she was never heard from again.
Gene Roddenberry loosely patterned Pulaski after Dr. McCoy. (TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Two") They most notably share a phobia of the transporter. Likewise, Pulaski's relationship with Data was an attempt to mirror McCoy's relationship with Spock. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 78)
Pulaski wears a kind of "skant" variation of the Starfleet uniform, with slacks. However, in cast photos for the second season, Diana Muldaur wore the standard Starfleet uniform (as did the Pulaski action figure by Playmates Toys). In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Diana Muldaur stated that the original one-piece uniform was very uncomfortable and that she had felt the tight uniform was not flattering for a middle-aged woman.
Pulaski is the only regular cast member of a post-TOS Star Trek series to be played by an actor or actress who had also appeared in the original series; Diana Muldaur appeared in the TOS episodes "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?".
Despite being a series regular for the second season of TNG, Muldaur declined to appear in the series' opening credit sequence, and instead received billing and a "special appearance" credit for each episode in which she appeared. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
The Pulaski character was ultimately deemed to have been a failed experiment. Rick Berman commented, "That never quite worked [....] The character of Doctor Pulaski just never really quite solidified." Not only did the TNG staffers turn down the offer of renewing Diana Muldaur's contract for TNG Season 3 but Muldaur herself wasn't really interested in reprising the role of Pulaski either, as she had found that the mythos of TNG was such a technology-based setting with little focus, compared to TOS, on character. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge)
Michael Dorn expressed that had the character continued, she may have taken up a romantic relationship with Worf, given the chemistry that developed between the two characters. (Making It So: Continuing Star Trek - The Next Generation, Part 2: "New Life and New Civilizations")
Pulaski has made several appearances in Star Trek novels. These include Vectors, the second novel of the Double Helix series, in which she leads a small team including Nurse Alyssa Ogawa, to the Cardassian space station Terok Nor to investigate a cure for a lethal plague. The novel identifies one of Pulaski's ex-husbands as Kellec Ton, a Bajoran doctor.
According to the video game Star Trek: Starship Creator, Pulaski was born in Krakow, Poland, to parents Sabina and Georgos Pulaski. Her three ex-husbands are identified as Doctor Lawrence Barnett, Lieutenant Michael Tasi, and Tris Stewart.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comics "The Cancer Within, Part I" and "The Cancer Within, Part II" feature Pulaski risking her Starfleet career to save the life of her daughter Jackie, a member of the Maquis, from a genetically engineered virus.
In the novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, when the Enterprise returns to Earth and everyone gathers for Riker and Troi's wedding, Pulaski was among the many who came to the wedding and because Beverly Crusher was leaving the Enterprise to head Starfleet Medical again, Picard, referring to Pulaski, remarked that he was given a "stubborn, acerbic, cantankerous replacement who I firmly believed was sent specifically to drive me mad." Though Picard then said he would love to have her back if she was interested, Pulaski turned Picard down, saying her days of starship medicine were behind her.
- Katherine Pulaski at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Katherine Pulaski at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Katherine Pulaski at Wikipedia
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