I don’t know about you, but I remember Chief O’Brien as a bigger part of TNG than he actually is. He isn’t even the consistent man behind the transporter controls. I really enjoy Colm Meany. I think he’s a good actor who brings a certain edge to essentially agreeable characters like Miles. It makes his occasional moral stands both more forceful and fraught. In any case, I remembered a good number of episodes that featured him, and expected there to be a ton more. Even in the episodes he is in, for quite a few he’s just standing behind the controls as some ambassador beams on. He really doesn’t get his time in the spotlight until DS9 rolls around. I guess Jon Adams also noticed that he wasn’t featured all that often and decided to fill in the gaps.
You can find his Chief O’Brien at Work on the City Cyclops Tumblr page. It documents all of the moments of standing alone in a windowless room that the show glossed over, not to mention the exciting moments when O’Brien is reminded that the computer can do his job just as well as he can. It’s a study in the same kind of existential agony that most of us experience in boring, unfulfilling and sometimes lonely jobs. Except O’Brien is in space! That should be exciting, right? Nope. Space exists outside the confines of the transporter room.
The comic is big on not much happening. O’Brien doesn’t move and he pretty much has three facial expressions, bored and a little unhappy, soon to be crushed excitement and crushed excitement. Keiko is screwing around with Riker and Picard seems to forget that he even exists. He rarely asserts himself, and when he does he gets shot down. It’s the monotony of space travel written all over his slightly pudgy, Irish face that really sinks it home.
And, honestly, can someone explain to me why they even have a transporter room? What about the room causes the transporter to work better? A person can easily be transported to or from the bridge or literally any other place on board. When your transportation device can move matter from anywhere to anywhere it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have people moving to a centralized location. It just seems completely unnecessary and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it explained properly.