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you do whatever it takes to get the marbles to watch "Star Trek"
February 5, 2013 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Doctor Of Celebrity Gossip and frequent chronicler of the Scandals Of Classic Hollywood (previously) Anne Helen Petersen (more previously) muses on growing up with Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Questions raised include the need to start at the beginning with The Original Series and movies ("Is Data in them? THEN NO."), the lure of a Dr. Crusher bookmark, and whether it's appropriate to share a copy of Imzadi with your mom.

If your nostalgia about Star Trek: The Next Generation is along the lines of "what kind of bikini would Deanna Troi pick?", you might enjoy the previously FPP'd Fashion It So.

More interested in the proper way to stand on the bridge of the Enterprise 1701-D? Allow Commander William T. Riker to teach you to lean. While being dreamy, of course.
posted by Sara C. (126 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
...growing up with Star Trek: The Next Generation.

When did I get so old?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:01 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


"is Data in them? THEN NO."

I was too young to really understand what was going on when the show first started, but I did watch it purely because of Data and LaForge. I'm pretty sure a lot of kids walked around with headbands in front of their eyes (like this guy).
posted by spiderskull at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by mediated self at 12:10 PM on February 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


Data and Geordi of course feature prominently in the plots from season 8 (previously).
posted by fartron at 12:10 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


At some point, you watch Wrath of Khan and are horrified.

Get off my Starfleet Academy lawn or I'll have Boothby whup yo ass.
posted by BeeDo at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


agree with author on most everything except that it can't be revisited. i've revisited the series several times, and it holds up for me.
posted by blendor at 12:17 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


At some point, you watch Wrath of Khan and are horrified.

Yeah, I liked almost all of this essay except for that one line, which left me horrified. When you dis Khan, you dis yourself.

I do think it's interesting that TNG steams to be going through some sort of giant, glacial (both in pace and unstoppable momentum) cultural rehabilitation. I remember the consensus being that it was cheesy and embarrassing; now we all seem to agree that it was pretty awesome, even when it wasn't.

Just talking out of my ass, I wonder if this is in part because various factors have worked overtime to rob all things Star Wars of any fun, leaving the great middle-aged nerd masses looking for a new shared thing to feel good about together.
posted by COBRA! at 12:19 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Get off my Starfleet Academy lawn...

My read of that is that the author watched Wrath Of Khan around 11-12 and was actually freaked out by it. Not, like "omg my Star Trek is better than your lame Star Trek" ironic pearl clutchy horrified.

Her descriptions of Kirk and the TOS sets jibe really well with my memories of being shown the Original series by well-meaning relatives when I was around that age. It was rejected by the same part of my brain that also disliked black and white movies and having to wear my aunt's late 70's hand-me-downs despite the fact that I was 12 in 1993.

I don't share those reactions now, but the point of this piece seems to be those fleeting, laughably rash, kneejerk reactions to media that kids develop.
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the later seasons when they get that full remastering treatment. TNG is the only thing that rivals The Simpsons for me as the ultimate television equivalent of comfort food.
posted by Lorin at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


except that it can't be revisited. i've revisited the series several times, and it holds up for me.

I've re-watched the first fifty or so episodes over the past month, and while there are definitely some plodding filler episodes, it's definitely enjoyable.

One thing that I find fascinating now, though, is how things like budgets (and the writers strike) had such a profound influence on some of the stories. For example, the Riker clip episode that ends season 2 was a way of getting around the small budget they had left. The Borg would have looked like insects if the show had more money.
posted by drezdn at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2013


COBRA!, I think it's also that the television trends of antihero protagonists and Darker Grittier takes on sci fi are getting a bit long in the tooth.

There's something so nostalgic about that optimistic early 90's moment when the cold war was over and we were all pretty sure that the big problems had been solved.
posted by Sara C. at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


You force yourself to watch but always feel nauseated by the color of Kirk's uniform, the fine sheen of sweat on his face. You know enough to know that he's supposed to be sexy, but the 60s coloring and the ramshackle bridge makes you queasy.

It's really hard for me to imagine having his viewpoint. To me Trek is TOS and any shows after that are pale pastel attempts to recapture the full-color magic that was Kirk and company.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, as a kid you watch Kahn and fuckin' Chekov gets an alien worm thing stuck in his fucking ear. It's a weirdly visceral moment compared to the relatively sanitized and bloodless world of Star Trek, not just because of the squick factor but because Chekov is (understandably) really, really upset by the whole thing. Star Trek conflict is usually all about stoic thoughtfulness (and a little bit of punching and badly aimed phasering) in service of a morality play, so Mr. Corinthian Leather ear-violating a terrified Chekov stands out a little.
posted by cortex at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


To be fair, I've watched a few TNG episodes lately on the Roku and they weren't nearly as boring as I remembered.
posted by octothorpe at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2013


I imagine no small part of the renewed interest is that the whole thing is available on Netflix.
posted by drezdn at 12:28 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's also that the television trends of antihero protagonists and Darker Grittier takes on sci fi are getting a bit long in the tooth.

There's something so nostalgic about that optimistic early 90's moment when the cold war was over and we were all pretty sure that the big problems had been solved.


That makes sense, as does your explanation of the Khan comment.

This thread just made me abruptly realize that I fell in love with TNG while watching the series finale (I vaguely liked it before, but All Good Things... was what made me a superfan). And that was on a sort of magical roadtrip that also hooked me up with the city of Minneapolis (where I've lived ever since) and beer (which has been a boon companion ever since). This fucking show just gives and gives.
posted by COBRA! at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


ironic pearl clutchy horrified

Ironic latinum clutching.

That makes sense, I guess. I was 8 when TNG started, and thanks to my older sister had already seen all of TOS and the movies several times. It would maybe have been more like the author if I'd been the eldest kid in my family in 1988.

But still, Ricardo Montalban will Find You! Don't Mess with the Chest.
posted by BeeDo at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2013


Yeah, as a kid you watch Kahn and fuckin' Chekov gets an alien worm thing stuck in his fucking ear. It's a weirdly visceral moment compared to the relatively sanitized and bloodless world of Star Trek,

No, there was a whole TNG arc where the alien ear-worms (same ones? don't know) had taken over, run by a mother-bug hiding in some guy's skin. I know I didn't dream that. But the special effects were bad enough that it was only mildly squicky.

TNG started when I was in college and dating the guy who ran our DnD game, and we were all nerds together breathlessly watching every week. Good times. I think I laughed for a week after the Barkley episode with the holodeck. Wesley as a brat in Little Lord Fauntleroy curls! Riker getting his butt kicked! I guess they couldn't do an episode about fapping on the holodeck (which is what it would be used for as we all know) so they got as close as they could.

She is wrong about Worf, though; he was worth 10, sideways-leaning, lady-sliming Rikers.
posted by emjaybee at 12:39 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I fell in love with TNG when I watched it in syndication on TV-55 in the early 90s, while new episodes were still airing. The station wasn't on cable, and the only TV with an antenna we had was black-and-white portable from the early 80s or possibly the 70s--three- or four-inch screen, about as big as a couple encyclopedia volumes stacked, also a radio. I laid on my bedroom floor every night after the news and watched, my face practically pressed up against the tiny screen.

The post-scarcity Star Trek future shaped and, in some ways, still shapes the way I look at the world. It's an ideal I really want to believe in, and sometimes almost do.

The first thing I did when I subscribed to Netflix in 2002 or 2003 was to queue up all the TNG DVDs. I re-watched every episode, in order (skipping the Lwaxana Troi episodes; Nurse Chapel, I love you, but good god). It was just an awesome trip down memory lane.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:43 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, there was a whole TNG arc where the alien ear-worms (same ones? don't know) had taken over, run by a mother-bug hiding in some guy's skin. I know I didn't dream that. But the special effects were bad enough that it was only mildly squicky.

Oh totally, and that was a great weird little arc leading up to a very weird episode (season two finale, maybe?) with Riker undercover pretending to be a fleshbag and then at the end Riker and Picard double-team Admiral Buglord with their phasers and there's a cheesy claymation-seeming exploding bug man shot. Totally amazing. But also totally, totally tonally mismatched with just about everything they did on the show before and after.
posted by cortex at 12:45 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember the consensus being that it was cheesy and embarrassing; now we all seem to agree that it was pretty awesome, even when it wasn't.

Part of it is that Trek and camp have had an uneasy relationship over the last few decades. For a while it seemed like Trek needed to be, or to become, "cool" in an awe-inspiring way that would validate its science-fictional ambitions to sense-of-wonder, ethical seriousness, etc. on the aesthetic level; but now in a retrospective way it is becoming possible to appreciate the aesthetic cheesiness alongside the ethical and intellectual seriousness, at the same time, without the two cancelling each other out.
posted by RogerB at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


All Good Things

Worth it for Lucasian professor Data's dozens of cats. Picard and Geordi surrounded by cats completely straight faced was one of the funniest moments of the series.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:47 PM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


The alien parasites were in season 1 episode conspiracy.
posted by drezdn at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great article.

One little thing, as always:
But "Star Trek" is five days a week, and always perfect. This is before the Borg, [...] This is right about the episode when Picard's mind is captured by some foreign planet, he starts wearing burlap all the time, has a wife, and becomes super proficient at the pan flute. Don't ask more about that episode—it was called "If Wishes Were Horses"—
"If Wishes Were Horses" is the DS9 version of Sphere. The flute episode is "The Inner Light", and it's in 5th season, well after "Q Who?", well after "The Best of Both Worlds", and even a couple episodes after "I, Borg".
posted by stebulus at 12:50 PM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, as a kid I was all "eeewwwwww why WORF, girl?" But rewatching as an adult, Worf is one of the most interesting characters. I can see why they'd be friends, and I guess they might have a fling?

My main issue with the Worf/Troi shipping situation is that it feels like the writers had gone about as far as they could go with the Troi/Riker subtext, but will-they-won't-they shipping is important to the fanbase, so they just sort of picked someone else to mix it up.

Especially when you consider that Worf is really the only acceptable male regular. Picard and Data are obviously not happening, and they'd already gone out of their way to characterize Geordi as a dweeb who strikes out with women way below Troi's league.

Also, the fact that Worf spends several years talking about how he could never be with a human woman because he'd break them, but then chooses to pair off with Troi of all people really cements my preferred read of her character, which is that she's tough as nails and there's all kinds of shit going on with her below the surface that the show doesn't really deal with. Especially since Riker repeatedly reveals himself to be a bottom who prefers strong -- even somewhat masculine -- women.
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 PM on February 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


It helped to already be in the latter half of high school when it came out and surrounded by other drama nerds who didn't give a shit what the cool kids thought of us. I remember lunchtable discussions about how lame Tasha Yar was, and at some point a viewing party in which we served Sprite with a shit-ton of food coloring to make it "Romulan Ale".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh - and I remember audibly cheering in my living room when Picard bellowed out that "THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Especially since Riker repeatedly reveals himself to be a bottom

Tell me more, I'm all ears.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:56 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This essay speaks to me. My grandfather fed me a steady diet of TNG when I was young and I remember struggling to understood why that other show was called Star Trek too. I was so young that I began to wonder why Geordi was on PBS but he wasn't really Geordi.

All of the Star Trek movies were hard for me to watch, except (bizarrely), the one with the whales. The original series will always seem disjointed and hazed in an orange veil of violence. To me, TOS is so full of arrogant cowboys and manifest destiny that it was impossible to understand how it could have been so revolutionary and radically different.

The post-scarcity Star Trek future shaped and, in some ways, still shapes the way I look at the world. It's an ideal I really want to believe in, and sometimes almost do.

This is so relevant it's hard to explain to people who don't love TNG. Picard's moral lessons and inspiring monologues, Data's reflective insights and Georgi's engineering and scientific feats are woven into the fabric of my childhood. "Star Trek" brings to mind glossy-grey panels of progress; earth-shattering scientific advancements that are cooperative efforts and shared; and a culture where you are "working" for the betterment of your society, without stomping on the rest of the universe, because helping everyone it the whole point.

It's a kind of post-TOS privilege. There were hard lessons and big, messy mistakes that crafted TNG's culture but I only learned about that much later.
posted by Vysharra at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


The final proof was the time in Season 3 when he was about to hook up with this alien executive chef/food taster woman. She's all "how can I pleasure you, oh manly tall dude who obviously outranks a lowly servant such as myself?" And he basically tells her that this kind of sex does not interest him, and that he wants a woman who knows what she likes, ifyaknowwhatimean.

There are several other episodes where he hits it with obviously dominant women, but that's the time they spell it out the most directly.
posted by Sara C. at 1:03 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Courtesy of imdb:

Commander William T. Riker: Guinan, I need your help. Could you step over here a minute?
Guinan: Sounds simple enough.
Commander William T. Riker: [to Wesley] Now, first words out of your mouth are the most important. You may want to start with something like this.
[to Guinan]
Commander William T. Riker: You are the most beautiful woman in the galaxy...
[to Wesley]
Commander William T. Riker: But that might not work.
Guinan: Yes! Yes, it would.
Commander William T. Riker: [to Guinan] You don't know how long I've wanted to tell you that.
Guinan: But you were afraid.
Commander William T. Riker: Yes.
Guinan: Of me?
Commander William T. Riker: Of us. Of what we might become...
[Wesley tries to interrupt]
Commander William T. Riker: ... or that you might think that was a line.
Guinan: Maybe I do think it's a line.
Commander William T. Riker: Then you think I'm not sincere.
Guinan: I didn't say that. There's nothing wrong with a line. It's like a knock at the door.
Commander William T. Riker: Then you're inviting me in.
Guinan: I'm not sending you away.
Commander William T. Riker: That's more than I expected.
Guinan: Is it as much as you hoped?
Commander William T. Riker: To hope is to recognize the possibility; I had only dreams.
Guinan: Dreams can be dangerous.
Commander William T. Riker: Not these dreams. I dream of a galaxy where your eyes are the stars and the universe worships the night.
Guinan: Careful. Putting me on a pedestal so high, you may not be able to reach me.
Commander William T. Riker: Then I'll learn how to fly. You are the heart in my day and the soul in my night.
Wesley Crusher: [interrupting] I don't think this is my style.
Guinan: Shut up, kid!
[to Riker, saucily]
Guinan: Tell me more about my eyes.
posted by BeeDo at 1:03 PM on February 5, 2013 [29 favorites]


Especially since Riker repeatedly reveals himself to be a bottom

I always read him more as someone who can only really be happy when he has conquered, and it's no fun conquering someone who's naturally conquerable. In the 21st century, he'd be trying to convert every lesbian he ever met.
posted by Etrigan at 1:07 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, he sure enjoyed putting on that prancing pony low-cut-top-and-ribbons-decorating-my-junk outfit in "Angel One".
posted by Sara C. at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the 21st century, he'd be trying to convert every lesbian he ever met.

well, there was that episode when he 'converted' the androgynous alien...
posted by blendor at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2013


Sara - wasn't the issue in that episode that her mistress had sent her to do the deed with Riker? He'd been hitting on her since he met her, so personality wasn't the issue. Riker's not interested because she's not doing it of her own free will.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:12 PM on February 5, 2013


No, it's of her own free will. And he's not cold towards her or even really turning her down, he's just very clearly not interested in being sexually dominant.

Because he's sexually submissive. As he shows over and over throughout the series.

(Y'all, this is what happens when you watch 2-4 episodes of TNG every day, back to back.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:17 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you can only appreciate camp in a serious SF as an adult. When you are young you see the show as a badge of identity, you want it to be taken seriously.

I never pictured Riker as submissive. I figured he was straight up missionary then 20 minutes of laying there talking about how awesome he is.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]



The alien parasites were in season 1 episode conspiracy.

Man, I really need to watch some more of the early TNG episodes.
posted by Harpocrates at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


When TNG was on, it was my cue to go to my h.s. mixer dances every Friday. I was all "ugh, THIS show! Time to go." Get dressed in my latest 80s flair and tell my mom to stop watching Matlock or whatever crap was on and drive me to the dance (I was a hormonal brat).

Now, as a (old) geek, this takes me back to so many good times.
posted by stormpooper at 1:37 PM on February 5, 2013


I'm not so sure it was nostalgia I was feeling last week when I asked one of my classes if they had ever watched TNG. Three--three!--out of nineteen said "yes."

ME: ARRRRGH! I am old.

(Every college student I've ever had, by contrast, has seen all Star Wars films known to humankind.)

That being said, I'm a DS9 sort of gal.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love the original Trek and I love sci-fi, hard and soft (mostly soft). So I've tried watching the TNG reruns that are on now and following along on the AV Club recaps. But it just bores me, and my brain rejects it.
Picard is awesome, but he's no Kirk. Data's "I want to be human" shtick is a vehicle for cringeworthy 'humor' and Worf is the parody of Prince Zuko from Avatar, running around yelling about honor! The rest are non-entities, except for Riker's smarmy grin and Troi's unsettling attempts to be sexy.

Every problem is solved with diplomacy or technobabble.

Original Series is high adventure, Swinging 60s psychotronic Twilight Zone fun.

Next Gen is a beige and boardroom argument against socialism.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, I really need to watch some more of the early TNG episodes.

That might as well be an Outer Limits crossover episode.
posted by stebulus at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even though my instinctive reaction to her TNG-centric viewpoint is NO WAY STUPID FACE, I can back off a little and get her real point, which is that you really can't separate how old you were when you started watching Star Trek and how that influences how you view the rest of the franchise. I grew up watching TOS (literally; the show, during the original broadcast, was the first specific TV program that I can remember watching), and I thought that that was how the future would be; moreover, it was my first exposure to the concept of world-building, of a consistent SF universe that followed its own rules that were derived from, but certainly not limited to, the rules of real life. Throughout most of the seventies, I waited for the show to be revived, because it simply seemed inconceivable that anyone would want or let such an excellent thing lay fallow.

And then I saw The Motion Picture... and my heart sank, not just when I actually saw the movie itself, but even with the first shot of the reunited cast. WTF were these beige and powder-blue jumpsuits? That was the sort of color scheme that was in the original pilots, but abandoned for the series, and it just seemed purely wrong. And who was this new first officer, and the bald woman, and what was the big deal about his being captain and then not captain? Of course Kirk is supposed to be captain. That's the whole fucking point of being Kirk. Sheesh. I can't possibly describe my relief at TWOK, with its action and vastly-superior uniforms and people acting like big damn space heroes instead of spectators goggling at some cloud-thing wrapped around an old satellite.

And then there are more movies, and they're pretty good too... and then there's a new TV series... and again with the freakin' jumpsuits (at least they're more colorful), and again with the blue-eyed first officer and his sexy exotic (sexotic?) ex-girlfriend. Does Roddenberry still have issues with younger competitors vying for his job? Do these young studs have sexotic exes? Is that the deal here? And, of course, Gene is still recycling old TOS episodes, only being even more anvilicious. (Don't drink and drive a starship, kids!) So, yeah... wasn't really a TNG fan for a while, even after they, like the movies, got away from Roddenberry's favorite tropes and gave the crew two-piece uniforms. (I think that the TMP uniforms were two-piecers, too, but they were definitely jumpsuity.)

The odd thing is, even though I found TNG to be lacking in TOS nature, I became a big DS9 fan. Maybe it's because DS9 had a bit of that O.G. Trek nature, where they were really out on the final frontier and things had the potential to go completely to hell at any given moment. Something about the TNG set-up--maybe specifically the bridge, which always reminded me of a well-appointed but terminally bland airport lounge--always struck me as a bit dull. But, you know, I can dig that someone for whom that was the Trek might not like that crazy Cardassian space station architecture.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:45 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aha, Star Trek: The Next Generation being discussed on Metafilter. Can't help but think of one of my all-time favorite comments by Greg Nog...
posted by Auden at 1:49 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well there's certainly something unusual going on with Riker here.

In any event, I used to love the Trek as a kid. I remember growing up in NYC when Channel 11 used to play Kirk era Trek every weekday at midnight. My bedtime was 10, but I somehow convinced my parents that I should be able to bank an extra hour by going to sleep at 9, and setting an alarm to wake up at midnight to watch Star Trek. I have literally no idea why they agreed, and no idea why I did this--we had a VCR with a timer, so I could have just taped every episode to watch the next day.

It was also incredibly difficult to actually accomplish--by the time I went to bed, I was more or less out for the night. Ultimately, the way I ensured I'd wake up was by wearing a sweatband and tucking a travel-size alarm clock into it, pressed up against my head. It was incredibly loud and jarring to wake up to a travel alarm stuck to your head, but man, I needed my Trek.

It blew my mind when I learned that there would be a new series. To this day, I remember reading Starlog magazine in the basement of the 59th Street Forbidden Planet (a/k/a 12 year old Haddock Heaven) where some editor was talking about the new characters we'd meet in the upcoming series.

The author was describing each in turn--Picard, Riker, Troi, Worf, and then there was this line that just gripped me along the lines of "And next month, I'll tell you about the second officer. He's very special."

I don't know why, but that line has stuck with me for 25 years. And he was special--I always loved Data. I ended up as hooked on TNG as I had been on TOS.

I had a Starlog subscription, and I think I still have all my old issues. I'd love to go back to find those previews again. Having spent so many hours with those characters, it would be amazing to recapture even just a taste of that anticipation, a quarter of a lifetime away.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:51 PM on February 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Haddock, I didn't know there was ever a Forbidden Planet on 59th street. It's more evidence to what I've gleaned from movies and old novels: that uptown used to not suck.

Also, I can sympathize by being seriously disturbed by Wrath of Khan as a 7-year-old. I used to have nightmares replaying the scene where the Reliant first attacks the Enterprise. The thought of the Enterprise being blown up was way scarier than those ear-creatures. Re-watching it, it's a testament to the editing/directing skill of Nicholas Meyer and the production crew to make that scene so frighteningly ominous and chaotic.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:01 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


we had a VCR with a timer, so I could have just taped every episode to watch the next day

Where I grew up, original run TNG came on Monday night, earlyish. 5pm, Maybe? There were reruns every night at 9, but new TNG was before the news, sort of in that Wheel Of Fortune time slot.

In seventh grade, my parents signed me up for math tutoring on Mondays after school, so I'd never get home in time to watch that week's episode. And this was season 7, goddammit, so there were precious few new episodes to watch.

The VCR was a fucking lifeline. Sadly, I didn't ever have enough money to buy tapes, and my parents weren't media people and didn't keep blank VHS around the house (nor would they buy them for me -- my parents were SUPER not into me being a trekkie). So every Monday I'd tape an episode, then watch it as soon as I could get some TV time to myself, then tape over it the following Monday.

Watching on Netflix via my laptop is a fucking revelation. You can actually see the screen and everything. The voices sound like actual human voices. The special effects are actually pretty good, for syndicated TV in the 90's, and the score is nice.
posted by Sara C. at 2:01 PM on February 5, 2013


Okay, I was into Star Trek TOS from about the age of 12. I rushed home every afternoon to watch it at 4, fixing dinner at the commercials so it would be ready at 5:30 when everyone else got home.

It was my damn life. I lived, ate and breathed Star Trek. This was in 1975, no internet. Just the occasional Con and some mimeographed fan fiction that I couldn't afford to buy after I bought the Con ticket. (COOOONNNN)

At school, I'd hang out with the boys and we'd play Star Trek landing party in the field beside the school. We'd talk about what jobs we'd have in Starfleet, and I concentrated really, really hard in Science because, you know Spock.

When I was a freshman in high school, I took electronics, because, you know, Spock.

I've always liked it, and have been relatively cold to the more recent incarnations. Can't say exactly why. I'll watch occasionally, but it just didn't grab me.

So there you go. I'm 50 and my favorite Trek is TOS.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:02 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haddock, I didn't know there was ever a Forbidden Planet on 59th street.

Yeah, it used to be almost right across the street from Katagiri, the Japanese market, between 2nd and 3rd. And it was awesome! Two levels, with toys and books and stuff on the first floor and comics downstairs. And the one downtown by Union Square used to be on the same block as the pool table store. I think the old space is now a Pain Quotidien or something.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:09 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It has become alarmingly apparently to me that TNG has played a much larger role in the development of my subconscious then I'd care to admit.
posted by The Whelk at 2:34 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I definitely watched STTNG when I was a kid. I remember when the series premiere came on - our family was out to eat and it was showing on the tv in the restaurant - my stepmom had to be Really Stern with me and my dad about paying attention to the conversation and not to the tv.

But the formative, deep taste-shaping experience that the author describes happened for me with the original Doctor Who. By the time I was an adult I had watched every available episode more than once, had read the novelizations of same, and was engaged in a massive project to videotape all of them while they were still showing on PBS.

Doctor Who shaped my tastes in profound ways - from there I moved on to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, Sherlock Holmes, P.G. Wodehouse, and the branching out from there is too weird to easily explain (e.g. because his prose style reminded me of Adams and Wodehouse, I liked the philosophical work of Stanley Fish, which led me to Richard Rorty, and then to William James, and then because the Internet had David Foster Wallace saying he dug James, David Foster Wallace. I should make a timeline/flowchart.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:43 PM on February 5, 2013


Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra! Darmok and Jalad when the walls fell!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:44 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


What pisses me off about TNG was that 1st season ender. The bugs were feeling out for an invasion, the last scene had this eerily implied that the bugs sent out a final transmission to the rest of their forces. Then nothing. Nothing at all was ever mentioned about them at ever again.

Mark my words, a ST movie sometime in the future will finally be the invasion of the bugs.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:50 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Shaka. It was Shaka. Darmok and Jalad were nowhere near the walls when they fell.

God damn it.

posted by cortex at 3:00 PM on February 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


They're meant to be a foreshadowing of an idea that later became the Borg.

It's really hard to call back to stuff like that in the context of 80's and early 90's TV, where the vast majority of episodes hit the reset button, and there's no assumption that viewers have seen one-off episodes from seasons back.

The first several seasons of TNG would work really well rebooted and extrapolated into bigger story arcs, with better-drawn characters. So many of the problems the series faced are problems of trying to do something a lot more ambitious than the form would allow for at that time.
posted by Sara C. at 3:04 PM on February 5, 2013


What pisses me off about TNG was that 1st season ender.

That was actually the penultimate episode of the season. The final episode was "The Neutral Zone," which might have introduced the Borg if it weren't for the Writer's Guild Strike. That said, "Conspiracy" might have ended the season better. (Just as the penultimate episode of season 2 might have been a better season finale).

Sorry for the pedantry, all this is fresh in my mind because I watched the episodes a few weeks ago.
posted by drezdn at 3:11 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


TNG also got a LOT better once Ronald Moore started writing for the show - that didn't start happening til season 3.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:11 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sort of; Moore only wrote a 4 episodes for season 3, and didn't come onboard full-time until halfway through the season. There was a lot of things that made the show better, including learning from the first two seasons. Moore was just icing on the cake.


it was a cellular peptide cake
with mint frosting

posted by Jon_Evil at 3:32 PM on February 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Shaka. It was Shaka. Darmok and Jalad were nowhere near the walls when they fell.

God damn it.


Oh, snap! That's one I've mis-remembered since forever then! Which is a shame--I think that is just one of the best episodes of anything, ever.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2013


Also, I am coming to realize the extent to which Star Trek shaped my perceptions of romance, as it was really the only media I took in that dealt with love, sex, and feelings at all. I kind of expected girls I was interested in to react like the guest-babes that Riker was boning, or perhaps like Troi. I was confused for a long time because they did not. It turns out mostly it was because of lazy writing, which is pointed out in this excellent review of "The Price" at the AV club.

There was only one good piece of romantic strategy I ever learned from Riker: Growing a beard.
posted by Jon_Evil at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mark my words, a ST movie sometime in the future will finally be the invasion of the bugs.

Unlikely, as the reboot chucked the old continuity into another dimension, effectively. (The old continuity is still in effect in the MMORPG, though.) If you want a story about the bugs, there are some tie-in novels that feature them, although just saying that is a bit of a spoiler.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:56 PM on February 5, 2013


Has it been officially stated that all pre-reboot Trek is no longer canon, and nothing will ever be done with any of it that doesn't directly relate to the J. J. Abrams films?

Because that makes me sad. Also, it sounds like an incredibly poor business decision, effectively throwing away huge components of the franchise and limiting the scope of what they can do down the line.

Or is it more just that there's not going to be any more TNG movies, and any future iterations are going to assume general reboot status rather than continuing the saga from the end of the last series?

(Much like Anne Helen Petersen, my knowledge of Star Trek pretty much ends around the time First Contact came out. It's possible that everyone in fandom knows what's up, but I probably missed it.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:07 PM on February 5, 2013


well, there was that episode when he 'converted' the androgynous alien...

No, it's the other way around. Apparently Frakes tried to make sure the androgenous alien was played by a male actor. It seems to me as though Frakes thought of Riker as more or less straight but bisexual/xenophilic enough to be capable of falling in love with someone who didn't have human female genitalia. Riker's the one who was getting converted in that relationship if anyone was.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:28 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hope they keep the old continuity, if only to satisfy my conviction that the Cumberbatch character in the new film is actually Gary Mitchell. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!
posted by orrnyereg at 4:49 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have the weirdest relationship with that episode with Riker and the androgynes because the episode when I saw it as a kid was just some thing about being like judgmental about people and freedom for self-determination or whatever, but then I found out that a member of my extended family had declared his kids could no longer watch Star Trek after he saw that episode (or maybe heard about it in newsletter, who knows) and found it to be too, like, unacceptable pro-homosexual propaganda?

And I was like, huh. What the fuck, man. And that was the moment that Star Trek became politicized for me, as a kid.
posted by cortex at 4:49 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


But in any case my particular take on Riker is that the dude is first and foremost a hound dog; deconstruct his druthers and his bents all you like, but job one is to just boldly go. If there's a line for a sexual liaison, when he takes a number it is number one.

That's certainly been reflected in his Larp Trek appearances.
posted by cortex at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I could be wrong about this but, there's no need to throw out the old continuity because the new Treks take place in an alternate reality, the existances of which were a common Trek trope.
posted by drezdn at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could be wrong about this but, there's no need to throw out the old continuity because the new Treks take place in an alternate reality, the existances of which were a common Trek trope.

Using another JJA product as a metaphor, everything before Nutrek takes place in the Pastel Universe, everything post NuTrek takes place in the Lens Flare Universe. Doesn't mean you can't have Beige universe stories, but the Lens Flare universe is gonna keep going on as well.
posted by The Whelk at 4:59 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I pretty much just think of the alternate-universe as a pre-emptive A Wizard Did It move by Abrams et al. It's not an attempt to pretend that prior canon is meaningless, it's just an attempt to not have to answer any difficult questions about canon discrepencies.
posted by cortex at 5:02 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The JJA universe is nikon - indistinguishable from canon, except that it's different; if you don't care about such things, there really is no difference but if you do, entirely incompatible and one is clearly better than the other... er... new analogy, please, this one's done...
posted by Devonian at 5:15 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine how unlucky you could get with the TNG first season...

You miss the pilot, but your friends say it was good. So you watch the next one...

... and get a sad, crappy version of a story TOS did. But you give it another chance, and get...
... Crazy Racist Adventure in Space Africa. You are sure it can only go up from here, so you tune in next week and get...
... the Crazy Racist Jewish stereotype that was the first episode with the Ferengi. Fed up, you skip the next two episodes, managing to tune back in just in time for...
...Wesley's adventure among the naked people.

It is a miracle they made it to Season 2, it really is.
posted by BeeDo at 5:19 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Continuity is and is only a mechanism for generating better stories. There are currently at least 235 000 universes in continuity which feature an NCC-1701-D in continuity, and presumably many of them have a Shatner-Kirk. Whether or not nu-Trek Kirk can make contact with any of those universes depends only on whether or not it would make for a good story.

As always, the Whovians are right.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:19 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, these are the dorkiest explanations of the continuity situation ever.

Keep em coming!
posted by Sara C. at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Has it been officially stated that all pre-reboot Trek is no longer canon, and nothing will ever be done with any of it that doesn't directly relate to the J. J. Abrams films?"

I think we're pretty stuck with the reboot crap. Whenever anybody talks about a new TV series or anything, they're always talking about setting it in the reboot universe. Ugh. And as for the question of whether old school Trek is still canon, well...

If you follow the rules about time travel that have been followed in like 95 percent of Star Trek stories ever, the events of the reboot erased and overwrote pretty much everything after Enterprise. With the exception of an episode or two where they fucked up and disregarded their own rules about time travel, in Start Trek, if you go back in time, whatever you do there can have huge repercussions on future events. (Star Trek: First Contact, for instance, was all about the ST:TNG gang trying to undo the damage to the TNG era that the Borg had done by going back into the past.) The reboot screenwriters (the jerkass tools) followed the much, much less common Trek time trope that if you go back in time, it creates a parallel universe.

Abrams made no secret of the fact that he was not a Trek fan, and good god, did it ever show. From the Beastie Boys on the soundtrack to the lens flares to the distractingly non-Shatner-ian lead, every second of that movie played like the work of somebody who believed he was taking some stupid old thing and making it modern and supermegaawesome. Near the end of the movie, there's a tossed-off joke about Porthos, the dog from Enterprise, ending up lost in some space-time anomaly for decades. That was so fucked up, because only true Trek nerds would get the joke, and the joke was such a nasty little fuck you to true Trek nerds.

I love Lost. Love it. But that Trek reboot shit made me wanna step on JJ Abrams' foot.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:39 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If ST:TNG would have came out today, I bet Riker would have been Jack Harkness-like.
posted by drezdn at 5:47 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I really wanted to hate the NuTrek movie for lots of Reasons but realized I was a terrible sucker for anything Star Treky cause the ending credits with the theme song and shots of nebulae and shit made me totally misty eyed and full of FEELINGS. So I like it for making me feel that way.

Then again a good planetarium show will make me cry. I just have lots of space feels and I don't care where they come from.
posted by The Whelk at 5:48 PM on February 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Whenever anybody talks about a new TV series or anything, they're always talking about setting it in the reboot universe.

But are we talking about setting it in the rebooted NuTrek Universe, where the only thing we've seen so far is two feature films which sort of do and sort of don't follow the conventions of the Original Series?

Or are we saying that, from here on out, all Star Trek is going to be "rebooted"? Perhaps in the Abrams universe, perhaps under some other vision. Perhaps dealing with the TOS characters, perhaps not.

Could we see a TNG reboot parallel but not identical to the Abrams TOS movies? Or does the Enterprise D simply no longer exist in the Star Trek we currently have? Will any new approach to Star Trek ever leave the bridge of the Enterprise, a la DS9 and Voyager, or is that big expansive world simply gone?
posted by Sara C. at 6:00 PM on February 5, 2013


(For what it's worth I have no real opinion on the Abrams iteration of Star Trek. I saw it. I enjoyed it for what it was. In my opinion it suffers from the problems that a lot of big budget popcorn action flicks suffer from nowadays, which is why it saddens me if this is the only Trek we're ever going to get, going forward. But all in all I'm fine with it, and if Abrams wants to keep making Trek movies, that's fine I guess.)
posted by Sara C. at 6:03 PM on February 5, 2013


My guess is there won't be a new series for a while.

That said, I won't mind a retelling of ST:TNG with a new cast and taking advantage of the long story arcs of a BSG, Mad Men, or whatever. There's lots of great new stories that could be told.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 PM on February 5, 2013


I was really impressed with the degree to which nu-Trek was different from but faithful to TOS-Trek. Quinto-Spock in particular was somehow closer to the Nimoy-Spock archetype than Nimoy's own TOS performances.

Sure, lots of nu-Trek is science ignorant and unhelpfully oblivious to continuity, and that's bad, but that was also true of TOS.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2013


The bottom line for me, personally, is that I like TV and would love to see Star Trek back on TV in some iteration. Not for any strongly argued reasons or anything, just because I am a TV nerd.

It's sort of like if they announced there was going to be no more Mad Men but instead there were going to be a bunch of 60's period films with some similar characters and tropes. Well, OK. But Mad Men is a TV show. A TV show I like and want to keep watching. I might go see A Single Man, or I might not. That has nothing to do with my feelings about Don Draper, Peggy Olson, and Joan Holloway.
posted by Sara C. at 6:13 PM on February 5, 2013


*tsk* Guys, isn't it obvious? Nu Trek takes place in an alternate universe. You know, one of the ones from that episode where the walls between all the universes collapse and the Enterprise runs into all the different versions of itself ("sir, I'm receiving 250 THOUSAND hails").

This is just one of those OTHER ones, where Spock looked like Zachary Quinto instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think for 10 years at least, we won't see anything (save for the occasional video game, perhaps) set in the Trek universe we grew up with. Whether we accept the Trek reboot concept of time travel and parallel universes or not, Paramount is totally gung-ho about the reboot universe and it's clear that most of Hollywood regards the reboot universe as a shiny new toy and the original Trek as boring old junk.

But I suspect that nostalgia for the Shatner/TNG/DS9/etc. era will grow, and in a decade or two, when the reboot era is looking pretty dated and sad, and it's not impossible that we'll start seeing stuff where they revisit the original Trek.

"I was really impressed with the degree to which nu-Trek was different from but faithful to TOS-Trek. Quinto-Spock in particular was somehow closer to the Nimoy-Spock archetype than Nimoy's own TOS performances."

Oh my god, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow, it's like I don't even know you anymore.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:14 PM on February 5, 2013


>"You know, one of the ones from that episode where the walls between all the universes collapse and the Enterprise runs into all the different versions of itself ("sir, I'm receiving 250 THOUSAND hails")."

That's what I was referring to, when I mentioned the handful of episodes where Trek disregarded the rules about time travel that it followed 95% of the time. That was the episode the Trek reboot writers specifically cited to justify their script. But if we toss those rules out the airlock, then the plots of stuff like First Contact, City on the Edge of Forever, et al, don't make any sense. Why would Kirk, Picard and all the rest go to such lengths to travel back in time and correct a corrupted timeline, if there's no such thing as a corrupted timeline and a change made in the past only results in a parallel universe?

I know, I'm getting way too worked up about nerd stuff. But this is Star Trek, god damn it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:21 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just watched the Plinkett Review of Nu Trek, and even though he's a Trek fanboy he loved it for the same reason I did: It was fun! And exciting! He also said you need to treat it more like Star Wars than Trek, which works.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:25 PM on February 5, 2013


the reboot universe

But, again, are we talking about A Reboot Universe, where everything is now re-canonized in keeping with the rules and aesthetic of said Universe? Like, for example, the various Battlestar Galactica spinoffs?

Or are we just saying "we ditched the old continuity, and now everything we do with this property is independent of that in terms of casting and uniform design and what shape people's sideburns can be, and yeah, sure, throw an unreliable narrator in there and show the toilets on DS9, why the hell not?"

FWIW I have no interest whatsoever in going back to the old continuity. We can reboot Star Trek six ways to Sunday, I don't give a shit. Let's do a thing where everyone on the Enterprise-D has conflicts and flaws and drama, and Data is female, and Starfleet is corrupt, but the Borg are worse, and everybody has to get over their shit to save humanity, warts and all. Let's do a thing where we send the Voyager back into the Delta Quadrant and get it right this time. Let's tell some new stories in this interesting new universe we created. Sure, those all sound great.
posted by Sara C. at 6:28 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really couldn't get into this essay, but that's okay, I was never a 12-year-old girl who needed to hide her Trek love. And I was the right age to really enjoy TNG after a lifetime of trying to catch re-runs of TOS. (My memory is that for much of that time there weren't many TOS episodes on home video -- except for The Changeling/Space Seed).

But I had some TMP toys and a few books and I would marvel at the oh-so-bright costumes.

Dug TNG, but I suspect it was one of the few SF shows with spaceships as much as anything.
I'm sure I enjoyed Encounter At Farpoint, and I know I hated the stupid one where the Enterprise turned into an Aztec/Mayan temple (TNG's Threshold).

A few years later I saw Spock show up via a tape that had been smuggled out of the US (no Bothans died) with friends at university, and that was pretty good and I started re-watching. That was also before YouTube and the appearance of Leonard Nimoy on screen became associated with Hobbits.

In addition to LARP Trek, I get my Trek fix from Den of Geek's rewatches. They're up to Home Soil now.

I also keep being subjected to Into Darkness propaganda.
posted by Mezentian at 6:39 PM on February 5, 2013


Crazy Racist Adventure in Space Africa.

It's a good thing the Space Irish episode didn't happen until the second season, then.
posted by drezdn at 6:43 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, the Ron Moore BSG reboot was a full reboot, in the sense that it's not really claiming to be set 20 years after the events of the original show, or in a parallel universe of the original show, or anything like that. It's a whole new show, with some elements inspired by the original series. And while I am still a dork for the orginal show, the BSG reboot was amazing enough often enough that I got over the fact that Moore and his crew clearly did not hold the original show in high esteem. The original show was pretty campy, there's no denying it, so it's not like Moore was pissing all over a sci-fi great.

But the Trek reboot claims to be a direct spin-off of the Trek universe we've known so far. The screenwriters would claim that all the reboot Trek stuff has not overwritten the original Trek, so technically there's no reason we couldn't see more stuff set in the original Trek universe. But we probably won't, because again, shiny new toy.

>"Let's do a thing where everyone on the Enterprise-D has conflicts and flaws and drama, and Data is female, and Starfleet is corrupt, but the Borg are worse, and everybody has to get over their shit to save humanity, warts and all."

You've have heard of DS9, right? Snark aside, I wouldn't be surprised if in 15 years we do get the big Next-Next Generation reboot where they do all of that stuff, assuming that our culture is still around and it's still rebooting the hell out of everything.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:43 PM on February 5, 2013


I watched TNG a lot with my dad when I was growing up, and I enjoyed it, but I feel like there are other series that have had more of an impact on me. Still, I never know when a scene or quote will replay itself in my head in deep or amusing ways, like Q asking if there is a John Luck Pickerd? in the house.
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:45 PM on February 5, 2013


Patrick Stewart must be spraying something in the water, because Ive been on a TNG binge myself after watching a bunch of it on a hungover Saturdsy. I can't say I was a superfan as s kid, but I do have nostalgia for it for sure, reminds me of lady Saturday afternoons.

I finally sucked that lemon though and just moved on to DS9, which I never watched during its original run. Coming at it backwards, it's striking to me how ridiculously closely DS9 parallels the themes and characters of Battlestar Galactica, to the extent that in some ways if doesn't seem very Star Trek-y at all. There's something kind of half-baked about it, where it doesn't seem quite sure how bad it wants to let the universe be.
posted by Diablevert at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've have heard of DS9, right?

Yes, and that's not what DS9 is, at all.

On DS9, Starfleet is still the good guys, and the Federation characters are all white-hat folks. Sure, they have some "flaws", like Bashir is too smart for his own good, or Sisko is in way over his head with all this Bajoran mysticism stuff. They're off in their own little corner of space, having their own little dramas, which mostly consist of our good white hat guys getting thrown up against a bunch of morally ambiguous non-federation people. And then at some point, there's a war*. It's a little more comfortable with conflict than TNG was, but more out of necessity than out of a real difference of vision. And, again, you don't get anything like the arc of discovering and fighting the Borg, as TNG gets and then basically squanders.

*I stopped watching Star Trek around the time of the war plotlines, so maybe they really took a left turn into dark and gritty, but I somewhat doubt it.
posted by Sara C. at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2013


how ridiculously closely DS9 parallels the themes and characters of Battlestar Galactica

Ron Moore, creator of Battlestar Galactica, basically cut his teeth on Deep Space Nine. He also wrote a few significant mid-series episodes of The Next Generation, many of which are notably darker and twistier than the usual tone of the series. You can definitely watch his voice developing from early in the third season of TNG all the way through through to Battlestar.
posted by Sara C. at 7:13 PM on February 5, 2013


my twentysomething punk rock sf nerd college house watched tNG religiously through seasons one and two and were totally heartbroken about how poor they were.

fast forward about four to six years and I am living in Seattle playing in rock bands and fooling with computers along with apparently 70% of any one in the US that shares those interests and is under 30.

There was a bar on 15th, a bit north of Broadway and off the beaten track, called the Canterbury, which was some sort of seventies relic with faux Fat Furry Freak Bros. murals and a suit of armor and stage-dressing box beams and so forth. Still open, although larger these days.

Every time a new episode aired, they would put it on in the bar. Since no one had money to pay for cable or a TV, the place would pack out with kids. Of the over 21 variety. But for about two years, that place was the single most important event in the week for a huge slice of grunge-era Capitol Hill, getting our Starfleet on.

Engage.
posted by mwhybark at 7:22 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C, frankly it sounds like you don't know DS9 very well. DS9 was always dark, but it got a lot darker as the war stuff built up. One of the "white hats" on DS9 (Kira) is a former terrorist, another is a genetically altered superfreak, the Federation gets so screwy in the middle of the big Changeling war that factions form and they declare martial law on Earth, etc. Have you forgotten all the screaming fights and table thumping on that show? Have you forgotten the slippery, endearing-yet-creepy former torturer Garak, for pete's sake? DS9 is some dark shit, and it does stand apart from the other shows in some important ways. The series ends on a kind of heartbreaking, ambiguous note that's miles away from the other Trek series.

(I think it's getting to be time for me to back out of this thread. I am approaching that "can't sleep, somebody is wrong on the internet!" moment.)

Stick with it, Diablevert. The first couple of seasons are good but rarely great, and then at some point they kick out the jams and it gets better and better.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:28 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


mwhybark, your mention of that bar reminded me of something I should have slipped into the FPP.

There's a coffee shop in Hollywood called 10Forward. It's a pretty traditional coffee shop, and the decor is mostly like a more mom & pop Starbucks or Central Perk from Friends. But they've got a whole menu of signature coffee drinks with TNG names.

The make one hell of a LaForge's Eye Opener (AKA a redeye).
posted by Sara C. at 7:40 PM on February 5, 2013


Do you think the castmembers of DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise were like "WELL, FUCK..." When the reboot was announced?
posted by drezdn at 7:52 PM on February 5, 2013


I came to bitch about the high price of TNG Blu-ray packages. They've only done two seasons and the price is ridiculous. Paramount loves nothing more than gouging Trek fans. BUT, while I was on Amazon looking at prices I discovered that I can watch all the seasons on Amazon Prime for FREE. I think I'll start with season three...
posted by Ber at 7:58 PM on February 5, 2013


Ron Moore, creator of Battlestar Galactica,

Call me pedantic, but Glen A. Larson was the creator of BSG. Moore re-imagined it (and mostly for the better).

Sorry, that was bugging me.

That said, I'm going to back SaraC on the lack of darkness in DS9. Was it darker than Beige Trek? Yes, yes it was. DS9 was literally darker too due to some filming thing that did. But it wasn't even as dark as Babylon 5 at the time because for most of its time it was constrained by the Star Trek suit.

Which is not to say I didn't love it, and episodes like the Paper Moon one are excellent.
But for every Paper Moon there are about 12 Ferengi stories.
posted by Mezentian at 8:10 PM on February 5, 2013


I'm currently going through season 3 on Netflix. A lot of it is just surprisingly great science fiction, even if you do have suspend parts of your brain from time to time.

But I'm really looking forward to Season 4, which I hear is pretty hot.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 8:19 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, Sara C., a few years after the story above I drove by a bar in more suburban part of town that had a sign out front proclaiming it "10 Forward". I've told the story here before. It, uh, left something to be desired.
posted by mwhybark at 8:21 PM on February 5, 2013


Yeah, sorry, I sort of noticed/considered that, and had my finger poised over "Post Comment", thought for a second, and went ahead and hit post without clarifying. Didn't take advantage of the edit window, either.

I don't think DS9 is, like, Not Dark, but its story dealt with very different themes than TNG's themes, and frankly it still stuck to the basic rules of the Starfleet officers being the good guys. A little more complex, sure. But still highly conflict-free when compared to either the more complicated non-Starfleet characters (Kira, Garak, etc) or pretty much any adult character on any drama currently on the air.
posted by Sara C. at 8:25 PM on February 5, 2013


Speaking of "the flute episode" (which I hunted up and watched again tonight, yay Netflix), did you know the theme he plays got expanded into a full orchestral suite?

(it's on iTunes, too, and was worth every one of the ninety-nine cents)
posted by ubernostrum at 8:26 PM on February 5, 2013


mwhybark, I actually respect the fact that the Hollywood 10Forward isn't actually trying to be a themed version of Ten Forward, but is just a cafe with a quirky name and the occasional nod to the series. There's no merch inside, and the baristas dress like normal baristas. Frankly, it's one of the less themey cutesy food establishments I've visited so far in Los Angeles. Also, the coffee is damn good.
posted by Sara C. at 8:29 PM on February 5, 2013


Starfleet officers being the good guys

Oh my GOD is someone wrong on the Internet. Hold the bus door, UH, I'm leaving too.
posted by BeeDo at 8:43 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of people who are rewatching either TNG specifically, or one friend who is watching the entirety of Star Trek chronologically. I'm on Season 5 of TNG myself and it is like rediscovering a childhood diary and being able to relive those experiences with adult eyes.

My middle school home room teacher (the school's Spanish teacher) was a TNG fan and I remember being specifically mind boggled when she exclaimed that she wasn't into the technobabble like me and my friends spoke because she watched the show for the relationships. She was speaking a foreign language to me when she said that, but obviously it stuck in my head for a long time. Rewatching TNG as an adult, I can see where I was first introduced to certain ethics for the first time (do no harm, understand the other, all beings have rights). Some of those ethics have even caused consternation for me as an adult (all problems can be solved by being super smart or by reversing the polarity).

As an adult, I can appreciate on a totally new level that TNG is hugely about family. The NCC 1701-D itself is built to keep families together, but the senior officers have created a family of choice amongst themselves. I can appreciate that Patrick Stewart has been a stand-in father figure for boys like me who didn't see their own dad very much and I can doubly appreciate it because I now know the backstory of paternal abuse that he's overcome.

I can also appreciate that now I identify more with the relationship between Riker and Troi than the relationship between Barclay and the holodeck. It's also kind of amazing to me that TNG has the occasional plotline that is practically a cotillion class for awkward dorks -- Data's search for humanity, Geordi and Wesley's fumbling with women and girls respectively and the great scene between Riker and Guinan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvY3jVJJKEI).

And the realization than even Riker and Picard ("Yes, I've heard, Data. And I would be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When I have some, I'll let you know.") are kind of also socially inept but they don't dwell there. And the realization that Troi has no superpowers what-so-ever and her empath mind reading trick is actually just a passing familiarity with body language and tone of voice and it only looks like a superpower because 13 year old boys like me had exactly zero emotional intelligence to begin with.

(Actually, I'm kind of becoming totally convinced that evolution and the increasing importance of interaction with technology has caused everyone in the 24th century to have Asperger syndrome so that normal emotional intelligence like Troi's appears to be superhuman intuition and Riker's mediocre PUA routines appear to be world-class suave. It's also the only way to explain how Wesley could score with Ashley Judd.)
posted by Skwirl at 9:02 PM on February 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


Why would Kirk, Picard and all the rest go to such lengths to travel back in time and correct a corrupted timeline, if there's no such thing as a corrupted timeline and a change made in the past only results in a parallel universe?

Well, because they don't know that much about time travel. Maybe. It's not as if writers have been hugely consistent about time travel in the various iterations of the franchise, but one thing that's been pretty consistent is that the Federation doesn't have a really reliable and explicable science of time travel; some of them can do it, some of the time, but it usually involves an enigmatic and/or erratic superior being (Q, the Guardian of Forever, the Prophets/wormhole aliens), a future version of the Federation with their own Temporal Prime Directive, or some other special circumstance. (The Enterprise, or a Klingon ship with the Enterprise bridge crew in command, can slingshot around the sun to time travel, for example, but apparently no one else can; one non-canon* theory is that only Spock can do the math correctly.) The Krenim, in the Voyager "Year of Hell" two-parter, can manipulate time, but have a hard time *cough* predicting the consequences of their alterations.

So, maybe there's still a universe where Edith Keeler lived and the Nazis nuked the world, or one in which the Federation has been assimilated into the Collective (we saw one in "Parallels", after all), or the Earth was destroyed because there were no whales but it's only one planet and so on. Or there's some sort of other possibility that our three-dimensional thinking simply can't comprehend.

*The whole subject of what is really canon in Trek is a tougher question than it is in Star Wars fandom because the latter had George Lucas as space pope, and Gene Roddenberry wasn't the same for the former, although he sometimes tried to unilaterally declare stuff non-canon, such as the animated series and Star Trek V. (Although the latter is pretty plausible, as one theory is that it was all a dream (as lampshaded by Spock discussing the "life is but a dream" verse in "Row Row Row Your Boat") that Kirk or one of the others had on their camping trip.) Most of the non-screen material--books, games, etc.--are non-canon. So, the continuation of the old continuity in the Star Trek MMO isn't necessarily canon, although I've heard of nothing else that is in the works for the original continuity except for Michael Dorn trying to generate interest in some project involving Worf.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:20 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


except for Michael Dorn trying to generate interest in some project involving Worf.

That is such a Worf thing to try to do.
posted by drezdn at 9:28 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


First, let me note, that in the last few months, I've watched all of DS9 for the first time. When it ended, I cried. I cried, in part because the ending was sad, in part because I thought the ending disrespected the characters, but also because all my friends were leaving me! That show is so amazing and wonderful.

With that said...

I don't think DS9 is, like, Not Dark, but its story dealt with very different themes than TNG's themes, and frankly it still stuck to the basic rules of the Starfleet officers being the good guys. A little more complex, sure. But still highly conflict-free when compared to either the more complicated non-Starfleet characters (Kira, Garak, etc) or pretty much any adult character on any drama currently on the air.

I can't agree with this. In fact, as much as I love DS9, I think it failed to be a Star Trek show. (vague spoilers follow this point.) Don't forget, at one point, Sisko lies, steals, bribes and participates in the murder of an innocent man to get what he wants. Don't forget that a rogue element in Starfleet attempts genocide. And almost succeed. As was mentioned up thread, Earth is put under martial law -- and specifically as part of a Star Fleet Officer's conspiracy. And before that martial law went into effect, Sisko himself worked as dismantling civil rights on Earth. (He did it with good intentions, but still.) The notion of the human race as more peaceful, kind, compassionate, and civilized is gone. What I see in its place are people like Sisko, who want to be good, but recognize that noble goals crumble and die, even within themselves, at the slightest hint of risk.

Again, it's an amazing show. And the spirit of Star Trek, as Roddenberry intended it, really does seem pretty quaintly naive. But, all the same... That's what Star Trek is: a vision of the future as a more perfect place, and kind and peaceful and rational place. And you do not see that on DS9.

Now I'm stuck with Voyager.... Don't get me started on Voyager. Sigh.
posted by meese at 10:29 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


To add on, DS9's view of humanity is best summed up by Quark in The Siege of AR-558: "Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people – as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts... deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers... put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time... and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces, look at their eyes..."

It's a poignant insight. But it reads almost directly as a critique of Roddenberry's world, rather than an expression of it.
posted by meese at 10:34 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't forget that a rogue element in Starfleet attempts genocide. And almost succeed. As was mentioned up thread, Earth is put under martial law -- and specifically as part of a Star Fleet Officer's conspiracy

As I said upthread (I think? Hard to keep straight what I've said in which Trek thread, twitter, in person to friends, etc), I stopped watching all Star Trek around the time that the First Contact film came out. I went away to a boarding school that didn't really have TV, and I used that time away from television to do other things. This was right around the time of the DS9 war story arc. So I'm sure there are aspects of what DS9 eventually became that I'm not aware of, simply because I haven't seen the last couple seasons of the show and am not 100% up on every plot development of every series.

But the series started as slightly darker and grittier than the Trek that came before, and for the first 4 seasons, stayed that way. I'm fine with the idea that it gradually evolved to question some of the axioms of Roddenberry's world (In fact, that's great! A lot of Roddenberry rules basically prevented any drama from existing in the franchise), but that certainly wasn't the starting premise of the show by any means.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 PM on February 5, 2013


It does kind of mystify me that people equate "the last two seasons of DS9" and "DS9's entire raison d'etre", though.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I simply can't resist a Trekkie thread, but I don't want to argue anymore so I'm making a conscious effort to not be such a snotty jerk.)

Skwirl, the technobabble side of Trek can be great fun, but I think the franchise really is more about people and how they get along. I think the big message at the heart of the franchise is that we can all co-exist and even be pals if we make the effort, and we're not as different as we think. You see it over and over again, with the Klingons, the Ferengi, the Cardassians, even the Borg (in the form of Hugh and Seven of Nine)... First we meet a race that seems to be purely a threat, dangerous and weird and impossible to relate with, and then we meet individuals within that race and we see that they don't entirely fit the stereotype. The Klingons can be funny, the Ferengi can be noble, the Cardassians can be compassionate, the Borg can be conflicted. The only time I can think of when they totally rejected this trope was that episode of DS9 where Odo tries to raise a little Jem Hadar boy to be nice, but because the kid has literally been bred to be a bloodthirsty killing machine, he ultimately rejects Odo's kindness and becomes just another alien super soldier. (And even the Jem Hadar ended up being more complicated than they seemed at first.)

DS9 does have a lot in common with Moore's BSG, in the sense that it takes some good, heroic, intelligent people and gives them problems without easy solutions, requiring them to make some troubling decisions with sometimes disastrous consequences. (Also, both had weird religious stuff.) But DS9 and BSG are also very different, because while BSG was even more gritty and dark than DS9, it was also much more uneven and there were times when the characters did stuff that just seemed out of character. DS9 arguably didn't hit the same heights at BSG, but there are very few episodes of DS9 that were just plain bad, and BSG (famously) had plenty. Basically I think Ron Moore is an excellent writer, but not a very good show runner. Not a big-picture guy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:52 PM on February 5, 2013


*coughDS9baseballepisodecough*
posted by mwhybark at 11:53 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I think some of the resurgent rewatching can be credited to all the series being available for streaming via Amazon Prime.
posted by mwhybark at 11:55 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooh I'm just excited to see others with Worf-crushes! I loved it when he and Troi got together, also thought it showed how strong she was (I saw it pretty early on due to her telling off her mother, which to this here daughter-who-told-off-her-overbearing-mother, was a REAL TREAT I tell ya). I could never stand Riker... "yuck" was my adolescent response to him. Had something of a crush on Wesley, whose character was only a bit older than me, but he just didn't have Worf's complexity.

Grew up watching the series on TV too, I was 11 when it started. I've rewatched it three or four times, it definitely holds up. I appreciate Riker's character a lot more as an adult; mainly because a lot of jokes that went over my head as a kid come through clearly now. I grumpy-sighed at Lwaxana Troi episodes as a kid too, but appreciate her character a little more now as an adult as well. It's easier to see how Majel Barrett was hamming it up and enjoying the role (though I may be confusing memories with her appearances in DS9...).

I could never get into TOS until very recently, with one notable exception: tribbles. I somehow managed to catch several reruns of The Trouble with Tribbles growing up, because I remember watching it several times and cracking up at the silly Klingon outfits.

Also remember how neat it was to watch TNG and DS9 when the two series overlapped. The first couple years of DS9 are kind of weak, but once you hit season 4, there are all sorts of layers to the characters and story lines. It's well worth watching TNG and the first years of DS9 for character background that's often hinted at in the later DS9 seasons.
posted by fraula at 2:36 AM on February 6, 2013


A fun moment about "the flute episode" (aka, "The Inner Light") - a couple years back, a whole shit-ton of props and costumes from TOS and TNG got put up for auction at Christie's, and someone made a documentary about the event that dealt with both the auction, the fans, and the show all at the same time. The whole thing was in sequences like, they'd open a box and someone at Christie's would pull out - like - one of Troi's skimpy costumes, then they'd cut to Marina Siritis reminiscing about how stupid she thought it was and then they'd cut to one of the hopeful fans who was planning on going to the auction talking about how "ooh, I loved that costume" or whatever.

The flute from "Inner Light" got a few minutes' of attention here - the show addressed just how much of a fan favorite this particular episode was, and then the scene cut back and forth between Patrick Stewart humming the tune and fan after fan gushing "Oh, the FLUTE! I HAVE to buy THE FLUTE!"...finishing on Patrick Stewart, finishing up his humming, and then chuckling and saying, "the flute doesn't actually work, you know. You can't play it."

(The thing still sold for several thousand bucks.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


FWIW I enjoyed the heck out of Abram's film because they knew exactly what one of the biggest problems with Trek was at that point: It'd been around so long and generated so many hours of television that continuity was no longer an enriching element but a millstone around the necks of anybody trying to make solid storytelling their first priority.

I get the feeling that they're going to pump out three films and then do a TNG-style TV series. The setup of TNG was never cut-out for films--too many characters.

In all seriousness, the original continuity burnt out. But Paramount isn't going to order ninjas into your house and take all the original-continuity DVDs from you--in fact, I'd say the multi-million dollar HD reconstruction project on TNG is a pretty good indication that nobody's going to go Lucas and try to bury the past. But yes, some things end and they can just sit and be glorious, transcendent, imperfect historical documents. This is not a failure.
posted by whittaker at 7:06 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ok, so skimming through this thread makes me wonder, are the the pop-culture jokes that are the main fare on shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken just completely lost on our current generation of newly-minted adults who aren't fixated on that era(s) out of hipster kitsch devotion? I know us plus or minus 30-somethings are the target audience, but surely millions upon millions of youngsters are watching those types of shows who don't fall into those categories. That said I'm dumbfounded at the prospect that so many young adults are watching these shows and don't get half of the crap they're referencing! I realize that many (if not most) of y'all have already realized this, but I just got a blinding flash of old after reading this thread. Basically what I'm trying to say is get off my lawn.
posted by NoRelation at 7:58 AM on February 6, 2013


Ok, so skimming through this thread makes me wonder, are the the pop-culture jokes that are the main fare on shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken just completely lost on our current generation of newly-minted adults who aren't fixated on that era(s) out of hipster kitsch devotion?

Yes. But at the same time, there are plenty of jokes that we don't get that our kids find hilarious (my kids will just start cackling randomly at things I don't find funny, and it's mostly Pokemon-related). Also, the kids today have absorbed a lot of stuff from our generation, if only because it's so frequently referenced. You can show a kid Galaxy Quest, which is a perfectly cromulent movie even if you've never heard of Star Trek, and for the rest of that kid's life, he'll get 80 percent of the Star Trek jokes ever made.

And even for stuff that isn't quite that popular, the references have taken on lives of their own -- maybe they don't know why that sound from The Six Million Dollar Man is amusing whenever someone does anything super-powered in slow motion, but they know that it's amusing.
posted by Etrigan at 8:17 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


are the the pop-culture jokes that are the main fare on shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken just completely lost on our current generation of newly-minted adults who aren't fixated on that era(s) out of hipster kitsch devotion?

People growing up in the 70's didn't have any problem swallowing all the 20's, 30's and 40's pop culture references in Bugs Bunny cartoons. (At least, I didn't. My kid brain just processed it as something inexplicably silly.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oooh, oooh, can we have a Babylon 5 thread next? Pleeeeeeeeze.
posted by Ber at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2013


Geez, and B5 HD please too. Although I recognize that's beyond our scope here.

Do any of the streamers have even non-HD available?
posted by mwhybark at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2013


People growing up in the 70's didn't have any problem swallowing all the 20's, 30's and 40's pop culture references in Bugs Bunny cartoons. (At least, I didn't. My kid brain just processed it as something inexplicably silly.)

Similar concept with the Simpsons. There were SO MANY references that I just didn't get the first or fifth times through some episodes. Then I would be exposed to some other bit of older pop culture, and it would make sense.
posted by flaterik at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2013


People growing up in the 70's didn't have any problem swallowing all the 20's, 30's and 40's pop culture references in Bugs Bunny cartoons

One word. Alum.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:03 PM on February 6, 2013


I try not to worry about whether JJATrek is an alternate reality, because everything since Star Trek: Generations is just Picard's Nexus fantasy anyway. Guinan said "no one ever leaves the Nexus" and she's never wrong about anything.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:22 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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