*if you don’t like Star Trek this post will bore you out of your head – Don’t feel obligated to read. Seriously. I won’t get mad*
I mentioned a few weeks ago about my long dormant love affair with Star Trek. Something that I fully expected to continue fading into the night as more and more years went by. I mean, other, grittier, more emotionally driven shows have really upped the ante since ST was on the air. Well, entirely out of the fondness of my memories for the series, I added them to my Netflix queue as soon as they came available. I cherry picked episodes on TOS and TNG to watch for a while, I didn’t bother with DS9 however, as I made the complete run of DS9 a few years ago when they came out on DVD, and that show is a bit more serialized than the other incarnations so seeing an episode out of context can leave me scratching my head and wondering what it was I was forgetting.
Anyway, earlier in the month, I found myself with 45 minutes or so to kill, and I had recently seen the Abrams reboot and Star Trek was on my mind. I was thinking about it some, and I realized that my viewing habits with Voyager were somewhat spotty. It wasn’t entirely my fault. If I recall correctly, Star Trek Voyager was the show that the mega-geniuses over at Paramount decided to use as their flagship for their fledgling network, UPN.
|I'm not entirely sure they put in the effort|
they could have into their logo.
What that meant to people like me was that Voyager wasn’t viewable. UPN was trying to strong-arm cable companies into carrying the rest of their programming – mostly urban sitcoms - and no longer allowing Voyager to be shown in first run syndication.* I believe this all came to a head around the end of season 3. And up until that time I had not missed an episode. After that time, I had nothing, no access at all, I couldn’t watch the show.**
And just like that, I moved on. Yes, things eventually got worked out, but I missed most of the fourth season before someone locally stepped up and decided to carry the UPN network. By then, I wasn’t that interested, I’d learned to live without it. That isn’t to say I never saw another episode, I did, I saw lots of them. But the spell was broken and I just wasn’t as interested anymore. That huge gap in my Star Trek knowledge was damning.
You see, I spent most of my online time back then – the late nineties I guess – on the Trek BBS. I was there every day. Had been for years. I loved it, talking about the episodes, the technobabble, real science, and my favorite, the neutral zone, a board where folks argued about politics, religion, all sorts of stuff like that. In fact, After Voyager disappeared from my local programming, I switched to that portion of the Trek BBS and almost never discussed Star Trek at all after that. Well, until a year or so later when the BBS switched servers and lost all my account data and I had to be reset. Since newbies weren’t even granted access to the controversial portion of the forums and my post count went back down to zero, I had no reason to even go back there anymore… the last of my Trek fandom died then. I just let it go.
So, back to Netflix, I was recalling all this and decided to pick up where I left off with Voyager. I watched the last episode of Season 3 (A cliffhanger involving the Borg) and finally jumped right into the black hole of my viewing, season 4.
And through the first 9 episodes of that season, I felt like the show was very well done. I think I’d caught most of them later, but not all. Still, I thought it was an impressive run of quality. The 10th episode though, one entitled, Random Thoughts, was a bit of a mess. The crew visits a peaceful planet full of telepaths where Voyager’s engineer gets arrested for thinking a violent thought.
Not a bad premise I suppose, not really original, it made me think of that early episode of TNG where Wesley committed some minor snafu on a peaceful planet and was sentenced to death, but the execution of the Voyager episode was ludicrously stupid. At one point, the constable of the alien city is aghast at the barbarity humans displayed by even have a brig to hold people against their will. She moralized a bit and stressed that they rehabilitate their criminals, they don’t imprison them. Then, only moments later, she arrests Voyager’s engineer and starts a procedure to lobotomize her. Not one shred of irony was expressed by anyone. In fact, when the real criminal is caught later, the Vulcan seems to take some pleasure in relaying that they were keeping him in the brig. I mean, really? The entire episode was poorly conceived and poorly executed. That brought back a flood of memories in of itself, not everything Trek did was gold.
|Let's see. The evil thinking engineer is the bumpy headed girl with a perm|
I think I was like a guy that was romanticizing a long lost relationship, conveniently editing out the unpleasant parts. Star Trek wasn’t all awesome. There were some dark times in there.
So, here’s to a second romance. I’m still loving my run through Voyager, and look forward to watching the final four seasons straight through. Then I’ll jump onto Enterprise. Good times are ahead.
*If memory serves, the first few years of Voyager were shown on UPN, but not exclusively, as UPN did not have an affiliate in my area at the time, local channels were allowed to carry the program.
**At the time, Nielsen ratings for Star Trek were falling like dollars at a Vegas strip club. At its height, I believe TNG was pulling in something close to 10 TIMES the viewers than Voyager was getting by the end of its 3rd year. Seems like a bad time to trying to bully people by threatening to take away your product, but whatever.