Netflixing: The Final Frontier


We all know how much I like to binge watch shows on Netflix, and lately that has been a certain long running blast from the past. While I haven’t had enough time to paint or read lately, it turns out that making time to watch an episode or two while unpacking a box is easy enough to fit into a busy schedule.

For the last couple months I have been steadily plowing through one of my childhood favorites, and though it is completely different than I remember it, in some ways it has held up exceedingly well for twenty years.

The thing I remember most about the weekly episodes of the voyages of the starship Enterprise besides the fact that it was on across from my fathers perennial favorite, Jeopardy, was how futuristic it was. When I was young I remember thinking how the science part of the science fiction was so consistent and impeccable.

Watching it again a decade later that was the first illusion to go. There are science related plot holes on a very regular basis, and now that I’m an armchair everything (just like everyone else on the internet) I could point them out to you at length, but I wouldn’t enjoy writing that post, and you certainly wouldn’t enjoy reading it. That’s okay, because Star Trek TNG isn’t about science in any real sense.

The theme that this classic show explore every episode is what it means to be human, and where we fit into a larger and wierder world than we could ever imagine. The borg may have grabbed the ratings, and years later the android Lt Commander or the holodeck might be the thing you reminisce fondly about, but those are all just props. Like the show’s namesake there are just vehicles to carry the story forward.

This, along with the fact that my tablet computers are significantly better than Captain Picard’s were the biggest surprises. I had forgotten how many episodes dealt with Mr. Clarke’s old saw about science and magic, but I never realized how many of the episodes were just about developing characters.

I will never love this show as much as I have come to love Farscape, but it was certainly an important piece of my childhood that was worth exploring again. Maybe when things calm down I’ll check out the rest of the franchise a second time and see what other details I’ve missed.

What about the rest of you? Am I just being sucked into the Nostalgia, or do you think that behind the dated special effects there are still stories to be told?

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

4 thoughts on “Netflixing: The Final Frontier

  1. We’ve been watching TNG as well, as an antidote to more emotionally draining fare, and we’re definitely enjoying it. That said, the “sciencey” episodes where they’re confronted with a challenge that can only be overcome by reconfiguring the forward deflector array to emit a modulated tachyon pulse in the 40khz range, or whatever, are absolutely the least interesting, least enjoyable part of the show.

    The episodes I love are the ones that are either totally weird (A Fist of Datas, for instance), or pure character development (I don’t remember the title, but that one where Picard goes to his brother’s vineyard on Earth after being de-Locutus-ified).

    I think that once we’ve finished our casual review of TNG, we’ll probably do some DS9. I remember that DS9 lost my attention at some point, but I know people say that it was just when the show got its legs, so maybe its worth a shot.

  2. People were slow to warm to DS9 because it was set in one location, which seemed to completely miss the point of the “Trek” part of Star Trek. But like you said, ST has always been about the characters, and DS9 in those early days had nothing BUT the characters to explore. And they did. Sure, they took some time to find their footing too. I think by the time DS9 premiered fans had forgotten how shaky that first season of TNG had been. Anyhow, DS9 is my favorite of the shows, and yes, it only got better once they started on the Dominion War story.

  3. Strong characters can sometimes save a bad story. Sometimes. I grew up with Star Trek TNG, and despite it’s myriad science inaccuracies, I love the show still. It really does feel to be more a show about Humans and how we experience the rest of the Universe. And FarScape rules. 🙂

  4. I just loved all those old shows, but then I like nostalgia (wouldn’t mind seeing the old Battlestar Galactica to compare, if nothing else). I was a real sucker for scifi, though I never cared that much for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as I thought the robotic sidekick was very annoying. TNG was my favorite of the series though I really enjoyed Voyager years later, and some DS9. I only watched 3 episodes of Enterprise (I was turned off by the near soft-porn massage scene in the first episode thinking it was really stupid). Wouldn’t mind going back and watching the rest, but I heard they weren’t that great. I think the turning point for DS9 was supposedly when Worf came on board, but I wasn’t watching much TV about that time and kept missing it (I’ve always been very productivity minded, so little TV and even less these days).

    Farscape was cool. Only watched a few Babylon 5 – it was on a bad time for me. I try not to think about the science in any of those shows – I enjoy them for the storylines – all those Star Trek shows were fun – you just can’t think too hard on them (kind of like many of the blockbusters today focusing on special effects.

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