Apr. 9th, 2017


Apr. 9th, 2017 10:08 pm
alfvaen: floatyhead (Default)

At some point, a couple of years ago, a coworker mentioned a podcast named "Mission Log", in which a couple of guys rewatch and comment on episods of Star Trek. I have, of course, watched Star Trek for years...well, sort of. I watched a lot of the original series reruns on TV in my childhood (late 70's/early 80's), and read the James Blish episode collections (and, to a lesser extent, the animated series and Alan Dean Foster's collections of those episodes), and in high school I got into reading a lot of the tie-in novels. I saw the movies (though not all of them in theatres, and I confess I never have seen all of Star Trek V), and read the Marvel comics Star Trek series for a while (not sure how long it lasted, though). And of course when The Next Generation came out, I started out watching that, though I gave up partway through the first season (Wesley Crusher annoyed me, of course, but so did Data, for some reason) and only watched it sporadically for years after that, before I got really into it. I gave Deep Space Nine a few episodes before giving up (I think the one where they were all trapped inside a board game was when I gave it up), and the same with Enterprise, though my wife and I watched Voyager pretty faithfully until the end (modulo the second season, which we missed because we spent a year without cable). So, yeah, I watched a lot.

So anyway, I started listening to "Mission Log". Now, unlike some people, for the last few years I've had a really decent commute, rarely taking longer than half an hour even at rush hour, and at the moment more like 15-20 minutes. And quite often I like to listen to music. So I get through podcasts fairly slowly. I've discovered that I can't keep up with a weekly podcast even when it's a short one, and Mission Log episodes tend to be close to an hour...not to mention I was like three years behind when I started. It's basically two guys, John Champion and Ken Ray (who I'd never heard of before, but that's fine, I haven't heard of a lot of people), who rewatch the episodes a few times, and then talk about it. To be more precise, they start with trivia about the episode, then a quick and often snarky synopsis, discussion of major issues that came up, and then "does the episodes hold up, and do its messages, morals and meanings?"

Being the kind of guy I am, I started at the beginning, which even starts with "The Cage" before going into the actual episodes starring Kirk. What I found was mostly that I was missing a fair bit because of the fact that it had been years since I'd actually seen most of the episodes. Somehow watching TNG had spoiled me for the original series, and I couldn't watch it any more. But luckily, the one streaming service I'm signed up for (Crave, which comes through my Internet/TV provider) has all the Star Trek TV series on it, so I, somewhat belatedly (i.e. when I was almost done the first season's Mission Log episodes) decided to start rewatching the episodes they'd covered. And even more belatedly, I decided to wait on listening to the Mission Log episodes covering episodes I hadn't rewatched. I skipped forward to the Mission Log episodes covering TNG, though I am rewatching those ones as well; as I feared, they often refer back to things from their discussions of original series episodes or movies which I don't always get, but I'm more familiar with the TNG episodes at this point, so it works out.

In the Mission Log episode I'm currently listening to ("The Battle"), they make a reference to a comment that Wil Wheaton made about the episode, which made me recall his series of blog posts about the TNG first season episodes, which I have in ebook form as Memories of The Future, Vol. 1. So I decided to read over that one again, too; I haven't quite caught up to "The Battle" yet, though. His synopses are even snarkier, though, usually full of running gags, not all of which are funny, but I guess you can't hit a home run every time. Now I'm considering dragging out my copies of The Nitpicker's Guide To Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I have on audiobook (Dwight Schultz and Denise Crosby being among the narrators, which is fun), which also has a synopsis, though less snarky, though it then proceeds to nitpick plot oversights, continuity errors, and inconsistencies between episodes. However, that might be too much; plus, adding in an audiobook is going to cut into my podcast/music listening time.

One thing I gotta mention, though, from both Mission Log and Wil Wheaton's coverage of "Lonely Among Us", where they're taking these two feuding alien races to the planet of Parliament: Is it just these three guys, or do all geeky Americans' minds immediately leap to George Clinton's funk band whenever Parliament is mentioned? Because they all went there. I confess that while I've heard of the band, I never really listened to them...but maybe it's just a Canadian thing. Because we actually have a frickin' parliament as part of our government. So while it could be considered just a fun and sly cultural reference, I can't help but hear overtones of ethnocentrism and cultural ignorance. Maybe that just makes me one of these knee-jerk oversensitive people, but sometimes, as a Canadian, one does get tired of other people knowing nothing about one's own culture while being expected to know everything about American culture, because it's like the default. Can you imagine someone giggling whenever someone said "Congress" because their mind immediately went to "sexual congress"? No? Because sometimes that's what it feels like.

I also have to say that I'm far from always agreeing with the Mission Log guys, either. I mean, I may have grown up with the original series episodes, but in general I find them to hold up much less often than Ray & Champion do...with the possible exception of "Court Martial", which they panned, but I still think is kind of neat. But then they were also gushing over "Encounter At Farpoint" and, god help me, "Justice". "Justice" is the episode that made me give up on TNG the first time through, and I think I even stopped watching at the point when Wesley Crusher got sentenced to death for his random transgression, so it was years before I actually saw the ending. I know I saw a few other episodes on first broadcast, such as "Skin of Evil" and "Measure of A Man", but it took me a long time to get past the bad taste that "Justice" left in my mouth.

For completeness I suppose I could add that I haven't minded the recent movies, but in general I think that I'm more fond of TV-style storytelling than movie-style storytelling these days. Movies you get a big budget and can only tell a 1.5-3 hour storyline, so it tends to be fairly simplistic, especially if you throw in a lot of big spectacle. Give me a TV series where you can spend hours on plot and character any day.

I'm sure I'll be trying the new Star Trek series that's supposed to be coming out soon. Will I give up on it partway through the first season as I have a tendency to do? I guess I'll have to see if they can avoid that curse this time. It's not encouraging that they're moving back in the timeline again, though.

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