Tag Archives: Star Trek

Star Trek as Comfort Food

This post was inspired by my friend Megan Cutler’s series on must-watch Star Trek: The Original Series episodes.

Star Trek Enterprise D Transporter. Photo credit- Konrad Summers
Star Trek Enterprise D Transporter. Photo credit- Konrad Summers

These past few weeks I’ve been rewatching old Star Trek episodes from many different eras and series even though I have plenty of other shows that I haven’t seen for the first time yet.

I don’t know about you, but I crave certainty in uncertain times.

Star Trek has filled many niches over the years. Sometimes its stories are a reflection of controversial issues we deal with in the real world that don’t have simple solutions.

Other episodes might humorous, poignant, hopeful, silly, or any combination of these and many other themes.

There have been Star Trek characters and episodes whom I loved immediately, slowly grew to have a deep appreciation for once I got to know them better, or, in a few rare cases, honestly never connected with much at all. (Not everything appeals to everyone!)

Star Trek itself is comfort food for me, and it’s been this way since my first experiences with it through reruns of The Next Generation. No matter which episode or series you pick, there are some things that almost always remain the same in this franchise.

Hope

There are many excellent science fiction books, stories, and TV shows out there that do not necessarily hold a hopeful perspective of human nature or the future. This isn’t one of them.

While Star Trek writers have occasionally strayed from this theme in the more modern versions of it, this franchise in general takes a hopeful stance on what we are capable of and what our future might hold.

Perfection doesn’t exist in this or any other universe, but human society has changed for the better in so many different ways between our era and theirs.

Every time I see characters greet living beings from other planets, order a meal from a replicator, or be treated for an illness or injury that would be fatal in the twenty-first century, I feel another pulse of hope that we’ll someday create versions of these futuristic wonders for ourselves in the real world.

Certainty

Photo of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock from the television series Star Trek on May 2, 1967.Yes, there are plenty of obstacles along the way in just about any Star Trek story arc, and they can be difficult to resolve depending on the series and the specific conflict in question.

Sometimes these conflicts are so complex they take up multiple episodes or seasons (see also: Deep Space Nine), but viewers always know there is a solution on the way eventually if they stick with it to see what the characters do next.

That certainty is a breath of fresh air now more than ever.

Call me an idealist, but I believe there’s something to be said for losing yourself in a storyline that will be resolved satisfactorily at some point.

Humour

By far the biggest reason to think of Star Trek as comfort food is all of the humour tucked away into it. No matter which series we’re talking about, there are reasons to smile when watching all of them. Yes, even Picard and Discovery if you look closely enough!

You may have noticed that I avoided mentioning specific Star Trek episodes in this post until now. That was done on purpose in order so that I could talk about the over-arching themes of this universe. Discussing a particular episode was less important than knowing there are many options to choose from when you’re a Star Trek fan who wants something warm and reassuring to watch after a long day.

With that being said, I’ll now provide a short list of my favourite humorous Star Trek episodes and provide one reason each for watching them. If you’re also a fan of this franchise, feel free to add your own suggestions below.

Episode: The Trouble with Tribbles

Series: The Original Series

Why You Should Watch It: Not only was it the funniest TOS episode in my opinion, it’s also aged the best since first airing. The idea of Kirk being outsmarted, if only temporarily, by what are essentially extremely fertile hamster-like creatures called Tribbles makes this a must watch for anyone who hasn’t seen yet.

The benefits of owning a tribble.

 

Episode: Trials And Tribble-Ations

Series: Deep Space Nine

Why You Should Watch It: The only thing better than tribbles is revisiting them vis a vie time travel!

Trying to blend in while time traveling.

 

Episode: Qpid

Series: The Next Generation

Why You Should Watch It: After being transported to a Robin Hood storyline, Worf dryly exclaimed, “I am not a merry man.” Watch the expression on his face below. It’s comedy gold.

Worf is not a merry man.

 

Episode: Tinker, Tenor, Doctor Spy

Series: Voyager

Why You Should Watch It: The doctor singing for Tuvok is priceless regardless of how well you do or do not already know these two characters.

The doctor sings for Tuvok

Creative Star Trek Parodies to Watch for Expanded SFF Month

A star trek ship flying above a frozen moon. A planet that looks like saturn is in the distance. Earlier this year I learned that May is Expanded Science Fiction and Fantasy Month. This challenge is a simple one. Pick any science fiction or fantasy universe and read or watch stories that were set in it but that were not part of the original canon.

To give one example, you could read Star Trek novels that were written as continuations of that universe after The Original Series first aired.

My brain hasn’t been amenable to reading serious, full-length novels recently due to some concerns I’ve had about a friend who has Covid-19, so my first post in response to this challenge will be lighthearted and a little off the beaten path. My hope is to revisit this challenge later on this month with a response that follows the rules more closely.

There are are no spoilers in these videos unless you’re 30+ years behind on Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes and determined not to know anything about what was written about that universe in the 1980s and 1990s.

For everyone else, they’re simply good, clean fun for anyone who is looking for a pick-me-up during these trying times.

Klingon Style 

If you’ve never seen Gangham Style, I recommend watching it first. This Trekkie parody of it never fails to make me smile in large part because actual Klingons would be horrified by the frivolity and silliness of it all.

Make It So

If you enjoy Frozen and Star Trek: The Next Generation, this might be right up your alley. I can oddly see Captain Picard enjoying this tune so long as no one was paying too much attention to his reaction to it. It was a short, cheerful tune that used his favourite catch phrase, after all. What’s not to like about that?

All About That Borg

Fans of Megan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” keep reading.

The Borg would have no use for this song, but I find it amusing. They’re by far the scariest villains in the Star Trek universe to me, so it’s nice to see them on screen without any chance of them assimilating anyone.

(Why do I keep figuring out if Star Trek characters would enjoy the songs about them? I have no idea!)

"The Orville" written in a stylized sans-serif blue font, similar to Star Trek- The Next Generation

The Orville

I saved my best recommendation for last.

Everything else on this list was a short music video. The Orville is a TV show that lovingly parodies Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mike Henry and J. Lee in The OrvilleNo, it isn’t set in the Star Trek universe, but it’s easy to forget that since it was written by folks who were clearly well-versed in what the storytelling was like at this point in Star Trek history and who were fans of it.

Just like the shows it gently pokes fun at, The Orville follows an ensemble cast of characters who live and work on an exploratory vessel several hundred years in the future. The diverse crew includes officers from a wide array of planets and cultures who work in close quarters a long ways from home.

While I understand the need for recent Star Trek series and films to take darker turns in order to attract new audiences and keep up with the times, one of the things I enjoy the most about The Orville is how optimistic it is.

Life isn’t perfect there by any means, but you can generally count on things to work out well for the characters no matter what problems they face. There is a sense of hope and joy in this universe that permeates almost everything.

Sometimes these near-mandatory happy endings are included in the parody aspects of the plot, but it’s always done with good intentions. There is something comforting about this that makes me look forward to the third season even more earnestly now.

If you’re participating in the challenge, I look forward to reading about which stories or videos you’ve selected for it!

Vintage Science Fiction Month: The Trouble With Tribbles

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

Today I’m going to be discussing one of my favourite Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It first aired on December 29, 1967 during the second season of this series and does not require any prior knowledge of the Star Trek universe in order to enjoy it.

The last time I blogged about Star Trek, Ruth Feiertag asked me to dedicate entire posts to single Star Trek episodes and to go into much more detail about them in the future. Ruth, I’m following your advice!

Text says The Trouble with Tribbles written by David Gerrold. Image in the background is of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series. All of the Original series Star Trek episodes are available on Netflix in Canada. I’d recommend watching this episode before checking out the rest of my post unless you don’t mind spoilers from a 50+ year old tv show.

This post is going to mostly consist of a fan talking about something she really liked. There might be a little bit of proper reviewing happening, but definitely not as much as usual.

The Trouble with Tribbles

Episode description:

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, a Klingon battle cruiser and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

Many Star Trek episodes throughout the years have covered serious, sensitive topics.

And then there are lighthearted episodes that seem to have been written for the sheer fun of it.

Can you guess which category “The Trouble with Tribbles” falls into?

Perhaps showing Uhura cuddling a sweet little tribble will give you another hint.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. She's holding a tribble.
Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. She is holding her brand new tribble.

At this point in the series, Uhura and the rest of the crew had faced plenty of dangers. Seeing her cuddle a small, fuzzy, hamster-like creature given to her by a travelling salesman made me smile.

She took her new pet back to the ship and it soon gave birth to a litter of baby tribbles. Thrilled, Uhura gave them away to her coworkers.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. He and Uhura are holding tribbles while Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Ensign Freeman (Paul Baxley) look on.
Sharing the tribbles.

At the same time, The Enterprise happened to be carrying a large load of quadrotriticale grain that was bound for a place called Sherman’s Planet.

It seemed to be a perfectly normal journey until the crew realized the tribbles were reproducing much faster than any hamster or other similar creature on Earth.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and and Deforest Spark as Dr. McCoy. They are looking over a table filled with tribbles.
Spock and Dr. McCoy looking over a table filled with tribbles.

The question is, what is going to happen if or when the tribbles discover the grain this ship is carrying?

I’ll leave it up to my readers to discover the answer to this question themselves. What I will say is that I loved seeing all of the characters out of their element. Fighting a scaly monster on an alien planet is one thing.

Figuring out how to deal with a small, fuzzy antagonist that reproduces faster than anyone can imagine and will eat just about anything is quite another.

This is one of those Star Trek episodes that has definitely stood the test of time. The humour in it still felt fresh. Tribbles will cause mischief no matter when or where they show up, and this is even more true for people who have no idea what they’re dealing with.

If you’ve never watched Star Trek, this is a fun place to start. The episode will give you all of the information you need. Feel free to dive in.

If you’re already a fan of it, this is the sort of episode that is somehow even funnier on the second or fifth or twentieth rewatch because of all of the little tells the characters give that they have no idea how to react to these creatures and may just have a long list of antagonists they’d prefer to be dealing with instead.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Pens Over Swords: the Best Conflict Resolution in Star Trek

This month I’m participating in the Scifi Month challenge that was created by the bloggers at One More. Click on the link in that last sentence for more information or to sign up yourself. There is still time to pick a few of their prompts and join in if you’re interested.

Today’s prompt is “we come in peace.” It was inspired by #WorldHelloDay, a secular holiday that encourages everyone to resolve conflict with good communication instead of by force. As soon as I began researching this holiday, I immediately thought of Star Trek. 

I will only be including references to series in this universe that are no longer releasing new episodes, but there are mild spoilers in this post. It simply wasn’t possible to write this without them.

One of the things I’ve learned from watching various Star Trek series over the years is that a better world is possible. Conflicts can be resolved peacefully. It all starts with learning how to talk about what you want clearly and listening to what other people want, too.

Obviously, I can’t possibly cover every single moment of conflict resolution in Star Trek in this post without turning this into a full-length novel. What I’m hoping to do is highlight my picks for some of the best moments where Star Trek characters used words, whether spoken, written, or sung, to find a solution that worked best for everyone.

Beware of reading anything after this sentence that if you haven’t seen every old Star Trek episode yet and want to catch up without any hints about what is coming at all.

Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Photo is of Avery smiling while wearing Star Trek uniform.

Captain Sisko’s headshot. 

Series, Season, and Episode: Emissary from Season 1, episodes 1-2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although, honestly, the entire Deep Space Nine series is an amazing example of how to resolve conflict, create peace, and get along with people who may have been your enemies just a short while ago.

The Conflict: Captain Benjamin Sisko, a single father and recent widower, was dismayed by the poor condition of the space station he has just arrived to command and of the disrespectful attitudes of some of his new crew. To make matters worse, the person who assigned this posting to him was the same man he blamed for the death of his wife. In these episodes he had to decide whether to stay with Starfleet or resign and find a quiet civilian life for him and his young son.

How It Was Resolved: He had deep conversations with others who helped him acknowledge his grief and see the professional challenges lying before him in a new light. I know this is kind of a vague answer, but seeing how Captain Sisko went from despondent to hopeful was incredible. This is something everyone should experience for themselves without knowing too much in advance about how it all worked out.

Tim Russ as Tuvok in Star Trek Voyager. Photo is of him suffering from pon farr. He is grimacing and his face is covered in perspiration.

Tuvok suffering from pon farr.

Series, Season, and Episode: “Body and Soul” from season 7, espisode 7 of Star Trek: Voyager.

The Conflict: Tuvok was suffering from a chemical imbalance called pon farr that was common in among Vulcans. When the medical bay’s first attempt at treatment failed, they had to resort to other ways to help Tuvok before his condition became fatal.

How It Was Resolved: Through an opera song (and then other remedies, of course).

Doctor sings Opera to Tuvok.

 

Screenshot from Star Trek: The Original series episode "The Menagerie Part 1." The Enterprise and a planet are in the background of this shot.

Series, Season, and Episode: “The Menagerie” from season 1, episodes 11 and 12 of Star Trek: The Original Series.

The Conflict: The Enterprise received a distress signal from ship that had been lost eighteen years ago. When they arrived at the planet where that ship had crash landed, several members their crew was kidnapped by the people living there.

How It Was Resolved: A trial, among other creative solutions. This episode won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1967. I don’t want to give away any other plot twists, but I will say it was quite well done.

Brent Spiner as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is sitting at table with his fingers laced together.

Data.

Series, Season, and Episode: “The Measure of a Man” from season 1, episode 9 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Conflict: A cyberneticist named Commander Maddox wished to disassemble Data in order to understand how his artificial brain functions and reverse-engineer it to produce replicas of him for Star Fleet to use. Data refused to allow this. When he attempted to leave Star Fleet in order to save himself, a court case developed to determine whether androids should be given the same rights as humans.

How It Was Resolved: A trial. There are a lot of Star Trek episodes that involve trials, now that I think about it!

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and John de Lancie as Q

Q and Captain Picard.

Series, Season, and Episode: “Q Who” from season 2, episode 16 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Conflict: There was once an omnipotent entity named Q who was so tired of seeing humans take good care of themselves that he decided to fling their spaceship 7,000 lightyears away just to see what happened next. The problem was, he threw them straight into the path of an enemy who was too powerful to defeat.

How It Was Resolved: Time travel and a large second helping of mischief. What made this episode especially great in my opinion was how much groundwork it set for future conflicts in the Star Trek universe. That’s all I’ll say about that!

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, what are your favourite scenes or episodes from it?

Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin pie, forks, and a decorative gourd sitting on a Thanksgiving supper tableHappy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

Last year I wrote about the characters I’d want to invite over for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten some hits on my site from people who are wondering which characters shouldn’t be included on a Thanksgiving dinner guest list.

Honestly, I could happily make small talk about how unpredictable the weather can be in October or why pumpkin pie is so delicious with 99.99% of the people and characters out there. There are plenty of ways to gently guide a conversation along to lighthearted topics if you don’t have much in common or know each other well.

It would take a lot for me to refuse to share such a hospitable and inclusive holiday with someone…especially if they don’t have anywhere else to go!

With that being said, even I have my limits. Here are the characters who would never be invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Why: She was a violent, cruel person who did a deceptively good job of hiding that part of her personality from authority figures and anyone else who might have stopped her.

2. The Borg from Star Trek

Why: As cool as it might be to have some body parts replaced by machines, I do not want them to assimilate me or the other guests against our will. Former members of The Borg like Seven of Nine who simply want to eat some food and discuss human culture would be welcomed in my home.

3. Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights 

Why: Like Dolores, Heathcliffe was skilled at putting on the facade of being a good person while doing quietly terrible things to his victims behind the scenes. This is something I simply can’t sweep under the rug.

4. President Snow and President Coin from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy 

Why: Does anyone actually want to spend Thanksgiving with ruthless dictators who have repeatedly sent innocent people to their deaths? If so, I’ve never met such a person.

This list was pretty short, but I felt that I’d be repeating myself if I added anyone else to it. Basically, the behaviours that would make me exclude someone on Thanksgiving are limited to things that would also be bright red flags the other 364 days of the year. The vast majority of people would never behave this way, so my list of folks who could join me for a special holiday meal will always be miles longer than the ones who will have to make other plans that day.

Which characters would you never invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

How Science Fiction Can Keep You Out of Trouble

I’ve been thinking about Star Trek a lot lately, especiallyThe Original Series. The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were the parts of this universe I grew up watching. It wasn’t I was an adult that I actually sat down and checked out the series that started the Star Trek franchise back in the 1960s. If you’ve never… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl My list this week is going to include several characters from TV shows. All of these shows have had books or graphic novels written about them, though, so they still fit the criteria for Top Ten Tuesday. 1. Biff from Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s… Read More

Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! I hope you all have a table full of delicious things to eat and plenty of kindred spirits to share this meal with. Today’s post will be something short and sweet. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how happy I am to see the science fiction and fantasy… Read More

10 Things I Love to Read About

On Monday I blogged about the 10 Things I Won’t Read About. It was surprising to see how many of the people who read my posts have similar aversions to those topics. Today I’m talking about 10 things that would make me keen to pick up and read a book. I tried to make this… Read More

18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I Can’t Wait to See in 2018-2019

Last year I blogged about the fourteen science fiction and fantasy series I was looking forward to watching during the 2017-2018 season. Wow, that was a lot of shows! Somehow I managed to continue watching almost all of them, though. Today I’m talking about the shows I’m currently watching or will be watching during the… Read More