February 16, 2015
BBC America has been airing Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes 2-3 nights a week for a good long while now, and I find myself very often after leaving off work and before foraging for dinner, melting into my sofa and watching for a bit. Or I’ll put it on as background chatter while I’m knitting. Somehow, some way, it’s very comforting.
The thing is, the show as whole does not hold up well. Especially in the notorious first season, the actors clearly aren’t sure just what they’re doing, they’re not comfortable with each other (oh my gosh, the number of times they have to point out Data doing something android-y or Worf doing something Klingon-y, gah), the stories are often very staid, the philosophy ham-handed, and the dialog… oh my. ST: TNG has moments of brilliance — “The Inner Light” is one of the best hours of dramatic television in existence. But then there are times when the show sounds like a role-playing game run by fifth graders. Very smart fifth graders, usually, but still.
For awhile, I couldn’t re-watch the show at all, and I winced at how I was so enamored of it when I was a teenager. (The excuse was we didn’t really have any other science fiction on TV, and that was very true.) But…. and yet… I’ve started watching it again. Like I said, it’s sometimes just voices in the background. But these characters are so familiar, and so likable, and their world is also so familiar. Did you know you can go to YouTube and play the Enterprise’s ambient engine noise for 24 hours? And isn’t that weirdly soothing? At this point, the whole show is like a warm fuzzy blanket.
The phenomenon of how much I’ve come to appreciate just hanging out with Picard and Worf and the rest is fascinating to me. Fiction, entertainment, comfort — powerful stuff, here.
(How many of you are still playing that engine noise? *raises hand*)