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Star Trek

Well, with a name like mine, I've got to be a Star Trek fan, right? Here are some random thoughts on the series (and its spin-offs), in no particular order. This page is partially intended as a rebuttal to my friend Bob's 48 reasons why Star Trek sucks.

Deep Space Nine

To be honest, I didn't get into DS9 at first. I saw one of the early first season episodes (Move along home), and thought "This isn't Star Trek". I still hold that opinion, but it doesn't bother me anymore. Actually, I think that DS9 is the best of the televised series, although the New Frontier books may have the overall edge.

One thing I like about the series is that it takes a different perspective to TNG, and deals with the consequences of actions a lot more. This may well be a natural consequence of staying put, rather than legging it as soon as you've finished your job. For example, there is a TNG episode (The Inner Light) where Picard experiences 40 years or so in the space of 25 minutes, thanks to an alien probe. At the end of the episode, he just resumed his duties as captain. I remember various people on the internet saying that this was a bad idea; after spending so much time away, from his perspective, he ought to spend some time re-familiarising himself with how the ship operates. There was a DS9 episode with a similar premise (Hard Time), where O'Brien gets sentenced to experience a 30 year jail sentence in a short space of time. The difference between the two episodes is that in the latter case, the episode began with his release from captivity, and the rest of the episode dealt with the aftermath.

Another way in which DS9 takes things further than TNG is gender issues. Specifically, by having Jadzia Dax (a Trill) around. The idea is that the Trill are a joined species; you have a sluglike symbiote that lives inside, and a "normal" humanoid outside. The humanoid person lives a normal lifespan, but the slug lives far longer, and will move through multiple hosts. Jadzia is the seventh host for her symbiote. The interesting part is that not all of the previous hosts were female, and she retains their memories, and aspects of their personalities. In the TNG episode that introduced the Trill (The Host), Beverly Crusher fell in love with the male host. At the end of the episode, he died, and a female host took his symbiote. Beverly's reaction was that she couldn't be involved with the new host. In DS9, there was an episode where another Trill turned up on the station (Rejoined). The idea was that they had been married to each other in former hosts. They were still attracted to each other, but Trill law said that they weren't allowed to get involved again, as it would impede the symbiote's development. The key question in the episode was whether they should act on their attraction, and face exile, or whether they should stay apart. The fact that they both happened to be in female bodies was never mentioned, which I like.

To digress for a moment, I read an article by Barry Norman (a UK film critic) a while back, where he was discussing films with a homosexual theme. His view was that these tended to be dull, since the main focus of the film was to say "We're gay and we're proud of it and there's nothing wrong with it!" In mainstream films, you often get a romance between the main characters, but they don't make a big deal out of the fact that they're heterosexual; that's just accepted as normal. I think that trying to force a message onto people won't work; you need to take the approach of Star Trek (and other science fiction) of portraying a society where your goal has been achieved, and then show that it works. To take a racial analogy, TOS (the original series of Star Trek) was apparently quite forward-thinking by having a black character on the bridge. I think that this succeeded because Uhura was shown to be equal; we didn't need (or want) to see her campaigning for equality.

Anyway, back to the DS9 episode. Bob has described this as having a gratuitous lesbian kiss (reason number 28), but I don't think that's a fair assessment. I think that the scene was tastefully done, and was a logical culmination of the themes in the episode, i.e. that you fall in love with the person inside, not the physical attributes.

This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk

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