1000 Days of Trek

So last week I hit a thousand days of Star Trek blogging, do I feel like going to Disney World? Well... maybe when they open the Latverian park. Jeremy Patrick asks if it's given me new insights into the franchise, and whether I still look forward to picking up a Trek comic every day. The answers escape me, or at least, I refuse to deal in absolutes.

This was initially called the 2-year mission, because it would take two years to review each episode and film, but I decided to keep at it, keeping the daily clock on this here blog. In answer to Jeremy's second question, I ask one of my own: Was it a good choice? I find that the comics make for easy and enjoyable posting, though when there's a run I don't care for (as my rants against Howard Weinstein have shown), it gets to be a real chore. And am I being fair to them? What works as a monthly may not work as a daily. At least it's just some 20 pages and it's over. Sundays take more dedication, because I pick up a novel and read it all the way through in one morning.Creating the image for those is also difficult to the point where I feel I've asked too much of myself. When I'm not available for reading a novel, that's when you'll see a non-fiction (reference) book. Hope I don't run out!

Part of the difficulty is juggling my other interests with this. In fact, while Trek was an important obsession for a good long while, it no longer is. Doctor Who has gone from #2 to #1 since it came back. There's also a perverse effect to reviewing Trek comics: This blog's content used to be largely comics-related. Now, because I'm already doing 6 comics a week, I've tried to vary the content so that it isn't so much about comics anymore. I don't know if that had any impact, good or bad, on its readership. I think I like it more now, but it's harder to build thematic weeks or run rampant with projects like "Let's laugh at Mike Barr's Outsiders".

Oh oh, I got one! And it's about the franchise's longevity and why I (and other nerds geeks upstanding citizens) keep at it. The franchise owes its success to its continuity.
Granted, too much continuity is oppressive and turns serviceable stories into fanwank, and was deemed responsible for people not being able to "get into" Star Trek after the TNG days. New viewers were afraid of being lost and couldn't follow continuity-heavy stories. I understand the marketing principle, but if we look at Star Trek as a cultural artifact, why is it interesting? I liken it to Middle Earth in that the Star Trek universe is a complete, detailed world. It's immersive. It has dark corners and timelines and empires and languages, each with its fans.

As a weekly television experience, you could do one-offs that never really plugged into a larger continuity. But when we look back, the fact we never saw the Sheliak again makes The Ensigns of Command a forgettable episode. The same can't be said of The Wounded, which is interesting in and of itself, but also became a building block for Deep Space 9. The best regarded episodes are part of the larger continuity, they tie into each other and hold the world together: The Klingon arcs, Yesterday's Enterprise, the Dominion War, the Borg. The last season of Enterprise, when they started filling in the blanks left in continuity, is by far the strongest for me, though there wasn't an audience for it anymore. The favorite films all have continuity plug-ins as well, including the latest feature. It puts the lie to the idea that continuity is what drove viewers away.

Taking a step back and looking at Trek today, people will find that 700 hours of viewing is too much, so they look for the essentials. Those essentials are the episodes that have built up continuity, often by being good enough other episodes will want to reference them, bring back memorable characters, etc.

And that's where the non-canon stuff comes in. It too can plug holes in continuity, bring back memorable characters and concepts, and guess what, that's when they're the most interesting. There are basic Star Trek plots which return again and again, even on the shows, but replace the alien of the week with the aforementioned Sheliak, and suddenly it's a lot more interesting. Especially since the regulars are barred from ever changing. Which is why Pocket Books' output has grown more interesting in recent years. They've been allowed to continue stories with definite onscreen endings (DS9 2, TNG 2, USS Titan) and create new series where secondary characters could be given a new life along with original cast members (New Frontier, Starfleet Corps of Engineers, Vanguard, Stargazer, etc.). THAT'S where the interest lies.

So here's to a thousand more days in this ever-widening universe, and to the next week filled with Star Trek content.


rob! said...

Wow, 1000...that's staggering. Congrats for keeping it up, and also for not going insane.

Siskoid said...

What evidence do you have that I haven't ?

Austin Gorton said...

Good points all around and very well said regarding the significance of continuity.

As a blogger, daily content and the consistency of yours, both in terms of quality and frequency, is both mind-boggling and impressive.

Here's to much more Star Trek (though I, for one, would also love a return however brief, to "Let's laugh at Mike Barr's Outsiders").


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