The Star Trek Mystique

Star Trek, the television and movie cult phenomenon, has impacted so many of us globally, at so many levels. TEN7's own Tess and Les discuss Star Trek with Ivan. Live long and prosper!
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Tess Flynn

Platform Architect, TEN7

Les Lim

Former Developer Lead, TEN7

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Impact upon personal growth and career choice

The characters

Attracting new fans

Socio-political impact on civilization


IVAN STEGIC: Hey everyone, you're listening to the TEN7 podcast, where we get together every fortnight to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I'm your host Ivan Stegic. In this episode of the podcast, I'm hoping to explore the fascination some of us have with Star Trek. This little show debuted in 1966, as a science fiction series on NBC. Many subsequent seasons of the show, including an animated series, numerous movies, theme parks, exhibits and of course conventions followed. It's perhaps an understatement to say that it's a global phenomenon spanning five decades, and still it continues to exist and evolve. Joining me today are two fans who also happen to be my colleagues at TEN7, Tess Flynn and Les Lim. Welcome to the podcast Tess and Les.

LES LIM: Hello.


IVAN: It's nice to be talking to you guys today. So I wanted to start with each of you or at least with each of your earliest memories of Star Trek. What's the first thing you can remember about Star Trek?

TESS: Star Trek is how I learned to program the VCR. I was six.

LES: Well that actually might be my impetus for learning to program a VCR too. I think I probably I was too young for taping TNG, but I probably taped every DS9 episode as it was going and was while I was watching at the same time.

IVAN: Hold up. TNG? DS9?

LES: Oh that's right. So TNG is how we colloquially referred to the series known as Star Trek the Next Generation. DS9 is how we would refer to Deep Space Nine, which is a series that came after the Next Generation on television.

IVAN: So what's the earliest memory of the first episode you can recall?

LES: I don't know if there's like a first memory of an episode that I recall. When I was a kid, Star Trek was already pretty well established, and it was played in syndication every weekday at seven o'clock. I didn't really understand any of the story. I would just like watch from episode to episode, and I would watch it pretty much every day at seven o'clock.  I got inundated with with Star Trek at the time. It was still during original runs, so they must have been earlier episodes in the first two or three seasons.

IVAN: What year was that?

LES: I would I would watch in the apartment space that we were in above my parents store. I was there until 1990 so this would have been when I was about seven years old, 1988-1989.

IVAN: And you said those were the ones that were in syndication, so it was some of the earlier seasons?

LES: It must have been earlier. The Next Generation started in 1987 so by the time it was 1989 they were probably in the middle of the third season. There wouldn't have been that many episodes to air. Yet they still managed to rotate them five nights a week.

IVAN: And you Tess, does that sound about the same time and the same sort of episodes, or is it or is it a different experience for you?

TESS: This is just makes me feel old. The first experience with it was when I was I about six, and that's as far back as my memory records usually go. Doesn't go back further back than maybe five-ish for me. But by the time I was that age. I had already watched all of my dad's collection of Star Trek films, and I watched and re-watched Star Trek 2 recorded from one of the local broadcast stations, because we only had broadcast.

IVAN: And that was the Star Trek movies, right?

TESS: Those were the Star Trek movies. They didn't even have the Next Generation yet at that time for me, this was in ‘86. And at the time, I had watched them so many times that not only did I know which tapes to watch, but also because they were recorded from broadcast I could tell and I still remember to this day where the broadcast dropped off at particular points in the film, even though I have logs of past have more updated copies that don't have those drop offs.

LES: And do they still have all the original late 1986 commercial breaks in them, too?

TESS: I think my dad might have edited those out while he was watching it.

LES: That's too bad.

IVAN: So your equivalent of binge watching would be cassette, VHS cassette after cassette put one in watch, put another on in watch it. Is that is that something you did?

TESS: Occasionally, yeah.

IVAN: Very different than just staying in front of Netflix and doing that now. So I would say that's kind of one of the tangible things you guys had so VHS cassettes. I know that was something that I had when I was growing up watching movies and tv. I would record shows that were on tv from the United States, and I grew up in South Africa under sanctions, so we had a fairly limited experience with American tv. The only way I knew to socialize with other people it never really occurred to me that I could actually talk about these things that I was watching on tv because you know it kind of was an isolating experience for me. Just watching TV at home, and then not talkin about it at school. I don't know why it didn't occur to me. Did you guys have a similar experience, or did you find that you were talking about Star Trek with your friends at school or with your family?

LES: Probably not very much in school. I think that I had a couple friends who maybe enjoyed Star Trek. Maybe not to the degree that I did. I was very much sort of like passively plucked me down in front of the TV, and then I would just sit there like enraptured for like an hour, and and I don't think I realized exactly what I was absorbing at the time. But yeah, that was something that was pretty personal to me. I don't think that rest of my family necessarily was as into it as I was. They all were aware of it.

IVAN: Les, do you think that you initially started watching Star Trek because it was just on at the same time, and you weren't doing anything at seven o'clock every night, or was there some other reason that you came kept coming back to that show.

LES: I mean it was I don't recall exactly but I'm pretty sure there was like an immediate kinship, right? I mean for me at the time it was like there, it was in space which was cool. Every so often there would be a space battle with like laser sound effects which was also cool. You know there's a character that's a robot, basically, an android, and that was fascinating. I think at some point, I felt like it was it was just mine and so I would want to consume as much of it as possible.

IVAN: How about you Tess? What got you hooked?

TESS: Well, I blame my dad. My dad is the one who really liked the Star Trek movies, and I believe he even watched the original series when that was broadcast. But I didn't tend to talk about it outside of the house all that much because I didn't have really any friends for most of my schooling, and I also knew that if I tried, you know, being anything other than a quiet lonely cipher that people would make fun of me. Instead I just kind of went into the quiet lonely cipher thing instead.

IVAN: When you did watch those shows were you watching with your dad? Did you ever do that as a joint activity?

TESS: When Star Trek the Next Generation was broadcast that became kind of a family thing. Everyone would sit down, and we would all watch the show together. Even when the rest of my family didn't seem all that interested in it, my dad, and I still often watched that.

IVAN: Do you think there was a defining moment when you realized you were a fan, Tess?

TESS: See the thing is for me, it's really weird because I just don't recall a me before Star Trek.

LES: Kind of same.

IVAN: Really? So it's always been part of your DNA.

LES: Yeah, it always I can't this was always one of like the formative stories. Just like some people grew up with Jesus. This is to me I can't remember when Star Trek wasn't on the television.

IVAN: Wow. So to me so I think my defining moment is certainly not in Star Trek, but it does when you talk about it that way. It's interesting to me that both you Les and Tess have this passion for Star Trek, and yet you kind of grew up in different states in different cities and approximately the same time, and yet, there's this kinship about it. To me it feels a little daunting it feels like there’s so much of this universe and canon of Star Trek that from my point of view, trying to get into it, I feel like I'm going to miss out if I don't start right at the beginning and see all of these you know 500 hours of episodes so that I can say that I'm you know in feel like I know what's going on. Well, do you think this do you think this is a valid criticism?

TESS: It can be it can be a valid criticism in my opinion. I felt very similar when I decided to adopt the fandom of Doctor Who, and it felt like this massive monolithic wonderment that I couldn't possibly you know breach without exhaustive research, and that's kind of true, but each particular fan of this is unique in the case of Doctor Who is quite a bit messier. There's a lot less of a cogent unified story. Which is hilarious because even most of the Star Treks do not have a cogent unified story.

LES: That actually resonates for me as well. I didn't come into Doctor Who until the 2005 revival of the show with the BBC. I was only just sort of tangentially aware of Doctor Who’s existence, but I think it's sort of similar in insofar as I don't know anybody who was like a Doctor Who lifer from the beginning, because I just don't know many people who were around when the first season of Doctor Who was aired in the in the 60s. And my recollection of being a Star Trek fan doesn't involve anything like coming in from the beginning of my memory sure, but I mean I was watching whatever random episodes would come on syndication on the television at seven o'clock. I don't think there was anything that I lost by not watching them in order. Watching something like Star Trek and in the 80s is very much like watching a short story unfold. Every episode is meant to be self-contained. Every episode is meant to be something that that you could casually just pick up and watch that episode and then and then drop off. There wasn't the the rise of serialized plot lines back then that there is now. So there might be depths that you lose or that you don't you don't quite get like in jokes in the universe that become richer as you as you learn more about the universe, but those are not essential to understanding what it is about Star Trek that's so compelling.

IVAN: What is compelling that needs to be understood about Star Trek?

LES: So for me, it was I think a huge part of it was that they’re always smart people and that's just who they are. It's not anything that's not remarkable. That's not the thing that is remarkable about them. They are treated differently for that reason, They're smart, competent people who like each other, who team up together to solve a problem together, and that's sort of powerful as a kid. I think to have that as a message, growing up in a public school system in the 80s and not necessarily having people to talk to, I think that's that's a really easy sort of fantasy to slip into of just people who were competent and aren't judged for their competency. They just are.

IVAN: It sounds like you're describing the meritocracy that seems to exist in the in the future world a few centuries from now that Star Trek depicts. What's compelling for you Tess?

TESS: It's changed very much when I was when I was small. I was totally into the space as cool and laser battles and things like and Data is a robot. That's awesome. As I've gotten older though, I've kind of started seeing it as a source of continual inspiration for for the STEM field. A few days ago I ran across a blog post from the Smithsonian about the Star Trek Communicator badge that the astronaut Sally Ride had. She donated that to the museum. And I had no idea about this until actually read this blog post which was how, for her, it was Star Trek Voyager. But how the show inspired her to become an astronaut to do things to become to go into the STEM field and and do science and nifty things. For me the the biggest influence was like say Scotty. Because Scotty from the original series was the engineer, and he was the guy who managed to fix things and help people and not only what was that. He didn't have massive muscles. He wasn't you know a powerful individual. He was a guy with bad accent. He still was able to help people through his skill and his determination and that inspired me to go, “Yes. I want do that too.”

LES: Yeah, I feel a lot the same way. I think I didn't realize necessarily at the time with that how much of an influence it was being on me, but no one on Star Trek is out for personal gain. No one is motivated by by career advancement. The motivation for everyone in Star Trek is to help people, is to explore, is to gain knowledge is to figure out the answers to the problems together. The fact that there was no money in Star Trek at all for a very long period of time is something that I didn't realize had become such a elemental part of my existence - like, I didn't think about going to college or getting a job or doing anything for the purpose of having a salary. I always sort of deep down felt like eventually I'm gonna operate in some sort of equivalent of a starship, where I'm part of the team that is out to do good, that is out to explore and to better ourselves.

IVAN: The future in Star Trek is seems like a liberal and progressive utopia, and I'm fascinated by the fact that there's no money in it. When I was doing the research for this last week I discovered that there's no money in Star Trek, and when I think back to the not so many episodes that I've watched, I realized that oh yeah, they never really transact with anything well. What's the story behind that? How did Star Trek evolve not having money, or is that how Gene Roddenberry just set it up?

LES: That was one of Gene Roddenberry's original concepts for the series - is that, absent the need to acquire resources, that humanity would be be free to become explorers to better themselves. That there there would be a shift in the in the economic paradigm toward self-knowledge rather than toward material gain. I think that's more explicit in “The Next Generation” where there are replicators that are able to just produce food for you and produce material goods. There's no need for for capital when all of your basic physical needs are met, I think is the idea. I mean there's still there still property in Star Trek, and like there's it's not really clear how this society evolved this way. It's a contrivance of writing, to be able to give yourself a utopia and then ask questions about that utopia without necessarily going through each of the steps in history that get you that place. There are parts of it that I can't really answer. Post-scarcity society is sort of a premise of the show.

IVAN: What do you think we can do now to kind of get to that utopia sooner?

LES: That's a difficult question. I don't think I'm qualified to answer that.

IVAN: Maybe Tess is.

TESS: No. No I'm not.

LES: Short of inventing a replicator that there's no way to follow the Star Trek canon timeline of it.

TESS: Yeah, I mean even in the Star Trek canon the way they get there is through a very very very dark keyhole.

LES: How do you figure?

TESS: Because canonically, if I remember the canon correctly, in the in the nineties there were there was a general war called the Eugenics War. A lot of genetic manipulation that left a good portion of the population devastated. Then there was World War 3, which was even worse. And in the complete disorientation and destruction that followed, you had this one guy named Zephram Cochrane, who for reasons of wanting to have money to sell the technology, invented warp drive and inadvertently attracted the attention of aliens. And it's so after that people would wait, huh, there's a bigger Universe out there and then vagary happens, and then you had a utopia afterwards.

LES: There's a little bit of storytelling hand waving that went about to get to that step.

IVAN: And somewhere at that point there was no need for money anymore because you could just replicate everything you needed.

LES: Yeah, that gets a little complicated as this show goes on. You know there are other societies that that have something that are like money. Several episodes refer to things like credits that aren't really fleshed out. It's not really talked about how this this whole Intergalactic economy works. There is definitely plenty of room within Star Trek to talk about about economic inequality and have sources have-nots. They're usually explored on a level of other societies that the crew meet, that are not part of the Federation, but they're there are stories about some of the some of the consequences of economic inequality within the Federation as well.

IVAN: Is it an assumption that all of the races and aliens in Star Trek are at approximately the same point in time as far as evolution is concerned because they all seem to have about the same kind of technology. Right they can all fly really fast and they can you know they have laser beams for guns and some some are some races are more interested in war than others, and it's so like they've all evolved and have about the same technology is that right?

TESS: I could delve with the canon about this if you like.

IVAN: I’d love to know.

TESS: It's not very overtly stated, but if you follow a lot of the the earlier in the timeline shows, you'll notice that there is actually a level of less technical ability from human species at the very beginning. We didn't have you know fast ships compared to say the Vulcans which had faster ships. We didn't have shielding technology like the Andorians did and so on and so forth. But by the time you get to the original series of Star Trek and by the time you definitely get to Star Trek the Next Generation, a lot of these differences have been ironed out because they take place within the Federation, which because it's an alliance of multiple different alien species we shared technology. And as a result, there's a lot more of an of a combination of technological elements, which makes it seem like they're particularly powerful. And it does seem that most of the other species in Star Trek are either way way unknowably beyond us, or nowhere near us, or about somewhere around us. There's definitely a kind of the three-humped bell curve here.

LES: Yeah, and I think that's a lot of that comes from the storytelling needs. I think that there's a lot of room for stories in science fiction about races and cultures that have some sort of technological parity. Because it's a way to explore things - like, in our recent history with bipolarity between the US and Soviet Union. There's a lot of room in science fiction to tell stories about not very advanced societies also dealing with extremely advanced societies to talk about that what the consequences of that kind of technological disparity as well, and so it sort of depends on the kind of story that the writer wants to tell. I think there's definitely room for both. I think that like the the universe of Star Trek only kind of makes sense because all of the major powers in the Galaxy have close to technological parity, otherwise it would be hard to write conflicts into the show. Yeah, on either end of that bell curve there's been room for stories about encountering races of very different technological prowess.

IVAN: Or is it called the Federation, that's all of these planets and peoples that have shared technology that you alluded to earlier Tess?

TESS: That's correct, and then there's Starfleet, which is kind of the military / police / research wing of the Federation, and that's that division is intentionally kind of murky and mucky in the show.

IVAN: Yeah, the way you described it sharing technologies it made me think of an open-source community, this this Federation of different planets and species have come together to unify and and share knowledge, and so that's how they got to be more on par and have more equal parity with the technologies that humans have compared to other races in the Federation, and I kinda wonder if if that's a good comparison. Are they actually sharing technology kind of the way that we think of open-source today?

TESS: I mean, there's no canonical sign of event of you know here is a technology that was invented in the Federation shared with you know absolutely everyone. There's probably one or two incidents, but you don't really see those as more as as a story in of them themselves usually they're used as plot devices.

IVAN: Let me switch gears a little here and ask you both. If you have to pick a character in the whole entire Star Trek canon that was most aligned with maybe who you are today who would it be?

LES: I don't necessarily identify with any particular one character. I never thought of it as playing favorites that way, I guess. Most of my favorite episodes of Star Trek are the standalone episodes, Next Generation episodes that feature Picard. He gets the media stories written for him, and he's also you know probably the most accomplished actor of the bunch, so he is able to sell those better than anybody else. Those are always all standouts for me. Which is interesting. I don't necessarily think he's the most interesting character. He's just because he comes out fully formed. He is so considerate and he always seems to to end up doing the right thing, which is a little bit hard. It's a bit of a Mary Sue problem. Mary Sue is a trope about a too perfect character. He and Data are the characters who spend the most time talking about and worrying about the moral and ethical ramifications of the actions they take. That always interested me.

IVAN: How about you Tess? Which one's your favorite?

TESS: That really depends on which part. In terms of personal significance, I rather liked both Scotty and Data for getting you know technical prowess and interest. But also characters like you know Spock also Data, also Seven of Nine for example also the doctor from Star Trek Voyager those characters provided a very interesting nature that I try to have nurtured within myself, and that's something that that that still has a lot of appeal to me as I get older. And I still rather enjoy looking how those characters have changed in my perspective as I get older.

IVAN: Who was your favorite one very early on when you first started watching, Tess?

TESS: So when I was really young and only had you know Star Trek movies, I really liked Spock. When TNG started, I just glommed onto Data. I really, really liked that character.

IVAN: Data is the character that is the cyborg. No he's an android. What wait. What are the two?

TESS: He's an android.

IVAN: OK and a cyborg is a alien race right?

TESS: No. That's the Borg, anyone who has been modified with additional technology, and that that term is intentionally kind of vague, because if you have an artificial hip does that make you a cyborg? That's a good question? Do you, if you have an actual kind of computer nerve interface, does that make you a cyborg? Where is the line? It gets gets fuzzy that term.

IVAN: I think it makes you cyborg. Any kind of enhancement does that for you I think.

LES: The more interesting question is what does it mean if you are. I think those are the kinds of questions that Star Trek would like to explore.

IVAN: Are you bound by the same morality In the same rules if you're enhanced or if you're a robot on its own?

LES: In particular with with the the cyborg human distinction, so I think the place where this is explored the most in Star Trek is is with the race called the Borg, who are, derivatively, the name comes from “cyborg.” The Borg are a race of of drones with a hive mind - they communicate with each other and are controlled by the hive mind through their cybernetic implants, and they appear to have lost all vestiges of individuality. They are explored as the ultimate in sloughing off individual desires in favor of collective advancement, but also they’re manifested in evil in the pursuit of collected goals, individual drones no longer have any sense of self. They murder and assimilate cultures that are not of themselves, in order to bring them into their perfect collective, in order to eliminate conflict. It eliminates all of the problems that come with diversity by reducing it to one single hive mind. And that always was an interesting sort of moral conundrum. This is collectivism taken to an extreme.

IVAN: Is that parallel to anything that we had in reality at the time of the writing, and at the time that the Borg were introduced.

LES: I think that the Borg represents any sort of ideological monolith that prevents you from considering the individual experiences of others. You can interpret that to be about nationalism, to be about xenophobia. You can interpret that the number of different ways depending on how you're going for it. But but those are the ways that really, really resonated for me.

IVAN: What do you think of a Borg, Tess?

TESS: A lot of what I keep thinking of is very much parallel with what Les just said. They're an interesting combination of reprehensible and also attractive in number of different ways.

IVAN: How attractive?

TESS: You get that you get this explored a lot more in Voyager interestingly enough, where you have the attraction of perfection, and that attraction is something that is probably part and parcel of why I work with computers all the time, because I rather like that sense of organized perfection. But at the same time, it's taken to this holy blunt and terrifying level with the Borg that affects mind and body and society in ways that it really should never do so. It's that that combination that I rather rather find both compelling and frightening at the same time.

LES: It occurs to be to some extent that the Borg are what happens when you design a perfectly agile process.

TESS: We are the JIRA! All of your scrum will be assimilated!

LES: We've eliminated all inefficiency by eliminating the possibility that other individual minds could screw up the process. We've achieved perfect parity in goal and in process. We are perfectly agile.

IVAN: Yeah, that sounds a little scary Les.

LES: Yeah, at the same time I would love to be able to have a perfect process, the perfect of a software development process to be able to you know to just say that we are all on the same page, and and we don't need to discuss it any further. We can eliminate extraneous meetings to be able to just move forward with a common goal. That's really really powerful.

IVAN: It really is. It would be. Maybe JIRA can add a plugin that helps us with that. So I know that there are many hundreds of hours of Star Trek right, and there's episodes of series that have spanned from the 60s. There's movies. There's there's lots of video. Les, do you have a favorite episode?

LES: A favorite episode?

IVAN: Or a movie? I mean yeah, a movie more than an episode of the series.

LES: You know plenty. There there are tons of standouts for me. As far as movies go, like the VHS tape that that we had that I watched over and over because I only had one VHS tape was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which is I think colloquially that would be known as the one with the whales. I watched that one probably over and over again. That tops my list of Star Trek stories with the original cast.

IVAN: Is that the one where Shatner and Leonard Nimoy go back to Earth and they have to try to use a bus, and they can't figure out how to do it because they have no concept of money.

LES: Yes that's definitely a scene in there. Yes. I think that's the one.

IVAN: I remember that trailer from years ago. I don't know why, but it's amusing that you picked that as the as the best one.

LES: Yes, it’s Star Trek IV, the one about the bus.

IVAN: Whales right?

LES: It's really about the whales, the buses aren’t that important.

IVAN: Sorry interrupted you. That was one. What were the others?

LES: That's one, there are number of individual Next Generation episodes that I think are amazing that I keep going back to. There's one called “Darmok,” where Picard has to try to learn how to communicate with a race that only speaks in metaphor. They don't have any literal language. That one has spawned any number of t-shirts and memes that are only going to be understandable to people who are in in the know. There's an episode called “Lower Decks” that follows unknown characters like people who are not senior staff on the Starship, but people who are just, you know, the bartender, the lowly ensign, the people who are sort of outside of the loop and are experiencing all of the things that are happening to the ship from the perspective of people who don't know what's going on. That one is always been poignant for me. There's one called “Remember Me,” which is one that I came to recently (there's like a Twitter feed about this that went viral recently) but it's about the Doctor, who was a woman, and that that is an unremarkable thing about the show which is at the same time is wholly remarkable. The Doctor in the ‘80s, having a woman doctor who’s presence is entirely unremarkable is in itself remarkable. No one cares that she's a woman. She is the most qualified person and everybody trusts her. The thing about Remember Me that is sort of amazing is that like the premise of it is that Doctor Crusher is in an alternate reality, where people that she remembers start to sort of wink out of existence, but only she remembers that they ever existed in the first place. For everybody else it's as if these people had never existed before. They don't remember them. They don't know who they are, and so throughout the course of the episode people keep disappearing and the Doctor is the only one who remembers them keeps telling the rest of the remaining crew that these people that have been colleagues for ages are winking out of existence, and it sounds crazy and implausible and at almost no point during the episode does anybody even think to say that you're crazy or your unqualified. They trust her implicitly. They go to lengths to ensure that they are not the ones who are wrong. They believe her and the the premise of just believing someone is extremely powerful and something that has salience nowadays. That's always one that thought I found to be pretty profound and then you know they ended up screwing that character in other ways with other episodes, but we don't have to talk about those. Those are a few standouts for me.

IVAN: Which was the first one you mentioned? I didn't write that one down.

LES: The first one is called Darmok. That's a really great stand-alone science fiction story.

IVAN: Tess what about you? Any favorites?

TESS: There's a lot of them that are favorites, and it really depends what I'm what I'm going for. I usually like saying my stock answer is Wrath of Khan, Star Trek Two tends to be my favorite, but that's mostly because it's got the most nostalgic factor for me. I've watched the most times, because it was one of the first ones that I watched and it always managed to enthrall me every time that I put it on. But I actually do rather enjoy Star Trek the Motion Picture, otherwise known as the Slow Boring One, If you have a director's remaster of that, that is a pretty damn movie to watch. It is really gorgeous towards the end. But I rather like that because, you know, I like slow and plodding movies. But other episodes that tend to stick out in my mind is Devil In The Dark from Star Trek the Original Series. That one is a very popular one and takes kind of a general this is a monster movie-esque plot line, and then turns it around halfway through which is really kind of fascinating. There's so many episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation I could list off, but in addition to the ones that Les has always pointed out, I rather liked Contagion from earlier in the series. That's a nice standalone one, back when the series was not necessarily very well solid at that point, but it's still a really solid story in my opinion. It has lots of Data in it which is kind of nice. Best of Both Worlds parts one and two, everyone who watches TNG tends to bring that one up because it's the Borg episode as well as Q Who which is the other Borg episode. I could go on forever about TNG episodes, but let's let's pass that over and go on to other ones. In DS9. There's In the Pale Moonlight, which is a really interesting kind of breaks down in general. Deep Space Nine breaks down a lot of Trekisms in interesting and fascinating ways, and I would actually recommend you not watch them first. I would recommend you take a step back away from from DS9, because it's more fascinating and more interesting, because it was intentionally written to break down some of those ideas, and so when you have more of an established internal sense of the story, you'll get more out of it. But in the that episode on a standalone episode that has absolutely no real bearing on anything, In the Cards from DS9. That's a hilarious fun kind of keeper episode. I forget the episode title.

LES: Is “In The Cards” the one where where they're trying to find a baseball card?

TESS: Yes!

LES: That one's a great one.

TESS: It is a great one, it's a lot of fun is kind of the thing. That's not the episode I'm thinking of. I forget what episode it was. It was another episode with Nog talking about the great material Continuum. I forget at which episode that was.

LES: Was that the B plot of “Treachery, Faith and the Great River?”

TESS: You know it might be. I thought it might have been, but I'm looking at the page right now, and it doesn't look like it. For Voyager, and I always get the episode named mixed up for this one. For Voyager there's several really good episodes involving the Doctor, but also episodes involving Seven of Nine, and in one particular one, Seven of Nine and the Doctor are the only crew members that are on the ship at the time. Everyone else is in suspension because of plot reasons. And that actually turned into a very fascinating character study that kind of broke down a lot of things and really kind of opened up that character of Seven of Nine to interesting and more heightened level than I think the producers ever wanted to do, but I'm glad that they were arm wrestled into doing it.

IVAN: What is Seven of Nine?

TESS: Seven of Nine is a character from Star Trek Voyager. She was a Borg and she was rescued from the collective and spends most of the latter half of Voyager kind of finding her humanity and individuality, Another episode that's really good for that character is The Raven. That's that's a fascinating episode which kind of brings to mind a lot of interesting other bits of character. And I'm sure there's there's tons more. I don't have any for ok so Enterprise. That's the last I'm going to talk about. Honestly with Enterprise, there's no real reason to watch it. By the time you get past all of TNG and everything and then finally watch DS9, you might want to watch Enterprise because it does have its moments. But the episode that keeps coming to my mind with that series is In a Mirror, Darkly parts one and two, purely because they take such a silly idea from from Star Trek of the evil alternate universe and they just go whole diving into the entire thing completely redoing the intro sequence to make it seem like you are literally watching an episode of the show in universe and the actors just have it up, but it's just a delight to watch for how utterly cheesy it is.

IVAN: What was the name of that episode again?

TESS: In a Mirror, Darkly parts one and two arguably one of the best episodes of Enterprise ever made.

IVAN: All right. I think that's awesome. So my son and I started watching season 10 of Doctor Who, and the first five minutes were crucial to actually convincing him that this might be something that we could watch together. Which five minutes to I show to him of Star Trek to have the same effect?

TESS: That kind of thing is inherently adversarial, and I actually don't really like that approach, mostly because that puts the onus of proving that the thing you like is worth watching to another person who's going to be judging it harshly. And the problem is that even between Les and I, we get different things out of this series, we get different things, and we're interested in different things. And so I like turning that conversation around, and I usually like asking well this thing has been in the larger cultural Zeitgeist. You probably heard of some of it. What do you want to know about? The wonderful thing is most of Star Trek you can clip out those episodes and just watch them and explore that topic more fully.

IVAN: Honestly what I would like to do is try to distill Star Trek down into a sentence or two that peaks my son's interests, and then show him a clip of something that says oh, this is interesting. I think there's probably a series of good clips I could show him. What I don't want to do is show him an outlier.

LES: You're going to elevator pitch your son on Star Trek?

TESS: There is TNG.

LES: Which one?

TESS: The Defector, the one the one with the Romulan defector.

LES: That's one of my top 5 TNG episodes, that would be that's got some pretty advanced concepts, but like that that one is is really interesting to me in the context of history. And he’d probably get it.

TESS: The other reason why I point that one out is that hits the notes very early on in the episode. It has a nice action stinker that starts up right away after the intro sequence. There's a wait, what? And then it keeps going after that and it's a fascinating bit of mystery. I guess the next one I would probably pick after that would be a little bit more thoughtful would be the Drumhead from TNG.

LES: Also a really good one. Also one that seems like if you had if you knew about McCarthyism, that would be something that would really resonate that would really speak to you and completing that experience.

IVAN: Which one is the McCarthyism one the Drumhead, or is it another?

LES: It was the Drumhead.

IVAN: Ok and The Defector was which series?

TESS: Those two episodes are both TNG.

IVAN: They’re both TNG ok. Okay, I like the idea of some action in the beginning. I think that might grab his attention. Okay, well what's your hope for Star Trek in the future? I know that Discovery is the latest right? That's what just came up. What are you hoping to see Tess from Star Trek in the future?

TESS: I'm going to try to not rant too hard about Discovery, because Discovery has been annoying the heck out of me the longer the season goes on. It hasn't gotten to the point where I put it down yet, but man, I keep thinking about it. I think the thing that and I think the reason why I bring up Discovery as well at this point is that it's an interesting reflection of what I have been thinking Star Trek should be, because Discovery doesn't exactly feel like it should be Star Trek. So it makes me wonder a lot more about it, and especially at this particular point in history, it feels like we need something with quite a bit more quite a bit more hope, a little bit more positivity for the future where things are necessarily all wrapped up in a bow like they were in TNG but still has some some possibility for good things to happen. Right now we don't seem to have a lot of that. What I really hope for in the future is more people to watch one of these shows or a future show and being inspired like, I was to take up a STEM field or a technical field and and use that to try to do what they can to bring betterment and to help people.

IVAN: How about you Les?

LES: Yeah, I'm kind of on the same page. I don't necessarily need it to be Star Trek. I want there to be a show that has a fundamentally positive and hopeful vision for somebody who doesn't know it, but for whom those ideas become foundational. I don't know even if Star Trek is the is the right vehicle for that anymore. It was for me, and it wouldn't necessarily have to be the same for somebody else. I always thought that the strength of Star Trek was in short story, was in episodic science-fiction that was easily digestible in a small period of time. Not so much with the blockbuster space opera kind of epic tales that that Star Wars does so well. So to that extent like the the movie franchise that's currently out right now doesn't really ring a bell or hit with me. I haven't actually been able to watch Discovery at all the new series, that's on CBS All Access, but I'm not sure yet, so I can't speak to whether or not, that's that would that would pique my interest or something that would be what I want from the series going forward. But yeah, I want there to be at least one thing that is hopeful about our future.

IVAN: I think we could all use that in this day and age. So last question. Tess I'm going to go with you first. How many hours since the last episode?

TESS: Less than 24 because I watched Discovery last night.

IVAN: And you Les?

LES: Probably Friday, so 72 roughly.

IVAN: Okay, I lied. One more question. The most number of times you've ever seen an episode of Star Trek.

LES: That's incalculable. I mean I don't have an internal counter, but I'm sure there are episodes that I've seen literally dozens of times.

TESS: Same.

IVAN: I think that brings us to the end of this podcast then. Tess and Les, thank you both so much for spending your time with me for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. It's really been a pleasure to speak with you both. You can find us online at This is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.

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