Ah, Star Trek! To those who Do Not Understand (better known as “spouses”) it is merely a soap-opera in space. This is hotly disputed by those of us who know better.
Admittedly, if you were to take an arbitrary episode of Home and Away, give half the cast green skin or a second head, remove the argument with the neighbour and replace it with a Cardassian Space Fleet then you’d probably find yourself watching an episode of Deep Space Nine … but that’s not the point.
Star Trek shows a glimpse of the future; where everyone will stop being greedy bastards who think only of themselves. Poverty and famine are abolished, and all but the most exotic and required-for-plotline diseases are cured by waving a small box with lights on it and pressing some buttons. Everyone lives together in peaceful harmony – exploring the universe in skintight Star Fleet uniforms. In the future (it would appear) there is no such thing as an ugly biffer.
On our travels we shall meet weird and wonderful alien races; though to be honest the degree of “weird and wonderful” only really extends as far as skin colouring and some Snickers-bar patterns on foreheads. Otherwise, aliens seem similarly bipedal enough to fit into uniforms just like everyone else, still projecting that “definitely would” factor.
Of course its not all exploring the galaxy, boldly-splitting-infinitives, or watching Kirk and Riker make-out with hot alien chicks with three buttocks. Nope, there will still be adversaries: the alien race who has not yet embraced the enlightened Federation principles, some mysterious energy-sucking green blobs, or (when the special-effects budget has been blown) the omniscient-yet-sarcastic superbeing who doesn’t really do much but reminds you very much of Jeremy Paxman. And there’s always the good ol’ transporter accident, which is normally good for an episode or two each series.
I find the evil entity-made-of-pure-energy an interesting one. You know, the one that takes over people’s bodies and makes them do … stuff. Mostly I find it interesting that in the space of a single 45 minute episode of Voyager they can manage to run into a mysterious nebula, let a disembodied spirit run riot around the ship, catch it and kill it with some implausible piece of nonsense that someone in engineering makes from some plastic tubing, a bicycle pump, a cereal packet and ten gallons of whipped-cream … and have everything back to normal by the time the credits roll.
Back to normal. Like nothing had happened. Not even so much as an awkward moment in the canteen later. No talk of “sorry for trying to crush your windpipe with my forehead earlier – I haven’t felt 100% today”.
(Insert name of curiously attractive crewmember) has just spent the last half hour running round the ship trying it on with (insert name of other curiously attractive crew member), trying to kill some others and genuinely being a Bad Egg … then they blame his actions on a Creature From Another Dimension, laugh about it like the end of a He-Man episode and all have tea together. Meanwhile, Ensign Ricky’s blood still covers the walls in Holodeck Two.
So it occurs to me … that everyone in Star Trek has the carte-blanche ability to do whatever the hell they like, and then just say “oh, well a mysterious alien entity took possession of my body. It wasn’t me.” They can get away with anything.
Cop-a-feel of Seven-of-Nine? “Sorry – alien entity”. Give that annoying little snot Wesley the beating he thoroughly deserves? “Alien entity.” Try and blow-up a space station? “Alien entity.” Organise a hallucinogenic drug-filled orgy on the Holodeck, complete with angry sex with a couple of Klingons whilst Deanna Troi ‘experiments’ with probes from a Borg adult-shop? “Alien entity.”
Hell, if that was a reasonable excuse I’d be using it all the time! It seems to happen as frequently in Star Trek as to be barely worthy of mention. Rather like blaming the traffic for arriving late for work.
And the response to all of these is simply “oh, very good. As you were, Commander.” Nothing more is said, though the mild-mannered Starship janitor will have a few choice things to say when he breaks-out the marigolds and sponges later.
(My apologies for the protracted absence. Work has been busy, I’ve been getting some semblance of social-life at last, working on some of my own programming projects, and making notes for possible short-stories. My plan is to start writing some serialised rubbish and publish it here, and keep them going until it’s clear I’ve written myself into a corner, or were just dead-ends. We shall see.)