Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Best Of Both Worlds

I recently restarted my Netflix subscription, giving me access to a huge library of content on my Xbox 360, and now, also, my iPad. The last time I had access to the instant streaming service, I watched the entire six seasons of News Radio within three weeks. Admittedly, I was off work at the time and had little else to do. It would appear that, since then, Netflix has become a treasure trove of my childhood, playing host to classics such as Knight Rider, Sliders, The A-Team, and Quantum Leap. I immediately ran into the same problem that so many others have had on starting a Netflix subscription. With so much to watch, where should one begin?

After some consideration, I decided to begin at the start.

Star Trek was my first experience with science-fiction. I watched the movies with my dad, over and over as they were aired on terrestrial television. I soaked them in, losing myself on board the Enterprise. So when Star Trek: The Next Generation began, I relished it. I watched every episode, made easier as they were aired in a prime time slot on the Irish station. I have many happy memories, and one particularly vivid nightmarish one.

So when I started watching TNG on Netflix on Saturday, I feared that my happy nostalgia would be ruined by the cold reality of film.

But it wasn't. I was back on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Picard and his excellant crew. The effects were low-tech by todays standards, but just as I remembered them, and the ship was fibreglass and fibre optics, a physical prop rich in detail and design. Tasha Yar was still alive, and all was right with the world.

Almost.

Star Trek, like any series, was not without it's dud episodes, and with seven seasons containing 178 episodes, there were quiet a few duds in The Next Generations catalogue, epecially in the first two seasons, while it was still trying to find it's feet. So how do you keep the wonder of childhood alive in the face of 25 years of life?

Thankfully, this isn't the primitive 20th Century any more! We are of the Internet age!

I turned to TV.com. Thanks to its ratings system, I could pick and choose the episodes I wanted to see. For the ones that fell below my assigned cut-off point, I could read the plot synopsis and decide if I remembered it, or felt like it deserved a chance. In this way, I watched Season 1 as I remembered, if not entirely as it was. It was dramatic and exciting, funny and action packed, and entirely entertaining. Every episode was fantastic, and, exactly as my memory assured me, there were no let-downs. Once more, I saw Tasha die, and got to watch in amazement as the brain-worm-host-queen-thing gets phasered by Picard and Riker until his head explodes and his body is set alight. It was exactly how I remember the scene from the first time I saw it, one of the lasting images I always retained of The Next Generation.

We're in to Season 2 now. Riker has his beard, Wesley is at the helm, Geordie is in Engineering, an Irishman is at the transporter console, and according to TV.com, there's a lot more to skip this season. Thankfully, I still have a lot to look forward to, as the ones that hold up get higher average scores than Season 1's best. At least we get to Season 3 faster, when the show really hit it's stride.

So I only rewatch the best. Many episodes are those that, as I watch them now, I realize I still remember the plots to, the ones that stayed with me, and possibly influenced me in becoming the man I am today. Star Trek: The Next Generation showed me a future where anything was possible, and "no being is so important that he can usurp the rights of another" [Captain Picard, S02E06].

It may be a cheat, but it's the best kind of cheat.