Falling in Love with TNG All Over Again
I remember watching TNG when it first aired on syndicated television back in ’86. I was mesmerized and completely hooked from the beginning. My imagination came alive aboard the Enterprise-D, and with such new and intriguing characters such as Picard, Riker, Data, and even Worf, I could hardly wait for Saturday night to come around each week.
My dad had introduced me to the original Star Trek series, a year or two before, and I loved it, too. We would watch TOS at 6pm and then TNG at 7pm. What an evening of adventure and fun!
It was TNG, though, that made me a Trekkie/Trekker for life. I feel as if I grew up on watching this show and growing with the characters. That may sound silly and slightly weird, but it’s the honest truth. TNG sparked more than just a love for good sci-fi and storytelling. It sparked an interest in astronomy and politics, and it encouraged me to work hard at having an open mind when it comes to learning about other people and their struggles.
I cried at the final episode, yet rejoiced at the making of their first film, Generations. I loved it and I loved First Contact even more. I still hold to my opinion that First Contact is the best of all the Trek films ever made.
Then DS9 came around. I was determined to like it and so I stuck around for every episode until it actually got good around season three. I’m glad that I did, because this version of Star Trek was vastly different. It was more edgy and started with a continuing storyline with the Dominion War that I found to be riveting entertainment and deeply effective at developing characters. As that show went on, I became convinced that it was the best Trek ever produced and I still hold to that opinion.
More recently, however, I have been returning to watch TNG as my first choice for Trek viewing. It seems as if I’m falling in love all over again.
I chose to start watching at the beginning of season three and have been working my way through. I just finished watching the episodes “Darmok”, “Ensign Ro”, and “Silicon Avatar”. If you haven’t watched these episodes in a while, I would greatly encourage you to do so! I would have never listed this particular string of stories as my favorites with the TNG catalog of episodes, but I found myself deeply moved by each of them.
Maybe it’s my situation in life, being a pastor of a new church that I started right before the pandemic and having gone through all of the stress and hardship associated with this past year and a half. Maybe it’s because I find myself on the brink of a health crisis with the need to get my body in shape by exercising and eating better. Maybe it’s because I have children now and find these stories more applicable to my current state of mind. Whatever the case may be, rewatching this show, for the first time in a long while, has had a profound effect on the good memories of watching them with my dad when they originally aired, as well as on the lasting power and impact this show has had on my life and the lives of countless other people around me.
I love most things Trek, with the exception of Voyager. However, that’s a subject for another time and not worth getting into now.
As I’ve rewatched TNG, I feel like it embodies all the good intentions and vision of Star Trek, perhaps the best of all the series that have ever been produced. I know there are arguments to be made against this, and good ones, at that! Nevertheless, I’m standing my ground for now and am content to let the debate begin and/or continue on this particular issue without getting too involved further.
In fact, that’s one of the advantages we have as Star Trek fans, whether we call ourselves Trekkies or Trekkers or whatever: we have such a huge selection of choices from the Star Trek universe! It’s ok if another fan doesn’t care for a particular series or movie. Engage (pun intended) in finding common agreement somewhere else in the vast universe of stories and timelines that are at our disposal.
Maybe that’s an important thing for us Star Trek fans to do more intentionally. In a world so divided, let’s make sure we participate and even lead the way in our own communities of Trek fans in the spirit of unity. A spirit that this world desperately needs right now.
Unity isn’t perfect agreement, it’s mutual respect. Unity is often only achieved after a difficult process of listening, learning, storytelling, and openness to being wrong. I was reminded of this again while watching the episode “Ensign Ro”.
The entire crew felt they knew this woman based on her record, something they read, or some piece of gossip they heard. It was Guinan who was finally able to reach her and understand her because she listened and cared. Eventually, Picard came to do the same because of the influence of Guinan.
As a pastor, part of my job is to listen to people, to care about what they’re feeling and going through. I sometimes have to give advice that is hard to hear, but I do my best never to give advice until I’ve listened, learned, and cared.
This episode impacted me in a way I didn’t expect. It taught me something I need to learn more about and challenged me to keep working hard at listening and caring, because that’s what people need to make it to the next day.
I’m falling in love with this show because it’s far deeper than I remembered it being. I’ve always loved it, but I’m finding myself excited again to turn it back on.