Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

It’s MacGyver in space! Watch him make a bomb out of a battery and some space whale mucus.

I’ve recently started watching Stargate SG1, and I’m getting annoyed. It seems like the writers have skipped the best part.

At the start of the series, exploring other planets isn’t yet a thing. Having found portals to other worlds, the US military faced an alien species that could conquer the world, and so retreated to safety. Kurt Russell has magically turned into MacGyver. Nothing much has happened since.

The first episode is spent re-establishing the need to use the stargates. The second shows the first time something bad comes back through. The military are just starting to turn stargate exploration into a thing, and then suddenly, from episode three onwards, everything’s in place. There are stargate teams 1 through 364. Some of them have been on other planets for months. The characters crack jokes about the time they visited the planet of hats. The Star Trek style planet of the week antics have begun.

You know what I want to see? I want to see the bit that’s missing after episode 2. I want to see the challenges of those first tentative steps, as the Stargate teams try to work out whether exploration is even a good idea. They should face the challenges of doing dangerous work as a new governmental organisation – under-supplied, with endless disputes about their purpose and hierarchy, no-one even knowing yet how best to train the teams for this completely unprecedented job that they’re doing. We should see them adjusting to the lifestyle, to the secrets, to the dangers and uncertainties. The conflicting interests of the military and the scientists should be a huge thing, their support from government erratic, even as they risk their lives every day exploring the universe. Maybe there’d be disputes over whether this should even be a government venture, as private companies try to stick their oar in.

But no. By episode three everyone’s acting like seasoned pros, the scientist is shooting his gun straight, and the base commander has a direct line to the president. Half the challenges of their situation are gone.

I’m not saying that I want to watch Stargate: Months of Bureaucracy, but I wish they’d taken the opportunity to explore those complications, even as they took their weekly trip to the planet of hats.

The shows we imagine are often better than the reality. Remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation ran a plotline about terrorists/freedom fighters living in a disputed border region? Those guys would have made a fascinating show, full of moral complexities, shifting loyalties, and characters struggling to enact their ideals. Instead we got Voyager, and disappointment.

Maybe I’ll just have to write those stories for myself. Or imagine them as I fall asleep at night, like I did when I was a kid. But maybe one day, if I try really hard, you’ll all get to watch MacGyver: Space Terrorist.

Anybody else have ideas for the best things we should have seen in sci-fi shows but didn’t? Tell me your awesome ideas in the comments.

That's my Tardis, it's paintwork is blue!

That’s my Tardis, its paintwork is blue!

Have you ever read the That’s Not My… books? They’re for really little kids. They’re made of cardboard and have simple yet delightful pictures with textured areas for the kids to touch. Each one follows the same rhythm, so that for That’s Not My Dog the first page might read

That’s not my dog, his nose is too shiny [cue picture of dog with smooth shiny nose to touch]

Then the next is

That’s not my dog, his coat is too fluffy [again with a cute cartoon dog, and this time with soft strokeable fur – watch a toddler with one of these books, they’ll spend forever pawing at the furry pages, tiny pink deviants that they are]

And so on until the right dog is found. Or the right dragon, or pirate, or penguin, or whatever – seriously, these books are like kiddy crack, and the dealers are flooding the market with great product.

But you know what’s really weird? No, it’s not a thirty-six-year-old fantasy writer getting excited over That’s Not My Penguin, though that would be a good guess. What’s really weird is that I keep seeing those same books quoted in online discussions, and the people quoting them aren’t even getting it right.

Take Doctor Who. Pretty much everybody loves Doctor Who, in at least one of the show’s many incarnations. And it’s nice that people want to discuss which ones they like. So I could point at an RTD-era season finale and say ‘that’s not my Doctor Who, the resolution is too angsty’. I don’t do that, because it doesn’t give people much to work with as a conversation point, but other people seem to want to, they’ve clearly read their That’s Not My, and they’re ready to debate.

But they keep quoting it wrong. They miss out the ‘my’. So instead of saying ‘That’s not my Doctor Who’ they say ‘That’s not Doctor Who’, which is of course clearly nonsense. Any toddler with a fluffy dog to stroke could tell them that. Whether it’s Doctor Who or Star Trek or James Bond or the Marvel Movie Universe or whatever, the version you’re seeing, the version that’s not to your tastes, clearly is that thing. What’s more, it’s somebody else’s beloved version of that thing. Saying that it isn’t would just be kind of rude and belligerent.

Which is why it’s such a shame that people forget the vital ‘my’, which makes clear that they understand that they’re just voicing a perfectly valid opinion, and not trying to be a jerk to others.

I can enjoy my shiny-beaked penguin, even knowing that the less wonderful fluffy-bellied one is on the next page. I can enjoy Moffat’s first clever use of the weeping angels, even knowing that I’d get annoyed at what he did with them later. I can like both Chris Pine Kirk and William Shatner Kirk. And whether I like them or not, they’re all a penguin, or Doctor Who, or Star Trek, or whatever.

They’re just not my penguin.