Monday, September 08, 2008

Not What You Were Expecting

Three months and no blog. I'm not apologizing. That's vulgar.

Yes I am alive. Yes I am in New Zealand. Yes I was offered the position of John McCain's running mate. Yes, that last thing was a lie. At least I came clean. No apologies.

If you were expecting my first blog post in almost three months from two hemispheres away to detail the annals of my escapades abroad or expound upon my post-collegial gettings on, you are sorely mistaken. No, this most historic of entries concerns a matter of paramount importance: Star Trek.

The Next Generation, to be more specific. I have been operating for the past 10+ years under the assumption that I had seen every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. All 7 seasons, each of the 179 weekly adventures. This has been one a core component of my biography.

Before I recount yesterday's rude awakening, let me outline the workings of syndicated television in the late 1990's for the benefit of future readerships. In the nineties, television was available only on an actual TV set and only at set times of day. There was no streaming or on-demand content, nor were there DVD box sets. Believe it or not, people would actually schedule their time to catch a given program on TV. How humanity survived this phase of its evolution is truly mystifying; it was an undignified and ugly way to live and those days are well put behind us.

From 1996 through 2000, the local Minnesota FOX affiliate broadcast syndicated re-run episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation every weeknight. By this time I was already a confirmed Trekkie (remind me to tell you the story) and respectably well acquainted with the adventures of Picard and Co., but I wanted full bragging rights. I undertook to tune in each night and catch the latest installment. If I missed a night, it would be another 9 months before that episode aired again (5 episodes a week, 179 episodes). To aid in my trek, I turned to the Internet. No, not to download a 70 gig torrent of the whole show, but to print off an episode list. I took my pen to that list each night, crossing off another of the Enterprise's missions.

I specifically remember the last episode to get the red line. Pen Pals. Episode 215 (season 2, episode 15). Data befriends a little alien girl. I missed this sucker on two consecutive cycles of the re-broadcast. In the end, I made a special trip to Hollywood Video which carried some TNG cassettes (another unmentionably arcane technology). I took the tape down to the basement with my blanket and juice and emerged 40 minutes later a mature Trekkie butterfly.


Flash forward to a few months ago. Senior year of college is ending, my life is about to undergo a major transformation, and I get an acute bought of nostalgia. You know how these things happen. You're on University fiber, you come across a 70 gig torrent of the entire 7 seasons of The Next Generation, one thing leads to another and the next thing you know you're getting low disk space warnings.

My sister and I tucked into the show while I was still States-side, but we didn't get past the second episode before she had to ship off, so they've been sitting on my HDD for about three months. Until now.

Things were going well. An episode a night. Sometimes two. Weekend marathons. Then season 1, episode 10. Hide And Q. Commander Riker is given omnipotence by Q. The plot progresses and no bells ring. No quotes come to mind. Nothing is familiar. THIS IS AN EPISODE I HAVE NOT SEEN. My list was in error. My life was a lie. My whole world has fallen apart. And it was a really good episode.

So the moral of the story is, broadcast television was an evil, imperfect thing of which we are well rid.

I will have a proper update soon. I promise.

End transmission.