Before the age of blogs (or even web pages), those of us on the internet had other places to hang out and exchange thoughts. In fact, in many regards, the “Bulletin Board Systems” (BBS) and “internet news groups” (USENET) were more conversational than blog or Facebook comments. They were more like chat rooms where conversations took place over days and weeks (and months).
Like chat rooms, they involved a group of people having a conversation. I miss those days… blog comments are too brief and passing to be a conversation. At best, brief remarks are exchanged for a half-dozen rounds or so, and then the river flows on.
People dropped in and out of the conversation, but there was usually a core group that kept a topic going. What those places also had was a set of topics or “threads” within the domain of the group’s interest. A cooking group might have many threads going on different aspects of cooking, for instance. And each thread had a name telling you the topic of the thread. (Or at least the topic when the thread began! Threads would evolve past their starting topic just as any conversation can.)
I’m no cook, but I am a Star Trek fan, so I hung out in various places that discussed Star Trek. And I hung out in other places that reflected my key interests; for example, I was part of several programming and science fiction groups. (I also was part of a Feminism group, because women fascinate me even more than science fiction and programming! Yes. Even more.)
So long ago that it took place while the show was still active, I hung out in a group that discussed Star Trek: The Next Generation. That show, despite a horrible first episode and an uneven first season (and a medical mistake all during the second season) turned out to be, in my book, the best of the six different Star Trek TV series. (Yes, six; don’t forget the cartoon series!)
I have a special fondness for The Original Series (TOS), but I really do think the best stories, writing, acting and cast are in The Next Generation (TNG) series. That some of the best episodes come from the seventh, last, season shows the strength of the show. There are, in fact, great episodes throughout the series’ entire run.
Of course, it is Star Trek, so there are things that are just plain goofy. Fiction is hard enough when it concerns the world as we know it. Authors still make logic and continuity errors. When the fiction involves the dimly imagined, it’s all the harder to get it all correct. When you come down to it, pretty much by definition it can’t all be correct, because some parts of it are necessarily fantastic if not downright impossible. (Faster-than-light travel, for instance, violates fundamental laws of physics, but we overlook that for the sake of a story that needs it.)
All this leads up to the story I want to tell.
As I said, I used to hang out with a group that discussed various aspects (often in great detail) of the show. Rumor on the group was that people from the show read our discussions to see what fans thought about the show. We didn’t expect they’d participate, since they’d be mobbed if they did, but the idea that they paid attention to us was enthralling!
However, the rumor was never confirmed, and we never knew for sure.
A thing happened once that made me think that, not only did they watch, but they sometimes took what we said seriously. A thing happened once that made me think I’d contributed to the show in some small way. It’s thrilling to think so, but it’s also possible they figured it out on their own, since what I contributed was actually pretty sensible once you thought about it.
Regardless, here’s what happened:
It had always bugged me that the crew would transport into a situation they knew was potentially dangerous, and would do so standing in a line facing one direction with phasers holstered. That seems pretty stupid. If I were transporting into a tricky situation, at the very least I’d want my phaser in my hand ready to fire. And I want the group transporting in back-to-back with eyes pointing in as many directions as possible.
Of course, as we all know, transporting takes time (several seconds) and makes an obvious transport noise. You can just see a group of hostiles down on the planet hearing the noise and seeing the sparkly business begin, surrounding the sparkle and being ready to fire immediately.
But still, is seems sensible to transport in with phasers drawn and everyone back-to-back facing outwards. And this is what I said several times during one discussion about transporting.
Season four features his rescue by Data and Worf.
In both episodes, Federations members (for instance, Worf, Data, Crusher and Cmdr Shelby in the cliff hanger) transport into the Borg ship to attempt a rescue. (Nothing like sending your key officers into the worst possible danger, right?)
But at some point there was an episode the broke that pattern. They transported into a dangerous situation, four-square, back-to-back, with phasers drawn! The problem is, I can’t find that episode right now (to be honest, I really thought it happened in the season four resolution, but a check of the transport scenes shows the same old front-facing, phasers-holstered, wait, look out behind you deal).
I know it happened, and I will find it (and report back). For now, I want to get this published for Star Trek Saturday (which I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as I’ve enjoyed writing).
And when I do the episode(s)… my question will be… Did I do that?
I’ve always wondered!