Most of my posts here are reasonably serious, and really this one is too, but a but of humor mixed in. Fair warning so you don't consider your time wasted.
I don't mind admitting to being a long time Star Trek fan, though I've never dressed up as a character or tried to learn Klingon. That said, I did sign up for the auction held back in 2006 when Paramount sold off all the props going back to the original series with Kirk. Signed up, picked a few things that if I could get one for the office wall I'd be happy, and budgeted - dare I say it - a couple thousand bucks towards obtaining a memento. Of the handful of items I had in mind, one that was of particular interest was the flute from The Inner Light episode (reading the synopsis doesn't do it justice). Imagine my disappointment when the bidding opened well over my budget and sold for $43,000. This for a non-working prop!
My friend and colleague Chris Rock isn't a big Trek fan so I'm enjoying a bit the idea that I'm forever linking his name to Trek, but what brought this post on was talking with him about tv and that I thought (here we go) that The Next Generation was some of the better TV of the past 20 years or so. Yes, some of it was hokey, some was pure entertainment, but many of the episodes did something that I rarely seen in todays world of reality shows, and that is to try to teach positive lessons. The show, the set, the actors, all packaging to tell a story, and if you can see past that, they tried to teach some interesting lessons. Keep in mind that I'm talking about prime time entertainment.
So, some examples. A good one is Tapestry, which teaches the lesson that you can't be the person you are today without walking the path you did. A lesson I understand, but still sometimes haven't quite mastered. One of my favorites is Redemption Part 2 and the part I enjoy is Data taking command of another vessel and dealing with the problems that come with being 'different' - the same kind of different that many minorities have been tagged with for far too long. He overcomes the obstacles and in the process has to disobey an order - though for very good reasons. The link is to about 7 mins worth of video, if nothing else watch the last 45 seconds when he acknowledges that he disobeyed an order and that there will be consequences. How I wish more people would stand up like that! But the grand finale, after a discussion of why good leaders have to know when to think for themselves, is the smile/grin that Picard gives him, perhaps that of a parent extraordinarily proud of a child.
My point - if a bit hard to see - is that there's value in trying to see past the packaging, past the noise, to see if there are lessons to be learned (and hopefully not a fear based lesson, but we'll talk about that another day). It takes work and thought, but it's worth it - and surely many of the best lessons don't come from TV, Trek or no.
Less seriously, anyone want to challenge my views on Trek? Or post the episode that taught a lesson that resonated the most?