After 182 hours almost straight, almost without sleep, I have finished watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Season 7 (the last season) was particularly difficult. Why? Several reasons, I think. First, the plots became repetitive. Second, the writers stopped showing Roddenberry’s ideal new world. Third, Bad Science.
The writers got lazy. How many re-runs can we have of time travel conundrums? How many alien bad-guy spies trying to find out military plans? How many losers who steal starships? And, my goodness, why can’t Deanna learn to get along with her mother after all these years? The most repetitive, boring, lazy writer problem was the catch-all Big Problem. Wow, don’t these guys ever catch a break. Can you remember one single episode in Season where there wasn’t a disaster or imminent danger? Gosh, let’s toss the crew into an energy vortex or have someone kidnapped. Or have a computer go wild and threaten Data. Yawn. I would have like to see the crew enjoy a day off, time to experience what they are supposed out there for—to explore and learn. Or even just to have fun in the holodeck.
There were times—sacrilege, I know—that I played solitaire and read email and scribbled on my screenplay while I was watching the last season, keeping only one ear open for notes on my thesis.
Sometime after Roddenberry died, the writers slowly began to lose focus of his world, the world that was so important to him, the world where there is no hunger, no greed, no profit-motive, and no ignorance. Somewhere along the line, the adventure and the spooky sci-fi became more important. It’s hard to pin down where that happened, but I dare say there were no direct expositions of this wonderful future world in the last season. Worse, even worse, was the blatant introduction of an intelligent design theme in one episode. There IS NOT HIGHER POWER in Roddenberry’s vision. There is no race that seeded the universe with genetic codes. Please.
This leads me to Bad Science. Intelligent design is one example. “Rules” about time travel and what you’re allowed to tell people in the past is another example of simply lazy sci-fi. Beings that can combine thought and energy and ignore matter—just too-too. So, what’s the difference between science fiction and Bad Science? Some future inventions do have to be accepted on faith in a good sci-fi story. Really creative sci-fi writers have predicted technology before it was invented and predicted the social consequences of the technology change. I’ll even accept an invention that is completely implausible with our current knowledge, such as faster-than-light warp drive: maybe there’s a way to do it. But all this leaping about with mind-thought is simply lazy, metaphysical bananas.
This is why I was spending so much of Season 7 playing solitaire.
But, four days past the finale, I find myself missing this, my favorite TV show in the world, so much that I want to start watching it all over again. Data, I love you.