Friday, June 10, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Time Squared or The Best/Worst of Times

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a table in Kentucky with my husband and some of my dearest, best-loved friends—my Shakespeare kids adults. Whenever we're home, we try to meet up with as many of them as we can. Though, they now have their own lives which include jobs or college and even a baby! So it can be hard to get the family back together. Still, a few of us were there. It was fantastic.

I bring this up because, as I was re-watching TNG's Time Squared, I thought about an old and often repeated conversation I've had with my husband regarding Trek and other SciFi shows. The people who inhabit the Whoniverse, the Hellmouth, The Verse, the Twelve Colonies, and (maybe especially) The Federation, are always getting into some seriously traumatic trouble. So far I'm only forty-two episodes into TNG and already they all got drunk and had sex with each other, Data was replaced by his evil twin brother AND an old, jerk scientist, Deana had a pregnancy and then a baby and then a little kid who then went off to become one with space, Tasha got eaten by a blob, and the whole ship was captured by a weird giant face who wouldn't let them go until Picard threatened to blow up the ship.

The point is, it seems like these folks wouldn't even be able to sit at their stations and press their flat LCARS buttons because of how traumatized they would be. It seems like all they would do is go around saying things like, "Man, remember that time Riker had a fish tail sticking out of his neck and then a guy's head straight-up exploded. I don't think I'll ever be able to forget about that."

But they don't. Obviously. A lot of this is just practical. You have 24 episodes a season. You have forty-five minutes per episode. You have to get into the plot and get out. You can't clutter all that up with everyone bemoaning what happened to them last week. This isn't Luther.
Or is it?
Ok. Time Squared wherein the Enterprise is just going about its business when they discover a shuttlecraft adrift. They reel it in only to find that an unconscious but very real Captain Picard at its helm. So now there are two Picards. Everything begins to feel very Primer-ish as the crew tries to puzzle out what happened (or is going to happen) and what to do (or what they did) with the copy of Picard. By the end, one Picard just full out murders his double, they escape the time loop they're caught in, and they go on their way to the next episode. They will never speak of this again.

Ok, back to lunch with my Shakespeare family. I asked one of my kids why he never emails and he says, "Well, I read your blog and you have so much going on I don't want to add to your problems. You order a bike and it doesn't work, you're injured, you go to the hospital, you wear a heart monitor. Then your grandma dies. Then your other grandma dies. Then you get diagnosed with a chronic illness. You have a really stressful life!"

As he rattled off all the unpleasant facts of my life from the last couple of years, I felt really uncomfortable. His summary was a distilled reduction of my life—a best (or worst) of list. I realized that to him and the rest of my readers (all six of you) my life is probably more like episodic TV than real life. But that's because, like episodic TV, I only really have (and take the) time to write about stuff that's a fairly big deal. Injuries, illnesses, deaths—this stuff is "news" because it fills up a lot of my emotional space while I'm living it. And also because I think reading about my dead grandma is probably more interesting to you than reading about what I had for lunch or what a pleasantly uneventful morning I had watching my favorite Murdoch Mysteries episode for the fifth time or how the roomba I bought has been the some of the best money we ever spent. I'm not saying I don't put that stuff online. I do. I put it right over on my Instagram feed which you are more than welcome to follow:

A photo posted by AshleyRose (@thisashleyrose) on

The point is that, I guess now, while I watch the coming episodes of TNG, while Troi turns into Cruella Deville, while Picard is tortured by the Cardassians, while Data has a daughter who is just as lovable as he is but who then tragically dies, while Dr. Crusher gets it on with her dead grandma's boyfriend, I'll think about how this is just one instance in these people's lives. I'll think about how yes, at the moment dealing with half-Romulan Tasha's daughter is super important but the rest of the time everyone's mostly doing their day-to-day, boring job or just sitting around drinking prune juice in Ten Forward, or playing poker, or reading old volumes of Shakespeare, or simply farting around on the holodeck. That's the stuff that doesn't get a lot of screen time... or blog time. That's the stuff that, while pleasantly uneventful, real life is mostly made up of. This is the stuff that might not even register. These are, in many ways, the best of times. If only Picard were on Instagram. 

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