Something that is synchronous with us genre geeks is that we repeatedly watch our favourite TV shows and films for a pastime. Some more than most. Me? I like to usually give a gap of a few years, especially with TV series as I find my eyes are often sharper for the detail or something poses an odd question that needs some investigation and double-checking in case I missed something. I can even spot when actors are switched to stunt people but that’s a result of my condition. The gaps, if anything, make me focus on different things. Anything from actors returning in different roles to absentees when you would think they should be there. That tends to happen a lot more with the older shows when contracts were not explicit for the entire season only for the requirement of the story. In some respects, you would have to wonder why it can’t be done like that today but because regular cast becomes fan favourites, that becomes a lot tougher to exclude for an episode in our genre. Well, except maybe for an end of season or an actor pushing to move on and finds his character’s life suddenly becomes expendable. Oddly, this tends to be less of a problem with non-genre series so maybe we can be too precious when the story should come first. No doubt this has contributed to seeing some series where all the characters are seen as expendable.
After Leonard Nimoy’s death last year, I thought I’d re-watch the original ‘Star Trek’ as I hadn’t seen it in nearly a decade and found my attention was constantly drifting into the background and the absence of the likes of Sulu and Chekov and even Scott and Uhura from time to time in stories where you expect them to turn up, even at a change of shift. After all, when you’re on a starship, there are fewer places to go, which left me wondering where they went. Logistically, thinking of shifts, they must serve long hours often leading to days waiting on-board sometimes. Of course, the stories where the cameras pop back on-board could be when these same people are on the right shift but with someone like Scott who is third or fourth in the chain of command, depending on where you place Sulu, you would have thought he’s have been called from his slumber and put in charge. Of course, the actors were elsewhere for various reasons but it made it more remarkable that they turned into the dream crew for the films and less recognition for the others on the bridge when these characters weren’t there. Mind you, these alternatives were hardly given the lines of dialogue that they had and only a few of them were a little higher than extras. The stories are such that whoever was in those roles in those stories would probably have been in the same place unless the scriptwriters felt obliged to use them and pay more wages. Of course, how would they know, so it would have to have been part of the re-write process and the distribution of dialogue.
Oddly, from a science point of view, I have less of a problem with ‘Spock’s Brain’ than I have with ‘Wink Of An Eye’ simply because the time scaling was wrong. The entire story would be over before those on board the Enterprise have moved a millimetre. Regular time only went back to normal when they weren’t present, which is of course absurd.
Then again, when you consider that the aliens from Andromeda in ‘By Any Other Name’ and Nomad from ‘The Changeling’ have both adjusted the Enterprise to go faster than Warp 10 without altering or destroying hull integrity, so precious to Chief Engineer Scott, nor changed it back so it’s a wonder that it doesn’t travel warp 10 on a long term basis. Before anyone raises the other stories like ‘Day Of The Dove’, ‘Let This Be Your Last Battlefield’ and ‘That Which Survives’, these are more by alien intervention and not done permanently. You would have expected the Enterprise to have been ordered back to Earth for a study or at least the very details of the modifications to be sent back with the first let alone the second time. Maybe they were but it was kept away from stories told.
In ‘All Our Yesterdays’, for Kirk to be sent back into the past of Sarpeidon a second time would have meant that Mr. Atoz must have prepared his body so that means he could no longer live in the present…at least, not for very long. Considering how quickly their star went nova, he couldn’t have been converted back. Granted, as referenced in the ‘Star Trek 365’ book I reviewed this month, humans were always barbarians then and now but who knows what Atoz’ device did to him. These days, someone would have spotted such flaws and at least accounted or rectified for them, if only in a line of dialogue.
Like a lot of old series where it was considered a series might only be seen less than a dozen times, I doubt if writers gave much thought beyond the adventure on the screen let alone any form of continuity, especially where American shows were concerned. The original ‘Star Trek’ was after all the voyages or adventures of the USS Enterprise not a continuous continuity as happened with the latter Starfleet series.
What I am interested in from this editorial is how easy do you find it to be aware of other things in your umpteenth viewing of a film or TV series? Does familiarity with the plot allow your eyes to roam and pick out other things that you hadn’t noticed before or do you simply take the entire thing in again as given without questioning, let alone coming up with answers? I suspect with some of you, it’s where you spot the mistakes and continuity errors. We all become sensitised to something different which is what makes re-watching films or TV series again and again a different experience each time. Sometimes, the change in our perspective is enough or letting things rest a while before watching again.
It might seem a little crazy to outsiders but knowing how and why such enjoyment happens can give some ammunition as to why we collect and watch time and again. Whether it is for characters, actors and their mannerisms, plot, detail, mistakes, continuity gaffes, insights, observations or simply as a safety blanket to escape our current reality. You could also cross-match all of the above in any combination. It might even be for enjoyment. Now that’s a thought on its own. Do we like looking for flaws in our favourites? I mean, would you do this to series of films you detest on a regular basis?
One thing that came out of this particular re-watch is that I’m grateful that one thing hasn’t happened is the development of a phaser when the mobile phone and developing device that might be a tricorder is around the corner. The phaser would be the ultimate deadly ray gun, especially in this day and age where not even a residue or ash is left. The only way you could pin-point the murderer is by gun ownership as I doubt if he or she would hand it over to anyone else who might use it on you. The ray gun is one thing that needs to remain in SF stories not in reality. We have enough deadly weapons without one of them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m having a conversation with the Vorlons about what they knew of future history for a future (sic) article. That wasn’t in my list above but then, I’m supposed to be a writer who has to write things.
Thank you, take care, good night and really look at what you watch and ask, what are you really after.
A Zen thought: Seconds are fleet. Centuries are a long time.
Observation: Y’know, there’s been one thing that hasn’t happened with the International Space Station yet. No alien invasion. Should we be worried? That would really fulfil at least two bucket lists.
Observation: If something is ‘reduced to clear’, how come I can’t see through them?
Observation: Having seen the preview of ‘The X-Files’ revival with both Mulder and Skinner sporting beards, one has to wonder if for the sake of equality will Scully be equally hirsute?