Many years ago, my family began a journey, a journey together. The way was long and some fell by the wayside, but two remained, faithful until the end. Watching together, the last Star Trek episode.
I’m a big fan of Star Trek, growing up with The Next Generation. I left for college, had a baby, and moved into an apartment with my boyfriend with no TV service. My dad sent me VHS tapes of recorded Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine to keep me company with the new baby. It was perfect. Later, in a new city with a nicer apartment and two kids at home, Wednesday nights were MY nights—the kids were kept out of the living room so I could watch Voyager (preferably with mint ice-cream on the side.) Captain Janeway was, and still is, my hero.
Once my children were old enough to enjoy the Star Trek universe, there weren’t any shows on air. I wanted them to experience Voyager. I’d happily go through the journey again, but I decided they needed context. I had personally never watched more than a few episodes of the original series, so I decided upon a family viewing project to go through the Star Trek universe.
Too long. We are not a TV (or movies, really) watching family. Once or twice a week is the most TV time we do, so I needed to narrow down the selections, but how to have the kids get the feeling for each series? In 2012, I turned to the GeekMom community for recommendations on which episodes of each Star Trek series were their favorites.
Although Wired (GeekMom’s host at the time) has deleted all the comments, I had tapped into a wonderful resource and received a great many, very strong opinions about which episodes were a must-see for each series. I compiled a list and posted it for everyone to check out. And we began our family Star Trek…trek.
The original series was not what I expected and also completely what I expected. Once we finished that, I wrote an update. Inspired, I even included the theme in a creative haiku challenge that year. We watched The Wrath of Khan and were sad to leave our fun characters. But I promised the kids they would love The Next Generation, and we began watching. It took a while. I posted an update half-way through. My kids were teenagers, and then my eldest was leaving for college.
We jumped ahead, just so she could see one of the more modern series. One night we hung out with friends and all watched the pilot episode of Deep Space Nine. They were impressed. My daughter left and had no interest in continuing the project on her own. My husband, not a screen fan in general, took that as an excuse to bow out as well.
And thus, there were only two.
My son and I transitioned to life at home without his older sister by bonding over Star Trek. He had become as big a fan as I was (and my dad) and was committed to finishing not just TNG, but watching all the episodes of Voyager. I gave up on seeing any more Deep Space Nine, even though that was his grandfather’s favorite. And we didn’t watch even one episode of Enterprise. (I heard it got better?)
Even when my son graduated high school, and started community college, we continued. We started calling it Voyager Lunch, because he was too busy in the evening. This meant some grosser episodes (the species that plastered on other beings’ organs and faces) we had to skip because it was just too much to stomach for either of us while eating. Sometimes my mother (who lives upstairs) would join us, but it was mostly my son and me.
Voyager Lunch happened once or twice a week. My son and I rarely skipped the intro because singing along very, very badly was part of the ritual. (I recorded a couple of these, but will spare you the ear pain.) Then he transferred and moved away. While at college, Discovery came out, and we watched it separately but discussed at length over texts. (Oh, Lorca…) We saved finishing Voyager for breaks when we could be together in person.
Last month, the summer before he begins his senior year of college, we finished the final episode of Voyager. It was an emotional moment for both of us, remembering when it had been the whole family, then such a big part of our time together when he was in high school. It was what I had hoped for in the very beginning. Sharing something that had shaped me as a person with my progeny.
Even though the four of us didn’t finish together, our family time, in the beginning, is still a common thread we have. “The City on the Edge of Forever” is still one of our favorite sci-fi stories to date. Data’s trial in “The Measure of a Man” stunned us with its depth. Watching all seven seasons of Voyager makes it hard to pick just one, but my son and I found the Doctor first wanting to become more human and then realizing he was just as worthy as every member of the crew as he is (if not more) one of the most entertaining arcs in fiction.
The Star Trek project took seven years and was well worth it.
Now, my son wants to watch all the Marvel movies with my nieces (in his own order) since they are finally old enough. Even if it’s not Star Trek, it’s still about sharing what you love with those you love. I’ve officially turned my son into a geek, and I’m proud of it.
If you didn’t know, there is a GeekMom theme song that I wrote many years ago. One line from it sums up this Star Trek journey:
“Never gave it up, now we’re passing it down. We’re passionate people in this cyber town.”