I feel like I should note here that (a) the Aquans really are an alien race in the Star Trek universe and (b) they are in fact fish people, and (c) they only ever appeared in one episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and (d) that apparently qualifies as series canon, and (e) I only know any of this because I looked it up on Memory Alpha when I needed some aliens for Picard to blow up.
I like Star Trek a lot — I have watched more of it than the average person, that much is safe to say — but I’m not an encyclopedic superfan, so it’s handy that there is an actual encyclopedia maintained by actual superfans. Because I’m gonna be leaning on that thing a lot.
If you suggested that I’m really only doing this whole thing for the Riker sex jokes, I would have a hard time arguing.
I’m maybe wasting material for a future comic in talking about this, but it’s not difficult to watch some Riker-centric scenes in TNG and come to the conclusion that his face is just a straight-up sex thermometer. Like, any time Riker is smiling, he’s ready to go. Whomever or whatever. That smile is upstairs and downstairs. Which makes those crestfallen moments when the smile wilts a little bit funnier.
You might object on the grounds that Riker smiles sometimes in scenes with no obvious erotic overtones. I’m saying that’s a failure of imagination. The man’s got some serious depths, psychosexually speaking.
Poor Wesley, being a kid on a starship; poor Wil Wheaton being stuck playing that kid to an unkind audience. (Though Wil seems to have come through the dark tunnel of being Wesley Crusher and then some at this late date.)
The problem with Wesley Crusher, if I’m gonna argue it, was mostly that the show wasn’t built to showcase a kid’s wonder. And as The One Kid On The Enterprise (in terms of major recurring cast members) he didn’t really have a peer group to build stories with either; there was no one we, as viewers, really cared about who wasn’t mostly too busy to hang out with Wes and too old to have a non-condescending, non-twee, non-Very-Special-Episode emotional arc with him.
So Wes was stuck trying to be a grownup on the sidelines even though he wasn’t (and so we got to watch him be bummed that adults we liked were annoyed by him being inconvenient or underfoot, nominal pat on the head at the end of some episodes notwithstanding), or having Wes-centric episodes where he gets up to who knows what random nonsense this time with some one-off guest star kids who we have zero investment in. It’s a bad setup, for a kid whose backstory was already sort of glum and dicey.
And I can’t blame people for not liking the character, because he didn’t get used well; but it’s kind of a shame when you think of Wes’s potential with slightly different plotting and setup as the kid living the greatest goddam adventure a kid could have. How great would that be? But maybe that’s just not Star Trek.
Anyway, I’m taking a shot at Wes having his miiiiiind blooooown here but I think what I’m saying is that it’s an affectionate shot. If Wes didn’t get a chance to have his mind blown by the actual insane future scifi world he was living in, he ought to at least get a chance to get a little bit OMG HAVE YOU EVER REALLY LOOKED AT YOUR HANDS? about the concept of old-school roleplaying.
A fact about me: I have DMed exactly one pen-and-paper RPG session in my life, and I was I think a junior in high school at the time, and I was not very good at it at all, but I had drawn up a bunch of random encounter tables for it, and also there was this spooky mansion and in the basement of the mansion was some weird complicated glowing magical trap thing that reacted to character alignment in a way that I thought was super clever but the players mostly thought was kind of confusing and annoying, and I stayed up till four a.m. running it for a bunch of gamer/theater friends and two of them ended up sort of making out under a blanket instead of paying any attention, which was kind of rough because I totally had a crush on one of them.
I haven’t really comported myself that much better as a player over the years, either. One time, I stabbed a horse in the neck with an arrow? To try and slow down some dwarves? Basically it was like pushing over a bunch of Hell’s Angels bikes outside a bar, except in the Forbidden Realms. So that was a thing.
Basically what I’m saying is I have a lot of respect for anyone who can manage to run a game. I’m not sure Geordi knows what he’s getting himself into.
It’s like, “ooooooh, look at me, I’m Worf son of Mogh, oooooooh, I think this campaign sounds deriiiivatiiiive, oooooooh…”
I feel like the pro forma thing to do here is apologize for the obvious Reading Rainbow joke but (a) at least it’s out of the way (twice-over if you check the alt text on the comics) so we can all stop thinking about it and (b) seriously, Reading Rainbow is awesome.
I grew up on it as a kid, and something about the way LeVar delivered the whole thing was just great; I was a weirdly cynical kid about children’s media for whatever reason, and had trouble trusting overly earnest or twee stuff (I found Mr. Rogers, of all people, unsettling, though I think that was mostly the puppets and the weird falsetto voices he did for them because Trolley was fantastic and oh man the crayon factory filmstrip and I think I got lost a bit here) but for whatever reason when LeVar would start talking about books and how they were great that stuff just clicked for me. I hear I was an early reader, and Reading Rainbow didn’t hurt on that front.
And man, that title sequence. Earworm. I apologize, but not really.
But! Yes. Beyond the whole nostalgia kick, the neat thing is that RR’s a straight-up 21st century product now: you can get it on your dang iPad. With @levarburton and everything. Crazy future kids ebook reader. Some Roddenberry shit right there.
I realize that Worf being who he is in Next Generation — a Klingon warrior by blood but naturalized significantly into human cultural and military structure via his adoptive parents and his Starfleet career — is part of what makes him an interesting character, but do you ever get the feeling that maybe he got dicked over a little bit by being stuck serving on the Enterprise?
Because he seems so hemmed in. I like a good “struggle with the conflicts generated by setting your cultural and emotional instincts against a differing but valued-by-you context” episode as much as anybody and Worf working to reconcile his Klingonness and his Starfleetery isn’t bad fodder for that sort of thing, but man the guy seems like he could really tear some shit up if he was a little more free to move or, maybe more to the point, on a different crew whose own aggregate character arcs and puny human builds didn’t require him to be constantly put in check just to make sure it doesn’t turn into The Worf Is Awesome, Let Worf Handle It science fiction badass hour.
I mean, seriously: he is constantly denied. It’s like the DM of whatever game TNG itself is being played in either hates the guy playing him or nerfed the character to keep the party equitable.
I like Worf a lot. He makes a good comedy foil, he’s entertainingly uncomfortable with emotional development, and behind the gruff exterior he’s got more emotional fragility and depth of feeling on the table than even Wesley most of the time. But man does he feel like he got stuck on the wrong show somehow and never found the exit home. Like some tragic Quantum Leap shit but without the leaping and Count Bakula is on the wrong ship in the wrong century and ZIGGY IS NEVER GOING TO ANSWER, WORF. ZIGGY ABANDONED YOU.
I think I lost my train of thought there. Anyway, it was also Michael Dorn’s birthday yesterday. Cupgaghs for everybody!
Worf is really into (a) Klingon opera and (b) Christmas carols; he wrote his Starfleet thesis, “Sleighing Song, Slaying Song”, on the formal and thematic similarities and contrasts between the two traditional musical corpora.
For example: it turns out that Good King Wenceslas, save for a couple of batleth fights and some ritual mating, essentially resembles the Klingon folk story of the ninth Emperor’s attempt to find a good bottle of bloodwine at three a.m. on a government holiday weekend.
Y’all have a good whatever you have or don’t have or have already had in this pre-utopian, pre-post-scarcity chunk of the human timeline. See you in a couple days.
Worf! Hi, Worf. I’ve missed you.
It was actually kind of pulling teeth getting this put together, such is the change of pace of trying to write the crew just BSing as themselves without an external structure to riff against.
But I’ll be honest, I lost as much time rewriting the underlying poker hand narrative here as I did writing the actual, you know, character interactions. Turns out poker fanfic is a little complicated. I’d had Riker checking at the start but I didn’t know how the hand was going to finish at the time, and so then Worf nailed him on a bad beat with the better full house, but then if Riker had jacks over tens why on earth would he first check and then just see Worf’s raise? So I had to go back and have him get in big (however big fifty arbitrary units in a post-scarcity society is, I haven’t even decided what if anything they’re betting on so far) for the thing to flow more sensibly. He probably should have gone for the re-re-raise at the tail end just to try and either get some more cash out of the table or scare Worf out of the game, but then Worf wouldn’t scare easy so that angle doesn’t really read right. Let’s assume there’s a house rule limit on re-raises and Worf got the last one with his fifty extra? Sure. Plausible.
So basically it’s a good thing I’ve watched all that tourney poker on cable or we’d really be in trouble right now.
Also, it’s weird having no colorful In Character panels.
Sorta walked into that one, Worf. Though I’m not sure how long he’s going to be willing to honor that sideways bargain. I guess we’ll see!
The strip is unusually late this morning (but I’m on the west coast of the US so it’s still morning at least), because my actual job is running Metafilter, and Margaret Thatcher died this morning, and so it’s been a bit of a handful to say the least. I bring this up by way of apology, but I swear to god if anyone starts talking about Thatcher in other than the context of some 24th century Space Thatcher concept for a DS9 deleted scene I am going to go back to doing Carp Trek full time until you apologize.
Trek! Let’s talk about Star Trek. Let’s talk about the Ferengi standby, the Rules of Acquisition. According to the Golden Rule of Larp Trek Canon, the first (and maybe only?) mention of the R’s of A in TNG was late in season five and we’re following the TNG crew around in mid/late season three, so: they don’t exist. So it’s okay that Troi invented them. And it totally seems like some BS that a player would invent as a running joke for a character. So, yes? Yes. Okay.
Now: remember that episode (that, see again the golden rule, Has Not Happened) where Wes macks on Ashley Judd while the crew gets brainwashed by an alien videogame as a plot to take over the ship (an episode which, I note just for the record and to defend my take on the character, started with Riker cavorting erotically with the very alien who masterminded that takeover)? Judd’s character was one Robin Lefler. Who created a series of Lefler’s Laws.
There are dots here. I am not even sure how to connect them, but these dots, they need connecting. Is Robin Lefler the product of a Troi-as-Quark-inspired Wesley Crusher’s recycling of the imagined Ferengi ethos in the form of some fantasy future girlfriend?