RT114 - Parallels

This week, Scott and John talk about:

This podcast is hosted by Scott McNulty and published on The Incomparable podcast network.

The show title refers to a random episode of Star Trek they discuss

Introduction (RT114)

John is a musician, song writer and singer of the band The Long Winters. He is also a podcaster and does a weekly show with Merlin Mann called Roderick on the Line where Merlin is the end of the line and John is the Roderick that is on the line. He does another weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin called Roadwork. Two podcasts and a Rock band is a lot of audio, but the Venn diagram of the audiences for those three media does not overlap as much as John would hope. Maybe he doesn’t even want them to overlap because then he could have those 3 discrete kingdoms he can inhabit. John’s Rock fans are mostly not even aware of podcasting and his podcast fans typically have never heard music, because they are busy coding and listening to podcasts. Star Trek fans usually have no idea about podcasts or music, but they just care about Star Trek scores and nerds talking about Star Trek on the Internet.

John’s connection to Star Trek (RT114)

John grew up in the 1970s when the original Star Trek was first in reruns. It felt like a 1960s program, but the 1960s weren't that long ago. John was a fan of Star Trek before there was a Star Wars. From the standpoint of his 9 year old mind, the original Star Wars movie was a perfect film. There was an older kid right up the street from John with the name of Gary Klingon who he had built a large model of the Klingon warship of the original Star Trek. It was as big as a manhole cover and John admired that ship.

Until he was about 10 years old, Star Trek played a much bigger role in his future space cosmology. When he was 12 he was watching Buck Rogers, obviously, the Disney film The Black Hole and he splintered into SciFi in general. John was in college when Star Trek The Next Generation arrived on the scene and they all loved it, because it was a great program to watch when you were stoned. It helps with the first two seasons especially and the only other thing on TV was 21 Jump Street. John has watched probably the first 3 seasons pretty excitedly but when he left college by 1993, he fell out of watching Star Trek.

At the time it seemed like a very dramatic series, but now when you watch Star Trek TNG, every episode has some really corny bits that do not befit the level of drama and tension in the other half of the show. Scott might argue this, but what he loves about Star Trek is that it is so of its time and at the same time so forward thinking. That applies certainly to the original series and watching TNG there is no doubt that it is a late-1980s/1990s show which is part of the charm. In the original series, if there was a serious episode, they would keep the corny spit-takes out of it and it was mostly going to be dramatic. Then they also had the completely corny ones where they almost broke the 4th wall. TNG, even the episode they just watched, is very heady, sciency and head-trippy, but there are also all these whacky moments.

John never made it into Deep Space Nine. He maybe saw it on a party when it was on and he got it, but didn’t desire it, but maybe he was already a different life by then.

Parallels S07E11

Parallels is an episode from the last series of The Next Generation that originally aired on 1993-11-29. Scott loves this episode because the reason he loves Star Trek so much is the characters and this episode is almost entirely character-driven. John felt a little robbed at first, because in the synopsis it became clear that this was an episode that featured Worf whom John considers a minor character with a one-dimensional personality. Spock had this Vulcan conflict, but he was also half-human and there was this war within Spock.

The Next Generation had characters like Geordi, Data, and Wil Wheaton who's character you could describe in one sentence. At least in John’s impoverished memory of the show they stuck to the character description. John had very low expectations because Worf was going to be mad and formal all the time and John doesn’t feel any particular attachment to Worf. As the episode started, John was very surprised about the sympathetic and complicated portrayal of Worf. He is struggling with how his reality is destabilized but he also has feelings for Troy and he is not being taken seriously at first.

The beautiful chocolate cake at Worf's surprise birthday party really got John to sit up straight and focus on his banana, because he loves a chocolate and all he had was a banana today. Some of the pieces of cake Worf cut were John Roderick-sized, because that is how you cut a piece of cake for a full-grown person! The cake plays a role in the episode when Geordi comes in with a gigantic piece of cake that was not chocolate, but yellow cake. Scott will not refuse a slice of chocolate cake, but when he has a birthday cake, he wants to have a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, so Geordi’s cake looked much more appealing to him. John is always focused on the cake in any given situation where cake is a component. It turns out that those were not two cakes, but instead there was a temporal reality. Also Capt Picard demolished a giant piece of cake and it was obvious that while they did 3 or 4 take of that scene they didn’t replace his cake and he was just chowing through it for 3 or 4 takes.

Scott made some reference to the delicious and moist cake that the bad computer eats in the Jonathan Coulton song Still Alive, which is the only Portal reference Scott can make. There are some Portal players and some Jonathan Coulton fans on the Venn diagram of people who listen to a Star Trek podcast. John sings the song Nemeses on Jonathan Coulton’s album Artificial Heart.

They continue to talk about this Star Trek Episode.

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