Do we have to limit TV show seasons to eight to ten episodes to ensure quality content?

Conventional wisdom would say yes. Too many times, the shows of our youth, with their burgeoning episode counts of 30-40 episodes per season were laced with boring filler episodes and that ultimate eye roller, the dreaded Clip Show.

Writers are only able to handle about ten episodes a season before they are completely overwhelmed, we believe. We all carry a mental image of two or three harried individuals behind a shady door labeled “Writers Room.” Do we want them to work around the clock? No, so inevitably we’ll end up with a clip show if we ask for more than eight episodes.

So we settled.

Eight episodes of quality content, don’t overwhelm the writers. Work-life balance. Everybody wins.

I thought that too until I started watching Asian content almost exclusively in 2021.

Suddenly I was exposed to modern Korean Dramas of sixteen to eighteen episodes in length, with each episode running an hour to an hour and a half in length.

That was a lot of content. And not a clip show in sight.

Modern Chinese TV shows are sometimes 40-50 episodes of thirty to forty-five minutes each. Seasons are made up of cohesive, plot-driven storylines. Characters are given room to breathe and grow. Audiences learn character motivations and are given time to savor those sweet, sweet plot twists.

So how are Asian productions able to create shows with more than eight episodes without having to resort to the fillers and clips shows we’ve come to believe are inevitable?

Writing is handled differently. Stories are written far in advance of filming by contract or freelance writers.

Writers create content for seasons of shows that won’t be produced for years. These stories give a direction to the whole production. It makes the end result feel as if you have watched an entire novel or manga run, on screen. Screenwriters and assistant screenwriters are hired to adapt that story to screen. With so much content to work with, with that clear direction from the onset, there is no need to resort to fillers and clip shows because there’s a plan in place before going into production.

The choice between eight quality episodes and thirty to forty boring episodes with a few gems sprinkled in, is a false dichotomy. It’s been created by an industry loath to pay enough writers to create the content necessary to sustain an entire full-length television season.

So, what can be done if fans want longer seasons of *good* content from their favorite shows?

Encourage companies to contract with writers well in advance of production to create engaging stories with strong character growth. Allow plenty of time for the creative process.

How much of a difference would that make? It’s the difference between Game of Thrones season 1, based off a novel full of rich plot and personality and the last season, hurriedly written for the screen, devoid of any logic or sense.

Source material for any show needs time. Good writing takes time. And companies need to be willing to pay creators for that content. Yes, even given the risk that it will never be produced. That’s what audiences are funding when we pay our subscriptions fees.

Then once that source material is ready, hire enough writers to skillfully adapt that to screen.

Lastly, pay writers what they are worth. More than anything, skilled writing is the backbone of any production. These are craftspeople who create the characters and stories that touch our hearts, and they deserve to be paid for that work.

Fan Highlight Interview with Amy @LirbesOlerybes

Hi Amy!
Thanks for agreeing to do the interview, I’m sure people will love the chance to get to know you better.
How did you get into Star Trek?

I have a funny story about my first contact with Star Trek. Our old television sometimes caught signals from another station and I remember seeing a man in yellow and a man in blue with pointy ears and they were running around some rocks, shooting at someone. Later I learned that their names was Pike and Spock. I believe I must have been early teens.

I did watch Star Trek: The original series (not the whole) later, but I first really got into Star Trek with the movies and then it just exploded with Star Trek Discovery. DISCO was really home for me.

That’s great! I watched Star Trek as a child, myself, but then really got back into it when I found Discovery.
I love seeing your cosplays on Twitter, how did you get into cosplay and, do you have a favorite?

Oh, that’s great! Yeah, DISCO really got me into Star Trek BIG TIME! It’s really been a show that hits a deeper nerve in me.

Awww, thank you, that is very kind of you! I still think of myself as a beginner in the cosplay game, but it’s a huge joy in my life!

It was actually my husband who got me into cosplaying in a way. I grew up in a very conservative place and the only fantasy litterateur I read was 3 novels about 3 female warriors.

When I was 15-16, I started to watch action movies, which became my favorite genre and still are. It was first when I met my husband that he introduced me to Star Wars, Harry Potter and most importantly: Lord of the Rings.

I fell totally in love and my wedding dress was maybe my first step towards cosplaying, because I wanted a dress that resembled Galadriel’s. From that point I started to buy handcrafted products and clothes.

My first real cosplay and “public appearance” was for the premiere of the last of The Hobbit movies, and “of course” I went as an elf. And until the pandemic I had quite an amount of visits to the cinema in cosplays.

But you ask if I have favorite. I think I’ll always be in love with my elven cosplays. It’s really something special about the ears and the dresses, but I have also Loki, and he is a favorite of character. But then you have Elnor, from Star Trek Picard and his clothes are really comfortable and cool, so… it’s hard to pick!

I love LOTR! I don’t think I have ever seen you cosplay that. That’s exciting!
I’m really looking forward to Loki’s show coming out this summer, have you been keeping up with the Marvel shows?

You do? That is so awesome! I can’t get enough of LOTR. I randomly post elven cosplay, but it’s been a long time since I actually wore one.

Oh, yes, I try my best to keep up with the Marvel shows! I really, really enjoyed WandaVision and I hope TFATWS will be a hit as well. Can’t wait for Loki tho, that’s my bi expectation together with Doctor Strange’s movie – argh all the waiting!

I’m watching all the Marvel movies with my daughter at the moment, she wanted to watch them. Just finished Iron Man, so it’s not a fast watch!

That’s great!
So, last question, what upcoming Star Trek show are you most hyped for?

Oh… I’m a bit sad they shifted to their own platform, because I can’t follow – we already have way too many different platforms and, yeah. So I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch the new shows… But I’m very very excited for Strange New Worlds! Love Ethan Peck’s Spock, so …

Thank you so much for doing the interview!

And Thank you so much for asking me! It was really fun to share with you 🙂

Star Trek and Autism: Representation on the Spectrum

Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Star Trek: Discovery

Guest post by Robert Vaux

(Twitter: @rvaux16)

SPOILER ALERT: This article reveals details about the Season 3 finale of Star Trek: Discovery.

“They told me because of my special needs I couldn’t have a roommate…”

Sylvia Tilly endeared herself to the ND community quite literally the moment she opened her mouth. Returning to her quarters to find a stranger (Michael) in her bed, she launches into the kind of stream-of-consciousness info dump that everyone on the spectrum is intimately familiar with. Super excited, but maybe about to throw up. Revealing too much and not sure if she’s explained enough. Trying madly to read the cues of someone who, frankly, has much larger issues on her mind. 

Every ND who watched it silently whispered “she’s me.” 

Tilly was far from the first ND stand-in to appear on Star Trek. She wasn’t even the only one on Discovery (Doug Jones’ Saru comes immediately to mind). But she came unadorned by embellishment or metaphor. She wasn’t an alien like Spock, or an android like Data, or a cyborg like Seven, or an augment like Dr. Bashir. She wasn’t even a guest star like Reg Barclay who only showed up in a handful of episodes. There was no need to embellish who she was with pointy ears or green skin.

She was just Tilly. The kid in the back who couldn’t get her hair to behave. 

And that first scene with Michael leaned straight into it.

Her awkward excitement is par for the course for NDs, as is the inevitable moment where she suspects she’s done something terribly wrong by “talking too much”. But the scene speaks to the Autistic experience for more specific reasons as well. Tilly is masking: her nerves come less from making a new friend than in the anxiety spike that comes with having to ask for something. Michael is lying on her bed, which has special sheets and hypo allergens designed to let Tilly sleep. It shouldn’t be a big deal; she knows this. But it is, and she fears that if she doesn’t contain it, this intriguing new friend is going to push her to the curb. 

Michael doesn’t care, of course – beds are switched and all is well – but the moment speaks to a lifetime of similar torments for Tilly. She’s been conditioned not to ask for what she needs because the social cost is too great: she’ll be shunned or branded as “difficult”, and the prospect of Michael doing the same thing is almost more than she can bear. So she masks. She talks excessively. She waits desperately for some sign that Michael might be open to such a request so she can quiet the little voice screaming inside her brain. She’s asking Michael for permission to be herself.

And she needs to, because as benevolent as Starfleet is, it’s still an institution with norms that Tilly doesn’t fit. She’s struggling to compensate – something else the ND community understands all too well – but the deck has been stacked against her. She has been forbidden a roommate, despite the fact that she dearly wants one and that organizations such as Starfleet don’t normally coddle rank cadets with private quarters. She’s been denied something accepted as de rigueur by everyone else, and further isolated as a result. But beyond that, she’s essentiallybeen told to “correct” her social behavior: namely, talking when she gets nervous. “My instructors advised me to work on that,” she stammers to Michael, as a way of apologizing for what she perceives as a disastrous first impression. She’s entered into a system that she loves more than anything, and that system is telling her she can’t get anywhere unless she fundamentally changes who she is.

It’s quiet as a mouse and yet it cuts like a knife. And there’s no sci-fi varnish to it. The show doesn’t have to add some exotic explanation for why she struggles; it just have to show her fighting her way through it. To top it all off, she’s trying to read Michael’s Vulcan passivity (and general melancholy) for any sign that she’s making progress. Imagine a world of such ciphers, and it conveys the kind of passive agony that NDs grapple with daily. 

And yet, this is Star Trek which means she can and will become her best self. As it turns out, Michael is no stranger to masking, nor of being a square peg shoved into a round hole. The pair become fast friends, and over the course of Disco’s first three seasons, work their way up to becoming captain and first officer. Their paths are different, but the notion of acceptance and understanding in Gene Roddenberry’s bright future takes them to the same place. Beyond the crucible of social necessity, she’s exactly the kind of person Starfleet wants. The universe will gobble up the charming social butterfly next to her just as readily as her; it doesn’t care who’s more fun at parties. And when given the chance to focus her talents in the directions she so badly wants to go, she can make the universe cry “uncle” every time.

Because Tilly will tell you all about her favorite Law of Thermodynamics if you let her… and physics fixations pay big dividends when consoles start blowing up.

Discovery was the first new Star Trek show since Enterpriseended its run in 2005. The intervening decade brought a sea change in perceptions of Autism and neurodiversity, which essentially let the producers end the symbolism and cut to that chase. Wiseman has stated that she doesn’t play Tilly as Autistic, but neither did Brent Spiner or Leonard Nimoy or any of the ND representatives from previous Star Trek shows. They– and she – just stayed true to the character. And that’s kind of the point. For the first time, NDs saw a fully human character reflecting their own experience… using her singular nature to solve problems every week just by being herself. No pointy ears, circuits or forehead ridges required

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

You can find Robert Vaux on Twitter @rvaux16.

Artist Interview – Damian Synadinos

Hi Damian!
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I have loved watching you post your artwork on Twitter. 
You’ve been drawing strangers as part of your initiative, what gave you this idea?

I originally got the idea after an experience. But first, some background and context to help set the scene…
Although I’ve been drawing, doodling, and cartooning since I was a kid, I’ve never been a “professional artist”. That is, drawing has never been my full-time job. Instead, I spent 25 years in IT, and am now a public speaker. However, the pandemic put my career on hold, and so – to keep myself busy and sane – I’ve returned to my past passion: drawing.
Since mid 2020, I’d been drawing quite a lot. And then in January 2021, I saw an old friend post their “favorite photo of themselves” on Facebook. I thought they might like a custom, hand-drawn illustration of the photo (some folks do), and so I decided to draw them – for them, for practice, for fun. And…they liked the drawing! I was happy that they were happy! Then, it occurred to me that other people might like custom, hand-drawn illustrations of their “favorite photo of themselves”, too. But rather than draw photos of my family and friends, I thought it might be a nice, innocent way to perform small, random acts of kindness for complete strangers (while getting in a bit of practice and keeping myself busy and sane with an activity I enjoyed). IMHO, there’s too little kindness in the world today, and this seemed like an opportunity to spread a bit of joy. And so, I began my little, personal project, “Favorite Drawing Of Me”.

How do you pick the people you draw?

For the “Favorite Drawing Of Me” project, I always begin by searching Twitter for the phrase “my favorite photo of me” (and dozens of variations). This returns many results with new, publicly-posted photos posted appearing every hour. Then, I start browsing – looking for photos of strangers that are interesting, funny, poignant, artistic… Anything that inspires me. And when I find one that seems like a good candidate, I then attempt to learn a little about the stranger. I explore the stranger’s Twitter feed, I read the past few days/weeks/months of their posts and replies, I visit and browse any websites and blogs they have linked, and I check out any other social media presence they have listed. I do all this to 1) try and get a feel for the person to help inspire my drawing of them, and 2) to avoid drawing jerks (I hate jerks). Eventually, I find a suitable stranger and photo, and then finally begin the “art part”.

Do you have a favorite picture you’ve done for this project? I always find it difficult to choose, I imagine it’s like a parents choosing a favorite child.

Ha! So true! You’re right, I love each drawing for different reasons. But, if I absolutely had to pick just one, I’d say #44 is my favorite. It’s kind of a mix between comic book and pop-art styles. I’d never before tried mixing those styles but I’m very pleased with how it turned out, especially the hair.

Was this your first time using digital art?

No, not by a long shot. I was first introduced to personal computers in the early 80s, and not long after I merged my knowledge of computers with my love of art. A few of the first programs I remember using to create digital art (ray tracing, 2D and 3D, still and animated, etc.) were Harvard Graphics, Autodesk Animator, and the Video Toaster on the Amiga. Through the years, I’ve used many dozens of programs and apps to create “digital art”. However, all of the drawings for the “Favorite Drawing of Me” project were creating using Sketches Pro by Tayasui on an old iPad with a cheap stylus. Interesting side-note: I currently live in a house previously owned by Charles Csuri, described by the Smithsonian magazine as the “father of digital art and computer animation” (See and!

That’s awesome! Do you have your next project in mind already?

I don’t have any new projects in mind, so I’ll probably return to an old project that has been on hold since the pandemic began: writing and illustrating my second children’s book (working title “Hank and Stella in How to Know”) that is intended as a fun way to teach kids how to think critically and learn for themselves, like a scientist.

That’s so exciting, Damian, I can’t wait to see what you do next! Keep us in the loop!

If you would like to find Damian Synadinos, his website is: and you can find him on Twitter: @dsynadinos

The Joy of Star Trek

Guest blog by Sarah-Louise Thomas

(Twitter: @shropsarah)

I’ve been wanting to share my joy for the Star Trek universe and the influence that it’s had on my life for quite a while. It’s taken me a long time to decide where to start. But then I thought, how about at the beginning?

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns on BBC2 sometime in the early 2000s on BBC2. It was always on after dinner at 6pm. I used to feel such an anticipation as the opening scenes began, awaiting the famous theme-tune of the classic 80s sci-fi credits to roll on.

As a geeky eight year old, it all felt so aspirational. The technology they had at their fingertips, the fact every crew members wanted to do good in one form or another, the hope and kindness winning over the evil and darkness. The characters were all so smart, strong and empathetic. Of course, through a fully fledged adult’s lens I now see some questionable themes and stereotypes that I may go into further on another blog, but innocent mini-me only saw joy and love.

I was a typical nerd who felt more comfortable having a conversation about cooking with adults than socially engaging eye-to-eye with my peers, so in many ways I saw myself in Star Trek. I was nervous, academic and much preferred to make believe than face the real world. I might not want to admit it, but you could consider me a classic case of Reginald Barclay. Even the quirkiest of character, such as Reg, despite being dubbed ‘Mr Broccli’ by the less forgiving Wesley Crusher (you weren’t exactly a social butterfly, sir) was not only accepted, but welcomed into the inner bosom of the crew with open arms. This type of acceptance and understanding of my weird ways was everything I hoped to received when I was a grown up.

Fast forward from the baptism of joy that was BBC2’s reruns, to the next Christmas. My parents and Uncle Martin quickly became clued up to my sci-fi obsession and wholeheartedly approved, buying me my first Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD box sets. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and these box sets are still some of my dearest positions 20 years on.

I’m not sure how much depth I’ll go into on individual Star Trek episode in the future, but it seems fitting to recount my experiences of the pilot two-parter “Encounter at Farpoint2. Now, I want you all to bear in mind that I’m certainly not a critic, and many of my initial impressed were skewed by the fact I was a starry-eyed child…

Grumpy, bored, omnipotent alien Q decided to come along and put the previously aggressive and war-torn humanity on trial. What we found throughout this episode was that despite the horrendous past that these 24th century humans had faced (which is looking more and more like our future), our society had actually progressed and improved. You’ve got to remember at this point, mini-me was terrified of everything. The world was scary. People were scary. Bad things happened. I was acutely aware of everything always. It was tiring. So watching a future utopian version of ourselves was actually a very cathartic and relieving piece of hope that my anxious self needed at this point. And if I’m honest, it’s something I need more and more as I develop into a cynical adult too!

Then I come onto the biggest happy-hope-joy bringer of them all. The fact that the humans work out that the station is in fact a strange morphing alien, and choose to save the strange space jelly fish over ignoring the inhumanity and moving on to their actual mission. As an adult, I see some flaws with the pink and blue space octopus couple. But, as a child, all I saw was the humans choosing the welfare of another creature that they couldn’t even relate to over themselves. This was everything that I wanted (and still want) humanity to be. Intelligent enough to problem-solve the strange occurrences happening at the station, curious enough to investigate them and compassionate enough to act on anything that doesn’t meet our moral or ethical codes at humans. What more could you hope for?

I certainly think this is one of the reasons I followed a career path in charity. I want to work in a way that demonstrates an empathy for others, both human and animal. I want to make a positive difference, whether it is on a small individual basis through working with volunteers or in a larger, more general way by my life choices. I’ve been guided by the principles that Star Trek has taught me. Hard work, honesty, working together as a team, empathy and a shared goal to explore and do good. All of these are my learnings from a childhood on a diet of sci-fi. Along with the occasional cooking programme, too. But that discussion is for another time…

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

Star Trek and Autism: Representation on the Spectrum

Guest post by Robert Vaux

(Twitter: @rvaux16)

From its inception, Star Trek has featured characters who deeply resonate with the Autistic community…starting with Mr. Spock and including every series in the franchise thus produced. But it’s Data (Brent Spiner), the self-aware android who struggled with his humanity, who might be the more prominent. He became a touchstone for Autistic viewers just as understanding about Autism was filtering into the public view. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) added Autism and Asperger’s to their manual in 1994, the same year The Next Generation came to an end. In the seven years previous, a lot of people on the spectrum turned to Data to express their truth.
The similarities have since been widely discussed in the ND (neurodivergent) community. The character paired extreme intelligence with a detached bafflement at social situations. His skills were astonishing when on the job, but off-duty, he often struggled with interactions that his crewmates took for granted. He felt no emotions and his face remained a blank mask most of the time. And yet he routinely demonstrated ironclad ethics, selflessness and compassion, along with an absolute devotion to duty that only an artificial being could muster. His circle of friends was comparatively small, but fiercely loyal, and for a figure so supposedly clinical, he demonstrated creative thinking and leaps of imagination that could surprise everyone… including himself.
The ND community might have found one or two things to identify with in there. Data’s comparatively unique status in the Federation further endeared him to people on the spectrum, who often feel alone or ostracized within their neurotypical social circle. Almost every other character in TNG came from an existing race or culture that held intrinsic meaning for them. Even Worf, alone in Starfleet, still had his fellow Klingons and their history to turn to. Data, on the other hand, was singular. (Okay, he had an evil twin. But the principle holds; besides which, Lore clearly isn’t ready for a healthy sibling relationship.) He existed in a world with no peers and no common past: seeking knowledge and wisdom without the benefit of “belonging” to guide him.
In the days before the Internet – and indeed before Autism was acknowledged or properly diagnosed – such feelings were far from uncommon. People on the spectrum were simply “odd” or “weird,” or misdiagnosed with any of a dozen alphabet-soup comorbidities that never quite made sense. Data made a perfect fit for anyone who felt like they stood out just for being themselves.
In addition, his inner peace and self-awareness provided an ideal to strive for. Data knew who he was and accepted who he was without recrimination. His efforts remained unclouded by the self-doubt or insecurities that so many people on the spectrum struggle with. And all despite the fact that he understood no more about the purpose to his existence than his human colleagues. He questioned without getting any easy answers. He learned, and even developed quirks and hobbies. He tried new means of expression, including acting, painting and (very bad) poetry. He discovered the ability to dream and even found his own emotions eventually. The show’s seven-year-run provided ample opportunity to chart his development, and took good advantage of it. 
Most importantly, Data grew and evolved without ever changing the traits that Autistics identify with so much. They weren’t flaws for him to overcome or challenges to resolve. They were part of who he was and remained with him throughout the series. To change them – to even want to – went against his fundamental nature.
The final truth about Data’s appeal to the ND community lies as much in the franchise itself as the character. Star Trek helped pioneer in the notion of a shared universe, with an intricacy and level of detail that held an innate appeal to those on the spectrum. Indeed, fan devotion famously helped feed the Trek phenomenon throughout its history: filling in the details of the comparatively modest original series through fan fiction and similar expressions long before such practices were common.
Beyond that, there’s a deeper and simpler appeal for the community, especially when it comes to this character. Data was loved and accepted on the Enterprise. His friends celebrated him for who he was and didn’t look down on him when he appeared confused or awkward. They treated seemingly simple questions with patience and understanding. (“What is the definition of life?” he asks Dr. Crusher in one episode. Beverly suggests that he take a seat.) In short, they let Data be Data: part of Trek’s underlying ethos of diversity as strength exemplified in a figure who became one of the franchise’s most enduring icons.
It was a part of the vision the show offered: a world where everyone was valued for who they were. Data – and by extension those on the spectrum who identified with him – belonged there, not despite his uniqueness, but because of it.

You can follow Robert Vaux on Twitter @rvaux16. He also has a Rotten Tomatoes page.

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

Star Trek Represents Hope

⁦‪Guest blog by Craig McKenzie

(Twitter @Nemesis4909 and @KneelBeforeBlog)
Kneel Before Blog

Star Trek has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember. From a young age I was indoctrinated into the franchise by family through prolonged exposure in early life. As time went on, I developed my own appreciation and my fandom evolved along lines that would make it personal to me. 

Many fans can talk about how Star Trek has brought them comfort during times of their life where they felt sad, overwhelmed, isolated and any other less than positive feelings. That has certainly been the case for me, however, it has also been there through the best times of my life. No matter what is going on in my life, there is a Star Trek episode or film that will compliment it. I’ll always be grateful that the franchise exists and it will always be there when I need it.

It’s impossible to boil down something so personally influential to a single episode, event or character, but I did recently have something stand out to me as a great example of how the franchise makes me feel. It’s a moment right at the end of the Enterprise season four episode “United” where Archer, Shran and the Tellarite Gral are in Enterprise’s conference room discussing the recent escape of the Romulan ship. Earlier in the episode, Archer managed to bring together Vulcan, Tellarite and Andorian resources to hunt down the Romulan ship. It’s the first chronological example of cross-species cooperation in pursuit of a common goal and the experience proves to be inspiring for all present. Up until this point, the Andorians and Tellarites had been constantly antagonistic towards one another but the success achieved from working together changes that mindset for them in this moment.

Gral is the one to offer that they have more to discuss than trade disputes and Archer replies with “Why wait until we get to Babel?” The camera pans out of the conference room to show Enterprise surrounded by vessels belonging to the other races. Enterprise was often criticised for being of poor quality, but in its final season it really turned things around and concentrated on being a true prequel. To me, this moment exemplified fundamental aspects of the franchise and sent a strong message about overcoming differences in the spirit of cooperation. The moment was earned, because of the focus on highlighting the conflicts at play to make it all the more satisfying when those differences were tossed aside in favour of starting to communicate.

The franchise is full of similar moments where people of different backgrounds realise that there is strength in working together rather than wasting energy concentrating on what divides them. It’s a consistently inspirational message and the wealth of content promoting it only serves to highlight how important that is. The “United” example resonates so powerfully with me because it is framed as an epic moment that is the first true step towards the Federation. Out of conflict comes cooperation and everyone in that room recognises the value that the others bring. It’s relatively understated as well, with only a few words spoken to get the point across. It speaks for itself and the legacy it leaves behind is immediately obvious to those watching.

For me, Star Trek represents hope. It’s hope for a better future, hope that we can unite as a species to build an inclusive society devoted to constant improvement, hope that people can be fully accepting of the wonderful variety that others have to offer and hope that there is light to be found in the darkest circumstances. The franchise tells us that we all have to take responsibility for creating that hope and if my exposure to it has made me a better person, its importance cannot be overstated.

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

“I will remember to expect nothing…even from this espresso. Espresso – I release you.”

Silvia Tilly may have released espresso but I never will. If there is one thing in life you should be able to count on, it’s espresso, or even just coffee in general.

But she probably had a point about expecting nothing.

One of the most difficult things in fandom is the disconnect between what we hope and dream about for a series, and the reality of what we are given on screen. Everyone has an idea, or “head canon” as we sometimes call it. Some are great ideas, well-crafted story telling, some are just fun, half-baked whimsy, but in the end we all get the same product. A story that came from the professionals who are entrusted with the franchise we love.

Theories are fun to discuss and debate, but at what point do they become harmful? Is it possible to become so attached to a theory that we’re unable to enjoy a story that doesn’t fulfil that dream? But on the flip side of that same coin, aren’t theories the very thing that makes serialized story telling fun? Exchanging theories with fellow fans is one of the staples of fandom as we know it.

But that leads to another question. Is the internet polarizing fandoms the same way it seems to polarize every aspect of our lives? This tool that allows us to connect with so many like-minded fans is double edged sword. After years of enjoying science fiction in a solitary way, finding online fandom has been a very joyful and engaging experience for me. But it’s not without its frustration.

There is pressure to fit in and align with others. Even a pressure toward consistency. It can be difficult to offer even minor criticism about a franchise that you actively support or even defend in a public space. There is a fear, I feel at times, that anything but unquestioning loyalty and support may be labeled as “anti” or “negative.”

Places like Twitter are not known for the ability to parse nuance. It’s easier just to ignore things you may not like and focus on the positive. But again, that may be due to the polarization effect and the fear of being perceived, albeit incorrectly, as a member of the opposition group.

The ability to share our theories with the world, get backed up by fellow fans and form an echo chamber around ourselves can be deceptive and might set us up for disappointment when our dreams don’t become reality.

Technology shapes our experiences in multiple ways.

Is our ability to engage with media changing in an environment where we are able to consume entire multi-year series in a matter of weeks? In times past, people waited years for sequels and followed television series with thirty episodes per season without any discernable arc. And they were happy about. Dare I say, grateful even.

In a world where we are surrounded by instant gratification, the temptation to produce a theory ourselves to answer the questions and mysteries a story presents is very strong. We aren’t used to having to wait for answers.

Which brings us back to Tilly.

Can we release our beloved franchise from the expectations of canon, tradition, and our own theories and just let it be what it is, and even love it for it?

I hope I can. If I’m disappointed I’ll grab an espresso, it will never let me down.

“Hit it”

Guest post by Clare Cammarano

I am a physician from Tacoma, Wa; 20 miles south of Seattle—the flashpoint of the COVID 19 epidemic in the US. I have always loved science and philosophy and Star Trek has offered the best of both worlds; ever since I started watching TOS in grade school in the 70s. As an OB/GYN Resident in the 90s, working 36 hours on call, 12 hours off, thinking I wouldn’t survive 4 years of brutal sleep deprivation and constant stress, TNG  was my go to stress reliever. You hear a lot about doctors being detached from their patients. It’s not true. When things go wrong in medicine, as they inevitably do, it can be crippling. Invariably you go over every judgement call, every decision, every intervention. Medicine is an art as well as a science. You should never be over-confident in medicine, and you should clearly ask for help when you need it; but you do need to be confident in your education and your decisions, like any good starship Captain.  One of my personal favorite quotes is from Captain Picard to Data: “It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” I think the best doctors are like the best Captains; they are not afraid to fail and they always try.

I’m a lot older now, my career as a Robotic surgeon was sidelined by Rheumatoid Arthritis. I now work in Urgent Care—repurposed after hand and eye complications. I am asthmatic and immunosuppressed from the medication I take for the RA. When COVID 19 hit WA state (first in the nation!) our Urgent Care clinic was the first to start COVID swab testing. We were allowed ONE surgical mask per 12 hour shift. One gown. Our shift consisted of one MD (me) a nurse practitioner, and a PA. The clinic administrator walked in that first day and asked,”who wants to do the COVID testing?” You could have heard a pin drop. This was back in March when very little was known about the disease. We were all terrified. Why does the Hippocratic Oath sound so much like Captain Pike’s voice in my head? “You are Captain of this particular sinking ship. Hit it.” So I did.   

You can follow Clare Cammarano on Twitter at @Clareskates88

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.