Our Star Trek Renaissance Year

John de Lancie on a stage accompanied by hundreds of Star Trek fans.

John de Lancie and his Friday panel audience at GalaxyCon Columbus 2022, in a photo the showrunners posted on their Flickr account two weeks later. If you know us, we aren’t hard to spot.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2022 our usage of the words “Star Trek” in sentences increased 10,000% over the previous nine years combined. We were happy to find excuses for that.

Anne had been a hardcore Trekker with some convention experiences under her belt when we began hanging out together full-time circa 1996. By the time we married in 2004, I had seen every episode of Deep Space Nine (still my favorite Trek show), nearly every Voyager episode (I missed one, can’t recall which), over half of The Next Generation‘s run, and a fair number of classic Trek episodes since childhood. Trek was the primary focus of the first cons we attended together. Suffice it to say Trek was among our shared interests.

Then Enterprise came along and sucked. Like, really sucked. Not just a “Shades of Grey” level of suckage; watching Enterprise became our most hated chore every week. We tuned out in the middle of the Xindi time war and coped, admirably and with a sense of disappointed relief. We held on to our Trek DVD sets, action figures, autographs, Trek blooper reels on bootleg VHS, and other memorabilia, but we boxed up our Trek fandom and set it in some dusty, hard-to-reach closets in our mental palaces for the next several years.

Glimmers of Trek would leak through the cracks in our defenses over time. JJ Abrams’ reboot trilogy went a long way toward restoring some lost love; the first sequel was a setback; and Justin Lin’s The Federation and The Furious was a popcorn-munching blast, but not quite the same thing.

Then came CBS All Access and the Trek revival, with the launch of Discovery and the convenient aggregation of every viewable Trek thing ever, in most cases with far better picture quality than our DVDs. We rejected invitations to the party because we didn’t have CBS All Access and weren’t about to pay for a streaming service just to watch one (1) show. A few seasons passed; some folks loved it, some not so much. Our circles had very mixed responses. The service’s rechristening as Paramount+ didn’t change our minds. More Trek series were created for different demographics and fandom levels, but by this time we already had a lot of subscriptions piling up.

Then a pair of unexpected developments happened back-to-back:

  1. My sister-in-law loaned us her Blu-ray set of Picard season 1. We sped through it and mostly enjoyed it, despite some bits that were less logical than others and the irritation of needless F-bombs multiplying everywhere, like Tribbles covered in porcupine quills.
  2. Our cell phone carrier offered its customers a free one-year Paramount+ subscription. After that, it would be $4.99/month — cheaper than all our other streams, for the low price of one Tom King DC comic per month.

…so we signed up for Paramount+, which by then had accumulated more or a library, and took tentative baby steps back into the Trek universe. At first I found uses for Paramount+ here and there — 48 Hours, Evil season 1, the classic Cheers Thanksgiving episode, the documentary feature Ascension as part of my annual Oscar Quest, and so on. Eventually we tried Lower Decks and dug it. Then came Strange New Worlds, which we skipped at first, but then over the course of months a parade of family and friends absolutely would not shut up about it. Once we clicked on the premiere, it took about 15-20 minutes for us to love it and latch onto it.

Meanwhile, everywhere we turned in 2022, other Trek-related opportunities kept coming up again and again and again and again and again. Trek demanded our attention so much that we racked up enough material to present a rundown of our very special Trek year to You, The Viewers at Home. We covered our return to the Final Frontier in the following entries:

See what I mean? Other li’l Trek tidbits never got their own entries or mentions. When we had to replace our bathtub in May, the installer saw our DVD collection and confessed he was a Picard fan. We had a nice chat, and the tub has served us well.

In honor of our very special Trek year, for those who prefer pictures over words, please enjoy this photo gallery of outtakes and other one-offs never before posted on MCC till now:

Q pin sold by Etsy dealer Exolansis!

In April, Anne discovered Etsy and Fansets, and bought the first of many Trek pins to come.

Captain Christopher Pike poster!

At Mission Chicago, a series of Strange New Worlds promotional posters spotlighted cast members such as Anson Mount, a.k.a. the suavely pompadoured Captain Christopher Pike.

TPring costume!

ST:MC’s collection of Strange New Worlds set artifacts included a costume worn by Gia Sandhu as Spock’s fiancee T’Pring.

replicas of space knickknacks from classic Trek.

Ticonderoga accessories included these replicas of living quarters knickknacks. Musicians may recognize two of them are repainted trombone mutes.

Ticonderoga Enterprise bridge!

An alternate angle on the Enterprise bridge that’s every visitor’s favorite part of the Ticonderoga tour.

Kollos the Medusan in his box!

Same tour, different room: Kollos the Medusan from “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”

Star Trek 3-D space checkers set.

The space checkers set from “Charlie X”.

Star Trek Fansets pins!

A few Fansets pins Anne picked up at Fan Expo Chicago from a dealer called Heroes in Action. There’re a lot more where these came from.

actress Kate Mulgrew!

Unused shot of Kate Mulgrew at her October Q&A in Bloomington.

Mirror Universe Captain Kirk ornament!

New from Hallmark for 2022: a Mirror Universe Captain Kirk ornament, which I got Anne for Christmas.

Four recent Star Trek comics books!

Also, I bought Trek comics! IDW released a suitably mirthful three-issue Lower Decks miniseries written by Unbeatable Squirrel Girl‘s Ryan North (who introduces…Holodeck Dracula!) and just began a Strange New Worlds mini with a first-issue variant cover by Lower Decks artist Chris Fenoglio, who totally nailed that pompadour.

…and that’s the Trek year that was. 2023 has more Trek in store for us, too. For the past two months we’ve been working our way through every classic Trek episode, which are reruns to Anne but in many cases unseen by me, though season 3’s quality pivot is not making the homestretch easy on us. We’ve talked about checking out Prodigy at some point. The final season of Picard premieres February 16th. And Paramount will probably announce more movie plans, none of which will come to fruition, but it’s fun to pretend more will happen within the next decade. In the meantime, we expect our streaming stories and comic-cons will keep us immersed for months to come.

LLAP!

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