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:
- 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.
- 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:
- Our modest attempt at guessing where Picard season 2 was going, ultimately inaccurate to an embarrassing degree.
- Our two-day, four-part experience at the inaugural Star Trek: Mission Chicago convention, where we got jazz-hands photo ops with the casts of Picard and Lower Decks, as well as solo ops with several other Trek actors…
- …encountered a bevy of Trek cosplayers from across the various series…
- …browsed all the authentic Trek film/TV props and the official merchandise…
- …and attended ST:MC panels and engaged in other relevant Windy City activities.
- Indiana Comic Con had its own lineup of Trek guests, including Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, and John de Lancie, best known as Picard’s frenemy Q, of which Anne has long been a big, big, big, big, big fan.
- Anne wrote her very first MCC full-length guest post, in which she worked through her grief after the Picard season-2 finale, which left her crying for days.
- We first set eyes upon the statue of Captain Kathryn Janeway that was unveiled October 24, 2020, in her (fictional yet canonical) birthplace of Bloomington, Indiana, one hour from our house.
- The inaugural Fan Expo Chicago had its own set of Trek guests, all of whom we’d met, but they included the aforementioned Mr. de Lancie, so off Anne went to his table again for a new photo.
- Nichelle Nichols, whom we’d met and/or seen at cons a few times, passed away at the end of July. R.I.P.
- One of the best stops on this year’s road trip was in the town of Ticonderoga, NY, where the lovingly fan-built, Paramount-approved Star Trek Original Series Set Tour lets guests walk through recreations of every single Starship Enterprise room ever witnessed on the classic series…
- …and a sizable collection of Trek costumes and props — a few replicas, but many are very much the real deal.
- The most widely-read MCC entry of 2022 was our recount of that time Kate Mulgrew herself visited Bloomington to see the Captain Janeway statue in person.
- Ohio’s inaugural GalaxyCon Columbus had its own set of Trek guests, all of whom we’d met, but they included the aforementioned Mr. de Lancie, so off Anne went to his table again for a new photo. Later we nabbed front-row seats at his Q&A. As I said: she’s a fan.
- At that same con, Anne bought herself a vintage Captain Janeway ornament to round out her Janeway-heavy year.
- Our Trek fan-spending also included Trek-related graphic novels and books, such as Brent Spiner’s novel loosely inspired by actual events, Mulgrew’s two riveting and harrowing memoirs, Wil Wheaton’s remastered blog collection and an original Picard novel featuring one of that show’s best non-Q characters.
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:
…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.