As you may know, I am a nerd of the Star Trek franchise. I’ve watched every episode of the original series with Captain Kirk, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise at least five times…probably more. I signed up to CBS All Access a few years ago so Natasha and I would be able to watch the newest Star Trek series of Discovery and Picard, and wait on whatever else was to come. It had been our ritual to watch an episode or two of Star Trek every night, almost without fail, knowing what the characters were going to say or do, laughing at horrendous costumes, yelling Klingon Qapla (success!) at the TV, or encouraging a Star Fleet officer to throw the bad guy/woman out of the airlock. That last one never came to fruition .
Then came the pandemic and a realization that working and staying at home for months on end would require change, creativity and living “outside the box” in order to keep our minds engaged in a pattern of “different.” Natasha and I stopped our nightly Star Trek ritual and started watching other shows that were of interest to both our sensibilities.
I know, that’s some sort of blasphemy that I will never admit to a rabid, impassioned, dialogue-quoting super fan at a Star Trek convention. It would be like admitting to Jesus that I don’t remember the day of his birth.
With a little research and wandering around in Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms, we began finding other entertainment. It began with Hell on Wheels, Turn, and Outlander on Netflix, and kept going with Vikings on Hulu and a return to Netflix with The Last Kingdom. For whatever reason, we chose a plethora of historical fiction that included blood and guts, many interpretations of love and a villain so bad that Natasha and I actually yelled “Kill him! Kill him now!” several times at the TV screen. The villain (from Hell on Wheels) was called “the Swede,” and it stuck with us so intently that it is now our moniker for all bad men and women.
It was around November or December that Natasha and I agreed to watch all of the Marvel movies and available TV series in a specific order that would lead us to make sense of the Marvel universe. What ended up making sense to me was that Thor most certainly existed as a Norse god because who could deny his muscly muscles, chiseled features, and flowing golden hair. (Good gawd, I may be old, but I’m not closed-minded or dead yet.)
We have since watched all of the Marvel Universe movies, are currently engaged in four TV series and will move on to the X-Men movies at some point. What comes after may hopefully be spring and summer and longer evenings spent outside with a friend and/or a beer, but that’s for another day.
In the meantime, Natasha and I have discovered an issue with the many shows we’ve watched, as it pertains to retention.
It’s called remembering stuff or the lack of it.
With Star Trek, remembering characters and their names, episode plots, who’s doing what, who’s going to live or die, and the parts we can point a finger at and laugh come easy to us. We’ve been there far too many times, in this universe, their universe and the mirror universe that darkens those characters with beards and Swede-like behavior. We don’t need help here.
With everything else that Natasha and I have been watching, it’s been more difficult to make sense of everything and to remember it from movie to movie, show to show. We come up with questions like, “Who is that person? Did we see her before? What happened to so-and-so? How does this connect with the other movies and shows and characters? What did he say? Where are they now? What’s happening? Where did that thing come from? What is it used for? Why don’t they throw the bad guy out the airlock or off the bridge?”
On and on, it goes. Night after night. Sometimes Google is helpful, sometimes not.
On several occasions, I suggested a large white board on the living room wall, complete with disturbing photos, nonsensical diagrams, newspaper clippings, playing cards, and connecting arrows that remind us of the story line, the characters and how everything is woven into something that requires a photographic memory to keep up with it all. Lacking the sustainable memory in this case, Natasha and I would do better to take turns with a dry erase marker, noting the important pieces of the puzzle on the white board, so that we could revert back to it when questions arose. We could be the nerds of the Marvel Universe and streaming TV shows. We would know everything about everything, recite lines with super power ease, and regurgitate things that make our friends and family wonder if we take showers and leave the house.
Natasha and I mull over the pros of having a white board, but that would never happen. Scribbling on it would take the fun out of watching TV, which is supposed to be entertainment, an escape into whatever makes us happy and willing to come back for more. As part of our TV watching, we want to be relaxed, sitting in our favorite Sheldon spot on the sofa, having a gluten-free snack, making silly or barely appropriate comments, or laughing at the heavy Jamaican and Scottish accents that neither of us understands.
We have a better way to watch, which includes letting go of bits and pieces, a little snark and a habitual practice.
When one of us asks a silly question like, “Why don’t they escape out the back door?” or “How come they never have to reload their weapons?” or “Why is there no blood on the floor after he was shot 20 times?” the other has an answer.
Shut up. Stop asking questions. It’s Star Trek!
In layman’s terms that response means to forget about details or white boards or how we connect characters and plots. This is the TV and movie universe: Imaginary, weird, super-natural, outer-space, and creative license place that belies reality. There are times when we need to know characters and outcome, and other times when we simply need to sit back, relax, eat a pretzel and enjoy whatever shows up on the TV screen without question.
Even when the Swede overextends his stay and Thor ends up with an eye patch and haircut.