When my brother and I were very young, my father would wait until my mother had gone to sleep and watch the shows that came on late-night TV. Among his favorites were wrestling (on the old UHF channels - Andre The Giant, Chief Jay Strongbow, Haystacks Calhoun, Bruno Sammartino, Ivan Putski, Sergeant Slaughter, etc.), Columbo, and Star Trek.
Of course, like most little boys, my brother and I were curious. We would often creep into the dark dining-room and peek into the TV-room to see what he was watching. It goes without saying that early on Dad would try to explain to us that we needed sleep, for all of the obvious reasons. As may be the case with most little boys, it didn't stop us from doing it again and again.
In time, he would occasionally let us stay up and join him in the TV-room. Wide-eyed, we would watch the Polish Hammer swing those clenched hands into the back of some unsuspecting victim, or look on as Andre would palm someone's head in those massive mitts of his.
If we were lucky, Dad would blend up some of his famous milk shakes!
Even more enthralling to us was Star Trek. The world where Spock (Leonard Nimoy on Twitter - because you know I follow him - LLAP) was able to knock a big, tough guy out with a nerve pinch, people de/materialized from one place to another, and where lasers blew things up was almost too much to ask for! Young boys everywhere flipped imaginary communicators and shot invisible beams from their fingers. My brother and I were not immune to this! The future was right now, if only on TV and in our imaginations.
Time continued, and I eventually forgot about James T. Kirk (William Shatner), his green women, and Scotty beaming my brother and me from one place to another. Darth Vader came and went, real girls inspired fantasies more enticing than did futuristic worlds, and bills became a reality. As focus moved from school to career, and war-time military life replaced interests of fantasy worlds. Television shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) became a distraction that I seldom had time for.
This brings me to today, where I find myself watching Netflix, on occasion. Through it, I have caught up with all of the original Star Trek episodes. These days, I sometimes treat myself to TNG, watching the series in televised order. No longer mesmerized by flashy teleportation effects, lasers, and the like, I now consider things like how the futuristic "magic" within the show is becoming more and more the technologies of yesterday, and how the writers of the show skillfully attacked modern-day concerns (even by today's standards) by presenting them as issues encountered in these tales.
For example, inspired to write this, I paused an episode of TNG in which Data, the beloved, sentient android played by actor Brent Spiner, creates his own child and is scrutinized by Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) for it. Data is perplexed as to why his choice to "procreate" is such a concern to the captain, and the two were in debate over the issue, when I interrupted the show.
How this mirrors life is blatantly obvious, and as was the case with others, this topic plucks strings that I was once oblivious to. I may never have been a "Trekkie" beyond my childhood years, and I am unlikely to get the urge to glue some pointy ears on, but I can now appreciate the show in ways that I had probably not considered, before. And though some of the topics they have touched upon before this episode may have given me pause, it isn't until now that I stopped and smiled at anything in the show that was more profound than aliens, time-travel, or Kirk's love-life.