1995 was a major turning point in my association with pop culture. It was the year my family first got satellite TV, and while this meant I finally had access to television besides three channels of varying degrees of snow for the first time ever, it also meant the end of my association with Star Trek for five years.
I’ve of course told this story a lot, but it bears repeating one more time. In the 80s and early 90s, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had an unusual direct-to-syndication deal, whereby they would be included as first-run series as part of a syndication package local affiliates of the major national networks could bid on to fill gaps in their programming schedule, which would otherwise include stuff like game shows or reruns of popular series from past decades. For those outside of the US, in this country our national networks have local regional partners for every municipal area, and while they all get the network’s primetime shows, stuff like local news and weather will be different station to station. Back in those days the syndicated shows were different too, which could lead to weird things, like, say Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine competing with each other (and sometimes even reruns of each other) because two different local affiliates for two different networks decided to air them both in the same timeslot. It…wasn’t always the best system, let’s say.
But even though I only had three channels, it never bothered me. I’ve never been a huge TV person (partly because of this), so I didn’t care. I had PBS, cartoon shows and Star Trek. What more could I possibly want? But all that changed in 1995 with our shiny new satellite dish. And while it was certainly exciting to have so many new channels to explore, it came with a serious price. In the mid-90s, the satellite provider my family used didn’t offer local channels, instead providing a generic national version of PBS and the networks with no regional content whatsoever. This included syndication, so that was the abrupt end of my association with Star Trek on television, I thought forever (while Star Trek Voyager was sold as an exclusive to UPN, Paramount’s ill-advised attempt to make a network to compete with ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, UPN wasn’t included in our satellite package either until Voyager had ended. In fact, we didn’t get UPN until midway through Enterprise‘s first season).
This also means that 1995 is where I drop out of Vaka Rangi’s narrative, effectively for good. I’ll pop by to check in on Star Trek every so often over the next half-decade (usually with a somewhat baffled and concerned expression on my face) and it will always be something I default to saying I broadly like, but my fever for adventure At the Edge of the Final Frontier will be nowhere near this intense again. My passion will briefly return to flashpoint levels once TNN picks up Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns in 2000 and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVD box sets are announced three years later, but I’ve already talked a lot about that in the Next Generation section.…