The Plague Ship Enterprise

As if the forsythia haven’t suffered enough :(

It wouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that I’ve had the TV on a little more than normal for the past few weeks. It wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me to learn that Star Trek has been one of the shows I’ve been watching. Nothing should surprise me about Star Trek – I’ve been watching, re-watching and periodically binging that show since the mid-60s when it launched. I wrote about the fact that I took in a roommate a couple of months early – rent free – as long as he paid for cable TV so we could watch Star Trek which had entered its first phase of syndication. Star Trek represented the best of mankind, a planet, a federation which had put its societal problems behind it, but perhaps not its medical problems.

Star Trek was famous for distancing itself from and mocking the fears and prejudices of the time in which it was filmed by showing us the absurdity of those fears in the future. The message was that humans had grown beyond these petty differences. Perhaps the most well-received such message was the revenge-of-the-nerds message that went out weekly to the fanbase of the series. Science triumphed while politicians and diplomats fumbled. But the crew of the Enterprise carried our inadequate immune systems into the future with them.

Star Trek crews battled viruses, parasites, epidemics, pandemics, natural and unnatural evolution and ill-fated medical research that made the crew sick, drunk, grow old, de-evolve and become paranoid and insane. They dealt with selfish, unethical and even criminal behavior in the pursuit of vaccines, antidotes and cures. We watched as victims died, were mistreated and threatened with destruction.

In the original series, the underlying fear might have been our fascination with space. We knew we were going there, but we didn’t know what to expect. Those of us who remember being glued to our TV sets in 1969 watching the crew of Apollo 11 land on the moon also watched the recovery and immediate isolation and quarantine of that crew – first in a mobile unit and then in an isolation chamber for 21 days. Then again, since we hadn’t yet banned biological weapons, perhaps the prospect of a war in which those weapons would be unleashed inspired a few scripts.

Being one of the nerds, I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider the number of times that computer viruses, glitches, attacks and take-overs threatened the Enterprise and / or humanity at large. One of my favorite episodes, “Contagion” is essentially a cybercrime disaster in the making. The star ship Yamato destroyed, the Enterprise, Commander Data and a Romulan warship Haakona brought to the brink of destruction by a computer “virus” that they willingly, carelessly invited into their computer system. Even more ironic is the fact that the solution was to basically reboot the android, the Enterprise and the Haakona. I guess the writers figured we’d never get beyond that solution – I can’t say we’ve proved them wrong.

While we might accept pushing Ctrl-Alt-Del on a starship command computer, some of the medical miracle cures in space, the ones that reversed aging, re-evolved spiders into engineers, returned drunk, insecure and irreverent crewmen and women back into functioning professionals and saved entire planets from death seem hard to believe. I like to think that the writers factored in the advances they expect us to make in the next few hundred years.

Along those lines, I like to think that we will learn from what we are going through right now. I like to think that we will figure our way out of this mess and that we will carry our experience forward – that we will learn from our mistakes, missteps and the practices and precautions that seem to be helping.


I was going to include a poll to find out which “virus” episode is your favorite, but there are so many. I decided to just ask you to list your favorite (if you have one) in the comments.

76 comments

  1. I was like you, staying home from school to watch each and every rocket launch and then glued to the TV for each and every Star Trek episode. I can’t say it’s my favorite, but the first one I recall is the virus that made them age. “Bones” worked so hard for cure, while all the time aging every minute!
    We’re having record heat in the 90’s and you get snow – there is no justice!! 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The Naked Time” is the one that comes to mind. A shirtless, swashbuckling Sulu menacing the crew with a sword…what’s not to like? I remember after it aired on an the Boston UHF station (channel 56), kids in my school were singing a warbling rendition of “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen,” over and over.

    Did you ever see Roddenberry’s earlier series “The Lieutenant”? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056771/

    I’d never even heard of it, until we tossed cable about 5 years ago, and I found myself channel-surfing the digital antenna offerings

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great episode. I think it was better that the remake on STNG, with Westly the hero Crusher.

      I’ve never heard of that series. I might have to try and find it.

      Like

  3. Not a Trekkie, so I can’t join in on favorite episodes. 🙄

    I can comment on your beautiful spring blooms covered in heavy snow. Stunning photos, but those poor plants must be very confused! Do you blame Snoopy for staying in?

    Maddie is a constant source of “normal”, even with all her issues! Sweep away the snow, give her a bit of sunshine, and it’s nap time!

    Happy Monday Dan. Hope today is the start of a great week for you. Stay safe. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I thought I heard a distant whistle!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I thought I heard a distant whistle!” That’s a wonderful thought, Ginger and one of my favorite sounds.

      Maddie was so happy that I cleaned the bird poop off her porch, so she could lay on the warm deck, back against the wall and looking out over her world. She really does remind us about the simple things in life.

      I think Snoopy wanted me to shovel her roof. She likes to sit up there, but I knew it was going to melt pretty quickly.

      I hope you have a great week, stay safe, stay well.

      Like

  4. Currently, I am waiting for the IT help desk to come up with a cure for my VPN illness, virus or Monday morning crabbiness. Can’t log on to ship’s computer. Ugh!

    It’s funny. Natasha and I have been commenting on how many Star Trek episodes feel like our current situation – a deadly disease or situation that requires a time sensitive cure. We just look at one another knowingly.

    I really can’t pick a favorite because I’ve watched all of the series and there are so many. One of the Enterprise episodes (the short-lived series with Scott Bakula) that sticks in my mind is called Impulse and it revolves around the Enterprise coming across a ship filled with crazed Vulcan zombies. It seems that the Vulcans have been exposed to a compound called Trellium-D, which is a toxin to them. The ship’s Vulcan, T’Pol, is affected, but the doc finds a way to reverse the effects. Of course. I’m not going to tell you what happened to the Vulcan zombies because that part did not have a good ending

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I thought about adding a poll, I realized that there were episodes on Voyager and DS9 that were also very good. This was already too Treky for many readers, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Star Trek always portrayed us humans as having solved our longstanding problems. I wanted to find that spirit somewhere in all these plague episodes.

      As for “Contagion,” it’s classic user error, according to this old tech-support guy. They knew the Yamato was having technical problems, but they downloaded the Yamato’s logs anyway. Data’s getting corrupted was an accident, but the ship’s encounter was avoidable.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh gosh, so many times Natasha and I are yelling at the TV, “Nooooo, don’t do that! Don’t beam that onto the ship! Don’t put that in the computer system! Take that damn light off the end of your gun! Jeepers!” Yes, a lot could have been avoided, but then we wouldn’t have had a show.

        BTW, 1,000 bonus points for a great post. LLAP!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha – our daughter and I end up at that statement all the time…”yeah, but then this episode would be 8 minutes long.” I texted her the other night, “why did they never figure out how to transport through their own shields?”

          Peace and long life

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Like other commenters when it comes to the original series I think the Trouble with Tribbles is my favorite virus episode, probably because they were a “cute” disease. I also like the remake of that episode on Deep Space Nine. It was on the air just the other night in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was a fun episode, and it is a virus episode. I hadn’t considered that at first. I’m not sure I ever saw the remake on DS9 – I know I haven’t watched that series in its entirety, and I missed some episodes while it was running. Thanks for giving me something to search for tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wish we’d learn to take a page from the Enterprise crews’ logbooks and learn not to panic in these situations…and to believe there is a solution and we’ll all meet up in Ten Forward afterwards. Great pics, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are so many episodes, Deborah. It’s hard to keep track. I was trying to list them for a poll, then I realized I’d need several polls, and then I just gave up on that idea.

      The Quince is pretty, but it has nasty thorns protecting those beautiful blossoms.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Goodness, the snow. What a contrast to peaceful Maddie in the last shot. I feel sorry for those blooms that are working so hard. I was not able to watch Star Trek to any degree so I’ll sit on the side until you do a retrospective on Twilight Zone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha – I often feel like I’m a living retrospective of the Twilight Zone, John. But for blog posts, I defer to Paul, as he’s the expert.

      The plants were not happy with the snow, but it didn’t last long. Maddie’s sun shot was the very next day. April in New England.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I hear they are making a new plague movie Covid-19. The guy producing the movie took out one of those small business loans for the filming. And he bought up all the red shirts for the ‘extras’ on the away crew. The repeated theme line ‘Scottie – one to beam back up’…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful photos, Dan. The sorrows associated with this virus weigh on my heart a lot. Someday we’ll all look back on it, like a Star Trek episode, and be able to pat ourselves on the back for what we achieved. :)

    Like

  10. Bonus points and a sticker for the title, Dan! At the risk of being a Debby Downer, I too would like to think that something will be learned from this terrible situation. But … with every new “You can’t take our freedom by forcing us to stay home” protest that happens, my optimism in mankind’s ability to learn ANYTHING gets less and less and less… and it was already pretty low to start with because I love to study history — and the ten billion times that it gets repeated.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is marvelous Monday pondering, Dan. As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been re-watching some of the original series lately. I loved all the Star Trek shows, but I’m not a good Trekkie, but the episode so I had to look it up. “Operation — Annihilate!” from the original… planet Deneva… Captain Kirk’s nephew… the floppy looking parasite creatures, and the blinding cure.

    Oh, the poor flowers. I hope they can bounce back. The portrait of Maddie in the sun is so lovely and peaceful. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to look up all of the titles when I was trying to do the poll. There were too many of them.

      That was a good episode. I like the little back and forth between Spock & Bones.

      I hope your week is off to a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love all the different Star Trek series. We have been watching some of Voyager again. Love Seven of Nine. I am thinking of those giant viruses or bacteria that flew around the ship the the Enterprise in The Next Generation picked up from a mining colony. The one where all the crew devolve back to primitive life forms is pretty good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are some good ones in each franchise, Deborah. That’s why I gave up on the idea of a poll. I watch the original and STNG often. I’m filling in lately with DS9. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Voyager.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I watched Star Trek when it was first out but I don’t remember the individual episodes like you do. The only lines my husband and I say to each other (and I don’t know if I have it right, or if it was from the original series… but I bet you do 🙂) is “can you make it go?” and “Geordi makes it go.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We woke up to the snow on Saturday – the one day in the last month that we actually had somewhere to go! It’s gone now, and we’re back in the 50s and 60s. I’m still watching some form of Star Trek on an ongoing basis.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Dan, not a true Trekkie, but I’ve watched a few episodes over the years. No favorites though. I do like the photos of snow covering everything in sight, but, in winter, not spring. Hope your blossoms survive. Maddie in the sun makes me smile! So, I’ve learned a few things, and made adjustments & changes during these challenging times. Being a nurse practitioner, always on the look out for a virus invasion. But, now even more so as other people are not. The thought of possible carriers, without masks, in my space in the supermarket, and I wheel the cart away. Maybe Star Trek will be popular with your post, and some people will learn a lesson or two. Let’s hope so, until the all clear whistle blows. Have a good week ahead. 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What’s that white stuff, Dan? :-) Later in the week when it’s supposed to hit 100, I’d be glad to send you ten or twenty degree, if you’d like. We haven’t gotten TV here, but have Netflix and CBS All Access, as almost all our favorite shows are on CBS (the NCIS’s and Blue Bloods). Saves a lots of money and as there aren’t any new sports on, who cares? CBS has access to all the Star Trek series and episodes, but so far my husband hasn’t seemed interested in watching them. I think it would be fun to start with the very first episode and at least go through the original series. We’ll see.

    Hope your week’s off to a great start.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that would be a great plan, Janet. But, if you watch the original series, you need to move into Next Generation (and get past the first half of season 1)

      The snow was gone by Saturday afternoon, but I would love those 10-20 degrees. Days when the high is in the 50s are still starting out in the high 20s, so it’s not really a good day to work outside. I get about 2-3 hours in the afternoon.

      This week is off to a pretty good start – I hope yours is as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hope is about all I have at this moment, Dan; for trust and Faith have jumped ship, trying to save themselves from the virus. I watched the original series so remember vaguely many of the episodes you mention. Stay safe and enjoy the warming weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The one that always sticks in my mind, Dan, is the death of all the Vulcan crew on the USS Intrepid, and Spock’s reactions and responses to their deaths. if memory serves me correctly he kind of feels their suffering and deaths, which was something that Doc Mc Coy found rather strange because Vulcans were not supposed to have emotions. Loved your post. Marvellous how science fiction blazes a path before us.

    Like

    1. I remember that episode, Don. That’s when the Enterprise becomes an antibody of sorts. It is a good episode for highlighting the Spock/
      McCoy relationship. Let’s hope we can figure our collective way out of this mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I grew up reading science fiction. My dad would go thru a couple of the old Ace double novellas a week. When he’d finished them they were tossed into a cardboard box with the monthly mags like Galaxy and If. There was talk suggesting someone my age shouldn’t read such trash. Maybe those folks were judging a book by its cover, usually nude woman, alien, handsome guy in space suit. The years PK dick was making a living at 3 cents a word in the pulps were the years I absorbed hundreds of stories. Can’t say overdosing on old sci fi serves me now in this CV19 movie. In fiction as in life the interest is in the action and re-action of humans…this present situation has that in abundance. Stay healthy, stay safe.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.