Episode 68 in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series guest-stars Harry Groener as a mutant Betazoid, Tam Elbrun, whose empathic/telepathic powers are unusually acute. Harry also played the Mayor of Sunnydale, Richard Wilkins, in another universe, a largely-unrelated star system.
Unlike the vast majority of empathic Betazoids, Tam Elbrun’s sensitivity to the thoughts of other people appeared at his birth, rather than in adolescence; a crippling, terrifying power that predisposed him to reclusive avoidance of others — until his introduction to a massive, living, alien vessle known as Tin Man. Tam’s emotional discomfort with people is mirrored in Earshot, a third season episode of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (the one that proximally paralleled the Columbine High School disaster).
The purpose of this post is to suggest value in the pursuit of transnarrative media reading; to suggest that the relatively-standalone format of Star Trek: The Next Generation links surprisingly-interestingly with the serial-narrative of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (for instance) like stardates and hellmouths and character-arcs align across the seemingly-vast, insurmountable distances/barriers of differing broadcast networks and series/franchises; constellations. The links show up in the people who write, perform and produce these tales.
Joss Whedon has spoken of his Firefly series as a kind of loving-yet-acerbic critique of the Star Trek franchise(s) in which the spirit of enterprise is expressed differently; not-so-much as the conquest or exploration of The Final Frontier as a chronicle of a voluntary family of misfits bound together on a homey freighter (rust-bucket) that the sleek, sterile, military uniforms in Starfleet would customarily ignore/interfere with scornfully, while pursuing some Greater Good, per orders.
The Tin Man episode states explicitly that (at least one of) the purpose of life is to care for others; a purpose that creeps out of subtext on the U.S.S. Enterprise, and waves like a radiating banner on Serenity.
I’d like to believe that my current pursuit of marathoning select old television shows is providing me with the means to see moments that inspired the U.S.S Mutant Enemy (for example) to create the alternative cosmologies to which I’ve lately become addicted, to assemble the writers, actors and crews that mean far more to me than the expensive logo-banners flown by competing studios, broadcast networks and distribution channels. And the quickest, most-satisfying, and fruitful means to find relevant, resonant, meaningful bridges between moments-that-matter is by concentrating attention on the PEOPLE who make this stuff, rather than moves of the monied interests that fund it. That’s all, now I’m on to Hollow Pursuits, the ironic title of episode 69, but not without noting that Tam Elbrun’s name put me in mind of Gabriel Tam’s appearance in Safe, a key episode of Firefly that led me to see (possibly-ridiculous) links between Gabriel’s tie bar, the interrupted boardroom meeting, BlueSun and Christopher Buchanan, Bill Moyers, David Simon, David Milch…
Even if these pursuits are hollow, they’re fun.
Apologies for nearly-identical triple post. I’m looking for the means to delete the two previous entries, and training myself to proof this stuff before endeavoring to publish it so goddamned repeatedly.
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