Thursday, July 20, 2017

Star Trek Bootcamp: How to Introduce Your Kids to the 24th Century

The only two things in this world I take seriously: (1) movies and (2) my kids. With this Star Trek Discovery coming up, I need to get the kids up to speed on the Federation and the whole history of the 24th century.

Introducing Star Wars, on the other hand, was easy. I've had that one worked out for decades (feel free to disagree, but know that you're wrong):
  1. Watch Episode IV first.
  2. Watch it again.
  3. Then Empire and Jedi.
  4. Take a long break.
  5. Introduce the prequels.
  6. Pretend The Clones Wars never happened.
  7. Rewatch only Empire and Jedi.


Star Trek is trickier. There's the original series, 7 seasons each of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and however much Enterprise, the original movie series, and on and on. There's no clear or easy way in.

Advice I got from two nerd-dad friends: Watch some episodes with Shatner, then maybe some TNG and perhaps Wrath of Khan. A greatest hits approach.

I ignored them and went this way, given that we're dealing with a 21st century kid with things to do and places to be:
  1. We talked about why I love Star Trek, the vision for a spacefaring peaceful Earth where exploration, goodwill and curiosity drive galactic progress.  
  2. Watched the first JJ Abrams' reboot. It's a good entry and set-up, to both the new stuff and the old.
  3. Watched some of the best episodes of Next Generation, starting with "Q Who" and a few of the other Borg episodes. Going to move on to some Data-centric ones. The pacing of the shows is dated and slow, to be honest, but the sci-fi and characters are solid. I could watch it all day and all night.
  4. Whatever's next. 

How did you do it? 

Disney’s Hercules and my daughter’s first beheading

The wife was at a meeting, so I did what any terrible father does and I let everybody watch a movie while we ate salmon burgers, and fries, and fruit.

Which is not a bad dinner, by the way. High five, Trader Joe’s.

This, however, leads to a huge fight over what to whatch, which is pretty common here. The two preschoolers do not want to watch Liv & Maddie, and the 10 year old does not want to watch Octonauts, so we land on the Disney version of Hercules, which isn’t terrible and does not star The Rock.

The songs are okay, and the mythology gets all mixed up, as Zev keeps pointing out. And he’s an expert, having read all the Percy Jackoson books, right?

Now, my two year old daughter has seen a lot of things in movies. She has a 10 year old and a 4 year old brother, and a father who does not look out for her.

She will pick up the Venom (or Zurg, or Darth Maul) action figure and, correctly, declare: “Bad guy.” She started watching TV a full year younger than we let the boys. She’s accurately and adorably identifies villians, and is appropriately scared by things that are scary. I think this is good. It might not be.

So I’m enjoying how she jumps into my arms while Hercules battles what appears to be a dragon. It’s nice to be cuddled. To be needed at a frightening time in life. She thinks it’s fun to get scared, and it is.

“Abba, is scary.”

“It’s OK."

But then Hercules slices off the dragon’s head, FROM INSIDE IT’S NECK. He beheads this thing, from deep within the esophagus, and emerges covered in vital fluids.

My daughter has no reaciton to this.

She’s totally cool with this grisly beheading. And the dozen more that follow, since the dragon turns out to be a hydra, and lopping off a head produces three more.

My little girl has no issues whatsoever with this seperation of head and neck. In fact, she gets up and dances soon afterward. And the movie has far more horrifying things, like the river Styx fillled with floating dead bodies (well, souls), attempted infanticide, Rip Torn.

Anyway. Dig this movie. Lots of fun.

Disney’s Hercules
  • Terrible Father rating: 6/10
  • Good things: Great songs, introduction to mythology, super positive message about what it takes to be a hero
  • Bad things: Beheadings, rivers full of dead bodies, getting mythology all wrong on purpose