Jun 242015

Welcome back to Channel Chaser! For this week’s review, I’ll once again be looking back a few years to cover a show that has since ended, although to my great regret. It’s time to talk about Syfy’s quirky sci-fi dramedy Eureka.


When it first premiered in 2006, Eureka was more or less an unprecedented phenomenon. While many of its fellow sci-fi shows, most notably the long-running Stargate franchise often used situational humor in dialogue and storylines, being funny was always secondary to action sequences and cool high-tech wizardry. Much like the town that gives the show its name, Eureka really was an experiment with a new kind of concept: can the sci-fi genre be made enjoyable for people who usually wouldn’t be into it? With an almost sitcom-like style, Syfy was trying to expand its horizons in terms of programming and move away from purely adventure and exploration-driven stories with spaceships and little green (or grey) men.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, Eureka is a show about a secret community in Oregon, hidden away from the rest of the world and populated by scientific geniuses in an uncountable number of specialized fields. Enter Jack Carter, a wayward U.S. marshal who gets caught up in one of a long series of the town’s experiments gone horribly wrong. While he’s far from a genius himself, Carter’s ability to connect with people and see simple, common-sense solutions to the complex problems of Eureka leads him to be promoted to town sheriff, charged with keeping the enclave of rampant science in line and keep it from more or less blowing itself up on a daily basis.

Much of the show’s humor, admittedly, comes from the rather obvious source of Carter’s lack of experience and knowledge compared to the people he serves. He’s frequently confused and baffled by the scientific gibberish floated by the townspeople and usually needs things to be “dumbed down” so he can get a handle on things. As such, many of the townspeople initially dismiss and underestimate his skill at enforcing the law, and Carter often calls in the help of his allies including Douglas Fargo, Allison Blake, Henry Deacon, and Zane Donovan to resolve the more complex scientific issues. Plus, there’s a ton of throwaway, deadpan gold in this series: the kind of scenes where Carter is confronted with a bunch of floating buildings and just sighs and shakes his head. “Oh, come on!” A special tip of the hat to Colin Ferguson for really selling the down-homey and yet street-smart sheriff.


But that’s the kind of thing Eureka thrives on: quirks. That, and a refreshingly light-hearted approach to the sci-fi genre. Of course, that’s not to say the show doesn’t ever get serious. There’s been many times where things got real, including the deaths of some notable characters and even earth-shaking events that changed the very nature of the show itself. That said, you could easily skip the first and last seasons of the show with very little effect on your overall perception of it. The first season is pretty forgettable because the show hadn’t really established what it wanted to be yet: it was a strange mix of dark, conspiracy-style suspense involving an utterly alien Artifact (the one and only time something truly otherworldly happened in the show) that was promptly discounted and forgotten about entirely after the season ended, and the normal upbeat humor that the show later took as its own. And the last season…well, that was just a mess. A hurried wrap-up, a few too many throwaway characters, and a far-too-long drawn out storyline about a Matrix-style virtual reality that left many people traumatized to a degree that stretched the fabric of willing disbelief to its limits. I get bad things happened, but it could have been way worse, and IT WASN’T REAL! SO GET OVER IT ALREADY!

In between, however, are three whole seasons of just pure awesomeness and fun. Season four especially took a huge risk in that it involved time travel: something that the show had dabbled with before, but it did something with it that no show had yet done before, in that said time travel actually changed the makeup of the show in a permanent, lasting way. Characters traveled back to the 1940s and returned to a Eureka that, granted, wasn’t too unlike the one they left, but with some pretty big differences: different relationships and job positions being chief among them. It was a daring maneuver to shake things up, but with the help of some really stellar acting, it really, really worked.

In addition to each episode’s general plot, every season of Eureka also had an overarching storyline, much like Supernatural, Doctor Who, and countless other shows. The only real criticism I have for the show is that unlike said comparative series, its villains were never very well developed. Beverly Barlow in particular was a recurring character that I really despised. Her motivations for betraying the town in the first season were never really sorted out, and from then on she just acted as a sort of recurring antagonist with obscure motives who sort of just popped up whenever the plot didn’t have room for another bad guy. On the flip side, Henry’s transitions from being a good guy, to a bad guy, and back again to a good guy were well handled overall and very believable in contrast. The friendship between Jack and Henry, in spite of everything they go through, is for me one of the highlights of the show.


My Rating: 4/5

Eureka stands tall in the history of Syfy because it really has something for everyone: humor, action, adventure, family values, lessons in humanity and morality, why not to travel in time…the list goes on and on. But the most important thing about it is that at its core, this show has heart. It’s about a community of gifted individuals and some more ordinary people all working together for the betterment of humanity, and looking out for each other no matter what kinds of ridiculous things happen to them. That’s the kind of takeaway we could use a lot more of on TV these days, in my opinion.


Channel Chaser is written by Kyle Robertson. You can check out more of his work on his website. Check back every Wednesday for new articles.

Jun 172015

Well…that was anticlimactic.

Anyway, welcome to another edition of Channel Chaser. I just thought I’d express my disappointment right away so there’s no doubt in your minds as to how I felt about the end of this season of Game of Thrones. And it’s not just that it wasn’t a good finale episode, either: this whole season, in my view, has been a total bust for a number of reasons.


To me, Game of Thrones is starting to seem a little like Lost. Too many plot threads left unexplained or unexplored, too little characterization for the main figures as a result, and an increasingly contrived and confusing storyline that gets sillier and less satisfying with every passing episode. I honestly don’t know how it got this way. As early as last season, I was still a full-on Game of Thrones fan, waiting with baited breath for every new episode. And since I’ve read the books and know most of what’s coming before it actually happens, you can appreciate what a statement that is.

While I may have known the storyline in general, the show always kept me engrossed because it handled the massive plot twists spoiled by the books in slightly different and always visually impressive ways. You suspected what would happen, but you were never really sure up until the last second that it would. The surprise factor was what kept this show alive, and now it just seems like that’s gone.

Just how did I not like this season, or this finale? Let me count the ways.

As I said before, I’m a fan of the source material. So of course I knew Jon Snow was going to get stabbed. And I knew that Circe’s public shaming and humiliation was coming. I really looked forward to the latter, but not so much to the former given my own personal feelings toward the characters. But what I hated about the show, especially in Jon’s case, was how completely not subtle the writers were about it. In the books, you got a sense that there was maybe some possible dissent in the ranks of the Night’s Watch, but their turning on Jon was still pretty shocking. In the show…not so much. With all those death glares Snow was getting, and all those talks Sam had with Olly, you pretty much knew Jon was going to die about three episodes ago. As a consequence, the moment itself, at least for a book reader like me who knew it was coming already, lost all the power it might have had.


Similarly, I know what happened to Stannis hasn’t been in the books yet, but he totally deserved what happened to him, and what was worse, I couldn’t even enjoy it. I was really starting to build some sympathy for Stannis in the past few seasons as he matured into more of a leader, but when he threw every single bit of development he had out the window to sacrifice his daughter (another horrible decision by the writing staff, by the way), I lost any kind of understanding I might have had for him. Not because I didn’t think he would do it, but because they specifically spent the last several episodes building up how that was just a line he wouldn’t cross. As such, Shireen’s death was a cheap shot by the writers to try and shock the audience, and I didn’t like it one bit. And then when Brienne finally tracked Stannis down after his routing by the Boltons, I thought at least I would be happy Stannis got what was coming to him for such a betrayal, but I wasn’t. There just wasn’t enough build-up either way to get me to care anymore.

As for Arya and Dorne’s storylines this season, you could very well have just forgotten any of them even existed until this last episode and you’d still probably like them better that way. By the way… Myrcella was poisoned? Huh? I’m really, really hoping that was Doran Martell’s endgame to get back at the Lannisters (as his awesome character has been terribly short-changed this season), because if it’s just Ellaria’s petty revenge, especially after her promise to be loyal to Doran, I’m going to be pissed.

Finally, Danaerys. If you really think she’s in any sort of danger from that Dothraki horde, you’re kidding yourself. Yet another stale faux-cliffhanger just to keep the plot interesting. I get that the whole point of Game of Thrones is that you never know who’s going to die, but I’d say Danaerys is a relatively safe bet, as is Tyrion, to survive to the end. I mean, it’s called A Song of Ice and FIRE. Come on. Then again, I was pretty sure Jon Snow was the ice in that equation, and it’s not really looking that way right now. In fact, if Jon Snow really is dead, then it’s going to blow a lot of my theories about the story as a whole. But strangely enough, I just don’t care that much anymore.

I’ll admit there were some bright spots in the finale: Tyrion and Varys in charge of Meereen was pretty cool, as was our introduction to Qyburn’s monstrous creation, Ser Robert Strong. Also, Myrcella’s death does give Jamie Lannister another strong reason to build some character, as he’s one of the best in the series right now in my view.


But those few shining moments were far outweighed, unfortunately, by just how forgettable and full of filler this season actually was. Seriously, if all you watched was the finale, you probably didn’t miss much. And whenever the show attempted go off-book, from Sansa’s assault by Ramsay to Stannis’s fate or the overall horrendous Dorne storyline, it just seemed to lose direction even more and get that much worse. For you loyal book fans like myself, keep in mind that we haven’t even talked about House Greyjoy recently (they’ve got a pretty big part to play still as well, in the show at least), as well as the no-show of Ariane Martell as a TV character (someone I think the whole Dorne story was sorely lacking without). Also, is anyone else wondering where the heck Littlefinger got to? Like I said, bad writing.

But despite my cynical ways, I’m still hoping Game of Thrones isn’t totally going “Lost” on us. It’s definitely fallen from my radar as the best show on TV because of this season, but it’s still better than a lot of things. Additionally, one bad season out of five is a pretty good track record. But it’s going to take a lot for Game of Thrones get back on top of the pack after this mess of a year.

Channel Chaser is written by Kyle Robertson. You can check out more of his work on his website. Check back every Wednesday for new articles.

Jun 172015

Ensemble casts pose an interesting challenge, both for anime and for fiction in general. When they work, they work incredibly well. Having a rotating group of star characters opens up a variety of story possibilities and saves any one individual from having to carry too much of the show’s weight. The hard part is convincing the audience that they should care about yet another gaggle of unfamiliar faces. In this column, I’ll take a look at how the action comedy Assassination Classroom handles the challenge of making a large cast work.

The biggest issue with a large group of characters is that even the best writer can only develop so many of them at once. Trying to introduce everyone right away often results in an absolute mess; the story goes nowhere and each individual is reduced to a couple of obvious traits or motivations. On the other hand, an ensemble cast only works if it has a critical mass of interesting characters. Getting the ball rolling while convincing the audience to pay attention can be a difficult and thankless task.


There are a few common solutions to this problem, and Assassination Classroom uses a fairly simple one: in its early stages, it only focuses on one character. The series has a strong and immediately likable star in Koro Sensei, the big yellow mutant who acts as the literal and figurative face of the show. The contradiction of teaching a class of kids to foil his own apocalyptic plan is a compelling one, and Koro Sensei’s personality produces just as much comedy as his bizarre appearance. He’s got enough on-screen presence that the rest of the characters can just sit back and react to his eccentricity alongside the audience. For the first few episodes, Koro Sensei provides enough entertainment that viewers will come back just to see what he does next. This gives the show the time and space it needs to establish the rest of the cast.

The problem with this approach is that it comes with a major and ultimately disastrous temptation. When you’ve got a recognizable and popular star, it’s easy to forget about everyone else and let that one character carry the show. Assassination Classroom falls into this trap from time to time, phoning in the story and relying on Koro Sensei’s antics to keep things interesting. This only works in the short term, and it can bring a series down over time; even the most iconic star can run out of steam, and leaving the rest of the cast as a bunch of flat cutouts makes it tough to sustain anything resembling a plot.


Luckily, there’s an easy way out. Assassination Classroom is a bit hit-or-miss when it comes to taking this route, but it certainly has the right idea. Rather than just having the series revolve around its initial star, the writers can use that one character to help develop the others. As Koro Sensei interacts with his students, we gradually get a sense of who each one of them is. Over time, class 3-E goes from a group of sidekicks to a collection of viable protagonists. Not all of them can carry an episode solo, but as a group they’re able to take on a wider variety of storylines than Koro Sensei ever could. Little by little, Assassination Classroom transforms itself from a one-octopus show into a group effort. The series is stronger as a result, and it saves Koro Sensei from wearing out his welcome.

This approach relies heavily on the strength of that one initial star, which may be why many ensemble shows choose to follow a different route. Next week, I’ll take a look another option that’s worked well for some of Assassination Classroom’s contemporaries.


This Week in Anime is hastily cobbled together by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime and manga on Twitter.

Jun 102015

Welcome back to Channel Chaser! I’ve been dying to do it for a while, but now that the season is over I can finally address it knowing everything I need to know. That’s right: today I’ll be talking about the CW’s newest super-powered hit, The Flash!


I’m sure anyone who knows even a little about comics doesn’t really need to know the backstory of The Flash, but for the benefit of those who don’t, I’ll do my best to keep it short. After his mother is murdered under mysterious circumstances during his childhood and his father unjustly arrested for it, Barry Allen grows up to be a shy, awkward, but normally happy-go-lucky forensic analyst for the Central City Police Department. But when a particle accelerator catastrophe puts him in a coma, he awakens to find that he can run at incredible speeds and has become “the fastest man alive.” Teaming up with a support crew of scientists at Star Labs and a few of his in-the-know co-workers at the police department, Barry decides to use his new powers to take the streets and fight crime as the speedy superhero the Flash…including a number of new villains who have gained powers of their own.

First of all, if it’s not already clear, I am completely and totally in love with The Flash. The speedster has always been one of my favorite superheroes, and I’m thrilled that such an awesome character was finally given his own show. It makes a great contrast and compliment to its parent show Arrow, the series that started the CW’s superhero universe. While Arrow will always have a special place in my heart, and its dark and gritty overtones have made it incredibly intense and exciting to watch, I honestly believe that The Flash has proven to be a better show even with just one season.

In regards to the overall plot, Arrow started a bit slow and took a while to pick up. The Flash started moving at breakneck speed, and never once stopped to look back–and I’m not just talking about the lack of flashbacks, which is totally fine with me. I suppose some people could accuse the show of not really taking enough time to establish itself and give exposition, but there was already enough of that through Arrow’s introduction to Barry in my opinion. As a result, we get right into the action while boring explanations are kept to a minimum. As a veteran fan of all things sci-fi, I was also delighted with how the show gradually introduced a time-travel element into the plot, and a mystery surrounding both Barry’s future and the motivations of Harrison Wells. While it’s true that many of us probably saw the reveal of Wells as Reverse-Flash coming, the writers did a superb job in weaving it into the story organically and not just coming out and saying it.


For devotees of The Flash in the comics, the show is also jam-packed with references, places, and characters that are iconic in the literature, from Captain Cold and the rest of the slowly forming Rogues to Gorilla Grodd, the aforementioned Reverse-Flash, heroes like Firestorm, and the other meta-humans that plague The Flash along the way. It’s true that in some ways, The Flash’s first season was very monster-of-the-week in style as Barry fights a different super-powered villain in pretty much every episode, but in this case I think it actually helped keep things moving rather than hindered the plot at all. Each individual story was interwoven with the larger story of Wells and Barry so well that it never felt like there was really a stand-alone, filler kind of episode.

I also enjoy The Flash because it reminds me in some ways of Doctor Who: the same sense of unparalleled adventure and fun, the joyous cheesiness, and the anarchic energy as it races along do a great job of pulling the audience into the story. Yes, that’s right, I said cheesy. But while The Flash is obviously a bit more bubblegum and sunshine that its parent show Arrow, I think it’s nice to see a superhero show come along once in a while that doesn’t have to take itself too seriously and can just be straight-up fun. On that note, a Doctor Who crossover with The Flash would be amazing: it would never happen, but it would definitely be amazing. And with the direction the show is going in now with apparently the creation of multiple universes and travel through time, it seems The Flash really is poised to become the new Doctor Who of superhero shows, in more ways than one.


The characters also augment the sense of fun that is omnipresent in The Flash, and great acting never hurts either. While I had my doubts initially about Grant Gustin as a leading man from his brief stint on Arrow, he’s really matured over the course of the show to becoming a more adult and responsible person, all while staying the just really cool guy he was before he got powers. It’s refreshing to see a genuinely nice guy get to be a superhero for once rather than just some brooding, guilty playboy billionaires. Cisco and Caitlin are great partners and friends for Barry and each other, acting like a brother and sister for him much of the time.

And of course Tom Cavanagh knocks it out of the park with Harrison Wells. Here’s that best kind of villain who not only is understandable, but even likeable. Despite his undoubtedly evil deeds, it’s clear that Wells actually cares for Barry and the other characters and has often provided sound, wise advice that has helped Barry mature into the hero he is now. I was pretty disappointed when Wells was killed off at the end of this season, but with all this multiple timelines stuff going on, I highly doubt we’ve seen the last of the Reverse-Flash, especially seeing as he’s The Flash’s arch-nemesis.

If the show has one weak point, it’s probably Iris West. I feel like it’s not Candice Patton’s fault that Iris is sort of one-dimensional, but the writing so far hasn’t really made me want to care about her, and she’s really only here to be a love interest and motivation for Barry. She does, however, make a very good meta-point about how heroes shouldn’t lie and hide their identities from the people they care about on the basis of keeping them safe. Seriously, when will these people learn the really tired cliché of “ignorance is safety” just doesn’t work? If you don’t believe it after watching it bite Barry week after week in The Flash, I don’t think you’ll ever be convinced.


My Rating: 4.5/5

I really wanted to give this a perfect score, but I’m forced to admit that The Flash isn’t perfect, while it does come pretty close. Despite a few weaker characters, a bit of cheese, and a touch of annoying naivety once in a while (yes, I’m looking at you, Barry. Did you really think you could make deals with the bad guys?), The Flash is an incredible joyride that brings the zip back to the superhero genre: an epic, fantastical feeling that I think is sadly lacking in a lot of fiction today. The sole purpose of this show is to give people a good time watching it, and it most definitely succeeds. I for one can’t wait to see Barry keep on running, and I hope he never stops.


Channel Chaser is written by Kyle Robertson. You can check out more of his work on his website. Check back every Wednesday for new articles.

Jun 102015

Man, this has been a rough season for anime. We’ve had one or two really strong shows, a few decent ones, and an awful lot of vaguely promising titles that have run out of gas several weeks early. One of the stronger occupants of the middle category is Sound! Euphonium, the latest “cute girls play musical instruments” series from Kyoto Animation. So, how has this mostly harmless slice of nostalgia kept rolling while so many of its contemporaries have gone up in smoke?


One thing Euphonium has going for it is simple, believable storytelling. It doesn’t overextend itself trying to revolutionize the genre or spin a shark-jumping tale of normal people pulling off an impossible feat. At its core, it’s a story about a bunch of high school band geeks who decide that they don’t want to suck as much as they did last year. With a new conductor and some talented first-years to motivate them, everyone practices and gets a little better. Along the way, individual members of the band get into the sort of petty, self-important squabbles that are included in the package deal with teenage life. It’s the kind of story that can and does happen in real life, and going down this route means that the show doesn’t need to jump through any awkward plot holes to make it all work.

Kyoto Animation has done modest slice-of-life shows before, but Euphonium continues to surprise me with the strength of its characters. Compare it to K-ON!, another KyoAni series about teenagers in a music club. Both do a fine job of capturing the thrill of performing in front of an audience, but K-ON! has been rightfully criticized for having impossibly cute and pleasant heroines. Euphonium, on the other hand, features a lineup of believably flawed characters. For all her charisma, Asuka can’t be counted on to help sort out drama between band members. Reina only cares about being the best, and is happy to let the rest of the world burn as long as she accomplishes her own goals. Even the seemingly flawless music teacher isn’t as good at his job as he first appears to be. These characters are all human enough that he script can just throw them into a room and let storylines develop naturally.

It also helps that Sound! Euphonium is a wholesale distributor of nostalgia. I never played in any sort of school band, but even I find myself getting caught up in its broad portrait of high school life. The modest highs, softened lows, and occasional moments of insight work together to make the viewer look at the past through rose-tinted glasses. It all but demands that we see ourselves, our friends, and our old rivals sitting in the practice room. Playing on audience nostalgia can be a bit of a cheap trick, but this show is damn good at it.

Is this the series of the year? No. It is, however, a fine example of how to sneak a story and some character development into a slice-of-life series. In spite of its relative simplicity (or perhaps because of it), Sound! Euphonium has been able to keep on trucking long after many of this season’s shows have completely run out of ideas.


This Week in Anime is hastily cobbled together by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime and manga on Twitter.

Jun 032015

Welcome back to another edition of Channel Chaser! I’ve recently been taking a trip in the way, way, way back machine of Netflix to enjoy the 60’s-era sci-fi classic Star Trek (that’s the Original Series for you uninitiated). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in spite of the cheesy special effects and sometimes wooden acting, Star Trek still stands as one of the most influential and famous TV shows of all time for a lot of reasons, but primarily because of the resounding moral lessons the 23rd century characters have to teach us back in the present.


Watching Star Trek when I was a little kid was one of my most formative influences in terms of my entertainment choices, and I’ve always felt that it taught me a lot about life in the process of just being plain fun. And so, listed here for your reading pleasure, are a few of what I think are the strongest points the series makes as a whole.


#1: Never judge a book by its cover


The idea that things aren’t always what they appear and that people shouldn’t rush to judgment has so many precedents in Star Trek that I could hardly list them all, but my favorite one is the Horta of Janus VI. Human miners and Kirk’s crew hunted down this grotesque and rocky slug-like creature so that they could destroy it after it killed several people. But in the end, it turns out that the Horta is an extraordinarily intelligent and sensitive creature that was only driven to murder because of the miners’ unwitting slaughter of thousands of her young. With some timely mind melding by Mr. Spock, Kirk and the Horta manage to reach an understanding and agreement that benefits everyone in the end. It just goes to show that no matter what the situation, appearance isn’t everything.


#2: Don’t take life too seriously


The characters of Star Trek are frequently put into dangerous and life-threatening situations, but one thing that never fails is Captain Kirk’s ability to laugh at himself and his mistakes once it’s all over. Hardly an episode ends without Kirk cracking a joke at somebody (usually Spock) to lighten the mood. Kirk’s unfailing ability to find the enjoyment in every situation he faced was something I always admired about him, and the few times when he does get too stuck in the mud for his own good, he always gets set straight once he recognizes the ludicrous nature of the situation (see “The Trouble with Tribbles”). It’s our job to take whatever life throws our way and make the best out of it that we can.


#3: Perfection isn’t what it’s cracked up to be

In the episode “This Side of Paradise”, Kirk and the crew discover a planet where colonists live a seemingly idyllic existence thanks to alien spores that allow them to let go of their cares and concerns and just enjoy life. While this sounds great in theory, the flip side of it is that the colonists haven’t made any progress toward their mission since coming to the planet, which was originally intended to help all of humanity. As Kirk wisely notes at the end of the episode, perhaps paradise isn’t where humanity thrives: maybe we’re meant to struggle and better ourselves by overcoming the challenges and problems we face in everyday life. If we lived in a perfect world and didn’t have anything to strive toward, we wouldn’t really be human at all.


#4: There’s more than one way of looking at things

One of the constant highlights of Star Trek is the constant debate between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy about emotion versus logic. Kirk and McCoy often malign Spock’s seemingly unfeeling and cold deductions, but more than once Spock’s ability to act without the clouds of doubt, anger, guilt, or any other human emotions saved them and the rest of the crew where an ordinary man would have been paralyzed by indecision. But on the other hand, Spock’s human friends are able to offer innovative solutions to problems the Vulcan was unable to think of by himself. The moral of the story is that there’s no one point of view that will get things done or that is completely and always correct.


#5: Embrace everything about who you are

In “The Enemy Within”, a transporter accident splits Kirk into two copies of himself: one ostensibly good, and the other evil. While it’s clear the “evil” Kirk is full of unrestrained aggression, desire, and many negative emotions, it also becomes apparent that without these feelings, the “good” version of Kirk is weak, indecisive, and unable to function as a commander. In the end, only by reuniting themselves can the two halves make a full human being again. The lesson here is that while there may be many things we don’t like about ourselves, it’s never possible to tell when one of these traits could help us, or how it’s shaped who we are. We wouldn’t be ourselves without all of them.


#6: Good friends are the most valuable things there is


While they may bicker and argue much of the time over their differing points of view when tensions get high, it’s clear that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, along with the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, are close enough to be called a family in many respects. In many situations where one of them has been in danger, such as Scotty being accused of murder, Kirk court-martialled for offing a personal enemy, or Spock disobeying orders to help a former commander, the other crewmembers never fail to leap to their defense in any way they can. It’s clear that these people would do anything for each other, and that they’ve always got each other’s back, and that’s more important than anything in this or any other universe.


#7: Violence is never the answer

More than once, when the crew of the Enterprise is faced with a crisis, the tendency of some of the human characters, Kirk included, is to immediately attempt a military solution, and often this is shown to have catastrophic results. Overall, the characters of Star Trek manage to talk their way out of a lot more situations than they do by fighting their way out. Compromise and understanding is always the goal, and senseless violence is always condemned, even when it’s only simulated by a computer (see “A Taste of Armageddon”). It’s made clear in this show that violence only leads to more violence. Compassion and mercy for one’s enemies, as well as anyone else, is key to accomplishing any mission.


#8: With great power comes great responsibility

As the commander of a starship crewed by over 300 other people, it’s often made clear just how much pressure Kirk is under as a captain day in and day out. It’s his responsibility to ensure the safety of all these other lives, and take the well being of every single person under his supervision into account when making any decision. He’s also stated more than once that a captain is by proxy responsible for the actions of everyone under their command. While this seems like a bit of an unfair burden for a person to place on themselves, the fact that Kirk commands the strength and firepower of this many people and a ship like the Enterprise means he has to make responsible choices about how and when to use them. It’s the same for anyone in life who has some measure of power, and it’s up to them to utilize it for the benefit of others.


#9: The good of the many outweighs the good of the one


This is a tried and true Spock-ism that can sound a bit odd at first. Doesn’t that just advocate for tyranny of the majority and denying a voice to the individual? But that’s not what the real meaning is here. What this saying really is about is the demonstrated willingness of Kirk, Spock, or just about anyone else on the Enterprise to sacrifice themselves, or put themselves in harm’s way, in order to save each other and the ship at large. The selflessness of the characters on Star Trek is something we could all take a lesson from: always consider the consequences of your actions, and make sure that you’re not just doing things for yourself, but for the benefit of others. Its utilitarianism at it’s finest, something I think we could do with a little more of in real life.


#10: Boldly go where no one has gone before

This is the most famous tag line in Star Trek for a reason, you know. The entire show is basically a giant metaphor for how humanity in general approaches the unknown. We can approach it with fear and trepidation, or we can embrace it and enjoy the wonder of discovery. Blaze new trails. Don’t get stuck in conventional thinking. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. And most importantly, always believe in a positive outcome. If there’s one thing I learned from James T. Kirk, it’s to never, ever give up, and that there’s no such thing as a no-win scenario. All you have to have is the tenacity, patience, and courage to look in the right place.


Channel Chaser is written by Kyle Robertson. You can check out more of his work on his website. Check back every Wednesday for new articles.