Category Archives: Television

the width of a circle

While watching Discovery to prepare for Ready Room, I had this sudden realization that my journey and Wesley’s journey are almost identical. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it until just now. But check this out.

When we were about 20, we walked away from everything we knew, every expectation that was ever put on us, every person we ever cared about, because we both knew that something was wrong in our lives. We both needed time and space (he needed all of time and space, if you accept my headcanon that he’s a Traveler) to find out who we were, and what was important to us.

Wesley’s bit in Nemesis is not canon, because it was cut. So his whole “I’m going to serve on the Titan” thing we’ve all seen didn’t actually happen. In fact, I think current actual canon is that he wasn’t even there. I think actual current canon is that he is off on some other plane of existence doing donuts on someone’s lawn.

But let’s presume, for a moment, that it actually did happen. I want to talk about how that mirrors my own journey. To get there, let me put his appearance at Troi and Riker’s wedding through my headcanon … uh … headcanonizer.

He’s been off on his own for a long time. He is in touch — barely — with his family, even though he doesn’t serve on their ship or even exist in their reality. He loves them, and he misses them. He wonders if they think about him. He rarely sees them, but when he does, he is so careful about every word he says every choice he makes. He wants to make them proud, though he knows in his heart that he doesn’t have to do anything to achieve that. They love him already. Still, it’s just part of how he’s wired. But he knows he’s loved.

A quick jump cut, now, to me. I’m in my twenties, I’m wearing Wesley’s haircut from The Game and holy shit I have just got to get away from everything. Yeah, it’s mostly my shitty parents, but also it… well, that’s all of it, actually. Every choice I made from my late teens into my early twenties was driven by needing to get away from them and see if I could find myself, find what was important to me. Because what I had been forced to do by them for my whole life wasn’t it. And honestly? I was just so tired of feeling like shit all the time.
Back to Wesley. What he’s been doing his whole life isn’t what was truly important to him, it turns out. Unlike me, he is loved and supported by his mom and all of his father figures. He’s exploring other planes of existence, gaining valuable experience and context that his life had been lacking until that point. I mean, his entire life had been essentially on a starship, doing what other people expected him to do. It’s scary and exhilarating to be Out There, and he discovers this world beyond Nanites and Holodecks and laying in coordinates and impressing people with his science projects. He discovers this world where, as a Traveler, he can actually make a meaningful difference in this universe in a way he never could if he had stayed in Starfleet.

Hi, it’s me again, I’m doing all the stuff that I wrote about in Just A Geek (AND STILL JUST A GEEK WHICH YOU CAN PRE-ORDER NOW THANKS), and I am learning so much about myself. I’m starting to figure out what’s important to me. During this time, I realize how much I love Star Trek and my Star Trek family. I realize that the things associated with Star Trek that hurt me don’t really have anything to do with the show and universe I’ve loved since I was a child, and they have nothing to do with my relationship with the cast. It’s all my parents, a small but relentless group of shitty fans who thought being shitty to a child was great, two greedy and shitty convention promoters who made that child feel unwanted and unworthy, and an executive producer who, like my mother, treated me like a thing. And like my father, didn’t treat me with any kindness, empathy, or respect.
When it was all set out in front of me, I could see the shit that hurt, and I could do the work of separating it from the stuff I loved. WOW was that a lot of work. It’s work that continues, I think.

A significant component of that work was letting go of the shit that hurt. I don’t mean condoning it, I mean not letting it make decisions for me, any more. I had to find a way to stop carrying it, since it didn’t have anything to do with me, in the first place. It was never about me. It was always about the people who hurt me.

I got rid of as much of the shit that hurt as I could, and I looked at all of it, set out in front of me, again. Without all that shit everywhere, what I found was wonderful.

Cut to Wesley, seeing through space and time for the first moment in his new life. He is changed, and he is ready to go home. Not to stay, but to visit, and to love every moment of it while he’s there.

Back to me. I’m ready for it when I am asked to host an after show for Picard. I say yes so fast. I don’t even have to think about it. Are you kidding me? I fucking LOVE Star Trek and you’re telling me I get to be a guy who is not just a Starfleet veteran, but also an unashamed superfan? Who gets to take other nerds into the Room Where It Happens? Yes yes yes a thousand times yes!

And then they ask me to do it again, for Discovery. And then for Lower Decks. And for Prodigy. And Discovery again. And oh my god how is this even real. Maybe I’ll get to do Strange New Worlds. I can not believe this is happening to me.

So, like Wesley, I chose to come back, in a different way. In a different context. As a different, changed, person. What I choose to come back to is everything I loved, and what I have left behind is everything that hurt.

Wesley didn’t need to find he way out of the hurt like I did. He was loved and supported in ways I was not.

But we both left this thing that had been our entire lives, that looked to be the rest of our lives. We left the only thing we knew, because we knew it just wasn’t right for us. I don’t know if it was as risky for him as it was for me. He’s a character. I’m a person.

But if we accept my headcanon, (and if you’re still reading I presume you do) I love it to death that Wesley came back to this thing that he loved, deliberately not the way he was expected to be part of it. The whole “I’m serving on the Titan” thing? I write it out, and just put him at the wedding, in an appropriate uniform, because he loves his family and wants to be with them. I don’t know if he Traveled off again or not, but I know that, when he left that wedding, he knew that he could come back whenever he needed to. He would always have a home with his crew.

And I did the same thing. For him, it’s a cool story arc. For me, it’s one of the most beautiful closings of a circle I’ve experienced to this point in my life.
Now I’m going back to watching Discovery, loooooong before it’s released to the rest of my fellow nerds, because I have the best job in the world. Yes, that was a little bit of a nerd flex. (Disco S4 is AMAZING don’t tell anyone I told you.)

Oh, real quick: don’t read anything into this about the plot of Disco. I have no idea what makes the part of me that writes stuff and thinks about this kind of stuff wake up and go to work, but I know it wasn’t related to the story. I just saw [CHARACTER REDACTED] and my brain was all, “Hey, did you ever think about this?”

That was like 35 minutes ago and I really need to get back to it. I just told Anne, “I should be watching Disco, and instead I’m writing about Wesley and me. This is how you know your husband is, in his heart and soul, a writer.”

Ensign Wheaton, reporting for duty.

As many of you know, I absolutely love Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Many of you also know that since 2019, I have had the pleasure and privilege of hosting The Ready Room, your home for all things Star Trek Universe. It’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had. Top three, for sure. Maybe top two. I’m so grateful that I get to do this thing that brings together my love for all things Star Trek, my 30ish years of experience being part of all things Star Trek, and gives me the opportunity, if I do it right, to be a Trekkie who brings my fellow Trekkies into the room where it happens. I do not take a single second of it for granted.

There’s INSANELY COOL Ready Room stuff coming up that I can’t talk about. In fact, I’ve already said too much, and you should probably forget I said anything. But there’s also an INSANELY COOL thing that I can share right now.

Continue reading… →

Star Trek Day: 2021

Star Trek premiered this week, 55 years ago, and tomorrow we will celebrate all things Star Trek, past, present, and future with a live, free, global streaming event that I can not believe I get to co-host.

I’ve read the entire script, and I’m about to leave for rehearsal, so I know most of the OMGAREYOUSERIOUS stuff that will be revealed. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will tell you that if you love Star Trek the way I love Star Trek, you won’t want to miss it.

I mean … look at this:

 

I’m co-hosting with my dear friend Mica Burton. We’ll be coming to you, live, from the Skirball Cultural Center, starting at 5:30pm Pacific / 8:30pm Eastern. Star Trek Day will be streamed on Paramount+, YouTube, Facebook, and via Rutherford’s cyborg implant.

Thirty-three years of TNG

A couple of days ago, in 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered.

I am one year older today than Patrick Stewart was when we filmed Encounter At Farpoint. I literally grew up on the Enterprise.

It’s been a long and complicated journey to get from 14 to 48. It’s been joyful and painful, and all of it has happened on the shoulders (and occasionally in the shadow) of this television show that is so much more than a television show.

I am so proud and so grateful to be part of Star Trek. I love my Star Trek family so much; they are the closest thing to parents I have in my life, and I am so grateful for them.

I am so lucky to be part of something that will likely endure for generations, inspiring kids whose parents haven’t even met, yet, to do great things with their lives.

I wish I’d been able to fully appreciate it when I was there, but I just couldn’t. I was young, immature, and in so much emotional pain, all the time, it kind of overwhelmed everything else in my life. Luckily, I was able to appreciate it from time to time, and because of that, I have some of my most joyful memories as a kid, and as an actor.

I met Anne because of Star Trek. I was on a Trek cruise when I was 18, and met my friend Stephanie, who was also on the ship, but not part of the Star Trek group. We became friends (still are, she was in our wedding), and years later, she introduced me to her friend from work.
I owe every bit of happiness I have in my life to Star Trek, and when I think about that, it kind of blows my mind.

Happy birthday, Next Generation. Happy birthday, to my space family. I love you.

%d bloggers like this: