Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Darn Tribbles, Darn Troubles

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Darn Tribbles, Darn Troubles


Jay Agan

School days. Ah memories. I'll treasure them always. Not! Only the overachievers, jocks, and social butterflies will ever be fond of the high school pressure cooker. Any good memories of that time was from not being there.

One set of good times involved Star Trek (tos). I'd become aquainted with it during its initial network run in the late 60s. In military school, the nuns would (grudgingly) let us watch it ("Cadets don't whistle, chew gum, read comic books, watch cool stuff on tv, have fun, etc.").

I recall the "ruckus" that came up when it got cancelled. Not having been a full bore Trek weenie, I didn't experience the crippling depression afflicting believers. Some disappointment, yes, as it was (then) novel and different. There was so little intelligent sci-fi on tv, (still that way), and if the nuns didn't like it, it had to be good.

Thanks to the zeal and enthusiasm of the fans, stations across the country aired it a lot through syndication in the 70s. WLWC (now WCMH) ch. 4 was the central Ohio Trek pioneer. The time slot was (I think.) 5-6 PM. It didn't matter if it was a school night, (We weren't allowed to watch tv mon-thur.), I'd sneak down the celler and tune in on our older set. I'll always be grateful to the staff of 4 for including Trek in their programming (well into the 80s). A good daily dose of Trek helped in recovery from the indoctrination of several hours before. Usually but not always.

There was, however, an annoying glitch in 4s' Trek scheduling. A glaring defect, sharply curtailing my enjoyment of the show. A nuisance, so vexing, it drove me to obsessive distraction: The Trouble With Tribbles.

On first seeing it in the late 60s, I sorta' liked it. Cutsey, funny, not all that great though. Little was I to know TWT would later become the very fuel powering the ch. 4 Star Trek machine. I understand the station showing the more popular eps more often. Ad revenue and all. But ..... The Trouble with Tribbles? Every other day? Yeah, I exaggerate. It only seemed that way. It could have been once a week, or at least twice a month. Aw what the heck! It was on too dang often!

There I'd be on the bus home. Mixed feelings at conflict in my brain."Star Trek! Oh boy! Oh boy! Yeah! Trek! Please no TWT! Oh golly! Oh yeah! No TWT! Please! Please! PLEASE!"

And seemingly, more often than not. After a particularly depressing day of scholastic brainwashing, there it was, in all its fuzzy non-glory, The Trouble With Tribbles. (Aghh! That's it! I'm doing my homework!)

Why? Why this one? "All the time?" They played the other "top 20" to death too, but not seemingly every time I turned around. Arena, The Changeling, The Doomsday Machine, etc. These I could understand. They were great. But TWT? What a nauseatingly, sickeningly saccharine, piece of crud! It got to the point where I'd be ecstatic to see Miri, Turnabout Intruder, The Empath, or any of the other of the least popular ones.

I've no proof but I suspect there was a group of 5 or 6 Trek weenies in Columbus, constantly calling the station & urging them on (Ooo! Ooo! Can we see TWT again?! Huh? Please?! TWT! Ooo! Ooo!"). I recall a particularly annoying one (who shall remain nameless) showing up at wargame gatherings bugging the crap out of everyone over Trek. (Claimed he was a rear admiral in Starfleet in charge of research.) He had to have been the ringleader.

At a place I worked at in the 90s, we had a tv. 4 had a Trek marathon one Sunday, 8AM-8PM. The top 12 of all time. Naturally, we enjoyed ourselves as we went about our tasks. An older fellow I worked with (left the scene due to cancer) was a sci-fi fan as well. I was pretty much down on Trek weenies and he would kid me a lot about me being a "trekkie" as I knew more about the show than I cared to. (I like the show a lot. It's not my reason for being, however.) I found his word for word co-recital of Celia Lovskys' lines from the duel in the Amok Time episode to be quite amusing.

Things got a little tense as the marathon wore on. We knew TWT was in there somewhere. (He hated it too.) We KNEW an hour long bout of hypoglycemic, pseudo-cuteness was approaching .There were a few tense moments during the "A Piece of the Action" ep. (He didn't like that one either. I always did. Criminals as politicians? Never happen!)

As it turned out, TWT was the last one, thus the best "voted". As we were prepping to close that hour, we didn't care. Still don't.

I'll always have a place in my heart for Star Trek (tos), but not for "The Trouble With Tribbles". Those in love with TWT are TWiTs!

Article copyright © Jay Agan

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