All posts filed under: Television Shows

Ekostories in episodes of television series.

Deep Space Nine Station Artwork

The Cost of Change: Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s Progress

“This may be the last time we’re all together. But no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us – a very important part – will always remain here, on Deep Space Nine.” – DS9’s finale, What You Leave Behind  Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s finale aired 17 years ago, and as much as the new films have brought the public back to the classic science fiction franchise, Star Trek always worked best for me on the small screen, telling human stories through actors with rubber prostheses attached to their faces. I miss that type of Trek, the tales it told. Deep Space Nine is my favourite Trek. While other shows in the franchise featured starships flying around the galaxy in search of new life and civilizations, DS9 stayed put, concerning itself with the day-to-day happenings of its sprawling cast living within its constructed universe. Onboard this ramshackle space station situated near Bajor, an alien world emerging from decades of brutal occupation, actions have weight, carry short and long-term consequences. …

Star Trek TNG Darmok

Of Myths and Metaphors: Star Trek TNG’s Darmok

Several weeks past, I attended a workshop on the use of storytelling for effective social engagement. Sitting at my table was a doctoral student interested in better ways to communicate concepts of ecological economics to the public. As we chatted about the various metaphors embedded within conventional economics, particularly around growth and development, I started thinking about stories that focus on the challenge of communication and the power of metaphor. Searching my mind for examples, I found myself returning once more to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation for inspiration, this time to an episode titled Darmok.

Escapades in Ecology: Simpsons’ Bart the Mother

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such nature films as “Earwigs, Ew!”, and “Man Versus Nature: The Road to Victory.” The Simpsons started life as a quirky satirical parody of the typical American middle-class family three decades ago and has since become a cultural touchstone for entire generations of viewers. There’s not much the longest running sitcom in US television story hasn’t spoofed and parodied, and that includes humanity’s relationship with nature. Season ten’s Bart the Mother is not the only environmentally themed episode of the series, but it is my personal favourite. As the last episode voiced by the legendary Phil Hartman (RIP), Bart the Mother is not only an intriguing and hilarious story about the consequences of introduced species, but also explores the mentality with which we engage with the world around us.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Wordle 3

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Balance and Moral Courage

It may seem excessive to devote an entire write-up to a single character, but I believe Aang, the chief protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender, warrants such an exploration. In an age of brooding, melodramatic, and angst-filled heroes, Aang provides a refreshing counterexample to what it means to be an emotionally intelligent, internally resilient, and ethically principled individual. His role as the outsider to a war-torn world, coupled with his unique upbringing and temperament, makes his character growth throughout Avatar fascinating to watch.

Avatar Four Elements by Ebelin

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Forces for Change

One of the most well executed aspects of Avatar: The Last Airbender is its depiction of the four elemental nations of its fictional world. The depth and care taken to create the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads contributed enormously to the richness of the show, creating a world of diverse cultures and perspectives.  This helps to separate Avatar from many contemporary and more derivative works of fantasy. Embedded within the fictional world of Avatar is the idea that each society and its people reflect the tendencies of their  element.  But after a century-long absence of the Avatar, the nations have become stagnant, unbalanced, dysfunctional, and in need of serious reform. In this entry, I’ll explore how the protagonists of Avatar serve as agents of change in the world by embodying the best qualities of their respective elements.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Wordle 1

Avatar: The Last Airbender – World and Mythology

Just to make it clear, this will not be about James Cameron’s Avatar. Nor is it about The Last Airbender, the terrible live-action adaptation by M. Night Shyamalan. Instead, the next few entries will be devoted to the popular animated television series titled Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’ll simply refer to the show as Avatar in this and other subsequent posts. The series was first brought to my attention by a good friend of mine; I initially paid little heed to his initial sales pitch of “it’s really good!” because we generally have very different tastes. But on one Sunday afternoon, I happened upon an episode (now known to me as the excellent Bitter Work) and was caught off-guard by the show’s blend of Eastern influences, subtle characterizations, sharp dialogue, slapstick humour, layered mythology, and most important of all, excellent storytelling. Intrigued, I decided to catch up on the series from the beginning. It has since grown to become one of my favourite television shows, animated or otherwise, of all time. Like many contemporary works …

Star Trek’s Finest Hour: The Inner Light

Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of the first western television shows I recalled watching. As a kid, I didn’t understand why people were dressed up in primary colour uniforms or what they talked about, but it all sounded very interesting and important. As my English comprehension skills improved, it grew to become one of my favourite shows and provided my first exposure to science fiction. Many people who dismiss science fiction tend to think it begins and ends with rocketships and warp drives, along with the implication that to escape from the real world is essentially a childish impulse. But many of the best sci-fi stories are able to use the metaphors of the genre as unique vehicles to deliver insight into the human condition: “Science fiction is metaphor. What sets it apart from older forms of fiction seems to be its use of new metaphors, drawn from certain great dominants of our contemporary life – science, all the sciences, and technology, and the relativistic and the historical outlook, among them.” -Introduction to …