Posted in: Fan Club, Quotes, Star Trek, Technology

Mining Star Trek Trivia From Episodes

Today I had an opportunity to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do in a while. Mine an episode of Star Trek for trivia and quotes.

As most of my readers know, I am the Commander-in-Chief of a Star Trek parent organization in the form of a “Fleet”. Before I was asked to take a position in the admiralty, I was the Captain (chapter president) of a local chapter. Part of our job was to prepare the members to go up in rank as much as they wished. The higher the rank, the more they were willing to serve. In Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, guidelines have been set for going up in rank from Crewman 3rd Class all the way to Captain. This is different from other organizations that I’ve observed as they leave the lower ranks up to the decision of the CO and only provide guidelines for the higher flag ranks. One of the items to accomplish for a rank advancement is passing off a merit sheet. This is a short 5-20 question document with trivia based on a wide variety of subjects (general trivia, specific trivia about an episode, race, ship, etc., Star Trek quotes or production history, real-life science, specific episodes or movies, etc.) Some examples of these merit sheets can be found on the websites of individual chapters. One of the things I noticed as a Captain is that some members didn’t know what merit sheet to take next. So I decided that I was going to make a merit sheet for each episode of Star Trek. This way I could ask the member, “what is your favorite Star Trek episode?” Once they responded, I would give them the merit sheet for that episode and suggest that they just sit down, watch their favorite episode and fill in the answers to the questions.

Yes that goal may seem daunting now with new episodes coming out all the time on Paramount+, but at the time Enterprise was the last series that had been released. So I started on the project and I got pretty far. I completed all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve been able to get through the first 4 1/2 seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I’ve done a hand full of episodes from the other series. I would plop in a DVD on my computer, pull up Memory-Alpha, and watch an episode. If something that sounded like a trivia question would come up, I wrote it down. Eventually I’d come up with 20 questions and the merit sheet was ready to go for use.

I also “mined” the episode for quotes for use on the Daily Star Trek Quotes twitter account that I run. Sure, Memory-Alpha had some quotes listed in the episode entries. But there was a lot more that didn’t get posted to MA. Since I was watching the DVD with the closed caption turned on, I could easily rewind the episode and make sure I got a quote that sounded good written down for use. I would later add these quotes to a spreadsheet broken down by series, episode and who said it. So far I have over 7,500 quotes in this spreadsheet from The Cage to the latest episodes of Lower Decks. I’ve been able to post quotes for an actor’s birthday that has even impressed the online fan clubs of those actors.

I had a system down. I had to watch the episode alone because I was doing a lot of stopping and rewinding to make sure I had the details and quotes correct. A standard 45 minute episode could get mined for trivia and quotes in 60-75 minutes. Some days I could knock out an entire four episode DVD.

As with most fandom activities, real life got in the way. There were days that I wanted to focus on another relaxing event such as spending time with my family, reading, writing or gaming. I also decided to return to college to earn my bachelors degree. Something that I’m very glad that I did, but soaked up a lot of time. While I was able to get an episode or two down, I wasn’t on the roll that I had at my peak.

On Friday a weird moment came up where I had some free time so I decided to mine an episode for the first time in a while. However instead of using a DVD, I used my Paramount+ streaming service and watched the DS9 episode “Hard Time”. First, I have to commend Colm Meaney for his excellent acting in this episode. This was one of the “O’Brien suffers” episodes where O’Brien is dealing with the effects of PTSD. It reminded me why this was one of the episodes of the series that I enjoyed the most. It didn’t have a ton of action, but the character building was intense.

I will say that the rewind options on the streaming service were not that good. I really wish there was a “back 10 seconds” option like I’ve seen on other services. The closed captioning was also not up to par with what I was use to from the DVDs. It almost seemed like an after thought. I use the CC to make sure I’ve got spellings of the unusual names correct for the merit sheet. It was nice to have the episode at my fingertips. I may check the series on other streaming services that have DS9 to see if the tools and closed captions are better. I want to get as many of these merit sheets done as possible so that members of the Seventh Fleet have options to help them with their rank advancements. Plus it’s a little fun for me as well. Re-watching an episode is something I always enjoy.

I’m really glad that technology is assisting me with my fandom.

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