What I’m Watching: 2023

After I wrote that post about the Doctor Who specials, I ended up wandering through the blog’s TV review archives – and realized I’d completely forgotten about the What I’m Watching series I did for a little while in 2019.

Then I realized I used to have a lot more variety in my TV watching in the past. (Then again, before 2020, my life was a lot less of a wreck.) I still watch a lot of TV, but there’s not much variety in my TV watching lately as there was in the past.

Do you want to know what I watched in 2023?

Star Trek. Lots and lots of Star Trek. (Plus a little bit of Babylon 5, and a bunch of Stargate SG-1.)

Collage of photos from the shows Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Let me explain why TV watching this year has been a never-ending stream of mid-late ’90s/early 200os sci-fi and just about all the Star Trek I can get my hands on. (I apologize in advance, as this is gonna get rambly.)

When I’m not doing well, I tend to gravitate towards TV shows I’m already familiar with and know that I love. (You might have picked up on that from that Doctor Who post I wrote.) It’s like wrapping up in a comforting blanket or slipping into a favorite sweatshirt. I know what to anticipate. And for the past year, my TV hyperfocus has been Star Trek on a pretty much endless loop, broken up occasionally by Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1. It might be boring to others, watching the same thing over and over, but for me, it’s calming. It helps me unwind after a rough day, or calm down after a meltdown. (Yeah, that’s a new mental health thing I’ve been dealing with since the end of the summer – getting so overwhelmed with life that I just break down. I guess that’s what happens when I try to go from being an attic-dwelling hermit to trying to live my life like it’s 2019 without gradually trying to re-enter the world.)

Sure, I know that certain episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Discovery will make me break down in tears every time I watch them, without fail, but I’ve also watched both of those shows enough times that I know when those episodes are coming up, and I can let myself get weepy if I want or just skip over the episode if I’m not in a good headspace.

And since 2022 was pretty much obliterated by grief, and 2023 was spent trying to figure myself out again, I needed something comforting to watch at the end of the day to help me unwind from work, or distract me from post-LARP burnout when I got home from a long weekend at Kishar. (yes, I actually went to just about every Kishar game this year! But that’s a story for another post.)

So, I ended up gravitating to the most comforting show I could think of:

Composite photo of many Star Trek captains and characters, including Seven of Nine, Captain Kirk as played by Shatner, Captain Sisko, Captain Pike, Captain Archer, Captain Burnham, the holographic version of Captain Janeway, Ensign Mariner, and Admiral Picard.

Star Trek, in all of its incarnations. (Well, almost all of them, anyway. I have… feelings about Enterprise.) I mean, come on, are you surprised? It’s me. If you know me, you know I love Star Trek.

I spent the majority of the year making my way through the Delta Quadrant with Janeway, keeping Deep Space Nine running during the Dominion War with Sisko, navigating the distant future with Michael Burnham, exploring strange new worlds with Captain Pike (and at one point, singing about strange new worlds), and dealing with the less exciting parts of starship life with Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, T’Lyn and Rutherford. (I think T’Lyn is my new favorite Vulcan.) It’s exactly what I needed this year: familiar faces and stories, and some new adventures thanks to Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds.

The main cast of Stargate SG-1, including Samantha Carter, Jack O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel Jackson.And for the shows I watched that weren’t Star Trek, they were close enough that they’re enjoyable and comforting, even if I wasn’t familiar with them – like Stargate SG-1, which I watched for the first time ever earlier this year. It had the feel of late ’90s/early ’00s sci-fi that I love so much, and I found myself really enjoying the story and getting attached to the characters. Stargate SG-1 is a show I’d been meaning to watch for years – I’d seen scattered episodes on TV before, and it seemed pretty cool, but I’d never gotten around to watching it until earlier this year, when I tore through all eleven seasons pretty quickly. I need to re-watch it at some point, as right now the big thing that stuck in my head is the characters, and not so much the plot. I love Teal’c, who I nicknamed the show’s resident Vulcan Klingon. I love O’Neill being O’Neill. And I especially love how Ben Browder and Claudia Black found a home on the show after Farscape got canceled. Vala is sassy as heck, and I love her for it.

Main cast of season 2 of Babylon 5.Babylon 5 is another show that fits into the comfort watching category. I love the story. I love the characters. The background music is… a thing, and the graphics are a little rough in places, but overall, Babylon 5 ranks right up there with Star Trek when it comes to my favorite TV shows. I love how we get to see a little slice of everyone’s life aboard the station.I love seeing G’Kar and Londo’s interactions evolve over the course of the show. Londo himself has one heck of a character arc, and he’s one of my favorite characters in particular. I love pretty much all the main characters, and am sad that about half the main cast passed away, many of them at a relatively young age. (It’s such a big thing that it’s been referred to as the “Babylon 5 curse“.)

So yes, this year was the year of comforting sci-fi TV shows. Hopefully in 2024 I’ll be able to branch out into watching other TV again – there’s certainly a lot of shows I need to catch up on, like Good Omens, The Witcher, and Wheel of Time. Maybe next year I’ll be able to properly bring back What I’m Watching, and not have it be Star Trek for months on end. 😁