Beaming down to Walton’s Mountain

I have a confession to make.

I am science fiction fan. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Ender’s Game, are among my favorites.

That’s not the confession, that’s background.

Kirk with Spock's "mirror" counterpa...

From the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up with the original Star Trek series. Sunday afternoons, after church, I would scoot off to the living room and plop myself in front of our big black and white television while my parents prepared lunch in the kitchen. This strange show would come on and it was called Star Trek. I didn’t understand the show at all. There was a guy with pointy ears, another guy who was always kissing some girl, and these people could make themselves disappear but never did when they got into trouble.

Right after Star Trek came on another show. La Cucina Italiano con Pasquale. I wasn’t much into cooking shows but Pasquale was funny sometimes.

In Grade 6 I sat beside a boy named David. He showed me a book called The World of Star Trek. I read it and learned who the people on the show were and what the show was all about. I learned about the transporter room and the Prime Directive and all that stuff. That’s when I became a fan.

That’s not the confession either.

The Six Million Dollar Man was another must-watch show.

Another show I remember watching with my parents on Sunday nights was The Waltons. It was a regular thing we would do on Sundays after dinner, until I got a little bit older and then it was no longer cool to watch The Waltons; we made fun of it instead. Good night, John-boy. We mocked it and scorned it.

The show just was not realistic. Real people did not talk and act like that. Real families did not behave like that. Well, the one I was in didn’t.

I preferred the realism of shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and later Babylon 5.

Several years ago I was Christmas shopping with my then-girlfriend. In the DVD bin at WalMart I found The Waltons Season 1. I was curious what my reaction to watching the show would be when watching it with the perspective of my much older and supposedly more mature self. I figured the show would be really hokey, that I’d watch it once, have a good laugh at it, and never want to watch it again.

Here’s my confession. I actually enjoyed it. I think those old episodes have held up very well over the decades. I surprised myself by enjoying it. Me! A guy who watches shows about starships and lasers and travel to different planets, watching The Waltons and getting teary-eyed!

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, S...

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, Sr.), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an adult I have often attributed my drive for writing to the influence of Star Trek. “Captain’s Log, star date blah blah blah. Had cornflakes for breakfast and heard Stairway to Heaven on Q107″. I must have been influenced by John-boy Walton much more than I’ve realized. What he wrote about best was what it was like growing up with his family during the Depression. What I like writing about best is the journey through my life as a creative playful explorer. Perhaps, apart from certain details, we’re not that different from each other.

Good night John-boy. Good night Mary Ellen. Good night Mr. Spock.

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