Steve Shives is an American YouTuber who uses his platform to discuss a variety of issues such as atheism, politics, feminism and various other social issues. I strongly suggest you check out his series, An Atheist Reads where he as an atheist and sceptic reads various books with dealing with religion and discusses them, because even if you are religious or at the very least aren’t atheist I think he presents himself well and makes interesting points on the topics he discusses.
He does not limit himself to those heavier topics listed below however, he is more than willing to be shown the lighter side of things and If that piques your interest then check out his series ‘And Now the Good News’ where he covers current events which are good, wholesome or otherwise interesting.
I first came to his channel however because of his Star Trek related content, I think the first video I saw by him was ‘Is Gul Dukat Actually a Hero?’ which piqued my interest and I’m glad I came across it because I have thoroughly enjoyed his content and even better have discovered other similar amazing creators such as Jessie Gender. Anyway, I was swept away by how engaging and entertaining his videos were, and greatly enjoyed both ‘Trek, Actually’ which is his main scripted series on Star Trek, as well as it’s more improvised spin-off ‘Not Actually, Trek Actually’. Oh that reminds me, make sure and check out his Trek themed comedy podcast called ‘The Ensigns Log’ which is really funny and well worth a listen.
Anyway, this Top 10 will probably end up being mostly Trek related videos just because they are what I liked most and this isn’t an objective list of the best content on his channel but rather my subjective opinions on them, so I do urge you to check out everything he has to offer.
1. Rewriting Star Trek: Voyager’s Final Episode
I can never make up my mind whether I like ‘Trek, Actually’ or ‘Not Actually, Trek Actually’ better, but this one manages to ride a fine line between the two concepts, which makes it a really strong favourite of mine. I think what I liked most about this one was that it was similar to his Enterprise episode, which was also a personal favourite of mine. Another thing I really liked about it was that you can see how passionate he is about the show. I mean more so than having more than a hundred videos on his channel discussing the franchise already does. Only true passion can breed this type of content, one where you decide that you actually aren’t always happy with what the creators have made. How occasionally what they create does a profound disservice to the fans, the characters and even to themselves and so you take it upon yourself with all your passion, knowledge and perspective to create something better. I thoroughly enjoyed this video, and I think it’s easy to see why it claims the top spot on my list.
2. What’s My Problem With Star Trek: Voyager?
Coming to this as a fan of Star Trek: Voyager, I can see why people might be a little defensive about his comments, particularly those he made in the Barclay video but honestly I think when someone can make criticisms (fair or otherwise) about something you like, and you can at least meet them part way then they must have done a good job. He lays out his arguments well, despite this being one of those more unscripted ‘Not Actually, Trek Actually’ type videos, and you find yourself actually listening to him rather than sitting there stone-facedly shaking your head because he is raising a contradictory viewpoint. His argument is not only cogent, fair and well reasoned, but he also manages to be entertaining. He has a style and delivery that is well put across and is one of the drawing points across his multiple videos on the topic.
3. Rewriting Star Trek: Enterprise’s Finale
As I touched on in the first entry on this list, I really enjoyed when Voyager got this treatment, and Steve didn’t disappoint with this video. I initially wasn’t going to include both because of their similar subject matter, but honestly both were just really good videos and I felt like I needed to include them both. Despite liking the Voyager episode just a little more, probably because I like Voyager more, I think this one was arguably the better episode, it was fleshed out just a little more and besides I disliked the Enterprise finale a hell of a lot more than I disliked the Voyager finale. To be honest, thinking about it a little, I don’t think I liked the finale to any of the contemporary Star Trek series, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine also had their problems, but I digress. Steve’s concept for the finale is really strong, and it’s clearly something he’s put a lot of thought into, and I would be totally up for all of the actors coming back to film it. Hmm I sense a petition in my future.
4. What Is Actually Star Trek’s Darkest Episode?
I am always a fan of material with a little grit or darkness. I think something which is too pure, too good or too sunny ends up being either boring, or at least myopic in scope of what it can cover. I certainly think that if Star Trek had committed to being overly saccharine then it would not have been able to tackle the complex social issues which make it such an enduring franchise. I think the Star Trek universe needs to have a little depth, and even darkness, and Steve does a great job of discussing various dark moments from across the whole of the franchise. I like that he doesn’t just cover the newer Trek series which has been criticised for, and are perceived as more dark, although he does address that perception. He goes through all the series, and delves into episodes, some of which I have forgotten, to talk about the various dark episodes which make up Star Trek.
5. Why Seven of Nine Is Actually More Than Just Eye Candy
I have to admit I was disappointed when Kes (played by the actress Jennifer Lien) who served a vital role on Voyager was replaced by the former Borg drone Seven of Nine (or Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One to use her full Borg designation) who’s icy disposition and monotone delivery were at odds with Kes’s warm, inviting personality and naïve innocence and wide-eyed wonder. I felt that they had taken away a character who I had spent three seasons getting to know and love, and replaced her with a catsuit wearing automaton whose only saving grace was that she was sexy. That of course was the cynic in me, because over the remainder of the show, I fell in love with her too, with her character; her subtle humour, her intelligence and depth and range. I found that while I missed Kes, seven filled the void, with a character that brought a whole different type of vulnerability and outsider perspective to the show. I liked this video because it addressed a very real issue with the fandom, this frankly undeserved hate for Jeri Ryan and her character, despite the fact that she helped rejuvenate the show, which by its season 4 debut had begun to stagnate. She brought a new energy and vibe to things, she was hard where Kes was soft, knowledgeable where Kes was inexperienced. Likewise her relationships with others, in particular the Doctor (her friend and mentor) and Janeway were highlights of the show. Steve manages to make very clear points about why this dislike is undeserved, and why she was such a great character.
6. Why Nog Is Actually Pretty Awesome
I was deeply upset to find out that on the 21st September 2019, Aron Eisenberg, an actor who played Nog on Deep Space Nine, passed away from heart failure. He was described by all who knew him as incredibly sweet, passionate and caring, he was a tremendous actor who really brought his characters to life. He alongside Armin Shimerman who played Quark and Max Grodénchik who played Rom, who together made up Aron’s family unit on Deep Space Nine managed to improve the image of the Ferengi species on Star Trek who up to that point had largely become jokes, and were treated as either one dimension, comic relief or both. Steve manages to pay a proper tribute to the late Aron Eisenberg, discussing him as both a person, and how much his character did for Star Trek and did so without becoming overly maudlin in the process.
7. How Deep Space Nine Actually Redeems Garak
I love Garak, he’s easily one of my favourite characters not just on Deep Space Nine, but the whole of Star Trek. I’m not the only one who loves him, Andrew J. Robinson, who played the character on the show, actually cared so much about the character that he wrote a book about him to tie up all the loose ends he felt were left with his story. I actually reviewed that book, and you can check that out here. Anyway, I was really excited when I saw this episode pop up on my YouTube feed, because it covered the complex and convivial, yet deliberately obfuscated character that is Elim Garak. I found it to be incredibly interesting because Steve manages to sum up a lot of what makes the character to engaging, and much like the points he made when discussing certain other Cardassians, we can see how morally grey characters like Garak can have a redemption arc, by the saving grace of the fact that they exist as fictional characters, and so we are capable of distancing ourselves from their acts and rationalise and understand them better because despite what atrocities they have done, they are still fictional and therefore able to be redeemed. It’s an incredibly great episode, and one which, as I’ve touched on, is expanded upon, at least conceptually, by the Dukat and Damar episodes.
8. 5 Ways Deep Space Nine Reinvented Star Trek
This video made the list because it managed to be both succinct and yet thoroughly enjoyable. I like Steve’s mannerisms, I like his sometimes dry humour, and his self awareness. I feel like he’s an incredibly good on-screen host, who seems comfortable and engaged as he sums up why he thinks Deep Space Nine is such a landmark series in the Star Trek franchise. I found that I agreed with most of his points. He really summed up what makes Deep Space Nine so great and why it stands apart from the other shows.
9. Why Captain Jellico Is Actually Pretty Awesome
For a start I really liked this episode because I happen to agree with Steve that Jellico was not a bad guy, he certainly doesn’t deserve the hate that’s lavished upon the character. I mean in an episode that featured espionage, intrigue and Captain Jean-Luc Picard being tortured by a very mercurial Cardassian, he still managed to leave a distinct impression. Additionally, in the very brief time that he was Captain of the Enterprise, he managed to turn Counselor Deanna Troi into the legitimate bridge officer she should have always been. Admittedly he stripped away the eye candy, by getting her out of those weird jumpsuits, but I’ve never been a fan of that particular type of fan service, and I felt like getting her into a uniform allowed her some more serious moments in the later seasons. I feel that Steve really addressed the heart of the issue, why other fans disliked him, and why it’s perhaps misguided to do so. I think if you are looking for a place to start with Steve’s Star Trek videos then this one might be a good place to start, because it shows off his well balanced approach to the topics he discusses and still manages to be entertaining.
10. Is Janeway Actually a Great Captain?
Okay, so full disclosure, Voyager is by far my favourite Star Trek series, it was my gateway into the franchise as a whole. I remember how I fell in love with the show. It became a daily ritual to come home after school and watch reruns on television at 6pm while I was having dinner and doing homework. So it is fair to say that I have enormous feelings of respect, love and nostalgia for the show and yet despite that, I still think it’s open to criticism and that’s what I like about this episode and the other Voyager related videos. I like how Steve manages to present his own thoughts and opinions, how he manages to be non-combative while still being forthright in his statements. He manages to make you listen and absorb what he’s saying even if you go away still thinking the same way you did before. I also like that despite being an early episode of ‘Trek, Actually’ it still has a level of consistency in style and tone that has remained throughout the series so far. I would say that because he started off so strongly he’s only had to lightly polish the overall format. I loved this video in particular because he referenced the Nicolas Locarno/Tom Paris retcon which if you aren’t familiar with you should check out. He also manages to tear into the Borg who he felt were over utilised and nerfed throughout Voyager, a point which I strongly agree with.
Honourable mentions go to Is The Orville the New Star Trek?, Is the Holodeck Actually More Trouble Than It’s Worth? and How Odo Actually Became Deep Space Nine’s Complicated Conscience which I also really enjoyed but didn’t quite make the top 10 list.
So those were my Top 10 Steve Shives episodes and if you want to find your own, then subscribe to Steve over on YouTube. While you’re at it why not follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Lastly, you can support the creation of new content by subscribing to his Patreon or donating to his PayPal. Oh and make sure and listen to his podcast, the Ensigns Log by clicking here.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/