It’s the 30th of November, and that means it’s Trekking with Dennis’s third anniversary! I published my first article at the end of November 2019, kick-starting the project that would eventually become this website, and I think it’s worth taking a moment to both mark the occasion and look back at the past twelve months. No, this isn’t my “end of year” article looking at some of my favourite films, games, and television shows (that’ll come around New Year), but rather this is a more personal reflection on the events of the past twelve months.
Back in April, Trekking with Dennis passed 100,000 hits, which is a pretty huge milestone! And – touch wood – we’re on track to make 2022 the most successful year so far in terms of visitors, which is also fantastic news. Although visitor numbers and traffic aren’t my main focus, and I’d still be writing about these subjects even if no one was tuning in, it’s still a rewarding feeling to know that so many people have been interested in my take on some of these topics.
But the past twelve months have also been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. This time last year I was posting at least one article every other day, and that carried on until the spring. But as we headed into the summer I found it difficult to keep up that schedule – I began to lose motivation and suffer from a case of writer’s block. By the time the September rolled around I was only managing a few posts a month, and I ended up taking an eight-week break from late September through to early November.
That break is the longest I’ve taken since starting the website, and truth be told I probably needed it. I’d begun to feel that I was writing some articles (and especially some Star Trek episode reviews) less for enjoyment and more out of a sense of obligation, and I think that comes across in at least some of the pieces I published this past summer and autumn. I’m not sure that those articles and reviews represent my best work, and they’re nowhere near the bar that I aim to reach.
So if that’s what happened, what should the takeaway be? What lesson should I be learning from that period of burnout and of writing to deadlines out of a sense of obligation? I guess “don’t do that” is a pretty basic one! Perhaps I’d become a little too interested in sticking to my “every other day” writing schedule, and perhaps I’d lost focus on what this website was supposed to be achieving for me.
When I created Trekking with Dennis, what I wanted was a space on the internet where I could discuss the topics that I was interested in at my own pace. I could choose what I wanted to comment on, which films or television programmes I wanted to review, and talk about them in an open-ended way without word limits. Earlier this year, perhaps fuelled in part by a couple of posts that picked up a lot of attention, I started to forget that, and trying to chase the next big “viral” article became a distraction.
Speaking of distractions, regular readers may recall that I recently jumped out of the toxic mess that is Twitter. I have an article that goes into more detail about why I thought it was the right time to bring an end to my two-year experiment with the platform, and I’d encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. But suffice to say that I don’t feel Twitter was a good fit for me, I wasn’t really getting out of it what I’d hoped in terms of traffic to the website, and the general atmosphere on Twitter is one of division, toxicity, and embarrassingly childish behaviour. Dumping the platform has been good for my mental health – even though I occasionally find myself composing a pithy Twitter post in my head and now have nowhere to put it!
Earlier this year I stepped outside of my comfort zone and built myself a PC for the first time ever! As I said at the time, it’s increasingly rare to find wholly new experiences these days, so it was definitely an interesting project. The PC that I built back in March is working great, and it’s my hope that it will continue to serve as my main device for years to come! Constructing it wasn’t a completely smooth experience, but if nothing else that just gave me even more of a sense of accomplishment; tracking down a particularly troublesome issue and figuring out a solution was the icing on the cake of an interesting and fun experience… even if it didn’t necessarily feel that way at the time!
In housekeeping news, the website’s old URL is finally going offline. By the end of the year, only the current URL (trekkingwithdennis.com) will be functional, so if any of you still haven’t updated your bookmarks, now is the time! One unexpected consequence of last year’s decision to change the website’s name is that many links within posts and articles didn’t update – and I couldn’t figure out a way to change that! As a result, I’ve had to go back into basically 90% of all the pieces I’ve ever published here – more than 600 of them – and manually edit or remove URLs that are about to become outdated. What a hassle!
Naturally, doing that took a long time! But it was actually interesting to step back and re-read some of the articles and columns from the earliest days of the website. I don’t regularly re-read things that I wrote two or three years ago, so it was fun in a way to take a nostalgic trip back in time! Doing so also gave me the opportunity to fix a few issues with some of those older posts. Some of the earliest pieces that I wrote here didn’t have images, or if they did the images were low-quality, misaligned, or cropped poorly. I took the opportunity to update some of them while fixing the URL issue, and I have a short list of a few other pieces that need improved header images or other corrections.
As we take a moment to look back to that day in 2019 and reflect on how far the website has come, it’s genuinely interesting to me to catch a glimpse of that pre-covid world. The pandemic has turned so many things upside down, and looking back to 2019, it feels like there was a brief window of optimism that came in between a decade that had been dominated by austerity and Brexit and the pandemic that was about to bowl us over. That moment coincided with the creation of Trekking with Dennis; it now occupies a strange space as we look ahead to a “winter of discontent” that could see blackouts, food shortages, and even a general strike!
This past year has seen a lot of Star Trek! In fact, there hasn’t been much of a break from Star Trek at all, although my enjoyment of it has been hampered by Paramount’s poor scheduling – putting two episodes on the same day for several weeks running makes no sense. And that’s before we get to the awful decisions Paramount has made that have denied new Star Trek shows to millions of fans around the world.
Star Trek being cut off from much of its international fanbase has damaged the brand immeasurably, and as Paramount Plus continues its painfully constipated rollout, that damage isn’t going away. Looking at the big picture and considering how these decisions have impacted the brand and the fan community are things we’ll have to consider in a future article I think, but on a purely personal level, I felt deeply disappointed in Paramount this year. The Discovery Season 4 catastrophe last November rumbled on for a while, and then came the lack of a broadcast for Strange New Worlds.
Paramount Plus finally arrived here in the UK earlier this year, but having already seen most of Strange New Worlds – and with the series running weeks behind on the UK edition of Paramount Plus – I didn’t bother to sign up. It’s something I will consider in the new year, depending on how things go, but it’s by no means a given. Money is tight and getting tighter – I had to cancel my plans to pre-order Starlink (Elon Musk’s satellite internet service) because it was unaffordable given inflation and other price hikes, and that’s just one example. I don’t have a lot of other expenses that I can see myself cutting back on, so Paramount Plus may not win a new subscriber any time soon.
The sad thing with the Paramount and Star Trek situation is just how good much of Star Trek has been this year. There were issues with Picard Season 2 and some of the sub-plots in Discovery’s fourth season, but by and large it’s been a good year for the franchise. Strange New Worlds was thoroughly excellent – who knew that making an episodic, exploration-oriented Star Trek series might be a good idea?
Star Trek has continued to be the main topic here on the website over the past twelve months, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the pieces that I’ve published. But there have been some other interesting films and television shows that I’ve checked out, some of which I encountered in the process of doing research for the website. As I said last year, Trekking with Dennis continues to broaden my experiences of media! Television shows like 1899 and Five Days At Memorial, films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and Morbius, and games like Stray and Sniper Elite 5 all came onto my radar as a result of seeking out new and different things. While I haven’t found time to write a full review of all of them, I have included some on lists and as parts of other projects. In a general sense, I find myself thinking more about what kind of films, games, and television shows I want to check out, and sometimes trying out something quite different, all because I have Trekking with Dennis and I’m on the lookout for things to write about and discuss.
I’ve added a few items to my Greatest Hits page, but fewer pieces made the cut over the past twelve months than in previous years. Partly that’s because of the burnout I talked about earlier; writing fewer pieces, and some of them being of noticeably lower quality, has meant that there haven’t been as many that I would consider to be among my best work.
However, I’m quite proud of my breakdown of Et in Arcadia Ego, my analysis of the Short Treks series and its potential, my review of The Matrix Resurrections, and my two-part look at being a Star Trek fan that I wrote back in February. I also added to the Greatest Hits page my “Kirk versus Picard” tongue-in-cheek debate, and stepping back to years past, I added one piece from 2020 about the survival prospects for brick-and-mortar video game shops as the medium goes increasingly digital. You can check out all of those by visiting the Greatest Hits page.
So I suppose that’s it for now. The website’s third year in operation has been one of ups and downs in some respects. I didn’t plan on taking any time out, let alone being gone for almost two months, but that’s the way it goes sometimes! As I’ve said before, this is a project for fun, not something that I view as a serious job, so I try to pace myself and not overdo it. There are definitely things that I haven’t written about that I feel I should have – reviews of the second half of Lower Decks’ third season being first and foremost in my mind at the moment. However, my current attitude is one of “I’ll get around to it when I feel like it,” and it’s in that spirit that the website will operate in the immediate term!
If you’re a regular reader, thank you for sticking around. Some of the pieces I’ve written over the past twelve months have really taken off and done some impressive numbers (by my standards, at least) and I’m grateful to everyone for tuning in, clicking on my posts, and checking out this old Trekkie’s takes on Star Trek, gaming, and the broader world of geeky entertainment. I have no immediate plans to go back on hiatus, nor to change in any major way what I do here. You can expect more Star Trek reviews and theories, re-watches of older episodes, analysis of the video games industry, and discussion of television shows, films, and games. If you’re new around here, I hope you’ll stick around – or at least check back from time to time to see what’s new!
Here’s to another year. Cheers!
Wednesday, 30th November 2022
All properties mentioned above are the copyright of their respective broadcaster, studio, developer, distributor, company, etc. Some stock images may be courtesy of Pixabay. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.