Over the decades, fans of the Star Trek franchise have come to represent the prototypical obsessive sci-fi nerd. This is due, in large part, to Trekkers’ penchant for going beyond just an intimate knowledge of the show’s lore and characters, and delving into fastidious cataloging of alien species, uniform designs, ship schematics, and Riker beards. But now, we may have finally reached the final frontier of Star Trek cataloging with this exhaustive collection of “video errors” that appeared throughout the show.
Organized by blogger and Trek fan Ashley Blewer, Signal Loss is an ongoing project that’s attempting to map every scene where an audiovisual signal loss is being conveyed to the audience. This can occur when the crew is attempting to contact a planet or ship that’s in trouble, when some sort of virus is infecting the ship’s interface, or when someone gets stuck half-way through teleporting. Basically, if a character is looking at a glitchy screen, it’s going to be on this list.
A notable example of this effect appears in the TOS episode “The Corbomite Maneuver,” when the the crew is contacted by the puppet-version of Balok whose video transmission has an “underwater” motion effect. In the Next Generation episode “Booby Trap,” Data spends the majority of the episode attempting to recover video from an ancient memory coil that contains a very fuzzy message from a long-dead alien species. But Signal Loss is about more than just staticky screens. Blewer is equally interested into physical forms of tech like data disks and film reels as long as they result in a loss of clear communication.
“Eventually, with enough ‘research,’ I hope to be able to come to some conclusions and overviews beyond what is already obvious,” Blewer writes. We’re not sure what kind of conclusions can be drawn from this kind of research, beyond the fact that the production design on Star Trek kicks ass. But Signal Loss is still in the early phases, and doesn’t yet include any moments from Discovery and only a handful from the seven seasons of Deep Space Nine. Blewer is welcoming contributions from fellow obsessives. So, if you’re planning to start up that Voyager re-watch anytime soon, be sure to note any weird screens.