I knew when starting this it’d only be a matter of time before I ran into a Star Trek themed podcast. Well, now’s a good as time as any.
The Rules of Acquisition,is a podcast focused on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. I must confess, however, I’ve never seen a Star Trek episode. That said, I did get a chance to speak with co-host, Wade, about his podcast and I learned the difference between “Trekkie” and “Trekker“, so that’s something.
Wade and I got a chance to talk about the origin story of his podcast, the radical nature of some Star Trek and Star Wars fans, and the “Golden Age” of TV. Check it out!
Discover Pods: How did your podcast get started?
Wade: James, Hugh, and I have been friends for over 20 years now, but life and distance kinda did their thing and we hadn’t all really been together in the same place or spoken much for over a decade. After reconnecting a couple of years ago we really were eager to keep in touch. Doing a podcast turns out to be a pretty good excuse to make sure we all get on Skype or Hangouts once a week and rant at each other for a while. With some structure and a subject, of course. The rest gets cut out.
A lot of our conversations are about TV or other media, and when we all agreed that Star Trek Deep Space Nine could almost be a “missing link” to current approaches to television, that seemed like good enough an idea to hang a show on.
DP: I’ve seen, from a distance, how hardcore some Trekkies can be. Have you ever received some backlash or negative feedback after criticizing aspects of the show?
Wade: Our listeners seem to like what we do, naturally, but yeah some Trekkies [or especially Trekkers, who see Trekkie as a pejorative term] can tend to be pretty protective of the shows, and even the actors. We’ve been pretty… harsh in our criticisms of some of the performances, especially in the first few seasons of DS9, which even by most fans’ accounts have some pretty awful episodes. My defense of and disagreement with James and Hugh on the acting has probably generated the most responses for the listener voicemail segment we added in Season 3. Like all bullies I’m a coward at heart, and all I really want is the respect and approval of those we might push around. It’s both my biggest fear and most egocentric delusional fantasy that I run into Nana Visitor or another DS9 actor here in New York and they see me and respond “I know just who you are, you ******!”
I also think we surprised some people with our take on the two parter “Past Tense” which has had some notoriety lately in that it takes place in a version of 2024 where the social safety net has collapsed and the country is in disarray, matching up nicely with the end of an eight year Donald Trump presidency. That episode hits close to home for some nowadays, and the fact that were less than praiseworthy really came out of left field and shocked a few fans’ expectations.
DP: Why did you choose a podcast over other mediums?
Wade: With the three of us so far apart, and our time and money budgets taken up with work and family, it really was the only medium available to us; I don’t think anyone wants to read our text chat logs full of political opinions, jokes and tweets. Or maybe they do, but that’d be weird and maybe a bit invasive.
But honestly, we’re all fairly big podcast fans so it was one of the first things to come to mind when we thought of working on a project together.
DP: Any issues with Star Wars?
Wade: Nope, I got no beef with Star Wars. Except for the prequels which don’t exist in my meticulously curated head-cannon. As a kid and adolescent I was definitely more into Star Wars, and had unkind personal theories about Left Brained vs Right Brained science fiction fans. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve really grown to appreciate Star Trek more for its ideas, and see its perhaps Pollyanna-ish optimism for a diverse humanist future as a worthwhile goal to strive for.
Star Wars does do pew pew, whiz bang! with laser swords a lot better though, I have to admit. If that’s the foundation you want to build your life on, knock yourself out, nerd.
Oh, and I do hate the idea of a young Han Solo movie. Why not give us some wonderful new lead characters to fall in love with, instead of trading on cheap nostalgia for guaranteed profits? Harrison Ford is Han Solo! Make Donald Glover Son-of-Lando in episode 8 and on, not a young Billy Dee in a one off standalone film! Ummm. Ok. So yes, maybe I do have some issues.
DP: What’s unique about your podcast? Why do your listeners keep coming back?
Wade: There are goofy humorous Star Trek podcasts, and there are serious analytical ones, but I think we do both rather well, if I’m being presumptuous. We’re not a show that’s ashamed of liking Star Trek, but I don’t know that any of us ever self identified as “Trekkies.” Not that I’ll deny the label as James will; it’s hard to reject if someone were to call me a Trekkie given that I host a Trek podcast. I do like to think we look at the show in a greater context than just Star Trek fandom, and we’re not afraid to tear apart fan favorite episodes. The story structure and the writing are the key interests of ours, and any esoteric Trek references or fan service kind of are accessories to that. Also, we may sometimes be crude and vulgar, but not in an intentionally provocative manner. That may be a positive for some listeners and deterrent to others, but it’s how we talk to each other so why restrain ourselves? We do believe in the diversity and acceptance of all sorts that Star Trek espouses, and we certainly want to be allies to disenfranchised groups, even if we are a podcast with three cis straight white guys talking about science fiction.
But this should probably be a more succinct answer shouldn’t it? We cover an unsung prequel to the “Golden Age” of television with a sometimes coarse, but inclusive, voice. I may hate that description later, but seems fair enough at the moment.
DP: Which aspects of Star Trek do you think helped lay the foundation for the beginning of the Golden Age of TV?
Wade: The social and cultural advances the original series helped foster can’t be underplayed; and The Next Generation has a lot of relevance for being created directly for syndication, its at-the-time-suprising Emmy nominations for a non-network show, and of course Patrick Stewart; but it’s our contention that Deep Space Nine really serves as a bridge from more one-off episodic television, and the current trend of having long story arcs that span whole seasons and series runs. The series ends with a 10 parter, which is basically a season of a show on premium cable these days. Also, in contrast to earlier Star Trek which some might say had a pretty naive outlook with its idealization of the Prime Directive and Federation principles, DS9 really explores a grayer moral universe. Roddenberry’s “Grand Vision” is still intact I’d argue, but DS9 raises questions on how to preserve that vision when it’s under threat. Benjamin Sisko isn’t Tony Soprano or Walter White by any means, but he does make some tough decisions Kirk or Picard might’ve found harder to mesh with their ideals. Plus you have writers like Ronald D. Moore who went on to do Battlestar Galactica, and Bryan Fuller who sold a couple of DS9 episodes before going on to Voyager and a much ballyhooed career that includes Hannibal, almost the new Star Trek, and the upcoming American Gods.
Voyager and Enterprise I won’t comment on, except to say while I can say nice things about them, there’s a reason we didn’t choose to a podcast on them…
DP: What’s next? Where do you want to take your podcast?
Wade: We have enough episodes of DS9 left to keep the podcast running for another couple of years at our current rate, but we’d love to cover more stuff outside the show.
Given the “prequel” context that we view DS9 through, we’re obviously very excited about the new Star Trek: Discovery show coming later this year. Listeners can definitely count on us covering a Star Trek show from the current era of “Peak TV.”
We also have a few spinoff episodes where we’ve covered other shows like ABC’s Lost and The OA on Netflix. We’d love to cover more shows that have some significance to how television has changed or is changing over time.
DP: What are your favorite 5 podcasts?
Wade: James and Hugh both really like The Ringer’s The Watch podcast for it’s coverage and review of whatever is the watercooler show that’s being talked about at the moment.
My newest and favorite find at the moment would be I Don’t Even Own a Television, which is a bad book review podcast. I seem to find myself working more Gor references into the RoA after listening to their episode on the subject. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing… well Gor is awful, but so are some Ferengi attitudes towards women. I’ve lost the thread again here, haven’t I?
The Thrilling Adventure Hour was a big favorite of mine when it was current.
Judge John Hodgman, Harmontown… I need to find more amateur podcasts to talk up.
I’m a big fan of animals and animal facts, so I do enjoy Varmints from Blazing Caribou Studios.
DP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Wade: My apologies for the Star Wars comments. I meant no offense. I love Star Wars and will probably be at opening night of that dumb Han Solo movie.
DP: Where can listeners find you?
Wade: We’re on all your podcast aggregators and whatnot: