Star Trek Voyager Elite Force Unreal 4 Project – By Jeff Lincoln

“On Stardate 48315.6, the U.S.S. Voyager was transported beyond our control, 70,000 light years across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant. There, without aid from Starfleet, we began our 70-year journey home. In our numerous encounters, we came into contact with many dangerous and violent species. Having a limited crew with no chance of reinforcements, we determined that we needed a specialized team to handle the more dangerous situations. Tuvok, Voyager’s Chief of Security assembled an elite force of security personnel named the Hazard Team.”

The opening dialogue to Activision and Raven Software’s Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force video game. A game that received critical acclaim when it was initially released in 2000 on PC. The game later went to receive both an expansion pack, PlayStation 2 export, and a sequel in 2003. 17 years later, the game stands as the most successful Star Trek games created. 

Roughly two weeks ago, I was sitting in front of my PC listening to a collection of Star Trek music that I’ve saved over the years, which included the main theme to Elite Force.



Which in turn prompted me to locate my copy of Elite Force and began playing it. While the game has certainly aged in comparison to modern graphics, the gameplay itself remains some of the best. Challenging combat, with stealth mechanics, and even some minor puzzles that need to be solved. The voice acting is phenomenal in the sense that ALL  of the cast behind Star Trek Voyager was along for the ride. UNFORTUNATELY, the game suffers from two problems in today’s age. First, it’s 17 years old and some modern systems cannot run the program. Secondly, where is the re-master?

The second question is one that has been overly asked in my mind more times than I can count. So, how do you combat this question? Well, simple, I put my 4 years of Game Design Schooling to work! I have played around with the Unreal Development Kit when I was still attending college, however, even that program is considered out of date now, so I instead opted to download Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and have been actively working on ‘modernizing’ Elite Force, at least it’s environments. I actively use a Student version of 3ds Max and Photoshop to recreate the environments. Please keep in mind, this is a PRE-ALPHA Build. Meaning that some of the assets that I am using are subject to change, updates, or even replacement.

While I cannot claim that I am a professional by any means, I treat Star Trek as a passion and began work on the central location you spend your ‘between missions’ time in. Deck 4, Hazard Operations. Using gameplay, screenshots, and my own exploration, I recreated the hallways first, this way I can space out and design the appropriate rooms adjourning the halls. The hallways themselves took a little time to create as I had already created them twice before in practice. After that, I moved to the largest room on Deck 4, the Briefing Room this room proved to be a bit of a challenge due to its size and the lighting. However, after nearly 4 hours of work, I had the room completed. Afterwards, I realized I had an issue, I didn’t know how to get the doors to open and close during play. Thanks to a YouTube tutorial I managed to adapt the technique’s to fit Voyager’s style. And now, all of the doors work AND sound like they are supposed to.

The Locker Room was next and this room is where the majority of my time has been spent over the last week, Creating the assets in this room proved to be much more challenging because I had initially made the room too small. I had to go back and tweak the length of the hallway to accommodate this issue. Once I had completed the changes I proceeded to decorate the room and found that it had several walls that seemed devoid of any kind of life and set out to take some creative license and add a few replicators and objects to make the room feel more fleshed out. The room is not completely finished as I need to return to the coding aspect and create a series of controls that will open and close the large lockers the Hazard Team use. As well as create the individual nameplates identifying which Locker belongs to who.

At this time I’ve begun work on the Armory. Unfortunately, it is bare bones and not worthy of a screenshot but I plan on releasing several in the coming days. I have many more environments to complete, such as the Bridge, Engineering, Shuttlebay, Sickbay, and Cargo Bay 2, and that’s just for Voyager! I still have to create the interiors for a Borg Cube, The Scavenger Base (Klingon, TOS Federation hybrid), and several alien ships. It’s going to be a long journey. But a journey worth taking. As stated before, this is a passion project and unfortunately, I do not at this time know how to extract any of the old data for use in the re-master. Such as the music and speech files for use in-game and currently is an environmental reproduction.

I’ll end with that I am eager to continue work and should anyone wish, I would welcome assistance from character modellers animators, texture artists, and coders. While it is unlikely the game will receive an official update, all work will be continued free of charge and those assisting with the project will receive credit for their work.

Until then, keep an eye on Trek Fan Productions for more update blogs and my personal Facebook for periodic posts about the work being done.

Live Long and Prosper,



  • Blog Author: Jeff Lincoln
  • Blog Layout: James Hams
  • Blog Pictures: Google Images, Jeff Lincoln

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CH-CH-CH-CHANGES – By Bill Allen

Sometimes it seems like Star Trek just isn’t as good as it used to be…

Where did CBS/Paramount go wrong? When did they start missing the mark, and seemed to forget what Star Trek was really about?  I think it happened when they brought in a director who was never a fan of the show, who slapped on all sorts of redesigns to all the visual effects, uniforms, changed Star Trek from a show about exploration and made a movie focusing on action and combat, just ignoring canon to tell the story he wanted to tell, slapping in some garbled pseudo-science what was completely unrealistic…

I am, of course, talking about Nicholas Meyer and that abominable film called “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. “

…wait,

You mean that wasn’t when Trek was ruined forever? Then it must have been that guy who came in and completely changed everything, undid the relationships that made Star Trek so great to rewrite the very personalities of the characters, completely changing the looks of the uniforms to a drab, almost monochromatic kind of spread (all those grey uniforms…what were they thinking?)  altering even the classic, iconic design of the ship itself to make it more contemporary and using the latest in special effects instead of the same old 1960s stuff that worked so well, and even completely altering the look of Klingons, and just recycled an old Trek story because they didn’t have an original idea….you know, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”…

OK, then it must have been when they changed Kirk from being a great leader to making him just an overhyped criminal, constantly breaking the rules and violating the laws, coupled with all this phony ‘science;’ that would have fit better in a fantasy movie and has no place in the kind of realistic science that trek is known for… “The Search For Spock”.

OK, I get it….those are movies, obviously, a film will take a radical departure from what a television series did. Comparing the television series to films is comparing apples to a fruit orchard. It is the SERIES that matter. And I remember the complaints the fans had for the various iterations of Trek.

So, clearly, it was “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that screwed it up. Shatner et al were still alive, dammit! You didn’t need to create some whole new show with a bunch of random nobodies. And how stupid IS Paramount? You have a British guy playing a French Captain, they put a KLINGON on the bridge, they completely screwed up the uniforms—not only did they change the style, they fouled up the colour scheme…COMMAND is the Gold tunic, you morons!—and the uniforms were SO screwed up they had to change them AGAIN, because of the cheap looking production values. They couldn’t even put it on a network….they went straight to Syndication. And whose idea was it to have a BLIND guy flying the ship? IDIOTS!

…OK, OK… a couple of seasons in and we were wrong. TNG is a worthy successor. Star Trek lives on…for now.

Here’s DS9…a show designed to kill the franchise. In order to make Star Trek different, they get rid of the ship altogether. How can you have a show about space exploration if they don’t go anywhere? It’s stupid. And the station looks NOTHING like the space stations we have seen up to now. Did you see those hideous monstrosities they use for shuttlecraft? Oh, excuse me, I mean ‘runabouts’….sure, call a shuttle on steroids designed by a crack head by a different name, that makes it ok…NOT! And there is a Trill on the crew…only; it looks NOTHING like the Trill we already saw on TNG. These writers don’t give a damn about canon, they are just slapping the Star Trek name on some crappy show about a space station…basically, it is a generic rip off of Babylon 5 disguised as Star Trek in a shameless money grab.

And now there’s a WAR? THIS IS NOT STAR TREK! Star Trek is about Peaceful exploration, not war and NOT about life on a stationary outpost. This will kill Star Trek. 

Oh, wait, let’s do a new Star Trek show, even though the one we have right now is Excellent. Stupid to run another one…why not just bring back TNG if you want two shows? What the hell is this? ‘Voyager’? The Probe from TMP was called Voyager, that’s a stupid name for a manned vessel. If you are going to have a ship, why not make it the ENTERPRISE?  Oh, look, a Vulcan officer….just ripping off TOS and trying to sell it. And half the crew is made of space pirates…what decent captain would let such scum on their ship? That Captain Janeway…. what a lame choice for a captain. She isn’t tough enough to be a captain, not like Kirk, or Picard, or Sisko after he shaved his head and took the job SERIOUSLY.

Wait, that’s how it ends? What about all the loose threads? Why can’t we see what happens next, after they get home? They were one of the best crew, made it through so much…bring back, Voyager!

OK< this show Enterprise….what a disgrace. No wonder the UPN network tanked, those guys have no clue what fans want! The first ship to be called Enterprise was the Constitution class….and if this is supposed to be a prequel at the beginning of the Federation, that should be a Daedalus class ship, not that abomination that is a rip off of the Akira and has NO PLACE in Trek’s history. These writers obviously don’t know anything about Star Trek, and don’t give a damn about canon…just throwing in crap we already know, or adding adventures that were never mentioned in other series…how could a crew have all these discoveries and it never ONCE gets mentioned by Kirk or Picard? This show will kill Star Trek.

You know, I wish they would bring back ‘Enterprise’…

…yeah, I remember those comments. Fans REALLY dislike change, and they are sure to let you know it. And now, here we have a new Star Trek series. One that is building on what has come before, but still giving us new and interesting stories and ideas. A diverse cast talent from across the spectrum, updated F/X and stories that fit the spirit of Trek, while still having appeal to a more contemporary crowd.

Despite all the changes and new shows that come out over the decades, it seems there is one thing about Star Trek that doesn’t change: the fans.

Maybe it was time they DID change.


  • Blog Author: Bill Allen
  • Blog Layout: James Hams

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But Is It Really Star Trek? A Fans View On The New Discovery Trailer – By Deeesher

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for most of my life. Although, when I was very young, my first experiences of TOS were from behind the safety of a throw pillow. Hey, when you’re like seven years old, that Salt Creature will give you some serious nightmares!

Throughout the years, I’ve had many love/hate feelings about each incarnation of the show in varying degrees. I’m not such a die-hard fan that I’m madly in love with anything that says Star Trek, but it definitely has a warm, fuzzy, Tribble-like place in my heart, and I always hope for the best.

It’s been quite some time since Star Trek has been on television, and now finally, this September 2017, CBS is reviving the series, calling it Star Trek Discovery.

If you haven’t seen it, here is the latest trailer.



Looking at it objectively, this looks great!

But is it really Star Trek?

Part of me feels like CBS is setting this series up to fail. If you will indulge me a moment, let’s think about this… logically.

They are alienating (pun intended) most of their fan base with so many drastic changes.

Before you freak out and say too many fans are living in the past, think about this…
Star Wars was made in 1976 and released in 1977. But throughout the years, the look has been consistent. Why? Because that’s what fans want! Imagine the uproar if someone decided to change how a Wookiee looks. Or what if someone suddenly said Stormtroopers look dated, let’s give them scales! We can even go beyond “Star things”, and talk about comic book fans and their collective gasps if suddenly Batman’s cape was made of feathers!

So is it unrealistic for fans to have a preconceived notion of how Star Trek should look? Discovery is being set in a time ten years before Kirk became Captain of the Enterprise, and every fan of the series can tell you exactly how the universe looks at that time, and how the Federation of Planets was operating. I completely understand the need to update and make some tweaks with today’s CGI, but you still have to stay true to the source material. Star Wars seamlessly combined Rogue One’s ending with A New Hope, forty years apart. Why can’t we make a similar connection with Star Trek?

Someone made a comment that we just want to re-watch TOS over and over. As much as I do enjoy watching those episodes, we want something new in a universe that has so much potential! But we want the same heart and soul that Gene Roddenberry created many years ago. There’s a reason Star Trek is so well loved. The chemistry of the characters, unique concepts, and a heavy amount of imaginative and thought to provoke stories gave it that longevity.

I’m always looking for good writing, but I’m worried that CBS is too concerned with action and trying to keep up with all the Hollywood big explosions/lens flares to know how to give us anything well written. Even the Discovery trailer seems to ride on the coattails of The Force Awakens trailer with the simple piano intro. If you understand anything about great science fiction stories there are millions of decent ones in the world without depending on the pew-pew factor, that are still be powerful and intense.

And yes, phasers go “SKRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR”, not “Pew Pew”.

Now let’s talk about “All Access”.

It seems they are over estimating the eagerness of the fans if they aren’t going to make a show for fans. At $5.99/month with commercials ($9.99/month without), how long can they maintain viewership? They already have a limited amount of people subscribing, so maybe they will have a slight bump when the series begins. But many fans have already seen enough to know, they won’t be spending the money. Discovery seems to have a fairly large budget, so it could be a losing proposition over time.

Maybe they could save money by cutting back on the lens flares?

And finally, I refuse to acknowledge those idiots that have posted about how upset they are with women being in command of a starship. They need to leave their bigotry in their cab because there’s no room for it on the bridge.

So that’s my two cents worth, and of course, realistically I could be wrong. This could be the one series that new and old fans alike can rally together and keep on the air for ten seasons. I guess we’ll all find out in a few months.


  • Blog Author: Deeesher
  • Blog Layout: James Hams
  • Trailer: Netflix

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Spocks Siblings – The Sons And Daughters Of Sarek – By Jason Kovalik

This past weekend was San Diego Comic-Con, and for the uninitiated, it’s sort of like the nerd version of the draft.  While actors and talent aren’t chosen based on a lottery, like a draft, the event gives insight to the upcoming “season” of entertainment. This past weekend, we saw much of what we could expect for the next year or so of genre based entertainment.

CBS gives us a great look, this year at Comic-Con, into upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery. Fans were treated to a gallery of props, costumes, and concept art, as well as a new two-and-a-half-minute trailer, and a panel discussion.

During this panel discussion, it was said that the series main character, Michael Burnham (played by The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin Green) grew up under the same roof that another famous Star Trek character grew up under.  While during the Panel it was made clear that Sarek, took her in after her parent’s death, Comicbook.com ran a story that she was Spock’s Half Sister, the human daughter of Spock’s mum Amanda, and other outlets ran with the story as presented by Comicbook.com

As you could imagine, nerd rage hit the internet, as people were levelling the serious charge of “Canon Violation”. How could Spock have a half-sister he never mentioned?  Later in the day, from the Trek Writers room twitter account, it was clarified, that she was Spock’s adopted Sister, not his half-sister.

But still, the question remained, how could Spock grow up with an adoptive sister without us knowing about it. As we dig into the question, let’s just see how the timeline of events adds up. What we know about Discovery is that it is set roughly 10 years before TOS. This would set the series in the middle of the 2250’s. This would be close to 25 years after Spock’s birth in January of 2230 (Star Trek Beyond). When Discovery takes place, Spock is on the Enterprise serving under Captain Pike, as a Lt. and Cmdr Burnham is the first officer of the USS Discovery. Prior to her time on the Discovery, Cmdr. Burnham served with Captain Georgiou for 7 years, which means that she potentially left Vulcan to serve in Starfleet when Spock was 18. This would make her somewhat of an older sister to Spock. (I admit much of this is conjecture based on the limited information that has been released so come September 24th, some of this may be different)

So, how could Spock potentially have an older sister, and us, the fans not know about it??

“UHURA: She’s lovely, Mister Spock. Who is she?
SPOCK: She is T’Pring. My wife”

And with that, we are introduced to Spock’s betrothed. This is from the second season episode of The Original Series titled Amok Time. In this episode, Spock gets his Vulcan 7-year itch and has to go home to have it scratched, or face death. Upon returning to Vulcan, and confronted with T’Pring, Spock tells his friends and shipmates that he is married. This is episode 34 of the series, and the beginning of the second year in their 5-year mission. But even then, Spock remained secretive about his relationship with T’Pring, not announcing to the larger audience on the bridge that she was more or less his fiancéé.

SPOCK: The marriage party approaches. I hear them.
KIRK: Marriage party? You said T’Pring was your wife.
SPOCK: By our parents’ arrangement. A ceremony while we were but seven years of age. Less than a marriage but more than a betrothal. One touches the other in order to feel each other’s thoughts. In this way, our minds were locked together so that at the proper time, we would both be drawn to Koon-ut-kal-if-fee.

So this is one of our first glimpses into the private life of Cmdr Spock, and we see that he isn’t very forthcoming about his personal and family life. He is so private that he sought to avoid telling even his captain and friend about his health condition and pending nuptials when asking for leave. Based on this, I don’t think it’s a difficult conclusion to jump to, to think that Spock is fiercely private about his personal life.

But could it be that Spock’s privacy in this situation more tied to potential embarrassment surrounding his libido, and not necessarily tied to privacy around his family? Is there other evidence that suggests that Spock is a private person when it comes to his family? 

KIRK: Captain James Kirk.
SAREK: Captain.
KIRK: My First Officer, Commander Spock.
SPOCK: Vulcan honours us with your presence. We come to serve.
SAREK: Your service honours us, Captain.
KIRK: Thank you. Chief Medical Officer Doctor McCoy.
MCCOY: Ambassador.
SAREK: Doctor. My aides and she who is my wife.
(He holds out his right hand with two fingers extended, and a human woman steps forward to touch them.)
AMANDA: Captain Kirk.
KIRK: Our pleasure, madam. As soon as you’re settled I’ll arrange a tour of the ship. Mister Spock will conduct you.
SAREK: I’d prefer another guide, Captain.
KIRK: As you wish, Ambassador. Mister Spock, we’ll leave orbit in two hours. Would you care to beam down and visit your parents?
SPOCK: Captain, Ambassador Sarek and his wife are my parents.

So, this is another season 2 episode, Journey to Babel. In this episode, the Enterprise is playing Galactic Uber for dignitaries to a conference. One of the dignitaries the Enterprise is expected to ferry is the Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation, a man by the name of Sarek, and his human wife Amanda. We find out through a little bit of family awkwardness, that Amanda and Sarek are in fact Spock’s parents, and the audience is also made aware that Captain Kirk didn’t know this. 

There is a saying, once is a fluke, and twice is a trend. So, there is now a trend showing Spock’s propensity towards being private when it comes to his family/personal life. But there is still one larger instance of Spock keeping to himself when it comes to matters of family.



KIRK: Dammit. God dammit, Spock!
SPOCK: Captain, what I have done…
KIRK: What you have done is betray every man on this ship.
SPOCK: Worse. I have betrayed you. I do not expect you to forgive me.
KIRK: Forgive you? I ought to knock you on your goddamn ass!
SPOCK: If you think that will help.
McCOY: You want me to hold him, Jim?
KIRK: You stay out of this! …Why, Spock? Why? All you had to do was pull the trigger.
SPOCK: If I had pulled the trigger, Sybok would be dead.
KIRK: I ordered you to defend your ship.
SPOCK: You ordered me to kill my brother.
KIRK: The man may be a fellow Vulcan, but that doesn’t…
SPOCK: You do not understand me, Captain. Sybok, also, is a son of Sarek.
KIRK: He’s your brother brother? You made that up.
SPOCK: I did not.
KIRK: You did too. Sybok couldn’t possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact that you don’t have a brother.
SPOCK: Technically, you are correct. I do not have a brother.
KIRK: You see?
SPOCK: I have a half-brother.
KIRK: I’ve got to sit down.
McCOY: Let me get this straight. You and Sybok have the same father but different mothers.
SPOCK: Exactly. That is correct. Sybok’s mother was a Vulcan princess. After her death, Sybok and I were raised as brothers.
KIRK: Why didn’t you tell us this before?
SPOCK: I was not prepared to discuss matters of a personal nature. For that I am sorry.
KIRK: That makes everything all right? I’m sorry…
McCOY: Stop it, Jim. Spock could no more kill his own brother than he could kill you. If you want to punish him for what he’s done, why don’t you throw him in the brig?
KIRK: Right.
McCOY: Besides we’ve got bigger problems to deal with. Like how the hell do we get out of here? …I’ll say one thing, Spock, you never cease to amaze me.
SPOCK: Nor I myself.

In Star Trek V The Final Frontier the primary Antagonist is a free love hippie Vulcan by the name of Sybok. Sybok saunters into galactic affairs on the Planet Nimbus III (a planet governed by Federation, Klingon, and Romulan representatives). It is here Sybok captures the government of this planet and forces Kirk and Company to come out of shore leave to rescue the hostages.  It turns out, that the hostages have a case of Cultish Stockholm syndrome and turn on their rescuers. Sybok and his cult, force Kirk and company to take them up to the Enterprise on their shuttle craft. After they land/crash Spock gets a drop on Sybok but is unable to kill him and keep the later from seizing control of the Enterprise. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are led to the brig where the above exchange happens.

So, here is the third time where the crew of the Enterprise is meeting a member of Spock’s family, and they aren’t told until it’s almost too late.  In this case, it’s AFTER his half-brother has seized control of the ship, and has put his friend’s lives in jeopardy.

When I look at these three situations, it’s clear that Spock is private about his family almost to a fault. The first time, it almost cost him his life, and the third time it almost cost the lives of his friends and crew mates.

So it makes sense that if Spock had a foster/adopted sister that he wouldn’t have necessarily talked about her. Especially considering that she went to the Vulcan Science Academy, and Spock didn’t. It has been stated that it was Spock choosing Starfleet Academy over the Vulcan Science Academy that was central in the rift with his father. Obviously, Spock’s estrangement from his father is a topic he isn’t fond of, and if his Father was closer to his adopted human daughter while rejecting Spock for his own human heritage, it presents a certain logic in the Sarek/Spock relationship dynamic that hasn’t been explained before.

Further, it seems to actually give motivation to Spock’s mentorship of both Saavik, and Valeris. He saw his father mentor a young woman, perhaps it was his way of trying to understand who his father was?

With all that said about Spock, there is another elephant in the room, when it comes to Star Trek, particularly the TOS characters. The narrative laid out in the body of canon, surrounding the family of the central characters isn’t what we would call reliable. In two instances, the audience was made aware that these characters had children when they were never previously mentioned on Screen.

In The Wrath of Khan, we are introduced to David Marcus, who after trying to stab Kirk, we find out, is actually Kirk’s son.  Kirk’s progeny was never mentioned before this, and since neither Spock nor Bones seem surprised by the development, it would seem that they knew he had a Child, but the audience didn’t.

In Star Trek Generations, we are introduced to Demora Sulu, who is the daughter of Enterprise Helmsman Hikaru Sulu. Based on the dialogue, we know that Kirk and company knew that Sulu had a child, but it was never referenced on screen. According to Memory Alpha Demora was born in 2271, which was around the time of the V-Ger incident. But again, she was never mentioned onscreen in any of the films prior to that moment.

While in later iterations of Star Trek we see the crew open up more about their family, it isn’t something that is talked much about during TOS and the TOS films. It stands to reason that between Spock’s privacy around his family life, and in general, The Original Series crew outings, not being big on talking about family personal life, that Spock could have easily had an adopted sister, that those of us in the Audience wouldn’t know about.

Of course, none of this suggests that this new Spock sibling isn’t a contrivance or that the relationship needed to happen to tell this story, that remains to be seen. This was clearly an artistic choice by the writers and the team behind Discovery. Whether or not this adds or subtracts from the previous narrative, we won’t know that until the series premieres on CBS on September 24th in the USA/Canada and worldwide on Netflix on September 25th.


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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, A Film Review By Douglas Nary, Jr

Star Trek has always had a reputation for tackling head-on issues that we all face that other entertainment franchises offer an escape from. I have my own pet theory as to why the second Star Trek feature film has withstood the test of time so well that it is still the benchmark by which all of the other films in the series are compared…

In true head-on Trek fashion, it helps us deal with the one reality that even Hollywood cannot offer us an escape from the fact that we are all getting older and will eventually die.

So far, 2015 has been a terrible year for Star Trek’s artists who have brought us such joy. We have lost Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Grace Lee Whitney, Maurice Hurley, and James Horner. Three of the names I’ve just mentioned were directly involved in the creation of this film and helped make it the classic that it is, and my intention for this review is to remember them one by one.

We begin with the man who began this particular adventure and organised the team that would make the magic happen. That man was Harve Bennett.

Bennett was brought on board by Paramount after critics had undeservedly underrated Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the studio reacted by “promoting” Roddenberry to an Executive Consultant position that would essentially get him out of the way of the second film’s development. One can understand Roddenberry’s resentment. After all, Star Trek was his kid, and after being divorced by the kid’s “mom”, Paramount, “step-dad” Bennett was brought in and was now being praised for bringing up the kid even better than its “real father” did. (Reconciliation would occur 5 years later, however, when Paramount approached Roddenberry to develop a new Star Trek show as series creator. The result would be Star Trek: The Next Generation, another beloved incarnation of the franchise. But that’s another story for another review.)

Bennett, however, was more than deserving of the praise he would eventually receive over this film. He and co-writer Jack B. Sowards would come up with several ideas that would make their way into the film, such as Kirk’s son, the return of Khan, the character of Saavik, and the Omega Device (later renamed Genesis). After no less than five attempts to come up with a satisfactory story for the film, however, Bennett was beginning to despair that he would not be able to come up with a good story himself nor find anyone who could. Being a humble man, Bennett searched high and low for someone who could bring his and Sowards’s ideas into a cohesive narrative. He caught a break when a friend of his recommended a man by the name of Nicholas Meyer.



Bennett became excited. He had seen and loved The Seven Per Cent Solution (for which Meyer had written the screenplay based on his own novel) and was quick to recruit the young and talented author/director. Bennett did exactly what a good leader should do; he hired the very best people possible and let them do great work. Meyer not only got all of Bennett and Sowards’s ideas woven into a great narrative (borrowing heavily from Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, and A Tale of Two Cities), but he did so in only twelve days and without any modifications to his contract that would get him a much-deserved writing credit.

Meyer was only the beginning of assembling the great team that would assemble this great film. In addition to all of the other Star Trek regular actors, Bennett would undergo a couple of major coups in the casting process. The first was the magnificent Ricardo Montalban to reprise what Bennett thought was the greatest villain in the original series. The second… our beloved Vulcan actor Leonard Nimoy, who after a falling out with Paramount and Roddenberry (over a Heineken billboard of all things), was frankly not interested in doing anything more with Star Trek. Bennett was able to entice him into coming back with something almost irresistible to Nimoy…a spectacular death for Spock.

Believing that the Star Trek franchise was running out of steam after the critical reaction to the first film, Nimoy responded to Bennett’s respect for him and thought that ending his tenure as this iconic character, and Star Trek in general, with a blaze of glory, was the way to go.

He agreed to appear in the film and gave it his all. Nimoy’s performance as Spock in this film provided William Shatner’s Kirk with the rock of calm and serenity that the latter character so desperately needed in this film and for which fans fondly remember the character for.



I’ve always found it interesting that this is a Spock that is more comfortable in his own skin than ever before, having acknowledged and finally accepted his human half in the previous film. Kirk’s character is going through the opposite dynamic of the previous film. In both cases, he is going through a mid-life crisis that only assuming command of the Enterprise again can resolve. However, where in the first film he pushes himself into the center seat at the expense of her rightful captain and then has to learn to let go and take responsibility, in this film he starts out as trying to let go and move on from starship command and his friends, Spock and McCoy, are both pushing him back into the center seat. Spock, now being the rightful captain in question, takes advantage of a possible crisis to evoke regulations and give Kirk no choice but to accept his first and best destiny.

The adventure that follows is exactly the swift, quick kick in the seat of the pants that so many of us who face mid-life crisis need. Khan, representing what we can easily become if we let those feelings of life passing us by getting to us- an embittered old man- tries to take out his frustrations on Kirk…in an extremely deadly way. Along the way, we see the son that Kirk never got to raise, Kirk screaming “KHAAANN!!” in a rage, and then finally expressing even deeper feelings when his voice isn’t much higher than a whisper.



“There’s a man out there I haven’t seen in fifteen years, who’s trying to kill me. You’ve shown me a son that would be happy to help him. My son. My life that could have been…but wasn’t. What am I feeling? Old…worn out.”

Kirk may be feeling old, but this moment in the film never gets old for me, because it speaks to us and reflects how we often feel… at any age.

The battle that follows is, of course, riveting and exciting, but more to the point is the way it ends, with Spock showing us his own solution to the “no-win” scenario, a metaphor for something we all feel as we face life. We learn that earlier in his life, Kirk got around the “no-win” scenario by cheating, or rather changing the conditions of the scenario. This time, he is not being given that option. Spock sacrifices himself for the ship and all of his friends and in doing so gives Kirk what he needs: the opportunity to change and grow further and actually ponder the meaning of his own words, “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.” Kirk’s arc closes out with the words, “I feel young”; indicating that growth is exactly what he intends to do with the second half of his life.

After experiencing and acting out these strong character dynamics, Nimoy was starting to have second thoughts about leaving the franchise. Here was a film that offered the character banter that he was craving to play again but never expected that he would. And the film’s themes of death and rebirth had shown that this wasn’t the end of Star Trek at all. In fact…this was shaping up to be a new beginning.

So, Bennett made the wise decision to leave the door open for Spock’s possible return. In doing so, he ensured that the franchise’s future would indeed be a bright one. But where would all of this great drama and action be without the right musical score?

The right music can make all of the difference in how well a film plays with the audience. There was no denying that Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the first film was appropriately epic. Even that film’s harshest critics will admit that TMP at least had that (along with a great visual atmosphere) going for it. But with Goldsmith not available (or not affordable, given the minuscule budget of this film), who could possibly replace this vital component?

Director Meyer found the answer in a young composer named James Horner, who was working his way up from B-movie fare such as Battle Beyond the Stars. Although Horner’s new main title theme would take some getting used to at first, the score for the film was suitably triumphant when our heroes were in a good place and creepy and doom threatening when they were in a not-so-good place. Horner’s main title theme for the film, however, would withstand the test of time and become one of the most beloved in the franchise, and his work would only get better in the next film.

With all of these wonderful artists and team-players now gone (along with half of the film’s cast), the theme of how we face death being at least as important as how we face life becomes even more poignant than ever, even for those of us who were children when this film was released in 1982. Our favourite artists may be growing old and leaving us one by one, but that only means that we must step up to the plate and continue living for the sake of their memory and our future. Look at the generation of kids growing up around us, and realise that life will continue long after we are gone, and we must give them something to remember as Bennett, Nimoy, Horner, and all of their colleagues had given us. 

On a scale of one to ten, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is undeniably a 10! It’s more than just a submarine-inspired riveting space adventure; it’s a story that will continue to resonate with us all through life.


  • Guest Author: Douglas Nary, Jr. is a freelance copywriter and author. His most recent works have included a recently completed short film script entitled “The Cage of Freedom” and the upcoming novel Supralight, for which a script version has also been completed.
  • Blog Layout: James Hams
  • Pictures: http://www.startrek.com/article/remembering-those-we-lost-in-2015 and Google Images.
  • YouTube embeds link to video sources. 

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Discovery Vs The Orville – By Bill Allen

Good evening sports fans, and get ready for an exciting challenge…the ultimate sci-fi showdown: the Boldly Going Bruiser vs the Wisecracking Wanderer; the Parody vs the Legacy, the Battle Beyond the Stars…wait, that’s the wrong franchise…

A lot of folks are making comparisons between the two big sci-fi entries premiering this fall: Star Trek Discovery (CBS) and The Orville (FOX). So, let’s take a moment and run the stats on these two.

The Orville looks amazing. Spectacular. And any other adjective used to title a Spiderman comic book. This is from Seth McFarlane, a guy who got his Start writing for such iconic cartoon network shows such as Dexter’s Lab and Johnny Bravo, probably most well-known for his phenomenal talent across all aspects of production on the long-running Fox cartoon Family Guy.  He also made a helluva western comedy (A Million Ways to Die in the West) and somehow managed to make Mark Wahlberg funny TWICE (the Ted movies). He’s also a born geek, as evidenced by the Star Wars parodies he cranked out for the Family Guy specials, and the fact that he actually Starred in a couple of episodes of Star Trek’s Enterprise. In short, he knows comedy, he knows sci-fi, and so his comedy sci-fi show is going to be a most excellent adventure. (Wait, that’s the wrong franchise too…)

And in the other corner, wearing the blue uniforms…Star Trek Discovery. Bryan Fuller, Nicholas Meyer, Alex Kurtzman, Rod Roddenberry (I heard he is some distant relative of some guy involved with creating the original Star Trek….) a creative team pulling from just about every iteration of Star Trek there has been, coupled with a cast of top notch talent that includes Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Sonequa Martin-Green….this is the show that carries on the Legacy that is Star Trek, boldly going where no one has gone before in the final frontier, pushing our knowledge of what’s out there to new limits in order to better understand and examine what is going on right here….it has a shot…it could be somebody… it could be a contender (OK, now that isn’t even the right genre…)

so folks are saying this is the ultimate ‘vs. showdown….but you shouldn’t listen to those folks, because they are just sulking for various reasons, and most of the reactions are just a mindless knee-jerk response because they aren’t paying attention.

See, Orville really isn’t a Star Trek Parody.
Orville is also not “Galaxy Quest: the series”. (Galaxy Quest WAS a Star Trek parody, but its parody status was a secondary thing: primarily it was about dragging actors kicking and screaming through the fourth wall…it is a “Three Amigos”, a “Tropic Thunder”, a “My Name is Bruce”….even, dare I say it, a “Last Action Hero”.)

Orville is a SCI FI COMEDY. Yes, it is going to poke fun at the tropes and clichés that riddle science fiction in all its various forms over the years, and since Star Trek had plenty of those clichés in its beginning–and Star Trek introduced a lot of new and unique content that became so iconic, they became a standard trope and cliché of the genre—then obviously the science fiction elements from Star Trek can be found here. But it isn’t making fun of them, it’s using them as the material to tell a great joke…or a whole series of jokes…jokes that need to be made, that fit the genre.

Orville is ‘M*A*S*H* in Space’. (Or maybe a TV version of “Schlock Mercenary”, possibly one of the best sci-fi webcomics out there right now…)

But there are people out there who HATE Discovery. They haven’t seen it yet, but they hate it, so they make these vapid comments like ‘this is the Star Trek fans want, not Discovery,’ and various comparisons are already being drawn up. The Orville is not trying to challenge Star Trek or compete with it, but Star Trek fans love a good war….they need conflict and destruction and discord. So, without wanting to square off, these two contenders are locked in a cage match.

Who will win in the fight the fans want? Who will be destroyed? Some will be offended by The Orville, because Star Trek is, as the kids say these days, ‘srs bsns.’ There aren’t supposed to be jokes in Star Trek; it is meant to be dry, intellectual fare meant only for the most elite of the upper crust, not intended to be common entertainment and to make a mockery of Star Trek is just wrong.  Others are offended by Discovery and want to see it torn down because of various superficial reasons regarding looks and visual effects and all sorts of shallow reasons that have nothing to do with substance.

IF the decision were up to the fans, both shows are doomed. Orville is going to have the quick-witted, dry sarcasm that McFarlane is famous for, but isn’t going to be as crude as his other comedies… in space, no one can hear you fart. (still, in the wrong genre, I know, but still…)

it highlights the smartest parts of McFarlane’s humorous style, and it is likely to go over many people’s heads (as evidenced by how many folks have already misidentified the comedy style at work.) it’s also going to have a lot of fans watching it not because they enjoy it, but because they really hate CBS’s product.  So there’s a pretty good chance it will miss the mark…or rather, it will hit the mark squarely while everyone is looking the wrong direction.

Discovery has to overcome the ire of the fans as well. Far too many people are determined to tear it down, to say it ‘isn’t real Star Trek’ or that it is the ‘wrong’ kind of story…and those folks will do their best to dominate the internet and give this show as many bad reviews as they can before it even comes out.

Aside from just the fan base, these shows have to overcome the Networks. Orville is on FOX, and just ask Firefly or Almost Human how THAT usually works out…the production value for Orville is top-notch—which also means ‘really expensive’—so it may not be profitable enough to get a second season. And there is also a chance it gets canned to make room for Fox’s new show ‘who wants to be a reality show host?’

Discovery is blazing a new trail for Star Trek, as they try to shake things up and make this the first Star Trek series to go directly to streaming. (If you’ll recall, when TNG tried to go direct to syndication, many thought it was a gamble that would seal the death of Star Trek…will the gamble pay off this time? Enterprise was meant to be a prequel, but it ran into some troubles and fizzled out. Discovery now tries to do the same thing…has it learned from the mistakes of ENT, or it is doomed to the same fate?

Sometime last year, Suits from CBS said that various international distribution deals and pre-sales had made sure that DSC was already profitable, and not a frame had been shot. Will the subscriptions for CBS All Access that this show brings in be enough to sweeten the deal and make a second season look good, or will the numbers fall short of established streaming services like Netflix’s original programs, and DSC will be written off as a failure that profited, but not quite enough?

So, here is what I think will happen: Orville will be a phenomenal comedy, and get only one season because what Fox does to their shows makes what George RR Martin does to his characters look nice.
Discovery will get its second season, but the second story arc will push things too far and go in some screwy direction, and the Star Trek fans will see to it the series fails.

That’s how it could happen. But How about this?

Orville and Discovery aren’t really competing against each other, but they instead end up complimenting each other.  The world right now is an angry and fight kind of place. So much divisive rhetoric, so much arguing and doom and gloom and irrational hate….the world NEEDS the lessons of Star Trek. But the hate is so bad, the ‘us vs them mentality’ so thick right now, that folks can’t learn those lessons until they lighten up. Enter the Orville:  Seth McFarlane will teach us how to laugh again, giving us three solid seasons. Eventually, Fox decides to wrap up the animation domination of Sundays and do something new…Orville gets moved to Sunday for a new sci-fi lineup which will include the return of Firefly.

Meanwhile, Discovery Season one ends up getting rave reviews because the knee-jerk fan reactions lowered expectations, and the finished product ends up vastly exceeding expectations, and a few folks Star saying silly things like ‘this is the best Trek ever’. Now that we can laugh again, thanks to Orville, we’ll see more of ourselves in the crew of Discovery, and see how we can make ourselves better than we are, in the finest tradition of Star Trek.   It wraps up the funky Klingon storyline in season one (They are some kind of ancient Klingon cult…that’s the rumour we are going with, right?) and season two decides to do some time travel, give the fans some of that post-25th-century action they were wanting. Season two declines because time travel fanservice tends to go badly, but the season finale is a two-parter that brings back Enterprise and has the crew of Discovery undo THAT god-awful finale, saving Tripp Tucker from an ignoble and abrupt death. Fans are thrilled by this, and overlook how bad other time travel elements in season two were, and look forward to season three, which goes for a deep-range exploration of the Beta Quadrant.  CBS All Access bumps up the Trek content on their site, adding a ‘captain pike animated series that is (loosely) tied to Discovery, and possibly another animated series; The Adventures of Marauder Moe. ‘Gary Seven’, a contemporary action/thriller show, debuts on the network, revamped to deal with modern day characters that are going to pave the way to the future: Lt Green of the US army, hunting down ‘alien threats’, and a mysterious corporation working on the future of genetic engineering.  Discovery ends up running for a total of five seasons, then a year later gets a brief six-hour miniseries follow-up that concludes with the Battle of Rigel VII, and an appearance by Captain Pike.

These shows don’t need to survive each other, but they do need to survive in a harsh and ever-changing landscape. I’d love to see them both make it…and I really hope Star Trek fans go back to classic Vs fights (let’s all make fun of the Han Solo movie!) and quit picking new fights.


  • Blog Author: Bill Allen
  • Blog Layout: James Hams

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The Star Trek World Tour – By Sandra Wuerthner

The Star Trek World Tour was planned as the name says a travelling Exhibition. It Started in “Düsseldorf” in Germany, moved to Vienna and then to Asia. It was 1998, after reading the first announcements I couldn’t believe it, it was too expensive for me to visit Las Vegas and the Star Trek Experience, so there was a Star Trek Tour coming to Düsseldorf. This is about 10-12 hours train ride or 1.5-hour flight. Flying was too expensive at this time – no Low-Cost Carriers, so we took the night train to Germany.

I visited the tour at the beginning and again at the end. At the end, I was on the very last flight of the “Enterprise” in Düsseldorf, and this flight was an amazing experience – the crew made a lot of fun.

During the tour in Düsseldorf they made some changes, the first thing was, that at the beginning of the tour the movie was in English, and the translations weren’t ready on the first days. They also changed the movie on the bridge. I’m glad that I was visiting the tour also on the first days so I was able to see both movies.

They also changed the “beaming effect” a bit. I talked to some people who worked there, and they said, that some guest complained, that the effects were too intense.




Welcome to the Earth base Operation Centre

You got some basic information, about Star Trek. Sometimes there were also some Klingons in the room, who made a lot of fun with the guides and the visitors.

After that,  you were guided to a small briefing room.

 



In the briefing room, Q appeared on the screen with his son Maurice. He would like to show his son the Humans.

Our guide explained something about the transporter, and how it works – but Q interrupted him and opened the door to the transporter room. So we should all step on the platform.

This was the transporter platform – I have a better picture from the Star Trek Adventure. The Transporter Effect was made with flashes, bass-shakers and sound. Q was also a bit talking to us, he tries to scare some people about beaming.

You can see it on the video, sometimes they picked some people and told them, that they didn’t warn the crowd that the transporter had a maximum capacity of 10 persons. The video is only in German – sorry for that.

 



 

After the Transporter room, we arrived at Main Engineering. Q was also there on a screen. He simulated a warp core breach and all people were evacuated to another room. It should be a labour or something like that.

 



While waiting for the turbolift we were standing in this room. I don’t have pictures from the turbolift, but you can see the ride on the video.

The lift took us up to the bridge.

 



First, the pictures on the bridge are from the World Tour and the ST-Adventure. After the World Tour vanished in Asia – some years later the Star Trek Adventure opens in London (I was also there) The used the sets from the World Tour for the Adventure. (This explains the pictures without Starfleet officers at Engineering or the Ops / Conn on the bridge.

At the bridge, Q appeared again and there was a fight against the Borg. You can see on one picture the Enterprise-E. It was a lot of fun standing on the bridge.

 



These rides are very popular at amusement parks. After visiting the bridge, you were escorted to the shuttlebay and fly back to earth. At Düsseldorf, there wasn’t a shuttle ride, but at Vienna, they added this ride. The fun stuff was that the shuttle was landing in “Cologne” a city near Düsseldorf.

 



  • Guest Author: Sandra Wuerthner
  • Blog Pictures and YouTube Links: Sandra Wuerthner
  • Blog Layout: James Hams

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture – A Fan Film Review by Douglas Nary, Jr.

The year was 1979. I was 5 years old, my parents had gotten divorced in June and I had just started Kindergarten feeling lost and confused among all these other strange kids. I still had my bi-weekly weekend visits with my dad to look forward to, however, and in December of that year, with Christmas on the horizon, he and I would have a special day together; one that would be forever etched into my psyche in a sweet way.

Since my baby brother was sick that day, it was just my dad and I. And we were going into town (from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where Dad was stationed and we were living at the time) to go to the movies. The film that he was so excited to take me to see: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Now, during the trip, I wasn’t so much excited about what movie we were going to see as much as I was having one-on-one time with my dad. Star Trek at that point didn’t hold a candle to Star Wars in my mind; it was just one of those old shows that my dad liked (along with Lost In Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Land of the Giants). But it did have spaceships in it and my 5-year-old mind was all over anything with spaceships, plus we were going to Farrell’s for ice cream sundaes after the show, so I had plenty to look forward to.

As the theatre darkened and we moved through the trailers of I-Don’t-Even-Remember upcoming films and moved on to the feature, I instantly recognised the silhouettes of three Klingon ships. I had seen Klingon ships before, but not like this. These Klingon ships were so BIG on the screen, and so real, you could almost touch them. Except you didn’t want to. These were, after all, the bad guys, and both the Klingons and their fate by this mysterious ‘cloud’ filled me with morbid fascination.

Then came the familiar faces. The first was Spock, albeit with long hair, on Vulcan, then Kirk, looking heroic as he stepped off of an immaculately sleek shuttle in an immaculately sleek San Francisco. Then we saw Scotty, looking much as he did on Jason of Star Command, as he took Kirk on what was to be a tour of the newly designed EnterpriseAnd then, we saw the Enterprise. Thus my affinity for Star Trek began, not from the familiar faces of the show that my dad liked, although they were nice to see on the big screen, from that ship in its intricate drydock. She was sleek, she was functional, she was majestic…she was beautiful, and wherever she voyaged, I wanted to be aboard her.

Forget the film’s slow pace. Forget the familiar plot similarities to “The Changeling” (which I had not yet even seen, so my young mind wasn’t even aware of them until years later.) I was completely hooked on the sensory experience. Being on board the Enterprise– whatever the familiar faces of the crew were doing or talking about- was like a Disneyland of functionality and engineering that became my first true appreciation of art. And the morbid fascination with this threat that crew was exploring, while my 5-year-old brain couldn’t really comprehend the plot, I felt like my dad was letting me in on a new level of understanding somehow (though I wouldn’t be able to articulate it to myself until years later), and finally, that last beautiful sweeping shot as we looked ‘up’ to the very big and beautiful Enterprise engage her warp drive to her next voyage.

Needless to say, I had beautiful visions of space technology dancing in my head as we ate our ice cream sundaes at Farrell’s in the same shopping centre that the theatre was at (if I recall correctly). Over the next few visits with Dad, both my brother and I would have car trips listening to Jerry Goldsmith’s wonderfully epic soundtrack, enjoy seeing the model kits that my dad built of the Enterprise, Klingon ship, and Vulcan shuttle which all had these neat looking rainbow effect stickers for the engine and weapon components, and Dad had even augmented the Enterprise kit’s saucer lights with additional lights in the saucer, engineering hull, and the ‘neck’ in between. He also had a picture book (The TMP Photostory. Essentially still pictures of the film with captions that read like a comic book) that he eventually gave me. We even saw the film two additional times at the local drive –in theatre. Our formal education on the original series also began. We shared Star Trek (as well as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and sci-fi in general) with our dad the same way other fathers would share sports with their sons.

A fan had been born that day. My ONLY complaint about the film was the lack of ship-to-ship combat action. I really wanted to see the new Enterprise up against one of those new Klingon ships, but I held out faith that we would get some action in a second movie. (And sure enough, we did.)

But enough self-indulgence. Now that you know how I became a Star Trek fan, let’s dive into the first of this series of reviews, where I will analyze and try to figure out why our favorite films are so great, why our not-so-favorite films aren’t, and why people have such a difference of opinion on such things. We begin with that first Star Trek feature.

Star Trek had been around for 13 years at the time of the first film’s release, so a lot of people already had some pre-conceived notions about what a Star Trek movie should be like. Fans craving a new Star Trek adventure in any form went to see it in droves, but they were divided over the film, some considering it a huge disappointment while others thought it was simply epic. (We Nary boys were definitely in the latter category.) Mainstream moviegoers, who were expecting something along the lines of Star Wars instead got something along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey and were simply bored with it.

So, what happened that caused this? Well, in 1979, we were on the brink of the space shuttle era. It was to be the first (of many we hoped) reusable space vehicles, and the first such vehicle, named Enterprise, had been successfully test flown on free flight within the atmosphere that tested her guidance and landing systems. I truly believe that these flights and their promise for the future, as much as anything else, led to an escalation of America’s appetite for science fiction. Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out around the same time as Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman: The Movie and Alien. Also on the small screen, we were being treated to things like Battlestar Galactica, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman. No doubt about it, it was a great time to be a science fiction fan.

While I will concede that the film’s slow pace and cerebral plot may have contributed to its relatively lacklustre performance with critics of the time, when one considers the above conditions, it was actually a quite logical (no pun intended) and perfectly reasonable mistake to make.

Clearly, producer Gene Roddenberry felt that audiences were ready for a more cerebral type of Star Trek adventure that would engage the audience’s minds and get them thinking rather than go with a shoot ‘em up type of scenario. The success of Close Encounters no doubt convinced both him and Paramount that a science fiction adventure need not involve space battles to be successful. They also had every reason to believe that the Star Trek name and characters and their popularity would carry any adventure to success both critically and commercially.

So why didn’t it?

Was it the lack of ship-to-ship combat action? No. I have already admitted that this was my only personal complaint about the film…but I was five and had a child’s taste for excitement and I still loved the film. Also, there are plenty of other Star Trek adventures made before and since that do not involve space battles and were loved by fans.

Was it the plot similarities to past Star Trek episodes? Perhaps. There are similarities to plots from previous Star Trek episodes. “The Changeling” is the most obvious, with the two stories involving machines in search of their “creator”, which turns out to be human. There are also elements of “The Doomsday Machine”, also featuring a mammoth machine threatening to swallow the Enterprise and a character named Decker; and “The Immunity Syndrome”, in which the Enterprise penetrated an outer “cloud” layer to get to the threat facing them.

However, Star Trek borrowing plot elements from other sources or even from itself is hardly unique to this film. The next film in the series, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, borrows heavily from both Moby Dick and A Tale of Two Cities along with other well-known sources and no one complained. So I don’t think recycled plot elements is the problem here. Every plot comes from somewhere, you just have to do variations on the theme not seen before, and The Motion Picture did so spectacularly.

Was it the “odd numbered curse”? In my frank opinion, the so-called “odd numbered curse” on Star Trek films is balderdash! Both this film and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock are not only two of my favourite Star Trek films; they rank among my favourite films of all time. And last I checked, “1” and “3” are both odd numbers. They may not have been as popular with critics as Treks II & IV, but they were just as successful at the box office, which to me means that they were just as popular with fans of the time. Plus, one must consider the box office numbers for the Star Trek films made since 1998. Films number 9 and 11 have outperformed their even numbered counterparts (10 & 12) in terms of both box office and fan reaction. Heck, if anything we’ve been living with an EVEN numbered curse for the last 17 years!

When one looks at how this film has aged gracefully over the last 36 years since its release, how it has grown in esteem with the release of new cuts (one in 1983, and a spectacular Director’s Edition in 2001 that fixed almost all of the second act’s problems), it’s quite clear that Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a film that has withstood the test of time quite well. My theory on why it did not perform as well as it should have…it was simply ahead of its time. It just needed that time to get the recognition it deserved. Lack of plot and characterization? Poppycock! Both Kirk and Spock go through significant character arcs that I for one have been able to identify with at different points of my life. Spock’s especially. As he goes from believing his human half to be a weakness and responsible for his pain to embracing it and finding new strength, we too find strength in embracing new ways of thinking that we have previously been rejecting. This, in turn, can lead to a better understanding of others and even of the universe and our place in it.

In this series, I will rate films on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being at the top. On that scale, I rate Star Trek: The Motion Picture a 9, its slow pace being the ONLY thing keeping it from a 10. I could not have asked for a better introduction to the Star Trek universe, and I predict that our ever-increasing understanding of the universe may prompt future Trek writers to look to this introspective adventure as an example of what to aspire to.


  • Blog Author: Douglas Nary, Jr
  • Blog Layout and Pictures: James Hams
  • Pictures: CBS/Paramount, Google Images. 

 

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So, let’s talk about Discovery – By Bill Allen

“A minority female lead is a groundbreaking—“
no, plenty of folks are going to cover that.

“The F/X are CLEARY, not pre-TOS Prime—“
Yeah, let’s skip that can of worms.

“The Klingons are—“
I have absolutely no idea, heard thirty theories, will hear thirty more. (Looks cool, though.)

“It’s on a Streaming service instead of—“
no, I will not argue about this…and no, I will not get off your lawn, grandpa.

“the ship looks like—“
that was done, redone, overdone, then done again during the first teaser.

So, a thousand blogs, ten thousand opinions, a hundred thousand fan theories (some of which are good, and some of which…well, folks, please have your homes tested for lead paint.) What can I say about the new Series? There are a lot of folks who are much smarter than me and very clever analysing all the little details…and there are folks who are not as smart as me but much louder making assertions and assumptions based on no evidence, or two seconds of footage, or tinfoil hats.  How can we write about Star Trek Discovery when we haven’t seen it yet? We can talk about what we know about it: it is Star Trek.  But what does that mean?


The crew of TNG

Let’s go for a little trip down memory lane.

I never Discovered Star Trek. the birth of Star Trek came about a decade before I showed up on the scene. So, unlike a lot of fans, I don’t have a ‘moment’…Star Trek was something my family liked, so it was always on in reruns as I grew up. So, I don’t have a cool story about my first experience with Star Trek. (It wasn’t even the first non-cartoon movie I saw in cinemas…I ended up seeing “Ghostbusters”, and then “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and then saw “Search for Spock”.) But there were plenty of firsts.

I remember being 15 minutes late for the Premiere of TNG. I was at my grandmother’s in Texas, and it was Sunday afternoon that it was slated to air (the wonders of a show jumping directly into syndication…) I had gone to church (because that is what you do when you stay at Mamaw’s) and hung around a bit to play with kids my age, let Mamaw kibbitz with the preacher, that sort of thing, and then she said, “Well, let’s go home so you can watch that new Star Trek show you keep talking about.”

so, I missed the beginning. My first sighting of the New and ‘improved’ Enterprise, redesigned to be more futuristic and the like, was as it soared majestically in orbit over whatever alien planet they were visiting to see some station called ‘Farpoint’. I liked the lines of the hull and the glowing blue of the nacelles that swept so smoothly and majestically up from the hull…and found that the teeny tiny saucer on the Enterprise looked really out of proportion and stupid. “what have they done to my ship?!?” I cried, aghast…then the Enterprise flew off and reconnected with the saucer section, and suddenly, not only did the ship look MUCH better, it had a cool new feature with the detachable saucer. The lesson here: sometimes we can be hasty with our gut reactions. Not only did the first episode of TNG get better, but over the years, the series as a whole got better.

The crew of DS9 S7

I remember being less than thrilled about Deep Space Nine. This was the golden age of syndicated TV: right before all these new networks popped up and really defined themselves, you had outfits doing all sorts of great sci-fi/fantasy shows: Time Trax, Babylon 5, Kung-Fu the Legend Continues, Hercules….Star Trek deserved a spot in among all the PTEN fare. But…a Space Station instead of a Starship? But then I read the TV guide articles (Sure, the internet was around back then, but not exactly commonplace) and they talked about the mysterious wormhole to the other side of the galaxy, and how O’Brien would figure out a way to make the whole space station move….so I thought, ‘ok, they fall in the wormhole, and drift around from place to place in a mobile station, far from home, more resources than a Starship, but less mobile…put the crew to the test beyond the final frontier…’ of course, the actual show played out a bit different than the concept I had in my head, and while I thought *MY* idea was cooler…DS9 ended up doing great and gave us a fascinating Trek series. The Lesson Here: fans tell great stories….but those are not the ONLY story. Someone else—especially guys whose stories are good enough that they get PAID to tell them—are ALSO going to be good.

I remember Voyager. Back to a Starship now, but on the far side of the galaxy (I guess those network execs listened to my cool idea about how they should have done DS9…?) TNG really shook things up, gave us a DRASTIC shift away from TOS in look and feel…it was still Star Trek but was definitely a ‘strange new world’. DS9 gave us a different kind of story altogether, again going new, with new life and new civilisations…and it laid the groundwork for building that ephemeral thing called ‘canon’.

The crew of Voyager

Voyager gave us a universe. It took the aspects that created the ‘TNG era’, cemented ‘canon’, took a deeper look at the old standards and went a little more in depth, laying the foundations that changed Star Trek from being just a franchise and bumped it up into…a Legacy? I’m not sure, but whatever Trek had become, ‘franchise’ seemed an inadequate word. It gave us our favourites, it fleshed out details, and still managed to surprise us with new discoveries…even about some of those old favourites. The lesson here: Star Trek lives. It perseveres….it keeps on sailing along the horizon, and often the journey matters even more than the destination. 

I remember Enterprise. A reimagining (a ‘reboot’ before it was even a word) going back to the beginning, restarting everything, giving the tired old 1960s tech an upgrade and facelift, while still holding true to the core of Star Trek. It somehow managed to avoid most of the catastrophic clichés and hackneyed tropes that ruin prequels, staying fresh and imaginative, while simultaneously screwing the pooch with fan service and getting strung along some lousy storylines because that was what fans really wanted to see. The fan base lost interest, the show overran its costs, the franchise was fatigued….

The crew of Enterprise

for whatever reason, the show did not do well and was cut down before its time. When it had a bad episode, it was one of the WORST episodes of any Trek in the 50-year history of the universe…but when it had a good episode, it was some of the absolute BEST Star Trek EVER. The lesson here: don’t listen to fans. Star Trek is not what it is because the fans made something of it; the Fans are what they are because Star Trek made something of THEM.

I remember Kelvin.  Go back to the beginning (the REAL beginning, not some silly prequel story), give us Kirk, Spock and the OG Masters of Sci-Fi. But don’t give us papier Mache Monsters and reused Andy Griffith Sets. We live in a new era, where technology and cinematography allow us to push the envelope visually, create a look that still captured the spirit of Trek, but wrapped it in all the new advances that we had made to make it feel like the future again. (Because, let’s face it, here at the dawn of the 21st century, much of our tech has already greatly surpassed that which TOS envisioned for the future centuries hence…) the heart of Trek is still there, the soul of Trek shines through…Star Trek will not become dated or archaic.  The lesson here: the journey is just beginning.


I remember Discovery…

For all of you who are fans, take a minute and name the five best directors/writers/producers that worked on Trek. No matter who you are, somehow, by some miracle, at least one name from your list is part of the Dream team building the new Star Trek series. The cast is made of A-list actors and B-listers who damn well ought to be A-listers.  The ship…the ships, the aliens, the imagery….they pored over the archives, selected bits and pieces from the greats of Treks VFX history….pulling from TOS, TMP, the Maroon movie era, TNG era, etc etc etc. this is Star Trek, through and through.  The stories, the characters, the actors….all the instruments are in play, and the conductor is about to begin, and a new symphony will resonate through the internet and the rest of the galaxy.

We are going to see some old favourites reborn, revitalised, improved and explored in greater depth. We are going to see new and amazing things. We are going to wax philosophical about sociological and cultural issues through allegory both internal and external and ponder some of the ‘meaning of life stuff’ along the way. We are going to get some of the ‘the world can be a better place’ commentary on contemporary humanity as it contrasts with this vision of a better future. We are going to get some god awful episodes that will leave you wondering if the writers were drunk or if they just lost a bet (if I ever become a successful novelist, I am bound by such a drunken wager to write a story about a worm that poops platinum…I know how painful a bad bet can be) and we are going to get some episodes that will be so magnificently crafted that you say “This. THIS is what Star Trek is.”  We are going to get other things that I can’t even begin to think of….and when all is said and done, we are going to get at the very least two or three Years of Discovery….and we will get another 50 years of Star Trek. (and in five or ten years, I’ll write another blog about Discovery, and be able to fill in this ‘I remember Discovery’ section with all that we have learned, and loved, and hated, about Discovery…but I look forward to watching the show, and discovering whatever it has to offer.)

The lesson here?

who cares? Star Trek IS BACK! LET’S PARTY!!!!!!


  • Blog Author: Bill Allen.
  • Pics and Blog Layout: James Hams.
  • Pics: CBS / Google pictures.

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Asexuality in Star Trek by Emma Filtness

Hello, my name is Emma and I am a member of Starfleet and the Tactical Officer on the USS Merlin (Region 20). I have identified as Grey-Asexual for roughly a year and as a keen sci-fi fan, I was curious to look into the spectrum of asexuality in the expanded universe. Today I am happy to produce my results.

What is Asexuality?

According to Urban Dictionary, the term asexual is described as “a person who is not interested in or does not desire sexual activity, either within or outside of a relationship. asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the willful decision to not act on sexual feelings. asexuals, while not physically sexual-type folks, are none the less quite capable of loving, affectionate, romantic ties to others.” As a spectrum, asexuality is, much like space, yet to be fully explored.

Asexuality in Star Trek

During my research, I was able to find a few different scenarios featuring blatant asexuality as a theme. Throughout these story arcs, there is a recurring driving force which is that sexuality is considered to be a building block of the human psyche. Any species, alien or otherwise, that are currently not sexually active wish to embrace sexuality in order to further discover what it is to become human. The species that I will be using as examples are The Vaalians from The Original Series episode The Apple, Jn’aii or more specifically Soren from the Next Generation episode The Outcast and Data also from Next Gen.

The Vaalians

The Vaalians are discovered by Kirk and the landing party after being attacked by the indigenous flora. The Vaalians do not procreate as it is forbidden and are replaced as needed by the Vaal, who is the driving force behind their community. According to a blog by Women at Warp, which also explores asexuality, “The episode links the Vaalians’ lack of sexuality to the other elements of their society that causes them to stagnate… When the people express concern about how they will survive [after Kirk & co destroy the Vaal who has been operating a sophisticated computer system which is damaging the Enterprise.] Kirk reassures them that they will now be able to lead ‘normal lives’… ‘You’ll learn something about men and women – the way they’re supposed to be.” On a positive note though Spock stands up for the Vaalians by saying that simply because their culture is different to the crew’s expectations does not make it invalid. The episode links the species’ naivety and lack of understanding to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, with the Enterprise away team as the Apple of Knowledge (hence the episode name) and the controlling Vaal as God. I think this is a ‘fascinating’ though relatively insulting look into an asexual society, though the time period must be taken into consideration here as any sexuality other than straight was highly frowned upon. As a result, the fact that there is even a mention of another sexual culture was a step forward.

The J’naii and Soren

The J’naii are introduced to us in the Next Generation episode The Outcast which lies out as follows. The Enterprise is contacted by the genderless J’naii who require assistance finding a missing shuttle which has disappeared into null space. In order to track down the shuttle, Soren, a skilled pilot and Riker are sent out as a search party. However, the craft is damaged and Soren is injured. During her treatment by Dr Crusher, Soren is interested in learning more about the female identity as it turns out that Soren is interested in Riker and wants to pursue a romantic relationship with him. This presents a massive problem as the J’aii forbid any expression of gender or sexuality in any form as they believe that it is primitive and is thus a perversion. “Those… who view themselves as possessing gender are ridiculed, outcast and forced to undergo ‘psychotic therapy’” which is designed to forcefully re-educate the individual in order to bring them back into line. The point of the episode was to highlight LGBT rights and homophobia in line with Gene Roddenberry’s legacy who wished to include more LGBT characters in the show. Which in addition to The Apple shows that despite arguments that Star Trek is only science fiction and therefore not necessarily accessible, it is one of the only shows willing to express the many variations of the human psyche.

Data

In the last of today’s explorations, Data is arguably the most mainstream asexual character in modern culture. As an Android, “Data is not human, though he desperately wants to be.” In order to become more human, he engages in sexual intercourse with Tasha Yar which is a continuation of my larger point. In a blog post from 2009, the author, Elizabeth, herself an asexual, theorises that in the Star Trek universe, “sexuality… is contingent on having emotions… This implies that sexual attraction is itself an emotion… it could be that the emotion Data as experiencing was purely his desire to be human, channelled through a sexual circuit.” Data is in many ways a very good example of an asexual and the wider reactions to this, in that many asexuals face harassment stating that lacking sexuality is in a way inhuman, much like Kirk and McCoy’s reaction to the Vaalian’s lack of sexual activity or leanings.

Conclusion

Summing up, it is clear to me that within the Star Trek mythology, asexuality is treated as a somewhat alien trait, lacking emotion and deeper knowledge which is a cornerstone of humanity. However, I am not attacking the franchise, in fact, I celebrate that Gene Roddenberry was forward-thinking and daring enough to encourage other cultures, ideologies, gender and sexual identities when it is still relatively frowned upon in society. This legacy has continued in the Star Trek pathos, introducing Sulu played by John Cho as gay in the new film ‘Star Trek Beyond’. I hope to see this legacy grow in future series and films and potentially include another asexual character.

Thank you for reading!  


Bibliography


  • Author: Emma Filtness
  • Pictures provided by: Emma Filtness
  • Blog layout, Some Pictures and links: James Hams

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