In the interest of full disclosure I must say that I have never been a fan of the so-called Star Trek fan films. Sure I can give them credit for good effort and they seem like they are a lot of fun to do, but in the end they usually are no more impressive than community theater…and often worse. The efforts of the Star Trek New Voyages team have so far been the shining star of this lot with very impressive production design, sets, costumes and even some stunt casting, but to date they have still fallen short of being something that I could consider a professional production due to too many weak links spoiling otherwise good work. This is why I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised after watching latest episode "World Enough and Time" starring George Takei. Although it is not without its flaws, this fourth episode from New Voyages is certainly the best Trek fan production ever made and likely the first that could quality as a truly professional production worthy of the name Star Trek.
You know you are in for something big right from the outset as the episode opens with a beautiful shot of the USS Excelsior, cutting to a scene on the bridge of Captain Sulu’s ship first seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This setting with Takei’s Captain Sulu and his trusty sidekick Commander Rand (played by Grace Lee Whitney) is used as the framing device for the episode, where we soon zoom into the mind’s eye of Sulu…back to when he was the helmsman on the USS Enterprise (as portrayed by John Lim). The episode soon jumps into the action involving Romulans and a secret weapon and some explosions and some nasty interdimensional distortions. This forces young Sulu (and a certain Dr. Lisa Chandris ) to have to fly over to a destroyed Romulan ship to get some data only to lose the shuttle and have to be beamed back, but bad things happen and wammo you got yourself a 30 year older leather-clad Sulu standing on the transporter platform looking like something out of Mad Max.
Sulu (Takei) takes on Kirk (James Cawley)
Although this seems like just an excuse to use Takei, the episode is based on a Star Trek Phase II script written by Michael Reaves in the 70s which called for Sulu to be aged by the transporter. The adaptation written by Marc Scott Zicree (who also directed the episode) cleverly uses the interdimensional aging to bring in the character of Sulu’s daughter. Alana Sulu, the product of a union of Hikaru and Lisa Chandris on the planet
TCaliban [oops that was a bad typo…sorry], is an excellently drawn character who is played with a subtle charm by the alluring Christina Moses. Both the character and performance fits in the fine tradition of memorable Trek guest characters such as Amanda (Spock’s mother) or even Edith Keeler (who gets a mention in the episode). The only element that didn’t work for me was the hint at some romance between Alana and Captain Kirk, especially after she calls out the Captain for having a different girl on every planet. However, like with Edith Keeler, getting the audience to both buy into and care about this character is the key to making this episode effective.
It is to George Takei’s credit that he shares the spotlight in this episode, but where George is – he shines. Like with the previous episode "To Serve All My Days" featuring Walter Koenig, Takei truly gets a chance to show his range and give the viewers an in depth look at his character. Takei has a number of both quiet and compelling scenes with most of the major stars of the series and seems to help them raise their game. When the episode gets close to the end and Takei is faced with his "City on the Edge of Forever" moment and the veteran actor leaves no dry eye in the house.
The excellent performances of the two guest stars leads to my only issue with "World Enough and Time." One of the reasons I have never been big into the fan films is mostly to do with the acting. When you are confronted with bad acting you can no longer suspend disbelief and the magic of being engrossed disappears and suddenly you realize you are just watching a bunch of people dressed up silly pretending to be spacemen. Without a doubt this episode has the best performances ever for STNV, however when judged compared to professional productions there are still a few members of the troupe that are clearly just amateur fans who are trying their best but are not believable actors. Probably the most problematic is Charles Root who plays Scotty. He is essentially doing a bad impersonation of Doohan (who himself was ‘doing’ and accent). This wasn’t helped by the script which seemed to throw more Scottishisms at him than a Glaswegian pub. Also John Kelly who plays Doctor McCoy just doesn’t seem to have the notion of our favorite country doctor down. You don’t get any of the sense of passion that inhabits the critical ‘Bones’ character and none of the right chemistry with Spock and Kirk. On the other hand James Cawley delivers his best Kirk (and best Kirk hair) yet. He is no longer ‘doing Shatner’ and seems to be making his own way with the character while not diverting too far. Also performing well is Jeff Quinn as Mr. Spock who brings a subtleness to the character, but could work a bit more on the internal struggle that is the half human half Vulcan [NOTE: this is actually Quinn’s last episode with STNV]. John Lim is also surprisingly good as the young Sulu, but does ham it up in an emotional closing scene for the episode.
Cawley and Quinn share a moment
The production design for "World Enough in Time" is the best effort yet for the STNV crew. The sets were always excellent, but they have never looked better…much of which may be due to improvements in the lighting and the direction. The costumes (many of which are made by Cawley himself) are flawless…with the exception of some on the brief scenes on the USS Excelsior which seemed to use off the rack costumes and had a few continuity glitches. It was a treat to see perfect environmental suits as well as a scene in a virtual shuttle bay. Also the music, sound editing and the sound design were excellent and never took you out of the episode…as is so often the case with these types of productions. Much of the credit for getting this all together must go to Producer Cawley and writer/director Marc Zicree. The only wrinkle is that the episode seems overly long at over 50 minutes. Some of the (albeit nice) character moments seems to drag. and distract from the drama and tension revolving around the crisis of the Enterprise being destroyed by the interdimensional field.
Zicree (center) confers with Takei and Cawley (right) on the perfect recreation of a TOS set
One area of big improvement is the special effects, done by the team at the DAVE school. In previous outings the effects were far too modern to fit within the TOS sensibilities of the show. Now the barrel rolls are gone and the show fits much better, albeit still with some modern touches. The Enterprise herself is believable in both the way is lit and moves, but unfortunately not all scenes are consistent. There are a couple of instances where it appears the team could have used more time as the ship has that plastic model look. [NOTE: TrekMovie.com has been told that some of these shots will be fixed in the final version] A real delight are the new opening credits done by none other than friend of the site and digital designer extraordinaire Daren Dochterman. Daren will be supervising the next episode and working with the DAVE team and so things can only get better with regards to the effects.
Sulu goes for a ride…thanks to the DAVE school
In the end fans of fan films and Star Trek New Voyages are sure to be pleased. But for those like myself who have not really bothered with fan films should really give this one a chance.
"World Enough and Time" premieres Thursday night (8/23) both live in Beverly Hills (where yours truly will attend) and in a streaming event at the Star Trek New Voyages site.
Related: More info and images from STNV WEaT
UPDATE: New Streaming site for SNTV WEaT
The USS Excelsior and Captain Sulu to me was another great Trek moment in sci fi,,
If only they used that idea abit more,,,
A worthy production that will hopefully continue for some time.
Although I’d REALLY like to see the Exeter adventures continue… ;-)
Can’t wait for this.
And #1 SirMartman you are right I’d like to see more with Sulu and the Excelsior, which is such a cool looking ST ship.
I wonder why Paramount doesn’t put together a 2 hour TV movie with Sulu and the Excelsior? Surely that would make money, right?
Christina Moses – excellent casting choice.
Looking forward to this.
thanks for the great artical, but I think it’s John Lim, not Kim.
While I’ll give it a look, I’ve never cared much for New Voyages. Production values for the sets have always been great….ship FX…meh. Acting? More than meh. Mainly because they’re playing at being Kirk and co. without the chops to pull it off.
Plus they never lived up to the original tagline of “Star Trek if it were done today” or somesuch. It was just Star Trek with a really fast moving, barrel roll doing Enterprise.
If they’d actually stuck with that premise, I’d have liked that better…I guess the new movie will show us what that will be like.
Exeter is my prefered fan film. The acting is about the same, but because they’re playing original characters, it comes off a bit better. Mainly because we don’t have the kind of familiarity with these guys as we do with Kirk and Co.
Still, I wish them the best.
re:3. Kirk: The Jack Bauer Of Space – August 23, 2007
“I wonder why Paramount doesn’t put together a 2 hour TV movie with Sulu and the Excelsior? Surely that would make money, right?”
Sulu was fine as a secondary character with limited screen time. I have no interest in seeing him as the star. The same would hold true for the other secondary characters. They were good within the context of their limited roles.
I will probably give this NV episode a shot, but I have many of the same reservations as Mr. Pascale. It sounds like this one is an improvement., though.
im so looking forward to seeing this thanks for the review and its good to hear they are trying all the time to improve things i wish paramount wound let this and other good fans made films be release on dvd but like the books and comics say from the onset this is not part of the canon, well i will be waiting all day to watch this as i in england it will be about 10pm before i can get to see this on the wait
George Takei still looks good, they need to make a Captain Sulu TV movie ASAP
To the article’s author.
The young Sulu actor is John Lim, Esq. Lim not Kim. Methinks the author is like me … suffering dyslexic fingers.
As for Bones, Doc John, is more like De Kelley off camera … a real paradox; as you likely know he is a real medical doctor.
I do believe the author is doing his utmost to be fair and objective. I have seen the final screen version three times the past 24 hours and many items are corrected.
Long ago I was a copy editor – proofreader so I advise this author to find a good one to provide a better edge and professional polish to these articles. It definitely improves the acceptance of these analyses!
Too many and or so uses
too verbose in spots, be more succinct
the which – that usage
Hikaru Sulu, not Hikaro Sulu
Dr. Lisa Chandris, not Dr. Lisa Chandriss
Remember in the 1960s tyical TOS episdes episodes for a one hour time-slot were typically 50 – 51 minutes, with 9 – 10 commercial or station time
I am so surprised no mention of Majel’s return as the computer rvoice.
Liek I said a very balanced and mostly objective review. Thank you Anthony!
So, why is this only available as a streaming feed? Why not downloads right away like the other episodes to grab the biggest audience? Cawley says the download will be available later….when’s that??
There are some things a man must do to remain a man…these streaming feeds would take this away.
barrel rolls not roles.
yeah i agree why not let us d/l it…tis streaming thing is a pain!
Its streaming only for now, because they need to get a definitive viewer count for CBS, at least according to their message board.
I will give it a shot. But between the horrendous continuity errors they gave us last time plus the truly awful acting from Cawley and the two mentioned in the review, I don;t hold out much hope. I have done good community theater and I seldom worked with anyone as lousy as Mr. Cawley. Nothing personal–he just has shown me nothing in the first three efforts.
Its not a question of whether the Sulu character can carry the series because its the story and the secondary characters that interact with the primary storyline that really matters.
The character of Sula could easily do a mini – movie every 6 weeks I would imagine. That way the storyline – production wouldn’t be so rushed and could be done right. When I say mini-movie….I mean a story that just under or over a hour with all the commercials.
# 3: Paramount could make the effort to put the resources – cash to do it but their blissfully blind to anything thats not directly in their face and has the assurance of a HUGE payback. Its bad enough for them to be overly greedy but to be stupid too? Years from now they’ll look back and say…We had a tremendous opportunity to make cash on a proven character and product…..but we listened to the stockholders and our board of commissioners instead…..so thats why we’re sitting here with lowered profit margins.
when will the streaming event begin? it says 6 PM EST in the email. what is that in central european summer time? 1 AM on friday, is that correct?
1. SirMartman – August 22, 2007
The USS Excelsior and Captain Sulu to me was another great Trek moment in sci fi,,
If only they used that idea abit more,,,
Agreed. I’ve long thought that. In fact that was the strongest element of Undiscovered Country to me.
Unfortunately, Crawley is just awful – the show would be much improved if he were replaced with a decent actor. It looks like they’re trying to satirize TOS every time he’s in front of the camera.
Your review sounds promising. I always enjoy this stuff. Where they lack in skill, they make up for in sheer heart. I don’t view these with the same set of standards as a Paramount production.
Of course, the real question will be how the hell Chekov is back.
Cawleys ok..what you expect – him to give an oscar winning performance?…
anyway the whole point for watching these things is to check the sets, FX, editing, costumes, props etc in keeping it true to the whole TOS feel….plus the chance to see Konig and Takei in near-star trek again..
By the way talking of oscars Shatner and Montoban should have been nominated for TWOK…best actor and supporting. Yeah I know the oscars hate Sci Fi but Weaver got a nom for Aliens.
Great review. I’ve never been too interested in watching any of the fan films, but I might give this one (and “To Serve All My Days”) a chance.
Well I am not sure thatr I can stay awake long enough for this, I’m in the UK and if I understand correctly, the episode does not start until 6pm local time which means 1am to me and I have to go to work in the morning….
I hope everyone that does get to see it this evening enjoys it.
Looking forward to seeing it a reasonable hour myself! Even more looking forward to getting a download and onto disc and watching it on my telly though……
I just want to say that the virtual hangar deck looks FABULOUS!! Kudos to the DAVE School.
Can’t wait! It’s definitely been one of the things I’ve been waiting to see re: Trek all year. Takei really shone in Trek VI when he got the Excelsior. He even gave a decent performance in the worst Voyager episode of all time — Flashback (which has too many continuity errors to be regarded as canon).
Bring on the Sulu episode. I’ll be right there on my virtual seat Mr Cawley and co.
Thanks for the review Anth.
In defense of community theater, I’ll note that a lot of people really enjoy it. In most large communities that support non-professional theater the audience is certainly not limited to friends and relatives of the performers.
And, remarkably enough, that audience pays cash money to attend community theater productions. Imagine that.
right…so if this is 6PM EST, does that make it 11PM in Meridian/Universal Standard…?
Thanks for the review, Anthony. Sounds promising.
I’m glad you didn’t pull any punches regarding the acting. They really need to hear this stuff.
I’ll be covering SFX in Toronto (Quinto was supposed to be a guest but cancelled, dammit.) this weekend and Ron Boyd will no doubt exhibiting the episode. It’s gotta be better than the last one, which left many going, “huh?”
Great credit is due to the team that makes these, but why do they feel the need to use ‘real’ actors? Beyond the novelty value I think it detracts from what it is supposed to be- a Fan film. Just my opinion, and I’m still looking forward, tremendously, to watching it.
Kudos to all involved for their passion and effort. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
Looking forward to this.
And another vote for a direct to DVD movie of Sulu and the Excelsior.
At this point I’d like to raise a practical question (and no, it’s not “Are we going to do Stonehenge tomorrow?”)…
I clicked the link, got an email that said ‘thanks for signing up’, got a ‘please wait’ box.
Now what? The email says to go to some other site and ‘sign in’ early to loiter and what not, only thing I see on that site is a place to enroll for a news letter, no queue to sign-in and sit around and wait for anything useful to happen.
What am I missing? (Brain, while clever, is not an acceptable answer)
I’ve tried watching a few of these things on youtube, and they’re usually very cool and interesting… until the actors appear on the screen. They’re clearly trying their hardest, but they just can’t capture the SOUL of these characters at all. They’re all just doing impersonations.
The other thing that takes me out of the story are all the blatant, nonstop TOS references. Can’t there be one story that doesn’t have 500 nods to past characters and ships and episodes? You’d never see that kind of thing in an actual TOS episode, and it’s such a cheesy, fanboyish thing to do.
Woah, 6PM EST, I’ll have to bust my butt to get home in time! Although the website news now says that the premiere event won’t be streamed online, but the movie will be. I wish Paramount would let them or provide a way of getting these films to DVD.
Nice to hear they are going to try to prove the viewership to CBS. All the more reason to register for the stream!
As for the acting, again, there’s no way they would be able to cast regular actors and be sure that they’d have them for all this time. For me, I focus on the acting of the Star Trek guest stars. That’s my main reason for watching. Although I agree the STNV people are not that great, but it’s a fan film out of their own pocket.
Per the Sulu TV or DVD Movie, I would love to see that, especially if it were a way to bring back Shatner and others. There’s no chance Paramount would do it. The franchise has been given to J.J. Abrams, and he’s gone in a different direction.
Can’t Wait! The director for my sci-fi feature project (currently in pre-production) worked on the crew for this production, so for him, it really was like going back in time and working on the original show. Lots of pros on this and my director has over 20 years experience in filmmaking. So, as you said, this may be the best TREK fan film so far.
James Cawley ROCKS!
Sorry, I have to agree with #15. Admittedly, this particular ep hasn’t started screening yet but the preview was so bad I can’t see what they possibly could have improved in the finished product. My issue with these has always been the acting. Special effects, hey, I understand they’re fan productions so I don’t expect much. It’s all forgivable if the acting is there, and so far it’s just not. Even the veteran TOS actors have been mediocre to embarassing in these (Koenig was awful). I’m sure James Cawley is a nice guy, but he should have simply done his own spin on Kirk instead of doing an overblown Shatner impersonation. I don’t care about his quiff, he just needs to figure out his character.
There’s community theatre, and then there’s bad community theatre. I’ve seen local productions that are truly impressive and I’ve also seen some that made me so uncomfortable I literally squirmed in my seat. Between this and Of Gods And Men, I’m doing a lot of squirming these days.
You touched on my other issue with these – the plots all come across as nightmarish fanboy-gone-wild scenarios. How about an original story just using the characters instead of time-travel/mirror universe/crews converge stuff?
Exeter would be a fun watch if they would complete their episode. I enjoyed the first one back when it was released, but I haven’t even bothered with the second one because like fan fiction, I don’t bother with incomplete projects–especially when they’re pushing over a 2 year wait between parts of an episode. While I realize they’re doing this for free and on their own time, that’s fine, but there’s simply no point watching until the episode is complete and you can enjoy it in one shot.
#36:”There’s community theatre, and then there’s bad community theatre. I’ve seen local productions that are truly impressive and I’ve also seen some that made me so uncomfortable I literally squirmed in my seat. ”
That’s a fair statement. I just think the “community theater” brush is a rather broad one – and this is not the first time I’ve encountered it in reference to fan films – that’s dismissive of nonprofessional local theater in general. Honestly, I’ve seen a lot in fan films that wouldn’t pass muster at the Silver Spring Stage. ;)
I really enjoyed Exeter actually and it is a shame they seemed to never complete their second episode. (It has been “in progress” for about 3 years now I think).
Anyone know what happened?
Yeah. Act Three is a matter of days now. But I didn’t say that. ;)
“Per the Sulu TV or DVD Movie, I would love to see that, especially if it were a way to bring back Shatner and others. There’s no chance Paramount would do it. ”
The time to have tried those would have been the late ’90s, when there was still an up-and-running Star Trek mill at Paramount, warehouses full of old props, costumes and set pieces to be recycled, and a Paramount TV network to air and promote them. A lost opportunity. The potential outcome could have been as bland as the then-current Star Trek product, but since no one tried it, we’ll never know.
Yeah I think these fanfilms are better described as simply “fans playing dress up”. To my eyes, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the guys running around in Starfleet uniforms and those running around in Batman costumes.
I’m sure it’s fun to do, and more power to them, but it’s certainly not “acting.”
Understood. I’m a fan of community theatre myself. People tend to remember extraordinarily bad events over good ones, so I think the rep that community theatre gets in general is a result of some of the squirm moments I was talking about earlier. Not fair really.
To pick apart a fan film as worthless merely because of “acting” is quite silly. It’s a fan-film. You know what you’re watching. The expectation should be as such that what you are seeing is an amature produced project; and not professional.
That it contains professional people involved is a bonus and only enhances the production values.
I for one look forward to judging the product on it’s story, Mr Takei’s appearance and the many aspects that make up the production as a whole and sell the piece.
I got over the whole “not professional standard acting” thing after the first episode. That doesn’t matter. It’s now a cliche. I wouldn’t tune into Hidden Frontier and expect to lose sleep that they were snubbed at the emmies.
The review was balanced enough not to be sidetracked by the acting aspect and judge the product as a whole. Some people are already judging what they haven’t seen based on one aspect of it. Watch tonight and if you still feel the same don’t watch anymore. I for one will continue enjoying what these guys make out of love, and that i love watching.
Shuttle named Bellerophon?
Who’s picking these names?
Taliban, I hope, is a nasty place.
Bellerophon is a Greek hero, but is also, of course, the ship that got blow’d up in Forbidden Planet. Not having seen the ep yet, I’m gonna guess nothing good happens to the good ship Bellerophon.
My thought on the acting in fan films is if it’s getting panned for not being up to “broadcast” standards, then they’re doing something right, because the production as a whole is in your mind causing the comparison. It’s not as if you’re saying “wow compared to high school theater these guys blow” you’re saying “compared to award winning actors these guys blow”
You take a bunch of people (presumably) that don’t do this for a living and they get together for a week to put together a show and it’s at all watchable, then damn they’re really doing something big time.
Take a look at Sci-Fi’s new Flash Gordon, I’d say the acting in Exeter and New Voyages is easily equal to that bleck.
the reason I judge STNV against the standard of professional productions is because that is the standard they aspire to. James Cawley has made no secret that he wants to officially license this. When he sent me the episode I told him that if I were to review it, it would be against that standard.
That’s fair. A lot of reviews have to be based on the standard you use.
Regarding Exeter, even if Act 3 is done within a few days, that really doesn’t accomplish much, because Act 4 isn’t done. At the pace they are going, Star Trek XI will be done first. There’s no point in watching part of an episode.
I definitely look forward to its completion though because I will gladly watch the whole thing.
Glad I’m not the only one to notice the name of the planet as Taliban.
I do feel a bit bad, though, that the NV crew broke the tradition of TOS shuttles being named after astronomers/explorers. Columbus, Galileo, Copernicus…