Viewing posts tagged Star Trek Phase II

“I don't bother/To live my life as if I'm another”: Kitumba


The original “Kitumba” was the very best submission made to the unproduced Star Trek Phase II. The episode adapted from it for the fan series that shares its name isn't quite its own pinnacle, but it's definitely the best episode since “To Serve All My Days” and a fitting closure for era of Star Trek.

It's also fitting that this episode be penned by John Meredyth Lucas, one of the great unsung heroes of the franchise. Hand-picked by Gene Coon as his successor following the latter's dispute with Gene Roddenberry over the ending to “Bread and Circuses”, which led Coon to furiously turn his back on Star Trek never to return, Lucas oversaw the one true Golden Age of the Original Series, from “The Immunity Syndrome” to “The Ultimate Computer”. Though he was a frankly bloody amazing producer, as a writer Lucas always seemed a bit more changeable: His first story was “The Changeling” which, well, wasn't brilliant, to be perfectly honest, but it did provide the impetus for “In Thy Image” and by association this whole show and, arguably, the whole rest of Star Trek, so that has to count for something. Lucas also ...

“The Immaculate Misconception”: The Child


There are a number of different ways to go about discussing “The Child”. None of them, it should be stressed, posit in any way that this was anything resembling a good idea: It wasn't in 1978, and it flatly isn't in 1988 or 2012 either. But in spite of it ultimately not working in the slightest, this is also something of a deceptive episode: It's not as bad as as its reputation amongst at least the segment of science fiction fandom that I presume reads my blog would suggest (especially this version of it), though it remains so to such an extent the fact nobody at any point over the past thirty-odd years seemed to notice this is considerably worrying. More to the point though, it's also bad in other areas.

It's really not worth going into a lengthy bit of structural experimentalism with this episode as I have with previous Star Trek Phase II stories that have multiple versions: Unlike “In Thy Image” or “Devil's Due” (or, I'm going to hazard a guess, the upcoming “Kitumba”), the 1978 and 2012 versions of “The Child” are essentially identical. There are a few differences ...

“There is no me.”: Enemy: Starfleet


“Enemy: Starfleet” marks an important turning point for Star Trek Phase II. This is best exemplified in the title credits, as it's the first episode to actually go out fully under that name (the previous episode had the title card cheekily change from New Voyages to Phase II midway through). This, combined with the addition of Xon as a full-time character (though he appeared in the last episode, he was little more than an in-joke) and the teaser at the end featuring James Cawley proudly declaring the next episode is “The Child” mean the writing is on the wall for whatever the original conception of this show may have been.

Perhaps predictably, perhaps not, “Enemy: Starfleet” is the most straightforwardly Original Series-esque episode so far. The title is misleading-Considering all the signs and portents we've been building since “To Serve All My Days” about a potential climactic showdown with Section 31 and the Federation's seedy underbelly, I was expecting a very different story than what this actually is based on the name “Enemy: Starfleet”. D.C. Fontana's Star Trek: Year Four-The Enterprise Experiment miniseries for IDW was long out by now, and James Cawley and his ...

“The Mouse Problem”: Blood and Fire


Of the many unproduced scripts Star Trek has accumulated over the years, “Blood and Fire” is, aside from “Joanna”, likely the most famous. Actually, make that “infamous”: Notorious as the cause of Dave Gerrold's split from Star Trek: The Next Generation six weeks into production, it's also gained a reputation in recent years for being “that one awkward story about gay people and AIDS the show almost did”.

...Yeah. This is gonna be an uncomfortable one.

Before we get started, let's dispel a few myths, because Star Trek's history with LGB, transgender, queer, asexual, nonbinary, etc. issues, especially Star Trek: The Next Generation's, is a major source of misinformation and misunderstanding. The common reasoning goes that Next Generation was appallingly and spectacularly heteronormative and reactionary (if not outright homophobic) and thus a story like “Blood and Fire” would have been the most callous, thoughtless, trainwreck of an episode imaginable. The reasoning then goes on that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine improved things a bit, but not enough, and Star Trek ends up completely hypocritical in terms of its claim of utopianism because of it's failure to engage with these issues in a serious and ...

Wild Child: World Enough and Time


From the outset, “World Enough and Time” seems immediately reminiscent of a great deal of previous Star Trek stories. It's a mishmash hybrid of a thing built out of bits of “Time's Orphan”, “Joanna”, “The Inner Light” and, well, the last episode, actually. Also The Tempest, but that at least seems intentional.

If I sound a bit cynical here it's because I kinda am. It's hard for me to get inspired to write about this kind of story, because so much if it goes over ground I've already looked at. The Romulans are doing some shady things, tricking the Enterprise into crossing the Neutral Zone so they can test a new temporal gravity wave weapon (I think), which backfires and blows up their fleet. Caught in the residual messiness, Kirk sends Sulu and Romulan linguistics expert Doctor Lisa Chandris over to the wreckage in a shuttlecraft to get some data Spock and Scotty will need to plan a warp course out of the trap. Stuff happens, the shuttle is lost and Sulu and Chandris need to be beamed back, but the transporter goes wrong (of course) and they wind up being time-shifted to a planet ...

“The Undiscovered Country”: To Serve All My Days



We're told birthdays and anniversaries are celebrations of people and of life, but they remain, to a degree, backwards-looking: A ritualistic remembrance of a date long since passed, that seems to grow ever further distanced with each reiteration of the ritual. Western culture is fixated on dates, numbers, patterns and schedules. Nonmodern societies have seasons and cycles, the West has calendars and planner books, endlessly tallying up time and counting down to the next obligatory observation. Perhaps that's why so many people in the West view birthdays not as a time to reflect on themselves, but as a time to become overcome with an impending sense of dread at the fear of mortality and the inevitability of aging. Once you decide time is linear, it has to end somewhere, because humans can't accept a ray.

2006 was the fortieth anniversary of Star Trek, but it wasn't a birthday, or rather, if it was, it was one of those birthdays we celebrate of people who have already died: “Such-and-such would have been this old today”. Enterprise had signed off a year prior, and with its cancellation came the sense that Star Trek was actually dead. It was ...

“I hate temporal mechanics”: In Harm's Way



The rapidity with which Star Trek Phase II went from “fannish love letter” to “pseudo-official Star Trek” is somewhat astonishing. Between the release of “Come What May” in January, 2004 and “In Harm's Way” in October, the show picked up an endorsement from Eugene Roddenberry, Jr. (who also signed on as “consulting producer”) and Doug Drexler, who not only came aboard as producer, make-up artist, casting director, editor and VFX artist, but also co-wrote the latter episode as well. “In Harm's Way also boasts a veritable cavalcade of former Star Trek acting alumni, such as Barbara Luna, Malachi Throne and William Windom, who reprises his role of Commodore Matt Decker from “The Doomsday Machine”, the story from which this episode draws the majority of its source material.

With a pedigree like that, one would expect “In Harm's Way” to be one of those grandiose epics that franchises like Star Trek enjoy doing every once in awhile, and one would be correct. This time around, Star Trek Phase II feels like it's trying to pick up any perceived slack from “Come What May” and doing the proper, blockbuster series premier that's expected of it. Indeed, the ...

"Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway": Come What May


There's something about Star Trek that inspires people, in spite of itself.

2004 marked the beginning of a period of tender, heartfelt introspection for Star Trek fans, perhaps unmatched at any other point in the history of the franchise. The mere fact that Star Trek Phase II (at this point still operating under its original name of Star Trek: New Voyages) exists here while Enterprise was in the middle of its third season and the “Save Enterprise!” campaign in full swing is probably a decent indication of the faith anyone had in the continued longevity of the sixth Star Trek series, or indeed Star Trek itself, at least as an extant and relevant mass media presence. Perhaps it was this zeitgeist, and the accompanying urge to “go back to where it all began” in an attempt to understand things, that was what motivated James Cawley and Jack Marshall to make their own Star Trek TV show.

But 2004 is also an interesting transitory period for independent TV shows. This is still before the advent of YouTube made easy and accessible Internet video hosting and sharing a major cornerstone of what's come to be (somewhat inaccurately) called “Web 2 ...

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