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Jun 29, 2014

Hat Trick

floating Kirk
Three episodes of the fan-produced Star Trek (TOS) webseries called Star Trek Continues have been released. Each of these three episodes is firmly connected to the original Star Trek television program, attempting to continue the "five year mission" of the starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk. I have fairly strong personal biases when it comes to Star Trek. Previously I've described my favorite episodes and there are some episodes of Star Trek that I've always found quite painful to watch.

Five year mission to
find an ego bigger
than Shatner's
I was never a fan of the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" The first episode of Star Trek Continues is a sequel to "Who Mourns for Adonais" in which the crew of the Enterprise must help the god-like alien, Apollo. One entire category of Star Trek episodes that I've never enjoyed are those in which an alien thrives on some kind of "psychic energy".

In "Pilgrim of Eternity" we are asked to believe that Apollo has a special organ (his appendix?) that allows him to gain "life force" whenever humans worship him or enjoy his singing. Sadly, Apollo is addicted to being worshiped and he is reflexively enraged whenever some alpha male (like Kirk) won't bow down or shower him with praise and adoration.

Apollo brings a human back to life with his glowing hands.
Apollo, finally recognizing that he must change his ways, asks the good doctor (McCoy) to slice out his magical "god organ". Then, when Apollo uses his last bit of "life force" to save the life of a human, he discovers that he can obtain more "life force" through acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. Um, sure.

As an episode of Star Trek, "Pilgrim of Eternity" does have the look and feel of the original series. In this first episode of Star Trek Continues we get a complete morality lesson in 51 minutes, with Kirk and crew teaching the powerful alien Apollo how to not be a dick.

Slavery in Science Fiction
The slave girl Lolani in chains with her owner
I've previously blogged about slavery in science fiction stories and I have to admit that it was unavoidable for a television show made in the USA during the 1960s to go through production of dozens of episodes without including some episodes that involved topics like slavery and war. However, I reject the quaint notion that science fiction is a genre that functions to explore conventional literary themes by sprinkling in a few techno wizbang gadgets. I enjoyed Star Trek when it was doing its real SciFi mission and exploring strange new worlds.

For me as a Star Trek fan, nothing was more disappointing than an episode that ended up with the crew of the Enterprise on some silly "mirror Earth" where we were forced to re-enact some aspect of Earth history such as a gun fight out of the American wild west or a Roman-like society built around slavery.

The knife-wielding Lolani
As an episode of Star Trek, "Lolani" captures many of the most annoying features of the original television show, including a bitchy Star Fleet commander who orders the crew of the Enterprise to send the slave girl Lolani to her death. We are asked to believe that the Federation of Planets will not risk war over "one slave girl".

The end of "Lolani" makes one side of an interesting bridge into the third episode of Star Trek Continues. "Fairest Of Them All" is a sequel to the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror".

Mirror red shirt, Evil
Empire version.
In the Star Trek "mirror universe" the Enterprise crew zips through the galaxy taking available resources like dilithium crystals by force.

The "Captain's Woman" and Spock
However, Mr. Spock knows that Earth's interstellar Empire, having been built upon tyrannical domination of planets by force, will soon crumble. In "Fairest Of Them All", mirror Spock takes the Enterprise away from Kirk.

Sadly, the plot of "Fairest Of Them All" is about as far away from the mission of the Enterprise and the point of Star Trek as you can get. Rather than seek out new life and civilizations, mirror Kirk bombards a planet with photon torpedoes, happy to destroy a peaceful civilization and then send in the dilithium strip miners.

Navel operations.
When "mirror Spock" launches his revolution against the Evil Empire, he refuses to use the magical "Tantalus Field" device to eliminate Kirk. I don't think Vulvan logic guides Spock's behavior. All events must unfold so as to conform to the externally-imposed need to make sure that no matter how different the mirror universe is from our own, all the same characters reside in each universe. The stark "Good vs Evil" morality plays of the 1960s are alive and well in Star Trek Continues. There is one modification: no rumors of a censor in 2014 trying to prevent us from seeing navels.

"We all have knives!"
For some reason, "Fairest Of Them All" is only about 40 minutes long. I hope that the short run time does not mean that money, cast and crew were exhausted and this is the end for Star Trek Continues.

If this new Star Trek series continues then maybe we can even get an episode that shows us a strange new world and an interesting new alien, or is Star Trek for ever lost in the Derivative Zone?

To (mis)quote Lieutenant Riley and Gene Roddenberry,
"Female crew members should wear their hair
loosely and artfully draped over their boobs."
Final Word. It could have been much worse. Star Trek Continues has given us three watchable episodes in a row (a hat trick!) that respect the style of the original Star Trek. I hope we get at least one more episode with some interesting new substance. For her Ghandi-like determination to accomplish social change combined with formidable knife-fighting and dramatic assassination skills, Lolani gets a nomination for a 2014 SIHA award, retread alien species division.
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Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens
An earlier 2014 SIHA award nomination.
The 2014 SIHA Award.

2017: 5 more episodes of Star Trek Continues

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