Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the adventure continues

Move over, sliced bread. Star Trek: New Voyages has arrived.

ST:NV is fanfic on steroids. It’s nothing less than a TV series written, directed, produced, constructed, costumed, acted, edited, special-effected, and financed by fans — and broadcast via the internet rather than the airwaves. You want to see the future? This is it.

ST:NV continues the Starship Enterprise’s five-year mission, of which we saw the first three years as a groundbreaking television series begun 40 years ago. Nonprofessional actors portray the characters we know and love, from Kirk and Spock down through the ranks to Rand and DeSalle. Actors from the original series are making guest appearances, and writers long associated with official Trek are contributing scripts. Because the fan-producers are making no profit from the show, Trek license owner Paramount Pictures has taken an attitude of tolerance.

I’ve only downloaded and watched one episode (“In Harm’s Way”) once through, but let me tell you, ST:NV is outstanding. Every aspect of the production is top-quality, equaling or surpassing the original. The script is action-packed but still true to the series, down to a last-minute deflector dish modification and a couple clichéd lines of dialogue you can see coming light-years away. Actor James Cawley, as Kirk, throws in just enough Shatneresque delivery to stay on the right side of the line between character and caricature.

The special effects are particularly impressive, taking full advantage of digital technology — and a little help from longtime Trek effects pro Ron B. Moore. And the sets? Amazingly detailed labors of love. “In Harm’s Way” features starships from several eras of Trek history (time travel, doncha know), each distinct and period-perfect. The soundtrack and score are smooth and professional-sounding.

This is real Star Trek.

And that’s not even the coolest part.

The coolest part is that when I was scrolling through the news archives at www.newvoyages.com, I saw a familiar face: actor Christian Malmin has been cast as Sarek, Spock’s father. (And it’s worth noting that his IMDB page actually lists his ST:NV credit, just as if it’s a legit production. Because it is.)

I’ve made out with this guy!

Chris Malmin was a classmate of mine at the University of South Dakota back in the late 80s. We were in a small theater production together, Act Three, Scene Five, which was about students mounting a production of Romeo and Juliet. Chris and I were playing the title roles, my character trying to seduce his for real, and we had a kissing scene in which I smeared my lipstick all over his face.

So, I’ve locked lips with Sarek. Geek spaz! I’m already working on the fan mail I’m going to send.

Anyway. Personal connection aside, I’m hugely impressed with Star Trek: New Voyages so far. Current fans should watch it and fall in love with Trek all over again. Newcomers should watch it to find out what the 40-year fuss is been about. Fanboys and -girls of all stripes should watch it for inspiration in making their own new-episode dreams come true. Everyone should watch it to see what the future looks like. It looks like fun.

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