Sunday, 19 November 2017

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek Continues 10/11 - "To Boldy Go" Parts 1 & 2

The premier Trek fanfilm series comes to an end with this exciting two-parter. While I have said that I sometimes would have preferred a few more stand-alone episodes that hung less off established canon, it only seems right that this grand finale should seek to tie-up the series in every way it can. When Vic Mignona set out to make Continues, it was with the intention of completing the Enterprise's five-year mission with a final season of Star Trek. Now that CBS have come down on fan projects like this, it seems that “To Boldly Go” will act as a finale for a whole era of fan Trek.

What makes this story work so very well is that it combines a riveting storyline with actors who have come to grips with these classic roles, and a genuine desire to round off this period of Star Trek. It follows up on the mysterious effects of the Galactic Barrier from the pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” with a group of rebel ESPers (plus one villainous Vulcan) attempt to take the Enterprise as part of a bid to usurp humanity's place in the Galaxy. It is these miscreants who are responsible for the destruction and vanishing of various Constitution-class starships throughout the Continues series. During the transgalactic game of cat-and-mouse, Spock seeks out his one-time paramour, the Romulan commander from “The Enterprise Incident,” now repatriated and once again commanding a Bird-of-Prey, the Hawk's Talon, beautifully rendered here.

Making this story a sequel to the pilot is a brilliant decision, but it also bookends the series by seguing directly into the set-up for The Motion Picture. Not only do the creators of the story make this work in spite of the huge tonal differences between the original series and the film, but it works perfectly as a character piece, giving solid, believable reasons for Kirk, Spock and McCoy going their separate ways once the mission is completed. Indeed, we find Kirk in much the same place here as we found Pike in “The Cage,” weighed under by years of responsibility and the guilt of so many deaths under his command. Spock is torn between his burgeoning emotions and the logic he believes in and the responsibility of impending command, while McCoy is simple sick of watching people die.

We know, of course, that most of the crew are going to make it through to the end of the episode, what with them carrying on through The Motion Picture and subsequent movies. However, that doesn't mean there aren't major losses throughout the adventure, not least of which is a good chunk of the Enterprise itself. The ship really earns its refit on this mission. We also get to see the long-imagined saucer separation of the original Enterprise, one of many exceptionally well-produced visual effects sequences.

The regular cast all get moments to shine, with particular praise due to Todd Haberkorn as Spock, who I think has really nailed the part over the last few episodes. I was pleased to see Kim Stinger's Uhura get a meatier role than in most previous episodes. The multi-talented Kipleigh Brown, as the recurring character Lt. Smith, gets a very strong episode in part two, becoming an essential member of the cast for this finale, and there is some strong material for Michele Specht as ship's councillor Dr. McKennah. The guest cast is also very good throughout, with special praise needed for the wonderful Nicola Bryant. As a Doctor Who aficionado (in case you hadn't noticed), it's a treat to see her here, with her natural accent rather than an affected American one, and she's clearly having a great time playing the villain of the piece. Another star turn is Amy Rydell as Romulan Commander Charvanek, who is not only very impressive in the role, but is the daughter of the original holder of the role, Joanne Linville.

While the two-parter was full of excitement and adventure, it's actually the final few scenes that really made an impact for me. Moving into the slower, more thoughtful territory of The Motion Picture, it sees Kirk accept his deskjob promotion from Admiral Nogura. (As a little visual treat, we see the now-traditional selection of model starships, including the Phoenix, Enterprise NX-01, USS Kelvin and USS Discovery, further tying different eras of Star Trek together.) Vic Mignona gives a speech to his erstwhile crew and one final log entry, and it's as much him speaking to the viewers as it is Kirk addressing Starfleet. As the prime mover and star of Star Trek Continues, it's only right that he gets to make this send-off, and as far as I'm concerned, he and his crew are very much a part of the Star Trek family. Mission accomplished.

Watch all the episodes of Star Trek Continues here.


Well, it's been a pretty hectic and intense few days.

On the fiction front, I completed a story for the upcoming anthology Master Pieces, a Doctor Who fanthology by Red Ted Books which will revolve around different incarnations of the Master. My submission is called "The Devil You Know," and while it isn't absolutely guaranteed for submission as yet, I'm hopeful it will be included in the final publication. Up now is the cover artwork for the second Time Shadows anthology, Second Nature, which will be available on print-on-demand from Pseudoscope Publishing in the next few weeks. The first Time Shadows was excellent, and I'm very proud to be included in this volume with my story "Time-Crossed," which involves the first and eleventh Doctors. All proceeds from Master Pieces go to the Stroke Association, while proceeds from the sale of Time Shadows: Second Nature will go to LimbForge.

Wednesday night was a chance for a much-overdue catch up with my good friend Sophie, and there was much merriment and fine food. Thursday was another night out to the Latest Music Bar in Kemp Town, Brighton, for Cackle and Twang, a mixed bag comedy and music event in aid of Rise, a local domestic abuse charity which does exceptional work. It was a very female-centred night, with some amazing performances, although my favourite part was of course my friend Fanny Dent's comedy burlesque piece. This would have been my favourite part in any case, because it was brilliant and hilarious, but it rose even higher on my list of amazing things because my lovely lady Suz had a critical role as a giant tampon monster. This is not something you see every day, and I'm pleased for the opportunity to say, "Yeah, I'm going out with the tampon."

Close behind though was Kate Shortt, the comedy cellist, which is another thing I'd never encountered before and turns out to be quite an brilliant way to perform. I am pleased to have now experienced the Doctor Who theme tune on cello and vocals. Julie Jepson was supposed to be comparing, but instead her mysterious Spanish uncle and an Irish mermaid took her place.

Friday Suz and I were out yet again and I'm definitely getting to old for this. This time was a Dystopian-themed club night in Kemp Town for which we attempted a vaguely Blade Runner inspired look. My attempt at Roy Batty was a very limited success but Suz's faux fur-coated Pris was amazing. I met LeeLoo and Tank Girl, and also Girl-Tank. We had an incredible night and made some new friends, but basically broke ourselves and were unable to function much on Saturday, leading to curtailment of plans and much apologising.

So on Saturday we had a curry and watched The Land Before Time, and frankly, if you don't believe we know how to have a good time, that will surely prove you wrong.

Saturday, 11 November 2017


SPOILERS for the finale, folks!

Number Thirteen gets her togs

I have to say, this isn't at all what I was expecting. There were two options for the creative team, one of which was to just put her in a traditionally Doctorish gent's outfit to hammer home that it was the same character, and the other was to give her a more feminine costume that no previous Doctor would have worn. I'm glad they've gone with the latter, but even so, I kind of expected something that was more like one of the old Doctor's costumes, in a feminine cut.

This, though, I like very much. It's feminine, quirky, and fairly practical. There's a certain Doctorishness to it, but quite unlike any of the outfits before, which is just how it should be. There are bits of old Doctor influence in there, though. Most obviously, the braces call back to Matt Smith, but moreso to Patrick Troughton. (I was a bit intrigued when someone said the new Doctor would be wearing suspenders, but that was just a bit of Americanism/Britishism confusion.) The long coat calls back to David Tennant. The stripes across the top might be a nod to Tom Baker's scarf, and the boots could recall Smith or Eccleston. I'm not sure what's going on with the top of that coat - is that a hood swung back? - but it does have a somewhat Time Lordly quality to it.

Some people don't like it, which is fair enough, although attacking it by saying it's too silly or doesn't have enough gravitas seems to ignore how ridiculous some of the earlier Doctor's outfits were. I've seen it said that it looks like something out of Rainbow, which isn't totally unfair, but compared to the sixth Doctor's costume, it's very sedate. Someone else has said it makes her look like a circus performer, and a friend pointed out that Sylvester McCoy not only acted like a circus performer in some of his episodes, he basically was one before he started acting. Again, fair enough if that's not something you like in your Doctors, but it's hardly without precedent.

Various commentators have been pointing out similarities with other characters' costumes. Mork is the most common comparison:

but I'm seeing more than a hint of Wesley Crusher:

Either way, there's a definite eighties style to the costume, which actually fits quite well with the out-of-time vibe we get from various Doctors. Capaldi wore a costume which hinted at styles from both the 50s and 70s, while Hartnell's turn-of-the-century style was similarly 50-60 years out of date. Something that has a suggestion of 1987 is forty years out, the same sort of dislocation. In any case, I like it. It's different but still says "Doctor" to me.