This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate not given: The Enterprise completes a routine layover in the spacedock at Earth, and also picks up new crewmembers, including the newly promoted Lt. Commander Hikaru Sulu, back from a course in command training at Starfleet Academy. Sulu takes over the big chair from the beleaguered Lt. DeSalle, but even just leaving spacedock, one mistake could make it the last time he sits there.
Cast: Ron Boyd (Lt. DeSalle), John Lim (Lt. Commander Sulu), Phil Kim (Starfleet Operations), Jeff Mailhotte (Comm. Officer 1), Ed Abbate (“Lt. Cmdr.” Ensign), Mari Okumura (Comm. Officer 2), Nathan Gastineau (Sciences), James Cawley (Captain Kirk)
Review: The third full production from Star Trek: New Voyages, Center Seat is a short vignette, originally designed to tide fans over in the unusually long gap between the second and third full episodes released. (Or first and second, according to the self-imposed re-ordering of episodes that saw Come What May undeservedly consigned to the non-canon-even-for-this-fan-production scrap heap.) There were supposed to be a series of such vignettes, though a ramped-up production schedule for two episodes with celebrity guest stars (to say nothing of other fan productions using the New Voyages sets) meant that Center Seat was the only short released in 2006.
And if you’re going to dip your toes into the New Voyages waters, you can’t go wrong by starting here. Center Seat is a tasty morsel of character development and a quick fix of jeopardy and resolution, sandwiched in between some of the best effects New Voyages has put on anyone’s screen yet. The interplay between LaSalle and Sulu has all the hallmarks of an enduring comedy double-act, and Ron Boyd and John Lim make the best of it without overdoing it. The script is crisp and tight, and the humor comes from the characters and their situation without being forced. And if those shots of the original Enterprise floating majestically out of a busy Motion Picture-era spacedock don’t make you catch your breath, we may have to confiscate your fandom membership card.
This episode also marks the debut of new composer Patrick Phillips, who weaves themes and motifs from the original series’ music in with his own original pieces. With earlier New Voyages’ reliance on a confusing sonic stew of music from the original series, the movies, and the latter-day spinoff series, it’s a remarkable difference – it does so much to help make things more cohesive.
And all this in the space of five minutes. Surely this is a sign of more good things to come.