Heavy Lies The Crown
This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate 59422.9: Assigned to a routine colony patrol in the Charybdis Sector, the U.S.S. Intrepid’s chain of command is disrupted when Captain Talath, making a shuttle supply run to carry power equipment to the surface of Chiron IV, encounters inexplicable interference on her final approach. Faced with a choice between killing his own captain when transporters and tractor beams can’t lock onto the shuttle, or letting it crash near a Federation colony and cause widespread destruction, Intrepid’s first officer, Commander Hunter, orders the destruction of the shuttle – and his captain. Though Starfleet praises him for quick and selfless action, Hunter is riddled by guilt and reluctant to accept a promotion to captain of the Intrepid. An unknown enemy strikes, leaving several ships near the colony without power – and without power for life support, over a thousand aboard those ships will die. Hunter gambles that since Chiron IV is the site of these disruptions, the source must be on its surface, and takes several of his senior officers on an away mission to find the cause before time runs out. But once he beams down, Hunter finds that the colonists are so terrified by the attacks that they’re ready to lash out against anyone they don’t know – including an unfamiliar Starfleet crew.
Cast: Nick Cook (Commander Hunter), Risha Denney (Captain Shelby), Mike Cugley (Rick Garran, PhD), Steven Pasqua (Lt. Cole), Lorraine Kelly (Watch Officer), Lucie Cook (Lt. Caed), Jen Graham (Ensign Stiles), Ferdos Ahmed (Ms. Raman), Shire Smith (Captain Talath), Alan Score (Commodore Prentice), Lyn McGarity (Governor Finney), Steve Hammond (Captain Merik), Lee Andrews (P.O. Kreiger), Gordon Dickson (Lt. Commander Garran), David Reid (Lt. S’Ceris), Alan Christison (Lt. Commander Navar), Jeff Hayes (Admiral T’Yla), Brandy Seymour (Computer Voice), Roy MacPhail (Chief Gaines), David Beukes (P.O. Zondag), Martin Lejeune (Ensign Faldor), Kara Dennison (Captain Dalonna), Elie Hirschman (Tom Backus), Eric Busby (Bishop), Judah Friese (Judah), Sean Koury (Freman)
Review: The flagship production of a group of dedicated fans based in Scotland, Intrepid is the first Star Trek fan film I’ve watched to skip past the Kirk era and go beyond the end of Voyager and Star Trek: Nemesis. Depending on who you ask, that’s the direction in which future Star Trek tales should be headed, rather than revisiting the past. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that school of thought, but there’s something about returning to the 24th century that’s just reassuring – it takes me back to fond memories of my teens and twenties.
Shooting almost entirely in front of green screen, the cast and crew of Intrepid recreate the expensive 24th century look – from massive windows looking out into space to huge wall panel displays – via computer-modeled environments. Surprisingly, compositing isn’t much of an issue – there’s one scene I can think of where it sticks out like a sore thumb, with a female crewmember’s hair causing a green fringe in closeups. There’s still a static, locked-off look to these interior shots, but that’s more than made up for once the shoot goes on location in a gorgeous Scottish countryside. The location shooting is just dazzling, thanks in no small part to the well-chosen location itself.
Sound is a much bigger issue with Intrepid. For much of the show, it seems as though they were relying on the built-in microphone on whatever camera they were using, and there’s a hollow, echoing quality to it (or, in the case of one shot near the end of the episode, you can’t hear the characters talking over the wind on location). Matters aren’t helped by the tendency for the music to be mixed higher than the already-hard-to-hear dialogue. I don’t have a problem with the accents at all – I thought that part of it was interesting and certainly different from the numerous American fan films I’ve seen. But microphones are a terribly useful thing to have. Let me put it this way: if I’m not going to count off points for green-screened interior shots, I’m not going to count off points if I see a lavalier microphone barely poking out of someone’s uniform. If it was good enough for the BBC in the 70s and 80s, it’ll do just fine here. Being able to hear the information being imparted by the characters is too vital to let go.
The cast is likeable, though there’s one female crewmember who seemed to mutter her way through the proceedings and hunch herself over; I’m hoping that’s a case where this is part of the character and not the actress herself. The characters all seem very familiar with one another, and there’s a lot of stuff set up to explore down the road, from a security chief who may have ties to Section 31 to a half-Romulan, half-human officer. The cast has pure charm in spades, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of them down the road. A brief guest appearance is put in by Risha Denney as Captain Shelby (yes, that Shelby) from the American-made 24th century fan series Hidden Frontier, which is produced in a similar, green-screen-for-nearly-everything fashion. (I’m aware that many of Intrepid’s production techniques were being used by Hidden Frontier years before now, but I simply haven’t reviewed any Hidden Frontier yet because there’s literally years and years of storyline to catch up on.) There are nods to other fan series as well, ranging from Starship Exeter to a dialogue in-joke referencing New Voyages that you’ll know when you hear it.
All in all, it’s an intriguing setup that opens plenty of future story possibilities, and the cast seems both enthusiastic and talented at giving the viewer the impression that they’re old friends who know one another well. With a little bit of a boost on the production side of things, especially that pesky sound, Intrepid could gather a huge following from fans like myself who occasionally like that 24th century fix.