In Harm’s Way

Star Trek: Phase II

This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

The Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, is destroyed with all hands by a Doomsday Machine, which has somehow found its way into the past.

Stardate not given: The starship Farragut, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, is summoned to the planet of the Guardian of Forever, where Spock, a Vulcan (a species thought to have been rendered extinct in the 16-year war with the Doomsday Machines) in Starfleet uniform, tries to convince Kirk, Dr. McCoy and their Klingon science officer Kargh that history has been altered. Kirk and his officers are extremely skeptical of Spock’s explanation of how he alone escaped the effects of the changes to the timeline, but he is able to back up his claims with purely scientific evidence. Kirk, Spock and McCoy track the disturbance in history back to Earth on the early 21st century, traveling there via the Guardian and discovering that Commodore Decker – presumed to have been killed in action against the Doomsday Machines – was in fact thrown back in time in his shuttlecraft. He lived out his life in the late 20th century and died of old age, but not before videotaping a message for Kirk and his crew, trying to explain what went wrong.

Watch Itstory by Max Rem (a.k.a. Doug Drexler) and Erik Korngold
screenplay by Erik Korngold
with respectful acknolwedgement to Norman Spinrad and Harlan Ellison
directed by Jack Marshall
music tracked from original episodes / movies

Cast: James Cawley (Kirk), Jeffery Quinn (Spock), John Kelley (McCoy), Charles Root (Scott), Julienne Irons (Uhura), Meghan King Johnson (Rand), Ron Boyd (DeSalle), Shannon Quinlan (Number One / Chapel), Jay Storey (Kyle), William Windom (Commodore Decker), BarBara Luna (Veronica), Malachi Throne (Korogh), Becky Bonar (MacGregor), John Carrigan (Kargh), Simon Judas Raye (Guardian’s Voice), Kurt Carley (Captain Pike), James Larson (Jose Tyler), Charles Holloway (Dr. Boyce), Rose Montessano (Com Officer), Tim Giles (Engineer), Leslie Hoffman, Pearl Marshall, Jeff Mailhotte, Robert Mills, Randy Davis, Mike Magin, Jessica Mailhotte, Ed Abbate, Brian Hudon, Doug Hutchings, Patrick Bell, John Lim, Timothy Sheffield, Chris Lunderman, Jerry Yuen (Starfleet Personnel)

Review: The second outing for New Voyages, In Harm’s Way is entertaining enough if you’re a fan, but even then it seems like an exercise in throwing in Everything Plus Two Kitchen Sinks. As much as I enjoy the output of the New Voyages cast and crew, it’s always mystified me why Come What May was relegated to “pilot” status and withdrawn from the official site as a download – because in some ways, I regard this as the most extraneous New Voyage that has seen the light of day so far.

Star Trek: New Voyages - In Harm's WayFirst off, there are major references to City On The Edge Of Forever, The Doomsday Machine, The Cage, The Menagerie and a post-Star Trek: Generations TNG-era continuity with a revived Kirk (as set up in a series of novels co-written by William Shatner himself). Some of these, especially the inclusion of the Guardian of Forever (and its previously unknown upgraded model), could’ve easily taken up their own episode conceptually. Cramming all of them, plus the kitchen sink, into one episode brings the British term “fanwank” instantly to mind.

On the upside: the cast has improved noticeably, with Kurt Carley adding a lot of credibility to the whole story as Captain Christopher Pike. He’s not a dead ringer for Jeffrey Hunter, but he doesn’t need to be – he brings his own interpretation to the part. Jeff Quinn, on the other hand, does a great job of bringing back the Cage-era Spock, complete with the un-Spock-like militaristic shouting that Nimoy originally used for the character’s command demeanor, as well as the much calmer, more unemotional portrayal we’re used to. In the end, of the regular cast, Quinn winds up stealing the show, and proves that New Voyages is ready for a full-scale Spock episode.

The CGI effects are both thrilling and just plain odd at times. The long opening sequence, traveling through the ruins of the Guardian of Forever’s planet until finally we arrive at the Guardian itself and a new top-secret Starfleet research base that has been built there, does a teriffic job of setting the mood of the piece, and frankly, that effects sequence is about as good as anything Babylon 5 ever put on the screen. Where the computer generated effects become really odd is in the treatment of exterior space scenes – the Doomsday Machine moves in a very animalistic way, which seems almost appropriate. But even the Enterprise seems to buck and snort and rear up in some scenes, and is shown doing barrel rolls and “skid-out” turns that are completely at odds with, well, anything else we’ve ever seen a Starfleet ship of the line do. It comes across as cartoonish and almost silly.

William Windom’s brief return to the role of an aged Commodore Matthew Decker, thrown back into Earth’s past, is touching and well-played, but fellow original series veteran Malachi Throne’s Klingon cameo is so fast, you’ll miss it if you blink. As much as I rolled my eyes at the crew’s return to the 20th century, it was much more brief than I expected, and at least it ended with the amusing shuttlecraft-in-the-garage gag. Another peek into the past intrigued me more: by adding a few little gadgets on gooseneck lamp arms attached to the set, and some minor repainting, the Cage-era Enterprise was recreated rather effectively, complete with velour uniforms for its crew. I was a little less fond of the brief excursion into the future of Star Trek, but it was recreated well visually.

In Harm’s Way winds up being a curate’s egg. If I’m in a really fannish mood, I like it a lot. If I’m looking for an interesting new adventure that doesn’t lean its entire weight on previous installments, I’m not so crazy about it. Then again, most of the folks downloading New Voyages episodes are probably dedicated fans to begin with (or else I doubt they’d bother), so take my criticisms with a grain of salt.

October 8, 2004

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