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Of Gods And Men – Part One

Star Trek: Of Gods And Men

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

Stardate 6712.4: Captains Uhura, Chekov and Harriman convene for the dedication of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-M – a museum aboard a fully functional replica of the Constitution-class Enterprise – 12 years after the death of Captain Kirk aboard Harriman’s first command, the Enterprise-B. Echoing that tragic incident, a priority one distress call is received, and the Enterprise-M is the only ship capable of responding. As the museum’s Commander Kirk – the legendary captain’s nephew – remains aboard his ship, the three visiting captains beam down, discovering two reminders of the Enterprise’s past that they would rather have forgotten: the Guardian of Forever, and an adult Charlie Evans, who was left in the less-than-gentle care of the Thasians by Captain Kirk decades ago. Charlie sets out to change his own history, and starts by making sure that James T. Kirk will never be born.

Stardate not given: Captain John Harriman of the G.S.S. Conqueror captures two terrorists whose names are at the top of the Galactic Order’s most wanted list. With his mixed crew of humans, Klingons and Romulans, Harriman moves on to his next assignment: to deliver a message to the pacifistic secessionists of Vulcan. On Vulcan, Nyota Uhura feels an unusual twinge of worry about the planet’s secession from the Galactic Order, and after Vulcan’s orbital defenses are wiped out, it seems she has good reason to worry. The Conqueror is about to launch the devastating Omega Device to make an object lesson of the Vulcans: defy the Order at your own peril…

Watch Itstory by Sky Conway & Tim Russ and Jack Trevino & Ethan H. Calk
teleplay by Ethan H. Calk, Sky Conway & Jack Trevino
directed by Tim Russ
music by Justin R. Durban

Cast: Walter Koenig (Capt. Pavel Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Capt. Nyota Uhura), Alan Ruck (Capt. John Harriman), Garrett Wang (Commander Garan), William Wellman Jr. (Charlie Evans), J.G. Hertzler (Koval), Gary Graham (Ragnar), Tim Russ (Tuvok), Chase Masterson (Xela), Crystal Allen (Conqueror Navigator Yara), Ethan Phillips (Data Clerk), Cirroc Lofton (Sevar), Lawrence Montaigne (Stonn), James Cawley (Commander Kirk), Jeff Quinn (Conqueror Helmsman), Seth Shostak (Enterprise Communications Officer), Shawn Shelton (voice of the Guardian of Forever), Crystal Conway (Grandchild), Madison Russ (Grandchild), Keith Batt (Navigator), Patrick Bell (Enterprise Helmsman), Giovanna Contini, David deFrane, Ronald Gates, Deborah Huth, Danielle Porter (Enterprise Bridge Crew), Sky Conway, Travis Sentell (Enterprise Security Officers), Jeanine Camargo, Heather C. Harris, Mindy Iden, Luke McRoberts, Moses Shepard (Vulcan Initiates), Elizabeth Cortez (T’Liel), Amy Ulen (Teacher), Rob Leslie, Joanna Mendoza, Linda Zaruches (Vulcan Citizens), Stewart Lucas, Scott Nakada (Conqueror Klingon Officers), Joel Bellucci, Tony Pavone (Conqueror Romulan Officers), Giovanna Contini (Conqueror Science Officer)

Review: Possibly the most eagerly anticipated Star Trek fan film project since New Voyages started welcoming top-line guests from the original series, Of Gods And Men is the brainchild of Tim “Tuvok” Russ, convention promoter/organizer Sky Conway, and two former DS9 scriptwriters, Ethan Calk and Jack Trevino. As with a great many Trek tributes centered around the Kirk era, Gods – or at least this first part of it – pivots on plot points introduced, but never resolved, by the original series. In this case, it’s the Guardian of Forever – which surely has to rank as the most imagination-stirring element to emerge from classic Trek, considering the number of books, fan films and other fiction that has revisited it – and Charlie X himself.

Star Trek: Of Gods And MenIn the background of this, there’s an intriguing notion or two, as the alternate-timeline Chekov cites the quotation “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither,” and as Uhura questions – in the same context – whether the needs of the many really does outweigh the needs of the one. Something is clearly being set up here, but the payoff doesn’t even begin in this first half-hour installment of three. I’ve been complaining recently that the Trek fan flicks just aren’t doing their due allegorical dilligence – one of the chief reasons that Star Trek is remembered at all was its surprising (for the 1960s) freedom to comment on current events and other concepts of interest to the human condition. More often than not, the Trek fan films – enjoyable as they may be – have simply connected dots between points of continuity in the Trek universe, rather than following suit and taking advantage of the near-total freedom of having no network or advertiser oversight.

Gods seems to be indicating that it is indeed going to comment on something of great importance to today’s world, but by the end of this first half-hour, all we’ve done is destroy Vulcan in spectacular style. Part of me worries that if Gods is going to try to make some comment on the state of current affairs, perhaps something more subtle than an ultimate-bad-ass-variation-on-the-Mirror-Universe could’ve been employed – but perhaps I’m getting too far ahead of myself.

The cast is top-notch, with Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols – now a member of the cast of Heroes – recreating their characters at Star Trek: Generations-plus-a-dozen-years effortlessly. It’s also good to see Alan Ruck get to do something other than “aw shucks” as he hands command over to someone else – the movie drops a solid hint that he’s still in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise-B, and has been for at least a decade, and his portrayal of Harriman makes that a believable notion. Rounding out the cast in roles ranging from bit parts to characters that seem likely to become central to the action are DS9‘s J.G. “Martok” Hertzler (again playing an expertly-made-up Klingon), Chase “Leeta” Masterson (as an even-more-delicious-than-usual Orion slave girl) and Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton, Voyager‘s Garrett Wang and Ethan Phillips, and Enterprise/Alien Nation mainstay Gary Graham, among others. William Wellman Jr. takes up the role of Charlie, originally played by (the still very much alive) Robert Walker Jr.; the age difference is such that it’d be hard to detect a lack of resemblance anyway.

Though shot partially on the New Voyages sets, and partially at Vasquez Rocks, Gods has a slicker look and tighter editing than just about any other amateur (if you can even apply that word) Trek production I’ve seen. The editing in particular is an Achilles’ heel of many a Trek fan film, and even the best among them could learn a thing or two from watching Gods. It’s tightly paced, and the rapid-fire banter among many of the pro actors is a joy to behold. Put those two together with some solid directing, and…well…depending on where the story goes, Gods stands to be better than Star Trek: Nemesis at the very least. I also appreciated the non-intelligence-insulting concept that doesn’t let any of the characters have a clue – at least thus far – that they’re in an altered timeline and “this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.” There’s no handy Guinan pointing them back toward the “proper” timeline. Again, the comments apply only to the first half-hour – don’t let me down, guys.

But by all means, please do roll on parts two and three. That cliffhanger drives me crazy.

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