Orphans Of War
This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate not given: Following the Archein’s attempt to conquer and colonize Romulan space (see Star Trek: Odyssey’s Iliad episode), the U.S.S. Excelsior and U.S.S. Intrepid land the unenviable task of trying to remove robotic Archein weapons platforms which are trained to instantly fire on any Romulan ships they detect. The Federation ships slip through those detectors – at first – but then they’re fired upon, and key crew members are beamed off of both ships and into the automated control vessel for the weapons platforms. Captain Hunter and Lt. Caed from the Intrepid find themselves stranded alongside two of Excelsior’s crew, watching an “indoctrination” message recorded by one of the Archein’s leaders. Hunter decides that no one in Starfleet uniform will be indoctrinated today, but putting up a fight – even against a completely unmanned automated station – may be more difficult than either crew imagines.
Cast: Risha Denney (Captain Elizabeth Shelby), Nick Cook (Captain Daniel Hunter), Joanne Busch (Commander Robin Lefler), Lucy Faria-Cook (Lt. Commander Yanis Caed), Rick Corbett (Commander Ben Nostrom), Wayne Webb (Lt. Commander Matt McCabe), David Reid (Lt. C’Seris), John Whiting (General Morrigu), Nick Beckwith (Lt. Simmons), Tyler Bosserman (Lt. Commander Andrew Barrett)
Review: This clever little vignette, weighing in at around the 15-minute mark, brings together the crew of Hidden Frontier‘s Excelsior and the crew of the U.S.S. Intrepid, a 24th century Trek fan series made in Scotland (see our review of Intrepid’s first episode, Heavy Lies The Crown). As much as I gripe about an entire story being shot against a chromakey background so CGI “sets” can be inserted later, Orphans Of War points up what may be one of the few advantages of shooting that way: an international cast can be in the same production without a budget big enough to cause an international incident. There are scenes which Nick and Lucy Cook of Intrepid shot during a visit to the U.S., alongside Hidden Frontier cast members like Risha Denney (who appeared on a monitor screen in Intrepid’s pilot episode), which is a neat touch – trying to get cast members on different continents to interact via two different greenscreen shooting sessions would test the mettle of Hollywood’s technical wizards, never mind fan filmmakers. Just this once, I take issue with one little bit of CGI more than I do the compositing: the automatic defense turret inside the Archein station looks like Playstation-circa-1997 animation, a stark contrast to the almost broadcast-quality external space scenes.
Orphans is essentially the Time Crash of 24th century Trek fan series – a light, breezy adventure whose main attraction is simply that it puts two different – but related – productions’ disparate elements together so we can see how they interact. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the short span of time for this adventure, such as Hunter extolling the virtues of cricket over baseball when a bit of lucky pitching is required to save the day, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about. It’s good to see some more Trek crossover – there was great untapped potential for it in the days of TNG, DS9 and Voyager, and since they were filming in the same city block rather than on different continents, that makes this particular crossover even more impressive.