This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate 4901.2: Investigating dilithium readings on an otherwise unremarkable planet, Captain Carter and geologist Dr. Bishop find indications of vast mineral wealth both promising and dangerous – not only is starship-powering dilithium abundant, but so is tricobalt, an ingredient for destructive weaponry. And it turns out that the planet’s mineral riches haven’t gone unnoticed by the Klingons…a fact that almost escapes Carter as he and Bishop – who were an item earlier in their Starfleet careers – enjoy a romantic moment. Not only are the Klingons killing the mood, but they might kill a Starfleet captain as well.
Cast: John Broughton (Captain Jack Carter), Michael Bednar (Commander Tacket), Holly Bednar (Lt. Commander Smithfield), D.D. Hatcher (Dr. Angela Bishop), Jamie Hanna (Klingon Commander), Eddie Lao (Borok), Jake Azachi (Akiva), David Sepan (Baker)
Review: A bite-sized 17-minute chunk of adventure that requires a little less investment of time than a full episode, with slightly less story as a result, Rock And A Hard Place is a neat little adventure, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of the Starship Farragut project as a whole.
Farragut’s strengths are an interesting set of original characters, outstanding production values for a fan-mounted project, and a kind of confident swagger that carries through to the finished product. The weaknesses, on the other hand, have been on display since the first Farragut adventure: the cast – and admittedly, they’re not professional actors – could use a bit of coaching to develop the rhythm of normal conversation, and the editing overall could be tighter. With awkward pauses on both fronts, dialogue scenes come across as stagey: the interactions between characters have the cadence of actors waiting for cues, as opposed to normal conversation. I feel like I’ve used those exact words to describe this quirk of Starship Farragut before, but the criticism – though not meant to be mean-spirited – still applies.
Add occasionally awkward editing to the already awkward pauses in dialogue, and there’s an unusual amount of “dead air”. The impressive shuttlecraft landing sequence displays a prime example of this: the music is great and attention-getting, the composite FX scenes of the CG shuttle “landing” on location are very impressive indeed…and then we cut to an oddly-framed static shot of Carter and Bishop in their shuttlecraft seats, barely doing anything. It takes a close-up of the control panel to show that anything is going on here, but by that time, the awkward wide shot has taken me right out of the story. Each character could have been shown in turn, in close-up, or another exterior angle could have been shown (perhaps from under the shuttle). Farragut still needs to tighten up the pace a bit: Rock probably should’ve clocked in at about 15 minutes.
Other than that, this is still one of the best fan-made series out there; some dandy fight sequences (including some impressive phaser effects) and slick location shooting provide the meat of the mini-story. And as much as I lament the pacing of the dialogue and editing, perhaps more dialogue was actually needed to build a slightly more solid foundation for the relationship between Carter and Bishop. I’d bring up points about fraternizing with junior officers, and on the clock/on assignment, no less, but hey, this is the Kirk era – and apparently Kirk wasn’t the only 23rd century captain getting some action.
Farragut still shows that it has some advantages over the other fan series – the shuttle set is quite impressive, relying appropriately on ’60s-style flip-switch control panels – but it also still shows room for improvement. And without more story to distract the audience, Rock And A Hard Place serves only to draw attention to Farragut’s good and bad points.