This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate 6047.1: Captain Carter and the Farragut receive secret sealed orders to proceed at once to the planet Cestus III, the site of a Federation outpost attacked by the Gorn. A Federation science station near the planet, which escaped the Gorn’s wrath before, is sending a distress signal; before warping in to help, Carter and his crew receive a classified briefing which explains the original Gorn attack. The science station is studying a recently discovered wormhole which allows travel not only through space, but through time as well – a strategic hotspot for anyone wishing to simply slip into the past and attack their enemies. The Farragut arrives just in time to see the Gorn fire a weapon into the wormhole, which has unintended consequences: both ships are surrounded by “bubbles” of time which are temporarily warding off massive changes to history. But when the bubbles dissipate, the Farragut will cease to exist as a result of those changes. A woman from the past appears, with a personal connection to Chief Engineer Smithfield, but Smithfield’s ancestor may have to be sent back in time to meet her doom to set history straight. Is this really her fate?
Voice Cast: John Broughton (Captain John T. Carter), Michael Bednar (Commander Robert Tacket), Holly Bednar (Lt. Commander Michelle Smithfield), Paul R. Sieber (Lt. Prescott), Tonya Bacon (Lt. Moretti), Amy McDonough (Dr. Holley), Bob McDonough (Galway)
Special Guest Voices: Chris Doohan, Hetoreyn, Jason LeBlanc, Chase Masterson, Vic Mognogna, Ralph M. Miller, Lou Scheimer
Notes: Scotty pays the Farragut a visit, voiced by Chris Doohan, the son of the late James Doohan, while the Romulan commander is voiced by Lou Scheimer, producer of the original Filmation Star Trek animated series, who did an uncredited turn as the voice of the same Romulan in the animated episode The Practical Joker in 1974.
Review: Another winner of an animated episode from the Farragut team and Neo F/X, The Needs Of The Many seems a little bit familiar – playing off of the same “restore history by sending this person back in time to their death” premise as Yesterday’s Enterprise, among others – but it’s interesting to see it play out in animation. Clocking in at almost the same running time as a standard live-action Star Trek episode, and dealing with more mature themes (and yet somehow not being heavy-handed with it), Needs would be a good show as either live action or a cartoon.
Of course, a cartoon lets the producers get away with monumentally ballsy moves like bringing Scotty into the story, brought back to life by James Doohan’s son in what has to be described as a better-than-passable take on his father’s faux Scottish brogue. The character’s appearance, and recasting, are done tastefully and respectfully, and brings the whole exercise that much closer to feeling like a legitimate entry in the annals of animated Trek. There are nods to Trek spinoffs later down the timeline as well, with Tim Russ putting in a guest shot as a Vulcan bearing a striking resemblance to Tuvok, and a mention that the Farragut’s Andorian crewmember is part Aenar. None of these things will stick out like a sore thumb to non-Trek scholars, they’re just background flavoring. Even more intriguing is the backstory that puts a whole new spin on the Gorn’s original appearance in Arena – it’s a gutsy re-framing of the original story that doesn’t break with Trek history in any meaningful way.
The regular cast gets some material here that would be meaty in animation or in front of a camera, with their characters remaining true to the characters as established in the live-action Farragut episodes. Paul Sieber as Security Chief Prescott and Holly Bednar as Smithfield get the lion’s share of dialogue and character development, especially since both interact with Scotty and visiting time traveler Carmen Renata (played by Chase Masterson) quite a bit. The story and the stakes in The Needs Of The Many are a bit more mature than Power Source, and while I love Power Source as a great tribute to the excellence and excesses of the original animated Trek, Needs comes out on top in terms of good drama. (It’s worth noting that it’s co-written by former DS9 writer Jack Trevino and Neo F/X’s Michael Struck.)
Visually, there’s absolute fidelty to the original Filmation animation once again, though the litmus test here is Scotty, a character who did appear in the original animated episodes – and that test is passed with flying colors.
Hopefully, the two animated Farragut episodes aren’t a one-off phenomenon. It’s tempting to suggest that animated episodes could bridge the gaps between live-action outings – Farragut is a great fan series in both forms, and I’d be delighted to see both versions of it continue. The Needs Of The Many isn’t a curate’s egg that only a Trek fan could love: it’s a good script, acted well, that anyone can sink their teeth into – and it just happens to be animated.