This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Stardate 5013.1: The Exeter is en route to check up on a Federation Starbase on Corinth IV that has fallen out of contact. When the ship arrives, the planet is in ruins – a once-vibrant ecosystem reduced to a volcanic, earthquake-ridden world – and the Starbase is gone. Another Constitution-class ship sent to investigate, the U.S.S. Kongo, is found crashed on the planet – or at least its saucer section is. Captain Garrovick orders a search for the rest of the Kongo, and it’s found adrift in space at the center of a series of gravitational disturbances. The crew, including Garrovick’s former captain, is found dead – and so is a boarding party of reptilian Tressaurians, a species with whom Garrovick has had a very dark history. An alien device is discovered below decks, the source of the disturbance, and when Tressaurian ships arrive to retrieve it, Garrovick has it beamed to the Exeter and detonates the Kongo’s engines by remote. Science Officer Jo Harris, however, doesn’t believe that the device is of Tressaurian origin – and when another attack wave of Tressaurian ships is destroyed by a group of Tholian ships, it seems likely that the device’s inventors have come to collect it.
Cast: James Culhane (Captain Garrovick), Joshua Caleb (Lt. B’Fuselek), Michael Buford (Cutty), Holly Guess (Jo Harris), Patrick Scullin (D’Agosta), Elizabeth Wheat (Vandi Richards), Garry Peters (Kosnett)
Review: Hot damn. Now this is a Trek fan film. I’ll admit that I was originally skeptical of the first episode of Starship Exeter (see that review here), but as much as I admired their original intent to stick with lo-fi special effects, and as fun as that was to watch in places, here they managed to step up to the plate with some impressive CGI, and still didn’t betray the signature “look” of the original series. And this time they’ve got a story behind all this stuff which makes it even more impressive, and it’s directed well, and the acting has taken leaps and bounds. This is practically a real episode of Star Trek right here…but there’s just one problem.
It’s not finished. The Exeter team releases its episodes act-by-act, which is a neat idea if you’ve got a reliable production pipeline and can be fairly certain that things will happen on schedule. But I’m doing something I never thought I’d do here – reviewing an incomplete project – because there’s no telling when the fourth and final act will be made available. (There was a gap of over a year between the releases of acts two and three.) The Exeter team has somewhat predictably taken a public beating from fandom for this, which is a shame, because The Tressaurian Intersection is indicative of mind-blowing potential for a fan series.
The script, by pro screenwriter & novelist Dennis Russell Bailey (who penned the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Tin Man), is bristling with good, brisk dialogue and interesting ideas. The characters, including a captain’s yeoman added to the cast as of this story, come alive and have distinctive personalities, and the cast clearly has the chops to bring these people to life from the page to the stage. (I also appreciate that there are folks in the cast who aren’t in their 20s – you can look at some of these people and believe that the characters they’re portraying are career officer material.) There are interesting character ticks, such as the ship’s doctor being unable to bring himself to refer to B’Fusulek as anything other than “the Andorian”, that add a lot without bringing the whole story to a halt.
It’s also deftly directed (take a bow, Scott Cummins) in such a way that moves the plot along at a decent pace but also gets those character moments in. Of all the fan films I’ve seen to date, I think The Tressaurian Intersection is the one that feels most like real live prime-time television.
Now all it needs is an ending, hopefully sometime before J.J. Abrams’ big screen Star Trek rolls out. How about it, Exeter?