World Enough And Time

Star Trek: Phase II

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

Stardate 6283.4: A distress call takes the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone, where they see a helpless cargo ship destroyed by Romulan Birds of Prey using a new weapon not seen before by the Federation. After it destroys that ship, however, the weapon backfires, enveloping everything nearby in an energy field, including the Enterprise. Sulu and exo-tech expert Lt. Chandris take a shuttlecraft to the wreckage of the lead Romulan ship to learn more about the weapon, but waves of instability wreak havoc with the ship’s structure, tearing it apart and leaving only seconds before the warp core breaches. Sulu and Chandris run back to find their shuttle has been lost, and when Sulu calls the Enterprise for an emergency transport, he’s literally a different man when he returns: he has aged over 30 years, and Chandris doesn’t rematerialize at all. Sulu explains that a rift led them to safety on a habitable world in another dimension, and they spent that time settling down and starting a family. Sulu introduces his crewmates to his daughter, Alana, whose transporter pattern Scotty can barely lock onto. The only way to keep her molecules from scattering is to create a field that stabilizes her pattern. Every time Kirk orders the Enterprise to try to break away from the distortion generated by the Romulans’ weapon, Alana starts to fade out of existence. With mere hours before the distortion destabilizes the space within it enough to destroy the Enterprise, Sulu must try to recover his memory of how to navigate a ship through the distortion – with the full knowledge that escape may condemn his daughter to death.

Watch Itwritten by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree
directed by Marc Scott Zicree
music by Alan Derian

Cast: James Cawley (Captain Kirk), Jeffery Scott (Mr. Spock), John Kelley (Dr. McCoy), George Takei (Sulu), Grace Lee Whitney (Commander Janice Rand), Christina Moses (Alana), John Lim (Lt. Cmdr. Sulu), Andy Bray (Lt. Chekov), Julienne Irons (Lt. Uhura), Charles Root (Scotty), Ron Boyd (DeSalle), Lia Johnson (Dr. Chandris), Mimi Chong (Demora Sulu), Natasha Soudek (Lt. Soudek), Mallory Reaves (Ensign Mallory), Kaley Pusateri (Sulu Granddaughter), Kurt Carley (Stunt Guard #1), Brian Holloway (Stunt Guard #2), Cali Ross (Ensign Juvenia), Cynthia Wilber (Lt. Wyndham), Kitty Kavey (Lt. Turkel), Katrina Kernodle (Yeoman), Katia Mangani (Dead Romulan #1), R.M. Martin (Dead Romulan #2), Don Balderamos (Dead Romulan #3), Steve Perry (voice of Pilot), Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Computer Voice)

Notes: The costumes for Sulu and his daughter were designed by Star Wars prequel art director Iain McCaig, along with his own daughter, Mishi McCaig. Fencing coach Tom Morga is also a stuntman who has featured in past Star Trek adventures, including Star Trek VI, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. Michael Okuda is credited with “graphics” for this episode.

Review: The second New Voyages episode in a row to feature a crew member’s miraculous aging and the return of the original actor, World Enough And Time thrills me and bugs me in equal measure. It’s actually a much more effective story, in many places, than To Serve All My Days (the installment which brough back Walter Koenig as Chekov) – there’s some real emotional resonance here, rather than an odd conversation between the character’s old and young incarnations. It certainly doesn’t hurt that George Takei is simply magnificent as Sulu, giving the character more depth than his appearances in the original series and all of the original movies ever allowed. Helping matters considerably is that he’s not the only one – Christina Moses, as Sulu’s daughter from another dimension, is outstanding. Between these two, everyone else has to bring their “A” game to the table, especially James Cawley. If nothing else, these “special guest” episodes have helped to raise the acting bar on New Voyages.

Star Trek: New Voyages - World Enough And TimeBut at the same time…how many charatcers are going to magically age so that the original actors can step into their roles yet again? Perhaps I wouldn’t be so skeptical of the whole thing had Takei and Koenig’s episodes not followed one after the other, but that’s exactly what happened, and it doesn’t just invite comparisons between the two, it demands them. The effects work in World Enough And Time is big-screen, big-budget stuff, put together by students at the DAVE School (headed up by former Babylon 5 FX supremo Ron Thornton). It’s pretty spectacular, though a lot of the FX muscle here seems to be concentrated on match-moving a swirling pattern of “iridescent energy” around the character of Sulu’s daughter at all times – an expensive thing for which, had this been a studio-backed show, a workaround would have been found just to eliminate the energy cloud keep the CGI budget to a dull roar.

Marc Scott Zicree (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sliders, Babylon 5) hands in a script that seems to have a fairly obvious denouement; it’s to the credit of Takei and Moses that it still carries as much power as it does when it finally unfolds. But other than that, with its slightly predictable ending and tons of very un-Original-Series-like technobabble, World almost seems like a TNG script (a criticism which I seem to remember leveling at To Serve All My Days as well). Big kudos are also due for John Lim, who plays the younger “present day” Sulu; not only does he do a great job of acting like the younger Takei without being a mere impersonator, but he also gets to strut his stuff in his scenes.

There were also distribution problems aplenty with World; I understand that Cawley & company want to be able to give Paramount very precise figures on how many people are downloading and watching their episodes, and they want things to look spectacular. That’s great – but I had a hell of a time getting my video codecs close enough to the bleeding edge that they’d play this episode in its massive HD resolution. The delays leading up to the release were frustrating, and while I can see why the folks behind New Voyages want to know how widely their work is viewed, I find myself questioning why Paramount wants to know. I seriously doubt that New Voyages will ever get a studio thumbs-up and funding/resources from Hollywood, no matter what kind of numbers they can prove; it’s altogether more likely, in my cynical and jaded opinion, that the studio wants to know if enough people are watching that they should consider New Voyages a threat to the upcoming big-screen remake of classic Trek, and shut the fan-made productions down.

I liked World Enough And Time; it’s very effective and powerful stuff, and at over 70 minutes and with its elaborate effects, it’s like a lost Trek movie rather than an episode. But New Voyages needs to be precisely that: new. It’s been fun revisiting familiar faces, but it’s time to truly start carving a new path through the Trek universe and stop leaning on the show’s continuity so much that it becomes video fanwank. I have high hopes for the upcoming two-part David Gerrold story Blood And Fire, and Howard Weinstein’s episode, which promises to bring back Harry Mudd…but let’s start telling some new stories, and let’s start telling some stories that say something about the world around us – the one thing that has made the original series more evergreen than any of its spinoffs – instead of just saying something about the world of Star Trek.

August 23, 2007

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