Star Trek: Odyssey

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

Stardate 61125.8: A massive Archein assault force creates a wormhole from their staging ground in the Andromeda Galaxy to Romulan space. The Romulans are beaten back and their worlds are earmarked for Archein colonization. Now on friendly terms with the Klingons and Federation following the Tholian War, the Romulans turn to their allies for assistance, and Starfleet launches its unmanned Iliad probe through the wormhole into Archein space, discovering a weakness in the enemy’s enormous wormhole-generating gateway. Fitted with a new version of the experimental slipstream drive, the Odyssey and an allied Klingon ship are sent to destroy the gateway and return home. Lt. Commander Ro Nevin is assigned to the Odyssey, while his spouse, Lt. Commander Corey Aster, oversees the slipstream drive on the Klingons’ ship. But their battle plan doesn’t survive contact with the enemy, and Odyssey’s captain and XO are killed during the attack. As the Klingons race back to Federation space using the Archein wormhole, Ro assumes command of Odyssey and uses the volatile slipstream drive core to destroy the gateway. Out of touch with the Federation and Starfleet, out of spare parts, and almost out of places to hide, Odyssey is left under the command of one of its junior officers – and a formidable enemy who will stop at nothing to take revenge.

Watch Itstory by Rob Caves
teleplay by Rob Caves
directed by J.T. Tepnapa
music by Dex Craig

Cast: Bobby Rice (Lt. Commander Ro Nevin), Michelle Laurent (Subcommander T’Lorra), Matthew Montgomery (Dr. Owen Vaughan), Julia Morizawa (Lt. Maya Stadi), Tim Foutch (Ensign John Gillen), J.T. Tepnapa (Lt. Commander Corey Aster), Sharon Savene (Seram Archein), John Whiting (General Morrigu), David W. Dial (Admiral Ian Knapp), Joni Bovill (Proconsul Yeshva), Karl Puder (General Korg), Sterling Greene (Captain T’Lek), Jennifer Cole (Grand Majan Archein), Adam Browne (Caecus), Jacob Hibbits (Jenaan), Hugh Gehrke (Centurion), Jacob Reitz (Klingon Tactical), David O’Neill (Vito), Mark Ashton Lund (Commander Conner), Andrew Foster (Chief Hars Bixx), Sam Basca (Lt. Alex Wozniak), Joanne Busch (Commander Robin Lefler)

Notes: Odyssey is a spinoff from the long-running post-Voyager fan series Star Trek: Hidden Frontier; the characters of Ro Nevin and Corey Aster are carryovers from that series. The character of Maya Stadi is intended to be a cousin of the deceased Lt. Stadi who ferried Tom Paris to Voyager in the pilot epiosde of Star Trek: Voyager.

Review: I’ll admit that I have seen only clips of the fan series Hidden Frontier, Odyssey’s progenitor, and barely have a working knowledge of its plotline, so there are a few things here which seem to be references to Hidden Frontier plot points that baffled me a bit. With this being the launch of a new series, albeit a Hidden Frontier spinoff, I wanted to stumble into the fray with no preconceived notions. Odyssey is a mightily impressive series from a standpoint of production values – almost all of the signature Trek alien makeups are outstanding (especially the Bolian, who looked so authentic that I’d swear Michael Westmore himself made the actor up), the costumes are more than credible, and the exterior space CGI scenes are up there with almost anything that Paramount itself put on the screen under the Star Trek banner. The actors are ready for prime time, and they have some sparkling dialogue to work with.

Star Trek: Odyssey - IliadSo what’s the catch? Egads, the sound mix. I watched Odyssey’s premiere episode on two different decently calibrated surround sound systems, but that’s all for nought when it’s decided at several junctures that the music and sound effects are more important than clearly distringuishable dialogue. It’s not a problem for much of the show, but during intense action sequences don’t count on hearing what anyone’s saying. There’s one key scene aboard the Klingon ship where I couldn’t make out one word of what was being said. I don’t know if the Klingon captain was swearing an oath to die with honor, if I missed a poignant goodbye from Aster to Ro, or if everyone aboard was intoing the lyrics to the Macarena in unison in a disturbing monotone. I couldn’t hear a word of it. When there is music, it positively blasts everything else right out of the sound mix, and when the explosions get going, look out – especially if you’ve cranked up the volume to hear the actors speak.

I’ll admit that I’m just not crazy about fan-made projects where CG backgrounds stand in for sets, as it tends to result in locked-off shots that sometimes just die on the screen. Tight editing helps here, but the inherent weaknesses of this approach are still very much on display. In some of the more tense scenes, even an artificial zoom-in or two would’ve helped; as it is, you only ever really see “camera movement” during exterior CG scenes. To cut from space scenes with almost Battlestar Galactica-like zooms and pans to locked-off interior scenes just makes the difference stand out more.

Even without having seen an entire episode of Hidden Frontier before, I was aware of the one aspect of that show which had, for better or worse, brought many people’s attention to it – a steady homosexual relationship between two of the regular characters. The makers of Hidden Frontiers and Odyssey have announced that the plotline of Odyssey won’t explore that relationship further (by the end of the show you’ll understand why), but it is featured in the pilot. The closest point of comparison that I can think of would be the BBC’s Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood, but this goes a little bit further than Torchwood. However, the relationship is written and played as a real relationship – the “ten minutes” gag would’ve been just as funny with a heterosexual couple – and as such it rings true and I don’t have a problem with it. It’s part of the characters involved and didn’t seem tacked on for the sake of titillation or exploitation. I’m not sure at what age I’d expose someone to Odyssey or Hidden Frontier though – if Torchwood, which gave us a lot of verbal flirt and insinuation and two whole kisses in an entire 13-episode season, is after-9pm viewing, I’d say use that as a guide.

What I’m not sure about is the near-duplication of the basic premise of Voyager – a ship hurled far away from the help, rules and regs of the Federation – even though the plot contrivances that serve to trap Odyssey in another galaxy are marginally more plausible than the pilot episode of Voyager. On this count, Odyssey will have to work hard at not becoming Voyager. Only time will tell if it can avoid following the same downward trajectory as that other famous lost Starfleet ship.