Of Gods And Men – Part 3

Star Trek: Of Gods And Men

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

Stardate not given: Convinced to join Uhura and Kitrick (a man whose real name, before his freedom fighter days, was Pavel Chekov) on the planet surface, Harriman is branded a traitor by the crew of the Conqueror and sentenced to execution…as soon as he returns to the ship. But for now, he and the others have encountered a different version of Charlie Evans, one whose destiny was not interrupted by James T. Kirk. Convinced to set history back on its original path, Charlie discovers that there’s an obstacle in his way – another being with godlike powers. Harriman and Kitrick know him as the ruler of the empire; Uhura somehow recognizes the same man as Gary Mitchell. Harriman and the others are beamed back to the Conqueror, and they’re only able to escape with one last act of heroism by Ragnar and his shape-shifting ability. Harriman and Kitrick commandeer the bridge and take on the forces of the empire with just a single ship, but the two men’s fierce cunning and skill allows them to inflict more damage in the ensuing battle than anyone expects. Charlie makes one last sacrifice to stop Mitchell, but it will cost him everything.

Watch Itstory by Sky Conway & Tim Russ and Jack Trevino & Ethan H. Calk
teleplay by Ethan H. Calk, Sky Conway & Jack Trevino
directed by Tim Russ
music by Justin R. Durban

Cast: Walter Koenig (Capt. Pavel Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Capt. Nyota Uhura), Alan Ruck (Capt. John Harriman), Garrett Wang (Commander Garan), William Wellman Jr. (Charlie Evans), J.G. Hertzler (Koval), Gary Graham (Ragnar), Tim Russ (Tuvok), Chase Masterson (Xela), Daamen Krall (Gary Mitchell), Crystal Allen (Conqueror Navigator Yara), Ethan Phillips (Data Clerk), Cirroc Lofton (Sevar), Lawrence Montaigne (Stonn), Ralph M. Miller (Computer voice), James Cawley (Commander Kirk), John Carrigan (Klingon Officer Kel’mag), Jeff Quinn (Conqueror Helmsman), Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand), Janet Po (Destroyer Tactical Officer), Herbert Jefferson (Captain Galt), Seth Shostak (Enterprise Communications Officer), Arlene Martel (Vulcan Priestess), Shawn Shelton (voice of the Guardian of Forever), Crystal Conway (Grandchild), Madison Russ (Grandchild), Keith Batt (Navigator), Patrick Bell (Enterprise Helmsman), Giovanna Contini, David deFrane, Ronald Gates, Deborah Huth, Danielle Porter (Enterprise Bridge Crew), Sky Conway, Travis Sentell (Enterprise Security Officers), Jeanine Camargo, Heather C. Harris, Mindy Iden, Luke McRoberts, Moses Shepard (Vulcan Initiates), Elizabeth Cortez (T’Liel), Amy Ulen (Teacher), Rob Leslie, Joanna Mendoza, Linda Zaruches (Vulcan Citizens), Stewart Lucas, Scott Nakada (Conqueror Klingon Officers), Joel Bellucci, Tony Pavone (Conqueror Romulan Officers), Giovanna Contini (Conqueror Science Officer), Jack Donner, Tania Lemani, Celeste Yarnall (Special Wedding Guests)

Review: When I started doing fan film reviews, I set out very early that I will attempt to be constructive in my criticisms, and I really intend to stick to that where fan-made productions are concerned. But Gods is obviously at least a semi-pro production, so I’m inclined to be a bit more direct with my criticsm rather than dancing around it verbally. Simply put, having gotten to the end of Gods, I’m having a hard time believing that the fan film community has embraced this thing so whole-heartedly, giving it plaudits over and above what New Voyages, Starship Farragut, Odyssey and Exeter have gotten. Have I been watching the same thing as the rest of fandom?

Put simply, part three completes the dismal fall of this production’s incredible potential. Promised an edgy tale that would have something to say about our modern-day struggle between freedom and security, we instead get a watered-down parable that pays mealy-mouthed lip service to the idea that, hey, people really ought to be free to choose their own path. Wow. Do you reach, brother? It doesn’t cushion the blow any that this is all set against a backdrop that borrows liberally from Mirror, Mirror and its subsequent sequels (and yet is never in danger of reaching the same level of inventiveness) , and that much of the third and final part of Gods is a relentless CGI extravaganza that doesn’t really enhance the story that much.

When we were promised a story that would live up to the Roddenberryan ideal of commenting on the ills of society, I feel completely cheated by the time the end credits roll. The best part of Gods can be boiled down to two things: the first of the three segments, which really had a nice atmosphere and didn’t quite fall victim to obvious paint-by-numbers plotting, and the bloopers that accompany part three’s end credits.

The performances are all that keep this thing afloat; I was disappointed to see Gary Graham bow out in the third segment, because he’s consistently one of the most enjoyable and skilled guest actors to have graced numerous hours of ’90s and 2000s Trek. Grace Lee Whitney gets in on the action here, but her appearance really amounts to little more than a cameo.

The real letdown here is that the Hollywood pros behind Gods have enough collective experience that they should’ve been able to craft a better story than this, a zinger of a sociopolitical commentary that would leave the audience thinking long after the show’s over. Tim Russ, who claims to be such a Roddenberry afficionado, surely could’ve done better than this – or at least could’ve ridden the writers a bit harder to come up with something better. In the end, we’re left with something that, for some reason – probably all the superficial CG pizzazz – fandom seems to think has raised the bar for future Trek fan productions. On the contrary, the final installment of Gods has me eager for the next Phase II, Farragut and Intrepid installments, because I know those guys can spin a better yarn than this.

Sorry for the savage review, but I think it’s important to put the cards on the table. One other thing: a recently announced campaign to allow fans to make charitable donations to admittedly worthy causes, which will net them a compiled, re-edited full length DVD copy of Gods in return, seems ill-advised at best. I don’t doubt that people would like to see the whole production uninterrupted, but that’s dancing on a knife’s edge that threatens to give Paramount an opening to shut down all fan-made Trek. Just put an .ISO file out there and let people download it, guys – don’t screw it up for the productions that aren’t backed by Hollywood muscle.