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Old 03-15-2023, 10:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Voyages Old and New: Warping Through Over Half a Decade of Star Trek

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise, Enterprise NX-01, Enterprise -D, USS Voyager, Discovery, Protostar, Cerritos, Horizon, Dominion, Phoenix, Intrepid, Osiris, Odyssey, Excelsior, Exeter, Batavia, the space stations Deep Space 9 and Deep Space 12, and every other location on which the franchise is set. Starting with the first ever series, now known as Classic Trek or The Original Series (TOS) my intention is to check out each series in the franchise. Along the way I will compare the series, see how it has changed or impacted on the franchise, and note any important points each series may have contributed to the Star Trek legend. Hopefully, there’ll be time for some fun, too.

Feel free to join in, or watch with me as we go along, but equally, feel free just to read and comment, or just to read.

I also intend to tackle any “non-canon” or independent projects - fan series, that kind of thing - though in general I will NOT be looking at the movies, just TV series, or, in some cases, ones only available online. Some may only have one or two episodes, but that’s ok. Quantity is not always a good indicator of quality. The fact that there may be only a handful of episodes could be- and most likely will be - down to the fact that in the case of fan-produced efforts, with very few exceptions, there is no funding, so these are labours of love financed by the people who made them, and, well, your personal money does not last forever. So this may have been all they could afford to do without proper backing.

What will the reviews be like? That’s easy: there won’t be any reviews. I have about thirty or so series to look at, and all I want to do is give a general overview of each, note the setting, characters, ideas behind it and fill you in a little on each series, how it came to be, how it differs from, or sticks to, the main Star Trek universe. This is just so I can see - and so can you, if you have not already - what the newer series are like, as well as introducing anyone who may not have seen the “big six” (TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT/DISC) to those shows. Not quite a beginner’s guide, as such, but a grounding in the whole world originally created by one man with a vision.

If anyone feels I’m “glossing over” some series I should not, well, plead your case and if I’m sufficiently impressed/convinced then maybe I’ll take a deeper look at them. For now, the idea is to take the first - or in some cases, only - episode and do a quick runthrough of that, give my general comments and compare it to the other shows, both authorised and unauthorised, that I have at that point seen.

Star Trek has lasted the test of time, running now for almost sixty years in , at the time of writing, ten different - official - series, some of which have only begun. Should a new one begin during this project I will of course include it. Although this can, as the title proclaims, serve as your introduction to the world of Star Trek, it should be of interest also to those who are hardened Trekkers, Trekkies or whatever you’re having yourself.

Okay, a few points before we get going. Although I am well-versed in everything up to and including Voyager, I have seen little of Enterprise and only two seasons of Discovery. Anything from Picard onwards I am clueless about, so much of this will be familiar to me but some will be new, so I’ll be learning too.

For those who don’t know, a list of acronyms I will be using during this project (assume there is a Star Trek prefixed to each of these, unless otherwise noted):

TOS - The Original Series; the first one, with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, screened way back in the late 1960s, ran to three seasons.
TAS - The Animated Series, speaks for itself. Shown during the mid-seventies. Two seasons.
TNG - The Next Generation, which was the first new series and introduced us to Captain Picard, Riker and Data. Screened in the 1990s over seven seasons.
DS9 - Deep Space 9. First ever Star Trek series to take place on other than a starship, it revolves (literally) around the space station Deep Space 9. Another from the somewhat Trek-saturated 1990s. Introduced the first real story-arc-dependent version of the series. Another seven-season spectacular.
VOY - Voyager. Takes place in the unexplored Delta Quadrant of the galaxy, and was the first to feature a female captain. They got five seasons out of this one. And yes, it was shown during the 90s too.
ENT - Enterprise. (Originally without the prefix, added later) A sort of prequel, going back 200 years before the events of TOS and featuring the very first starship named Enterprise. Not very familiar with this one. Ran for four seasons. Final series made in the 1990s.
DISC - Discovery. The first major series since Enterprise ended. Shown from 2017, still on the go. In its third season as I write.
PIC - Picard, following the early career of the captain from TNG. Began in 2020. Two seasons so far.
STK - Short Treks, a two-season series of shorter episodes which take place between the events of DISC and PIC.
SNW: Strange New Worlds. A prequel to TOS but not as far back as ENT, chronicling the adventures of the original captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike. Began this year, so at the time of writing, in its first season.
LD: Lower Decks. Animated series which appears to focus on comedy (it says here) and so far has run to two seasons, having started in 2020.
STP: Prodigy, the first completely computer-animated series in the franchise, aimed (again, it says here) at younger audiences. Began last year, currently in its first season.

Apart from these official series there is also a shedload of fan-produced material, some of it almost to Hollywood standards, some of it, well, not. Again, I will be ignoring movies (don’t you think I’ve enough to do?) but that still leaves us with an additional SIXTEEN series, as below:

Note: I have no idea what acronyms relate to these, so I’ll make my own up and note them here.

HF: Hidden Frontier: A series with fifty episodes, which ran from 2000 - 2007 and led to four spinoff series. This one takes place just after the Dominion War, which dominates seasons four to seven of Deep Space 9.
EX: Exeter, only two episodes released. Ran from 2002 - 2014. Wait, what? Twelve years to result in only two episodes? Okay, well, this one is set in the TOS era and takes place on, you’ll be unsurprised to discover, the USS Exeter. Of course it does.
NV: New Voyages, also set in the TOS era and actually intended to finish the interrupted five-year mission of the original Enterprise. It was so well received that cast members from TOS were signing on to appear in it. Ran from 2004 - 2016 and had ten episodes.
DA: Dark Armada. Set after the events of the third TNG movie, Nemesis, it ran from 2006 - 2016 and had four episodes.
ODY: Odyssey. A spinoff from Hidden Frontiers, which sees the USS Odyssey trapped in the Andromeda galaxy, making it, I believe, the first and only series in the franchise to move outside of our own galaxy. Ran from 2007 - 2011 and had ten episodes.
FA: Farragut takes place in the TOS era on a sister ship to the Enterprise. Anyone want to guess her name? It ran from 2007 - 2016 and had eight episodes, though there may be more as the finale was only released last year.
INT (not to be confused, of course, with ENT): Intrepid, the first fan series to be produced in the UK, this is a Scottish production and although it ran from 2007 - 2018, I’m confused about how many episodes there are, as the producers seem to have also collaborated on episodes of Odyssey and Hidden Frontier, but I guess we’ll find out.
OS: Osiris. Seems to have been one of the duds. Ran for one year and four episodes in 2008 but was slated. I’ll make my own judgement thanks, as I always do. Set just before the events in Nemesis.
PHX: Phoenix, set after Nemesis, but seems to have only produced one episode in 2010.
CON: Continues, which, as the title suggests, attempts to continue, possibly in the same way as The New Voyages, the mission of the original Enterprise. Ran from 2013 - 2017 and produced eleven episodes.
VAL: Valiant is again set in the TOS universe and between 2014 and 2021 released three episodes.
POT: Potemkin Pictures (no Star Trek prefix), a huge franchise with ten spinoff series and over eighty episodes. 2010 - 2020, based in the TOS era.
TATV: These are the Voyages, a series of five (or possibly six) episodes set in the Enterprise (ENT) timeline. Ran from 2017 - 2019.
BOT: Blood of Tiberius (no Star Trek prefix) envisages a timeline occurring after the events in the TOS episode “Bread and Circuses”, with descendants of the crew. Not sure how many episodes, but they’re all animated.
DD: Dreadnought Dominion (no Star Trek prefix) also takes places in the TOS era, and ran for 13 episodes from 2015 - 2020.

As if that wasn’t enough to be getting on with (it is, it is!) there are also a number of parodies and even some series that have had to distance themselves from the Star Trek brand thanks to draconian “guidelines” by CBS as to what they will allow in fan made productions, and I’ll investigate these to see if they’re worthy of checking out. But that will be a long time in the future, and possibly, to counter-paraphrase (or something) Star Wars, quite far away. I have plenty of work to do, and it starts today.

FYI I will be going as chronologically as I can, which means that where there are fan series in between even major official ones, such as Enterprise or Discovery, I will do those first, so that everything fits in together along a basic Star Trek timeline, rather than do all the official series and then the fan ones. That of course means we may in fact be emulating Doctor Who and jumping up and down that timeline, as some of the fan series have their programmes set in the TOS universe, some have them in DS9 and so on, but I still reckon this is the best way to see how the franchise as a whole has evolved.

And it all began here, with a “Wagon Train to the stars”.
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Old 03-16-2023, 03:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Series: Star Trek (TOS)
Pilot episode title: “The Man Trap”
Original transmission date: September 8 1966
Total seasons (to date if current): 3
Span: 1966 - 1969
Writer(s): George Clayton Johnson
Director: Marc Daniels
Basic premise: Visiting an outpost planet, the Enterprise crew meet what appears to be Dr. McCoy’s ex-girlfriend. But as will become usual, things are not as they seem.
Mood: Dark, depressive
Setting(s): Enterprise, Planet M-113
Themes: Loss, obsession, murder, hunger, survival, racial extinction, shapeshifting
Things I liked: The cute plant in Sulu’s quarters, sort of foreshadowing a Tribble; the most action for Janice Rand until her almost-rape scene in “The Enemy Within”; the more mature nature of the episode in general.
Things I didn’t like: The awkward flirting between Spock and Uhura (well, all Uhura really)
Timeline: 23th century
Stardate: 1513.1
Vessel: USS Enterprise
Registry: NCC-1701
Class: Constitution
Location: Alpha Quadrant
Mission(s): Standard health check and supply run
Dramatis Personae:
Captain James T. Kirk
Mr. Spock, Science Officer and S-I-C
Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Ship’s Chief Medical Officer
Hikaru Sulu, Helmsman

Dr. Robert Crater, archaeologist
Nancy, his wife
Yeoman Janice Rand

Crewman Darnell
Crewman Greene
Crewman Sturgeon
Starring (Main Cast): William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (RIP), DeForest Kelly (RIP), James Doohan (RIP), George Takei, Nichelle Nichols (RIP)
With: Alfred Ryder, Jeanne Bal, Michael Zaslow, Grace Lee Whitney, Bruce Watson, Francine Pyne, Vince Howard, John Arndt

Note: in the following category ratings, in general this refers to the series as a whole, if I know it. If I don’t, then it has to refer to the episode I get to watch.

Writing: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
CGI: 5/10
Soundtrack/effects: 5/10
Costumes: 8/10
Probability of watching more: n/a
Balance between animation and live-action: 3/10
Gender balance: 3/10


On the dead planet M-113, archaeologist Dr. Robert Crater and his wife are conducting research. Nancy was once Dr. McCoy’s lover, so this mission is a little hard for him ooer, but when he meets her all is not yadda yadda yadda. He sees her as the young woman he fell in love with twelve years ago and remarks that she hasn’t aged a day, and she hasn’t: not for him. But Captain Kirk sees her as she is, a grey-haired, much older woman. Crewman Darnell, the third in the party, sees her as a woman he knew, also young and pretty. When he goes outside she lures him away. Dr. Crater (they call him doctor and professor, so I’m just going to go with Doctor) seems unhappy to see them when he arrives, saying he wants to be left alone with his wife. Other than a supply of salt, he wants nothing from them. McCoy however is under orders to check on their health and will not be brushed off. There’s probably a little jealousy, too, that Crater got his girl, though his professional manner doesn’t allow that to show.

Dr. Crater seems concerned that Kirk and McCoy both see Nancy as quite different in age, but he brushes it off with the air of a man who does not want to broach a subject that may end up landing him with more questions to ask. Then Nancy screams, and they rush to find Darnell dead; Nancy says he ate a poisonous plant. Back on the ship however Spock and McCoy agree that, after an examination of Darnell, he was not poisoned. So why did Nancy say he was? And what is her weird obsession with salt? McCoy can’t even understand what killed the crewman. After a further examination, he finds that Darnell has no salt in his body, but he had no idea how he could have lost it.

They beam back down to the planet, but again Crater is unhelpful when they demand to know why he needs all the salt he has requested. Meanwhile, two more crewmen have been killed, and Nancy now seems to take the form of Greene and when they again beam up to the ship she goes with them. She wanders the ship but is unable to find any salt, or manage to take any victims (it has now become obvious she is some sort of shapeshifting alien, who needs salt to survive, and that she is responsible for the deaths of the crewmen down on the planet) until she comes across McCoy’s quarters. Meanwhile a dead crewman (yes, another one) is found in the corridors, and Nancy takes McCoy’s form while he sleeps under her power.

Kirk and Spock return to the planet, where Crater has gone over the edge, threatening them with a weapon. They find the body of Crewman Greene, so Kirk now knows that whatever beamed up with them was not him, and raises an alert on the Enterprise. They* get the jump on Crater, and while stunned he reveals that Nancy is not Nancy, but an alien shapeshifter. Taken to the ship, he recognises the creature in McCoy but says nothing, as together they try to plead the alien’s case, Crater pointing out that it is the last of its kind, that it is not dangerous (a claim that can be readily refuted as the bodycount mounts!) and that it needs salt, but also love. Kirk is not impressed with his comparing it to the buffalo on Earth, and Crater refuses to help.

As a result, the creature ends up killing him. It would have killed Spock too, but his blood is based on copper, and the salt content is not to its taste. It returns to McCoy and rouses him, turning back into Nancy. When Kirk and Spock come for it, he stands in their way. Kirk offers the creature salt, and while he and McCoy tussle the creature grabs Kirk and entrances him, preparing to kill him by extracting all the salt from his body. Spock enters and growls at McCoy to kill it, or his captain will die. Torn by indecision, he waits, as Spock wades in but has his arse kicked by the creature. He snaps “Could Nancy do that, Doctor?” and as the creature again fastens onto Kirk, McCoy sees it for what it is, and fires. The creature, wounded,* briefly reverts to Nancy but McCoy knows it now for what it is, and finishes it off.


Although of course it worked, I feel the producers took a chance here, a real one. This opinion is, I’m not surprised to find, shared by almost everyone involved with the show. As Star Trek was to become known for its easy, friendly, almost family atmosphere between the crew, this episode, as a basic pilot, has none of that. It’s very dour, very serious, and everyone is intent on their job. There’s no ribbing between the three main characters - very much a feature of the show as it progressed, and possibly one of the main reasons for its success and longevity - there’s little in the way of friendship, though there is some sympathy for McCoy, though pretty much only from Kirk. Spock remains aloof, as above, and makes no comment. Even when the message comes back that one of the landing party has died, he merely acknowledges it, though he has no way of knowing this is neither the captain nor the doctor. Uhura berates him on his lack of feeling, and perhaps it was decided he was too cold?

It’s very much a product of the fifties and sixties science fiction movies of its day, with a kind of monster-of-the-week to be tracked down, and while there is a certain humanity towards the creature - only expressed, it must be said, by Crater, who has something to gain, and the creature itself while in the form of McCoy - they still kill it in the end. Look, for a comparison, at the Horta in “Devil in the Dark”. The difference in the way the crew treat this creature is staggering, and remember, both have been killing humans, but there is a better understanding, mostly due to Spock’s mind melding with the creature, so it’s a pity they didn’t use that here. But at this point the mind meld was perhaps not even thought of, as otherwise they could have got the information they wanted from Crater that way, instead of using the old CIA standard, truth drugs.

It would also be a feature of TOS that there would be, generally, few “sad” or “dark” endings, to the effect that a large percentage of the episodes would end up with Kirk and crew laughing at some joke, thereby leaving the viewer with the indelible impression of a group of friends, or even a family, jaunting around the galaxy and having fun. This definitely does not convey that kind of feeling. So all in all, a poor one to begin with. The cardinal rule of writing is hook them in the first sentence or few sentences, but once you’ve done that you have to retain that attention, and ideally give them a happy, or at least satisfactory ending. To see one of the crew have to kill a representation of the woman he had loved and probably be haunted about it ever afterwards, is not what you’d call a happy ending. So I think it was a bad choice to showcase the series, but as time and history shows, they overcame any initial doubts and got enough of the audience’s attention to make them come back the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Soon, the new series was a phenomenon, and a legend was well on its way to being born.
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Old 03-17-2023, 04:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'll be keeping up with this because over the past seven months I got hooked into a Star Trek game. I'm more of a Star Wars fan moreso than a trekkie but playing this game is giving me the itch to start watching some of the newer series like Picard, SNW and Lower Decks.
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Old 03-17-2023, 02:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh well you are in the right place, my friend. I'll be doing every series (first episode only) and giving an overview of each, as well as the fan made material. It'll be fun. Mostly.
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