Sunday, August 26, 2007

Good LORD! That's GOOD!

I just saw the best episode of Star Trek ever made.

Desilu didn't make it. Paramount didn't make it. It didn't appear on CBS, NBC, the Sci-Fi channel, or even in a theater near you. It's a fan production, on the Web, called World Enough and Time (WEAT). It's one of the excellent fan productions on the Star Trek New Voyages website. And this is no accident. My previous favorite Star Trek episode was also a STNV fan production, called "To Serve All My Days" (TSAMD).

(UPDATE: Yes, I know the website says "coming soon". New Voyages is a victim of its own success. The servers crashed under the strain of trying to serve the episode to 40,000 people when another 70,000 showed up. Even so, it's possible to download the episode with BitTorrent. Do sign up for the streaming event, though, so that New Voyages can provide accurate viewer stats to the studios.)

Don't let that "fan production" label fool you. These are entirely professional productions... it's just that for copyright reasons they can't make money from them, so these are produced out of sheer love of the material. But I won't go on about it... the STNV folks can explain themselves just fine. To give you some idea of the quality, this started purely as fans. But more and more professionals are involved. TSAMD starred Walter Koenig ("Pavel Chekov" from the original series). In the course of the series, other guest stars have included Grace Lee Whitney ("Yeoman Janice Rand"), Denise Crosby (Next Generation's "Tasha Yar"), William Windom ("Commodore Decker"), Majel Barrett Rodenberry ("Nurse Chapel", "Lwaxana Troi", and the Computer Voice in all five of the TV series). Mrs. Rodenberry returns as the computer voice in WEAT. Not just actors: Gene Roddenberry's son is a consulting producer. Marc Scott Zicree directs WEAT. David Gerrold ("Trouble With Tribbles") wrote the upcoming episode, "Blood and Fire", in which Denise Crosby will guest star. Rick Sternbach has won an Emmy, and he's doing work for New Voyages. You get the idea.

That brings me back to this episode. George Takei (the original series' "Hikaru Sulu") guest stars as... Sulu. And he does an amazing job of it, on the Enterprise, the Excelsior, and... well, you've gotta see it. Here's the website's teaser:
A Romulan weapons test goes awry and snares the Enterprise in an inter-dimensional trap. Lt. Commander Sulu returns to find himself 30 years out of place and the key to saving the crew of the Enterprise as the precarious grasp on their own dimension begins to slip. Guest starring George Takei, who returns to the role of Hikaru Sulu, which he played on television in Star Trek (TOS) and in Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in the six feature Star Trek films. Written by Michael Reaves and Marc Scott Zicree. Directed by Marc Scott Zicree.
What they don't tell you here (but you get from the trailer) is that Sulu has a daughter in those 30 years. What they really don't tell you is that the actress playing the part (Christina Moses) can act. and I don't mean a little bit either. If this were a broadcast episode she would have won an Emmy, and I don't mean maybe. As TV Guide reports it,
The daughter whom Sulu gains when he’s marooned for thirty years on an alien planet is such a tour-de-force for Christina Moses that the Oscar-winning producer of “Ordinary People” and showrunner on Medium, Ron Schwary, said upon seeing her performance, "That's a star. She's a star right there." Marc testified further that, “It's an amazing performance, a phenomenal performance, and the audience is moved to tears every time we show it. And I am, too.”
Me, too, baby. Me too.

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