The internet. The chair-friendly frontier. These are the writings of Jacky the Nerd. His ongoing mission; to explore strange, new websites; seek out new friends and discover new nerdy stuff. To boldly write about Star Trek fan films and web series.
That rip-off was worse than I thought. Good thing there’s more writing than that.
Ok, it’s time for some background. This particular Star Trek fan episode is from a series called Star Trek New Voyages. The series has been running for about 10 years, usually producing 1 episode per year. It’s based off the original Star Trek from the 1960s, and is a charming loyal incarnation of what Star Trek is. I could do an entire series of blogs about Star Trek New Voyages. I very well may.
Enough background though. You want to know about “The Holiest Thing.” This episode is a tie-in episode that explains how Captain Kirk met Dr. Carol Marcus, giving us fans some backstory about the events in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. What Star Trek New Voyages does well is allow new people access to something they aren’t familiar with while throwing neat things out for fans. They know their primary audience (Trekkies) without isolating broader, newer audiences. It’s a smart move.
I’ve already mentioned part of the plot; this is the episode that explains how James Kirk and Carol Marcus met. That’s the crux of the story. It also explores Carol’s early terraforming research and efforts. The plot also touches on how people deal with grief and trauma because Carol is the sole survivor of an accident that destroys the Federation research outpost she and her team were assigned to. It’s also a mystery episode because Carol, Kirk, and the Enterprise crew have to uncover how the outpost was destroyed.
This episode did just about everything it set out to do really well. As always with this particular fan series, the sets and costumes were spot on. Every uniform looked tailor made for each actor. The lighting is bright when it needs to be, and a little darker when the scene calls for it. There’s no lens flare or other frivolous and unnecessary lighting tricks. The starship interior is well lit; when there’s a romantic scene, they use some red-toned lighting for atmosphere; on the planet surface in the crater, everything is gray and smoky looking. It’s minimalistic, but it’s effective.
The special effects are pretty good and serve their purpose well. There was moving text on the bridge screens. Little details like that help bring sets to life. The production team did good on that. Now, it’s fairly obvious that the green screen stuff is green screen and the CGI is CGI, but that’s ok. I’m not expecting Lucas Film quality stuff. After the episode, the guy who made the crater scenes briefly explains how he did it, and that little process was fairly neat and useful for anyone who wants to made films one day.
What I really enjoyed about this episode was Carol Marcus. Trekkies first met Dr. Carol Marcus in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In that movie, Carol is a well-established scientist who created a device that could terraform entire planets in mere months. In “The Holiest Thing,” she’s a much younger woman. The episode explores her character and explains her motivations for researching planetary terraforming. We also get to see a woman deal with grief, come to terms with what it means to deal with the consequences of taking risks, fall in love, and then make a difficult decision about how she will live her life. Carol has a real sense of agency while still being flawed and loveable.
The one thing I think the episode meant to do but didn’t execute well was deal with issues revolving around post-traumatic stress disorder. While Carol certainly showed signs of grief after seeing her friends die in a horrific accident, I feel like the writers were also hinting at some PTSD developing in her as well, but I don’t think they really followed up on that idea. Of course, I could be wrong. Either way, I wish that issue could have been explored in the episode.
Either way, Carol’s characterization was pretty great.
Now, for my verdict. Whenever I watch something fan-produced, I ask myself; “Is this any fun to watch?” My answer is yes! Now, I have my biases. I’ve been following Star Trek New Voyages since they were called Star Trek: Phase II. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, and I’ve loved seeing them bring in new actors, get bigger sets, and write out new stories. If you enjoy Star Trek—especially the original series stuff—check this episode out.
Author’s Note: I wrote this in a flurry before taking a week-long trip to Harbin. Forgive any mistakes you spot, and I hope you enjoyed the review!