As I explained last year, Star Trek’s powers-that-be had decided that the fan film Axanar needed to be axed after more than a few warp-factors too many. Several unwritten lines had been crossed, forcing Paramount to write it all down in ink. As Engadgetreports:
Although the full list of changes hasn’t been made public yet, it has been announced that the film will need to abide by at least some of the official fan film guidelines. Specifically, the production can only be 30 minutes long in total, and even then it has to be split into two parts. The Axanar film also can’t have “Star Trek” in the title, cannot use public crowd-funding and may not compensate any of the professional talent for their work.
The 30-minute length is a big loss for what was intended to be a feature-length movie. The only big break I see is that they’re allowing Gary Graham to appear as Soval the Vulcan, seen in this teaser:
My first post on Axanar is here. It links to the original promo, which was already longer than each section is to be permitted.
I always understood the reasons for these positions. Still, this is a major loss for the production, and for us fans. But it’s better than nothing.
I’m late but I wanted to review the latest episode of Star Trek Continues: Embracing the Winds. It’s basically about equal rights for women, a big subject in the ’60s and ’70s. Those “Winds” in the title must be the winds of progress.
(If you’re new to Star Trek Continues, you can read my first post on the topic, which has links to the episodes. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.)
Let me say right off that I generally detest TV’s “very special episodes.” Their morality lessons always come off as patronizing, pandering and smarmy. That’s because they are. Always. Few people believe they write these things for our enjoyment. Ten percent of the time, it’s to teach viewers whatever they think we need to learn. The other ninety percent: they want to win awards from their colleagues. And all this time, those colleagues are trying to out-patronize, out-pander and out-smarm each other with their own very special episodes.
Star Trek Continues (STC) gets away with it a little bit because they’re doing it for a different purpose. They’re not really trying to teach us this lesson. (And if I’m wrong, somebody needs to drag Vic Mignogna — best Kirk since Shatner — to the asylum on Elba II.) They’re trying to do 1960s TV, while at the same time trying to explain away Starfleet’s rule (from the episode “Turnabout Intruder“) that women cannot be starship captains.
By the way, don’t blame naval tradition for this. Commanding a warship required experience on those ships, and that’s where the barrier was. This shouldn’t be a problem on Starfleet’s Enterprise, which has plenty of women.
STC blames the rule on diplomatic problems with some member planets opposing women’s rights. Although it’s a clever bit of retcon, I don’t think this works. Other species had their own ships on this show. And besides that, in real life, captains of capital ships aren’t selected by field tribunals.
The problem here is that this show is supposed to be as from the ’60s. That’s just the way they were back then. Things weren’t changing that fast.
The first Star Wars was almost ten years later: Smuggling and blockade running was still a man’s game. Remember that hangar at the rebel base, and all those ground personnel preflighting the fighters? Men. The pilots? Men. Yes, the princess did some intelligence and courier work, but she stayed at the base when the climactic battle began. Men did the fighting. I don’t even need to mention the Empire.
Same story with the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica. Its versions of Starbuck and Boomer were guys.
That Galactica did have women pilots — in one episode. They needed to learn to fly when the men were sick. I don’t remember the details, but it was probably like when Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife got sick, and Thelma Lou and Aunt Bea had to defend Mayberry from mobsters.
On the other hand, Buck Rogers did have a woman pilot around that same time as Galactica. But Wilma Deering was in the original 1928 book as well, although as a soldier, not a pilot.
Anyway, Star Trek didn’t have a problem only with women captains. I don’t remember any women in security either. That’s just the way things were.
I often think Star Trek’s status on the vanguard of civil rights is overblown, but I’ll give Roddenberry some credit here. As seen in the pilot (“The Cage”), the first officer was originally going to be a woman. As the story goes, he had to back down when the studios balked. That would have changed everything. Since executive officers are generally in line to become ship captains, it would have followed that the rule wouldn’t have existed anymore. The writers would have had to come up with another motive for the crazy lady in “Turnabout Intruder.”
As for the episode itself, it was fun after the very special groaning. Not their best, but always better than the latest movie. Look for Erin Gray as Commodore Gray. She played Wilma Deering in the ’70s version of Buck Rogers. This was her second appearance on STC.
The rest of the performances are also top notch. In particular, watching Chris Doohan as Mr. Scott is a treat for any real fan of the original series. This is an “amateur” production in the same sense as the Japanese government calling its military the “Japan Self-Defense Forces.” The label understates their true power. In other words, they’re professionals, and it shows.
CBS and Paramount released new guidelines on Star Trek fan films. It was aimed at Axanar, but this also cuts through Star Trek Continues. From Entertainment Weekly:
Among the 10 “guidelines for avoiding objections” are requirements that “fan productions must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total,” and they must be fully amateur undertakings: None of the creators or actors can be compensated, and no one currently or formerly employed on an official Star Trek project can participate. The guidelines also state that fan productions “must be non-commercial,” with fundraising not to exceed $50,000.
This isn’t a huge shock, but it’s the end of something special. I look forward to these more than I do to what the studios are doing. I’ve previously posted here on the legal action.
(AXANAR Feature Film — “Vulcan Scene” w/Introduction: 4 minutes)
They’re being sued for copyright infringement. I hope they can straighten this out.
I can understand the lawsuit. There is a cost to Paramount. Diluting the franchise means that even dedicated fans will downgrade how much they spend on the original. The die-hard Trekkie who sees the movie thrice on opening week does that because it’s a special event. They still buy the DVD when they might otherwise get digital downloads because it’s part of their collection. But maybe they’ll see it twice on opening month instead of thrice on opening week. And they’ll buy the DVD when they get around to it.
Axanar has been promoted as “a feature quality production.” It’s got big name actors and a sizable budget.
It may seem like one more Trek shouldn’t hurt all that much, but we’re talking about one more Trek the same year, possibly just a month or two before or after their big feature. And a little bit of harm must cost something. Just one percent (to pull a number out of a hat) could mean millions of dollars.
On the other hand, what happens when Star Trek: Axanar turns out to be better than Star Trek: Beyond? At this point, there’s a reasonably good chance of that happening.
And consider this cosmic theory: there used to be a weird phenomenon where only the even-numbered Star Trek films were worth seeing. The odd-numbered ones were crap. Now, what if the fans are making so many movies, and timing them in such a way that Paramount never gets another even number?
Star Trek Continues released their fourth episode online today: The White Iris
I’ve got my gripes, such as breaking the rules by having a holodeck on the Enterprise of the original series. They did a few other stupid things, but some are appropriate. It’s reasonable to do some stupid things if the 1960s TV series would have done them, too. After all, the premise of this show is to extend the original series with a similar look and feel.
This episode recreates more guest characters from the original series. I hope they continue to do more of that. The City on the Edge of Forever is begging for a full sequel of its own.
Where other fan-productions, like Star Trek Continues (mentioned before) are TV episodes, Star Trek: Axanar will be a full-length movie. It stars Alec Peters, Richard Hatch, J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Kate Vernon, Tony Todd, and Garret Wang. You may recognize some of those names from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Alien Nation.
It won’t be out for another year, but a 20 minute “documentary” is available now:
Think back to the old Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” That’s the one where Kirk visits an insane asylum that is subsequently taken over by the brilliant and insane mental patient Captain Garth, the hero of the Battle of Axanar some 20 years earlier. Now we’ll get to see that battle, and Captain Garth’s victory.
Star Trek Continues is a fan-produced web series continuing the original series (TOS). It may be fan-produced, but this is no penny-ante operation. They raised over $100,000 to make this via Kickstarter. The basic look is the same as in the old series. That goes right down to camera angles, sound effects, program length, and (for better or worse) the 4:3 aspect ratio. The special effects are somewhat comparable to when they reworked the original series episodes in the last decade. The sets and costumes are stunningly identical to the originals.
Star Trek fans will recognize the name Chris Doohan, if not necessarily the face. Mythbusters fans will recognize Grant Imahara as Mr. Sulu. Michael Forest, who played Apollo in the original series, comes back for this one. The computer voice is Marina Sirtis (who played Counselor Troi in ST: The Next Generation). You’ll find more big names when you look at the credits.
Here’s episode one, for those who were also late:
If it seems a little corny, you should applaud that, too. They’re doing 1960s TV.