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Old August 4 2011, 03:57 AM   #1506
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Re: Whatever happened to Starship Exeter?

HI there. New member but lifelong Star Trek fan, like many of you. I discovered the existence of fan productions on YouTube less than 2 years ago, and Starship Exeter specifically around last fall.

Like everyone, I hope to someday see the conclusion to The Tressarian Intersection. But in the meantime I got really interested in The Atlantis Invaders. I work in television and film productions in Canada (for about 20 years now. Yikes!! ), and in a current project I act as story editor and thought it would be a good exercise to pore over Atlantis Invaders as a wannabe Gene Coon.

I may have to get rough with the Atlantis Inv. , but I figured that chances are high this script may never get produced as the previous Johnson bros. Production is well over 7 years in the making, so why not go for it. I totally sympathize with Jimm and Josh in advance, as I know how difficult it can be to write a decent Star Trek script, since there already exists such a large quantity of episodes. Story editing however, is another story.

Before tackling the script in detail, I do have some general comments on the overall story:

(1) Apart from Commander Cutty, a black man, Starship Exeter as well as Starship Farragut (another fan production I really enjoy) seems to be populated mainly with white North American Anglo-Saxon types.

Straying away from Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a multi-cultural, racially inclusive Starfleet, it would be nice if at least some of the supporting roles had a bit of an exotic flair to them. However in The Atlantis Invaders, aside from Doctor Fu, we get Jenkins, Joe, Sam, Schnyder, Callahan, and Watkins... No Italians? No Bulgarians, no turks, no Samoans? In the 1960’s it was highly controversial when they added a Russian character into the cultural mix. In this turbulent decade, I can’t imagine a bolder move than to add an arab crewmember, minor character or otherwise.

(2) Despite the underwater setting, The Atlantis Invaders shares too many similarities with some other familiar Star Trek episodes: its opening segment is very similar to DEVIL IN THE DARK with its panicky miners meeting just before disaster happens to some of them. They even have the administrators meeting in a conference room when the outraged workers violently confront them. Another episode, THE CLOUD MINDERS, has Starfleet officers arriving at a mining planet hoping to recover an urgently-needed planetary resource for ailing Federation citizens. Substitute Xenite for Scurvium in this instance.

(3) Finally, the biggest problem I had with the entire script: just what is this episode about?!? If you think about it, you can choose many of the better ST:TOS episodes and boil them down to a dramatic theme: SPACE SEED is absolute power corrupting absolutely. THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE is shocking loss leading to tragic monomania. The NAKED TIME is the realization of the necessary balance between good and evil within. WOLF IN THE FOLD is the conflict between saving a dear friend or the necessary quashing of a psychopathic monster.

In Atlantis Invaders, what is the theme? Is it the love story between the underwater princess and Captain Garrovick? I can’t say that since it is devoid of any conflict: The two meet about a third into the story and basically fall in lust at first sight. They join together for some of the action, beat the bad guys and at the end must separate because of their respective duties. Neither is devastated by their parting because neither really changed the other for the better.

Captain Garrovick, as played by Jimm Johnson, is dour, sarcastic and a bit of a mysogenist. These traits fit quite well with his established background (marooned as a young adult for two years on a harsh planet, losing his girlfriend as a result). While Jim Kirk is an overcompensating skirt-chaser, John Garrovick seems more the type that would tax the patience of any female that might show a sexual interest in him.

So if not the ‘love’ relationship aspect, is it the wanton corporate pillaging of natural resources in the third world angle at the heart of this episode? That last part would be interesting given recent world history, yet it is given short shrift in favour of random shoot-em-up violence. A pity when ERRAND OF MERCY was quite adept at exploring cold war superpowers and their interference with struggling republics as cannon fodder.

(Analysis in fuller detail to come)...
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