I've watches this episode three times so far. Of course normally I wouldn't watch the same episode of anything three times in succession over the span of a week or so, but this is a bit different.
Firstly it's Star Trek
TOS, my absolutely favourite television series of all. And so the novelty of watching something that resonates back to the series I love blemishes and all is a bit too much to resist. In many respects this really feels like finding a lost episode that I had somehow missed all these years similar to finding recorded yet unreleased music from The Beatles. In spirit and overall vibe this is the kind of "reboot" that's works for me. It's not really meant as a reboot, of course, in the conventional sense. It's meant to pick up where the original left off. The rebooted part is mostly in regard to casting (understandably unavoidable) and production and f/x resources. Resources today allow for things that simply couldn't be done on a television budget back in the day yet for all that the creators of STC made an effort to remain stylistically/aesthetically consistent with the original source materiel. They also made it work for the higher resolution imagery expected today.
It should also be said that the objective of this production can do things that a multi-million dollar feature film might not have been able to get away with. This is a smaller scale story and one that wouldn't likely work as a feature film which would pretty much demand a bigger story. It sets out to evoke the original source materiel in exacting detail, which works well for the small screen but might be challenged for the big screen. It caters to devoted fans of the original while a feature film must have broader appeal. STC is a labour of love while a feature film is primarily about making big box office returns.
As much as I enjoyed "Pilgrim Of Eternity" there are small things that I find a bit odd. In this I'm not referring to casting which here I found ranging from acceptable to spookily cool. I really like Vic Mignogna as Kirk. He evokes Shatner yet he's also his own thing. I felt pretty much the same about Haberkorn as Spock and Chris Doohan as Scotty. I can see myself accepting them in their roles because they manage to evoke the original performers without seeming forced. STC's Uhura, McCoy and Sulu are missing something although they're acceptable. Uhura is lacking a hint of the exotic quality Nichelle Nichols exuded. Imihara's Sulu needs to ease up a bit and feel more natural. Nemecek's McCoy is okay, but he was missing a bit of crustiness that Deforest Kelley gave the role. Mind you I still prefer him to the McCoy on The New Voyages/Phase II
productions who always seems to be in some varying degree of bad mood.
There were TNG like elements to this production that I found a bit weird. The first was the introductory holodeck scene which proved to have absolutely nothing to do with the actual story of the episode. It was somewhat fun, but it also felt rather tacked on. I don't really mind the holodeck element because the concept was first seen in TAS and actually referenced in The Making Of Star Trek
regarding the facilities to be found board the Enterprise.
Now I only hope they don't delve further or too much into the holodeck idea.
The next TNG like idea was how the opening theme was shot. The views of the Enterprise
felt more like TNG despite the reuse of the original TOS music. The next TNG like element was the introduction of a ship's Counsellor. The actress was great in the role yet this is an idea I think they'll have to be very careful with. Perhaps they should try to make the role more along the lines originally intended for Deanna Troi as opposed to how she was actually used. Again I really like the actress, but in some ways it feels like a sop to fans of contemporary Trek as do some of the other TNG like elements incorporated into this production. I don't think any of those more contemporary elements were needed to make this production work, but I reserve final judgement upon seeing where they go with this.
Comparing this with actual TOS episodes. In fairness as much as I like it I don't think it's on the level of "Balance Of Terror," "The Corbomite Maneuver," "The City On The Edge Of Forever," "The Doomsday Machine" or any of TOS' best. But that said I do think it's better than the likes of "And The Children Shall Lead" or TOS' other disappointments. So it isn't excellent and yet it also isn't outright bad or even poor. I'd say it's fair to good as a TOS episode. I'd rate it between a 3 and 4 out of 5. So I'll call it a 3.5 out of 5. If I factor in my enthusiasm for finding "new" TOS that feels a lot like original TOS then I could grade it a bit higher, say maybe as much as a 4 out of 5.
I can't help but compare this with other fan productions I've watched. Recently I've watched a number of other productions for a reasonable sense of comparison. Both Starship Exeter
and Starship Farragut
are bolstered by wholly original characters where the casts avoid direct comparisons with the TOS cast. This allow me to pay more attention to the story and other aspects of production. I have to say that I enjoyed both productions as something of a window into other parts of the TOS universe. We're seeing that Kirk and company have contemporaries with very similar adventures. In universe this makes a lot of sense because it wouldn't be believable if the Enterprise
crew were the only exceptional ones in Starfleet.
I've also watched pretty much all of The New Voyages/Phase II
features. I've enjoyed them, but they don't have that ring or vibe of authenticity that I got from Star Trek Continues.
They feel like something of an alternate universe Trek that looks somewhat familiar yet also feels quite different. I have to say that a large part of it is casting---I just can't identify with this cast. The production also feels a bit like they're trying a bit too much to "connect the dots" so to speak. In the end they just don't feel like what we might have gotten in a fourth season of TOS. Mind you the objective of these productions doesn't seem to be the same as that of Star Trek Continues
so a direct comparison mightn't be really fair.
The one thing I found undeniably apparent in all the productions was the inescapable enthusiasm for the subject matter.