Star Trek Continues: Episode 2 "Lolani"...

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Warped9, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. I am not Spock

    I am not Spock Commodore Commodore

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    I liked McKenna. She was an interesting character. I haven't seen The Pligrim of Eternity yet, but I stumbled across Lolani the other day, and enjoyed it.
     
  2. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

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    Just caught the new episode.... BRAVO! Excellently executed! Loved it! It worked on so many levels. Lou Ferrigno totally rocked. The entire cast was excellent. I tip my hat to the cast and crew! TOS lives! Keep up the exemplary work. :bolian:
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  3. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've rewatched the episode a few other times and here are my thoughts. First, congrats to the STAR TREK CONTINUES team for releasing an episode that captivated my attention and that told a meaningful story.

    What Are We to Do About a Slave Named Lolani?​


    Fan films are well-intentioned, herculean efforts by a group of dedicated and hardworking fans who are trying to recreate the spark that made the original "Star Trek" series so thrilling. Some are amateurs. Others professionals using their talents to bring life to their childhood dreams. Fan productions often have the style but none of the substance.

    Not since STARSHIP EXETER's "Tressaurian Intersection" and STAR TREK: PHASE II's "World Enough and Time" has there been a fan film that's come close to that substance. "Lolani" — the latest offering from STAR TREK CONTINUES — is one step closer, perhaps closer than a fan film has ever been. Why? Simply because it's about something and it's trying to say something important even if it falls short in places.

    Not a Pew-Pew in Sight ​


    The U.S.S. Enterprise stumbles upon a Tellarite vessel with a sole surviving passenger — an Orion slave woman, Lolani. The episode unfolds as Kirk and crew try to keep Lolani free while investigating what happened aboard the Tellarite ship. Political pressures conspire to keep Lolani a slave and Kirk is torn between the law and a desire free her by any means. In the end, the sex/slave trade proves too big a problem to be solved by one starship captain in 50 minutes.

    This is a large problem writ small. We see the quandary of slavery explored through the character drama on the Enterprise. And without a pew-pew in sight. What a relief! STAR TREK CONTINUES has succeeded where many fan films have failed. It's relied on character to drive the story and engage the audience than space battles and effects.

    More than that, the episode is daring enough to let the situation be a futile one. Kirk can't win this one. Lolani because of circumstances must go back to her owner. But even in the futility of the situation, there is a glimmer of hope at the end. The message of "slavery/sex trade is bad" and the ending's posthumous monologue is a bit ham-fisted. But you have to admire that CONTINUES set the bar high in tackling a large issue. However, I would've preferred more subtly in the script and in the performances.

    Scars Should've Run Deep ​


    Either because of the script or the performance, one didn't get the sense that Lolani had deep scars and years of abuse. It was good to see her do anything in her power, even use her "habits," to coerce both Kirk and Keneway to help her. Yet, she doesn't act like someone who's been abused (and I've known abused women). She too readily acquiesces to Spock's mind-meld — she should see it as another violation, as Maurice points out. She should vehemently refused. She is too trusting of the crew too quickly.

    Lolani's reaction to the news that Zaminhon is coming is a bit weak and too placid. There is no sense of desperation from her at the prospect of retuning to her abuser. Fiona Vroom's performance lacks nuance and the writing doesn't give her that nuance to play either. For example, Lolani is so traumatized by killing the Tellerites that she suppresses the memory. It would've been stronger had she hid it, refuse Spock's mind-meld then admit the truth and been more biting in her response to Kirk — "If you killed the men attempting to rape you, would you talk openly about it." I wanted Lolani to have stronger moments were she was both a strong person and a wounded one. And it would've been nice to have them happen within the same scene — though the mind-meld scene comes close.


    A Lack of Color ​


    In a story about slavery, there is a lack of any other color than green. Something I noticed upon second viewing was the whiteness of the main players in the story. Uhura has only one close up. Mostly we see her back. STAR TREK CONTINUES missed a great opportunity to have Uhura be the champion for Lolani. While I admire them using a woman with Dr. McKenna, the story would've been stronger with Uhura in that role. In the original show, Uhura was the representation of how far blacks would come, that they would make it into the future and their skin color would no longer be an issue. Had this episode actually been made in 1969/70, Uhura would no doubt have been in McKenna's role because of that.

    Kirk, Spock and McCoy … Well, Kinda ​


    This episode falls into the same trap that many fan films fall into — calling Starfleet Command. Usually, orders from the higher ups is an excuse to trot out the old war horses of TV Sci-Fi. The cardinal sin is that it absolves Kirk of any decision making. Here, it straddles that line. It would've been better had Kirk, much like he was in the original series, on his own to make a decision. As been pointed out by others in this thread, the drama and debate should've been with Kirk, Spock and McCoy as it was in the original series.

    Fan films get the function of this trio so wrong more often than they get it right. Spock and McCoy are Kirk's thought process made manifest. It's the debate of logic and humanity within Kirk. And it's through that debate, he is able to take decisive action. STAR TREK CONTINUES, like PHASE II, underutilizes Spock and McCoy. At least, Todd Haberkorn's Spock is less "robotic" here than Brandon Stacey's performance. However, Larry Nemecek is woefully miscast as McCoy — his performance lacks the bite necessary for the character.

    Finally, Kirk fluctuates between how Kirk was in the original show and Picard. His consultations with Starfleet and his dinner solution all smack of Picard. Kirk should've been more clever in resolving the situation, even if it backfired in the end. I kept expecting him to use the Tellarite ship somehow, either to hide Lolani or to trick Zaminhon. But at least he is less Picard-like here than he was in "Pilgrim of Eternity". And he's not Archer-like as Kirk was in PHASE II's "Kitumba." However, Vic Mignogna performance is strong in the role. He has presence and you feel he is in command.

    Second Star to the Right … ​


    I have other quibbles, but I've mentioned those before (the TNG elements, etc.). Yet this episode is a step in the right direction. The elements are there — character, story, theme — now those elements have to be refined. And hopefully the next episode will be even closer to recapturing the spark that made the original so special.

     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well put.
     
  5. geneo

    geneo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    My favorite episode so far is In Harm's Way. I think that is better than even the current one. No questionable characters of their lifestyles to cause divisions of the fans, great story line and great action. I don't know if they can top that episode but I'll keep watching to see.
     
  6. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    There's just too much going on in "In Harm's Way," too much shoehorning of various elements from the franchise in the limited scope of that episode for it to work for me. It's like the producers were aiming to do a Peter David-style epic novel on screen, and while parts of it work well, it just ends up being crushed under its own weight. I like it, but I don't think I'd call it the best fan film out there.
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "In Harm's Way" represents so much of what I don't like in fan productions.
     
  8. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Which is always one of the problems we face: we have all kinds of fans who have conflicting preferences in what they want from fan productions. One man's trash is another man's treasure--and vice versa.
     
  9. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    That's so interesting to hear because you've been so tight-lipped about which ones you do like.
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is that a problem? I say just make the show you want to see and people will like it or they won't. :)
     
  11. DCR

    DCR Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree, there are some quite well-regarded fan films that I just cannot watch because they just don't work for me. I don't want to speak negatively of them because they really don't deserve it, these people work very hard to entertain us and the last thing they deserve is to be bashed for their effort.

    The fact that I do critique STC is a sign that I do like it's not perfect, but I like it enough to want it to be better.
     
  12. feek61

    feek61 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's one of the things that I like and amazes me about Star Trek. I see people say "such and such episode is my favorite of the original series" and it will be an episode that I would rate as near the bottom. I think the best advice is to just do what you do and some folks will like it and some won't.
     
  13. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    We've got folks who say they love "Care for a Lift?" I detest the thing. It was shot over a couple of hours in 100º heat without much of a script. It's just too expository, has sound issues, video quality issues. I really hate it. My co-star, Ricky Thompson, loves it. So do a few very vocal fans. I haven't even bothered to list it on IMDB, but geez, some fans love it and Commander Brian Reigert. Go figure...

    Like I always say, there's no accounting for taste.

    Overall, I really liked LOLANI and plan on watching it again this evening.
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The thing with fan productions is that they can cater to different audiences and unlike "official" Trek is not offered up as the sole thing you have access to. Do all fans of Trek lit read every single book that comes out? Hardly likely. The nature of fandom's diversity is that you can focus on only those things that interest you and leave the rest. And does one take away from the other?

    Why should fan films be any different than the official versions of Trek on film and television? Chances are most fans focus on what interests them and basically ignore the rest.
     
  15. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks! :)
     
  16. Pingfah

    Pingfah Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This was just fantastic, what can you say. It had me completely drawn in, at no point did I feel like I was watching a fan film.

    I watched it with my friend who is not a big Trek fan, and she absolutely adored it, she didn't even realise it was not really Star Trek until she finally became confused about why all the actors were different.
     
  17. Axiom1

    Axiom1 Ensign Red Shirt

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    Lots of interesting comments. I actually had to watch the episode a few times to gather the subtle nuances I might have missed otherwise. What is however immediately obvious and what I like best is that it approaches the process as a 'what if' visual and audible recreation of an era episode (in the same way Exeter did). Going so far as to maintain the nostalgic TOS 4:3 screen ratio and most importantly the same music and cues.

    And there are many more subtleties I appreciate like the era correct lighting and the camera direction. Notably the initial extreme close up on the distressed Kenway being held hostage by Lolani. In fact I'd go so far as to say the actor playing Kenway has a future in the business and could be the next Michael J.Fox. 'Back to the Future4' anyone? And Daniel Logan played well as a Chekov style replacement.

    I also thought Nemecek offered up a light and whimsical take on McCoy that I thought helped lighten the mood and tone of the message being levied in this episode. And I hope to see his character further develop and get a more cranky fidgety side as well.

    With everything there are pro's and cons. And I find that critiquing the cons can usually be of more help than the latter. Having said that I'll agree with some of what a few have already mentioned in so far as Uhura making a more apropos and ironically suitable liaison for Lolani on many different levels. Nevertheless, rather than critique after the fact what can't be modified I want to offer some suggestions on what I think could be improved for future episodes.

    Kirk: I'd like to see Vic do a more extreme and more emboldened Shatneresque delivery in voice and mannerism and not hold back. If Vic is in fact playing Shatner as Kirk...let it ring true. As it is I see the physicality and subtleties of a Shatner Kirk but I think its a slow burning pot that hasn't yet boiled its full potential. The nearest I saw this happen was during the dinner sequence when Kirk turned the table on Zaminhon ala 'Space Seed'. In general though Vic does capture the empathetic side of Shatner/Kirk with slight personal modification and that's to be applauded.

    Spock: Needs to try and find the subdued emotive range Nimoy played in to the role on nascent levels rather than just the monotone. And search for more comedic reaction in the character. Nimoy made us lightly aware it was there but then that was the genius that is Nimoy. And as someone in this thread pointed out Spock and vulcans in general seem to be a tough role for fanfilms and actors in general to recreate. Unless of course you're Tim Russ.

    Episode tonality: Less TNG style drab dialoging and droning and more TOS pacing and imaginative psychedelic anything is possible creativity. That was the TOS I loved.

    In general however, a good topical and controversial topic to tackle for a TOS style episode both within the ST universe, and with real world connotations. And I think STC does it in a noble and entertaining manner, which no matter how you slice it deserves credit for going where few fan films have...

    Quoting DCR: "The fact that I do critique STC is a sign that I do like it's not perfect, but I like it enough to want it to be better."
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Apparently Larry Nemecek will not be returning as McCoy in Episode 3. He has publicly stated that real life business and conflicting schedules are too time intensive to allow him enough time to play McCoy. I'm not sure who will replace him.

    One small observation. Did anyone else note Erin Gray's uniform looked too big for her especially in the sleeves? Nice touch they added a starburst insignia to her uniform.


    A note on characterization. It's a fine line between homage and parody. No one can replace the cast that defined these characters for generations of viewers. I suppose it's a matter of channeling elements of the original performance in such a way so they seem to emerge naturally within a new actor's interpretation. Chris Doohan's take on Scotty is not exactly like his father's as it's filtered through Chris' own distinctive character. This is similar to Vic Mignogna's take on Kirk. Neither are or can be exactly like the originals, and even if they were it's questionable if the performances would feel natural.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  19. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Since they'll have to replace McCoy, I hope they get one as good as John Kelly at NV. Although he's clearly not a professional actor, his portrayal of the good Doctor shows a lot of heart. I suspect, however, that the character will be further marginalized in favor of McKenna.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I believe Chuck Huber, the fellow who played McCoy in the STC vignettes, might be the fellow returning to play McCoy. But then they might get someone else.