Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Warped9, May 26, 2014.
^^ Good points.
Bixby's review also points out one of the dilemmas when it comes to fan films: i.e. how to fairly judge them. Certainly there was nothing unfair about his comments, so please don't take it that way. I think his last comment is really on target and illustrates the issue. I'm happy to take fan productions on their own terms and for the most part have found them very entertaining. Do I consider them on a par with the professional productions? Well, that's a different question.
Bixby wrote: Direction is solid for the most part aside from the obvious way they framed all the bridge scenes to hide the fact that there never was more than a handful of characters there (a comm officer, a helmsman and a security guy to keep a massive ship running only?)
I also noticed this on the first viewing and it struck me as quite odd. This production is high quality and it must be super easy to get extras to move around that bridge set, so I am very much wondering what went on there.
In terms of rationalization we actually hear Mirror Kirk complain, "This is it? This is all I have to work with?" Apparently disaffection was already at work also evidenced by Mr. Leslie not showing up as ordered to man Navigation.
In fairness when we look at TOS (and I love TOS) there were enough times that better creative decisions could have been made. I really haven't seen much in the STC episodes where they went off the rails as to be inexcusable. There are enough instances in TOS where a line or two of exposition could have cleared things up more satisfactorily. On that score I'd say STC isn't that different from some TOS episodes.
In "Pilgrim Of Eternity" the only thing that really stands out as something we wouldn't have seen in TOS was the story itself. It's highly unlikely TOS would have done such a story revisiting a past character. After that issue we get nitpicky: Counselor, holodeck, Sulu's bit of technobabble and the coda at the end of the episode. In terms of overall execution, though, it feels very much like a TOS episode.
With "Lolani" we have something that again feels very much like a genuine TOS episode. The only qualifier is that one can debate whether the story's subject matter would or could have been tackled in 1969/70. After that, though, we're back to the nitpicky.
Now we have "Fairest Of Them All" and this time I think some of the criticisms can go beyond the nitpicky. If we grant (as Director James Kerwin has said) that this story was sweated over in detail then we can take some legitimate issues with some of the decisions taken.
The world building here doesn't feel wholly consistent with what we saw in "Mirror, Mirror." Like Bixby said, and I and others have said much the same. The Mirror Universe as presented by STC doesn't feel as edgy and quite as dangerous as the MU presented in TOS. Even if we accept that the MU is a distorted reflection rather than a perfect one and so not everyone is inherently savage and unprincipled to the same degree we still should have seen some rough edges in characters like Uhura, Scotty and Smith. And note that the original Marlena didn't come across as savage much. It feels as if the STC folks were pulling punches with the depiction of their characters and the universe itself. We should have seen evidence of some treachery amongst the crew. Both Sulu and Chekov were softened up.
The destruction of the Halkans really shouldn't have been that big a deal since the Mirror Kirk's record states he had destroyed at least one planet before. And we can assume from that that such actions in this universe are not unknown or wholly unusual.
This comes back to something I mentioned before, that a bit more exposition would have benefitted this story. For one thing Spock should have agonized over his ultimate decision more, in my opinion. We should have seen Mirror Kirk doesn't always immediately have a tantrum when something doesn't go his way. We should have seen a bit more inherent intelligence on his part. And there should have been a bit more treachery amongst the crew.
But beyond the nitpicky the two biggest deviations from TOS are that this story wouldn't have been done at all and that the general world building (and in extent characterization) doesn't quite gel with what we saw originally
The ultimate arbiter, though, is whether STC has done anything as embarrassing as "And The Children Shall Lead" or "I, Mudd." The answer: Hell, no! Not by a long shot.
"... this story wouldn't have been done at all ..."
How do we know that, really, since there was never a 4th or 5th season?
You already have three seasons of precedent. And Roddenberry is known as already not interested in revisiting past characters and places. Roddenberry also wasn't fond of the "I, Mudd" episode that Gene Coon gave the green light to with Mudd in it. David Gerrold suggested reusing Harry Mudd and Coon liked the idea, but this was while Roddenberry was away, and when he returned he wasn't keen on it, but it was already done. Note that after that they never again revisited a character until TAS.
So I think it's pretty safe to say that during TOS the running practice was not to revisit past stories and characters.
One could make a case for revisiting "The Cage" because they used most of the filmed footage in the two-part "The Menagerie," but at the time, and for many years to come, no one had yet seen "The Cage" so for the broader viewing audience it wasn't a revisit.
That made my day.
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Just scroll down a bit and give a listen.
Thanks again for all you guys' thoughts!
A couple things I want to point out. There's an idea among some fans -- perpetuated to an extent by the licensed spin-off media -- that the Mirror Universe is 100% evil. Everyone there is a savage, etc. Despite the fact that this is in people's head-canon, it's really not an accurate reflection of what we saw in MIRROR, MIRROR.
Prime Kirk, with his comparatively soft personality, successfully convinced the Mirror crew that he was Mirror Kirk. No one except Spock suspected that he was an imposter. Sure -- people thought he was acting unusually, but not an _imposter_. And Mirror Marlena was a relatively docile, kind person -- a woman forced to fit into the Empire, without a real choice, doing the best she can. And Mirror Uhura could easily have slept her way to the top by hooking up with the second officer (Sulu); but apparently to date she has refused to do so.
In other words, the idea that everyone in the Mirror Universe is a selfish barbarian 100% of the time isn't really borne out in canon. We wanted something more nuanced for this story.
So we decided that, for our purposes, some players -- Kirk, McCoy, Sulu -- are basically irredeemable; while others -- like Chekov -- are by no means "good" people; but they know who to side with when the s--t hits the fan. Still others -- primarily the women (Uhura, Smith, Moreau) -- would most likely rather not be where they are, if given the opportunity for a change, due to the pervasive sexism and misogyny in the Mirror Universe.
When approaching this story, we realized that we had two ways to deal with the mutiny. It was either something that would have to occur gradually over a multi-episode arc; or it was something that would happen almost instantaneously, at whiplash speed before Kirk knew what hit him.
The decision was made early on that we wouldn't do a multi-episode arc. So that meant the rebellion had to happen quickly, and there needed to be a catalyst.
Remember: Kirk failed the mission. Big time. Rather than phasering the Halkan capital city and taking the dilithium, he let his rage (at Tharn, at Spock, at the crossover) get the better of him. He torpedoed the entire planet, wiping out the civilization, destroying the dilithium, and failing the mission in the process -- something the entire bridge crew knows that Spock would NOT have done. In short, Kirk finally let his anger control him, and he blew the mission for everyone. On top of that, the Andorians (always on the verge of rebellion against the Empire) saw what happened and said "Enough's enough." The Enterprise now has three Kumaris parked outside it, ready to blow them away. It'd be pretty clear to almost everyone at this point that remaining loyal to Kirk is going to get them nowhere fast.
Add to that the fact that Kirk inadvertently lets the crew know that he plans to "send them to their slaughter" and they're not "smart enough" to follow Spock. He physically intimidates Uhura, and almost sends Smith to the brig and strips her of her rank for absolutely no reason. Again, his rage has finally gotten the better of him.
I highly doubt it would take much more than this for a mutiny, considering the circumstances. Indeed, mutinies seem to happen all the time in the Mirror Universe. When a more capable leader emerges, people switch loyalties right away. And Spock instructed his followers to keep it bloodless; so it was relatively bloodless.
Small note: Yes, we had access to plenty of extras. The bridge being relatively empty is part of the story. It was gradually being abandoned as Kirk alienated his officers and people started refusing to show up for duty. I think that was mentioned in the dialog.
A very cogent explanation, James. I see the merits of both arguments.
^^ So my rationalization wasn't far off.
You're also echoing my thought that the Mirror Universe is a distorted reflection rather than an exact one.
Just a random thought on my part: I would think that the Earth Empire may not be as big or cohesive as the Federation. Dictatorships don't necessarily have friends. They may have some fellow travelers as long as things don't get too tough (think WWII Germany and Spain) but when it hits the fan, there's going to be somebody ready to seize an opportunity to advance their own interests or look the other way. As Prime Kirk observed, the Empire was illogical.
While we are posting random stuff...
As I was watching the begining of the last episode, I thought this would have been really cool.
The classic part about the origional series mirror ep was Kirk and Mirror Spock's exchange at the end of the episode before Mirror Spock engages the tranporter.
"KIRK: The illogic of waste, Mister Spock. The waste of lives, potential, resources, time. I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that you are illogical to be a willing part of it.
SPOCK: You have one minute and twenty three seconds.
KIRK: If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, doesn't logic demand that you be a part of it?
SPOCK: One man cannot summon the future.
KIRK: But one man can change the present. Be the captain of this Enterprise, Mister Spock. Find a logical reason for sparing the Halkans and make it stick. Push till it gives. You can defend yourself better than any man in the fleet.
SCOTT: Captain, get in the chamber!
KIRK: What about it, Spock?
SPOCK: A man must also have the power.
KIRK: In my cabin is a device that will make you invincible.
KIRK: What will it be? Past or future? Tyranny or freedom? It's up to you.
SPOCK: It is time.
KIRK: In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.
SPOCK: Captain Kirk, I shall consider it."
So I think we could have seen that as we saw it in Mirror mirror (Kirk was so good), then the episode could have replaced mirror Spock with our new actor and the episode could have progressed as written.
Not sure if that would have been legal or not.
Hmmm...the last time we see the bridge in Mirror Mirror is when Uhura lays the mack down on Sulu, ending with a well-placed slap across the face. We don`t see if a navigator came in to replace Chekov yet, but there are 3 security redshirts at the turbolift (one of them goes to replace Uhura at the comm station), and there is also an african-american crewman in the funky red one piece outfit at the engineering station. There`s probably less than an hour between this and when we return to the bridge in Fairest of them all.
BTW, these three redshirts are NOT the same goons who get vaporized by Marlena in Sick Bay.
EDITED to ADD:
Perhaps not savage, but that she didn't blink at the thought of zapping Spock with the Tantalus device, and that she DID use it to wipe out the three sick bay redshirts, well...if not savage, then with psychopathic tendancies?
Thank you for responding, but I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I tend to see the ISS ENTERPRISE crew as I like to think Jerome Bixby did: a ship filled with Dexter Morgans and Hannibal Lecters, scaring the willies out of Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Scott.
I personally think the crew's complement should have been reduced by at least a third before the mutiny resolved itself.
EDITED TO ADD: Basically the Mirror Universe is a parallel dimension filled with psychopaths, though don't ask me how the Halkans manage to remain pacifists.
Marlena Moreau is Mirror Mirror's Norman Bates, she behaves in a perfectly rational and charming way up until a specific trigger event causes her to lash out in deadly fashion. For Norman Bates it was being aroused by a beautiful woman, for Marlena it's having her status being threatened. It's scarier in the case of Marlena because she is so matter-of-fact about it...
I think a lot of the crew were just biding their time until there was a real chance at Kirk's defeat. As long as Spock was loyal to Kirk, that wasn't likely. When Spock made it known that he was taking over, it was easy to switch sides.
By the third season, things were changing. If there had been a fourth season, Roddenberry might not have had much to say about what episodes were done. Whether GR liked it or not, some stories may have been revisited to boost ratings.
But we'll never know for sure, will we?
To be fair, the are working under entirely different conditions than those people in the 1960's. They don't have to produce 26-28 complete episodes in a six-month period. Balancing story concerns, with what the actors want, with the practicality of what they can do with the effects and studio/network demands.
They do good work. But if faced with the same realities of an actual television production, I'm sure their share of piss-poor episodes would get through.
The challenges of producing a weekly TV episode and/or a fan film remind of the old saying about waltzing bears. "The amazing thing about the waltzing bear is not that it waltzes so well, but that it waltzes at all." Anyone who can do either one has my admiration, even if the quality and/or content are not to my taste.
I admire the work various fan groups do chasing their passions. The have talent that I only dream of having. But, I'm sure, even they would admit that there is a world of difference producing two or three fan films every year vs. producing a weekly TV series for a network/cable outlet.
Aside from the high production values and attention to detail, the fact that in the short time that STC has been up and running they have released three episodes in a year (or less) is very impressive. Add to that the vignettes and behind the scenes clips, and you have an independent production* that seems to be operating very efficiently.
I like efficiency.
*There are a few productions that I set apart from "fan films." This is one of them.
Separate names with a comma.