Voyager

RR43: Wizard World Tulsa Ultimate Star Trek Crew

RR43: Wizard World Tulsa Ultimate Star Trek Crew
Redshirts & Runabouts

 
 
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We are doing something a little different this week on Redshirts & Runabouts. First off, Derreck talks a bit about how the show will go for the next few weeks with some things up in the air. Then, it’s a recap discussion of the special Ultimate Star Trek Crew panel from Wizard World Tulsa.

Be sure to check out @RedshirtsPod on Twitter and follow us!

What did you think of our Ultimate Star Trek Crew? Comment below or hit us up @RedshirtsPod on Twitter! Don’t forget to subscribe to Redshirts & Runabouts! The links are below!

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Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer & Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

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RR43: Wizard World Tulsa Ultimate Star Trek Crew

RR41: Tones of Trek

Before we return to our TNG Mek’ba next week, Greg and Derreck sit down to talk about the Tones of Trek. In short, how did and do they tones of the various Star Trek TV series and films vary? How do the characters grow? What might have caused the tone of one show to be different from another? We also talk a bit about the Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth news pertaining to Star Trek (1)4 and Paramount’s response to the situation.

What do you think about the our Tones of Trek discussion? Do you see a show or character in a different light? Comment below or hit us up @RedshirtsPod on Twitter!

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Not ready for that kind of commitment? No problem! Buy us a coffee over at ko-fi.com/heroespodcasts because every dollar truly does help.

Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer & Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

iTunes Subscription Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/redshirts-runabouts/id1290563072

Blog Talk Radio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redshirtsandrunabouts

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RR41: Tones of Trek

RR22: Controversy in Star Trek

Star Trek has been around for over 50 years. We have nearly 750 episodes across six… maybe even seven (yeah, I’m looking at you The Animated Series) shows. Sure, there’s been some issues with consistency and canon, but there’s also been some highly controversial moments both from episodes themselves and behind the scenes action. This, Greg and Derreck take a break from Discovery and the movies to talk about controversy in Star Trek. With Jeremy getting setup on the West Coast, we’ll return to our movie re-watch when he has some Internet.

Now, what makes something controversial? Well, we cover episode themes and content that perhaps turned broadcasting companies away from airing episodes, or ones that prompted fans to call up the network to complain. We also discuss some that even made the actors upset. But that’s not all. We talk about issues between certain actors and overarching concepts that didn’t quite pan out the way we all would have hoped.

Since we’ve been talking Discovery a lot recently, we do not discuss the new series in this episode. But trust us. We’ll be back for a follow-up episode.

How do you feel about our Star Trek controversies? Which ones should we talk about in Part 2?

Comment below or hit us up @HeroesPodcasts on Twitter or Facebook!

Join our three-man crew for a journey that will span decades, every episode, every series, every movie, and every possible timeline no matter how small.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Redshirts & Runabouts! The links to iTunes, Blog Talk Radio, Google Play, and our RSS Feed are below!

Also, stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com/HeroesPodcasts

Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer
Jeremy Monken

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

iTunes Subscription Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/redshirts-runabouts/id1290563072

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http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redshirtsandrunabouts

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It’s a Long Link, so Click Here

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@HeroesPodcasts

RR22: Controversy in Star Trek

RR10: Reviewing The Motion Picture

In our first non-Discovery episode, we go all the way back to the franchise’s new beginning, The Motion Picture. We discuss the legendary space pj’s, Goldsmith’s iconic score, the new ship model, and of course, V’Ger itself.

Where does The Motion Picture land in your Star Trek movie ranking? Is it essential Trek? Should future prospective fans just skip the franchise’s first big screen production? Did you buy the V’Ger concept?

Comment below or hit us up @HeroesPodcasts on Twitter or Facebook!

Join our three-man crew for a journey that will span decades, every episode, every series, every movie, and every possible timeline no matter how small.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Redshirts & Runabouts! The links to iTunes, Blog Talk Radio, and Google Play are below!

Also, stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com/HeroesPodcasts

Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer
Jeremy Monken

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

iTunes Subscription Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/redshirts-runabouts/id1290563072

Blog Talk Radio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redshirtsandrunabouts

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It’s a Long Link, so Click Here

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Coming Soon

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Social Media
@HeroesPodcasts

RR10: Reviewing The Motion Picture

RR03: The Tardigrade Cares not for the Discovery’s Cry

What alien species was the most misunderstood? Whose motives did we not quite get? We discuss this and then take a deep dive into Star Trek: Discovery Episode 4 – “The Butcher’s Knife Cares not for the Lamb’s Cry”. We talk about the tardigrade, dilithium, the Klingon plot, Captain Georgiou, and how the design of the USS Discovery finally comes into play.

We also announce the winner of our ATB Publishing Outside In: Makes It So Facebook contest and give a shout out to our first iTunes reviewer!

Join our three-man crew for a journey that will span decades, every episode, every series, every movie, and every possible timeline no matter how small.

Don’t forget to check out our Patreon for a special Patron only clue to our first movie scene.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Redshirts & Runabouts! The links to iTunes, Blog Talk Radio, and Google Play are below!

Also, stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com/HeroesPodcasts

Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer
Jeremy Monken

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

iTunes Subscription Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/redshirts-runabouts/id1290563072

Blog Talk Radio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redshirtsandrunabouts

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It’s a Long Link, so Click Here

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Coming Soon

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RR03: The Tardigrade Cares not for the Discovery’s Cry

RR01: Thrusters on Full

Enter the finale frontier, thrusters on full, with our brand new Star Trek themed podcast series! We introduce ourselves, talk about what Trek brought us into the fandom and then dive into the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery along with the first episode of After Trek.

Join our three-man crew for a journey that will span decades, every episode, every series, every movie, and every possible timeline no matter how small.

Don’t forget to check out our Patreon for a special Patron only clue to our first movie scene.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Redshirts & Runabouts! The links to iTunes, Blog Talk Radio, Google Play, and Feedburner are below!

We’ll be updating the links as they become available. Right now, we’re waiting on approval from Apple for iTunes.

Also, stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com/HeroesPodcasts

Redshirts & Runabouts Podcast Credits

Hosts
Greg Bosko
Derreck Mayer
Jeremy Monken

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

iTunes Subscription Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/redshirts-runabouts/id1290563072

Blog Talk Radio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redshirtsandrunabouts

Google Play Subscription Link
It’s a Long Link, so Click Here

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Coming Soon

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Social Media
@HeroesPodcasts

RR01: Thrusters on Full

SH S4E09: Ultimate Star Trek Crew

We build the ultimate Star Trek crew! We cover ten different ship positions\roles and fill those spots with characters from all five previous Star Trek series. That’s right, our Ultimate Crew includes characters from every series currently out. We pick our First Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Counselor, our Captain, and more.

Then, when we’re done, we discussing our Ultimate Sci-Fi Crew that covers the same roles but across all of science fiction outside of Trek!

So listen in and let us know what you think of our Ultimate Star Trek Crew, plus who would show up on your roster!

Also, go to Screen-Heroes.com right now to subscribe to us on iTunes and drop us a review. If you do, we’ll be sure to give you a shout-out in a future episode!

Want to join the conversation? Join us live every Tuesday night at 9PM EST on Twitch to chat with us! We’ll answer questions and note comments live on the broadcast! Follow at: twitch.tv/heroespodcasts

Don’t forget to subscribe to Screen Heroes! The links to iTunes, Blog Talk Radio, Google Play, and Feedburner are below!

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Prefer to watch the show? Catch the broadcast below!

Screen Heroes Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rachel Stewart
Ryan Couture

Special Guests
Christopher Scott
Jeremy Monken

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

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SH S4E09: Ultimate Star Trek Crew

Top 10 Star Trek Video Games

Star Trek’s 50th anniversary is here, so let’s take a look back at the best Star Trek video games. As with other fan service games such as Star Wars and superhero games in general, Star Trek games have been hit or miss, some good, some bad, and some really bad. The best ones do three things: they immerse you in your fandom, they make a decent quality game, and are most importantly, fun. The games at the top of the list have all three characteristics while those at the bottom may only have one or two of them. And the horrible ones have none of these. For simplicity, a game series is counted as a group and only distinguished if the games in the series are dramatically different in quality. Lastly, I’d consider the game as more or less fun if even a casual Star Trek fan would have fun playing it.

 

#10) Dominion Wars – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Was this a good game? Probably not. Was it fun? Certainly. Often found on the $10 bargain bin at Walmart, this was a brutally simple game. Fly your choice of ships in the Dominion War. Plot was minimal, graphics only just adequate, and game play was underwhelming. But what it does have going for it is the immersion factor. From Klingon Bird of Preys to Galaxy Class Starships, you zipped around in space battles, blasting Cardasian and Jem’Hadar ships to dust. Sure it’s a bit shallow but it got the space combat down pretty well. Considering it launched at $10, it was much better than it had to be. It made no promises to greatness but still sparked some fun. Because of this it just barely squeaks at the bottom of the list.

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#9) Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – Crossroads of Time

Star Trek Deep Space 9 Crossroads of Time

Though not the best Star Trek entry in the 16-bit era, Crossroads of Time is still fairly respectable all things considered. It has a pretty decent story that isn’t just a simple rehash of what was seen on the show. It also does a decent job of immersing you in the Star Trek universe by having you control Commander Sisko on DS9 and interacting with the crew. In one particularly interesting mission you go back in time to the battle of Wolf 359 and have Sisko escape his doomed ship while fighting the Borg deck by deck. Pretty exciting stuff. The only drawback is that it isn’t terribly fun. It could be the limitations of the hardware, or even that they only had the early seasons of Deep Space 9 to work with, but it doesn’t really hold much replay value unlike other titles from the 16-bit era. Crossroads of Time squeaks in on the list but only just barely.

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#8) Star Trek: Legacy

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On the whole, it’s a decent game, not a great game but a decent one. It does great fan service by having a story narrative all the way from Enterprise to Voyager and back again. Not to mention, they got all of the actors of the Captains to reprise their roles, even Avery Brooks who doesn’t do many of these sort of things anymore.

The game is basically a starship game where you control up to four other ships, issuing orders while taking direct command of one of them. A great variety of ships are used against a variety of opponents throughout the history of the Federation. Though it plays better on the consoles than on PC it’s still a fairly respectable entry. What may hold it back is that its space combat is dumbed-down a bit, I guess a little “video gamey” as they might say. Nowhere near as complicated as Starfleet Command and even more simple than Star Trek Online, Star Trek: Legacy is just a little too flat. I’d describe it like the difference between the game series Ace Combat and something like Microsoft Flight Simulator except maybe not as fun. The game is fun to play for the fan service but its lack of originality and game play hold it back. Star Trek: Legacy is fun to play for a couple of hours just not fun to keep playing.

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#7) Star Trek Online

Star_Trek_Online_coverWhat to say about this one?  After the success of many other Multiple Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) quite a few studios tried to get the Star Trek license to make one for it. Cryptic Studios got the rights back in 2013 and the game is basically MMORPG with slight influences from Star Fleet Command. You fly your ship around for 2/3’s of the time and the remainder is on ground away missions. There are basically 3 types of vessels: tanks for Engineers (think large  lumbering Galaxy Class ships),  glass cannons (small Defiant types that hit hard and maneuver away), and the in-between classes (medium ships like the Intrepid Class) that specialize in more creative forms of space combat. Away missions have a similar model of tanks, glass cannons, and tricky science officers. But the best thing about Star Trek Online is its immersion. You can fly your ship to many places mentioned in Star Trek canon, launch your ship from Earth Spacedock, beam down to Starfleet Academy, warp to DS9, visit Quarks bar, warp to station K-7; the galaxy is yours to explore. Even visit Risa if you want. It’s just that there isn’t much to do when you get there.

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Guiding you along in this adventure is a pretty good story featuring many of the cast from the show including the late Leonard Nimoy whose voice narrates you along the way during key moments. Other actors from Voyager are there as well along with many of the ships and locations from Enterprise all the way through to the end of Star Trek: Nemesis. This is a pretty all encompassing game. There is just so much here for a fan to explore and this is what gets Star Trek Online so high on the list. That being said, the game is far from perfect. It mostly feels like a copy and paste from just about every other MMORPG out there, adding nothing of its own and often accomplishing much less game play wise.  Cooperative play is mostly nonexistent and neither is competitive for that matter. That and maxing your character out leaves next to nothing for a player to do except create a new character and do it all over again.

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The space combat is fun and exciting though not as respectable as it was in Starfleet Command. The RPG elements far over power the simulator aspects of game play. Often you’ll find yourself just mashing the space-bar instead of being thoughtful. The ground combat is downright dull and atrocious. They’ve done a lot to lessen the role of ground actions in the game but when it first launched the ratio was more like a 50/50 mix of space and ground action; now it’s more slanted towards space. But the ground is still horrible. If it wasn’t for the dull MMORPG elements and terrible ground game play this would be an incredible game. The Star Trek license is huge thing to have to make a game out of a fan base that is loyal and Trekkies are definitely the game player type.  But the flaws of Star Trek Online are too much to overcome and that’s what keeps this game out of the top spots. Then again, the game is free-to-play, so it doesn’t hurt to try it out. You just run out of things to do sooner than you may like. But you know what, at least it’s better than Star Wars Galaxies.



 

#6) Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

ST NESThis was a bit of a cross-platform game varying greatly from console to PC and mobile devices. Riding on the heels of the revival of Star Trek in 1993 with the success of The Next Generation all of the versions of the games did a superb job of fandom immersion in  The Original Series that had just turned 25 years old. On the NES you spent most of your time on away missions that were very reminiscent of classic episodes such as “Paradise Syndrome” and “A Piece of the Action.” Sure, the NES version wasn’t terribly original or innovated but it did alright as a puzzle adventure game. Spaced in between away missions there were some space battles to be had and the overall story worked well, not to mention the 8-bit take on the classic Star Trek songs is still awesome to hear. Not bad for the hardware limitations of the NES.

Star Trek - 25th Anniversary (U)

The PC version though was unique in that many of the actual actors where used from The Original Series. Just as with the short lived Star Trek: Animated Series, Shatner phones in his lines and is kinda lame but Nimoy, Kelly, and the rest of the cast are as wonderful as ever. The game on PC took the form of a point and click adventure and looks great in an old school 8-bit style. The game would’ve ranked higher if wasn’t for the lack of innovation or at least being a little dull. What it lacks in other areas it makes up for by being as immersive as it could be for when it was made.

ST 25 Game play

PC version of the game



 

#5) Star Trek: The Next Generation – Future’s Past

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This one was actually pretty darn good considering when it was made. It’s a basic action adventure game with ground and space scenes, but unlike Star Trek: The Original Series for the NES, it had an original story, not some hodgepodge mixture of episodes. It was a brand new story all of its own, and that’s saying something.

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On top of that it’s actually fairly fun. For a 16-bit game, it’s pretty immersive. The helm interface is how you would expect it to be on the show, complete with LCARS style and star system layout and organization. It goes in order from;  cluster, star group, star system, planetary system. Very logical. The ship’s computer database was very thorough. I mean, in the age before the internet it was a Wikipedia in video game form. You could look up anything from crew dossiers to phaser power settings. You could learn the difference and affects of setting 1 through 16. You could even look all the planet class ratings; understanding M and Y class planets was interesting. Everything about the game was pretty darn immersive and for a Super Nintendo game it was as good as Star Trek could get for when it was made.

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The only thing that holds it back is that it’s fun but not incredibly so. Sure Star Trek fans would love it but the casual fan wouldn’t be all that much into it. The best games have even a casual Star Trek fan itching to play it. It was good fan service and ahead of its time as far as immersion but was only moderately fun to play.



 

#4) Starfleet Command II: Empires at War

Star_Trek_Starfleet_Command_II_coverBased in the Wrath of Kahn era, Starfleet Command II is basically a starship simulator game and what that meant is that there is an emphasis on realism, as absurd as that sounds for science fiction. After all, realistic science is what Star Trek is all about.  The Star Trek universe has rules. You can’t transport through shields, torpedoes damage the hull more than phasers, you don’t have limitless power, etc. With those limitations, you control your ship the best you can by clicking power to various systems to squeeze more into the phasers, for example. Should you save up for a powerful shot or use quick bursts of phasers? If your opponent can’t maneuver, divert power to forward shields from the aft and flank’em.  If your target is a fast little sports car like vessel, wait until he gets close, use your phasers to drop his shields, send a volley of torpedoes to take out his engines and then maneuver to his blind side. You are master and commander of your ship and the stars are your battlefield.

The game feels like 24th century take on 17th naval combat. Maneuvering and timing are important and using knowledge of you ships capabilities are key. This was starship combat at its finest in the world of Star Trek video games. The first Star Fleet Command is alright but it’s at its best with the second one. They also made a third that has a pretty decent story but it doesn’t really add much to the already excellent game play, but on the plus side, it’s based in the Star Trek: First Contact era modernizing the whole affair.

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Though the game is uniquely fun, innovative, and immersive, what holds it back from the top of the list is that it gets stale quick. Sure the combat is great but that’s all there is. Nothing outside of combat is relevant here. It’s all action and no deep thinking, no exploration or sense of wonder. Other Star Trek games capture it a little better.

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#3) Star Trek: Bridge Commander

Star_Trek_-_Bridge_Commander_CoverartProbably the one of the most immersive games on the list, Bridge Commander puts you in the Captain’s chair commanding first a Galaxy Class, then later a Sovereign Class Starship. Like in Starfleet Command where you pilot your ship, in Bridge Commander you do so by issuing orders to the bridge crew. Precise commands make this more of a Captain simulator than a starship one but the result is the same, immersion and some great fan service, add on to that a decent story and game play mechanics. The game also had the voice acting talents of Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner reprising their roles, awesome. The only problem may be that it won’t appeal to the more casual Star Trek fan as much as the games higher on the list would.

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#2) Star Trek: Armada

Star_Trek_-_Armada_CoverartThe second best game on the list is a good one. Representing the often visited genre of real time strategy (RTS) you command fleets of often all too disposable starships. Four factions are represented; Klingons, Federation, Borg, and Romulans. If you wanted to relive the battle of Wolf 359 and see what it was like from both sides of the battle, then this was your chance. Add on top of that some interesting game mechanics such as being able to take over any ship by transporting your crew over, the Klingons and Borg excel at this, the Federation and Romulans not so much. Every ship had an unlockable special ability that changed how battles would unfold. On the whole, the game was a solid real time strategy game in its own right.

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Sound was suburb and graphics are great for their time and was later ported over to Star Trek fan mods of other games. A.I. was pretty good too, so much so that they copied some of the code for Star Trek: Legacy. All of these come together for a game that not only die hard Star Trek fans would love but even a fan of real time strategy games can play and have some fun playing. It’s not perfect as the races aren’t terribly well balanced in player vs player maps. Romulans are way over powered oddly enough, but aside from that its an excellent game.

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The game is fun and does great service but the final criteria of a great Star Trek game, immersion, is very much a part of it. Both the user interface and game controls look and feel like something that would be in the 24th century. Perhaps the most enticing part for the fans the Star Trek alumni reprise their roles from the show; Picard, Worf, Martok, and Selia all play prominent roles in the story that isn’t half bad for it being just a game and not an actual episode. It isn’t just a simple repaste of prior episodes but continues the story where Insurrection left off in epic scale, across time and space. If it wasn’t for the imbalanced multiplayer with the Romulans being overpowered this may have ranked higher.



 

#1) Star Trek: Elite Force I and II
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Does Star Trek work as an action based game? Even as a first person shooter? You better believe it does. Elite Force I was set on Voyager and Elite Force II was more of the TNG film era but both were spectacular.  Based on the Quake game engine, Elite Force was a blast to play, boasting a great single-player story and exciting multiplayer system. How many modern shooters can make that claim? Because of its solidly enjoyable game play, fans kept playing this one years after it released and kept modding it. This is because the game makers realized one thing, add a balanced multiplayer in and you add some replay value to the game.

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Making the game a first person shooter naturally lent itself to some real immersion like no other genre could. In one multiplayer map you had a Klingon ship and a Federation ship battling it out using the ships transporters to go between. From the bridges to the corridors fans could phaser it out to see who was left standing.

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Aside from the action parts there was a lot of subtle detail. You could walk around freely on the decks of Voyager clicking on controls and interacting with the crew who where voiced by the actual actors from the show. You could even click the auto-destruct or even start attacking the crew. Sure you’d end up in the brig or worse but the amount of free will added to the immersion factor.

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The three factors of a good fandom are exemplified by the Elite Force games. They are some of the most immersive and do some great fan service but perhaps most importantly they are the most fun. To have all three of these factors in a fan game is why it is on the top of so many peoples favorite Star Trek games list. Hopefully with the new DOOM game maybe some love will be sent Star Trek’s way and a Elite Force III will be made. Hopefully we’ll all be walking aboard a deck of a starship soon.

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Did your favorite game make the list? Where would you rank these games? Comment below with your thoughts!

Top 10 Star Trek Video Games

Star Trek in Right Direction with Nicholas Meyer

Nicholas Meyer is joining the new Star Trek TV series.

Most Trekkies, myself included, were elated at the news that Star Trek was returning to TV on CBS in early 2017. We’ve been without a Star Trek series since Enterprise went off the air in 2005. Since then, we’ve had nothing set in the Prime universe and only two films in the form of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. That’s not much for a franchise that had running TV series from 1987-2005 which included four different series plus six motion pictures. The announcement of Bryan Fuller as the show-runner was great news. Why? Well, he’s been involved in Star Trek before, writing over 20 episodes across multiple series, mainly Voyager. He’s also been involved with very successful series like Pushing Daises and Hannibal.

Today, another great thing happened. Bryan Fuller announced one of the writers for the upcoming series, Nicholas Meyer. Sound familiar? If you’re a Trekkier\Trekker, it should. Nicholas Meyer has been responsible for three out of my top four Star Trek films. You can catch my full ranking here. Check out the official press release below from StarTrek.com:

It’s official. Bryan Fuller, who will co-create, produce and serve as showrunner of the upcoming Star Trek series, has just announced the news that Nicholas Meyer has joined the show’s writing staff.

“Nicholas Meyer chased Kirk and Khan ’round the Mutara Nebula and ’round Genesis’ flames, he saved the whales with the Enterprise and its crew, and waged war and peace between Klingons and the Federation. We are thrilled to announce that one of Star Trek’s greatest storytellers will be boldly returning as Nicholas Meyer beams aboard the new Trek writing staff,” said Executive Producer, Bryan Fuller.

Meyer, of course, is beloved by Star Trek fans worldwide for directing (and co-written, uncredited) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, co-writing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and co-writing and directing Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The new Star Trek series, produced by CBS Television Studios, will launch in early 2017. In the U.S., a special premiere episode will air on the CBS Television Network and all subsequent first-run episodes will be available exclusively on CBS All Access. The series will also be available on television stations and platforms in local countries around the world.

So there you have it. Meyer directed both The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country in addition to being involved in writing both of them PLUS co-writing The Voyage Home.

Bryan Fuller Meyer Tweet

This is very exciting news because the two biggest hires that CBS has made to this point include two major Star Trek alums who have a passion for the franchise and were involved in what many of us call the Golden Age of Trek. Meyer was even involved in the film that brought the franchise back from the dead after the lack of success The Motion Picture had.

Many people, myself included, have not fully enjoyed what is called the JJ-verse. Many felt that Abrams was not right for the job, having been quoted saying he didn’t watch or like Star Trek but was instead a Star Wars fan. Now, I also love Star Wars and think Abrams was perfect for The Force Awakens and I think most would agree with that. But, I want someone passionate about Star Trek. This franchise means the world to me and to see CBS take it seriously and bring in two alums right off the bat makes me optimistic.

There have also been rumors that Tony Todd might be joining the cast. For those who don’t know, Tony Todd is also a Trek alum, having starred in 6 episodes between Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and The Next Generation as Worf’s brother Kurn, a future Jake Sisko, and the Hirogen Alpha. He’s also been in such shows as Chuck and The CW’s The Flash as the voice of Zoom. He was also involved in the Prelude to Axanar short fan film that leads up to the Axanar movie currently involved in a lawsuit with CBS. Tony Todd is no longer associated with that project.

So there you have it. CBS has added Bryan Fuller and now Nicholas Meyer to the upcoming Star Trek TV series. How do you feel about this? Are you excited? What is your favorite Nicholas Meyer Trek contribution? How about Bryan Fullers? Would you like to see Tony Todd return to the franchise? Comment below!

Star Trek in Right Direction with Nicholas Meyer

Star Trek and Religion

Science fiction is often times used to tell stories about the human condition because of how sci-fi uniquely offers situations and settings that provide such a rich platform for these types of stories. Star Trek is no exception and has often been lauded for its ability to provide stories that deal with various aspects of the human condition wrapped up in a Utopian futuristic setting. However, it seems Star Trek hasn’t really done as much exploring of religion as it should. Considering how big an aspect of humanity religion is and how Star Trek is often equated with exploring humanity, one would think that religion would figure heavily but that isn’t the case. This may be in part because of Gene Roddenberry’s pronounced atheism or the subsequent writers’ wish to keep one of the most controversial topics out of Star Trek but in any case, Star Trek simply hasn’t explored this issue as much as one would think and when they do, it’s almost never explored in a realistic or meaningful way.

Back in 1966 when The Original Series first aired, Star Trek religion-focused examples were few and limited. Perhaps the two most religiously oriented episodes are “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and “Bread and Circuses”. The former presents the origins of the ancient Earth Greek polytheism as a product of alien influence when the Enterprise discovers Apollo,Apollo an alien being who used his great power to demand worship from the ancient Greeks. In “Bread and Circuses”, the Enterprise discovers a society greatly akin to ancient Rome nearing its fall as paralleling Earth history. There is also a group of people who preach kindness, brotherhood, and peace who are described as “sun worshipers”. This is, however, confusing to Spock who recalls that most societies that practice sun worship are usually barbaric and warlike which is at odds with this group’s teachings on peace. It isn’t until the end when Uhura figures out that they are actually worshiping the “Son” of God. Again, paralleling early Christianity as it grew during the years preceding the fall of the Roman Empire, however, this episode seems more focused on how this alien world is paralleling Earth’s history and less about how the religion actually impacts people. Aside from these two episodes, The Original Series only scantly references any Earth religion usually through a Christian reference here or there from Kirk or McCoy and any time they discover a religious aspect of an alien society, it is always portrayed as being more alien influence similar to the Apollo situation from “Who Mourns for Adonais”.

In The Original Series movies, only one directly deals with a religious aspect and that is the heavily panned fifth film, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In this film, the Enterprise crew meets Spock’s half-brother, Sybok, who has rejected Vulcan logic and seeks to find God at the center of the galaxy where the Vulcan heaven, Sha Ka Ree, is supposedly located. Once there, they discover an alien entity who passes himself off as God in order to gain Sybok’s trust. Kirk, however, discovers a flaw in God’s logic when the entity requests a Starship to be able to escape his planet and Kirk wonders why an all-powerful god would require a ship to do anything. Once the realization that this entity cannot be God, Sybok sacrifices himself to defeat the entity as the Enterprise escapes. Again, this film doesn’t really deal with religion in any realistic way since the “God” figure is again portrayed as an alien whose great power is mistook for the divine.Sha_Ka_Ree_God

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the same attitude towards religion is again taken, although I would say much more militantly so, and the vague Christian references that Kirk and McCoy would often give are entirely absent in this incarnation of Star Trek. Every portrayal of religion is shown only in primitive alien societies who are seen as not having evolved enough to abandon religion as Earth has. I would hazard a guess that this is because Gene Roddenberry had become much more humanist and instead of thinking that religion wasn’t for him, as I would guess he felt during The Original Series, he instead began to feel that religion was an opposing force to progress and human evolution which is why TNG presents itself as much more atheist and humanist than its predecessor. One interesting religious aspect of TNG, however, is the character of Q. While TNG is arguably the most openly atheist and devoid of religion, Q is presented as an all-powerful and all-knowing being but uses his powers to annoy, badger, and generally cause no end of mayhem and misery for Picard and his crew. I would submit that Roddenberry used Q to say that if God existed, he would be a bully and therefore unworthy of divinity or respect.Q-Richterkleidung

Kira Nerys - Bajoran ReligionPerhaps the most religiously oriented incarnation of Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine presents a multifaceted approach to exploring religion and is perhaps the only Star Trek incarnation that does this in a serious and respectful manner. The most prominent religious aspect is the Bajoran religion to which main character Kira Nerys ascribes. The Bajorans believe in a religion curiously similar to both Judaism and certain denominations of Christianity. Their gods, the Prophets, are beings of great power that reside in the Celestial Temple and are said to look out for and guide the Bajorans. Starfleet, however, presents the more atheist and skeptical view of the Bajoran religion as they see the Prophets as another example of aliens using their great power to masquerade as gods; however, due to the way the Bajoran religion is portrayed, mostly through Kira’s devout faith in the Prophets, the audience is often left wondering if the Prophets aremerely powerful aliens or if they are something more. Winn Adami - Bajoran ReligionThis is compounded by the interactions between more religiously important characters like Captain Sisko, who is chosen by the Prophets in the first episode to be their Emissary, Kai Wynn, the often antagonizing leader of the Bajoran religion in a role similar to the Catholic Pope, or Gul Dukat who, by the series’ end, joins the Pah Wraiths in their war against the Prophets. The depth and respect afforded to the Bajoran religion is something that hasn’t been seen in Star Trek before or since Deep Space Nine which I submit is unfortunate.

In Star Trek: Voyager, the only real religious aspect that the audience is presented with is through the character of Chakotay.
Benjamin SiskoThis Native American First Officer is portrayed as a devout follower of his Native American religion; however, his religion is always portrayed as vague, nondescript, and an amalgam of basic Native American beliefs with no attention given to how his tribe’s beliefs differ from other Native Americans or anything like that. Unfortunately, Chakotay’s religion ends up being used as mostly a plot device for when he needs information. During these situations, Chakotay will enter a “spirit quest” with his spirit guide, Akoocheemoya, and will always be presented with the needed information just in time so his objective will be completed. Essentially, Chakotay’s religion isn’t really anything more than a stereotype used as a plot device, making any exploration of this religion mute and pointless.Chakotay

In Star Trek: Enterprise, there is perhaps only one episode, Chosen Realm, that deals with religion. In this episode, the Enterprise crew finds the crew of another ship that are found to be religiously fanatical and use violence, mostly through suicide bombers, as a form of enforcing what they would see
as peace on a planet that has been war torn by religious war for years. Considering that this episode was released in 2004, it can be seen how this would be culturally relevant since 9/11 was still fresh in the cultural mindset and many people were blaming religion for the cause of that disaster as well as other violence that ensues in the modern day. As the episode ends, the fanatical leader of this religious sect is returned to his home planet only to find that the religious war he sought to end has completely destroyed his planet and left it uninhabitable. This approach to religion seems to mirror the TNG approach as it displayed religion as a cause of great strife and holding a people group back from evolving into a more peaceful society; however, it still seems that religion here is portrayed very generically and it doesn’t actually explore how religion works on a personal level like it did in Deep Space Nine.ENT064

With the notable exception of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek has curiously ignored, misrepresented, or criticized religion as holding people back from becoming better. While Star Trek is famous for its exploration of the human condition, it seems to have largely failed in this area. With a new series being released in 2017, I would hope that a broader and more understanding attitude towards religion be brought  to Star Trek as it is a huge part of the human condition that deserves more attention and respect than what the vast bulk of Star Trek has done.

What do you think about religion’s inclusion in the Star Trek universe? Do you think it got a fair shake in the various series? Comment below with your thoughts!

Star Trek and Religion

Star Trek All-Star Crew

In the wake of the CBS announcement of a new Star Trek TV series set to land on CBS All-Access in January of 2017 as well as the franchise’s 50th anniversary coming up next year, I wanted to take a look back at the various crews we’ve had over the years and assemble the ultimate Star Trek All-Star Crew from across generations. I’ll be breaking down each crew position, taking into account primary characters from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. I’ll provide a list of who was in the running and why I chose who I did. Now, since not all crews are created equal (for example, The Next Generation was the only crew with an official Counselor [yes I know about Ezri] and Worf was on two different series) I’ll do my best to fill all of the necessary roles even though my choices might not be who you would expect. So sit back, relax, and ahead full impulse. It’s All-Star time.

Star Trek New Series

All-Star Captain

In the running: Kirk, Spock, Picard, Riker, Sisko, Janeway, Archer

All-Star Selection: Jean-Luc Picard

Explanation: Picard’s experience as a diplomatic leader, as well as his levelheadedness in the face of significant danger makes him the perfect candidate for Captain of a Starship. His experience as Captain of the Federation’s Flagship as well as his knowledge of the Borg provide unique experiences the other Trek Captains simply don’t contain.

All-Star First Officer (XO)

In the running: Spock, Riker, Kira, Chakotay, Trip

All-Star Selection: Spock

Explanation: While Spock was in the running for Captain, I think he is best suited as a First Officer. Even in the films when he was a Captain, he stood by Kirk’s side as his First Officer. Spock’s logical thinking, expansive knowledge of species and natural phenomenon, paired with his human side provide a highly intelligent and reliable XO for Picard.

All-Star 2nd Officer and Science Officer

In the running: Spock, Data, Jadzia Dax, Tuvok, T’Pol

All-Star Selection: Data

Explanation: While Spock provides a great deal of logic and intellect, who would not want Data on your crew? He is the smartest officer in Starfleet with processing speed that cannot be matched. Countless times the crew of the Federation, among others, were simply kept alive by Data’s ingenuity, quick thinking, and unparalleled physical abilities. Additionally, I think it would serve his mission to becoming more human well if he was able to leverage Spock as a mentor since Spock is of two worlds.

All-Star Chief of Security

In the running: Chekov, Yar, Worf, Odo, Tuvok, Malcom

All-Star Selection: Odo

Explanation: This was a very difficult call. While Worf makes a great tactical officer and the best in a fire fight, Odo’s natural shape-shifting abilities as well as his impressive mystery solving skills make him the best person to protect any location, be it a space station or Starship. He is highly intelligent but also able to keep a cool head and ensure that squabbles are resolved in a diplomatic way, if possible.

All-Star Chief Engineer

In the running: Scotty, Geordi, O’Brien, B’Elanna, Trip

All-Star Selection: B’Elanna

Explanation: Even without complete Starfleet training, B’Elanna is able to keep a new type of engine and ship technology running for over seven years halfway across the galaxy with limited resources, constantly using incompatible elements as power sources. Additionally, her doesn’t back down attitude will serve her well if commanding officers order her to complete tasks that are truly unattainable. She is resourceful, spirited, and always looking to push the boundaries of the technology available.

All-Star Chief Medical Officer

In the running: Bones, Crusher, Bashir, The Doctor (EMH), Phlox

All-Star Selection: The Doctor EMH (if he has his mobile emitter, otherwise Bashir)

Explanation: I hedged a bit on this one. If the EMH Doctor has his mobile emitter, then he is the clear choice. He has the knowledge of countless medical professionals from dozens of worlds and species. He is able to perform more surgeries than any human could ever learn in their lifetime. Without the emitter though, he becomes limited to specific locations, even on a ship outfitted with holo-emitters on every deck. Bashir is the next best choice due to his high, though artificially created, intelligence, drive, and passion for the profession.

All-Star Helmsan\Con Officer

In the running: Sulu, Wesley,  Paris, Mayweather

All-Star Selection: Paris

Explanation: Who better to fly a ship than the fly-boy himself? Let’s face it, the rest can do their job but Tom Paris is a true pilot in every sense of the word. His experience designing, building, and flying the Delta Flyer is a prime example of that. The rest can pilot a Starship but Tom can pilot anything.

All-Star Communications

In the running: Uhura, Kim, Hoshi

All-Star Selection: Uhura

Explanation: While Hoshi had the harder job of trying to translate on the go with a relatively useless translator system, I never felt that her heart was really in it aboard a Starship. On the other hand, Uhura has one of the best ears in Starfleet, able to distinguish Romulan dialects from Vulcan and she is not one to be trifled with… just watch Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. She is someone you want on your side, hands down.

All-Star Counselor

In the running: Troi, Guinan, Ezri Dax, Neelix,

All-Star Selection: Guinan

Explanation: Sure, Guinan was the ship’s bartender but we all know that she was far more than that to Picard. Even if Picard wasn’t the Captain, Guinan provides a unique opportunity due to her mystical background. She is experience, knowledgeable, and powerful, yet she is easily able to help the person she is talking to come to the appropriate conclusion on their own, with just the smallest of pushes. Besides, anyone Q is afraid is someone you want on your team.

All-Star Non-Ranked Crew

In the running: Quark, Neelix, Kes, Seven

All-Star Selection: Seven

Explanation: Finally, the non-ranked people. We’ve had several, primarily in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. These characters played vital roles in their respective shows but when push comes to shove, if you could only have one, it would have to be Seven of Nine. Her technical expertise and knowledge of the Borg are outmatched only by a select few, like Data or perhaps Spock. She is quick to learn and constantly looking to expand her capabilities. Additionally, she would pair well with Data and Spock in their journeys in accepting their own humanity.

All-Star Roster

So here it is folks, my All-Star Star Trek crew. Some of these decisions were easy while others were quite difficult. Review my final list and then comment below with what changes you’d make and why.

Captain Picard

First Officer Spock

Second Officer Data

Chief of Security Odo

Chief Engineer B’Elanna

Chief Medical Officer The Doctor EMH

Helmsman\Con Officer Tom Paris

Communications Officer Uhura

Counselor Guinan

Crew Member Seven of Nine

Star Trek All-Star Crew

Star Trek: Renegades – A Review

Firstly, let me start off by saying that I am not against fan films existing. I think that Star Trek having such a giant fan film base is a great thing and an excellent platform for aspiring filmmakers to get their start in a universe grounded in the deep lore that Star Trek has built over the last 49 years. I personally attempt to keep up with any news of new fan films in the works and I am ecstatic for the upcoming Axanar and Pacific 201 films which appear to bring a new brilliance to otherwise unseen eras in the Star Trek timeline.

That being said, Star Trek: Renegades was just…bad, in every sense of the word. While I am not against fan films existing, I am against bad producing, bad writing, and just generally bad storytelling in whatever forms it may appear in. Be that a Star Trek fan film, James Cameron’s Avatar, or any Uwe Boll film ever, I will always be against sloppy, confusing, and just plain uninteresting storytelling such as that which appears in Renegades. In order to be specific and logical with my grievances, I will attempt to go through each category of filmmaking and be as specific as possible about where I feel there are errors.

 

***********PLEASE NOTE THAT SPOILERS WILL APPEAR BELOW.*****************

 

ACTING

Firstly, the acting of Renegades was, in simple terms, atrocious. People may point to the performances of Tim Russ, Walter Koenig, and Robert Picardo as being good acting and yes, for the most part, these three seasoned Star Trek actors do give good and convincing performances. I was actually quite surprised at Koenig’s ability, in this film, considering his age and the fact that he hasn’t really played any other character ever, besides Chekov, except for his conniving role as Bester in Babylon 5. I thought perhaps he may have lost his ability to act over the years of playing the same character over and over again but this was not the case. Koenig delivered a nuanced and pleasant performance as a new kind of Chekov that I will admit was fun to watch.

Star Trek: Renegades Walter Koenig

However, Koenig’s, as well as Russ’s and Picardo’s considerable acting ability only serves to make literally every other actor pale in comparison. Extremely pale. Even other actors who have acted in professional films such as Manu Intiraymi, reprising his role as freed Borg/Brunali Icheb from Star Trek: Voyager, and Corin Nemec, known for his role as Jonas Quinn from Stargate SG-1, simply do not seem to have the ability to act anymore, if they ever did. Honestly, I think their respective performances in Voyager and SG-1 were raised by the professionalism of those around them and once that professionalism was lost, their acting ability suffered. Unfortunate but true.

For Nemec’s performance, I was half convinced that, when looking at his ship’s viewscreen, he was really looking at cue cards for his dialogue and was reading them off one at a time. Unfortunately, this is the standard that Renegades sets with its acting and the bad performances are made even worse when performed in front of Koenig, Russ, or Picardo. It was torturous to see Chekov actually perform when the character of his great grand-daughter stands there and delivers lines as wooden as can be, especially that of former Mythbuster/McDonalds spokesman Grant Imahara. Even the scenes where Koenig, Russ and Picardo are not present, the acting feels like a band of amateurs decided to recite lines off the Renegades script. Not act, recite. All of the rest of the performances feels more akin to a dramatic reading than film acting. Everything comes off as forced, wooden and entirely unconvincing, which is the job of actor. Make me believe that you are your character. In this, Renegades entirely failed with the notable exception of Koenig who, I am pleased to say, still has it.

PRODUCTION DESIGN AND SPECIAL EFFECTS

Perhaps the only half redeeming part of Renegades is that, because its budget was larger than most, it does have a decent amount of good designs, mostly in the area of the ship design. Many of the CGI ships were well designed, well rendered and pleasant to look at. My only issue with this area was how the Syphon ships looked too similar to the Son’a ships from Star Trek: Insurrection but maybe that’s just me. However, the CGI model for the USS Archer, same class as the titular ship from Voyager’s two parter “Equinox”, was gorgeous. Very nice to look at and praise to the artist who made it. All that being said, the bulk of any CGI where it was motion-tracked or chroma-keyed was just bad. When physical sets were being used, the settings were decently convincing but once any actor walked in front of a green screen, I instantly could tell the difference and it severely brought down the experience.

Star Trek: Renegades Icarus in Battle

While all that could be explained due to a lack of proper budget, nothing can explain why Icheb’s pseudo-Borg tech arm thing was made from CGI and not a physical prop. Icheb’s robot arm was seriously the most distracting part of this film simply because it was horribly motion-tracked. As Icheb would walk, his arm would not move smoothly and would inexplicably jerk one way or another regardless of how Icheb was actually moving. It was so noticeable that I had to rewind just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. It would have made so much more sense to just build a glossy plastic arm for his to wear and, in all likelihood, would have been cheaper to do. It seems like the filmmakers wanted so much to have the CGI effect of Icheb’s arm appearing from nothing that they dismissed all concepts of practicality in favor of one effect that was unimpressive to say the least.

 

And Icheb’s arm is not the only CGI artifact that doesn’t appear good. The strange artifact that creates portals simply did not appear real. It had such an annoying glow and faded look that one can only assume that it was made using the most simplistic of 3D modeling software. If they took so much time and spent so much money on making the ships look as good as they do, why couldn’t they make a simple 3D stone block look any sort of real? Apparently consistency was not on the minds of these filmmakers since the complex CGI elements like spaceships will look good but simple elements like stone blocks or robot arms look entirely fake.

EDITING

While I understand that making an amateur film can be an overwhelming undertaking, I do not believe there is an excuse for the sloppy editing present in Renegades. I remember a year or so ago when Renegades was posting about their new cameras and how professional they were gonna look because of it and stuff. However, even with their tech advances, Renegades still feels like an amateur backyard film. I remember making backyard films with my brother and I make no claims to greatness. Our films sucked and I fully admit that but Renegades promised something so professional looking that they made it out like CBS was actually considering them. After viewing Renegades, I can say that the editing alone would be enough to turn any professional TV executive off of the idea. The flaws in the editing are almost too numerous to count. Perhaps the most grievous error is the absurd amount of bad closeups. I don’t mind an occasional closeup but when you literally spend half of your dramatic scenes with a slow motion closeup that isn’t even centered on the actor’s face, you have a problem. It comes off as forced drama and looks cheap.

CHARACTERIZATION (AKA AN EXERCISE IN FAN SERVICE)

Being an aspiring screenwriter, I pay close attention to how characters are developed and characterized in TV and films. Characterization is perhaps the most important part of screenwriting because it’s how you get the audience invested in your story. Without characters that feel real, you leave the audience wondering why they are wasting their time on characters they don’t care about, and that is the case for literally every single character in Renegades. No one, and I literally mean no one, is an interesting character. After viewing Renegades, I couldn’t believe just how bad each character was made and how much apathy I had for them all. This is largely due to the fact that the bulk of characters in Renegades are not actual characters but merely caricatures of their “place in Star Trek” for the purposes of fan service.

Let’s start off with the minor characters and since their names are unimportant, I will refer to them by their species since that’s all they represent in this movie.

The Bajoran has no purpose in this film other than to be the foil for The Cardassian. Both have no reason to be there other than they already are, both have no character agency to keep doing the things they do. They are contrivances for the purpose of making the audience feel like it’s more ‘Star Treky’ because there is a Bajoran who hates a Cardassian and makes a Pah-Wraith reference and a Cardassian there for the Bajoran to hate. They all forget that Renegades is supposed to take place long after the events of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and that the Dominion War was won. The Cardassians were defeated and were presumedly forced to pay restitution and work towards peace, although not seen on screen. Being an avid Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan and a lover of how the Bajoran/Cardassian political situation was worked into the story, I cannot express how much I hated how Renegades decided that their best use of a Bajoran and Cardassian was as a simple exposition of racism with no explanation and no reasoning. I found this insulting both to myself and to the depth that DS9 had explicated the Bajoran/Cardassian story over its seven year run.

Now for another minor character pairing that made no sense. Icheb and the Betazoid are simply the most awkward coupling I’ve ever seen. Their pairing is not romantic in nature but it’s also not without possibility and if this explanation makes no sense, that mirrors the sense that both of these characters don’t have. Icheb, bitter at being experimented on by Section 31, but also possibly thankful, constantly gives the Betazoid a hard time just for being around. Icheb exudes angst over being abused by both the Borg and Section 31 but he also somehow likes it and when the Betazoid questions him about anything, Icheb gets angry. You’ll also notice reading this that I haven’t mentioned anything about the Betazoid on her own because for all intents and purposes, she has no character on her own. She is there to be the plot device that Icheb talks to and also the plot device that helps free Icheb from the Syphon guard with her Betazoid telepathy. If one were to simply replace her with say Deanna Troi, or any Betazoid ever, or even if she was just replaced in the script with “telepathic plot device”, one would never know the difference because of how flat and unnecessary she is.

Star Trek: Renegades Icheb

Coming over to Dr. Lucian and Fixer, this is perhaps the only pairing that had any sort of compelling emotional appeal that worked. While I think that the explanation for why we should feel for these characters didn’t work, Sean Young, better known as Replicant Rachael from Blade Runner, gave a decently nuanced performance alongside Robert Picardo’s reprisal of Dr. Lewis Zimmerman that made me feel for her situation even though I didn’t really know nor understand her situation. Basically, I understood that Fixer was once a person important to her and when he died, she preserved his brain patterns in the hologram of Fixer that has been serving as the Icarus’s engineer since then unbeknownst to the rest of the crew. However, this is where this plot line fell apart. Given the numerous problems with maintaining hologram’s visual integrity as seen in Voyager with The Doctor, I didn’t find it believable that the Fixer hologram had passed itself off as human for years with no one on the crew knowing, including himself. Wouldn’t someone have noticed at some point the slightest glitch in his holographic matrix? Wouldn’t someone have noticed that he doesn’t eat or use the bathroom or anything a human does? This coupled with the fact that it is never explained where Fixer’s holographic emitters are or how they work or how he can go anywhere and do everything everyone else can made for Fixer’s character to be just an excuse for Dr. Lucian and Dr. Zimmerman to have a secret from everyone else. While they could have at least explained that Fixer uses a mobile emitter like Voyager’s EMH, it’s as if Renegades assumed that its audience was too dumb to question how his hologram works so they sidestepped the issue entirely.

Coming over to perhaps the worst performance of the entire cast, Lt. Masaru, played by Grant Imahara, I have to say that this character made no sense in the slightest. He starts out as an aid to Admiral Chekov and only serves as a plot device for narrative explanation to bring the audience up to speed. Then, near the end of the film, he is revealed to have been a spy and assassin. He kills Admiral Paris, and just as he attempts to reveal his evil plan and kill Admiral Chekov, Masaru is conveniently killed by Chekov’s unnecessary Romulan bodyguard. This was perhaps the ultimate slap in the face to the audience. The Romulan, who is never explained, kills their only known lead to the conspiracy and her only excuse for killing the person who could explain everything is “old habits.” Like really? You unnecessarily kill your big reveal plot device character of Masaru using another unnecessary plot device Romulan because of “old habits”? Way to prolong the conspiracy way longer than needed because you were too dumb to realize that information could save everyone but what can you expect from a character whose only existence was to kill Masaru because the plot demanded it.

And for the final minor character that I will explicate, The Andorian. This was the most blatant use of fan service that has ever existed. Not only is she a hot Andorian chick, but one with cleavage that would make Seven of Nine blush. Her entire existence is reduced to serving as an over-sexualized device for the demands of the plot to use and spit out. First, I am not going to be one of those people who say that ALL sex appeal in Star Trek is heresy like those who disdain Seven of Nine or Deanna Troi simply because their bodies were accentuated. However, the Andorian’s body is not just accentuated, its crafted for the specific purpose of over-sexualized titillation clearly seen in her first seen when she engages in a lesbian tryst with a woman right before using a “mind rape” device on her. Then, for the rest of the film, is seen with an annoying amount of cleavage rivaling that of Christina Hendricks. I can only assume that this distracting amount of cleavage was used to draw the audience away from the fact that the Andorian only exists to be the stereotypical “hacker” chick who discovers the evil conspiracy because she can and the plot demanded that of her. When your characters are serving the whims of the plot just because that’s how it HAS to happen or it all falls apart, you have a problem with your plot and it makes your characters flat, uninteresting, and unpleasant to watch.

While I could go on with other minor characters and how contrived they are, I shall digress by moving on to the antagonists. The Syphon are a new race introduced in Renegades and I have to say, I couldn’t find them less interesting. Given that the Syphon are supposed to be something new, you would expect perhaps new and unexplored traits to appear that may bring interest to the audience but about five minutes into their introduction, they are revealed to be nothing more than Klingons in fake looking masks. The Syphon culture, as it appears, praises honor and rituals and rites essentially all things that we’ve seen before in the Klingon episodes of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, coupled with the fact that the Syphon appearance looks curiously like it was ripped off of the Wraith from Stargate: Atlantis, I feel like no imagination was actually put into these villains. They are given some plot contrived reason for why their actions are not actually wrong because they were wronged first but this is never explored beyond their word so we have no way of knowing what they’re actually doing. The Syphon are the bad guys because the plot demands that there be alien bad guys for no real reason. Again, having contrived characters, or in this case entire cultures, makes for zero interest on the part of the audience. Especially when this alien race is nothing more than Klingon rejects.

Star Trek: Renegades Lexxa

Finally we come to the major characters but curiously, the only one of any real consequence is Lexxa Singh. I cannot express just how uninteresting this character is. She first appears in her Orion prison cell writing the words to William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, on the walls which in itself made no real sense other than Lexxa accentuates the word, “captain”, in a clichéd way to reference Star Trek’s tradition of captains. Perhaps this was meant to be a reference to Nelson Mandela’s incarceration in Robbin Island prison but given Lexxa’s apathy about pretty much everything other than her mother, I just couldn’t see it. But let’s just discuss Lexxa’s origins for a minute. Her last name is Singh and it is revealed that she is the famed Khan Noonian Singh’s daughter…three hundred or so years after he would have been at the peak of power during the Eugenics Wars…and about a hundred years after his brief resurgence as seen in Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan. So you may ask why Khan’s daughter appears in a time when it’s pretty much impossible for to appear in at her age and you would be right to ask. There is no answer to be found however. Replace Lexxa with any character who has any modicum of fighting skill and nothing would have changed. There is nothing special about Lexxa that would make her being Khan’s daughter make any sort of sense. It is as if the writers were like: “We need a main character but with something that the Trekkies will like because it’s a reference to something…Khan’s Daughter, let’s do it regardless of how much sense it won’t make.” Then Lexxa’s origins are conveniently sidestepped by her flashbacks regarding her mother whose identity is never revealed. Is this supposed to be Marla McGivers? Or someone Khan knew during The Eugenics Wars? We never find out. All that matters is the half-hearted attempt at giving Lexxa some character depth even if it only serves to make her character more confusing than she already is.

STORYLINE

I will put this quite simply. The plotline is a mess. There are these interwoven plot threads involving a Starfleet conspiracy, the Syphon threat, Section 31, the USS Archer, and the crew of the Icarus but nothing comes full circle. It feels as if the filmmakers wanted to do something impressive so they took the base ideas from three fan films and smashed them together into one, resulting in a convoluted mess that makes the Temporal Cold War of Star Trek: Enterprise’s infamy look like the plot a children’s chapter book. The conspiracy is never resolved, story feels no more advanced at the end than it did at the beginning, and the Syphon threat is only somewhat resolved due to some deus ex machina performed by Fixer using technobabble that would put Voyager’s plot resolutions to shame. In short, don’t expect anything to make sense at all because it won’t and thinking about it will only result in a headache.

Star Trek: Renegades Syphon

THE BUDGET ARGUMENT

Now many will argue that Renegades deserves some slack due to its lack of budget and yes, I can forgive things like effects, set design and the like since money is required for these things. But one thing that always pops out to me is why do some of the effects suck while others are pretty great? Why is there this disconnect? If you’re going to do one thing well, do everything well. Don’t be so half-hearted that you think that if you do a few things well and skimp on the rest that no one will notice. Another thing that does not require money is imagination. There was no imagination brought into this movie. Everything was so contrived and forced that it felt like these filmmakers were being forced into making a movie when they really didn’t want to. Good writing costs no money but this film is lacking any sort of good writing and skill in making an interesting movie. Look at a movie like Primer. While I am not a die-hard fan of Primer, it is easily recognizable that the makers of that film had imagination and while they had a tiny budget, certainly less than Renegades, they still made something decently good and at the very least, interesting enough to enthrall an audience in its world. This is something Renegades quite simply didn’t do.

THE TV PILOT ARGUMENT

Some will also argue that Renegades was meant as a television pilot and that the characters, plot, and budget could all be fixed if given more time to develop. While yes, TV pilots are meant to introduce characters and plots but Renegades did too much. Like I said in the Storyline section, it felt as if they wanted to smash three plots into one and hope it worked out when it didn’t and, while I don’t think having a lot of characters was a flaw, I do think having every character nothing more than a caricature, plot device, or fan service was a flaw. Look at a show like Firefly. They had a cast of eight and, just in the pilot, they made each character interesting enough that we wanted to come back to see more of them then in the subsequent episodes. We got to see each character develop more and more. Same with shows like Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, JJ Abrams’ Lost, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and the list goes on. While they didn’t complete plots or character threads in the pilots, and they didn’t need to. They did at least make the characters have the potential to become more than what they started out as. Renegades did not do this. Each character was so flat that they can only continue being just as uninteresting if any more episodes have the unfortunate fortitude to get made.

STAR TREK: RENEGADES OVERALL

Just to wrap up, do not think that I am a hater of all fan films or anything of the like or that I am a Trek hater. I too would love for Star Trek to return to TV but I am extremely thankful that CBS did not pick up Renegades because I am simply against shoddy writing and poor filmmaking and, in the case of Renegades, it simply did not do justice to Star Trek. Given that Star Trek is one of the richest modern mythologies ever created, it deserves better than Renegades’ half-hearted attempt at continuing where Voyager/Nemesis left off. With its nonsensical plot, terrible characterization, and mismatched production value, Renegades should serve as an exercise in how not to make a fan film when you have a larger than most budget and also as an example of not being so steeped in hubris in a vain attempt to sell to CBS.

Have you seen Renegades? What did you think? Let us know in the comments

Star Trek: Renegades – A Review