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Reviews of Starship Farragut: The Animated Episodes by Bernd

Power Source - The Needs of the Many

Power Source

Stardate 6050.5: The Farragut has lost contact with the U.S.S. Azrael under Captain Aaron Glenn. It was the Azrael's mission to investigate ancient pieces of alien technology in orbit around a gas giant. En route to that planet the Farragut is suddenly attacked by the Azrael and takes damage to the warp engines. When the Farragut arrives at the gas giant, the Azrael is in orbit again. Captain Carter beams over with a small team. They have to stun members of the Azrael's crew whose behavior is frantic. The team finds Glenn in a science lab where he is obsessively working on the mystery of the devices in orbit of the planet. Prescott arrests him, but Glenn escapes when once again Azrael crew members attack. As the devices are building up an enormous energy and his crew too begins to act erratically, Carter decides that it is time for both ships to leave the scene. He sends an armed team to the bridge of the Azrael to take control of the ship. The two ships escape the explosion of the planet. As everyone of the two crews is back to normal, Glenn returns with the Azrael to solve the mystery, while the crew of the Farragut just marvels what the ancient technology could have been useful for.

The animated episodes of Starship Farragut feature all the voices of the characters from the successful live-action series. They have been produced by NEO f/x in association with Farragut Films. The lead artist in the NEO f/x team is Kail Tescar, who runs Star Trek Animated and who also creates the Starship Farragut comics. The people who made these episodes, with all their combined competence, creativity and also commitment, definitely know their work.

In our time it is usually a reason for complaints if in an animated movie starships fly across the screen as if they were two-dimensional, without compensating for the parallax. Or if characters move like they were robots. In Starship Farragut Animated these former shortcomings are deliberately reproduced as a homage to the TAS episodes of the 1970s. And the result is impressive. The technical quality of the episodes is absolutely flawless, and the style is exactly as in TAS, with just subtle refinements.

The first episode, however, rather plays safe story-wise. It rehashes the very common trope that crew members act strangely under some sort of alien influence, and is not quite convincing in the depiction of the phenomenon. We never learn for what purpose the alien technology was constructed (which is a nice idea, just for a change, because in TOS and TAS it was usually revealed in the end). Anyway, we can't even tell what the immediate effect on the human body or mind is like. So the alien energy leads to thermal sensitivity? Or rather aggressiveness? Or ingenuity? Megalomania? Or everything at once, in varying degrees? I would have liked to see a more consistent pattern, an attempt of explanation, anything more elaborate than only crew members that behave like zombies or like mind-controlled or whatever. It is just too indefinite. And why is it that Captain Carter consults RT and Prescott, rather than Dr. Holley, about the physical and psychological effects of the radiation? She ought to have played a more significant role in this episode. There is a medical problem at hand, and no one really seems to take care of it. The animation does a fine job with close-ups on the reddening eyes though whenever a crew member is going out of line.

The dialogues are comparably simple, just as in TAS too. But they are also rather monotonous. I think the voice actors should have tried to put more vigor into their voices, instead of complying with the sedate animation of their characters. But even though real highlights were missing, they did an overall fine job. It was a real pleasure listening to them.

Remarkable dialogue: "I'm just sorry your Smithfield couldn't be here. I was rather looking forward to meeting her." - "Nooo sir. You might not enjoy that meeting. She is still in her engine room, trying to repair the mess that she thinks you caused. Last time I saw her she was grumbling something that included your name, and some choice words that I had to look up." (Glenn and Tacket)
Remarkable ship: The U.S.S. Azrael NCC-517 is a Saladin or Hermes-class vessel as seen in the Star Fleet Technical Manual.
Remarkable fact: Henry Francis Prescott III was on a training mission to Altair VI, and he received a commendation from Aaron Glenn.
Remarkable appearance: Chris Doohan lends his voice to the Andorian character Thelin. He is the son of James Doohan, who voiced not only Scotty but dozens of other TAS characters, including Thelin of TAS: "Yesteryear"!
Rating: 4

The Needs of the Many

Stadate 6047.1: The Farragut is dispatched to Cestus III, where an orbital station of the Federation is under attack by a Gorn vessel. The Gorn captain is the same who was defeated by Captain Kirk in a test of character arranged by the Metrons, and he now seeks revenge. The Farragut rescues a Federation shuttle with a cloaking device, whose pilot is Montgomery Scott. The actual purpose of the space station, however, is to protect a wormhole. This wormhole collapses as the Gorn fire on it. The Farragut is trapped inside the phenomenon, together with countless bubbles of space-time that represent events in Earth's history. The Farragut beams out a human woman from one of these bubbles, who turns out to be Carmen Renata. She sacrificed herself when a wormhole was forming after a collider experiment in 2008, and she happens to be an ancestor of "Mike" Smithfield. Now that she isn't present in the past any longer, Earth has been destroyed long ago. The Farragut only still exists because the ship is protected inside the wormhole. RT develops a modified photon torpedo that would seal the wormhole, but in order to save the planet Earth and restore history, Carmen has to return to her time. When a Gorn and a Romulan ship attack, the Farragut can outsmart them thanks to Scotty's cloaking device and the attention of Carmen, who activates the device when everyone else in engineering is disabled. The plan works, Carmen is beamed back to the past to die there -again- and the wormhole is sealed.

While this second animated episode of Starship Farragut is technically on the same high level as "Power Source", it is emotionally much stronger, the dialogues carry more weight, and the story is simply more interesting to watch.

Commander Prescott is my favorite Farragut character anyway. And he has the chance to excel in "The Needs of the Many" like no other regular character. This is remarkable, because superficially his involvement in the story is not the strongest. But rather than RT or any other character Prescott represents the rational and sometimes almost philosophical approach of a rather well-known Vulcan. Only without the ears. It is fitting that of all characters he cites (besides several regulations, as usual) the Vulcan principle that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." In one take he even raises one eyebrow! And his affection for Carmen Renata is clearly a highlight of the episode.

Carmen Renata is an unusually strong guest character. Somehow she reminds me of Captain Christopher of "Tomorrow is Yesterday" fame, one of the few people from Earth's history who didn't appear as jerks.

47s: The episode has lots of them, and they are too obvious. For instance, the Farragut receives a Code 47 communiqué, the wormhole opens every 47 days, for 47 minutes. Prescott cites security regulation #47.
Nitpicking: Why does the wormhole have to enclose bubbles particularly of "critical events from Earth's past"? Star Trek's time travels routinely end up in Earth's 20th or 21st century, but we may make up excuses for each individual case why it wasn't another place or time. In "The Needs of the Many", however, it appears as if a divine force had arranged those "critical events" from the 20th and 21st century just for the starship crew to make a fatal mistake. -- I am not happy that this episode promotes some odd kind of technophobia, considering that a collider experiment destroyed Earth in 2008. Sure, similar catastrophes do happen in the fictional Trek universe (such as with "polaric energy" or the "Omega molecule"). But real-world technology should not be the subject in such fiction. -- So the Gorn and the Romulan both want to destroy the "invader", namely the Farragut. But instead of joining forces they can't agree on who may fire the first shot, and they rather fire on each other. Come on. That's movie logic at its worst!
Continuity: The whole episode is based on the incident on Cestus III on stardate 3045.6, as shown in TOS: "Arena". -- We see the familiar Romulan Birds-of-Prey and an Andorian ship akin to the ones of Star Trek Enterprise. -- The Romulan cloaking looks just as in TOS: "The Enterprise Incident". -- It is mentioned that the Guardian of Forever has been investigated by Starfleet (an absolute favorite of fan film makers!).
Time travel issue: So Smithfield always kept the piece of 23rd century metal that was fused with Carmen's amulet when Carmen used it to enable the cloaking device. Does this mean that the temporal event was predestined, and Carmen was always meant to travel forth and back again in time? Or wasn't the Farragut totally protected, and Smithfield simply doesn't remember that there was a timeline in which she never kept such a piece of metal from her ancestor?
Remarkable dialogue: "Well, Mr. Prescott. You can rest easy now. It would appear Carmen's interaction here has left no detrimental changes in the timeline. It seems everyone was unaffected by her presence." - "Yes sir. It does seem that way for everyone - almost everyone." (Carter and Prescott)
Remarkable quote: "I do not trust one with skin so pink." (Andorian commander)
Remarkable ships: Scotty's shuttlecraft is the Copernicus (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon"). -- The Gorn ship looks just as the design for TOS-R: "Arena", which was never seen up close though.
Remarkable facts: Thelin is of Aenar descent, which explains his pale skin color (that was pale already in TAS). -- Carmen mentions that her husband died in New York on 9/11. -- In the alternate timeline Earth was destroyed, and the Andorians only find an asteroid belt in its place. -- RT calls his modified photon torpedo the "Pied Piper Pacer". -- The communication chatter of Starfleet mentions the Hood, the Azrael (of "Power Source") and a Captain Larry Nemecek.
Remarkable appearances: Tim Russ voices the Vulcan scientist T'Mar (who happens to look just like Tuvok). -- Chase Masterson lends her voice to Carmen Renata. -- This time Chris Doohan appears in his father's famous role as Montgomery Scott.
Rating: 6

 

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Last modified: 25 Dec 2015 
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