Beginning in 2001, the Montreal-based company Golden Media(Tilzy.TV page) produced an online comedy series called Star Track: The Next Hesitation, which ran for about six years and twenty episodes. Self-described as “boldly going where most fan films have gone before,” this series gently mocked itself and the Star Trek franchise.
Though GM co-founder Christian Fauteux never went to film school, he was the key figure in writing, directing, and editing the series. Like most fans, he did this as a hobby shared with family and friends. The first episode was so crudely amateurish that even the GM website describes it as “terrible” and worthwhile only to show how much the show developed over the years. And, indeed, if you look at the last episodes, you’ll find dramatic improvements on all levels of production. The series even won an award at a recent sci-fi fan convention.
Fauteux and company have released their next series, Star Track: Idomo. The pilot episode is about the USS Idomo’s maiden voyage to both investigate a destroyed Federation planet and rescue the USS Titus, which had gotten sucked into an outer space “temporal anomaly.” ###
A trailer for the premiere of Star Track: Idiomo
The Titus tries to sabotage the Idomo’s rescue effort, partly because, for one Titus crew member, Captain Tremblay’s “eyebrow thing really pisses me off.” Tremblay (M. Ernest Kennedy) confronts the Titus and, after some pyrotechnics and unlikely plot twists, all problems are magically and happily resolved–at least until the next episode.
As in a Marx Brothers movie, the storyline and characters are mostly pretexts for various visual and verbal antics. The captain of the Titus is Kirk-like as a womanizer groping his fishnet-stocking-wearing crew mate Sanjinah (Melissa Wall). Ensign Eazey (Lindsay Boyce) has hair that inexplicably keeps changing color. There are comical squabbles among crew mates (“suck my modulator”), terminological wordplays (a hammer is an “oscillating technomatrix”), and throwaway lines like when Yeoman Bland (Mack Mansouri) says he’s “in dire need of better lines and a promotion.” As in Airplane!, there often are shenanigans (beer drinking, thumb wrestling, etc.) in the background of shots where the foreground action is (ostensibly) serious.
One difference between Next Hesitation and Idomo is that there are fewer, longer episodes. The pilot is a little over 40 minutes and took about six months to create. For now at least, GM plans to release only a few of these extended episodes annually. But even with the added time, this Star Track isn’t in the same league as professionally produced films or TV programs. The writing, directing, acting, set design, lighting, and other elements are still uneven. But the series does have impressive computer-generated outer space imagery almost comparable to that of Hollywood productions and which one character describes as “beauty shots.” Fauteux’s work has been punched-up with more talent, including a professional CGI artist (Erik Kuras). The score and sound effects also sound professionally made and sufficiently Trek-ish.
Along with the outer space imagery, the creativity and energy of the series seems to be more about the fun of puttin’ on a show and playfully mocking the ST franchise than with creating strong narratives or compelling characters. That’s OK for fan-generated work, and for satire. The weaknesses of the series does actually work in some interesting ways, for instance the seeming allusion to the original Star Trek‘s own cheap sets, bad acting, and impressive outer space imagery. Or maybe they’re calling attention to today’s Hollywood blockbusters where slick production values tend to take priority over coherent stories and interesting characters.
Seen in these ways, Star Track may be a bit bolder and better than even its creators imagine.