"Star Trek: Odyssey reREVIEWed" by Troy H. Cheek on Jul 21, 2008
As I've mentioned before (in my original Odyssey review), the good folks over at Hidden Frontier have a new Star Trek fan series going on. I think they have several, but since the original Hidden Frontier series ended, I've only been keeping up with one: Star Trek: Odyssey.
In Odyssey, a new Big Bad Evil Empire rears its ugly head. This time, the threat to Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way comes from another galaxy. Aliens (well, humans with funny skin colors and what I think are supposed to be tattoos) have opened a wormhole from the Andromeda galaxy into Romulan space are sending in warships by the hundreds. They have to expand or die as their home galaxy will soon be uninhabitable. The Romulans and indeed the entire Alpha Quadrant are still reeling from recent wars, so battling them ship to ship is out of the question.
The never say "die," never say "think things through" heroes of Hidden Frontier came up with a cunning plan to close the wormhole and reduce the threat from "imminent extinction" to "possible extinction a few years down the road," but in the process stranded the Federation starship USS Tempting Fate (okay, actually the USS Odyssey) far from home. A second ship, the Klingon's IKV Honorably Flee From First Sign Of Trouble, barely escaped being stranded as well. Dumped back into the middle of the battle in the Alpha Quadrant, the ship was immediately destroyed. This means that everyone who knows that the Odyssey is trapped back in Andromeda is currently floating around in the middle of a firefight in his underwear.
As of this writing, the series has four (4) episodes in the can. Episodes seem to run 30-40 minutes, or about what you'd get out of a primetime network television show, minus the commercials. So far, the episodes seem to concentrate on the Odyssey trying to get back home. Since the wormhole is shut down and they blew up their hypertechnical propulsion thingee, they are hundreds of years from home. And that would be if they were making a beeline back to the Milky Way. Unless I misunderstood some dialog, they're actually staying pretty close to the Andromeda end of the wormhole, just in case one of the powers involved manages to re-open said wormhole.
What I have not seen so far is what is happening back in the Milky Way galaxy. Did anyone from the Klingon ship survive? Does anyone in the Federation even know that the Odyssey is (or at least was) still in operation? Will the combined forces of the Alpha Quadrant be able to fight off the Andromedan ships which have already come through the wormhole?
This series borrows a lot from Star Trek Voyager. I mean, a lot. At least one character aboard the Odyssey is a blood relation to a character on Voyager. The Voyager captain left a boyfriend behind, the person who eventually takes command of Odyssey left a newly wed spouse behind. Voyager and Odyssey will both take a bazillion years to get home. Neither is entirely sure at first that the Federation knows where they are or that they're still alive. Both have to decide whether to go straight home or hang around to see if the Federation will mount a rescue. Whether to go straight home, stop to help people along the way, or just find a nice planet and settle down.
Where Voyager had the Maquis, Odyssey has a Romulan. Just one Romulan instead of dozens of Maquis, but what she lacks in numbers, she makes up for it in volume. She's a very loud and obnoxious acting first officer. Still, she makes it work, makes it believeable. As I noticed in the first couple of episodes, her forehead makeup seems a little, I don't know, off in some scenes. I'm still hoping she suffers a horrible accident which burns off the upper part of her face and requires reconstructive surgery.
Captain Angst becomes less annoying when he's buckling under the burden of command instead of pining away for his lost love. The change in actors after the pilot episode didn't hurt. I like this Captain and want him to succeed, but I hope he grows a beard soon. (I didn't like Riker all that much until Season 2 of The Next Generation, which was about the time he grew a beard. Coincidence? I think not.)
Engineer McNeedy lacks the confidence to perform his duties. He needs Captain Angst or First Officer Romulan to kick him in the pants any time things need done. Helm Officer McBland didn't really make an impression on me. I don't know if that's the character or the actor. Tactical Officer Betazoid can't make up her mind whether she's going to respect the crew's privacy or set herself up as Deus Ex Machina. That's a choice any telepath would have to make in her situation, but I get the feeling that her position changes from episode to episode.
The main enemies are a species native to the Andromeda galaxy whose name escapes me. Actually, they may just be aliens who moved in fairly recently, as they're planning to move to our galaxy in the near future. I can't remember their names, but their General (or Admiral or Commander or Whatever) is a very interesting character. I like him and the actor who portrays him. The ruler seems nice (and I remember the actress from Hidden Frontier), but isn't long for this or any world. She's wasting away from a lingering illness. The true power lies with Princess Powerful, who lies to her mother about the war. As far as the ruling mother knows, there is no war. They've opened a wormhole into an uninhabited area of space and are colonizing worthless planets that nobody else wants.
I fully expect that at some point Ruling Mother will learn the truth, possibly from General Schemer, and will either be killed by Princess Powerful or the princess will suffer a karmic death while trying to kill her mother or blow up Odyssey or open the wormhole again.
If the whole "invaders from Andromeda looking for a place to colonize" sounds familiar, it's because The Original Series had the Kelvins. This new series has the Kelvins, too. Kelvins are actually immense beings with 100 limbs which resemble tentacles, according to Spock. However, the Kelvins in The Original Series had taken human form to better fit aboard the USS Enterprise when they hijacked her. In Odyssey, the Kelvins have been forced into human form by a genetic dirty bomb or some other sneaky trick by the invading aliens. Again, we miss out on the immense beings with 100 limbs, probably because of budget restrictions. I hope we at least get a glimpse.
The Kelvins both help and hinder the Odyssey crew, depending on the episode. The dialog seems to indicate they will soon be left behind, but I hope we haven't seen the last of them.
So, we reach the bottom of the page, where I usually issue a verdict of some kind. Here it is: Star Trek Odyssey is very derivative of Star Trek Voyager. This is not necessarily a bad thing. That will depend on what they do with it. So far, they're doing enough interesting things to keep me coming back for more. Episode three or four, I forget which, I actually watched the episode all the way through without skipping past any dialog or character development stuff. I can't remember the last time I did that while watching a fan-created science fiction series.
So, I'm going to continue with my tentative two thumbs up recommendation for Star Trek Odyssey. Click on over to Hidden Frontier and check it out.