Tag Archive: Trek Nation

Review by C.J. Bunce

Twenty years ago the last episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, and for its anniversary a crowdfunding project funded a feature-length retrospective on the series.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind will be familiar to any fan of Deep Space Nine who has delved into the special features found in the DVD sets or online via YouTube.  It’s full of those reminiscences, albeit updated, diehard fans have viewed countless times in interviews with cast and crew and via panels at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.  But the unique feature for this new documentary is a reunion of writers from the series who sit down and block out what a possible next episode of the series might include.

Deep Space Nine showrunner and executive producer Ira Steven Behr leads the documentary, hitting the high points of his seven years creating Deep Space Nine, intercutting new and old interviews with key and supporting cast members, a few members of the production staff, co-creator Rick Berman and the man representing the business side of production, Kerry McCluggage, former chairman of Paramount Television Group.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind does not look closely at the production from a design, costumes, props, music, or technical standpoint, but is almost exclusively focused on the writers and actors, and why the crew thinks its show was different from competing programs in the 1990s (although some art production familiar faces including Herman Zimmerman, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler make brief appearances).

The writers room reunion of Behr, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Hans Beimler, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe talking through a spec script idea for a new 20th anniversary reunion episode is a great guide for anyone wanting a glimpse at the process of developing a television show.  Backed by a cartoon art/Ken Burns-esque multimedia mock-up of characters and sets by artists Magdalena Marinova, Kai De Mello-Folsom, and Luke Snailham, it’s a better presentation format than watching more talking heads.  The result feels quite like a Brannon Braga or Ronald D. Moore series finale episode (see Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “All Good Things…” and Star Trek Voyager’s “Endgame”), complete with a time jump and appearances by grown-up regular players, in this case Jake Sisko and Molly O’Brien.  Vedek Kira?  Captain Nog?  With some make-up and new costumes, the writers’ episode creation would have actually made a fine final episode to the series, providing some resolution to the fate of Avery Brooks′ Captain Sisko.

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Back in Time

“It’s great to have a bunch of lunatics on your side.  They’re crazy, but they’re crazy good.” — Michael J. Fox

If you don’t know the lengths some fans will go to express their love for the target of their fandom, some documentaries on the subject may give you a jolt.  Filmmakers enjoy looking not at diehard fans of beloved movies and other properties, they seem to thrive on meting out the fringe of those fans.  If you’re already immersed in the fandom, these documentaries may be your thing.  But if you’re not, you may find more cringing than amazement.  Examples of this, for some, include the 1997 and 2004 Trekkies and Trekkies 2, and the more recent 2010 documentary by Gene Roddenberry’s son called Trek Nation.  With these looks at the fans themselves, viewers are left to wonder whether the fandom is a target being objectified for its oddity or a true love affair by and for the fans.

As part of the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future and Back to the Future Week, filmmaker Jason Aron is releasing the documentary Back in Time, the result of countless interviews with fans and even some interviews with the cast and execs behind the time-travel trilogy.  If Back to the Future is more than your favorite movie, you may want to track down this documentary this week in theaters or pre-order a copy here at Amazon.com to get it on its release date, Back to the Future Day, October 21, 2015.

Probert BTTF design

Andy Probert’s design for the DeLorean time machine.

Highlights include an interview with Michael J. Fox where he recounts the British release of Back to the Future attended by him and Princess Diana and Prince Charles, an interview with concept designer/artist Andy Probert (best known for his work on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica) who worked on storyboards and the DeLorean time machine, and the story behind the screenplay as told by co-writer Bob Gale.  The documentary also includes more brief interviews clips with Huey Lewis, who had a hit with the show’s songs “Power of Love” and “Back in Time,” score composer Alan Silvestri, Donald Fullilove (who played Goldie Wilson), director Robert Zemeckis, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and cast members Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, James Tolkan (Principal Strickland), and Claudia Wells (the first Jennifer).

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I love good documentaries, and ever since I heard a high quality documentary about the work of Drew Struzan was in production I have been waiting to learn more.  If you don’t know about Drew Struzan, check out this review of a book about him from an earlier article here at borg.com.  So far, there is no apparent release date yet established.  But the filmmakers have just released this trailer:

We reviewed Being Elmo documentary here several weeks ago, a great insight into the creator that worked and voiced the muppet Elmo for Sesame Street.  Kevin Clash’s story really came through and made this an award-winning documentary.  As non-fiction genre-related documentary films go, there is not a lot out there that is of the quality that you’d recommend it to others, especially those that aren’t fans of documentaries.  The History Channel’s History’s Mysteries documentary of a lost aircraft called the Lady Be Good was just as intriguing as any murder mystery and should serve as a guide for compelling storytelling in non-fiction filmmaking.  The public television documentary called The Proof, documenting the discovery of the solution to Fermat’s Theorem by Andrew Wiles was enormously compelling, despite its seemingly bland subject matter.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had a documentary about genre-related interests that were as well made as these films?

I can’t make myself watch Comic-Con Episode IV:  A Fan’s Hope.  I’ve seen enough excerpts that make it clear that, despite the filmmaker’s claims, these were made by outsiders looking in more than insiders themselves who live and breathe, and more importantly, understand, their passion.  Who wants to watch an outsider highlighting the fringe of the fan bases?  I also was disappointed in Rod Roddenberry’s recently released Trek Nation documentary.  First, there is nothing Trek Nation about Trek Nation.  It should be called Son of Trek because the film is entirely about Rod and his attempt to understand his late father Gene, and little about why the nation or world is so passionate about Star Trek.  It’s not a very fun show to watch, and actually ends up rather depressing.  No one wants to view someone else’s daddy issues, no matter who the daddy or the son is.  Folks who know Rod Roddenberry have good things to say about him, which makes it more unfortunate that his film makes him look a bit like an angry trust fund kid.  And choice of material wasn’t thought out well.  The documentary includes an interview with George Lucas that is painful to watch, and it comes off like it is an attempt at starting a Star Wars vs. Star Trek battle with Lucas himself.  So there are good and bad documentaries, and finding and creating gems takes some work.

So looking at the trailer for Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, you can tell the filmmakers realized the importance of their subject, and they went to appropriate sources for their interviews.  I have always wanted to hear what Harrison Ford thought of all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Blade Runner marketing that included his image.  I love that we will get to hear Michael J. Fox talk about Struzan’s impact on his movies.  Who wouldn’t want to get a look at the creative process behind such a legendary modern artist?  And just look at the filmmakers who are interviewed for this film, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Guillermo Del Toro.

The only missing piece is a release date, but as soon as it is released I will update this with that information.  It’s definitely a film we should all look forward to, and hopefully it will live up to this well-made preview.

C.J. Bunce

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