Star Trek Continues…to impress with “The White Iris”
For those that don’t know about it, you have my deepest sympathies, because right now Star Trek Continues is the single greatest show on the planet. Not just on the internet. Anywhere. And before I get into the particulars of their recently released fourth episode of the web series, I want to qualify the statement I just made…
I’m a huge Star Trek fan. No need to get into the minutiae of that here (I can save that for another blog post), but I’ll share a little bit with you quick. While I was only 6 years old when Star Trek: The Next Generation started, I remember my dad and I watching The Original Series before that. In fact, the first movie of any kind that I ever remember watching was on a Saturday night on ABC, and it was a presentation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I’m guessing I was about 5. I found all of it strangely compelling, even at such a young age. It didn’t take long for Captain James Tiberius Kirk to become my hero of heroes at such a tender age, and to this day I still regularly obsess over any new adventure that Kirk is on.
And that’s the most amazing thing about Star Trek Continues: I never once feel like what I’m watching is anything less than a Season 4 of The Original Series. The recent J.J. Abrams reboot films make for fun popcorn fair, but I never really feel like these are the further adventures of my Captain. Not to say Christopher Pine does a bad job in the command chair of the U.S.S. Enterprise, but somehow he just doesn’t deliver it (Zachary Quinto as Spock is a whole other story, that’s gold). Vic Mignogna from Star Trek Continues, though? HE IS CAPTAIN KIRK. Vic is my Captain, not Chris Pine. And the effects, music, and stories that are Star Trek Continues? They are perfect replicas of a time long gone. They ARE Star Trek. My disbelief that Star Trek Continues is anything less than the new adventures of Kirk and crew is completely suspended. New actors (including the original Scotty’s–James Doohan–son, Christopher Doohan)? Who cares. It’s new Star Trek perfectly mimicking classic Star Trek. Statement qualified. And Star Trek Continues does a better job of unifying the 23rd Century of The Original Series with the 24th Century that people generally know Star Trek most for, than any novel, comic book series, or game could ever dream of doing.
“The White Iris”, Star Trek Continues’ fourth episode, is one such example. Though the primitive version of The Next Generation’s holodeck was first displayed in the opening of the very first episode in this web series, it is used in some very interesting ways in “The White Iris”. In fact, it’s used in a way that I have described in the past on my podcast Sovryn Tech as one of the potential beneficial uses of virtual reality technology: the processing of past traumas. And largely this is what “The White Iris” is all about. Kirk has to deal with–and heal from–the loss of the many loves in his life. Even Edith Keeler–from Harlan Ellison’s masterpiece episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever”–is here, and longtime Star Trek fans get to re-experience that tragic loss thanks to the tremendous acting done in Star Trek Continues (I only hope that at some point in the future, the show can explore novelist Diane Carey’s plot point that Kirk has a schooner on Earth that he named “Edith Keeler”, insanely deep moment).
Another bridge made in this series between the 23rd and 24th centuries, and highlighted well in this episode, is the newest addition to the crew: Elise McKennah, PhD. Played by the stunning Michele Specht, she is the Ship’s Counselor (the–at the time– newly minted position that the character of Deanna Troi would fill in Star Trek: The Next Generation), and she gets her due in this episode, having been around since the first episode of the new series. Having more female lead characters on the crew is a welcome addition, enough, but to have a character like McKennah that is so key and well done makes the Star Trek mythos all the richer.
Like the previous three episodes of Star Trek Continues (that I had already reviewed upon the release of each in audio form on my podcast Sovryn Tech), all of the effects and even the new ideas and implementations (like the proto-holodeck) are period perfect. The musical cues, old and new, do full justice to the original works of Alexander Courage and others from The Original Series. And the acting hits all the right marks. If I were to rank “The White Iris” in comparison to the other three episodes (and various vignettes), it is probably my least favorite of the bunch (with “Lolani” being my favorite episode), but that doesn’t take anything away from this episode’s greatness. All of them are worthy of watching over and over again.
With the Star Trek franchise celebrating its 50th (!) Anniversary in 2016, it’s good to know that quality entries are still being made to the massive universe that Star Trek has rightfully become (whether you want to consider them canon or not, personally I do consider Continues canon in my book). I only hope new episodes of Star Trek Continues are made long into the future, as science fiction with great stories and solid messages is sorely missing today, both of which this show beautifully provides.
And speaking of that 50th Anniversay, the latest theatrical release of a Star Trek film from Paramount, Star Trek Beyond–the third in the recent theatrical reboot series–is apparently going to be less “Star Trek-y“, and will be out in July of 2016 for the Anniversary. Frankly, I like my Star Trek as “Star Trek-y” as it can be.
Good thing Vic Mignogna and his motley crew of guys and gals are carrying the torch with class and taste. Good thing we have Star Trek Continues.