4/27/08

RP005 To Serve All My Days

(2006, SciFi/Drama/Television-esque, color)

Riffers:

Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

Hard to chew the scenery when you’re wearing dentures.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Chekov talks to himself a lot, then dies.

Summary:

Walter Koenig doing his best Jon Voight impersonation.Welcome back to the world of Fake but Mostly Passable Star Trek. Today’s episode takes place before the previously reviewed episode, but continuity didn't seem to be much of a concern for anyone involved, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the order.

We begin with Lieutenant Chekov giving a flirtatious ambassador a ride in the shuttlecraft. A near collision with a cloaked Klingon warship leads to an asteroid field chase, ending with taunts and threats when they finally arrive at the Enterprise. A bit of boring and mostly irrelevant exposition goes on about the economic collapse of several Federation worlds and the expansion of the pre-forehead Klingon Empire. Thereafter, the episode splits into two parallel and mostly independent plots.

In Plot A, a cloaked and presumably Klingon vessel attacks the Enterprise, causing a lot of pseudo-Scottish technobabble. Through the accent we discern that the damage allows Kirk to use either the weapons and shields or the warp drive, but not both. Kirk sends out a distress signal and holds his ship in position. Soon the signal is answered by none other than the Klingon warship from the opening scenes. Klingon Captain Kargh protests that it was not one of his ships, and offers to help Kirk find the real culprits. Kirk hurls threats and abuse, but eventually agrees.

Secretary of Defense from Transformers...OF THE FUTURE!The Enterprise retracts her distress signal and lays in wait. The false Klingons attack again, and a rapidly aging Chekov holds them off long enough for the real Klingons to arrive and destroy the perpetrators. Turns out it’s from one of the economically collapsing Federation worlds, eager to start a Federation/Klingon war and thus revitalize their flagging weapons business.

In Plot B, Chekov saves Scotty from a radiation burst, but the exposure activates an aging virus. Walter Koenig takes over performing duties as he becomes all morose and elderly, eventually hallucinating long, introspective conversations with his younger self. He resurfaces just long enough to fend off the Klingons in Plot A, then returns to his quarters for a lengthy death scene.

Thoughts:

Don’t worry kids. Sure, Chekov fails to recover from his science fiction illness and shuffles off this mortal coil at the end of this episode, but he’ll be alive and well at the beginning of the next episode without explanation. And for the record, no, going back more than a year later to add a scene where young Chekov wakes to find out that (sigh) “it was all a dream” does not count as an explanation.

The Klingon version of a mindmeld.But then, these are fan films, lavishly produced ones at that, so I suppose I shouldn’t hold their crimes against continuity against them. Nor should I gag at the scenes where young Chekov hits on and is hit on by his grandpa’s ex-girlfriend. Yes, the age difference and her prior relationship with his ancestor make it profoundly creepy, but she’s played by an actress from the original series, so the May/December flirtation is probably a fanboy’s dream... Actually, you know what? Now that I think about it, that just makes it creepier. Perhaps I should have gagged more.

The above problems are egregious, yes, but they’re also amusing and are therefore forgivable. The real reason this episode sucks so badly is the fact that Plot B only takes one short paragraph to summarize, but eats up at least as much time as the Klingons. Guys, I understand you want to give Koenig as many lines as possible, but shouldn’t he get something to do as well? In his guest episode, Takei got to run around trying to stab people. Didn’t it occur to anyone that watching Chekov talk to himself in his room for half an hour might not constitute gripping cinema?

Bill and Kevin dig into this hunk of fan-produced cheese with abandon. While young Chekov pilots the shuttlecraft through the asteroid field, Bill notes, “This thing has fewer controls than a garden hoe.” When Kirk instructs Uhura to “Hail that ship,” Kevin says, “Yo ship! What the hail you doin’ out there?” When Chekov finally dies Kevin says, “There really need to be retcon laws,” and then describes his ongoing Batman series where the title character dies at the end of every issue, then appears alive and in apparent good health at the beginning of the next one every time. Bill and Kevin get off some good comments, and the plot about the fake Klingons provides goofy Star Trek fun, but the endless Chekov introspection scenes drag down the experience as a whole. It’s worth one look, but probably not two.