TV - Star Trek: Renegades

Star Trek Renegades

Susan Omand boldly goes where only a few have gone before and watches the feature length pilot of Star Trek: Renegades...

I will admit that, until last week, I didn’t even know that Star Trek: Renegades existed, which is terrible considering that I am a huge Star Trek fan. So what is it? Renegades bills itself as “a fan supported Internet TV Series” but these are no ordinary fans. The pilot episode is directed by, and stars, Tim Russ, who reprises his role of Commander Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager. Alongside him we find Robert Picardo, still being a version of the Emergency Medical Hologram from Voyager, as Doctor Lewis Zimmerman who first appeared in Deep Space Nine, and original Star Trek series alumnus Walter Koenig as Admiral Chekov! OK, so I was impressed, especially since this series is unauthorised by the Star Trek franchise. The pilot episode has been crowdfunded, with a view to getting it made into a full series, and the official synopsis runs as follows:

When a seemingly unstoppable new enemy threatens the very existence of the Earth, Admiral Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) is forced to work outside the boundaries of Starfleet’s rules to combat this deadly new foe.

When planet after planet winks out of existence, yet Starfleet refuses to act, Chekov turns to Commander Tuvok (Tim Russ), the new head of Starfleet’s covert operations division, Section 31. Together, they assemble a new elite strike-force, consisting of rogues, outcasts and criminals, led by the fearless yet haunted Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson).

The Renegades’ mission is simple: take on an army and stop their leader, Borrada (Bruce Young), from destroying the Earth. Outnumbered and outgunned, the ragtag crew is in an adrenaline-pumping race against time and space. But they soon find their foes are the least of their concerns: the real trouble may be coming from within!

So, having watched it, how good actually was it?

Having got over the sheer excitement of hearing Tuvok and Chekov, I settled down to enjoy the story. Written by Ethan H Calk, who was a writer on Deep Space Nine, I was expecting a decent character story as it was a great premise! To be honest, I was a little disappointed, but only a little, because the story felt a bit drawn out and would have been better as a 45/60 minute episode (even risking the “Voyager ending” that ties everything up after the last ad break) with the scenes back at Star Fleet command, especially the grand-daughter’s room-mate story, kept to a minimum, even though I realise they wanted to give Chekov as much time on screen as they could. But this is something that could be built upon if the series progresses as the dialogue was believable and the action scenes and battles were very well paced.

I was pleased to see recognisable Trek alien species, like Klingons and Cardassians, in the story although the costumes, makeup and sets were noticeably not of the same quality as a studio funded series. In fact some of the sets looked more cardboard than in classic Doctor Who, and the external alien city shots definitely looked like badly painted backdrops, but this can be completely forgiven as it would be easily sorted by throwing a much bigger budget at the series. I was pleasantly surprised by the effects though, especially in the space battles, and they could easily stand alongside early TNG for quality, although again this can be vastly improved with better tech and a bigger budget. They would also do very well to lose the slow motion in some of the fight scenes. The music and sound design however, was quite brilliant, building tension and creating atmosphere and I loved the theme.

I also spent a lot of time going “ooh it’s him/her” as I recognised even more people in the cast than the Star Trek familiar names. For example, Sean Young (Rachel from Bladerunner) is Doctor Lucien, Richard Herd is back as Admiral Paris (Tom Paris’ father in Voyager) and there are roles for Edward Furlong (John Connor in Terminator 2), Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn in Stargate SG-1) and even ex-Mythbuster Grant Imahara is part of the cast. I can’t imagine how many favours were either called in or given out (after all, every geek wants to be in Star Trek) to gather such a stellar team. They all need time to settle into their character though as, quite often, I felt they were trying too hard and the subtlety was lost.

But would it make a series? Given that I am a fan and there is NO Star Trek on the TV just now, yes I think it would be marvellous. Pilot episodes are always known for being more character building than story driven but it still had the feel of a Star Trek TV series episode, moreso than a standalone film. The characters were all very easy to engage with, especially, and surprisingly for me, the characters of Doctor Lucien and Lexxa Singh, and I felt like I would enjoy watching more episodes with this crew going on various, almost Black Ops, type missions. The “elder statemen” of Tuvok and Chekov however would do well to take minor roles, if any, and allow the new cast to develop their own personalities. Given a full series, I think the ship and its crew would settle into something that felt like they belonged in the Star Trek universe. It would be wonderful if the likes of Paramount or Universal (who did Battlestar Galactica) picked it up, but I can also really see it working on Amazon or Netflix as exclusive content, given enough of a budget. All it needs is the OK from the Star Trek franchise because it needs that familiarity and fanbase backing to get going.

You can find out a lot more about Star Trek Renegades, and how to support them, on their website at http://startrekrenegades.com and you can watch the full official pilot yourselves below:



Image - Star Trek: Renegades