Word from the Far Reaches

Latest

Better With Age

So here we are, on the evening of our Season 2 vDVD release.  It’s been a long time coming, just as our first season was.  It’s the last vDVD set we’ll be doing for awhile, too.  Season 3 will be released weekly.  It never properly finished, and the constant release problems never really allowed it to have the attention it deserved.  So I guess you could say we’ll be officially “back in action” with weekly releases, although the strictly brand-new material will not be coming until late Season 3, and of course Season 4, which should arrive next fall.

I’ve had some time now to reflect on the changes and edits I’ve made to the existing episodes, and I have to say, I’m glad we did this.  There was so much untapped potential in even the roughest and most amateur of our early scripts, and they were ideas I was simply unable to capitalize on it, due to inexperience and, quite frankly, a certain degree of immaturity.

I found the same experience waiting for me in Season 2.  While S2 was acclaimed quite highly in its own right, I was never satisfied with 2×01.  The rest of the opening arc was decent, and the conclusion still stands well on its own even today.  I sat down to rewrite 2×01 back in May or June.  As I was working on it, I re-read 2×02 and 2×03, and it felt to me like there was a bigger story there.  I knew how Salea’s story had unfolded the first time, and it didn’t feel as complete as it should be.  As I re-read these episodes, she was in there, asking me to tell all of her story.

So, despite my protestations about not rewriting anything in S2, I sat down and redrafted 2×02 and 2×03 from the ground up.  It took months to really come together.  I drafted 2×02 in about three weeks, and the draft of 2×03 came together in about 4 days – but there were months between there where I kept trying (and failing) to get the rest of the story out.  In the original draft, Sito, Bruce, and Peri found Salea and Kaol after the explosion on Orion.  Something about that just wasn’t working for me, and I couldn’t pinpoint it.

Ultimately, the story went down a different path, and introduced Salea to a new character: an Orion woman named Keali (pronounced kee-lee).  It also solidified an aspect of Salea that I had always suspected was present, but never had specific plans to act upon.  This was obviously an instance of the character taking control.  Interestingly, this story also left Salea in a slightly different place.  Originally, her actions on Orion were so overwhelming (the death toll was enormous), by the time we hit 2×07 she just couldn’t take it.

This time out, that toll was much less, but it seemed to affect her much more personally.  She reached out to Kaol in the only way she knew how, the only way her culture understood how to deal with such horrific loss, and he shot her down because he didn’t understand where she was coming from.  In Kealie, Salea found something of a kindred spirit.  And perhaps, in her desperation to achieve retribution from the Orions, she settled for AN Orion.  One that was almost as lost and confused as Salea herself.

I was surprised by the evolution of 2×03, but I feel it was surprisingly authentic character drama.  In my old age, I’ve become less a fan of sappy romances, but I think what happens between these two characters is very touching, in a sad sort of way.  It’s a unique situation; they just kind of go with it, neither one is or was specifically seeking anything from the other.  They are what they need each other to be in order to survive the current crises, and at its end, we get the hint that they may meet again.

Too often, relationships on Star Trek, especially with a guest star, are short-lived and their impact is never felt again.  This is something Salea will carry with her for a long time.  Indeed, all of her experiences in this opening arc will be around for a long time.

So now, we come to 2×07.  Formerly entitled, “No Matter How Long the Night,” I have opted to rechristen this episode as, simply, “Daybreak.”  The original story dealt heavily with the changes Salea has gone through and was an outstandingly written episode by Joshua Legg.  But this episode, like the series itself, like its creator, has grown up a bit.  The introduction of Keali and the course of events in 2×02 and 2×03 have changed things, and so we must also revisit this episode.

It works as it is, but not as well as it could.  Salea’s been through too much, and she’s been working through it ever since.  2×07 brings her fears and guilt to the forefront this time, by sending her back to Orion space.  The Enterprise is ordered to drop off needed supplies for the task force that is providing aid.  This has turned Salea into a wreck, and will take her to some very dark places.

There will be some imagery at work, and some themes, about guilt, responsibility, moving on, letting go, and learning to trust again.  It also has a fun sci-fi story (this is Star Trek, after all) that takes the crew to a rogue planet, wandering the galaxy, frozen but once inhabited.  The two stories weave together in what I hope will be a genuinely touching and inspiring way.

Season 2 has definitely become rife will more adult themes and content than it originally contained.  I hope our readers find it enjoyable.  Frontiers was once known for its ability to spin a fantastic Star Trek story, and that hasn’t changed.  But we’re infusing an air of realism and maturity into our characters, tackling more difficult issues, and showing that many things do indeed improve with age.

Onto the music.  The first video was shown to me by former staffer Randi Anderson.  I really enjoyed the music, and found that my mind kept coming back to it as I continued to develop and write 2×03.  The song seems to fit Salea’s struggle and her unexpected relationship as well.

The second piece, we featured last time.  It’s a beautiful song by Evanescence that so completely captures the spirit of “Daybreak” that I had to include it again this week.  I hope you’ll find the episode as enjoyable once we release it (a little later than the rest of the set, but still on the way).

Welcome back to the Frontiers universe, everyone.  I hope you’re ready for a truly memorable journey.

Holiday Cheer

It’s that time of year once again.  There’s a chill in the air, we had our first snowfall today, and in just two short weeks, Santa will be making his yearly trip.  No doubt those who observe the holiday will find their Christmas Eve packed full of family activities.  But, what are you doing on Christmas Eve…Eve?

Reading Frontiers, of course!

December 23 is our third and final release date for the long-delayed S2 vDVD set.  Over the past few days, I’ve seen what Paul “Blaze” Weaver has put together for us and I must admit, it will be a great early Christmas present to anyone who has enjoyed the show.  Our new interface works beautifully, without the glitches that plagued our first set.  There will be some great art, and an all-new podcast as well.

So, to wrap up what I informally began earlier this year as a casual overview of the opening story arc, I thought I’d pontificate a little over the final two episodes and the epilogue.

2×05: Second Coming was one of the higher rated episodes of Season 2 in our original run.  There is, of course, a tremendous revelation in this episode that reshapes the world of Frontiers for the rest of the season (and the subsequent season, for that matter).  With the crew mostly reunited, Sito and the Federation turn their attention towards M106 and their captured transwarp hub.

Speaking of the hub, Rikilis and Lighthart are nearing the end of their patience as well, and put their own plan in motion to take the station.

2×06: Turning Point is the showdown everyone’s been waiting for: Sito versus Rahl!  Not to mention another clash of titans that shall, for the moment, remain nameless (don’t want to ruin it for new readers).  Needless to say, everything in this one is big – larger than life.  And sadly, not everyone walks away.

As with most rewrites this season, I drew some inspiration from music.  Specifically, my future wife, Amy Lee.  Evanescence released a new album a few months back, and it’s pretty incredible.  Just imagine the action-packed and exciting trailer we could put together using this inspirational little number:

Of course, once the dust from all this settles, there are many consequences to be dealt with.  Salea, in particular, has tremendous scars from her experiences, scars that have made it hard for her to even realize who she is anymore.  Long-time readers will remember 2×07: No Matter How Long the Night as a dark but emotional piece that serves as an epilogue for the dramatic opening arc.  While I was loath to touch this script in any way (I feel Josh Legg, the original author, nailed it on the first try), some of the earlier changes and tweaks did require a slightly revised approach to this story.

I don’t want to spoil any part of this one, so let me leave you with one more tune, that truly captures the emotion and darkness Salea struggles with:

It rarely gets more real than this one, folks.  You won’t want to miss it.

Beyond that, we’ve got some truly great and classic episodes in Season 2.  It’s a bit serialized, so you’ll notice more arcs and interconnecting stories.  That said, one of my very favorite standalone episodes takes place here.

Of course, the best part about this release is how much closer it puts us to Season 3 and completely NEW episodes!  We’ll have more on our Season 3 release schedule (which will revert to weekly releases) after the holidays.  You can look forward to the return of Jaron Hatch in an all-new episode, the long-awaited debut of Henrik Anttonen,and two more scripts by yours truly (including a shocking season finale over three years in the making).  Season 3 truly puts us on the course for events that will ultimately drag us kicking and screaming to the series finale.  So it’s a big event and definitely a time to be excited for more good things.

Season 2 Cometh Againeth

For those unaware, October 21 marks the release of the S2 vDVD’s.

So where have I been?  What have I been up to?  Well, after that first major assignment, I received a second of even larger proportions: make a film!  Which I did.  So it’s all done, now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the sneak previews we offered of 2×01 and 2×02.  I was tempted to do 2×03 as well, but the cliffhanger might have been even more frustrating than the one from 2×02.

So what’s in store next for our intrepid crew?  2×03: A House Divided is another emotional rollercoaster.  The actions taken by Salea and Kaol in 2×02 were drastic.  Their consequences will echo for quite awhile, for both the characters themselves, and the Trek universe at large.

There were some questions left unanswered.  Foremost, obviously, would be the fates of Kaol and Salea.  Of course if you’re read the show before, you know what happens there.  I’m not saying I’d never kill any of the main cast (quite the opposite, actually… *insert evil laugh*) but let’s just say it’s not their time yet.

We learned in 2×01 that Zach Bradford is the one responsible for “reprogramming” Celeste, but his guilt for that crime is secondary to the risks posed by Celeste’s implants.  We won’t learn her fate until 2×04, but in 2×03, we will catch back up with Sito and Andrade, who have been searching the quadrant for the little troublemaker.  To further complicate matters, Bradford seems to have his hands in more than one cookie jar, as we discovered near the end of 2×02 that he was also purchasing WMDs from Viito.

A House Divided is a dark tale, but perhaps not quite as dark as its predecessor.  We explore some interesting themes in this episode, such as the choices we face, living with them, and learning from them.  Sito is nearing the end of his stoic Spiran patience as Bradford has thwarted every attempt at capture, leading the captain on a wild goose chase from one end of the quadrant to the next.  When we catch up with Sito and Bruce, we quickly learn of Sito’s near obsession with wanting to apprehend Bradford.  Trek fans, fear not: this isn’t Sito’s own version of Sisko vs. Eddington.  Sito’s approach to the situation is quite different, and the consequences of his actions are quite different as well.  Whether for better or worse, I’ll leave up to the reader to decide.

This episode will mark the halfway point of the opening S2 arc, and as exciting a journey as it has been thus far, the best is yet to come.  2×04, hailed as our most “Star Trek” episode ever, features two amazing guest stars and has been compared to classics such as TNG’s, The Measure of a Man.  And the epic conclusion to the story comes right on its heels.  So mark your calendars (again) for our S2 vDVD release and get ready for great season!

In parting, a link to some inspiration.  I had this tune playing in the back of my mind through much of the edits and rewrites of 2×03 and it seems to capture it nicely.  Enjoy!

Season 2

As much as it pains me, I’m forced to delay our S2 launch once more.  Put simply, it’s not ready yet.  Don’t have a big, romantic reason as to why.  I’ve simply been embroiled in a major assignment for my classes that required one extension, and that is now well into the revisions stage.  I’m going to be tied up to exclusively this particular script until Sunday at the latest.  I’m not willing to do a half-arsed job on the S2 vDVD set, so I’m not going to fly through the final phases to hit a date and skimp on quality.

But take heart: at the conclusion of my assignment Sunday, getting that delicious S2 vDVD set out is at the top of my priority list – just above sleeping and below eating.  I’ll give a better date on Monday of next week, once I’ve decompressed from this assignment.  Given our past headaches with releases, I truly hate doing this, but I’ve got little choice.  Class must come first!  (If it helps, I’ll share the content of the assignment so you can see just what the heck it was that drove me nutso for 3 weeks!)

Make Him a Scotsman!

Today, my fellow Star Trek fans, we celebrate the life and legacy of a gifted actor who I daresay has become like a member of our extended Trek family: Mr. James Doohan.  Today, July 20th, marks the sixth anniversary of the passing of the beloved actor.

As a teenager, I could scarcely comprehend the notion of the cast of Star Trek not being with us any longer.  During the TOS film run, there were numerous jokes about how they would go on forever.  It certainly did seem that way – and let’s face it, most of us wanted it to be that way.  We loved our characters – couldn’t get enough of them.  When the news hit that DeForest Kelley had passed on, my heart broke.  It broke even louder at the news of James Doohan’s passing.

I think sometimes, those of us who are passionate about a television series or a film end up becoming so enamored with it, we have a hard time separating the character from the person.  While it’s important to honor the wonderful acting legacy Mr. Doohan left behind, we must not forget he was a man – a human being like the rest of us.  He had a family – to his kids, he was “Daddy” not “Scotty”.  He made a positive impact on the world around him.  We were blessed to be able to share in a small part of his life – what he chose to give us on screen.  But there are many others for whom the loss is even more personal.

I suppose I’m on this particular train of thought because I lost my own father recently.  Like Mr. Doohan, he was a big guy, with an even bigger heart.  He was many things to many people – friend, co-worker, father, grandfather.  To me, he was always just Dad.  And his absence still echoes loudly in my heart and mind.

I’m afraid the correlation between the two is no more or less than that – but it’s been something that has been on my mind since Mr. Doohan’s son, Chris Doohan thanked his followers on Twitter for their kind words about his dad.  Certainly he was Scotty to all of us, but to Mr. Chris Doohan and his siblings, that wonderful man was simply Dad.

As a father myself, few things make me prouder than sharing in my joys and passions with my kids.  Every time Paul puts together another amazing video, the kids love to sit and watch it with me.  They’re becoming little Star Trek fans themselves, playing with my old Trek toys and learning about the universe that Mr. James Doohan helped bring to life.  And so in small ways like that, as well as the more deeply personal ways he touched those around him, Mr. Doohan’s legacy will continue to live on and thrive – to the final frontier and beyond.

In closing, I offer the below.  This was posted as a dedication to our Season 2 finale, “Till the Stars be Darkened” as a tribute to Mr. Doohan just prior to the one year anniversary of his passing.  While it will appear intact on our forthcoming vDVD, I felt it would be appropriate to share it here, as well.

 

In Loving Memory
James Doohan
March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005
“If this character is going to be an engineer, you’d better make him a Scotsman!”

The staff of STAR TREK: FRONTIERS would like to dedicate this episode to the memory of Mr. James Doohan,
who passed away on July 20th, 2005. His unforgettable life, on and off our screens, stands as a testament
to the best humanity has to offer.  Mr. Doohan will be remembered, not for being a miracle worker
or for saving the Enterprise, but for being an extraordinary human being and exuding the love and
compassion that makes us what we are.  Although Mr. Doohan will soon sleep among the
very stars he taught us to reach for, he will be sorely missed here on Earth.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
“Through endeavor, to the stars”


					

Where is the Edge?

One of the things Deep Space 9 did extremely well was blur the lines between moral and immoral, right and wrong.  Episodes such as, “In the Pale Moonlight” were brilliantly done.  They introduced real life morals into the Star Trek universe, which had largely been utopian.  Gene Rodenberry believed that in the future, mankind would work out all of its problems and unite.  That the crew of the Enterprise would always get along.  It was a noble vision but it’s hard to create dramatic television when there’s very little drama between your main cast.  DS9 changed that.

In the universe of Frontiers, the Federation is still trying to find its way back to those golden days of the 23rd and 24th centuries.  Back when men like Jim Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard explored the deepest reaches of the galaxy and encountered new aliens.  But with the arrival of the Borg and the Dominion – by far the Federation’s greatest threats since its inception – they’ve suffered and lost sight of what is truly important.  Indeed, the story of Frontiers is nothing less than the story of a Federation – and perhaps, even a galaxy – trying to find its way.

In the second episode of Season 2, aptly named “Valley of Shadows,” two of our favorite characters are trying to do the same thing: find their way.  In what is unquestionably one of our darkest adventures, Salea and Kaol have joined forces with Section 31 in order to track down the members of the Orion Syndicate who are threatening Salea’s homeworld.

“Valley of Shadows” takes our characters to some very disturbing places, and forces upon them very hard, very questionable choices.  It is the age old tale of what makes a true monster: genetics? Circumstance? Morality? Choice?  To what lengths will good people go to right a wrong or see justice served?  How far is too far?  And is there any way back once you’ve crossed that line?

When considering this story and its revisions, I’m reminded of the song Where is the Edge? by Within Temptation.  It’s a song that posits questions very relevant to this episode: where is the edge of your darkest emotions?  Where is the line of your deepest devotion?  Salea and Kaol are confronted with this question repeatedly, and with each decision the answer grows increasingly hazy.  Is it possible for someone to exist in that world of corruption and darkness and not succumb to it?  By the time you finish the final page, that question will be answered – and the answer might surprise you.

“Valley of Shadows” is not one of those episodes where the traumas incurred simply evaporate next week.  The places we go, and the things we see, will haunt us, and our characters, for a good, long while.  It’s an episode that changes everything for Salea – and perhaps, to a degree, for Kaol as well.  It’s not all darkness – there are some lovely, authentic moments between Salea and Kaol.  But make no mistake – when you journey into the heart of darkness, even the brightest light will eventually dim and fade away.

Last time I included a script excerpt as a little bonus.  Today, I’m including two YouTube links: one to “Where is the Edge?” and one to “Fire and Ice” – which is a song that comes to mind while considering the tense and sometimes frustrating dynamic Salea and Kaol develop in this episode.  Hope you enjoy the tunes!

Where is the Edge?


Fire and Ice

Season 2 Cometh

This post contains possible spoilers for the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2.  You’ve been warned.

When we were discussing the finale for the first season, a lot of possible scenario’s were discussed.  Our earliest thoughts saw the Frontier station itself getting destroyed by an invading Vulcan force, and Salea betraying the crew and revealing she was actually a Separatist spy.  She was scheduled to die, in fact.  We also discussed the potential return of Seryna Dalal, the death of Admiral Miller, and the idea of the crew being “stuck” in M106 with the station being destroyed.

I don’t recall what it was exactly that led us to ditch the “blow up the station” angle.  In early talks, we had the Vulcans coming out as the leaders of the Separatists, but that never sat right with me.  Forgive the obvious wordplay, but it didn’t seem logical.  But we do still find our crew in dire straights as Season 1 draws to a close.

The Separatists are back with a new weapon that can swiftly cut through even the massive hulls of Odyssey class starships.  Salea is finally revealed to be providing information to the Orion Syndicate, under the threat of having thaleron warheads launched at Tikara.  Celeste gets a promotion (eat your heart out Ensign Kim), Aidan Rahl is revealed to be alive and well (as many no doubt suspected), Admiral Miller is killed by the newly minted Lieutenant Celeste Kelly, and Kaol breaks Salea out of the brig, beaming her to places unknown.  The transwarp gate falls under Separatist control, with Lighthart, Rikilis, Temar, and his engineers still trapped aboard.  Worst of all, the Enterprise, flagship of the Federation, falls into Separatist hands after a daring escape by Sito and the crew.

So what’s in store for Season 2?  Those of you who were with us the first time will recall the opening storyline takes several episodes to resolve.  Sito, distraught over the chaos that has befallen him, returns to Spirus to gain focus.  Peridonis’Alya also returns home, to visit her ailing mother and see her Kala’tan.  Even a return to the Oracles – the sacred Spiran temple where he became a Bae’el Dao – has done little to ease his ailing mind.  Fortunately for Sito, the Order of the Universe appears to be on his side, as they send a messenger of sorts to guide him on his journey.

Peridonis’ return home is no less dramatic, as a series of brutal murders erupt near her dwelling, and she is the prime suspect.  Not everything is as it seems, though.  We do get to meet the rest of Peridonis’ family (Kala’tan), including her mother, Romadonis, and her younger sister, Kalledonis.  Siadonis’Gar (1×04: …And Let Our Illusions Die) also returns home.

I’ll be posting more on Season 2 throughout the coming days and weeks.  For now, I leave you with a brief scene from 2×01: A Place to Call Home.  Enjoy!

SITO
I think I understand. I am having a Sadi - a vision.

ANDRADE
You mean I’m not really here?
(grumbling)
Well that’s kind of anti-climactic.  No wonder my memory’s holier than the pope.
(to Sito)
If that’s true, then fine.  What’s the point of this vision?

Sito paces thoughtfully.
SITO
To show me something.
ANDRADE
Little less vague, maybe?
SITO
To show me something important.

ANDRADE
(sighs)
When I said “little less” I didn’t mean it quite literally.

SITO
The Sadi is a vision of revelation.
They are spoken of in the most
ancient pages of the Bake’el. They
come upon those whose internal chaos
 is a hindrance to the pursuit of order. There have not been any
recorded Sadi’s for centuries.
Bruce chuckles wryly.

ANDRADE
So what you’re saying is, you’re the Spiran in
centuries to be wacko enough to need one 
of these things...and that the order of the universe
chose Bruce Andrade as the one to help fix you?
(laughs)
Oh, man...you just can’t make this stuff up.  If I
were really me, I’d be dripping with self-satisfaction right about now.

Sito glares at Bruce.

ANDRADE (CONT’D)
What?  You have to admit, this has irony written all over it.