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Not too long ago, I wrote the following:

The meaning of the show and its raison d’être do not give it license to be bad. The fact that the guy made his project out of love is not an excuse to lie about how bad the project turned out.

And now, it is time for me to somehow explain why I’ve been downloading and watching every episode of something called Hidden Frontier. The site is home to a show—yes, a show—filmed entirely by amateurs and hobbyists. Having shot five seasons and just finishing their sixth, it is an obvious labor of love, a project for whom many plainly toil long and hard, and for which the rewards are, I imagine, purely spiritual.

Oh, and I seem to have forgotten to mention that it’s, er, a Star Trek show. Not surprising, I suppose.

Sharon Savene, a fellow actor from this summer’s CCPT, was in an episode (“Beachhead”) and gave me the link. I blame her for this new distraction.

Everything is shot on green screen (except some outside “away team” stuff for episodes I haven’t seen yet), and it’s all lovingly stilted. It seems the actors are often shot on different days, as they can share entire scenes and never appear in the same shot. Even now, in their sixth “season,” the rough edges have not been filed away, the green glow and the humorous writing all marvelously still intact.

These folks have it all:

Hidden Frontier: On the Bridge

A grumpy but fatherly captain and plucky, rebellious first mate!

Hidden Frontier: Special Effects

Nearly breathtaking CG spacescapes!

Hidden Frontier: Bad Guy

Magnificently melodramatic alien foes!

Hidden Frontier: Panel Explosion

Instrument panel explosions!

And so very much more! (Dare I mention they even have gay characters? GAZANG!)

So I said that passion is no excuse for ignoring mediocrity. In this case, that is certainly true. But I did not say that mediocrity can’t be engaging. Watching David W. Dial’s halting rendition of Ian Quincy Knapp makes me smile. Seeing the chaotic medium-res CG battles in season 6 has me nodding my head in appreciation. Scrutinizing the tenuously spirit-gummed alien prosthetics causes my breath to catch. Even watching the questionable episode where a Federation ship travels through a “rift” and ends up over the Atlantic two hours before the Titanic slips into the icy depths, I was enthralled.

Am I damning with faint praise here? I hope not. Honestly, while I can not say Hidden Frontier is good, it’s definitely fun, and I suppose that’s what it’s supposed to be. If anything, it suffers from the malady that often bogged down numerous episodes of the “official” series, from ST:TNG through Enterprise: tedious, histrionic, eye-rolling interpersonal drama.

I have much more to watch. Many nooks of the Hidden Frontier site remain unexplored. Maybe the brilliant episode is hiding in there somewhere. We shall see. Hats off in the meantime to these super-fans who’ve actually done something with their weekends.

Hidden Frontier: Delegation


Robb Expounded Thusly:

Only ONE gay character?! I’m sure I counted more than that.

But hey, I would never get down on this show. I was expecting something pretty bad and I am pleasently surprised. Man, for shooting on the weekends, these folks are doing just fine. Sure the acting isn’t the best, sure, it’s not the most exciting thing on the planet and sure it’s mostly for trekkies, but other than that, they’ve managed to find clever ways around their production limitations. I may actually finish an episode.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005 • 3:06pm • Permalink

G-Man Expounded Thusly:

Star Trek has never been my thing (always been more of a Star Wars freeek), but, man, you gotta give those peeps credit for getting sooo into things. Anything that takes that much work demands nothing but ultimate passion. I give them major props. Put your all into it people, that’s what life should be all about!

Oh yeah, may the force be with you.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005 • 9:40pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

To be honest, I have no idea if they shoot solely on weekends. But I hope so. It makes the story I’ve created in my head more robust. And I know there’s more than one gay character. One gay character = boring angst. TWO gay characters = enthralling sexual dramatic tension!

I was never into Star Trek myself. Never liked the old series as a kid. I thought it was okay. I definitely enjoy it more now. Yes, Star Wars was the end-all and be-all of sci-fi. It still is, despite the damage the last three pretty disasters George foisted upon us. Blade Runner, Brazil, Alien, Aliens, and others have a snug place in my mind, but Star Wars and Empire are unique. I still count things as pre- or post-Star Wars. For instance, I noticed this weekend that the Mexican restaurant next to Doughboys on 3rd Street was founded in 1977. Immediately, I thought, “Ah, Star Wars year.”

I couldn’t stand ST:TNG when it first came out. A group of us watched the pilot in a dorm room, and it was silly. After a couple episodes, I gave up. It wasn’t until daily reruns were underway after I graduated that I got caught up in that show. It got really good around seasons 3 and 4. I enjoyed the more serious tones of DS9 for a while, but that got old. Voyager and Enterprise were abysmal. I therefore count myself a mere half Trekkie. Er, Trekker. Whatever. Just enough where I “get” Hidden Frontier.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005 • 11:50pm • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

When did Cousin It join Starfleet?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005 • 9:43am • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Rodney’s back! Hey! You’d better read this about you already having an account and password, which I need to get to you if you want to write more full posts! (I could use the e-mail you put on your comment, but not without your permission.)

Oh, and Cousin It joined the Federation on stardate 2984672936109.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005 • 10:51am • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

Email sent. I was always here reading…but couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say. Which is usually the case for me these days. Nice new forum design.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 • 11:55am • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Thanks! And I figure, if you’ve been reading, that you would understand that you need not have anything intelligent to say. Intelligence is definitely not a prerequisite here. Typing is the only skill you need!

OOPS! I just realized I got the address wrong! Damn me! Try THAT will work. Don’t forget [The Wren Forum] or Groovy in the subject… (Oh. Looks like you can click that address to mail me. Scary! How do I turn that “feature” off? Hmm. Time for more site tweaking.)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 • 12:40pm • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

Yes – that email address didn’t work. After the daze of rejection faded, I resent to the second email.

For the record, since Steve constantly posts disclaimers stating that he only knows me via the forum, this is the first email I have ever sent to him 😉

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 • 1:35pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

I can vouch that this is entirely, utterly true! Both the rejection of bad e-mail addresses and that Rodney has never sent me an e-mail.


That made no sense. What I meant was, I can vouch for the rejection caused by bad e-mail addresses. McSheesh!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 • 6:48pm • Permalink

The Wren Forum » Party’s Over Expounded Thusly:

[…] Finding the Hidden Frontier […]

Monday, November 7th, 2005 • 9:22pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback


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