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Exit ArchiveArchive for October 31st, 2005

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

Get arrested and give a DNA sample. That’s what these two conservative (of course) Senators think should happen. If you’re arrested. Like fingerprints. No, no potential for abuse here, is there?

Read about it here.