A few NOTES on Strange New Worlds’ “SUBSPACE RHAPSODY”… (editorial review)


Some people just don’t like musicals…but I am NOT one of them!

I LOVE live theater, and I love singing show tunes! (Yes, straight men can admit that, too!) I saw Annie on Broadway when I was 8, My Fair Lady a year later, and The King and I with Yul Brynner a couple of years after that. I saw The Wiz, Oklahoma, Cats, A Chorus Line, Grease, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Phantom, 42nd Street, Chess, Gypsy, South Pacific, Rent and countless others both on and off Broadway all before moving from New York City to Los Angeles in the 1990s. And I’ve seen a whole slew of musicals since I’ve been out here, as well.

Back in high school, I was in Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Cabaret, and I even got a standing ovation after singing “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls.

Meanwhile, my 12-year-old son Jayden, who is a Trekkie and watches and enjoys each new episode of STRANGE NEW WORLDS with me, announced that he would be skipping “Subspace Rhapsody” because, according to him, he HATES musicals. “I cringe when people start singing for no reason, Daddy!” he told me. Of course, his mom and dad sing for no reason, but Jayden doesn’t exactly cheer that tendency, either!

Eventually, I did convince him to watch the episode with me. I explained that, if ever there was a musical he might like, it would be one set on the starship Enterprise. And while he did have his fair share of complaints during the episode—“Why would she be saying this???”—he admitted to me at the end that, “Well, this was probably the best musical I’ll ever see…but I don’t plan to see many musicals, Daddy.”

And now that I’ve finished the overture, let’s take the true measure of this episode to see if it cleared the bar (yes, I have many musical puns planned—brace yourselves)…

Continue reading “A few NOTES on Strange New Worlds’ “SUBSPACE RHAPSODY”… (editorial review)”

STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS presents some morally challenging questions in “UNDER THE CLOAK OF WAR”… (editorial review)


I think this latest episode just gave me whiplash! After two of the last three STRANGE NEW WORLDS episodes being lighthearted comedies, and the one in between (“Lost in Translation”) having comedic moments like Uhura slugging Jim Kirk and Number One and Pelia playing Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, I really wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. (No one ever does, y’know.)

But seriously, the eighth episode of season two, “Under the Cloak of War,” was damn serious…deadly serious, in fact! There was almost no comedy relief at all…nor should there have been. War is hell. That said, television has certainly featured its fair share of sitcoms set during wartime—including McHale’s Navy, Gomer Pyle: USMC, Hogan’s Heroes, and of course, M*A*S*H. Indeed, this latest episode featured flashbacks to the Starfleet equivalent of a mobile army surgical hospital that evoked thoughts of the long-running, multiple Emmy-winning CBS series set during the Korean War. But with the exception of actor CLINT HOWARD’s character of Commander Buck Martinez, there was nothing even remotely funny about this episode.

Oh, quick interruption for trivia! I am pretty sure that Clint Howard (younger brother of Emmy and Academy Award winning actor/director RON HOWARD) is now the only actor to appear visually in both TOS and one of the CBS Studios-produced new-era Star Trek series. WALTER KOENIG did a voice-over for the series finale of STAR TREK: PICARD as a descendent of Pavel Chekov, and the voices of late TOS actorsLEONARD NIMOY, NICHELLE NICHOLS, and JAMES DOOHAN were used for the “Kobayashi” episode of PRODIGY. But in terms of being seen and heard, Clint Howard holds the sole distinction. Clint, of course, played the “real” Balok in “The Corbomite Maneuver” at the age of seven. And this isn’t his only role in new-era Trek. Clint played a creepy Orion in the first season DISCOVERY episode “Will You Take My Hand?” He was also Grady in the DS9 episode “Past Tense, Part II” and the Ferengi Muk in the first season  Enterprise episode “Acquisition.” The man gets around!

Okay, back to SNW and how I felt about the episode, and, well, it’s complicated…

On a very surface level, I enjoyed “Under the Cloak of War” as a finely-crafted and deftly-produced piece of television. It was very well-acted, tightly written and edited (the second shortest episode of the season), looked fantastic (as usual, but it’s really challenging for a “quiet” sci-fi show like this to make the viewer think they’re in a middle of a chaotic war), had great make-up, costumes, lighting, VFX, music…the whole magilla. Indeed, it was another truly strong, impactful, character-driven, and enjoyable episode in a season that has, in my opinion, gone 8-and-0.

On the other hand, I was quite troubled by what I saw, and not only because of the horrific Klingon War flashbacks. Let’s dive in, shall we…?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS presents some morally challenging questions in “UNDER THE CLOAK OF WAR”… (editorial review)”

Time for some ANIMATED discussion of STAR TREK! (STRANGE NEW WORLDS editorial review)


“Risk! Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her!”

Captain James T. Kirk spoke those words for the first time on national television on February 9, 1968, during the airing of the Star Trek TOS episode “Return to Tomorrow.” And ever since then, fans have embraced this as a core component of what Star Trek is all about. Exploration and discovery can be wondrous but also perilous. However, if you don’t push further, hope, grow, and try to exceed yourself, you stagnate and wallow in mediocrity.

Welcome to new-era Star Trek, my friends…where risk is their business! And I don’t mean the crews of the Enterprise, Discovery, La Sirena, Titan, Cerritos, and Protostar. No, I’m talking about the CREATORS of the new streaming series and the studio executives who back them financially.

Oh, wait. You wanted a review of “Those Old Scientists” (TOS), the seventh episode of STRANGE NEW WORLDS‘ second season? I loved it. And I’ll get around to discussing it in more detail shortly. But first, let’s talk about what just happened this past weekend.

As you probably know, last week featured San Diego ComicCon…minus nearly all of the celebrities who would otherwise have hyped their latest and upcoming projects because both actors and writers are currently on strike and aren’t allowed to promote work for the studios they’re striking against. This created both a frustration and a somewhat unique opportunity for Paramount+. On the one hand, they wouldn’t be able to promote the upcoming Strange New Worlds episode(s) nor DISCOVERY‘s final season nor LOWER DECK‘s soon-to-drop fourth season in the hallowed Hall “H.” One the other hand, there would be a lot less hype all around. In fact, with the exception of “Barbenheimer,” not much else in the sci-fi world is being talked about at the moment.

But risk is our business, right?

In a bold move, Paramount decided to move up the streaming debut date of “Those Old Scientists” by five days to happen on the Saturday of ComicCon. Usually, that weekend is avoided, as no one is paying attention to any other genre goings-on other than the big reveals from San Diego (unless they’re watching a blockbuster movie for 2-3 hours). But Paramount+ knew what they had. This episode seventh episode crossover had become one of the most anticipated of the season…if for no other reason than fans wanted to see how the creators would tackle bringing animated characters into a live-action show.

But let’s take a step back to look at all of the risks CBS/Paramount took to get to this moment…

Continue reading “Time for some ANIMATED discussion of STAR TREK! (STRANGE NEW WORLDS editorial review)”

Star Trek is NOT dead, but it IS evolving! (STRANGE NEW WORLDS editorial review)


Five of my friends were in the audience at San Diego ComicCon on Thursday watching he panel of the Inglorious Treksperts. Apparently, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, one of the panelists, had already watched the sixth episode of STRANGE NEW WORLDS and commented, “Trek is dead after last night.”

So I sat down to watch “Lost in Translation,” this past week’s episode, expecting the first real clunker of the season. I braced myself and warned my family about Rob’s comment (as I watch this series with both my wife and my almost 13-year-old son Jayden.) And let’s face it, the series was probably due for a stumble after five very strong, very enjoyable episodes in a row so far this season. Maybe this would indeed be my first negative review of the season?

Spoiler alert: this is NOT going to be a negative review, folks.

In fact, Rob’s comment left not only me scratching my head but also my friends at ComicCon (who watched the episode later on that night) scratching their heads. And when the episode ended, my son Jayden jumped up and shouted, “How could that guy in San Diego not have liked this episode??? It was so good!” And even my wife, who has never been a Trekkie, said she enjoyed it and is generally enjoying the series…although she liked last week’s human Spock better than “normal” Spock.

I wasn’t at the ComicCon panel, so I don’t know the specifics behind Rob’s statement. But I’ve noticed other fans—albeit an observable minority on social media—espousing similar lamentations about the demise of Star Trek as they complain about the shortcomings of this show (and often the other new-era streaming Trek series from CBS Studios). I’ve read and heard many of their complaints. And it got me wondering…

Why aren’t I complaining, too?

For those of you who’ve read my many, many editorial reviews over the past half-decade, I’ve been both positive AND negative about the various new series, depending on the quality of the episode. I’ve certainly had my issues with the writing and continuity breaches on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. But there are continuity breaches on SNW, as well, and yet they aren’t bothering me nearly as much. Why?

And while I’ve certainly been more positive about PICARD than Discovery, I’ve had my issues with that series, as well…mainly the first two seasons. SHORT TREKS didn’t thrill me at all. I’ve pretty much loved LOWER DECKS since it debuted, and although it took me four or five episodes to get into PRODIGY, I grew to really like that series, too. But I do complain when I feel it’s merited.

And I certainly thought that the revamping of the Gorn on SNW is problematic, and killing off Hemmer pissed me off. But aside from that, it’s steady as she goes when it comes to SNW.

But again…why? Why are others complaining and I’m not?

Continue reading “Star Trek is NOT dead, but it IS evolving! (STRANGE NEW WORLDS editorial review)”

STARSHIP TRISTAN relaunches as a green screen production with “SEEING IN THE DARK” (guest blog by RANDY LANDERS)

A quick introductory note from Jonathan…

Usually, I write the blog entries ’round these parts. But every so often, a fan filmmaker writes something up that essentially does my work for me! This time, it was POTEMKIN PICTURES showrunner RANDY LANDERS, who just posted the latest release from the STARSHIP TRISTAN creative group: “Seeing in the Dark.”

Although this was the 22nd Tristan fan film (you can view them all here on the Potemkin website), I’d begun to wonder if they were still active. It had been more than two years since their previous release, “36 Hours,” and a full year since the one before that, “Reclamation.” And unlike their sister production team, STARSHIP DEIMOS, the Tristan folks didn’t seem willing to make the long drive from Birmingham, Alabama up to Lexington, Kentucky to use the Potemkin sets that Randy took with him (and expended) when he and his wife relocated to the bluegrass state in late 2019.

Three new creative groups sprang up in Lexington—STARSHIPS WEBSTER and CALIBORN and SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH—and as I said, Deimos cast members were making the drive up to shoot there. But what of Tristan?

In a comment posted on the new video release on YouTube, Randy explained everything that was going on with Tristan both then and now. So with his permission, I’m just going to let Randy tell his own tale this time. But first, let’s watch the latest Starship Tristan release…

And now, here’s Randy…

Continue reading “STARSHIP TRISTAN relaunches as a green screen production with “SEEING IN THE DARK” (guest blog by RANDY LANDERS)”

LIGHT-YEARS BEYOND “just” a fan film, FARRAGUT FORWARD still needs YOUR help to hit $50K!

You’d think $37,745 would be enough money to make a single Star Trek fan film, right? And in most cases, you’d be 100% correct. But when it comes to FARRAGUT FORWARD, well, there’s Star Trek fan films and then there’s BLOW-YOUR-FRIGGIN’-MIND Star Trek fan films!!! And Farragut Forward certainly falls into the latter category.

With one shoot still to go scheduled for this fall, the team just wrapped filming on one of the most ambitious bridge sets ever constructed for a Star Trek fan film. This followed other major shoots in starship corridors, sickbay, and a Klingon bird-of-prey…each with equally amazing sets and costumes of the highest caliber. Beyond just impeccable monster maroons and Klingon outfits, they also recreated the most detailed cadet jumpsuits, command jackets, white medical uniforms, and even the engineering radiation suits from the 80s and 90s Star Trek feature films!

Back in February of 2022, showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and director JOHNNY K. launched an Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $30K. They ultimately exceeded that goal, meaning the campaign shifted to “InDemand” status and could continue raising donations indefinitely. And since then, they’ve added a few thousand dollars more. But they’re currently trying to take their total up to the $50K level…the maximum allowed by the fan film guidelines.

With all of the sets built, costumes created, and 80% of the footage shot, why are they looking for even MORE money now? The short answer is that they’ve spent way more of their own money than they ever expected to…well into the many thousands of dollars. And it shows! Don’t worry, if they don’t hit their $50K stretch goal, Farragut Forward will still be completed and released. But with this kind of quality, I’m hopeful that fans can help pitch in just a little bit more to ease the burden on the Farragut Films team’s wallets.

If you’d like to donate (or donate again), here is the link:


And remember, even if you can’t afford to give anything more yourself, simply posting, sharing, and helping to spread the link to your friends and fellow fans can go a long way.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to see some of the indescribable footage they’ve shot so far, here are their three latest behind-the-scenes videos that will make your jaw drop…

STRANGE NEW WORLDS’ “CHARADES” could have sucked…but it was a surprisingly STRONG episode! (editorial review)


It’s hard to believe that we’re already half-way through season two of STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. However, when you have only ten episodes budgeted per season…

That said, we’ve now had five straight episodes without a clunker in the bunch (at least, in my opinion)! And to be honest, my hopes weren’t all that high for “Charades,” the fifth and latest episode. When I saw that the plot involved Spock being turned into a human at the most inopportune moment—just in time for his engagement dinner—I remembered how the last time we saw T’Pring, the two switched bodies, and hilarity ensued. And I cringed to think that, once again, a T’Pring episode (and there seem to be so many!) was going to go the way of slapstick comedy. Doesn’t anyone take Vulcans seriously anymore???

So yeah, I was totally expecting to hate this week’s episode. And I mean REALLY hate it. After talking last week about how Spock is being treated by the writers like the character of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, I was hoping that we’d get a serious Spock episode sooner or later…and this one obviously wasn’t going to be it! And as the episode started, I had my shields raised and my phasers energized to write a scathing review.

And then something funny happened, or rather, something not-so-funny happened. Oh, sure, this episode had a lot of comedic moments, including ending the teaser Spock saying “What the f—” (and I don’t think the last word was going to be “fascinating”). But it was also surprisingly serious in places, introspective, character-driven, and very, very human. In many ways, an episode like this represents some of the best qualities Star Trek has to offer viewers who watch for the characters and to feel what they feel. Normally, Spock is the exception to that rule, but not this time.

All right, let’s unpack this episode, shall we…?

Continue reading “STRANGE NEW WORLDS’ “CHARADES” could have sucked…but it was a surprisingly STRONG episode! (editorial review)”

JOSH IRWIN discusses THE TEST OF TIME…and just about everything else, too! (interview, part 2)

Yesterday in Part 1, I began talking to JOSHUA IRWIN about the latest release from TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, an ambitious fan film titled THE TEST OF TIME.

Or rather, we almost talked about it!

Y’see, Josh burst onto the Star Trek fan film stage back in late 2018 with the first of his high quality AVALON UNIVERSE fan films, GHOST SHIP. And the reason for the professional look and feel of Avalon releases is that Josh is himself a professional in the film industry, having graduated from film school and worked on countless projects from short commercials to full-length feature films cast with major celebrities. In other words, Josh knows what he’s doing, and you can watch all nearly-dozen Avalon releases here on this YouTube playlist.

But this blog isn’t about Avalon. It’s about Tales from the Neutral Zone, which Josh is also now working on regularly. In fact, beginning with their next release, Josh will be taking over as director, after having worked as cinematographer on both this latest fan film as well as the previous one, DOOMSDAY, which he also ended up co-directing with RAY TESI, the showrunner and owner of the TOS sets down in Kingsland, GA. But it’s not just NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS that Josh is helping out. He’s begun working in various capacities on numerous other fan films and series, as well.

And that ended up becoming the focus of most of the first half of our interview, conducted via phone as Josh was driving from Arkansas to Maryland to help shoot some stuff for FARRAGUT FORWARD. We discussed the growing cooperation among various fan filmmakers in the community, sharing talents and resources. We also chatted about what exactly Josh does on all of these other non-Avalon projects and how he deals with so much driving and getting time off from work for this hobby that he loves so much.

Anyway, the moment has finally come to discuss The Test of Time. And if you haven’t seen it yet, give it a viewing first…

And now, the conclusion of my interview with Josh Irwin…

Continue reading “JOSH IRWIN discusses THE TEST OF TIME…and just about everything else, too! (interview, part 2)”

JOSH IRWIN discusses THE TEST OF TIME…and just about everything else, too! (interview, part 1)

A funny thing happened on the way to a discussion of THE TEST OF TIME, the latest TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE fan film release from NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA. Those are the Star Trek TOS sets that were originally used for STARSHIP FARRAGUT and STAR TREK CONTINUES. Now owned by super-fan RAY TESI (who pays thousands of dollars of his own money each month to rent the location that houses the sets), Neutral Zone Studios is available to any fan production wanting to film there. Among the fan series that shoot at the studio regularly are DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, and of course the aforementioned Tales from the Neutral Zone. And even more fan projects are slated to shoot there in the coming months.

Typically, I interview Ray Tesi about new Neutral Zone episodes, although for the previous release, the wildly popular DOOMSDAY, Ray tag-teamed with JOSHUA IRWIN on the interview , as Josh had stepped up to co-direct, along with being director of photography as well as editor. And with their latest release, Josh was once again director of photography…with VIC MIGNOGNA returning to Star Trek fan films for the first time since the end of STC to direct. With Ray’s approval, this time I reached out to Josh to field the questions, and so we began our interview.

Now, Josh is one of the busiest filmmakers in our community, serving not only as showrunner for the Avalon Universe fan series but also helping out on a whole slew of other productions in all sorts of different capacities. As such, it was probably appropriate that I ended up interviewing Josh via a recorded phone conversation while he was driving more than 1,000 miles from his home in Bentonville, Arkansas to Frederick, Maryland to help shoot some videos for FARRAGUT FORWARD!

So naturally, I began the interview asking Josh about all of these other projects he’s been working on, and…well…sometimes interviews just go in unexpected directions. So please accept my apologies that Josh and I don’t start discussing The Test of Time until PART 2 of this interview! But trust me, the stuff in PART 1 is just as fascinating, and I really do recommend that you read the whole interview. You won’t be disappointed.

And speaking of not being disappointed, take a look at The Test of Time, as it turned out REALLY well…

And now, here’s Josh Irwin…

Continue reading “JOSH IRWIN discusses THE TEST OF TIME…and just about everything else, too! (interview, part 1)”

STRANGE NEW WORLDS’ “Among the Lotus Eaters” hit me pretty close to home… (editorial review)

I’ve seen some complaints about the fourth episode of STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS season two, “Among the Lotus Eaters,” that have left me scratching my head. Several people are focusing on Spock becoming Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory or that the episode bent over backwards to make Ortegas be the only one able to save the day. One person even complained to me that, in order to make Ortegas (a woman) seem more heroic and strong, the only other male left in the chain of command (Spock) has to be treated like a complete idiot.

And I’m, like, what the hell are you talking about???

I thought this was actually a fairly decent episode with a very TOS flavor. It wasn’t their best of the series or even of the season, but in my personal opinion, this episode held its own pretty well. And for me, this episode WAS personal—very personal. Two weeks ago, I discussed the struggles and challenges that a transgendered friend of mine faced both before and during her transition. This week, however, the theme of episode hit much closer to home for me. You see, my 90-year-old father has Alzheimer’s.

In case anyone didn’t notice, that was the likely “metaphor” of this latest episode, named for a short passage from Homer’s The Odyssey where Odysseus and his men encounter the island of the Lotus Eaters. During their long and arduous journey home, Odysseus and his men had just barely survived a grueling battle where several soldiers were lost. After nine days in rough seas, they stop briefly on an island to rest and replenish supplies.

Odysseus sends two of his men to explore the island, and they encounter the Lotus Eaters, peaceful natives who live on the fruit of the lotus tree. As soon as the two men take a bite of the fruit, they forget everything—all of their struggles on their long journey home, the gods’ curse, even their very identities. All they want to do is stay on the island eating more lotus fruit. But Odysseus needs them, forces them back onto the boats, straps them to their oars (nice guy, huh), and makes everyone hightail it out of there.

Homer was probably comparing the Lotus Eaters to drug addicts who would forget who they were, their families, their jobs, everything, and just want to spend each day getting high. (Yes, there were drug addicts 27 centuries ago. In fact, archaeological records show drug use of psychotropic plants in ancient civilizations, dating as far back as early hominid species about 200 million years ago!)

However, the writers of this latest episode of SNW didn’t seem to be telling the story of drug addiction so much as the loss of memory and identity and what makes someone who they truly are. And that’s my it made me think of my father…

Continue reading “STRANGE NEW WORLDS’ “Among the Lotus Eaters” hit me pretty close to home… (editorial review)”