Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

To Serve All My Days

by Rob - December 21st, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

So, on Saturday night, Kirstin, Carolyn, and I watched To Serve All My Days, the new fan-produced Star Trek classic episode from New Voyages.

The previous episode done by this group — In Harm’s Way, with guest star William Windom — was brilliant, with an amazingly clever and interesting script. And this new episode had guest star Walter Koenig (the original Chekov) and a script by D.C. Fontana (who wrote Journey to Babel and other classic Trek episodes).

Unfortunately, this new episode isn’t nearly as good as the last one. For starters, it’s not edited tightly. And the script … well, it does have a very clever central premise (spoilers follow):

In the original Trek episode The Deadly Years, Chekov is the one member of a landing party immune to an aging disease that makes Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scott all into old men. Well, it turns out he wasn’t immune, but rather that the onset was simply delayed, neatly allowing the now sixty-something Walter Koenig to play Chekov in a classic-era story.

But the episode left me unsatisfied for a couple of reasons. First, I was astonished to see a Mary Sue in it. (Mary Sues are characters in fan fiction that are obviously avatars of the female author of the piece; in this case, it’s a dignified female human Federation amabassador who has lots of scenes, but doesn’t really advance the plot.) And, mind-bogglingly, given its auctorial pedigree, the episode hugely violates canon, having Pavel Chekov die during the original five-year mission (and having him pre-decease Kirk). Uh-uh. Chekov goes on to be in seven Star Trek movies, and he outlives Kirk’s demise in Star Trek: Generations. Yeah, his death here is kinda poignant, but it left me more in a scratching-my-head rather than drying-my-eyes frame of mind.

(It also takes Kirk an awfully long time to recognize that a ship that looks Klingon might be Romulan — he should have thought of that at once, since he’d previously seen Romulans using ships of Klingon design. But then, bafflingly, the ship turns out to belong to some race of aliens we’ve never heard of.)

There are some good thing in this, and the notion of a Trek episode exploring economic issues is an interesting one, but although I’ve watched In Harm’s Way four or five times now, I doubt I’ll go back for a second viewing of To Serve All My Days.

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