Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pilot erroR - Earth *Star Voyager (1988)

1987 saw "Star Trek: The Next Generation" hit the small screen to much rejoicing, and kickstarted a renewed interest in TV based sci-fi in general.
Disney, wanting a slice of that pie, decided to have a go at making a sci-fi TV series aimed at the teen/young adult market in the form of "Earth *Star Voyager", which originally aired as a 2 part TV movie in their "The Wonderful World of Disney" programming block...

The story begins in the year 2082, where the deep space exploration vessel "Vanguard Explorer" (dunno why, but for some reason all the ships in this film have really odd/complicated names) is drifting in space following a mutiny by its crew. The ships captain, Jake Brown, manages to get to an escape pod and flee his now crippled and useless spacecraft, leaving the mutinous crew to their fate, and probably impending death by suffocation (that's how we deal with mutinous scum round 'ere, ah tells thee!).

Six years pass, and one of the probes launched by the Vanguard Explorer returns data to Earth showing that a planet it has found, which is named "Demeter", could support human life.
As the Earth is now a polluted and overcrowded festering shit hole, the prospect of finding a new Earth type planet appeals to the world government, however the probes data is far from completely accurate, so it is decided to send a specialist deep space explorer ship to the planet..the titular "Earth *Star Voyager".

Thanks to the invention of the "Bauman drive", the round trip time will be a mere 25 years, with 1 year to be spent doing a full planetary survey, making for a total time away of 26 years. With this in mind, the space authority decides that the Earth *Star Voyager will be crewed mainly with cadets and recent graduates, none of whom are over the age of 25, with the ships initial commander being an experienced space commander who will be expected to relinquish his command to the 21 year old Jonathan Hays once he gets a bit too old to effectively command.
Once the survey has been completed and the ship returns to Earth, the long term plan is for a fleet to be constructed to evacuate most of the planets population to Demeter, however it will take about 40 years for all the ships required to be built, so therefore if Demeter isn't suitable, the Earth *Star Voyager can also survey any other planets it comes across on its travels.

With this in mind, the Earth *Star Voyager sets off, but, mere hours after its departure, the captain is killed in an "accident" involving a faulty airlock, and as they later find out, the ship is actually part of an evil plot by traitorous military officers to build the ULTIMATE DOOM WEAPON OF DEATH!!!11!!one!111!!11.

From the minute this film begins, you can easily tell this was a product of the 1980s.
For a start, the Earth *Star Voyager comes complete with extremely complex push button keyboard controls, poor quality vector graphic CRT display screens, hell, two crew spots are reserved for the ships aerobics instructor and the ships psychoanalyst...and then there are mullets, and lots and lots of "big hair" (it can be taken as written that at least one cargo bay on the ship is set aside for storing cans of hair spray and styling mousse).

Because the crew of the ship is made up mostly of teenaged children, the writers made sure they introduced romantic subplots nice and early too, and had the ships original captain mention he could perform marriage ceremonies (they probably had the ships entertainment officer arrange for a prom at some point as well, cuz we all know that all teenage Americans care about is dating, getting married and going to prom with a hot date, you know, cos thats totally bodacious dude).

One thing that wrankled me was that for a large and important mission, using one of Earths newest ships and traveling into unknown space via known hostile territory, the people at the space navy decided that including weapons on the ship wasn't really required above a few hand held laser guns, meaning that when the ship gets attacked, the crew have to cobble together some makeshift weapons, but thats ok, because the crew are all super geniuses and the bastard offspring of B.A Baracus and McGuyver, meaning they can take some spare parts and a roll of duct tape and turn it into a super powerful laser gun or something.

All that said though, I think that should Earth *Star Voyager have been made into an actual series, it would have been a fun watch and somewhat of a guilty pleasure. The pilot episode is a bit of a damp squib, as it seemingly tries to pack in three or four episodes worth of storylines into a 3 hour feature length episode, and doesn't adequately explain some of the things that are going off.

It does get annoying though when you get the smart arsed super kids finding solutions to seemingly impossible situations by more or less pulling ideas out of their assholes, and then getting all smug about it, and, with this being a Disney offering, the few fighting scenes in the film are non violent and a bit rubbish.

Its an entertaining enough way to spend 3 hours though, if you don't have anything else worth doing.

Overall - 7/10

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