Thursday, September 22, 2005

Star Trek: Avalon 1x01 - 'Who We Are'

WRITTEN BY: Joshua Legg
PREMIERE DATE: 19/09/2005

Six months after the events of the mini-series, the Avalon is still running from the all-pervasive Cult, but Hatch is starting to grow pleased with his lot: he's getting used to the 45th century and indulging in a passionate relationship with Naomi, a beautiful young woman who also happens to be the future ruler of Torrina, a planet Zorin has had his crew working for. As Hatch recounts his whirlwind romance while Naomi joins the crew full-time, the Cult continue closing in and an incident involving the warp engines sparks suspicion that threatens Hatch's newfound happiness.....

I think the best way to describe this episode, officially the beginning of the first season of this unique online Trek project, would be with one word: odd. I mean, after such an epic, all-reaching, enormous mini-series serving as pretty much a massive pilot episode, this introduction to regular weekly bites of the Avalon universe is surprisingly low-key. Despite the themes of suspicion running through, what we have here is a love story at it's heart, pure and simple. It's an unexpected move for creator Josh Legg. Most people probably expected the season opener to pick up heavily on the things the mini-series left dangling, but in many ways it strives to do the opposite. The decision, in all honesty, is really a double-edged sword.

For a start, Legg can't help reintroducing us to the world of Avalon with a teaser that can't help but smack of trying to create shock value. It's, at times, an extremely graphic sex scene between Hatch and Naomi. At times it's tasteful, but others leaves very little to the imagination. I can't say I was shocked by the scenes, i'm reasonably a man of the world, but I couldn't help wonder if they were really necessary. It's like I said with the mini-series. At times, Avalon is trying just a little too hard to be different. I can't fault the concept of this, as new and exciting Trek is exactly what we want. My point is: does new and exciting Trek need graphic sex that doesn't really advance the plot or continual profanity that does little to endear the characters? My answer to that personally would be no, and it's this trend i'd like to see Avalon shake off.

Besides all of that, I didn't think this episode was too bad in general. Despite containing a romance at it's core (and, let's face it, we all hate Trek romances) the episode tries not to dwell too much on awkward or cheesy courting scenes that have filled up some of the worst episodes of Trek in all it's incarnations. Mainly because the romance between Hatch & Naomi is largely built on lust, not so much love. Hatch is more infatuated with her, and since the second half is taken up with revealing Naomi's hidden agenda, thankfully scenes don't drag on with dippy romance. The plot surrounding the love story is, at times, also suitably action-packed. Most of the supporting characters (save Adele, who only crops up once) get their moment to shine. A particular favourite scene involved Zorin, Siren & Isaac 'bartering' in their own unique way with a market trader. It was a scene that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Avalon.

Infact, I find myself questioning at this point exactly what the spirit of Avalon actually is. It's much more a western-in-space than it is Star Trek. Remove the alien races of Trek from the whole dynamic, and this could get away with being entirely it's own show. In some ways, that's a good thing, as it means this is completely unique Trek and we all want to see that. In others, I think it could turn fans off. This is a completely unrecognisable universe in almost every concievable way. I think that unless Avalon finds some way of linking this new universe into the Trek one we all know and love, it could find difficulty in establishing itself in the hearts and minds of the reader.

GRAMMAR: 1.5/2
STYLE: 1/2
DEPTH: 1/2



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