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For a fan series, I must admit that Hidden Frontier is not at all that
bad. But, reviewing this series can not be based on whether it is a fan
series or not. The initiative in itself is commendable. The creativity
as well. I reckon these are people with ordinary jobs, and a big
enthusiastic heart for Star Trek. But, doing all this work. Pulling all
these resources. Taking all this time, and still all those flaws.
First of all the acting, and the lines are awful. For most. The dialogs belongs in a 70's military show, not in Star Trek. The captain (Mr Squinty) looks like he is about to burst into laughter anytime. And most characters are just reading their lines. The directors should be aware of the fact that "retake" is not just a word in the dictionary. But I also guess that the series are made in the manner of "Two Takes Frakes", who directed many of the TNG episodes and movies Also, I could not help but think that most of the actors are typical Trekkies. Without going any deeper into that assumption.
My biggest concern regarding the whole project, is the quality of the releases. When they first decided to spend so much time, and resources on this series - why didn't they make it available in decent quality? Using the quick time format, with low low resolution is a waste of talent. Even the "higres" episodes is considered bad quality compared to the standard quality series are released in. Using Xvid codec, with a larger resolution and file size would have improved the experience massively. If band with problems was the issue, setting up a torrent tracker would have solved that.
Let's hope the crew decides to brush the series up, and perhaps release it on DVD, giving it the quality the project deserves.
Hidden Frontier is a fan made show, in the world of Star Trek. The story takes place after Voyager has returned from the Delta-quadrant . It has some characters from the official Star Trek shows, but most of them are original to the show. The show takes place on the star base Deep Space 12 and on several space ships, which gives it opportunities the official shows don't have. The characters have the opportunity of a rising in the hierarchy, which characters in shows with only one ship doesn't have. The show has good computer animation of spaceships, but the acting takes place in front of at green-screen and it gives a green glow around the actors. Not all the actors are equally good, but most do fine. The episodes are character driven and the characters develop over many episodes. That is a bit more like in Babylon 5, than in most official Star Trek shows. Hidden Frontier takes taboos that even the official series has shrunk from using. All in all I enjoyed watching it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First off, let me say that I am a great believer in Fanpro stuff. I see
it as a way to continue a good show long after it has been cancelled.
Star Trek Voyages and Star Wars Revelations are examples of decent
efforts. So I have a soft-spot for fanpro stuff that means I'll
overlook things that I would ordinarily slate badly.
So on to ST: HF. Well, first off the good things. Enthusiasm is a major part of making any show believable and, for the most part, the crew of the various ships all seem to be having a good time with their roles. Next, the effects aren't bad for a home-brew effort, with nothing to make you really wince. The stories aren't too bad either. Nothing particularly innovative, but solid enough stuff and at least there are ongoing story-arcs.
But it has a lot of faults.
First off, although they quite obviously HAVE to rip-off Star Trek footage, set backdrops, music and effects, I see no reason why they proceeded to rip off virtually every other sci-fi musical score ever made. Everything from Aliens to Starship Troopers rears it orchestral head at one point or another. Likewise, much of the footage is from other movies, dutifully CGI'd over to make it look different. The Grey warships, for instance, though disguised, are quite obviously Star Destroyers from Star Wars. And the station is also rather obviously Fleet Battle Station Ticonderoga from Starship Troopers. Likewise, sound effects from various Star Wars movies appear in space battles between fighters, as does animated over footage. In one scene in either first or second season, I think, you even see two TIE fighters fly past during a battle, which hardly does your suspension of disbelief any favours.
Acting varies from the reasonable to the hideously painful to watch. Everyone does improve as the seasons progress, though, but expect to grimace at the screen a lot, especially in the early seasons. They've also made some interesting acting choices. Let's just say that the food replicators on this show seem permanently set to "cake" and leave it at that.
Make-up effects are generally quite effective on the whole. But they really ought to mercilessly club to death the person who decided to use cheap Ferengi and Cardassian masks for anything other than background use or "passing" shots. They are just beyond unrealistic. Every time I saw one of these (apart from trying not to laugh too much) I kept expecting the unfortunate soul wearing it to pull out a gun and announce that "This is a stick-up!" In one scene a "Cardassian" actually talks whilst wearing one of these. Not only do the lips not move, but the mask doesn't even have an opening where the mouth should be. Someone needs to be slapped hard for that. Couldn't they have taken a craft knife to it, for goodness' sake! There are also some well-done, but unintentionally funny make-up jobs, such as the Herman Munster look alike.
The writing, though coherent, is nothing new. Instead the script runs like a continuation of DS9, with the ships heading out from DS12 on various missions. The new enemy, "The Grey" aren't very menacing and the plot line involving them is effectively a reworking of the Borg threads. i.e. Starfleet meet the Grey, the Grey are hugely powerful, Starfleet barely escape with their lives, then through technology they begin to find ways to combat the enemy etc etc. All done before with the Borg.
Another bone of contention is the dialogue. Star Trek writers have long had the ability to write "insert technobabble here" into a script. It usually means an exposition of the latest plan to combat the enemy using "quantum phase discriminators" or "isolytic charges" etc. In other words, nonsense that tells you that they are on the case and a resolution is at hand.
The words are just gibberish really. I've no problem with this, but where ST:HF makes a mess of it is where they include real-world comments into this concept.
Tactical advice such as "We need to regroup" sounds good, but not when uttered by trio of characters already standing in a group. Likewise when asked what the situation is, a tactical officer is heard to reply "We count three battleships". He actually needed to count them? C'mon! I expected the questioner to ask him "Are you sure?" or "Can you double check". But my all-time favourite comment is this:
Captain: "Can we establish two-way communication?"
Comms officer: "No, we can only send and receive.."
Having said all the above, the show does improve as it goes along. Seasons 1 and 2 are pretty bad, 3 shows an improvement but 4 & 5 are where it starts to get noticeably better. Season 6 so far looks quite reasonable.
I do have a problem with their choice of media for the shows though. Quicktime sucks, quite frankly and the sooner they move to divx/avi format the better. Some of us like to actually take our downloaded shows and watch them on decent size screen and not peer at a tiny QT window on a computer monitor. Not only does Quicktime make this difficult, but the 320x180 resolution the shows are in does not scale at all well. In fact, it makes the shows pretty unwatchable, like they were a tenth-generation VHS tape copy. The least they could do was to include a hi-res downloadable option.
Anyway, the show has promise, and I'm even beginning to like some of the characters. But that's 40 episodes on, so I'm not sure this says that much about character development at all.
But what can you say, it's free....
PS: Out of 28 votes, 19 people rated this show as a 9 or 10. Hmmmm... were we watching the same show? Or are you 19 all three year olds?
Hidden Frontier is notable for being the longest running internet-based
Star Trek fan series. While the production quality is not on a par with
fan productions like Starship Exeter, or New Voyages, Hidden Frontier
concentrates largely on story, and in that regard it does very well
Hidden Frontier has no physical sets; instead actors are filmed against a greenscreen, and the backgrounds inserted digitally. One of Hidden Frontier's greatest achievements is the sheer volume of work they have produced. One of the ways in which this is achieved is by inserting the virtual sets at the time of filming, instead of in post-production. While this does save a great deal of time, it's also worth noting that the quality of the resultant footage is not as high as if it had been produced in post-production, though it still serves its purpose.
While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, Hidden Frontier is well worth a shot, though you might be best to start off watching the third season, since this is where the producers really start to hit their stride.
Star Trek: Hidden Frontier is a long-running internet only fan film, done completely for the love of the series, and a must watch for fans of Trek. The production quality is extremely high for a fan film, although sometimes you can tell that they're green-screenin' it. This doesn't take away from the overall experience however. The CGI ships are fantastic, as well as the space battle scenes... On the negative side, I could tell in the earlier episodes (and even occasionally in the newer ones) that some of the actors/actresses are not quite comfortable in their roles, but once again, this doesn't take away from the overall experience of new interpretations of Star Trek. The cast and crew have truly come up with something special here, and, as a whole,I would highly recommend this series to fans of The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.
For the record, I am not affiliated with the production in any way.
Hidden Frontier is probably the Star Trek fan film with the most episodes produced to date. Over 7 seasons (this is the last) they have produced some 50 or so episodes.
This is no mean feat on almost no budget and everyone volunteering their time and energy.
By their own admission, the earlier seasons do not have as good production qualities as later ones but as they progress the effects, green screen work and acting all improve.
I did find it difficult to "dip into" so started from the beginning and watched all the way through. HF benefits from story arcs just like all the best sci fi and dovetails nicely into the Star Trek universe in which it is set. Characters and "relatives" from the original series have been brought into the stories and add a lot to the feel of the stories, sometimes improving on the characters over the original.
The whole experience includes an excellent web site, blooper reels, a high membership forum which is frequented by many of the actors and production staff and a weekly chat.
If you are looking for high definition, high budget productions, this is probably not for you.
If you are looking for continued adventures in the Star Trek universe with stories that does Star Trek credit and makes you think, this is the one.
Nicely done, and along with "New voyages" it's a great continuation!
Fab to see James Cawley in the latest episode "Vigil" Check it out!
I like the growing characterisation, and think we have good replacements for the TV actors in a fan-produced piece. This show manages to capture the feel quite well, as they state on the ste, it has improved over the years with experience and I hope with some more experience, a strong script editor, and a pick-up in timing and CGI that HF will becoming more remarkable than it already truly is!
Good work to all concerned!
(I have a HUGE soft spot for Lefler & McFarland (GREAT acting), although I'm a bit tired of "Lefler's laws". ENOUGH already! Shelby's great (if a little uptight) and it's cool she got the ship. Commodore Ian's nice (like Fred Flintstone), but lacks the gritty edge of a commanding officer and does seem too pleased with himself. The Doc, Counselor, and Rawlins are right on the money in my eyes, as is the WONDERFUL Nechayev (what a beautiful accent - a REAL Russian! (Well, I'm guessing Rene hails from the Czech Rep.)
It gets my vote, and the CGI is kewl. Some of the greenscreen's obvious, but on a small budget whaddayagonndo?
Really glad I found it!
(OK, some of the acting isn't great but it's fan-made and is therefore allowed to be variable - sorry Cmm. Cole)
The gay material is layed on too thick (Graham Norton'd be embarrassed). Trek doesn't pay that much attention to hetero couples so why signpost gays with all the snogging? It's not necessary to showpiece someone's sexuality to this extent - I hope they tone it down & let Aster & Zen be people not tokens - I don't treat my gay friends any differently, They're just regular guys.
Musically it's a mixed bag. I can tell its all stock Trek OST stuff and works most of the time, but timing can fall flat now & then (the end of "Worst Fears Part 2" misses the crunch, and the edit. Love the fact they use the "Galaxy Quest" music!
I certainly can't wait for more!! Dazza
"Never give up, never surender!"
Viva les frontieres
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Hidden Frontier fan-amateurs must have concluded that their Star
Trek fandom celebrity reputations and egos were now on the skids and
that they had to make themselves stars before making this turkey. With
no real production value to speak of, this Z-movie amateur home movie
cheapie was a lame excuse to develop a shocky video by hijacking and
pirating a multi billion $ beloved copy-righten & trademarked science
fiction genre wholly owned and protected by CBS/ViaCom, called Star
Trek. Their lack of ethics and anti-Star Trek motivations are obviously
showing. They are hurting the franchise.
As earlier commentators have noticed, their is no action at all in this incredibly bad video series; their scripts, unless you give credit to people walking aimlessly -- sometimes running, even -- around present day crew members homes and neighborhoods with a total lack of sets or even futuristic locations, or appearing on terribly lighted 'green screen' pirated backgrounds from other owner's software programs, or engaging each other in trivial or laughable dialog conversations preaching 'pet' political agendas. Nothing much to engage the audience's emotions or attention.
Consequently, it was impossible not to doze off for about 5 minutes during the beginning of this stinker, awaking only to witness the unsatisfactory pacing and arthritic performances of amateurs. When the words, "The End," finally appeared, I discovered that I was minutes closer to death with nothing positive to show for that realization.
Okay, so the first few seasons took a while to get going on the special
effects way, but from the beginning, Hidden Frontier has given
consistently good story lines and performances, and have always been
willing to mistakes they've made. They advice people to see newer
episodes first, so they can see just how good the show is, and
understand how much it has changed since the first episodes. The cast
have a fantastic camaraderie and it shows on-screen.
The influx of guest actors who make their mark on the show and with fans attests also to the show, as the story lines go from strength to strength. The show has pushed barriers with its various story lines - depression, drug addiction and mainstream homosexuality - and these may have rubbed a few people the wrong way, but that is what Star Trek is and was all about. It portrays those story lines in a smart and emotional way, dealing with them subtly and smoothly.
Yes, they have used some characters from Trek history, but they have done them justice - characters like Shelby, Lefler and Necheyev, vastly underused in the show, had a rebirth in the New Frontier books, but they lost their sizzle after a while, when Peter David when more towards wild fantasy versus serious sci-fi, and HF shows those characters in a completely different light, which serves them better.
The site also allows fans to interact with chat rooms and forums and they can get to know the people involved. They release bloopers for every episode, so the fans can see what a laugh they have, because they are people doing it in their spare time, with a dedication that would make many professional actors wide-eyed in shock!
What this series, now drawing to a close after 7 years, has accomplished on such a limited amount of resources is nothing short of amazing - bringing people together, inspiring others to do the same. HF will live for a long time after it ends, as long as people still enjoy the reason it started in the first place.
This is a brilliant and well made contribution by a group of fans, and
considering it's made in a back bedroom on a painted green screen it's
story lines are complex and twisting, and it's characters show
realistic depth and dimension. The CGI created by the crew is
breathtaking. While it's first season might be a little shaky, it's
final few are well thought out and well shot. Some fans might have
thought that the Star Trek Franchise had come to an end with the early
cancellation of Enterprise, but these fans don't take no for an answer.
I recommend this to fans and newcomers alike, 10/10 hidden frontier
Make it so...
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