Animation house Gazelle Automations scored an internet hit among Star Trek fans last April with an ingenious mix of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: The Animated Series. It reinvented one of the franchise’s strengths – The next generation, Season 3, Episode 26, “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” – through the deliberately poor lens of the 70s Saturday morning cartoon. The results delighted fans, who loved the attention to detail and the way he discreetly reprimanded The animated series for his sloppy nature. It was probably only a matter of time before they made another effort.
Their follow-up was released last weekend; longer, weirder and if possible, even more on the nose. While the original video reimagined one of Star Trek’s finest moments, the new mash-up takes aim at one of its most absurd. The results might even be a step up from the first effort, and regardless, it struck a similar chord among franchise loyalists.
The animated series has been star trekfirst spin-off after the cancellation of The original series and its subsequent revival in syndication. It was produced by Filmation Studios and ran for two Saturday morning seasons from 1973 to 1974. Most of the TOS actors returned to voice their characters, and several of the scripts came from prominent star trek personalities such as Dorothy Fontana, Margaret Armen and Walter Koenig. Despite this, and some strong episodes, The animated series was plagued by bottom-of-the-cannon animation and poor production quality. Gene Roddenberry was disappointed with the results and essentially pulled the series from circulation for many years. It was only after his death that he began to be recognized more easily, which made him a curiosity among older people. Trek Fans.
Gazelle Automations’ debut clip has received praise for the specific details it draws inspiration from The animated series. It depicts the abduction of Captain Picard by the Borg using the same cost-cutting techniques as Filmation, such as reusing stock footage and using close-ups to limit on-screen character movement. It also features some of the more bizarre visual characteristics of the animated series, such as a recurring (and off-putting) use of pink and lavender, due to animator Hal Sutherland’s undisclosed color blindness. When used to make the action tense and dramatic with a touch star trek moment it became irresistible.
The new clip eschews Star Trek at its best and instead finds one of those beloved duds that fans adore all the more for its silliness. Star Trek: Voyager Season 2, Episode 15, “Threshold” occupies roughly the same spot as The original series‘ Season 3, Episode 1, “Spock’s Brain,” and for many of the same reasons. After breaking through the Warp 10 barrier in the Delta Flyer, Tom Paris undergoes a gruesome transformation, transforming into an amphibious humanoid as his DNA undergoes rapid evolution. He eventually kidnaps Captain Janeway and exposes him to Warp 10 speeds as well. Chakotay finds them on an idyllic jungle planet, where they have spawned and released children into the environment. They are sent back to Voyager and restored to their original state in an arbitrary resolution that scratches your head. Their babies are left on the planet’s surface and the incident is never mentioned again.
Fans embraced it in part because the first three quarters of the episode are effective body horror, with Paris literally collapsing and her teammates helpless to help. This makes the finale – bizarre, goofy, and even sexually unsettling – all the more shocking. The new animated short recreates the kidnapping of Janeway and the eventual discovery of the transformed couple with the same clunky animation and Filmation-worn attention to detail as before. This includes an angular Janeway which is simply a straightened out Nurse Chapel version of The animated series and the appearance of random alien crew members who were never seen in the live broadcast.
And while it’s essentially the same joke, the visual inventiveness makes it fresh and new. The animators have studied their source material closely and know how to render it with perfect clarity. But they are also star trek fans, which means they know exactly which episode will make the best mash-up. In this case, the ridiculous hardware performs as well as the classic hardware.