Until now, Fan Film Friday has reviewed Project: Potemkin‘s first full-length episode (“The Void”) and its two new vignettes (“Doctor’s Orders” and “Delivery”), but this time, we’re going “back to the future” as we look at the series’ first two short productions.
The initial episode, entitled “The Old Guys,” focuses on Commander Brian Reigert (Randall Landers, who also wrote the vignette), who’s not only unlikable but also unable to accept the blame for his many shortcomings.
The story begins with the U.S.S. Potemkin arriving at Starbase 211 with the first officer in the center seat and his fellow Bridge officers unhappy with that situation.
When Yeoman Lynette Hodges (Nichole Coxwell) hands the commander a report on the dilithium status, Lieutenant Commander Ferris “Chico” Ramirez (Junius Stone) asks Reigert: “You gonna read it this time?”
“Mind your helm … smartass,” Reigert replies.
“Aye, Sir,” Ramirez replies sarcastically.
“I still can’t believe we had to be towed to Starbase 211 because of you,” Chief Engineering Officer David “Barty” Barton (William Walker) snarls to Reigert.
The commander admits that he didn’t read the report, but he asserts that Barton’s assistant “should have hailed you and the captain.”
“She notified the Bridge immediately after she discovered the replacement dilithium crystals weren’t holding the charge,” Commander Barton replies. “You should have notified the captain and me!”
As a result, Captain Grigory had to leave the Potemkin in a shuttle to attain warp speed and arrive at the starbase on schedule, the chief engineer states angrily.
Reigert replies that he knows what the captain’s problem is.
“His problem is you,” Lieutenant Commander Robert Shelton (Ricky Thompson) states.
“Me? How so?” the commander asks incredulously. “I’ve always been a model first officer.”
“I don’t see where you get off making that absurd claim, Reigert,” Barton says. “You’ve always been in the captain’s dog house.”
“I know, I know,” the first officer says quietly.
Ramirez then tells Reigert he was responsible for the crash of the Eisenstein, one of the ship’s shuttles.
“That was not my fault,” the first officer responds. “Their space traffic controller gave me the wrong approach vector.”
“And you were the one who ordered us to leave orbit from Ilka without making sure the shore parties had all beamed aboard,” Barton says.
“That wasn’t my fault either,” Reigert states.
“Don’t even start with me, Brian,” Chief Communications Officer Sharon Mtume (Stephanie Burke) says. “You issued the orders without even checking with me first. If I hadn’t have been paying attention, you would have left the captain and five others behind.”
“Oh, big deal,” the first officer responds. “We would have simply turned the ship around and retrieved them.”
The chief engineer then accuses Reigert of “signing off on a dilithium depletion notice … without even reading it!”
“It was oh-four-hundred in the morning,” the first officer states. “I was half asleep.”
Reigert then states that he knows what the captain’s problem is as he rocks back and forth in the center seat. “I broke his chair.”
At that point, Mtume says she’s receiving a signal via Starbase 211 from the captain. “He says to remind you not to sit in his chair,” she says to Reigert.
“See? Told ya,” the first officer says before he moves to another station on the Bridge.
Reigert also plays a significant part in the second vignette, which is entitled “Care for a Lift?” (Turbolift, get it?)
While the Potemkin is stationed at Starbase 211, the first officer and Lieutenant Commander Shelton share a ride on the turbolift.
“Are you still here?” Shelton asks Reigert.
“Yeah, I’m still getting my papers together,” the former first officer says before telling Shelton that he’s been reassigned as the third officer on the colony ship Roanoke despite efforts by various officers who wanted him kicked out of Starfleet or given a desk job.
He then praised a Vulcan who was logical and saw that such a position would be a waste of Reigert’s talents.
Fortunately, the Roanoke was nearby, and its third officer had just died of Tellarite dysentery.
When Reigert starts describing the terrible symptoms the officer went through, Shelton says: “That’s enough.”
Just then, the turbolift comes to a halt, and despite their best efforts to get it moving again, nothing works.
Shelton calls down to Engineering,and Chief Engineer Barton tells them that they’re stuck between decks 3 and 4. “We’ve had a general failure of the turbolift system. We’ll have you out of there in 10 minutes.”
Suddenly, the lift’s lights go out, and Barton tells them he’s rebooting the entire turbolift network.
“Is that you, Shelton?” Barton asks. Shelton replies that he’s stuck with Reigert.
“”Oh,” the engineer replies. “I’ll have you out of there as soon as possible.”
“Now what is that supposed to mean?” Reigert asks before observing: “This ship is falling apart.”
The engineer replies that the starship is as old as they are is but is part of Project: Potemkin, “which was conceived to push the envelope as far as the lifetime of a starship.”
“This old girl is the last of her kind,” he continues, “and in time will be phased out.”
At that moment, the power comes back on, and the turbolift begins moving again.
“So you’re really looking forward to this ground assignment of yours?” Reigert asks
“I’ve been aboard the Potemkin for 20 years,” Shelton states to Reigert’s surprise.
“Twenty years?” he asks. “How in the heck did you handle that?”
“There’s a lot to be said for Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet,” the officer responds.
“Well, this is where I get off,” Reigert says as the turbolift doors swoosh open.
“Well, Brian,” Shelton says, “I guess this is goodbye.”
Reigert chuckles and notes that Shelton has been assigned to Starbase 211, and the Roanoke isn’t scheduled to arrive for three days. “We’ll have lots of time to hang out together.”
When Reigert leaves the turbolift, Shelton responds: “Oh, joy.”
I didn’t leave my Clint Eastwood hat on Starbase 211, did I? Nope, here it is, and it’s time to get reviewing.
The Good: These vignettes were intended to give us our first peek into the Potemkin section of the Star Trek universe, and they do that well. We learn what “Project: Potemkin” is, and we meet several members of the starship’s crew.
The Bad: Along those lines, it’s kind of sad that most of the cast in the vignettes didn’t make it to the later productions of the series. Still, I realize that many fan film productions have a high turnover rate because life sometimes gets in the way of Trek.
The Ugly: It looks like the Potemkin people wanted us to dislike Commander Brian Reigert, and boy, did they succeed at that! I realize there was more friction among starship crews in the Classic Trek era, but I don’t see how the commander ever made it into Starfleet!
And you can watch the first two outings of this ship and crew by clocking on the links below.