"The Night Shift"
Starship Exeter
reviewed by Fred Dixon

Exeter Studios takes its time producing Starship Exeter episodes. The first episode, "The Savage Empire," took seven years and the still-incomplete second episode, "The Tressaurian Intersection," is coming up on four years. Principal photography of "TTI" was wrapped in July of 2004. Subsequently, the show ran into production delays and had to come off of several announced release dates. The teaser was finally released in July 2005. Act One was completed in October 2005, Act Two in February 2006, and Act Three in September 2007. The closing tag and end credits are still in post-production as of the writing of this review (possibly to be released this summer). In order to calm the impatient masses after one of the release schedules was blown, the production team released a 3 minute, 40 second comedy short entitled "The Night Shift" back in August 2005.

According to the Exeter Studio website, the film was shot as test footage the night before production began of "The Tressaurian Intersection." Written by Dennis Russell Bailey (co-writer of "Tressaurian" and the excellent Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Tin Man"), "The Night Shift" features members of the Starship Exeter cast:  Jimm Johnson (a.k.a. "James Culhane"), Avram Dodson, Priya Sircar, Xander Gamble and Charles Reed. The entire clip is set on the lavish bridge set constructed for the series. It is test footage, indeed. You can see the soundstage in the background of the opening shot on the bridge and plywood panels in the work station monitors. While a completely original soundtrack is being used in the full episode, only original themes are used as background music in the short.

This mildly amusing "test footage" riffs on Star Trek history, Starship Exeter characters and Jimm Johnson’s take on Captain Garrovick. References are made to the Borg and planet names (for instance, in Star Trek parlance Earth would be known unromantically as "Sol III"--I won’t use the actual name used). First Officer Harris and Communications Officer B’Fuselek are briefly ribbed, but the captain gets the bulk of the treatment. Jimm Johnson portrays a rather grim Quince Garrovick in "The Tressaurian Intersection" compared to the lighter demeanor seen in "The Savage Empire." Writer Bailey makes note of this. As the night watch commander imitates Garrovick to the amusement of the rest of the bridge crew, the captain unexpectedly makes an appearance. The bridge snaps to as the captain exits the turbolift. Garrovick left his communicator in the center seat. He retrieves it and goes back into the turbolift. Just when the crew thinks it got away with the horseplay, Garrovick notes that the watch commander needs to be "grimmer" in his impersonation of the captain. The short shows off Dennis Bailey’s elegant digital starship and Joel Sarchet’s and Tom Sasser’s accurate-down-to-the-last-detail bridge set.

"The Night Shift" is a trifle and a confection for Star Trek and Exeter fans. At the time, it was a welcome diversion from the production delays. It will probably take as long to read this review as to watch this comedy short. "The Night Shift" can be found at www.exeterstudio.com and on YouTube.

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