With the end of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier in 2007, various groups actively lobbied to continue aspects of the series as spin-offs besides the sweeping story arcs of Odyssey and The Helena Chronicles. Several of the cast had gathered strong followings and two series were started to cover them: Federation One which features Matt McCabe, and Henglaar MD which continues the story of the medico of the USS Excelsior who was a regular on the show from the first episode in 2000.
Henglaar is devastated after the events that formed the climax of season seven of ST HF and the premiere episode of this series, Recalled To Life, acts as a bridge between the two series, or if you've never seen the fan film an introduction. John Whiting has a distinctive gravelly voice that perfectly characterises his portrayal of the curmudgeonly Dr. Henglaar. He's supported in the opening episode by other ST HF characters including Silan, Henglaar's niece, played since ep. 7.04 by Heather Ashleigh and the star-crossed lovers, Traya Knapp, voiced by Sara Jo Elice and her Cardassian paramour, Pelas, which sees the return of Tim Foutch.
The strength of the production though lies in its new direction rather than its past. Henglaar is looking to quietly bury himself in his work and finds a niche for himself as the mentor of an unlikely trio of medical students, a human, a Vulcan and a Ferrengi played by Tim Fritts, Jeannie Lin and Mark Samarias. John's performance of Henglaar meets its match in a fiery delivery by Melodee M. Spevack as Cpt Dana Russell the master of the ship that the action takes place on. The interplay between these two characters was the highpoint of this production for me and I'll be bitterly disappointed if Melodee isn't a regular!
Henglaar, MD is an interesting show that breaks new ground for Star Trek fan audio dramas. I'm not oblivious to the parallels between this and a certain TV series that features a similarly irascible doctor who uses a cane but I'm afraid if this was what it was trading on its lost on me since I've never watched it. Medical drama revolves around people, it is heavy with tension and dialog, and, refreshingly, does not have to involve militaristic conflict. I'll be interested to see how well this translates into a different media, audio drama, and an unusual setting, the Star Trek universe.
Released on July 29 (Running Time 40:23; 37mb) and featured in the HFP August newsletter, the script for the pilot, by director Eric Weaver, was finished by February as was the recording of the series theme by Mary Kouyoumdjian, another departure from the usual fare. It is available as a direct download from the episode webpage on the HFP website where you can also find a preview and an iTunes feed â€¦ but no RSS feed for those of us who have freed our mp3 players from the demon ahToonz!
Altogether a good start to what could be a unique venture.