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'Star Trek Continues' explores thorny ethical issue

The producers behind the 'Star Trek Continues' web series have taken what appears to be a deliberate step away from the typical fan production formula of non-stop action and clear-cut decision making with the release of their latest episode "Lolani".

The story begins with the Enterprise coming across a Tellarite freighter adrift in space. The only survivor on board is a terrified Orion slave girl named Lolani. Fiona Vroom plays Lolani with a mixture of vulnerability and cunning as she uses her powerful pheromones and beauty to try to win her freedom.

Despite the sympathy her plight engenders from Captain Kirk and the crew, he is ordered by the standard issue Star Fleet desk-bound bureaucrat (played her by Erin Gray of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) to give her back to her original owner. Slave dealer Zaminho, played by TV's original Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno is a superficially cultured man, who at heart is a slimy profiteer who gets his jollies slapping around helpless victims.

Kirk finds himself on the horns of an ethical dilemma: he sees Lolani as bright and worthy of a chance to choose her own path in life, but he is forbidden by his superiors to interfere since Orion is not a member of the Federation, thus putting themselves outside the Federation's jurisdiction, according to the bureaucrats at Star Fleet Command, who in this case act more like throwbacks to the days of the U.S. Fugitive Slave Law than enlightened leaders of a progressive Federation.

In many ways "Lolani" marks sharp improvements from the first effort. Vic Mignona, who wears multiple hats at Captain Kirk, co-writer, editor and executive producer has helped raise the bar for fan productions when it comes to overall quality. Some might argue that fan productions are still not up to the standards of the full-time professionals. While this may be true to some extent it's almost irrelevant. The product is crisp, thoughtfully written, solidly acted and free of the cringe-inducing moments that can crop up in even the most accomplished fan productions.