Lolani is the latest in a series of high quality, fan produced Star Trek episodes made possible by the Internet and advancements in video recording/production technologies. Though not officially sanctioned by Paramount, CBS Video or anyone else with a legitimate legal interest in the series, these fan produced episodes and films have yet to be challenged for copyright and trademark infringement by the power that be. Even though they don’t feature the original cast, these projects, the culmination of decades of fan produced art and literature based on the show, are the ultimate in fan wish fulfillment, the actual production of new episodes.
Lolani is episode two from the Star Trek Continues project created by Farragut Films, Dracogen Strategic Investments and Vic Mignogna. These episodes star Mignogna as Captain Kirk, Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock, Larry Nemecek as Dr. McCoy, and James Doohan’s (the original Scotty) son Chris as Chief Engineer Scott. Fiona Vroom plays the titular character, a green Orion slave girl, like the one introduced all the way back in the original pilot episode The Cage. She is the lone survivor on a drifting Tellarite ship that the Enterprise encounters, and having killed the Tellarite who bought her has apparently reverted to being the property of a cruel Orion slave trader (Lou Ferrigno, once again finding out that it's not easy being green). The episode follows the Enterprise crew as they investigate the Tellarite deaths and determine the legal status of Lolani.
Overall, for a fan produced work, Lolani is not bad. The acting is uneven and is some cases downright awful (someone needs to tell Mythbuster Grant Imihara that his acting career is busted), but the three leads, Doohan and guest stars Vroom, Ferrigno and Erin Gray make up for any deficiencies in the supporting cast. Some of the dialogue also seems straight out of 60’s television, and that kind of corny is something they should never have recreated as accurately as they did the plywood sets. The plot is sluggish at best as the story spins its wheels on obvious murder investigations, unsuccessful escape attempts and arguments over the legal status of a sentient being. The TNG episode Measure of a Man answered that questions over 2 decades ago.
The biggest problem I have with this story is how both Kirk and Starfleet dealt with the issue of Lolani’s status as a slave. Even if by some wild stretch of the imagination the Federation were to uphold the slave trader’s legal right to claim her as his property, there is no way that would have been done without due process of law. Here Kirk just hands her over because he is ordered to do so. The Orion Colonies are not Federation members, and their slave trade is not legal in Federation space. Starfleet has no obligation to uphold property rights claims made against sentient beings. The case of United States v The Amistad from our own history demonstrates how the rule of law functions, even in a country where slavery is legal. Due process must be observed. In Star Trek’s own canon Kirk refused to turn over Lokai to Bele without due process. And if you tell me that there must be a treaty that allows for the automatic extradition of Orion slaves back to their masters, I would tell you that I don’t want to live in the Federation anymore. So I found Starfleet’s insistence, and Kirk’s resignation, wholly unbelievable. Not to mention the fact that there was enough evidence to prosecute Lolani for the murder of three Federation citizens (the Tellarites). You have to wonder why Starfleet didn't insist that she be brought back for trial. The producers and writers of this episode may have required this particular ending in order to make their point in as heavy handed a manner as possible, but it is not very realistic, either within the real world, or the established narrative framework Star Trek has previously provided.