Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Episodes of Improvised Star Trek

For the last four years, I've been a cast member of the improvised stage show/podcast, Improvised Star Trek. In 2011, we launched our podcast. Since then, we have released 82 full length episodes, and many bonus scenes.

For fun, I've decided to assemble my ten favorite episodes for your listening pleasure with a tiny little bit of commentary written below each episode.

Episode 12: Sparkle Quarks. This is a really early episode. In it, Crick Watson the science officer, my character, builds a shrink ray and shrinks everyone down to various sizes. Some of the characters shrink down to the size of fleas, some to subatomic size, and one to the size of a mouse. There are two things that I think are notable about this episode. First, the sound is really really good. When we started out, it took us a little while to figure out the best ways to record and edit the shows. By episode twelve, Chris Rathjen and Nick Wagner who do most of our editing, had really figured out their craft. Also, there's a really great moment in this one where Japhy (Joe Phillips) says "We're going to have to marry fleas!" upon discovering that he was the size of a flea. Instead of treating that as a joke, the cast fast forwards several years to find Japhy and a few other characters married to fleas and living amongst them.

Episode 23: Encounter with the Other Side of Quiet. I like this one because the premise is just so ridiculous and it still works. Adal Rifai plays a planet that every so often turns into a person. Only the person is basically a dudebro who wants to party and drink. The episode ends with the planet getting into a fight with Japhy who has been turned into a kind of wolf monster.

Episode 33: Things Past. For a show that is very specifically a Star Trek parody, we have done ALOT of parodies and homages to other properties. Things Past is our "Quantum Leap" parody. We had just come back from a long break before recording this one and I remember worrying that we were going to be rusty after so much time away. We weren't, and this episode is still one of my favorites.

Episode 46: Back in a Japhy.  This one's fun for me because I'm not in it. So the whole episode was a huge surprise for me. This is Japhy's big return. He's now Captaining his own ship, the Garcia. My favorite part of the whole episode is Commander Treeheart, the Vulcan who is convinced to become an elf.


Episode 55: The Penetrant. Good lord this episode is funny. Nick Wagner really stands out as his character Ch'arles Lorem, a perverted Trill, has been fitted with a chastity belt that shoots needles into his body every time he has an impure thought. A big part of the fun is watching Nick get put into situations where Ch'arles gets tortured for being himself and his reactions to it. Also, this was the episode where I decided to try to step out of my own safe-zone a little bit and play a big, over the top character, the Magician. Once again, editors make the improvisors look even better by giving the Magician his own amazing theme music.

Episode 57: Qpla' and Order. And this is our Law and Order parody. A very fun episode that featured the discovery of "the kissing game" wherein we learn that in the Federation, you need to kiss the prior occupant of the stand when you are called to speak at a trial.

Episode 59: Today is a Good Day to Cry. This episode is funny for about a million reasons. Mary Cait Walthall plays Kalibak, a teenage Klingon commander. I get to play her beleaguered dad. At the end, there's a prom. AND for the prom, we got our friends at Klingon Christmas Carol to translate and record "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer into the Klingon "HIchop" that we turned into a video that went kind of sort of viral.

Episode 69: A Space Modesty. Right now, this is probably my favorite episode we've done. The crew learns about social media and (SPOILERS) sentient sponsored content beleaguers them. Julia Weiss as Nurse Russ steals the show and makes this probably the best single IST episode ever (in my opinion).

Episode 78: Santa Got Run Over by a Shuttlecraft. Sometimes, the show is funny because one cast member is really on fire. Sometimes, the show is great because the whole cast is just killing it. IST does our version of "Rashomon" and I think every single cast member in the episode has at least one really standout moment.

Episode 82: Chief Seance Officer. Really early on we established that Deck 13 on the Sisyphus was haunted, and in this episode you finally find out just what the deal is with the Haunted Deck. Kudos in this one really go to Chris Rathjen who guides the whole episode from start to finish with an extremely subtle, capable hand. Oh, and we do a Scooby Doo send up too.