Monday, September 16, 2013

Rebuilding Elmer Studios - The Wandering Star Saga

When we were looking through the list of old fics that we wanted to rebuild, one name in particular came up. That was, of course, The Wandering Star Saga. The last fic of the “old” Elmer Studios era, the riffing had never been completed. That in ad of itself had moved it high onto the “to do” list, but there were a number of other factors. Back in the day, we considered the fic to be ‘prime’ material for a number of reasons, not the least of which was our resident new villain, Krokojam.

(And yes, rebuilding Recollections of a Tekkaman was a prelude of sorts to this project. It helped us to get a degree of context and to ‘set up’ material for the rebuild).

However, there were also a number of problems that needed to be resolved in order to make this happen. These would end up making the project a lot more complicated and involved then any prior rebuild.

No More Fic

When we found the fic for MSTing back in 2002-2003, Wandering Star Saga was very incomplete. There were five chapters, but the fic was obviously still a work in progress. Regardless, it was seen as ‘prime’ material, and the decision was made to put it on the ‘to do’ list. Not just was it good as was, but there was also the chance that it still would be updated or go on endlessly.

Unfortunately, revisiting the fic a decade later presented new problems. We couldn’t remember where we’d found it, for starters, which made tracking it down rather difficult. A Google search revealed very little beyond our original MSTing and somebody else asking where they could find the fic, which pretty much amounted to a dead end. As a result, unlike the other rebuilds to date, the only source for the fic would be our own MSTed version.

Incidentally, this almost was a problem in and of itself. For a while, we had no copy of the abandoned second half of the original MSTing. Only some frantic e-mail archive binging managed to locate it (As well as a few other gems that may yet resurface…)

Who the hell do you think we are?

The next issue to deal with after securing the fic (or not) was who to use in the MSTing. At an early stage we decided to go with it being an entirely non-standard/special event cast as a call back to the original MSTing, but the problem was who to use. For a while the idea of it being an all-B-Team episode with the modern cast (Matt, Natasha, Celena, Maya) was floated, but the idea of making another ‘lost pilot’ took sway.

This then created a new problem of casting. We quickly realised that the original WSS cast were no longer useable. Rick being present for a lost pilot didn’t fit with the current setting and metaplot. Sel had taken on too much of a life of her own and would need too much retooling to fit the new setting. Lightspeed would need even more and would have likely,  like Elana, ended up as being ‘in name only’ by the time we were done.

So the decision was made to go with an entirely new cast, which was a problem in and of itself. Four characters needed to be ‘recruited’ and assembled into a team that would work while giving a range of personality types. In the end, three of them wound up being entirely new, while the fourth was making what could be considered her second appearance, depending on how you count the original Old Conflicts Renewed MSTing.

And of course, consideration for future use was among the casting requirements.

I’m living in the nineties

The third problem was one unique to the original ‘lost pilot’ premise of the first WSS MSTing. When we set up the concept, we made sure to very conspicuously date the jokes to 1997 or so. While at the time the material worked and was a nice reference, it didn’t fit the new plan at all. And the jokes that were ‘funny because it’s a few years back’ in 2003-2004 were now a decade older and, in a few cases, a lot less so.

This meant that, more so then any other rebuilds, there was a very low survival rate of the old jokes. Most of them were cut for simply being too out of date and not suited to the new setting. It’s a shame, because there were a few good ones in there if you allowed for that premise.

Was it worth the wait?

It depends. If you wanted a sense of closure for the fic, then you’re out of luck. If you wanted to see more of Krokojam, then you’re more so. If you wanted to see what episode 152 would have looked like back in 2004? Then maybe you’ll find a bit of that in here.

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