The Section 31 Files Review, Part 1 AKA: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

There’s something interesting about looking back.  As a writer, I occasionally drag out stuff I did years ago and look it over, to see how far I’ve come.  Sometimes, it’s depressing. Other times, it’s inspiring.

This is somewhat but not altogether unrelated to Star Trek: The Section 31 Files from Darker Projects. Actually, it has more to do with Star Trek: Pioneers, an early DP project tucked away in the Vault. There’s a disclaimer on the first episode which tells prospective listeners to start with the newest installments and work their way backwards, so no one gets a bad first impression. I’ve listened to ‘Pioneers’They’re right. Of course, that show is from the early days of DP…and everyone has to start somewhere.

What does this have to do with The Section 31 Files? It’s really embarassing for me. Way back when, I downloaded the first episode of  S31 just to see what all of the fuss was about. I wasn’t impressed by the first episode, which I didn’t finish due to what I percieved as an overabundance of cheesiness. Afterwards, I said something I really, really regret now, and I assure you that I have since eaten a lot of crow. With shame, I quote:  “Some of these people sound like they recorded lines on a text-to-speech program.” (Note: Past Me was a first-class idiot. I think this has been established now. Future Me will hopefully be less stupid. Present Me is still learning.)

After recently listening to and absolutely loving Lost Frontier, I decided to give S31 another shot since apparently, it’s something of a ‘prequel’ to Frontier. I re-downloaded the first episode, listened, and…downloaded the next ten. I loved it. The thing to always, always keep in mind about Darker Projects  is that they improve very, very quickly. Like the Borg, but in a good way.  Any wrinkles present  in the first episode of Section 31 started to iron themselves out by the end of the first story arc in Episode 4.  And that’s just the first few episodes of the first season: There are three seasons altogether. I suppose what I’m getting at her e is that you can’t judge a book by its cover…and you can’t judge a podcast by the quality of it’s first episode. Now, I’m midway into Season 2, and the prospect of running out of episodes makes me feel sad inside.

Another great example: the Night Terrors episode ‘Byron’s Tale’, the David Ault-less ‘prequel’ that later became The Byron Chronicles. Now, don’t get me wrong; The Byron Chronicles  is my favorite Darker Projects show. I think its perfectly brilliant. ‘Byron’s Tale’, however, makes me cry inside. 

I suppose what I’m trying to say is if you haven’t listened to The Section 31 Files yet, or if you plan to, just give it a chance to get warmed up. It’s worth it, and the first episodes really aren’t as bad as I might have made  them out to be. The characters are great  (cases in point: Bishop, Judah, and of course, Takila Mak) , the dialogue is well-written and at times hilarious, the storyline is intriguing , and the music… well, lets just say I heard ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ ‘Serenity’ and ‘Doctor Who’ in the mix, among others. Plus, it’s a completed series, so no more of those evil cliffhangers! I’d also recommend listening to it before Lost Frontier, which takes place after Section 31 in the timeline.

So, let me offer a formal apology for ever saying that this show was crap (I’m going to the Special Hell for that one), and provide you with the download link. : . Happy listening…

EDIT: As I’m writing this bit now, I’ve officially finished Section 31. It was brilliant. I cried. More on that in Part 2…


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