NEW YORK — STARDATE: July 9, 2016. The Starfleet Academy has established a base in a 12,000-square-foot tent just north of the aircraft carrier Intrepid on Pier 86. Your mission: to boldly go and discover your role in future starship missions. Cosplay not required.
That, more or less, is the premise of “Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience,” opening Saturday and running through Oct. 31 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
The conceit is that you’re a cadet at the Academy’s Career Day in the 26th century. You pass through zones pertaining to certain specialties — Language, Medical, Navigation, Engineering, Command and Science — and respond to multiple-choice challenges.
Later, “cadets” are assigned their role (think military occupational specialty) in a certificate of sorts sent to their email.
This interactive exhibition, produced by EMS Entertainment, is part of the full-court publicity press that CBS is conducting tied to the 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” franchise.
In addition to “The Starfleet Academy Experience,” Trekkies can anticipate the third installment of J.J. Abrams’ big-screen reboot (“Star Trek Beyond,” opening July 22) and the premiere of a new “Star Trek” TV series, spearheading a CBS streaming service starting in January.
If it all sounds a bit corporate, it is. And it looks it, too. The “Experience” lacks the bright light and vibrant colors that flood the decks of the Enterprise in the recent Abrams spectaculars. The ambience here suggests the immaculate interiors of the TV versions, but in shades more muted and accouterments more nondescript.
A similar show has been running in Ottawa, and similar exhibitions are planned for various U.S. cities.
New York’s version of “The Starfleet Academy Experience” has plenty of ancillary events planned, including film screenings, overnight gatherings and astronomy nights. But its central attraction is the exhibition itself, at its core a series of aptitude questions (no wrong answers) designed to identify your field of expertise on a starship. (Call it “What Color Is My Starfleet Parachute?”)
Of course, this being “Star Trek,” the zones come with 26th-century tech to play with. Entering through a chamber lighted in fluorescent blues and oranges, you pick up a wristwatchlike contraption that you will rub against a sensor at the various exhibits, activating your experience. In that same chamber you also behold a 21-foot-and-change-long model of the original Enterprise, from the production designer Matt Jefferies’ still-inspiring initial conception.
Now you, well, enter the zones. Wall screens offer glimpses into the franchise’s prime-time manifestations. One honors all the captains; another the chief medical officers; another the engineers; and so on. Many of the screens, about, say, transporter devices and beaming technology, are divided between “now” (meaning the future) and “then” (meaning the 21st century and said hardware’s current status of development).
At points, you find costumes from the TV shows and big-screen installments in transparent cases: a ’60s-era Captain Kirk uniform here, a Klingon ensemble from the same era there, Jean-Luc Picard’s Robin Hood costume over there. (Surely you recall the “Next Generation” episode “QPid,” in which Captain Picard, clad in Sherwood Forest apparel, rescues the comely Vash. You don’t? That’s it, no more Romulan ale for you.)
The Language area offers a projected Klingon who, I’m told (it wasn’t running yet when I had a preview), “hears” your enunciation of his guttural tongue, thanks to voice recognition software. (Improper diction gets his dander up, I’m also told.)
In the Medical vicinity, a life-size model of an injured, unconscious Klingon in Starfleet uniform reclines on a sick-bay gurney; a medical tricorder enables you to gauge the locations of his subcutaneous wounds.
Another module features a transporter platform somewhat smaller than that operated by Enterprise engineers. Visitors stand in front of an adjacent green screen while their image is simulcast into one of the narrow floor-to-ceiling cylinders. (Again, so I’m told; this, too, was not operational during my visit.) It’s not beaming up so much as beaming over to a tube five feet away.
I have an itchy phaser finger — who doesn’t? — so I was drawn to a case containing Starfleet firearms across the centuries. They just get sleeker and sleeker, beginning with the pistol-like configuration from the “Star Trek: Enterprise” era.
One display, a kind of 26th-century Coney Island shooting gallery, lets you fire at moving and blinking targets.
For some “Trek” fans, only photon torpedoes fully satisfy, and for them, “The Starfleet Academy Experience” delivers. A room approximating the bridge from “The Next Generation,” though not remotely as complicated or colorful, offers a simulation of galactic warfare while evaluating your response to battle conditions. You sit at one of a few stations, with a table monitor before you.
The line of inquiry echoes the Starfleet Academy’s Kobayashi Maru test. (You remember that, right? From “The Wrath of Khan” and the 2009 “Star Trek.” No? Oh, come on!)
It’s essentially a no-win gauge of character. The Maru is a disabled civilian spaceship under siege by — wait for it — Klingons, and you, as a captain, must weigh rescuing its crew against holding the aggressors at bay. Add deflector shields? More firepower? Defensive strategy or full-on offense? This is where you get your photon ya-yas out.
Don’t sweat the outcome. Only one person has ever “beaten” the test: James Tiberius Kirk.
At this point, your answers are tabulated, you receive your Starfleet specialty, and you return to the 21st century. Your certificate is in the email.