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(June 13 , 2002, Gazette)

Endocrinologist helps with Star Trek parody
Zit remedy

Chris Kovacs
Photo by HSIMS
Chris Kovacs

It may not be his day job, but Dr. Christopher Kovacs, an endocrinologist in the Faculty of Medicine, is the medical consultant for a new Australian movie that parodies Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The 45-minute cartoon, Sev Trek: Pus in Boots, features an alien life form that resembles zits or pimples. The alien zits invade the starship Enterforaprize, and show up first as a large pimple on the forehead of Commander Willing Piker.

“The aliens eventually start to take over the ship,” explained Dr. Kovacs. “I helped with the dialogue for the cartoon doctor, Dr. Heavily Cruncher, making sure she spoke in the lingo a doctor character would be expected to use. From the dermatological angle I provided the correct medical terms. I also help with medical technobabble – the climax is a parody of one of the quick solutions often used on Star Trek. In this cartoon, the crew defeat the sentient zits with the help of ‘xenotretinoin” a spoof of isotretinoin or Accutane, a standard treatment for acne.”

Dr. Kovacs had a lot of fun helping with the movie. “Besides the medical language, I also supplied suggestions for a number of the jokes in the script so I'm actually there in the movie credits!”

How did a doctor in Newfoundland ever get involved with an Australian movie? In the era of the World Wide Web, the answer is easy. “I’m a Trekkie and I stumbled across John Cook’s Sev Trek Web site about four years ago,” said Dr. Kovacs. “It was mainly doing spoofs of Star Trek series, and there were contests to provide a punch line for cartoons. I won a few. When John found out I was a physician he started asking for input and advice on some projects he was working on.”
In Australia, Mr. Cook put the video together with an international cast of helpers.

Sev Trek
“Chris is quite an active member of our discussion boards and whenever there is a dispute on any topic, he invariably chimes in with the informed and definitive answer. Over time he's earned a reputation as an expert on pretty much everything (with a little playful exaggeration), especially medical matters. So when I wrote the script for my Sev Trek movie and it required some medical technobabble, Chris was the natural person to turn to for some scientific sounding gobbledegook.”

Currently, the Sev Trek movie is only sold off Mr. Cook’s Web site, although he is finalizing arrangements for a distributor to sell it to video stores. The cost of production was minimal. “We worked with no budget — all the crew members worked for free with the plan to distribute the profits afterwards,” said Mr. Cook. “As it was an Internet project with very few overheads, we accrued little expense until we actually came to print the videos and merchandise. At that point, we sold pre-orders of the video off my Website to help pay for the printing.”

Now that the movie is complete, technical consultant and zit expert Dr. Kovacs continues to enjoy participating in Sev Trek discussions. He looks forward to the movie doing well so his medical expertise can help with future productions.