Let me start by saying that it’s about freakin’ time I wrote something Star Trek-related for this blog! I have been a huge fan of Trek in its many forms since the beginning. (Well, since the early 70s, when I started watching the original series (TOS) re-runs as a child.) My love for Star Trek is not virtually all-consuming, as it is for some fans, but it does constitute a rather large portion of my sci-fi fanhood. (Is that a word?) Eventually, there will be many Trek-related posts here of various sorts, I’m sure. But,… this first is, oddly enough, not about any of the regular TV shows or movies. It is about one of the fan-produced shows — webseries, really — that has come out in recent years: “Star Trek Continues”. As of this writing, it is the only one I have actually watched, and I finally saw the second episode — there are only two, so far –, so I figured I’d give my two cents.
The premise of “Star Trek Continues” (STC) is that it, uh, continues the Enterprise & crew’s original 5-year mission, picking up where TOS ended. The show is primarily the “baby” of voice-actor and mega-fan (with a Film degree) Vic Mignogna. In addition to co-writing and executive producing, Mignogna is involved in other parts of production, like directing, editing, carpentry, and original music. Oh, he also stars as Capt. James T. Kirk. (More on that later.) Mignogna’s Texas-based production company, Far From Home, LLC, teamed with Farragut Films (a non-profit film group with several Star Trek projects of its own) and uber-geek Steve Dengler’s DracoGen Strategic Investments. Farragut already had an incredible replica of the Enterprise bridge that they used on their “Starship Farragut” series, but the new partnership purchased a 9000 sq ft facility where they could build out many of the other areas of the ship that fans expect to see — beginning with the familiar curving corridor(s), as well as sickbay, the transporter room, Captain’s quarters, meeting/dining room, etc. Then, they put together two amazing, volunteer crews — 1) the Production Crew that builds the sets, creates the wardrobe, writes, films, etc. the STC episodes; and, 2) the Starship Crew (aka, the Cast) who bring the characters and stories to life.
I have to say, the overall look and feel of STC is quite impressive. From the sets and costumes to the soundtrack and the sound & visual F/X, it really does look, sound, and “feel” like Star Trek. (Unlike a certain movie reboot we won’t mention.) I was dubious that such a duplication could be accomplished, especially decades later. But, if not for the new faces, I’d be hard-pressed to say that it wasn’t produced in the 60s on the original Desilu Studios set. They even made sure to film with the same sort of lighting and in the same 4:3 screen ratio as in TOS. Very authentic!
I’ll be honest, I’m not always very critical of TV writing. If I like a show, I just go with it and try not to be too picky. Sometimes, if an egregious plot hole appears, it will bug me. Or, if certain dialog seems uncharacteristic or out of place, it will bug me. Or, if characters do stupid things, it will bug me. But, for the most part, I try not to rip it apart. Fortunately, there wasn’t much to complain about in the plots/scripts for “Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani”, STC’s first two episodes. Sure, there was the typical instance or three where I caught myself saying, “That was dumb!” or “No, no, no. Assign a security detail and be more cautious!” You know — typical for just about any drama or action show from the past 60 years.
These plots/scripts seemed right (write?) at home in the TOS “universe”. Perhaps not as good as some TOS episodes, but as good or better than many. Rather than introducing us to a lot of totally new stuff right away, the writers chose to use races (Orions, Tellurites) and other beings (“Apollo”) already established in the original series. I think this was a wise move. (There are a couple new castmembers, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) Also, they are very intentional about telling “character-driven morality plays”. In each of the new episodes, the plot involved a serious ethical dilemma and Kirk — with the advice of his senior officers — having to make difficult decisions. Truly “classic Star Trek”.
Speaking of crewmembers, the primary seven are all there — Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, & Chekov. Well, actually, Chekov was “replaced” in the second episode with an eager young ensign from New Zealand. (Don’t know if he’ll be back.) There is also a new character in Dr. Elise MacKennah, the first ship’s counselor, portrayed by Michele Specht, whom I find quite… um… aesthetically pleasing. (I do have a weakness for redheads. And curves.)
Kirk, as I mentioned, is played by Vic Mignogna, and is probably the *best* one on the cast. Mignogna has really captured the essence of the character — how he moves, his mannerisms and expressions, etc. — without resorting to certain Shatnerisms. Plus, he even looks and sounds a lot like Shatner, though Mignogna’s voice is a little higher. Todd Haberkorn’s Spock is nicely done, though (as with Zachary Quinto) he doesn’t quite capture Spock for me. James Doohan’s son Chris takes over his father’s role as Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott and does a fine job — fake Scottish accent and everything. The amount of airtime & dialog for each character, so far, has been understandably limited, but the other cast-members have all done reasonably well, too. (And the new Uhura, played by Kim Stinger, can even sing!) It helps that most, if not all, of the cast have prior acting experience. The interaction and “chemistry” between members of the Enterprise crew was very familiar (if not quite as comfortable), too, which is as much a comment on the acting as on the writing.
Special mention should be made of the guest stars. Episode 1 is a sequel to the TOS episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?”, and they were able to get Michael Forest to reprise his central role as “Apollo”. Episode 2 features Lou Ferrigno as an Orion slave-trader and Erin Gray as Starfleet’s Commodore Gray. Great to see these two genre veterans in Star Trek! I hope they can continue to bring in more such guests.
Overall, a very well done, fan-produced series and true labor of love!
You can watch both STC episodes and various behind-the-scenes clips on YouTube or Vimeo. In one of them, Mignogna says that scripts have been written and funding is in place for 3 more episodes. Also, check out their official website. I wish them well as they boldly go where no… er, rather, into familiar territory, and I look forward to seeking out new lifeforms and new civilizations with the old (or, is it, young/new?) TOS crew.