Star Trek ContinuesApril 27, 2014
Star Trek, as any geek knows, is the brain-child of the late Gene Roddenberry and arguably his most renowned work. Unforgettably, it was envisioned as a bold “Five year mission”, and yet the legacy continues, 50 years later. In-fact, the estate now has many budding bushes, because the lore of Star Trek has grown to include cartoons, comics, novels, conventions and a variety of movies and sister series; each successive property inviting new generations to fall in love.
Sadly, that original “five year mission” was cut short after three seasons on the air. (Purportedly, Gene Roddenberry became much less involved in the production in the third season after being denied a more desirable time slot by the network. Ratings slipped, and ultimately the show was not renewed for a fourth or fifth season). If we gloss over the intervening years (with spin-off after spin-off, and movie after movie) and skip ahead half a century, we find that the love for the original series is so deep that it has re-surfaced as a fan-fiction webseries. Well, to be fair, this is not the first time fans have come together in an attempt to re-create the magic of the original series. This time, however, entering from stage-left, Star Trek Continues aims to complete the final two years of the first voyage of the Enterprise with an unprecedented production value.
Star Trek Continues is 100% fan fiction. It’s been a work of love, kept on course by star and producer Vic Mignogna. Mignogna’s role reprising James T. Kirk as the Captain of the starship Enterprise reflects his real-life role as the captain of this production. What began when Vic was about 10 years old when he was making his own costumes, building sets and even shooting his own episodes of Star Trek, has grown into something remarkable. A serendipitous meeting brought Vic together with a team of fans seeking a director for their fan-fiction work entitled, “Starship Farragut”. Then, the dream was born to go back to the heart of the original series and conjure once again those spells which wove those magical science fiction fairy tales, and with meticulous detail. When happenstance brought Michael Forest into the loop, “Apollo” guest star from the original series things got even better. All the while, Mignogna is found also contributing to the sound cut and music, the editing and even the carpentry on-set.
In order to stay in production this must necessarily be a non-profit affair, lest the holders of the licence come seeking parity, if you will. The first episode was, therefore, funded by Mignogna and scrapped together by a host of volunteers working their hearts out. That paved the road for a Kickstarter campaign which generated funds for an additional 3 episodes, the third of which is currently in post-production for release. Although no official date has been set, the crew are eyeing a possible release at an Australia convention this June. Frankly, I don’t know why the license holder doesn’t ask Mignogna to muster his crew for actual paid (and distributed!) work.
The first episode of Star Trek Continues, dubbed “Pilgrim of Eternity” and with a run time of 51 minutes, certainly manages to capture much of the magic of the original television series. Presented in the “traditional” 4:3 aspect ratio, the viewer is immediately introduced to Captain Kirk. Chris Doohan’s voice over as Mr. Scott then interrupts a scene; Yes, that’s right – Chris Doohan, son of the original Mr. Scott. Recreating characters of such scope must surely be a daunting task, but with the help of the production crew, everything comes together very nicely. They’ve even gone so far as to integrate more modern devices such as the ship’s holodeck, and the ship’s counsellor role, which have been seamlessly wrapped into the production.
My real difficulty in reviewing this webseries is finding any faults. Of course, some suspension of disbelief is required; in order to overcome the cognitive dissonance created by seeing Star Trek re-created in such loving and wonderful detail, well… it’s simply disorienting, as if you have tuned-in to Channel 12 from some sister multiverse. Once you get over that hump, however, the real fun begins. The production crew have keenly captured and re-created key aspects of the original series.The attention to detail is astounding; from the feeling and style of the score, to the colourful lighting of the half-dressed sets, and of course the costuming. Through all of this, however, the focus remains where it was 50 years ago: on the story. To borrow a snippet from the Star Trek Continues website:
[blockquote]”For many of us, Star Trek has shaped who we’ve become. It is our passion, our love and even our moral compass. Most importantly, it binds fans together from across the planet into a spirited discourse on the many dimensions of our fictional universe. Carl Sagan said it best, “We are all connected . . .”, and indeed, Star Trek connects each of us to one another.”[/blockquote]
Episode 2 features a special appearance by Erin Gray, whom many may recognize from her role alongside Buck Rogers on television in the 1970’s when she portrayed Coloniel Wilma Deering. Additionally, guest star Lou Ferrigno brings a fan following as well as his characteristic charm. At the end of the day, however, I must say that my hat goes off to the entire cast and production crew, each and every one of whom have contributed to a genuine success story.
I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed watching the first two episodes, “Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani”, and somewhat-patiently await the next production from this dedicated and talented crew. For now, I guess I can go back and re-watch episodes one and two again. And again. You can watch Pilgrim of Eternity and Lolani on YouTube. You can also connect with them on social media through Facebook and Twitter
This article was written for publication on the GCE by Jack Draak