I think I’ve found Trekkie Heaven…
(NOTE: Before I go on, I must mention that there have been other original Star Trek Web-Series, the most popular among them is Star Trek New Voyages Phase II which also looks quite wonderful, but I haven’t seen it yet so I’ll just review this for now).
At the urging of a particular Scrapper here, (Hi Laughing Man) I finally got around to watching fan-created series Star Trek Continues. At first I was skeptical, but it turns out to be a fun and totally loving effort by actor/ creator/producer Vic Mignogna that answers the question “How would it be if we got those last two seasons we hoped for?” So far, Star Trek Continues delivers.
Watching this, I really felt transported back to 1969, as the entire look of the show is a meticulous, delicious, and unapologetic recreation of the beloved original series. Everything from the sets, lighting, costumes, simple effects and music speak volumes of the love its creators have for the original series, who leave no phaser or pointed ear unturned. (McCoy even wears a pinkie ring!) It’s as if the original sets were never dismantled and the show never canceled (Let’s hope it never enters the awful, bland, 70’s polyester phase!) I am especially impressed with the pastel lighting that was an earmark of TOS. There are no irritating light flares here, just the soft, inviting glow that gave the original its coziness.
So far there have been three vignettes and two full episodes of Star Trek Continues. The first vignette form is an extended ending to Turnabout Intruder , which nicely flirts with the viewers as it set them up for the continuing voyages of the of the Enterprise. The other two vignettes are You’ve got the Conn, and Happy Birthday Scotty, which both give the secondary characters a little more (and much deserved) air time. Here’s the three vignettes:
But on to the meat and potatoes of full episodes. Pilgrim of Eternity brings back Apollo from Who Mourns for Adonais? Two years after the Pollux IV adventure, Apollo is rescued by The Enterprise and has shockingly ‘aged’ a good 40 years! Fortunately Michael Forest, the original Apollo, is back and what a pleasure to see him as a sadder and wiser god. He renews his character as both sympathetic and scary, and it’s a welcome return. I admit, (spoiler!) I was a little disappointed to hear of Carolyn Palamas’ fate, but I suppose Leslie Parrish wasn’t available! Be sure to watch for an epilogue after the credits.
The second episode, Lolani is a tale of slavery and murder in the eyes of a captured Orion. The whole essence of this episodes fits nicely into the Trek mode of morality tales disguised as science fiction, and its attitude toward the rights of women approaches a level of compassion that was only touched on in the original series. Very well written and thoughtful. (I got a little verklempt!)
Indeed, women are coming forward in this version more than they ever had in the original series. There is a new character here to equal out the estrogen; Dr. Elise McKenna (Michele Specht), who is apparently the first counselor aboard the Enterprise. This new-found feminism doesn’t mean that Kirk has lost his swagger or magnetism; there is obvious sexual tension between Kirk and Dr. McKenna, but he’s appreciative of her work and intelligence. I truly hope that we will also see Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand in future episodes, maybe a few of the other female crew that were sprinkled among the original series, like Dr. Ann Mulhall and Lt. Charlene Masters.
Along with Michael Forest reprising Apollo, Continues has achieved some clever stunt casting of several other familiar actors in the sci-fi universe. Erin Gray (of Buck Rogers) as an Admiral and an appropriately green-skinned Lou Ferrigno of The Incredible Hulk fame as Orion slave trader!
The main cast could melt a Klingon heart. Dashing Vic Mignogna embodies Captain Kirk with his own impressions as well as dead-on Shatner-isms. (Without too much ham), Todd Haberkorn inhabits Spock with cool detachment but a curious soul, with an inkling of humanity just under the surface. Dr. McCoy is played by two actors; Chuck Huber in the three shorts and Larry Nemecek in the first two webisodes. (Huber will return with the third episode that will be out soon). Huber’s character should be called Dr. Dishy! (*sigh*) and Nemecek has mastered McCoy’s upside-down smile. Both have captured McCoy’s grump without dismissing his southern charm. It’s a special joy to see how Christopher Doohan, son of James, beautifully fills his Dad’s boots with all the pride of the original. Wyatt Lenhart gives Mr. Chekov his boyish Russian charm. Kim Stinger imbues Uhura with compassion as well as a great kick-ass attitude. Finally as I was watching the first episode, I kept thinking “Why is Mr. Sulu so familiar? Turns out Sulu is played by Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame! Is this Geek heaven or what?! Maybe Sulu should blow something up… All in all, a nice cast. Still in the bud of their characterizations, but I’m sure they’ll gel quite nicely. They already carry the hearts of the characters in their portrayals. I wish them well.
The J.J. Abrams Trek franchise could learn a bit from this fan series, especially in terms of plot. Star Trek Continues understands that it’s not about the action or special effects, but about the dilemmas of the human condition. And it’s nice to see familiar characters in their off times (as in the short You Have the Conn).
My only petty complaints are cosmetic ones;
- Dr. McKenna’s hair! It’s lovely, (She’s definitely the Joan Holloway of this reboot), but distracts from the character. Her lush red waves tumble down over her front but it just seems a bit too long and/or loose for practical duty. I bet she could have a fantastic up-do like Marla McGivers, or even just in a ponytail.
- Spock’s shirt needs a little taking in!
All in all, I am completely enjoying this fan reboot. This old Trekkie feels right at home here; I want to walk on this set, I want to sit in the captain’s chair,I want to hug Spock! Heck, if they want an eager extra, I’d be on the first plane! (I already have the uniform, and I can also be T’Pau if they need her). 😉 Be sure to check this out. The next new episode, Fairest of them All, will premiere on this Sunday June 15, and will feature a return to the mirror universe (YES!) I look forward to new adventures. Congratulations and good luck to Mignogna and Company for making my TOS dreams come true!
You can find all you need to know about Star Trek Continues here:
Stay Tuned! (Squeals with excitement)