I’ve written lots about my enjoyment of the Star Trek fan film series Phase II. At a rate of about one new episode a year, the Phase II gang have been releasing extraordinarily well-made new episodes of the original Star Trek. The idea is that they’re creating the fourth season of the show that we never got because of it’s cancellation in 1979. Phase II apparently has about four episodes still in their production pipeline (filmed but not yet edited and released), but they’ve been making a lot of noise about a new direction the series will be taking after the release of the next three episodes. Fans of the fan-series got a jumping-ahead tease of that new direction with their just-released vignette, “Boldly Going”:
The early going of this new vignette is quite slow, and feels more like something made for Phase II’s production team, rather than its fans (since several of the Enterprise crew-members being mourned are actual Phase II participants who recently passed away). Still, I love the look of the newly-refitted Enterprise, a cross between the Original Series design and that of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (Creating a hybrid version of the Enterprise was an idea that the Phase II team had floated several years ago, and then abandoned. I guess they changed their minds! I think the idea of this hybrid half-refit Enterprise is a bit of a kooky notion, since it seems clear to me that TMP suggested that the Big E had just been through a complete refit and redesign, but I can go with it.) I ADORED the transition from Original Series music to James Horner’s wonderful Star Trek II heroic theme. I was THRILLED to see the CGI realization of Arex, a character from Star Trek: The Animated Series. And I loved the transition between James Cawley’s narration to seeing Phase II’s new actor playing James T. Kirk, Brian Gross. I am far from sold on Mr. Gross’ performance (his voice is so high, it seemed very un-Kirk to me), but we’ll see how he grows into the role in future episodes. It’s nice to get a little dose of Phase II, though I eagerly anticipate their next full episode, the Klingon-focused “Kitumba.”
Meanwhile, a new fan series has emerged that is also setting out to create a fourth season for The Original Series. It’s called Star Trek Continues, and features several actors and behind-the-scenes folks formerly associated with Phase II. They’ve just released their first short film:
I think it’s super-cool that they begin by recreating the final shots of the final Original Trek episode: “Turnabout Intruder.” When those turbolift doors closed back in 1969, that was the last we saw of Kirk, Spock and the gang (until their return in the movies). But I love how this vignette continues the scene, leading us into whatever new adventures await. So far the cast seems OK but not great, though I see a lot of potential. (I’m particularly loving the casting of Chris Doohan — the son of Jimmy Doohan, the original Scotty — in his father’s role!) Star Trek Continues is going to have to work hard to equal the great work done by the Phase II folks, but I am excited to see what they can do. The idea of two dueling high-quality Trek fan series is very exciting! I can’t wait to see what each team does next.