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News Around the Net!

In recent months we got new installments of Parks and Recreation and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt... and tonight there will be more 30 Rock???  I can’t wait!!

The first trailer for the new Star Trek animated series, Lower Decks, has dropped:

I’m cautiously optimistic.  I am all for the idea of a humorous Star Trek show.  This trailer is pretty funny.  (The holodeck waste removal joke is gold.)  But Discovery and Picard both had great trailers, and look how they turned out.  As always for a new Star Trek show, I want this to be good.  But I just don’t have much faith that the people behind Star Trek these days have any idea what makes a good Star Trek show.  (Also: why can’t any of the designers working for the Trek movies or series these days design a decent-looking new starship?  Ever since the horrible-looking J.J. Abrams Enterprise it’s been one mess after another.  This new ship is no better.  The TNG-looking saucer looks great.  But what’s with those awkward, ugly pylons connecting the nacelles to the primary hull?  They look terrible — and also don’t make any logical sense.  How could a crew-person get from the saucer section into the engineering section when the two aren’t connected??  Sigh…)

In Star Wars TV news, they’ve announced a new animated series: The Bad Batch.  This will be a spin-off from the animated Clone Wars series, focusing on the group of Clones introduced in the final run of episodes.  I am super-excited for a new Dave Filoni executive produced Star Wars animated series, and the prospect of picking up story and character threads left hanging from the Clone Wars series is very exciting.  On the other hand, I wasn’t so wild about the “Bad Batch” four-part episode of The Clone Wars, and those characters don’t seem to me like such an interesting focal point for a new series.  But I have faith, and I’m excited to see what this will be all about…

Wow!  The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson has released his first new cartoons in 25 years!!  And they’re great!  Check them out here.

This is cool: a great deleted scene from Avengers: Endgame, in which Natasha gets to meet the Smart Hulk.  I’m not certain where exactly this scene would have fit into the movie (it looks like it takes place in Wakanda at the end of Infinity War, but Smart Hulk wasn’t around until after the time jump in Endgame) but it’s a great scene and worth watching.  (Why wasn’t this included on the blu-ray of the film?  The special features on the recent Marvel discs have been disappointing…)

Is there really … [continued]

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Star Trek: The Original Series Gets the Series Finale it Always Deserved in “To Boldly Go” Part 2!

Star Trek: Continues is a fan-made enterprise (see what I did there?) begun five years ago in an attempt to create the never-made fourth season of the Original Series.  In the past five years, Vic Mignogna and his fantastic team of collaborators have created eleven full-length episodes of classic Star Trek.  These eleven episodes have been a remarkable achievement: staggeringly professionally-made episodes that look and feel exactly, and I mean exactly, like classic episodes of the Original Series. In many cases, they have looked even BETTER!  Not every episode was a home run, and there were a few spots where the creators’ fannish enthusiasm outpaced their abilities.  But the craftsmanship and skill on display in every frame of every episode was extraordinary.  Star Trek Continues is the product of deep love for Star Trek, and as such I love it enormously.  With their tenth and eleventh episodes, “To Boldly Go” parts 1 & 2, Vic Mignogna and his team are not only bringing their fan-series to a close, but they are also attempting to give the Original Series (cancelled by NBC after three seasons) the proper send-off it never got.

Picking up right where the previous episode left off, the Enterprise and the Romulan vessel (commanded by the Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident”) confront the cadre of superhumans who have been enhanced by passage through the galactic barrier (just as Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner were in the Original Series’ second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”) and commandeered a starship.  Even the Enterprise and Romulans together prove no match for the super-powered “Espers,” who disable the Enterprise and set a course for Earth, ready to wreak havoc and take control of the Federation.

As with Part one, this finale is packed with surprises and fun Star Trek connections.  This is a fast-paced, action-packed episode that also peppers in some wonderful character moments for members of the Enterprise crew.  The excellent script by sci-fi novelist Robert J. Sawyer and James Kerwin (Vic Mignogna also has a story credit) strikes an excellent balance.

Once again, the visuals are extraordinary.  The starship battles are extremely well-realized.  These CGI effects are far beyond what the Original Series ever showed us, and yet the effects feel like they perfectly belong in an Original Series episode.  This is because the shot compositions have been carefully considered to recreate the look and feel of Original Series shots, and the Enterprise and the other ships move exactly right.  They don’t zip around like Star Wars ships; they move with the grace and elegance that these ships should have.  It is a delight to see the classic Enterprise depicted so beautifully.

This episode proves a wonderful … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues Draws to a Close with the Fantastic “To Boldly Go” Part One!

November 8th, 2017

I can’t believe it’s already been five years since Vic Mignogna’s Star Trek Continues fan-film project began!  After releasing three short vignettes, the first of which explored what happened in the moments following the final shot of the final episode of the Original Series, “Turnabout Intruder,” Mr. Mignogna and his team have produced an incredible TEN full-length Star Trek episodes, a whole new season of classic Star Trek.  From the beginning, these Star Trek Continues episodes have been hugely impressive, spectacularly professional-looking creations that are astonishing recreations of the look and feel of classic Star Trek, while telling entirely new stories featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (no bloody A, B, C, or D).  Not every episode has been perfect, but the skill and professionalism on display in this fan-film effort is extraordinary, and the whole eproject has been drenched in a true love for Star Trek that I have found to be continually inspiring.  Now (likely caused by Paramount/CBS’ ridiculous and draconian efforts to extinguish all Star Trek fan films), Mr. Mignogna and his team are drawing their wonderful series to a close with the first of their two-part finale, “To Boldly Go” part one.

In “To Boldly Go,” Captain Kirk and co. have been sent to investigate Starfleet’s recent loss of several of the Enterprise’s fellow Constitution class starships.  They discover that Starfleet has been attempting to recreate the accident that befell Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner in the (second) pilot episode of the Original Series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”  That accident gave Mitchell and Dehner extraordinary psychic powers; an attempt to weaponize these abilities could have catastrophic results.  Discovering that Romulans have kidnapped the experiment’s subjects, the Enterprise takes off in hot pursuit, desperate to prevent these potentially super-powered beings from being used against them.

“To Boldly Go” part one is a superb episode; I think it is my favorite episode of Star Trek Continues so far.  I love that the episode is designed not just as a finale for Star Trek Continues, but for the Original Series as a whole.  As such, it does what most great series finales do: connects all the way back to the series’ first episode.  The idea of picking up the thread of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and establishing the idea of someone attempting to use that accident in order to create a cadre of super-humans, is extremely clever.  It’s one of those “I can’t believe no one has done this idea before now!” sort of brilliant ideas.

This is one of the most exciting, suspenseful episodes of Star Trek Continues so far.  One complaint I … [continued]

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Star Trek Lives! Josh Reviews Star Trek Continues: What Ships Are For

September 15th, 2017

The golden age of Star Trek fan films is over, crushed by Paramount/CBS’ ridiculous lawsuit against the planned Axanar fan-film project and the subsequent draconian fan film guidelines that led to the shutdown of many fan-made productions.  (Read more here.)  One of the last fan-film projects standing is Star Trek Continues, though they too will soon be closing their doors as a result of the new fan film guidelines, concluding their series with a two-part finale to be released later this fall.  This group of talented Trek fans, led by Vic Mignogna, have been, for the past five years, creating their own version of the never-made fourth season of classic Star Trek.  They have created full-length Trek episodes with an astonishing degree of professionalism.  At a glance you’d never know this wasn’t “real” Star Trek.  (I’ve reviewed every episode: click here for the full archive.)  A little more than four months after the release of their previous episode, “Still Treads the Shadow,” they have, incredibly, released another complete episode, and it is as good as this fan-made series has ever been.

In “What Ships are For,” the U.S.S. Enterprise responds to a request from help from the inhabitants of a large asteroid, whose population is being ravaged by a plague.  When Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down, they discover that the asteroid’s inhabitants are unable to see color, due to the effects of their sun’s radiation on the cones of their eyes.  Helping to undo the damage from the radiation will both cure the plague and allow these aliens to see the world in color.  But there is a complication: these aliens, the Hyalini, have long been at war with another race, the Ambicians.  The Hyalini fear the Ambicians as dangerous monsters.  But the Enterprise’s sensors discover that, in fact, there are many Ambicians who have lived on the asteroid among the Hyalini for generations, having fled their own radiation-ravaged world.  They are indistinguishable from the Hyalini except for the different color of their skin and hair.  If the Enterprise crew help cure the Hyalini, they fear the Hyalini’s discovery that the aliens they perceive as dangerous “others” are in fact living amongst them will cause their society to tear itself apart with racial strife.

This episode was written by Kipleigh Brown, who has been a supporting character on Star Trek Continues for many episodes playing the ship’s navigator Lieutenant Smith.  She has done strong work here in writing this episode, creating a classic Star Trek moral dilemma for Kirk and co. to wrestle with.  Yes, the episode’s exploration of bigotry and racial divisions is a bit on the nose, but this is the type … [continued]

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Star Trek Lives! Josh Reviews Star Trek Continues: Still Treads the Shadow

April 12th, 2017

In defiance of CBS/Paramount’s outrageously restrictive new fan film guidelines meant to crush the Star Trek fan films that have flourished over the past decade, Vic Mignogna and the talented team of Trek fans who make up Star Trek Continues have released their eighth episode, “Still Treads the Shadow.”  Star Trek Continues is a fan-made project to create new episodes of the Original Series, featuring episode-length adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the crew of the original starship Enterprise, in the style of the Original Series.  After the release of the new fan film guidelines, Mr. Mignogna announced that he would be releasing four additional episodes to wrap up his series.  It’s a shame that the series will be ending, but I am glad that Mr. Mignogna has decided to at least complete and release these final four episodes, of which “Still Treads the Shadow” is the first.

In this episode, while investigating a black hole phenomena, the Enterprise discovers the U.S.S. Defiant adrift in space.  The Defiant was last seen getting lost in interphasic space in the Original Series episode “The Tholian Web”.  But the ship has returned, with a surprising passenger on-board: an elderly James T. Kirk.  Though Captain Kirk was rescued from the Defiant in “The Tholian Web,” somehow a duplicate version of himself remained trapped on the Defiant, and he has lived his entire life in solitude aboard the lost starship, with his only companion being the Defiant’s now-sentient computer, which now calls itself Tiberius.  With both the Enterprise and the Defiant both caught in the singularity’s pull, and a vengeful Tiberius out to destroy the Enterprise in a misguided effort to protect his only friend, will two Kirks be enough to save the day?

As always, I am staggeringly impressed with the enormous skill on display in every new Star Trek Continues episode.  As I have written every single time, this episode is an extraordinarily professional recreation of the look and feel of an Original Series episode.  It is remarkable.  There is almost nothing to mark this as a fan-made undertaking rather than an actual episode of the Original Series.  The sets, the costumes, the props, all are incredibly accurate recreations of Classic Trek.

Once again, Star Trek Continues has attracted an exciting guest star.  This time it is Rekha Sharma (Tory from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica), playing Avi Samara, a scientist assigned to the Enterprise to study the black hole phenomenon, who also has a long-ago connection to Captain Kirk.  Ms. Sharma is phenomenal in the role.  She plays the character with exactly the right amount of naturalism, underplaying her lines enough to make her character feel real (avoiding the tendency of actors … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues: Embracing The Winds

September 9th, 2016

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of the original Star Trek on NBC.  Fifty years.  That’s incredible.  Despite Paramount/CBS’ draconian attempts to shut down all of the Star Trek fan film projects (by halting production of the Axanar film and then releasing new fan film guidelines that would effectively eliminate most of the most popular and successful Star Trek fan film projects), the fine folks at Star Trek Continues recently released their seventh full-length episode: “Embracing the Winds.”  I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy the fiftieth anniversary of Trek yesterday than by watching this wonderful fan-made episode.  Star Trek Continues’ initial vignette picked up just at the end of the final Original Series Trek episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” and with their seven (so far) produced episodes they have been creating what would have been the fourth season of the original Star Trek series, new full-length episode adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the original Enterprise (“no bloody A, B, C, or D”).


In their newest episode, “Embracing the Winds,” Kirk and Spock are summoned to a starbase so that Spock can be promoted to command of the USS Hood, whose crew were killed due to an unexplained failure of the ship’s life-support system.  However, a female officer, Commander Garrett, challenges this decision, claiming that she has been unfairly passed over for command of the Hood because she is a female.  Meanwhile, Scotty takes the Enterprise to recover the Hood, but what seems like a simple job of towing the ship back to the starbase soon turns perilous.

As with every episode of Star Trek Continues, “Embracing the Winds” is extraordinarily faithful to the look and “feel” of a classic Star Trek episode.  Vic Mignogna and his incredible team have once again done spectacular work in recreating the sets, costumes, props, music, and every other aspect of an Original Series episode.  The result is jaw-dropping.  This is a true labor of love by a dedicated group of Star Trek fans and I doff my cap in respect to their tremendous efforts.

This is a solid episode, in my opinion one of the stronger efforts by the Star Trek Continues team.  I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews that some of the Star Trek Continues episodes have felt a little simplistic or by-the-numbers, unfolding without too many surprises.  But both the A and B stories in this episode are very compelling and with good mysteries.  As a viewer I wondered what Scotty was going to discover when investigating the Hood, and I also wondered how the story of Commander Garrett’s challenge of Spock’s new captaincy would unfold.  Obviously, any Star Trek fan … [continued]

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Star Trek Lives! Josh Reviews Episode 6 of Star Trek Continues: “Come Not Between the Dragons”

June 15th, 2016

I continue to be extremely impressed with Star Trek Continues, the fan-series spearheaded by Vic Mignogna.  As I have written about many times here on this site, Star Trek Continues is a fan-made series that has set out to create a fourth season of classic Star Trek, creating complete episodes depicting the further adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the crew of the original U.S.S. Enterprise (“no bloody A, B, C, or D”).  Not only do Mr. Mignogna and his team manage to create extraordinarily professional-looking efforts — if you saw one of their episodes on TV, you very well might believe you were watching an actual episode of the Original Series — but they’re also able to do so on a regular basis.  They are already on their sixth episode, and this latest installment, “Come Not Between the Dragons,” is terrific.


As the episode opens, the Enterprise is struck by an object that manages to pierce the ship’s hull.  What at first was thought to be a meteor is quickly revealed to be something else, as the object begins to move through the ship of it’s own volition.  When it lands in the quarters of Ensign Eliza Taylor (played by Farscape’s Gigi Edgley), she realizes that the rocky object is a sentient being, and she attempts to learn who it is and what it’s purpose is on board the Enterprise.  The threat to the crew posed by the creature is soon dwarfed by another, much larger version of its kind, which as it approaches is able to send waves of anger and negative energy that infects Kirk and the Enterprise crew.  Can Kirk and his crewmates gain control of their emotions in time to solve the mystery of these creatures?

Written by Greg Dykstra and James Kerwin and Vic Mignogna, “Come Not Between the Dragons” is a fun, tightly-paced sci-fi mystery/adventure.  The episode manages to balance some nice character beats for almost every member of the Star Trek Continues ensemble with an exciting adventure story.  This feels very much like a classic Trek story, as the Enterprise crew investigate a strange, new life-form.

The Star Trek Continues folks have been able to nab some very high-profile guest-stars for their episodes (Lou Ferrigno was a particular delight as an Orion in the series’ second episode, “Lolani”), and featuring Farscape’s Gigi Edgley here is another fun surprise.  Ms. Edgley is a lot of fun as the sensitive Ensign Taylor, who quickly bonds with the strange rock-like life-form that has crashed into the ship.  (Though I do wish Ensign Talyor wasn’t quite so cowardly when the creature first smashed into her quarters — come on, you’re a Starfleet officer!)

If … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues: “Divided We Stand”

October 5th, 2015

I must confess that I don’t have high hopes for the third rebooted Star Trek film that is currently in production.  But thankfully the Star Trek spirit is being kept alive on-line by groups of committed Trek fans.  The fan-made series Star Trek Continues is back with their fifth episode, titled “Divided We Stand.”  The intent of Star Trek Continues is to produce full-length episodes of classic Trek, modeled as the fourth season that never was of the original Star Trek.  (Click here for my review of episode one, “Pilgrim of Eternity.”  Click here for my review of episode two, “Lolani.”  Click here for my review of episode three, “Fairest of Them All.”  Click here for my review of episode four, “The White Iris.”)


In this latest episode, the Enterprise computer is hijacked by nanites of an alien origin.  While Spock and Scotty work to save the ship’s computer from this infestation, an explosion injures Kirk and McCoy and infects them with the nanites.  These networked microscopic organisms somehow trap Kirk and McCoy in a shared hallucination that they are trapped back on Earth during the time of the Civil War.  Can Spock find a way to save his ship and his comrades?

You can watch the full episode right here:

Star Trek Continues E05 “Divided We Stand” from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

I am thoroughly impressed that creator and star Vic Mignogna and his team have been able to produce five full-length, finished episodes in just two years.  This is a tremendous pace, and a testament to their commitment that Star Trek Continues won’t be a one-off thing, but a real attempt at a continuing series of new Star Trek adventures featuring Kirk, Spock, and co.

As always, this Star Trek Continues episode looks incredible, absolutely professional.  There aren’t many new outer-space effects shots in this episode, but as has been the case with this show since the beginning, the glimpses we get of the Big-E in space are gorgeous.  The Enterprise costumes, sets, props, all are perfect.  My eye couldn’t detect any flaws.  Everything looks exactly like it should, just like an actual episode of classic Trek.  The way Mr. Mignogna and his team have recreated the Enterprise bridge and sick-bay (the two Enterprise sets that feature most prominently in this episode) are astounding.

All of the stuff with Kirk and McCoy in the Civil War might look a tad less polished, but it works well enough.  Clearly the Star Trek Continues folks took full advantage of the uniforms and equipment of Civil War reenactors to get some fine production value for their effort.  (There are several shots with quite a number … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues! “The White Iris”

June 22nd, 2015

Star Trek Continues is an impressive fan film production, creating full-length episodes that are intended to serve as the never-made fourth season of the original Star Trek.  I love these episodes.  The talented folks at Star Trek Continues are keeping Star Trek alive!


In “The White Iris,” the fourth episode of Star Trek Continues, Captain Kirk suffers a severe head injury while negotiating with a new planet that is set to join the Federation.  Doctor McCoy uses an experimental medicine to heal Kirk’s injuries, but the procedure has an unexpected result: the unravelling of the mind-meld that Spock had used to erase Kirk’s memory of the death of Rayna in “Requiem for Methusaleh.”  This in turn brings up Kirk’s repressed grief for the many women he has loved and lost over the years of his career.  Overwhelmed by visions of these dead women, Kirk seems unable to stave off the escalating violence between the planet and its aggressive neighbor world.

As always, the production values of Star Trek Continues are incredible.  The episode looks and sounds exactly, and I mean exactly, like a real episode of the Original Series.  The costumes are perfect, from the Enterprise crew uniforms to the look of the new aliens introduced in this episode.  The sets are perfect, from the bridge to sickbay to the transporter room to the Enterprise corridors.  There is not an off-note anywhere to be seen.  My jaw is on the floor at the way the sets from the Original Series have been so perfectly replicated.  I mean, look at the pattern on the red pillows in sickbay!  They are perfect!!

There aren’t too many visual effects in this episode, but what effects we see are fantastic.  The Big E looks gorgeous, as has been the case in all of these Star Trek Continues episodes.  I love seeing the original Enterprise reproduced so gloriously using CGI.  The see-through effect on the women in Kirk’s visions is well-realized, simple and effective without becoming silly.  I was also particularly impressed by the score in this episode, which wonderfully channels the sound and feel of Classic Trek.

I like the main story of this episode very much.  It’s nice to see the show taking a look into the internal emotional life of our hero, Kirk.  It’s also fun to see the modern sensibility of continuity brought to an Original Series story.  The original Star Trek almost never referred back to a previous episode.  But for modern viewers, there are so many Original Trek episodes that feel, today, like they demand follow-up.  So it was a great thrill in this episode to see so many important women from Kirk’s like brought back to our attention.  … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues! “The Fairest of Them All”

June 27th, 2014

After the dismal Star Trek Into Darkness (click here for my review), with the rumor that Bob Orci (who is perhaps a 9/11 Truther) will be directing the next Trek film, and with no prospects of a new Trek TV show anywhere on the horizon, this feels like a bleak time for Trek fans.  But some Trek fans aren’t taking things lying down.  As readers of this site are well aware, I am a huge fan of two parallel groups of Trek fans who have taken it upon themselves to create the never-made fourth season of the Original Series, crafting full-episode-length Star Trek episodes featuring the further adventures of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

The folks at Star Trek Continues have just released their third episode, “The Fairest of Them All,” and like their initial two efforts (“Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani”), it is a magnificent achievement and a very fun watch.  Here is the full episode:

Star Trek Continues E03 “Fairest of Them All” from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

This episode is a direct sequel to the Original Series episode “Mirror, Mirror” in which Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scotty found themselves in a twisted alternate universe following a transporter accident.  The opening moments of the episode recreate the closing scene of “Mirror, Mirror,” in which Kirk exhorts Mirror Spock to take steps to change or defeat the cruel Terran empire which he serves.  The entire rest of the episode takes place in the Mirror Universe; we never see the “real” characters again.  Instead, we get to see what happens after Kirk & co. beamed back to their universe and the Mirror versions of Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scotty beam back aboard the I.S.S. Enterprise.

I’m pleased that they chose to set the whole show in the Mirror Universe (as did Enterprise’s Mirror Universe prequel two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly”) rather than trying to find some way to involve the regular versions of the characters.  It’s fun that they leaned into this exploration of the repercussions of Kirk & co.’s visit to the Mirror Universe, to try to answer the intriguing question of “what happened next.”

As has been the case since the very first Star Trek Continues vignette, the extraordinary production quality of these entirely fan-made efforts is jaw-dropping. These talented men and women have painstakingly recreated all of the familiar Enterprise sets.  The bridge looks perfect.  Kirk’s quarters look perfect.  Sickbay looks perfect.  The Enterprise corridors look perfect.  The costumes, the lighting, everything has been recreated extraordinarily faithfully.  I couldn’t spot one off-note.  Even more impressive for this episode, the production team has exactingly recreated the look of the Mirror … [continued]

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Star Trek Lives Part 1: “Lolani”

February 12th, 2014

Forget the dismal Star Trek Into Darkness.  It’s a great time to be a Star Trek fan.  This week sees the release of not one but two full-length, completely fan-made episodes of “Classic” Kirk/Spock/McCoy Star Trek.  First up: the second episode of Star Trek Continues, “Lolani.”


I have written a lot on this site about the extraordinary fan-made series Star Trek: Phase II, a group of dedicated and talented Trek fans who have set out to create a fourth season of classic Trek episodes, releasing about one full-length hour-long episode a year.  They released an episode last month, the Klingon-centric “Kitumba” (click here for my review), and, impressively, they have another episode coming out in just a few days.  Meanwhile, last year, another group began working to create their own full-length episodes of Classic Trek, called Star Trek Continues.  Their first episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity,” was great (click here for my review), and just a few days ago they released their second episode: “Lolani.”

I enjoyed “Pilgrim of Eternity,” but this second episode is even better.  What is consistent are the stupendous production values.  This fifty-minute episode looks and sounds exactly like an episode of Classic Star Trek, and I mean exactly.  The costumes, the props, the sets — it is extraordinary how the men and women of Star Trek Continues have replicated the look and feel of the original 1960’s Star Trek.  There is no a single off-moment that I could spot, not a single prop or set that looked wrong to me.  And the visual effects, supervised by Daren Dochterman (who worked on the fantastic Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture a decade ago), are absolutely gorgeous.  These visual effects are WAY BETTER than anything seen on the Original Series, and also superior in my opinion to the “official” Star Trek: Remastered project overseen by CBS several years ago.  What’s particularly great about the visual effects is that, while the CGI shots are much better than any of the primitive model-work used in the Original Series, the effects maintain the “feel” of those original effects shots.  These effects look like exactly what the special effects artists of the Original Series would have created had they had the technology.  The Enterprise looks and moves exactly the way she should.  I was bowled over by the beauty of those shots.

In this episode, “Lolani,” the Enterprise comes across an adrift Tellarite vessel.  Its four-person crew is dead, with only an Orion slave girl named Lolani still alive on-board.  While the Enterprise crew investigates what happened, Lolani is brought on board.  She very quickly requests asylum in the Federation, fearing a return to … [continued]

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Star Trek Continues!

Well, Star Trek Into Darkness was a disaster (click here for my full review), but luckily there are still a lot of incredibly devoted, creative Star Trek fans all over the world keeping the fandom of Star Trek alive.

I have written a lot on this site about the amazing fan-produced episodes Star Trek: Phase II (formerly Star Trek: New Voyages).  Over the past decade, they have been producing incredible full-length Star Trek episodes, intended to be the fourth season that never was of Star Trek the Original Series, featuring the continuing adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the crew of the Enterprise.  These Phase II episodes haven’t been perfect, but boy have I been impressed with the extraordinarily high quality of their productions — with amazing special effects, costumes, sets, lighting, and props, these episodes really look and feel like professionally produced episodes of Star Trek, and each episode seems to get better and better.  (Here are links to my reviews of their last two episodes: 2011’s Enemy: Starfleet! and 2012’s The Child.)

Last year, another group of Trek fans, made up of several who had been associated with Phase II, as well as several associated with another series of Trek fan-made films, Star Trek Farragut, announced their intention to produce their own new series of Star Trek episodes entitled Star Trek Continues.  As with Phase II, Star Trek Continues was announced as an attempt to realize the never-made fourth season of the original Star Trek series, featuring new full-length Star Trek episodes featuring Kirk and co.

After releasing three short vignettes (of varying quality — I loved the first one that picked up seconds after the last shot of what turned out to be the final classic Trek episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” but I was not wowed by the other two), Star Trek Continues has released its first full-length episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity.”  It is fantastic.  (Watch it here!)

First of all, let me say that I am suitably impressed with how quickly the Star Trek Continues folks were able to produce and release this episode!  I am loathe to criticize the wonderful Phase II productions, but there are episodes that they shot (and fans like me started reading about and anticipating) YEARS ago that still have not been completed and released.  Yet Star Trek Continues produced and released this episode in less than a year.  That’s fantastic — I really hope they are able to keep up that pace!!

“Pilgrim of Eternity” picks up the story from the original series Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” in which the Enterprise crew encountered what appeared to be the Greek god Apollo on … [continued]

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Dueling Star Trek Fan Films!

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:

Star Trek Continues from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

I think it’s super-cool that they begin by recreating the final shots of the final Original Trek episode: “Turnabout Intruder.”  … [continued]