What is 'Star Trek Continues'?
Over the years, I've seen the odd fan-produced Star Trek episodes and most have left me cold. While these productions are keeping Star Trek alive, they suffer badly from bad acting (no or few professional actors used), bad scripts (again, no professional writers), bad effects (though these have improved enormously over the years with better computer tech and software) and bad camera work. They make you realize just how slick and well put together TV shows are these days.
Then, just recently, I heard about Star Trek Continues. Helming this production is Vic Mignogna, an actor who's primarily (up till now) been known as a voice actor and musician for his prolific work in the anime industry and his work with Japanese anime characters and video games.
He's been involved in various fan productions from the mid 2000s including Star Trek: Phase II - co-directing the episode "Enemy: Starfleet" and playing the Andorian Captain and directing the "KITUMBA" episode and playing Malkthon the Klingon.
In 2012, he became involved with Star Trek Continues. This is an unofficial continuation of the Enterprise's 5 year mission with episodes being set in what would have been The Original Series 4th season. Mignogna actually financed the production of the first episode himself. Later episodes were funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
Star Trek Continues Cast Members
Mignogna plays Kirk. Without parodying Shatner's portrayal of Kirk, he has Kirk's mannerisms down pretty pat. Todd Haberkorn plays Spock. His I found to be the most jarring of the original cast replacements but he does a good job of playing Spock.
Larry Nemecek plays McCoy and, to be honest, he's one of the weaker actors and doesn't come across as "Bones" McCoy. He's not gruff enough. I've seen him in a couple of other fan productions and he has a tendency to over-act scenes.
An interesting choice for Scotty is Chris Doohan, James Doohan's son. He's not a professional actor but you do see glimpses of the real Scotty in his performance.
Grant Imahara (from Mythbusters) plays Sulu. Unfortunately, he's easily the least capable actor in this production. I've also seen him in a couple of other productions (like Star Trek: Renegades) and his lack of acting chops drags the production level down a notch or two. If I had a recommendation for Star Trek Continues, it would be to replace him (or buy him some acting lessons).
Star Trek Continues features a ships' Counselor, played by Michele Specht. Why they've opted for this character I don't know (perhaps a nod to TNG?), but TNG's Counselor was the most useless character on that show (at least in my opinion). Specht can act though.
The first STC episode follows on from the Original Series Episode "Who Mourns For Adonais" when the crew re-encounter the Greek God Apollo. It's almost 50 years since that original episode aired, but they managed to get Michael Forest to reprise his role as (a now much older) Apollo. It's an interesting take on what became of that character following the original episode.
The Look And Feel of Star Trek Continues
For a fan production, Star Trek Continues stands above all the competition. What they've achieved is pretty remarkable. It's not perfect and could use improvements in some areas, but it's definitely a solid foundation on which to build on ongoing series (4 episodes have been shot to date with a 5th on the way).
One thing that impressed me were the Enterprise sets. These were constructed using the original soundstage blueprints so they're a faithful reproduction of the originals.
The Other Star Trek Continues Episodes:
This webseries isn't just about new episodes on authentic-looking sets; the aim was to recreate the whole look and feel of a TOS episode, so that meant recreating the cinematography, costumes, acting, sound and story-telling style. I've had robust discussions with friends about how lighting and cinematography was used in TOS episodes to convey intensity or heighten emotion - techniques that was eschewed in the blandly lit Next Generation (apart from Yesterday's Enterprise). The TOS four-act presentation is also used as commercials used to be shown at the end of each act (thankfully, no commercials are actually shown during the episode). Episodes are also shot in the old 4:3 ratio rather than in widescreen. While I applaud that decision, I wonder if it's offputting to the modern generation who expect everything to be in widescreen.
Another thing I really like is that the episode is devoted to a single plot line so you get a solid 50 minutes of in-depth story-telling. This way of making episodes was already gone by the time The Next Generation arrived on our screens with its major and minor plot lines split over 42 minutes. If you look back, I think you'll find that TNG's best episodes were the ones where there was no B plot in the episode (e.g. The Inner Light). By Voyager's time, things had decayed even more with A, B and C plots in episodes and too much padding with Technobabble. Star Trek Continues doesn't have any of that. It's refreshing to go back to that old style of in-depth storytelling.
The first episode of this Star Trek webseries "Pilgrim of Eternity" is below. Given it's a fan production, I was pleasantly surprised by the production quality. Acting, for the most part, is good enough not to make you cringe and the episode certainly has the authentic look and feel of a TOS-era episode.
If you're only familiar with the actors from The Original Series, you'll probably find it jarring to watch the Star Trek Continues cast. At least initially. Stick with it though and you'll find yourself being drawn back into the world of Star Trek. The differences will start to recede into the background and similarities will come to the fore. If you squint, you'll think you're watching Shatner's Kirk. Haberkorn's Spock takes a little longer to get used to but he's pretty good in the role.
Start your introduction to Star Trek Continues with this 5-minute vignette, which takes up the story right after TOS's final episode Turnabout Intruder ends...
I'm curious to hear what you think of this first Star Trek Continues episode, so sound off in the comments...
Now here's the first Star Trek Continues episode: Pilgrim of Eternity...
BTW, Star Trek Continues won a Geekie Award for "Best Web Series" in 2014 and has been very positively received by the critics, who praised the quality of the production, stating that the series has set a new standard for Star Trek fan productions.
And here are some cast interviews that give some background to the series...
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Filed under: Star Trek Fan Productions