I’ve been trying to decide what to do with Saturdays in light of Saturday Night Galactica falling through. Since this site is primarily about the art of storytelling, and the internet holds many resources for stories not available on TV, in the theaters, or on store shelves, perhaps I can use this to my advantage. As a sort of trial run, I believe I will start with another trial run as demonstration.
As we all know, Star Trek was canceled two years short of the supposed five year mission. (Granted, that doesn’t mean they planned to only air it for five years, unlike say Babylon 5.) There was an animated series that did run for two years, but for various reasons, Paramount has barely acknowledged the series until recently and I’m not sure if it has reached “canon” status at this time.
However, one group of fans have embarked on a project to bring back the classic series. Star Trek: Phase II, formerly known as Star Trek: New Voyages, is a fan-produced series with new actors portraying the classic characters set after the original series, but well before the movies. The goal is to continue the story, much like the new Doctor Who shows. However, they have had the unique opportunity to bring back actors from the original series, as well as staff–prop masters and writers, for example–to help make the stories. They even have the full support of the Rodenberry family and as long as they make no profit from the shows, Paramount looks the other way.
But every good series needs a pilot, and for whatever reason, their pilot is no longer available on their site. Now, being me and someone who can appreciate these things (and don’t fans like to see The Cage now and then), I was able to find it on Google Video. So tonight, I bring to you for your enjoyment the pilot for Star Trek: New Voyages, “Come What May”.
[UPDATE: 3/9/2021: This is slightly altered from the original posting of the episode. The new site notes a new aspect ratio, which I’m disappointed about because putting it in the classic TV ratio instead of the modern one makes it feel more like the original show like they were going for, and also states changing some “outdated titles”, whatever that means. It’s also shorter and it makes me wonder if something got censored or otherwise altered.]
OK, it’s not perfect, and later episodes are much improved. (For one thing, James Cawley isn’t using the Elvis wig from his paying gig. And the acting is much better. Also, they’ve played musical actors with Spock, Scotty, and Uhura.) However, there is a love for the show evident in all their episodes, even what I would call the “fanboy moments”. And sometimes the fanboy moments help the show, but they occasionally hurt it as well. On the other hand, there is some potential and I can only hope the Onabi and Moath return someday. It would be nice to see some more original threats than to keep bringing the Klingons back. Plus the new Who has their own recurring monsters, so why not Phase II?
Then again, I haven’t watched the newest episode, “Blood and Fire” part 1, or the one before it that guest starred George Takei himself. I did see Walter Koening playing aged Checkov, and it was a good story, although the fanboy in me did have issues with the ending of that episode. Still, I encourage all Trekkies (remember, “Trekkers” are the people who made the show) to give the series a chance. They’ve also spun off other shows, and have offered their homemade replica set to at least one of them. Give the site a good once over, it’s a fascinating history, and shows that you don’t need a huge budget and “name” actors to make a good series.