While we all enjoy the original 79 episodes, the animated series and six feature films, there have actually been more adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise. No, I’m not referring to the novels or various comic book runs. I’m talking about Star Trek fan films and they date back as far as the 1970s. Yes, the future is indeed now and Captain Kirk is very much alive.
To be fair, it really wasn’t until the last 15 years or so that fan films reached a level that they could be considered close to mainstream and were worth watching as well as being easily accessible. Starship Exeter was one of the pioneers in 2002, quickly followed by Star Trek: New Voyages in 2004. However, for this long-time Trekkie, the best and most enjoyable has been Star Trek Continues.
Vic Mignogna is in the captain’s chair for this production, being involved with the writing, directing and, perhaps most importantly, playing none other than Captain James T. Kirk. Now, nobody can do Kirk like William Shatner, which is why Mignogna does not do a Shatner impersonation. He is tackling the role in his own way, paying homage to Shatner at times while bringing his own unique style to the role. He easily surpasses other actors like James Cawley and, most recently, Brian Gross, in that other fan series, Star Trek: New Voyages. In my opinion, Mignogna set the ship on the right course directly out of space dock.
Mignogna’s supporting cast can be a little bit of a mixed offering. Todd Haberkorn is good as Spock but he’s definitely no Leonard Nimoy (or Zachary Quinto for that matter). Chuck Huber’s Dr. McCoy is enjoyable as he channels some DeForest Kelley while putting his spin on the role. However, it’s the brilliant casting of Chris Doohan, the real-life son of the late James Doohan, in the role of Scotty that puts this series on a different level from the others. Add to that new cast member Michele Specht as Dr. Elise McKennah, the first ships counselor, and guest stars such as Erin Gray (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica). We’ve even been graced with the presence of Michael Forest returning in the role of Apollo (“Who Mourns for Adonais?”) at the age of 83 in the first episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity.”
After three pilot vignettes in 2012, Star Trek Continues has released seven episodes in little more than three years. All are written in the style of the original series, with brilliantly recreated sets, lighting and even the acting done in a manner so as to recreate the feel of the original series. Unlike other fan series that have tried to modernize their shows ever so slightly, Mignogna is treating Star Trek Continues as a true continuation of the original. For this Trekkie, it’s definitely what the doctor ordered.
I met Vic Mignogna at Planet Comicon this past May. He stated that his original goal was to do a complete season of 13 episodes. However, in light of the recent lawsuit between CBS/Paramount and Alec Peters of Prelude to Axanar fame, he thought it was looking more like 10. Shortly after that, CBS/Paramount released their guidelines for fan films and it appears that it could mean the end of Star Trek Continues with the recent seventh episode. However, there are always possibilities. Star Trek Continues is the only official non-profit production, which may very well be its’ saving grace as Mignogna continues to work behind the scenes. Whatever happens, Star Trek Continues is still alive at the moment, with seven complete episodes to entertain.
All eyes are now on the future. On the big screen, we’re three films into the JJ Abrams universe. This past summer’s flick, Star Trek Beyond, didn’t do as well at the box office, leaving some to question whether or not a fourth film will now happen. Perhaps Trekkies have spoken and want a return to the original universe. They’ll apparently get that with next year’s Star Trek Discovery. CBS All Access brings Trek back to the small screen in May 2017. We know very little at this point but there are countless speculations online. I have chosen to wait and read the official announcements as it gets closer. But I am very interested.
For now, go to YouTube and check out the Star Trek Continues website to enjoy the complete series with more adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and all the rest. Oh sure, there are some flaws every now and then. However, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the human adventure is indeed continuing.