BitDepth 624 - April 22

The five year mission of Spock, Kirk and McCoy ended in the 1960's. Or did it? Fans of the series believe otherwise and have been winning attention for their unpaid work in keeping the spirit of Star Trek, TOS alive.
Fan Trek scores big

Clockwise from top left: Andy Bray and Walter Koenig on the set of “To Serve all my Days”, Trek alumni Mary Linda Rapelye and an aged Koenig, Sulus George Takei and John Lim, Denise Crosby in the upcoming episode “Blood and Fire” by Tribbles author David Gerrold. Photos courtesy Star Trek Phase II.

Because I make it my business to browse websites and download movies on behalf of my readership, I stumbled across an intriguing development in the story of Star Trek New Voyages originally reported 113 BitDepths ago.. Yes, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it around here.
New Voyages is the fan created series that explores the adventures of the starship Enterprise in the fourth season of the show. You don’t have to be a particularly devoted trekker to know that the first Star Trek television series, now referred to as TOS or the original series, was cancelled by NBC because of low ratings in 1969.

Star Trek would become one of the first television shows to fuel the concept of syndication, which sold a show’s entire run for replay to a specific television station.
Syndication was a goldmine for the producers of defunct shows, but it proved to be a crucial mindshare saver for Star Trek, which became more popular in reruns that it ever had been during its original broadcasts. A series of movies and four new television series followed that popularity and Paramount is currently producing a prequel movie to the series, which will explore the early years of the crew before they embarked on their five year mission.

Star Trek as classic fiction
Enter James Cawley, a tall, rakish looking guy with a yen to play Captain Kirk, revive the series as fan fiction and no resemblance at all to William Shatner.
Launched as New Voyages and recently renamed Star Trek Phase II, a note on the website for the series notes that the producers believe that Kirk, Spock and McCoy “should be treated as ‘classic’ characters like Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings or even Hamlet, Othello or Romeo. Many actors have and can play the roles, each offering a different interpretation of said character.”
Four episodes have been produced so far and the growth of the series since the first, pilot episode, “Come what may” is quite astonishing.

What began as an enthusiastic reimagining of the world of Star Trek, with patchy special effects, wobbly sets and props and only marginal costuming and makeup has evolved into something professional and engaging.
In November 2007, the series won the SciFi Webisodes category of the TV Guide Online Video Awards.
In a remarkable example of building it, in this case, the bridge and corridors of the NCC-1701, many talented people came, including members of the Roddenberry family, a number of guest stars and writers from the original series, special effects students from the DAVE School and in a stunning coup, Walter Koenig and George Takei reprising their roles as Pavel Chekov and Hikaru Sulu.

Now it could be argued that Koenig and Takei were the members of the original cast who got the shortest end of the acting stick as the movies progressed. Keonig’s biggest moment in the big screen Treks was getting a worm put in his ear and Takei got to look really serious as captain of his own ship, but these weren’t what you might call acting opportunities.

Improving on the original
Star Trek Phase II, named in homage to an aborted official plan to continue the adventures of the TOS crew in a second televised five year mission, has offered both actors a great correction to the record of their service on the Enterprise.
In “To serve all my days,” Chekov gets hit again with the ageing virus and must confront his mortality, and in “World enough and time,” a transporter accident loses Sulu for a few minutes that the dematerialised helmsman experiences as thirty years.

The Chekov episode works hard at its tragedy, but the Sulu episode is more of a mini-movie than a revisited television episode. The production values, acting, writing and direction result in a surprisingly honest experience that transcends the show’s no budget origins.
If the TV Guide award was a salute of what Cawley and his cohorts have been up to, then the announcement last month that World enough and time had been nominated for the Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short form) is the firing of 21 phasers. 

The episode, written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree and directed by Zicree is up against professional productions like the Battlestar Galactic “Razor” series and Dr Who episodes, but whether it wins or not, a crucial rubicon has been crossed.
Star Trek Phase II may not be able to make a cent off its hard work, because Paramount’s lawyers only allow the production continue as long as it remains non-profit and freely distributed, but if all these fans wanted to do was to make the Star Trek they remembered, then they have enthusiastically improved on the original.

Star Trek Phase II
The Dave School
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