I just discovered (via io9) the fan-produced series Star Trek Continues, which intends to follow the crew of the USS Enterprise across the fourth and fifth years of its five-year mission. But to call it “fan-produced” is misleading. That makes it sound smaller and less incredible than it is. This isn’t a reflection of or an homage to something greater — this is Star Trek. This is so pitch-perfect a re-creation that it gave me chills, then it made me cry tears of geek joy, and then I forgot I was watching anything other than Star Trek. The sets and the costumes and the props are perfect. The lighting and the direction and the pacing is perfect. It’s even shot in the old-fashioned TV aspect ratio of 4:3. I felt like I was watching episodes from the 60s that I had somehow missed.
Two episodes of Continues have been released so far, “Pilgrim of Eternity” — a sequel to the original series episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” featuring actor Michael Forest reprising his role as Apollo almost 50 years later — and “Lolani,” which I suggest you watch first. Because “Lolani” better shows the potential that Continues has: to bring a more modern progressive attitude to universe that is Star Trek. Not that the original Trek wasn’t progressive, but “Lolani” pushes that to a place where a 1960s TV show couldn’t have gone. In this episode, an Orion slave girl is rescued by the Enterprise, which forces the crew to confront the moral implications of her position and their legal obligation to return her to her owner under Orion law. The phrase “Prime Directive” is never mentioned, but that’s what it’s all about. And the phrase “sex trafficking” is never mentioned, either. But that’s what it’s all about.
I also love love love that Continues gets just right the balance between honoring the original Trek vision while acknowledging that our ideas about some things have moved on. The female crew and officers still wear the miniskirt uniforms, but there are a ton more female crew and officers, including some tough female security crew — I guess we’ll have to call them redskirts.
Here’s “Pilgrim of Eternity”:
And here’s “Lolani”:
Keep an eye out for a guest appearance by Jamie Bamber in the first episode; more obvious in the second episode are Erin Gray and Lou Ferrigno in guest spots.