by Zeke Teflon

Late at night, when I’m done working, I usually watch a video on Netflix or Youtube. Lately, I’ve been watching Star Trek fanfic series. Wikipedia has a page listing most such fanfic productions, and over the last couple of months I’ve gone through all of the ones they list, plus a few others I’ve found. I’m not a hardcore Trek fan, but I do like the various Trek movies and TV series to one extent or another, and it’s been fun checking out all of the fanfic shows. They’re all labors of love, and they’ve all involved a lot of labor, so I’ll (mostly) keep negative comments to myself, and will list here only the three fanfic series I think are the best.Tar Trek Phase II poster

Star Trek Phase II (formerly Star Trek New Voyages) has been around since 2003, and is a continuation of the original Trek series. To date, they’ve produced eight episodes, including some from unproduced scripts from the original series and the aborted 1970s “Phase II” project. Unfortunately, CBS refused to give them permission to use Norman Spinrad’s unproduced script, “He Walked Among Us,” from the original series, which decades later he turned into (or at least reused the title for) the wonderful novel He Walked Among Us; I’d have loved to have seen that episode. This is the most “fannish” of the more professionally produced fanfic series, and the acting isn’t great, though Walter Koenig (Chekov) and George Takei (Sulu) have both appeared in episodes.

Star Trek Continues poster

Star Trek Continues appeared in 2013, and has five episodes so far. It’s also a continuation of the original series, but is more professional in quality than “Phase II.” All scripts are original, and like the scripts for the movies and all of the Trek series, vary considerably in quality. At best (“Fairest of Them All”), they’re quite good; at worst (“Divided We Stand”), they’re painful. The acting is professional, and guests have included Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn (both from TNG); regular cast members include Grant Imahara (“Mythbusters”) and Chris Doohan (James Doohan’s son, reprising his father’s role).

Star Trek Renegades poster

Star Trek Renegades is the newest (2015) and very probably best funded of the not-for-profit,  fan-financed spinoffs. It’s also, by far, the most professional looking of them. It’s more of a miniseries than an ongoing series, and so far they’ve produced one 90-minute episode. Renegades largely involves the same crew who produced Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, whose cast included Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Graham, and Tim Russ, and which is a 90-minute movie rather than a series.  (A bonus — SETI Institute director Seth Shostak makes a cameo in Of Gods and Men.)

Renegades  takes off approximately 10 years in the future in the Voyager universe, and the actors are largely the same as in Of Gods and Men, but include other notables such as Edward Furlong and Robert Picardo. They released the first 90-minute episode earlier this year, and it’s entertaining though not especially plausible. (Just don’t think  too hard about plot holes and you’ll enjoy the episode.) They’ve raised another$378,000 via Kickstarter, and presumably are just starting work on the second of the projected three episodes.

Finally, if you’ve read this far, you’ll almost certainly enjoy William Shatner’s new documentary, “Chaos on the Bridge,”  which concerns the development  of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its first two seasons. “Chaos” refers to the mind-boggling amount of hassling among the writers, producers, and the show’s creators. “Chaos” is both funny and fascinating, and is currently available on Netflix.

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–Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia

Free Radicals front cover

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