By Philip Schweier
November 17, 2017 - 11:11
Just north of Jacksonville, FL, is a warehouse known to its occupants as “Stage 9.” This is in honor of the Paramount sound stage in which the original Star Trek series was filmed. Because inside an unassuming metal building just off Interstate 95 sits a full-scale replica of the original Star Trek set. Bridge, sick bay, transporter room, everything, recreated in meticulous detail.
Originally it was created by the producers of Starship Farragut, a fan series available on YouTube. They later turned it over to the team at Star Trek Continues, another fan series that has produced 11 episodes, supposedly cover the remaining two years of the original five-year mission.
Star Trek Continues is led by actor Vic Mignogna, who writes, directs and stars as Captain James T. Kirk. He is also known as the voice of Edward Elric on the animé series, Full Metal Alchemist. “I hand picked and invited each and every one of the cast of STC,” he says. “They are all talented actors in their roles and great friends as well. I never wanted to make STC with hired hands… I wanted to make it with friends.”
Back Row: Steven Dengler as Security Chief Drake; Kipleigh Brown as Lt. Smith; Cat Roberts as Lt. Palmer; Chris Doohan as Chief Engineer Scott. Middle Row: Chuck Huber as Dr. McCoy; Kim Stinger as Lt. Uhura; Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk; Michele Specht as Dr. McKenna; Front: Wyatt Lenhart as Chekov; Grant Imahara as Lt. Sulu
Guest stars have included actors from the original series, as well as other science fiction programs such as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who. Other actors to be featured include Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Erin Gray (Buck Rogers) and John De Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Thanks to the generosity of fans, STC’s “Kirkstarter” campaigns have funded not only new episodes, but also new sets, such as the engine room and a planet set. The cast and crew have managed to recapture the feel and sound of the original series. Mignogna credits his director of photography Matt Bucy. “He’s a genius! He and I had many discussions about what we needed to do to capture TOS as closely as possible.”
Over the course of 11 web-produced episodes, the crew of the Enterprise has enjoyed some stellar adventures, featuring characters from original episodes, such as Apollo and Edith Keeler. They have revisited the Mirror Universe, and Chekov has finally earned his promotion to lieutenant.
In the story, Kirk and his crew encounter a number of high-level ESPers who intend to surmount the boundary at the edge of the galaxy. It is their intent to be “uplifted,” as Gary Mitchell was in the premier episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” With god-like powers at their command, they expect to be the next step in human evolution. While Kirk has an unlikely ally to assist him, how long can he bear the strain of command in this time of crisis?
The episode is superb, and sure to delight fans of the original series. It also reconciles some of the continuity concerns that have risen over the years, between the original series, the feature films, and the later iterations that followed.
“My lifelong love of the show gives me a very strict vision about what I want it to look like,” says Mignogna. “I feel like we’ve pretty much accomplished what we set out to do.”
Whether the series will be considered canon remains to be seen, but many fans agree that it should be. That would include Rod Roddenberry, son of the series creator Gene Roddenberry, who endorsed the project, saying, “I'm pretty damn sure my dad would consider this canon. The fact that you do stories that mean something, that have depth, that make us all think a little bit, I really think he would applaud you guys.”
If you are a die-hard fan of the original Star Trek, and are disappointed by Star Trek: Discovery, you would do well to visit YouTube for a look at Star Trek Continues. You may just fall in love all over again.