Sometimes, you come across an amazing achievement. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since the ’60s and enjoyed the latter day spin-offs to varying degrees but there is a charm and brilliance about The Original Series which has been tough to match. The writing, the characters, the acting – all set a certain benchmark in sci-fi television. And it created a legion of die hard fans. Such devoted fans, in fact, that 40 and 50 years after the fact, there have been some groups that have gone to pain staking lengths to recreate every small detail of the show.
Until now, I knew of only one production that had rebuilt all the original sets from TOS and actually produced their own version of the show, dressing up and playing the parts of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest. They did a good job and are to be commended for their dedication, but they ended production about 5 or 6 years ago. This was the “New Voyages” production. Again, they did a great job but didn’t quite get there.
The show I’m talking about today did get there. Star Trek Continues is, in a word, amazing. I’m going to compliment them now in a couple of shocking ways and I’m not exaggerating a bit. First statement: these actors and this production is of a higher quality and better performed by this cast than the JJ Abrams films. Abrams’ films were a mish mash of lens flares, bad impersonations, “reimaginings”, and warping of old stories. I’m sure his heart was in the right place but he’s first and foremost a Star Wars fan. He knew nothing about Trek and it showed. Turns out, his take on Star Wars wasn’t stellar either but I digress. Star Trek Continues is a superior product.
Second statement: this show’s goal was to basically demonstrate how the Enterprise’s five year mission came to an end and it succeeds. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve earned the right to have their season put on the shelf right next to the three seasons of TOS. That’s how good a job they’ve done. Now, a bit about each of the vital parts that make it work so well.
It all starts with Vic Mignogna, who plays James T. Kirk. This guy is a huge fan of Trek from way back and, while not a dead ringer for Shatner, he has a similar body type, the right “look”, and pulls off a very convincing Shatner. Not a cartoony Shatner, no. It’s obvious Mignogna and the rest of the cast have too much respect for Gene Roddenberry’s dream to not take it seriously. He does a very good Captain Kirk. A good Shatner. I think that in addition to writing and directing some of the episodes, Mignogna might also be the main producer (or at least one of them).
Todd Haberkorn plays Spock, and seriously, I’ve seen people try and play Spock in the past, both professionally and fan based and somehow, Haberkorn manages to inhabit Spock, and yet make it his own. I’d argue that portraying Spock, while honoring the spirit imbued in him by Nimoy is maybe the toughest challenge of any of these characters. He sells it and he nails it. Finally, an actor who is a worthy successor to Leonard Nimoy. Sorry, Quinto. Folks, I’m telling you now– I get swept up in these stories and I’m not seeing a fan recreation. I’m seeing new adventures featuring the characters I know and love.
This was obviously a side project for these folks so that might be why producing the 11 episodes took about six years, roughly from 2013 through to about 2017. So there were a couple of things changed here and there, such as two actors playing McCoy. Larry Nemecek portrayed the good doctor in the first couple and Chuck Huber carried out the part for the remainder. They both do a serviceable job in the role, although since I’ve only seen six of the 11 so far, there may be a more McCoy-centric episode I haven’t watched yet.
Montgomery Scott is played by none other than Chris Doohan, James Doohan’s son. And he can do the Scottish accent just as well as his dad. He’s an excellent addition to the cast.
Grant Imahara, Kim Stinger, and Wyatt Lenhart round out the cast as Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov and also do a respectable job representing the characters. As with TOS, they still get secondary status but I would argue they get a tiny bit more attention here.
Then there’s the character of the Enterprise itself. All the outer space stuff is perfectly done. The SFX are cutting edge, yet tailor made to blend in with the ’60s sensibilities but with a proper, remastered upgrade like TOS got on DVD and Blu-ray. And the interiors are simply perfect. Every detail is spot on, from the bridge – with every light, button, and sound effect – through the specific quarters of Kirk, Spock, sick bay, engineering, the hanger bay, right down to the corridors, turbo lifts, and Jeffrey tubes. You may as well have just gone back in time.
The music, the lighting, the camera positioning, and directing are all immaculate recreations of the standards and practices of the original show.
And the writing is not only top notch but the practice the old show had of taking societal issues and mirroring them in the scripts is in fact continued here. Another wonderful and well done homage.
Then there are the guest stars who further legitimise the experience. Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi in The Next Generation) does the voice of the computer in this universe. Michael Dorn (Worf) does the voice in the Mirror universe. Michael Forrest, who played Apollo in TOS, John DeLancie (Q), Erin Grey (Buck Rogers), Lou Ferrigno (Incredible Hulk), Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant (Doctor Who), and Cas Anvar (The Expanse) all play parts and I’m skimming the surface here.
What else can I say about this? If you loved the original series, I think it’s worth it to watch Star Trek Continues. It gets a standing O from me.