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These Are the New Voyages

Fan series "Star Trek: New Voyages" and "Starship Exeter."
Fan series "Star Trek: New Voyages" and "Starship Exeter."

“Space, the final frontier. These are the new voyages...”

It had to happen. In fact it's happened for a decade now. The spirit of the original Star Trek has been brought back many times for Internet TV in many different incarnations, most notably Star Trek: Phase II. Created in April 2003 by James Cawley under the title Star Trek: New Voyages, it takes place during the fifth and final year of the USS Enterprise's five-year mission. The look of Star Trek TOS has been recreated faithfully, and of course the show sports 21st-Century visual effects. Some You Tube commentators even think Phase II has better effects than TOS!

Some episodes are based on scripts originally written for the abortive Star Trek: Phase II series of the '70s. One of them "The Child," was used as the basis of an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. It's a well-done enough rendition, but the Deltan character has hair, and I always thought that the idea behind Persis Khambatta shaved her head for Star Trek: The Motion Picture was that the Deltans were hairless. At any rate, we can finally some original Phase II scripts brought lovingly to life. The screens on the Bridge Set are actual working LCD screens, unlike the original series which used back lit gels. The sets were made from the original blueprints, rather than just photos.

TOS writers such as DC Fontana, as well as TOS actors such as George Takei and Walter Koenig, have even contributed to Phase II. Koenig appears in "To Serve All My Days," inspired by the TOS episode "The Deadly Years." Takei guest stars in the New Voyages episode "World Enough And Time."

A favorite New Voyages episode of mine is "In Harm's Way," which, though an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink contrivance of many incarnations of Trek, boasts epic scope and hits the ground running.

James Cawley, recently replaced by Brian Gross, sported a pompadour and echoed Willliam Shatner's world-famous interpretation of Jim Kirk without channeling it too much.

Starship Exeter was produced in 2002, and it follows the voyages of one of the TOS-era Enterprise's sister ships. The first episode, "The Savage Empire", was followed years later by "The Tressaurian Intersection". Most of the latter was completed and has been on You Tube, with the final segment due in May. So far, "The Tressaurian Intersection" shows progress, as it's tighter than the previous episode. The titular alien race, similar to the Gorn, are a fun-looking species. James Culhane as Capt. John Quincy Garrovic can act well enough, but is a bit baby-faced for a starship captain.

Both shows are astounding in their faithful recreations of the look and feel of Star Trek TOS. The uniforms, sets, lighting and color schemes actually feel as much like TOS as possible.

And these shows are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also Starship Farragut, the CGI Star Trek Aurora, Star Trek Continues (which I briefly mistook for New Voyages!), and the list goes on. From the look of it, the spirit of the original Star Trek series is still alive.

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