Fan-made Star Trek films and web series are nothing new. The first ones hit the Internet way back in 2000. However, a quick survey of these productions reveals that most of them suffer from substandard script-writing, substandard acting, or both, to say nothing of the special effects.
Not so for the latest fan series, Star Trek Continues. This series aims to produce the cancelled final two seasons of the Enterprise’s original five-year mission. You can watch the first episode, “The Pilgrim of Eternity”, here.
Simply put, Star Trek Continues is the best fan series out there. The only thing that comes close is probably Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, which also happens to have by far the highest concentration of original series actors. Continues doesn’t have that advantage, but they do have real actors on their team, and they have worked hard to capture the feel of the original Star Trek, from Vic Mignogna’s spot-on replication of William Shatner’s infamous acting to, yes, even the cheesy 1960s special effects.
“The Pilgrim of Eternity” may still be a little rough around the edges, and the implied 2 or 3 episode per year production schedule is not encouraging, but I’m eager to see how the series develops.
So why does this show that we’re living in the Future? Because it shows that we are reaching the point where a bunch of amateurs with an Internet connection (and maybe a Kickstarter campaign) can compete with professional studios. Combine that with Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’s prediction of the impending implosion of Hollywood, and we could be in for the biggest media shake-up since…well…the Internet.
To be sure, we have a long way to go. Good luck moving special effects much past 1990 without a professional team, for example, but we are getting there. Let’s leave aside for a moment the inevitable copyright debacle* and the emerging problem of quality control. Just imagine the world 10 or 20 years hence, when it becomes economical for fans to made their own full-length films and TV series, for no cost beyond donations, which are better written and almost as well executed as what the big networks put out.
What will the landscape look like then, especially in science fiction, where it’s easy to get a cult following? Star Wars prequels that are actually good? A remake of Firefly? (God willing!) Or, failing those, how about original, intelligent series that rival anything the cable networks put out, but which don’t have the sword of cancellation hanging over their heads for anything besides actual quality? What do you think? What do you want to see from the new media?
It may sound optimistic to some, but I say it’s already started. Welcome to the Future.
*Expect the whole copyright mess to come to a head sometime between now and 2023, when the first Mickey Mouse cartoons hit public domain.