Today marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek, and the start of a love affair between fans and the show’s utopian promise. With only 79 episodes over three seasons in the original 1966-1969 series, it might have disappeared into pop culture history. Instead, it has lived long and prospered, with movies and sequels and New Generations, and reboots and more sequels. And that’s not counting the labor-of-love fan films that have spawned around the fringes.
Now, fan-created films usually fall down in the acting and effects department, or they try too hard. But even if you’re not a dedicated Trekkie, the independently-produced Star Trek Continues holds up as some great sci-fi that recreates the original series’ look to perfection, while skirting parody. (Plus it got the blessing of series creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, who said his father “would consider this canon.”)
When we first told you about Star Trek Continues in February, five hour-long episodes were viewable on YouTube or the show’s official website, funded through two Kickstarter campaigns and personal moneys from executive producer Vic Mignogna ($150,000) and co-executive producer Steven Dengler ($100,000). Above, you can check out the two new episodes, “Come Not Between the Dragons” (Episode 6) and “Embracing the Winds” (Episode 7). Or watch the entire series, from start to finish, below.
Despite Star Trek Continues’ not-for-profit status, other Star Trek fan films have raised the ire of CBS and Paramount’s legal divisions, and may end up harming the future of such endeavors. But remember, CBS had no faith in the original series back in the day, placing it in later and later time slots. It was syndication that made the show a cult hit, and it was those original fans that lovingly fanned the embers until the show reignited. For them on this half-century mark, they deserve as much a thank you as the original crew of the Starship Enterprise.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.