Happy 45th Birthday, Star Trek!

kirk with stalactite dildo
Bow chicka wah-wah!

It had some of the sillier plots and ideas to come from popular sci-fi, full of bad acting and even worse special effects, mired in some (but not all) the norms of 1950s and 1960s television, but it still somehow managed to influence pop culture and a lot of technologies – from the “flip” design of earlier mobile phones to Uhura’s Bluetooth earpiece to the iPad, to name a couple — and find a place in many a geek’s heart, including this one’s. It was Star Trek, now known as Star Trek: The Original Series or TOS for short, and it made its debut on this day 45 years ago: September 8th, 1966.

There are a lot of ways to pay tribute to Star Trek and its spin-offs, but here’s a way a lot of people won’t point you to: some very well-made fan films that I’ve found rather enjoyable – in fact, in some cases, they’re a little better than the original series.

If there’s an ultimate Trek fan, I’d have to say it’s James Cawley, who used the money from his Elvis impersonator gig to fund his fan series titled Star Trek: Phase II. There are some pretty good episodes in this series: some interesting storytelling, some better acting, and far improved visuals. Here are the episodes…

In Harm’s Way: The Doomsday Machines have screwed up history, but Spock has a plan to fix it, with the assistance of the Guardian of Forever:

To Serve All My Days: Captain Kirk needs his best weapons officer on the bridge, but Lt. Chekov is incapacitated with a debilitating disease that is causing him to age rapidly… a disease for which Dr. McCoy can find no cure. This one has special guest star Walter Koenig, the Chekov from TOS and was written by D.C. Fontana, who wrote episodes for TOS:

World Enough and Time: A Romulan weapons test goes awry and snares the Enterprise in an inter-dimensional trap. Lt. Commander Sulu returns to find himself 30 years out of place and the key to saving the crew of the Enterprise as the precarious grasp on their own dimension begins to slip.This one has special guest star George “Just Say” Takei, the Sulu from TOS:

Blood and Fire, Parts 1 and 2: This one’s got it all – a two-parter, a big space battle, survival horror with Regulan bloodworms, gay ensigns and Denise Crosby from Star Trek: The Next Generation playing an interesting role.

Enemy: Starfleet: The USS Eagle, lost eight years before, is now in the clutches of a woman who bends starships and their captains to her will and has been reverse engineered into a fleet that is bent on domination and genocide.

Finally, there’s Of Gods and Men, a fan film featuring some of the New Voyages sets and cast and a whole mess of “real” Trek actors, including Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Alan Ruck (Captain John Harriman, from Start Trek: Generations), Tim Russ (Tuvok from Voyager), Ethan Phillips (Neelix from Voyager), Robert Walker Jr. (“Charlie” from the Charlie X TOS episode) and cameos by actors from other Star Trek series:

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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