Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Future of Star Trek Television Shows is Online

2016 will be the 50th anniversary of the television show which aimed "to boldly go where no man has gone before" when STAR TREK debuted on September 8, 1966.  It will also mark eleven years since Enterprise was cancelled in 2001 ending an 18-year run of  back-to-back Star Trek television series that began with the revitalization of the brand in 1987 with The Next Generation.  For me these television shows cultivated my interest in science fiction which had been initiated by my enjoyment of Star Wars movies and now faced a void of new content to keep my interest following the culmination of the original trilogy of movies with Return of the Jedi in 1983.  During my high school and college years, Star Trek played a key part in maintaining and developing my appreciation of the Sci-Fi genre.  I would absolutely not be the fan of science fiction that I am today if it wasn't for the 18 year run of Star Trek shows on TV.

Yes there are the new Star Trek motion pictures to enjoy every few years, but the television series were a regular gateway that viewers could depend on each week to transport them to faraway worlds and include them in fantasy adventures.  That regular connection to the franchise is lacking for today's fans.  Aspiring screen writer and entertainment producer Sky Conway is trying to change that though by creating an independent, fan-funded and supported Internet television series.  Conway has teamed up with Star Trek alumni Walter Koenig (Chekov in the original Star Trek television series) and Tim Russ (Tuvok in the Voyager TV show) to create a pilot episode for an online series called Star Trek: Renegades.

Directed by Russ, Star Trek: Renegades is set a decade after the conclusion of the Voyager series (1995-2001) focusing on a team of fugitives who are on the run from the Federation while secretly working for the head of Starfleet's Intelligence Division, Admiral Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and his adviser a Vulcan named Tuvok (Tim Russ) to root out internal corruption and external threats.  This crew of rogues, outcasts, and criminals is led by Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson), a descendant of the Star Trek franchise's greatest villain Kahn Noonan Singh (Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn / Star Trek: Into Darkness ), who has genetically engineered superhuman abilities and is disdained by the Federation and Star Fleet because of her heritage.  In addition to Koenig and Russ, there are a bunch of familiar faces appearing in Star Trek: Renegades including Gary Graham ( Alien Nation / Star Trek Enterprise), Corin Nemec (Stargate SG-1, Parker Lewis Can't Lose), Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager / Star Trek First Contact / Stargate SG-1  ), Richard Herd (Seinfeld / SeaQuest 2032 / Star Trek Voyager), Robert Jefferson Jr. (Battlestar Galactica) and Manu Intiraymi (Star Trek Voyager).

While this online pilot episode doesn't have the polish of a big budget studio production, it is rather well done and enjoyable to watch. There are some great space ship renderings and battle scenes in Star Trek: Renegades that are actually pretty impressive to view and could match up with scenes you may see on a broadcast television network or in a big budget movie.  Of course there are also some cheesy scenes, special effects, and plot elements like when a Klingon is vaporized and the "portals" that can cause the impending doom of any planet where a bigger budget may have made a difference in improving the show.

Star Trek: Renegades is FREE to watch on YouTube.  Check it out!

Bases upon the positive response to Star Trek: Renegades, Conway, Russ and Koenig have a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of additional online episodes.  The next two episode story arc promises to feature the final performance by Walter Koenig of the beloved Star Trek character Pavel Chekov.  Also some new Star Trek alumni are joining the cast of Renegades, Terry Farrell (Deep Space Nine), Robert Beltran (Voyager), Aron Eisenberg (Deep Space Nine) and Hana Hatae (Next Generation).

Just as Star Trek: Renegades is starting to take off, CBS Television Studios recently announced that it will be launching a brand new television series in January 2017.  Like Star Trek: Renegades this new show is departing from the traditional television broadcasting of the series and will have an online focus too.  While CBS' new yet to be named Star Trek series will blast off with a special TV broadcast of its premiere episode, subsequent episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States through CBS All Access, the network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service.  CBS All Access charges $5.99 per month to access online content from CBS's current and past seasons on demand plus allows subscribers to stream their local CBS television stations live.  That current monthly subscription rate includes access to every episode of all the previous Star Trek television series.  The new Star Trek series will be the first series developed specifically for CBS' online service that can be accessed by smart TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and other streaming devices like Roku and Chromecast.

So it appears the future of Star Trek may not be in outer space but rather in the Cloud.  Television viewing as we know it is changing and it appears Star Trek is leading the way transitioning from over-air and cable broadcasting to online streaming. While I don't know what the future of the Star Trek franchise holds for its fans, I do know that the place fans will be going to enjoy it will be online.

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