Although it was only on the air for three seasons, Star Trek has spawned many spin-offs, many fans (who were the subject of not one but two feature-length documentaries), and many fan spin-offs. But until recent years Trekkie fan fiction has been limited to short stories and novellas. Unlike most companies, CBS has always shown grace to the show’s fanbase by both publishing fan-fic in subsidiary Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books Star Trek series and allowing fans to continue the series online in writing, so long as profits are not involved. But several years ago, CBS began to permit non-profit film fan-fic, which caused co-creators Jack Marshall and James Cawley (who finances the show with his day job as an Elvis impersonator) to jump into production with costumes and set pieces they have been waiting to use since 1997. They even convinced some of the show’s original actors like George Takei (Sulu) and Walter Koenig (Chekhov) to reappear on the Enterprise. Star Trek New Voyages was the first to record “new episodes” of the show where the series left off, broadcasting what they refer to as Star Trek’s fourth season on a regular basis since May 2006.
The New Voyages take the old characters and give them new life in star systems, new and old, (the FAQ explains that the old characters should be treated like Shakespeare’s Romeo or Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman or Tolkien’s Gandalf, preserved with integrity and not muddled with an abundance of new upstart characters). The episodes last for about 20 minutes each, each one giving off the feeling that you’re watching the original series in all its cheesy, mythic splendor. While it is a low-budget endeavor compared to corporate-sponsored fare, it’s still expensive and time-consuming to host, hire, and film full-length episodes using an enormous cast, so releases are sporadic and hotly anticipated. Everything is designed to duplicate the original series, from the storylines, which are often continuations of planets and plot points from the show, to the writing, which is slow, filled with imaginatively made-up words, and improbable in an enjoyable way. The site also tries to recreate the television atmosphere by releasing new episodes on a scheduled format, each new segment available for download starting at 9pm EDT on the chosen day.
If you’re looking for an extension of the original series, you’ll find this to be pretty great for the low-budget fanfic that it is. But if you look at it as a parody, you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more. Take the first scene of the first episode, “Come What May,” where a lone piano twinkles as Captain Kirk likens the Voyager’s mission to the American dream; it can be classic Star Trek entertainment to some but unintended hilarity to others. The first episode embodies all the show’s problems and successes. There’s just enough that’s similar to the original to make it fun… and just enough that’s horrible to make it funny.