Monday, February 9, 2015

Star Trek Crossover Craze

What Began With TNG Continues Like No Production Has Done Before

Star Trek crossover events became quite common beginning with the very first episode of Star Trek the Next Generation when DeForest Kelley donned an Einstein-esque wig and appeared as an aging Doctor McCoy being escorted on a tour of the new Enterprise-D by Lt. Commander Data.

This kind of historic endeavor continued with visits from James Doohan as Captain Scott and finally a two-parter starring Leonard Nimoy as Spock. It was revived with the appearance of Nimoy, again as Old-Spock for the two latest big screen alternate reality Trek films from JJ Abrams.

The tradition was carried on with future advents of Trek that included crossovers featuring Q in Deep Space 9 and Voyager; Captain Picard in Deep Space 9 and the great Ricardo Montalban reprising his infamous role of Khan from the original series in the hit Star Trek film “The Wrath of Khan,” which was the highest grossing Trek film until the new version by JJ Abrams, but Khan still remains the all-time fan favorite Kirk nemesis as was indicated by the character’s return in “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” Even Kate Mulgrew (Captain/Admiral Janeway) is no stranger to the crossover connection having had a cameo in a couple of TNG big screen films.

Of course the greatest crossover episode of Trek was DS9’s homage to the original series’ “The Trouble With Tribbles,” in which the DS9 crew were grafted onto the TOS Enterprise and thanks to modern technology were able to interact with the original cast in the DS9 episode titled “Trials and Tribble-ations” which also saw the return of Arne Darvin (actor Charlie Brill) performing the same character he did 30 years earlier.

This crossover phenomena has moved over into the independent Trek features as well.

Two of the original series actors, Walter Koenig and George Takei have done guest appearances on Star Trek Phase II (aka New Voyages). The episode "World Enough and Time" starring Takei is considered by Trek fans to be one of the best independent episodes ever filmed.

Tim Russ picked up on the indie approach to Trek. Along with producer Sky Conway and actor Walter Koenig he produced, directed and starred in the first full-length indie Trek film titled “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.” Russ was able to gather some impressive past Trek talent for this production including Mr. Koenig (TOS), Nichelle Nichols (TOS), Gary Graham (ENT), Ethan Phillips (VOY), Garrett Wang (VOY) Chase Masterson (DS9), J.G. Hertzler (DS9), Cirroc Lofton (DS9), Grace Lee Whitney (TOS), Crystal Allen (ENT), Lawrence Montaigne (TOS) and Alan Ruck (Trek film "Generations"). Some of these venerated Trek stars reprised their original characters while others took on new roles for the indie project.

Actor Vic Mignogna, the producer and star of “Star Trek Continues” not only plays Captain Kirk in this award-winning, highly successful indie Trek series but has also played Kirk in another indie called “Star Trek Farragut.” Mignogna has appeared in “Star Trek Phase II,” the very first professionally done Trek indie, as a Klingon and also as a Cardassian for Tim Russ’ latest indie project “Star Trek: Renegades”which is being reviewed by CBS/Paramount for a pick-up to the network’s lineup of shows.

Speaking of "Renegades" Tim Russ has amassed another star lineup of past Trek actors for this highly anticipated independent feature that may turn up on network television as a weekly series. Along with Russ (VOY) comes the aforementioned Vic Mignogna (STC), Walter Koenig (TOS), Robert Picardo (VOY), Gary Graham (ENT), Manu Intiraymi (VOY), Richard Herd (VOY), and Grant Imahara (STC). This, along with “Of Gods and Men” is likely the largest ensemble of Trek actors in one production ever recorded. Mostly recently it was released that the lead actress from "Renegades," Adrienne Wilkinson will be performing in the fourth episode of "Star Trek Continues."

If what has transpired in the past and present is any indication for the future of the franchise then Star Trek crossover performances will continue giving those films and episodes the necessary push into old and new fans’ consciousness. Did someone say Q for the third alternate reality Trek?

May it continue to live long and prosper.

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