It’s been five years since fans have seen anything new in STAR TREK: PHASE II (also known as STAR TRACK: NEW VOICES). The last completed episode of the second part of the first episode, The Most Sacred Thing, took place in January 2016. But that changed last week with the unexpected release of an unfinished episode filmed in 2010-2011: Origin: The Man Who Lingers, directed by David Gerrold and written by David GALANTER, author of the novel Journey.
JAMES CAWLEY, founder and director of Second Stage, announced shortly before CBS announced in June 2016 that Second Stage would stop producing all fan films. Then, two weeks after the release of the handbook, James announced that his TOS outfits would be brand new in Ticonderoga, NY, licensed under STAR TREK Original Series SET TOUR.
Fans were certainly excited to be able to walk around these amazing reenactments of the TOS film set, which was previously reserved for amateur filmmakers and special guests. But what about the episodes of phase 2 that have already been filmed (or partially filmed)? Will they be completed and released? There were still three projects from the second phase that had not yet been completed: Bread and Food (continuation of the episode Bread and TOS games), Tortures of Fate (continuation of the episode So that the world is full and I hit the sky with the late RICHARD HATCH) and Origin : A man who sticks around.
The answer seemed to be that these three episodes would be forever in limbo. None of them were able to get out (or so we were told), and with Retro Studios in upstate New York now becoming a licensed tour, James didn’t seem interested in completing any of the remaining Phase II projects. In the case of Bread and Salad, director MARK BURSHET passed away in 2014. Some actors were also unavailable, and in some cases the footage was not filmed properly (camera and/or sound problems) and could not be used… and the reshoots were quite problematic.
These three episodes have therefore remained hidden, inaccessible to fans, with the exception of this really exciting trailer for Torment of Doom and this equally exciting trailer for Origins : A Slender Man (and a few stage clips, including one of Kirk Koibashi Maru’s tests and another in the infirmary).
Jeff Johnson as Finnegan… As boring as we thought!
Fans were desperate to see more because these two episodes sounded great. They were special for other reasons as well. In addition to Torment of Fortune starring the late Richard Hatch, Origin actor Colin Cunningham played the role of Christopher Pike (Cunningham’s extensive Hollywood career includes recurring and regular roles in series such as Stargate SG-1, Falling Skies and Preacher). In addition, singer JEFF Johnson gave such an amazing performance as a Finnegan cadet that they managed, I swear, to kidnap original Finnegan actor BRUCE MARS by teleporting him through the prism of time!
Frank Hernandez, Keane Stinger and Todd Haberkorn
Other actors are familiar faces in the Star Trek fan community. In 2012, FRANK HERNANDEZ plays Dr. Gene Carter, the father of Captain Jack Carter’s character, John Bruchton, in The Price of Everything from the Vessel Farragut. KIM STINGER, who played Uhuru in several episodes of New Voyages/Phase II, will also play the same iconic character in the STAR TREK CONTINUES series. In the Origins series, Todd Haberkorn, who later became Mr. Spock of STC.
Vic Mignogna and Matthew Ewald
But by far the most notable and recognizable face among film fans was that of VIC MIGNOGNA, who would later play the role of Captain Kirk in all eleven episodes and three STC vignettes. But this time Vic played the role of George Kirk, Captain Kirk’s father, and did an excellent job in that role. At the time (Origins was shot in the summer of 2010, with additional scenes the following winter), Vic was a rising star in the Phase II world. Last year he directed his most ambitious episode yet of Kitumba alongside Klingon character Malckton, a rather important role. Unfortunately, Vic and Phase II parted ways shortly after Origins’ shooting, in the midst of some rather controversial and contradictory moments (but that’s a blog for another day).
Speaking of Captain Kirk: The origin is the last time Phase II founder James Cowley donned a gold tunic as an emblematic character, and only two short framing sequences anchor the episode. After Origins, actor BRIAN GROSS would be invited to play Kirk, starting with his appearance in the vignette Dare to Walk.
Alec Peters (left) with Robert Straw
The last known face from the fan film to appear briefly in Origins was Alec Peters, who played Garth of Izar in the fictional decade before the events of the TOS Whom Gods Destroy episode. It was actually Alec’s first trip to Retro Studios in upstate New York and his first appearance as Garth. He returns as Garth in the second episode of Daredevil and then in the groundbreaking Star Trek fan film, PRELUDE TO AXANAR. Alec will once again star in the upcoming fan films INTERLUDE and its two-part sequel AXANAR.
Its origins began in 1967, when screenwriter David Gerrold hoped to find work for TOS. After rejecting David’s first screenplay, Star Trek producer Gene L. COON, has asked him for five more storylines. One of them ended up being a favorite episode of The Scramble Problem fans. The other four were never used, but one was called Tightened Man. (You can read the synopsis, you don’t just love the internet).
David Gerrold first contacted Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II a few years before 2010, when he wrote a two-part screenplay, Blood and Fire, based on an ST:TNG script idea about homosexuality and AIDS, which was rejected by Paramount for being too explosive. However, when David joined the group in Ticonderoga, this script was adapted by CARLOS PEDRAZA, with David directing the episode that first brought the title of the New Journeys series to Phase II.
Novelist DAVE GALANTER boarded Star Trek for the second episode of Ennemy : Starfleet (based on a story by Dave and his writing partner GREG BRODEUR), as well as an updated author’s guide to the series. When the opportunity arose to adapt David Gerrold’s Lingering Man for a Phase II episode, the idea merged with what Dave Galanter wanted to try: a story centered on the young cadet James Kirk at Starfleet Academy. A year earlier, the reboot of Star Trek 2009 had revealed that Jim Kirk’s father, George Kirk, had served in Starfleet. The hybrid story, co-written by David and Dave, uses some elements of the original 1967 idea, but with Cadet Kirk trying to save his father George who served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, first officer number one, and a dull Vulcan science officer named Spock.
Last week, on the 4th. January 2021, without fanfare or explanation, James Cowley quietly Origins: A man lying in an unfinished format. The film is still very close to completion, but there are clearly places where the sound and/or picture quality is poor, where the VFX is in low resolution or completely missing, and where some scenes have not yet been shot. And the whole film has a slight horizontal compression. But that’s enough to give you a good idea of what this excellent fan film would have been like with the great performances of Colin Cunningham as Pike, Vic Mignonne as George Kirk, Brandon Stasi as Spock and, perhaps most impressively, MATTHEW EWALD as Canadian James Kirk.
I contacted James Cowley to find out why he decided to release this fan film in two parts now, but he hasn’t responded yet. James may have released the Origins now, after Dave Galanter’s untimely death on the 12th. December 2020. Six weeks earlier, Dave had announced via Facebook and Twitter that he had cancer of the bile ducts and had been fighting the disease for a year. The doctors said he probably had 3 to 6 months to live, but unfortunately he died a month and a half later. It seems appropriate that this fan film he worked on is finally shown to the general public.
And so, in a not quite finished state, enjoy both parts of Star Trek: Phase II – Origin : A man who sticks around…
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