The popular independent fan production Star Trek New Voyages is changing its name and changing direction. Starting immediately New Voyages will be known as Star Trek: Phase II, adopting the name of the planned but never produced ‘second Star Trek series.’ Show star and executive producer James Cawley announced the change at the Farpoint Convention in Baltimore on Saturday. Cawley talked to TrekMovie.com about the new name and new direction for the show formerly known as New Voyages.
Bridging the gap
The original Phase II was going to be the series television return of Star Trek, with most of the Original Series cast. It was to be the cornerstone of a new Paramount network. Scripts were written, costumes were made, sets were built and things were ready to go but the network deal fell through and eventually the show evolved into the feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Cawley says that he has always been "enamored" with Phase II for what "it could have been." and over the last year he has been building an inventory of materials related to it. He and his team have been working with Jon Povill, story editor on Phase II as well as an associate producer on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, who has provided scripts, outlines, pitches and other background material. In addition Cawley has been purchasing many of the original Phase II costumes which have become available through the "Its A Wrap" Star Trek auctions.
The plan is to begin to incorporate more and more original Phase II ideas and designs into the series as it heads towards the end of the 5 year mission. Of course the original Phase II was to be a second 5 year mission. However, it is Cawley’s plan is to try to ‘bridge the gap’ between the end of TOS (in the third year of the five year mission) and The Motion Picture. Cawley explains:
I am in no hurry to end the five year mission, but obviously I want to see us progress towards the end of it and the start of The Motion Picture. So how to get from here to there? You can’t go at it as if you end the five year mission then do Phase II then have The Motion Picture because many elements of what would have been in Phase II are now in The Motion Picture. For example, we can’t bring in Ilia because you saw her greeting the crew for the first time in Motion Picture, but we can bring in Decker if we wanted to. So basically what were are going to do is involve certain element of the concept of Phase II into the timeline of the last two years of The Original Series.
New Star Trek: Phase II logo (designed by Daren Dochterman)
Some of this transition has already started. In the upcoming episode, "Blood and Fire" Cawley’s Kirk will be seen wearing a Phase II shirt and Scotty (Charles Root) will be sporting a TMP engineering uniform. That episode should be available by April or May. Plans are afoot to build a new Phase II-like set for engineering to appear in a future episode. In addition Cawley says that there will be "some Phase II adjustments to the Enterprise’s exterior, but only those that will allow us to see the progression to The Motion Picture." The new elements will likely begin to be seen more prominently in the episodes following "Blood and Fire." The Phase II team are planning on shooting "Rest and Retaliation" and an additional episode ‘back to back’ in June, with the first of those hoped to be out by the end of the year.
Left: Cawley (Kirk) in Phase II uniform – Right: Root (Scotty) in TMP radiation suit
from “Blood and Fire”
All in all this change of direction is a bold and potentially risky move. It is also somewhat ironic for the show that has prided itself on recreating The Original Series down to every detail. Perhaps Cawley’s recent stint on the set of JJ Abrams new Star Trek has inspired the self-described ‘purist.’ As Mr. Spock says in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," "change is the essential process of all existence."
New cast and new Phase II character
Speaking of changes at Phase II, there are also new cast members ready to board the Enterprise. The first is the previously announced Ben Tolpin who joined last year and will appear as Spock in "Blood and Fire." And for the following episode there will be a new Chekov and a new Sulu. Both of the current actors (Andy Bray and John Lim) have other commitments and have decided to leave the show. Stepping in are JT Tepnapa as Sulu and Jonathan Zungre as Chekov. Both are experienced actors with stage and commercial work.
And to show the progression to Phase II, the character of Xon has been added to the cast (played by Patrick Bell). Leonard Nimoy was not going to join the the original Phase II so Gene Roddenberry created the character of the Vulcan science officer Xon, who was to be Spock’s replacement. The role was even cast (with David Gautreaux), but once the series evolved into Star Trek The Motion Picture Nimoy came on board and Xon was no longer needed. Bell’s Xon will appear in the new Phase II episode “Blood and Fire,” but in this case he is just joining the crew and not replacing Spock.
(L-R) Bray, Cawley, Tolpin and Jay Story (Kyle)
in a shot from “Blood and Fire”
More on cast and name/direction change at the official site.