There's this group of Star Trek fans, see, led by a gentleman named James Cawley, who have recreated the original Trek sets at a secret location in upstate New York, and are actually filming new adventures of the original Enterprise crew, distributed exclusively through this here internet thingy.
These "Season 4" episodes feature scripts by name Trek and sci-fi writers like D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree and Howard Weinstein, and include on-screen appearances by original Trek cast members George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney, Denise Crosby, Malachi Throne, William Windom and Majel Barrett Roddenberry as the voice of the ship's computer. Special effects are state-of-the-art CGI, rivalling anything on the later Trek spin-offs, created by computer animation students and donated to the project.
And, believe it or not, Paramount – along with Majel and Eugene Roddenberry – have apparently given Cawley & company their blessing, as long as they don't financially profit from the episodes.
The original characters have been re-cast with amateur actors of varying talent, but the sets, costumes, props, lighting, photography, music and effects are all top-notch... at least in the one episode that I've downloaded and watched so far, Reaves & Zicree's "World Enough and Time," starring George Takei.
Now maybe I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I've just seen a new Trek episode – especially such a professional-quality one – but I thought it was terrific. Sure, the main cast are clearly not polished professionals, and sometimes the poor performances can be distracting (Cawley, as Kirk, has a tendency to overact with his eyebrows, for example), but Reaves and Zicree's story (considering that it mostly takes place on the ship) was one of the best Trek stories ever, with a solid understanding of the characters and themes of ST:TOS. Additionally, the key performers in the episode – Takei and Christina Moses as "Alana Sulu" – were so good that they more than made up for anyone else's thespic deficiencies.
Frankly, I'm astounded that a fan production can look so good and play out so well. In fact, I'll go so far to say that had this starred the original cast in their prime, this would be considered one of the top five Classic Trek episodes. But even with the mostly sub-pro cast, I was able to enjoy the episode immensely.
I'll be downloading the other New Voyages as soon as I can, and I have to say that this has given me considerably more confidence in J.J. Abrams' feature film Trek plans, as "World Enough and Time" proved to me that I can still enjoy the original Enterprise crew even with different actors in the roles.
You can download "World Enough and Time" in various formats, as well as a couple of earlier episodes here. The producers encourage people to download and burn the episodes to DVD, and even provide downloadable cover art, too.
If you're a Trekkie, you should check it out. Can't promise you'll like the shows, but you should definitely appreciate the hard work and salute the epic geekiness necessary to pull these things off.