Space might be the finale frontier but Star Trek is still trying to return to the small screen after the 2005 cancellation of Enterprise. Many have pitched show concepts and ideas but only a few have really made anything concrete. One of the biggest is Star Trek: Renegades, a crowd-funded fan film starring many Trek alum including Walter Koenig, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, Robert Picardo, and Tim Russ who also directed the film\pilot. What is Star Trek: Renegades?
According to writer Ethan H. Calk:
It is nearly ten years after Voyager’s return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis. The Federation’s main suppliers of dilithium crystals are disappearing. Space and time have folded around several planets, effectively isolating them from any contact with outside worlds. And this phenomenon is not natural – someone or something is causing this to happen. This necessitates drastic measures; some of which are outside the Federation’s normal jurisdiction. For this, Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, turns to Commander Tuvok, Voyager’s former security officer and current head of the newly reorganized Section 31. Tuvok must put together a new covert, renegade crew – mostly outcasts and rogues – even criminals. This new crew is tasked with finding out what is causing the folding of time and space, and stopping it – at all costs. But will they be able to put aside their differences and stop trying to kill one another in time to accomplish their mission?
So, the film takes place after the close of Star Trek: Voyager, leaving many of our Delta quadrant friends in the mix. The film disregards the semi-canon Star Trek Online video game and doesn’t really mess with the future prime timeline used in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film. Instead, Star Trek: Renegades takes a darker, smaller look at Trek with a focus on a small group of outcasts who are the Federation’s only hope. It’s an attempt to bend and maybe even break the rules set by Gene Roddenberry. The Federation of Renegades is surely no utopia.
How did the Kickstarter fare? Decently well, in fact. It managed to get funded with $242,483 with an initial goal of $200,000. It was definitely no major hit like LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow campaign which brought in over five times their original million dollar goal. But, reaching a goal is reaching a goal and the film\pilot for Renegades was funded and has been produced. Backers of the Kickstarter have even received their digital versions of the film over the last week with physical copies of DVDs and Blu-Rays going into production in the next couple of weeks.
Everything sounds like it’s been going well for the fan-made film. Well, everything is not holodeck credits and shore-leave for Renegades. The primary goal of the campaign was to produce a pilot strong enough to pitch to CBS, the owner of the Star Trek television rights. We now know how that went. CBS has decided to pass on Renegades for reasons we were not told by the production team. Trek rights are complicated due to Paramount and CBS sharing them along with the new JJ-verse and the love for the original Prime timeline. If I were to speculate, I’d say that CBS either can’t make a show in the Prime timeline due to Paramount’s newer movies (don’t forget that Star Trek Beyond is supposedly coming out in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the franchise), or CBS already has plans to bring Star Trek back to TV in the near future and Renegades didn’t fit with those plans. Either way, we won’t be seeing Renegades on CBS or any official network.
This is not the end though. The Renegades team announced to their Kickstarter Backers that all is not lost. Since CBS has passed on the pilot, they are going to turn the film into the pilot of a fan-made web series, or as they put it “an independently produced fan-supported Internet TV Series!” Their plan is to leverage the pilot\film as the first episode and produce a total of 12 episodes a year using a fairly normal TV series production schedule with episodes being produced in the span of a week or so. Walter Koenig has agreed to stay on through Episode 3 which will be the conclusion to the Episode 2 cliffhanger but after that, he plans to retire his Chekov character. According to the report, the Renegades team is actively writing the second and third episodes and a new crowd-funding effort is to be announced soon.
If you’re not familiar with the production, check out the trailers here.
Are you disappointed that Star Trek: Renegades will not be picked up by CBS? Are you glad it’s staying a fan-made production? Let us know in the comments and look for our review of the pilot in the coming weeks. Oh, and live long and prosper.