When Fox launched The Orville, a sci-fi sitcom starring Seth MacFarlane that’s an obvious Star Trek parody of straight-laced starship crews, the idea of a Starfleet send-up wasn’t new. Galaxy Quest went there on the big screen, or course, and many TV shows (including MacFarlane’s Family Guy) have taken their turns to “make it so.” Now, CBS All Access has the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks, its own officially branded comedic homage to the heroes of the Final Frontier.
But there’s another parody that deserves a fresh look:
An Arizona original, Voyage Trekkers has been skewering Starfleet tropes for years. Although Nerdvana sadly hasn’t covered Nathan Blackwell’s show here for quite a few stardates, that doesn’t mean its creators have been away and idle on shore leave — far from it! At 2017’s Phoenix Comicon, Blackwell’s and co-creator Craig Michael Curtis’ production company Squishy Studios debuted the first two seasons of the web series — already released on DVD — in a Blu-ray format, which you can purchase at www.voyagetrekkers.com. The Blu-ray includes special features such as commentary tracks and hidden Easter eggs for diehard fans, plus 10 anti-smoking PSAs the cast and crew produced for the Arizona Department of Health in 2015. Presented as Voyage Trekkers to the Rescue, the material won four Phoenix Addy Awards from the Phoenix’s advertising industry last year.
The next generation …
More than just a cool collector’s item for fans of a web series, the Blu-rays fuel the continuing adventures of the G.S.V. Remarkable. Blackwell said in August 2017 he was preparing to shoot a new “spec pilot” of Voyage Trekkers, which means a full 22-minute TV episode that would be used to sell the show to studios. That’s where disc sales come in.
“But honestly, we’re just doing it to make something cool, and to make something we can take around to film festivals and get more exposure for everyone involved,” he said.
Blackwell said picking up traction at film festivals could open up opportunities for the series and its crew.
“My dream scenario would be that we could get the interest of a studio (like Netflix) and get to do an actual season of the show,” he said. “That would be the bee’s knees.”
To infinity …
After film festivals, according to the show’s Facebook page, the plan is to make the pilot available to Indiegogo backers and eventually share it on YouTube for all. It’s intended both to appeal to new audiences necessary to grow the fan base as well as serve as a continuation to the first two seasons familiar to fans.
But with this focus on the future, what about the past? Where did Voyage Trekkers and the drive to produce a Star Trek parody come from, anyway? I asked Blackwell:
“The genesis of Voyage Trekkers was that we always really wanted to do something sci-fi, and for years we’ve always wondered what our take on a Star Trek series would be like,” he said. “Each new show is about the ‘best of the best,’ and we were always wondering what it would be like if one was about the ‘worst of the worst.’
“There was this video game called The Movies, by Lionhead Studios, where you ran a movie studio but also made fun but surprisingly complex video game movies. … Basically, they’re animated short films. So I ended up going down the rabbit hole with this game, making dozens of movies, and one of them was a Star Trek spoof called Voyage Trekkers. This was the first incarnation of the show, and these animated movies still exist somewhere.”
Hence, the Remarkable and its unremarkable, but lovable, “worst crew in the galaxy.” That’s mainly charismatic and self-centered Capt. Sunstrike (Adam Rini), unperturbed Commander Powell (Logan Blackwell) and exasperated Doctor Rena (Gabrielle Van Buren).
… and beyond!
As for that other Star Trek parody, The Orville, Blackwell said he wishes her well. “We’re first and foremost fans of the genre, and if people are getting excited about sci-if comedy, then that can only help us out,” he said.