JAMES CAWLEY releases the unfinished STAR TREK: PHASE II “Origins: The Protracted Man”!

It’s been five years since fans have seen anything new from STAR TREK: PHASE II (a.k.a. STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES). The most recent completed Phase II episode to debut was “The Holiest Thing” in January of 2016. But that changed last week with the unexpected release of a never-completed episode filmed way back in 2010-2011: “Origins: The Protracted Man,” directed by DAVID GERROLD and co-written by him along with Trek novelist DAVE GALANTER.

Phase II founder and show-runner JAMES CAWLEY had announced, shortly before the unveiling of the fan film guidelines by CBS in June of 2016, that Phase II would cease all fan film production. Then two weeks after the guidelines came out, James announced that his TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY would become a brand new, licensed STAR TREK Original Series SET TOUR.

Fans were certainly excited by the opportunity to walk these amazing TOS set recreations that had previously been reserved only for fan filmmakers and special guests. But what about the episodes of Phase II that had already been filmed (or partially filmed)? Would these be completed and released? There were still three unfinished Phase II projects: “Bread and Savagery” (a sequel to the TOS episode “Bread and Circuses), “Torment of Destiny” (a sequel to “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and featuring the now-deceased RICHARD HATCH), and “Origins: The Protracted Man.”

The answer seemed to be that these three episodes would forever remain in limbo. None was in any condition to be released (or so we were told), and with Retro Studios in upstate New York now turned into a licensed set tour, James didn’t appear to be in interested in having any of these remaining Phase II projects completed. In fact, in the case of “Bread and Savagery,” the director, MARK BURCHETT, had passed away in 2014. Certain actors were also no longer available, and in some cases, the footage that had been filmed wasn’t shot properly (camera and/or sound issues), and wouldn’t be usable…and reshoots were rather problematic.

And so these three episodes remained hidden away, inaccessible to fans beyond this really exciting trailer for “Torment of Destiny” and this equally exciting trailer for “Origins: The Protracted Man” (along with a couple of scene clips, including one of Kirk’s Koybashi Maru test and another in sickbay).

Jeff Johnson as Finnegan…just as annoying as we imagined!

Fan were desperate to see more, as these two episodes looked amazing. They were also quite special for other reasons. In addition to “Torment of Destiny” featuring the late RICHARD HATCH, “Origins” featured actor COLIN CUNNINGHAM as Christopher Pike (Cunningham’s extensive Hollywood career includes recurring and regular roles in such series as Stargate SG-1, Falling Skies, and Preacher). Also, voice-over actor JEFF JOHNSON turned in such an amazing performance as Cadet Finnegan that you would’ve sworn they’d managed to kidnap original Finnegan actor BRUCE MARS by beaming him through time!

Frank Hernandez, Kin Stinger, and Todd Haberkorn

Other members of the cast would go on to become familiar faces in the Star Trek fan film community. In 2012, FRANK HERNANDEZ would play Dr. Gene Carter, the father of JOHN BROUGHTON’s character of Captain Jack Carter in STARSHIP FARRAGUT‘s “The Price of Anything.” KIM STINGER, who played Uhura in a number of New Voyages/Phase II episodes, would go on to the play the same iconic character in the entire run of STAR TREK CONTINUES. Also appearing briefly as a helmsman in the framing sequence of “Origins” was TODD HABERKORN, who later became STC‘s Mr. Spock.

Vic Mignogna and Matthew Ewald

But certainly the most notable and familiar fan film face in the cast was VIC MIGNOGNA, who would go on to portray Captain Kirk in all eleven episodes and three vignettes of STC. But this time, Vic was portraying George Kirk, Captain Kirk’s father, and did an amazing job in the role. At the time (“Origins” was filmed in the summer of 2010 and additional scenes were shot the following winter), Vic was a rising star in the world of Phase II. The previous year, he had directed their most ambitious episode to date “Kitumba,” along with playing the Klingon character Malkthon, a fairly significant role. Unfortunately, not long after filming his scenes in “Origins,” Vic and Phase II would part ways among quite a bit of conflict and controversy (but that’s a blog for another day).

James Cawley

Speaking of Captain Kirk, “Origins” marked the final time that Phase II founder James Cawley would don the gold tunic as the iconic character, and only in two brief framing sequences bookending the episode. Following “Origins,” actor BRIAN GROSS would be brought in to play Kirk beginning with his introduction as the character in the vignette “Going Boldly.”

Alec Peters (left) with Robert Withrow

A final familiar fan film face appearing briefly in “Origins” was ALEC PETERS, playing Garth of Izar a fictional decade before the events of the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” This was actually Alec’s first trip to Retro Studios in upstate New York and his first-ever appearance as Garth. He would return as Garth in the Phase II “Going Boldly” vignette, and then later in the groundbreaking Star Trek fan film PRELUDE TO AXANAR. Alec will be reprising the role again in the upcoming fan films INTERLUDE and the two-part AXANAR sequel.

“Origins” actually got its start way back in 1967 when script writer David Gerrold was hoping to land a job writing for TOS. After turning down David’s first script submission, Star Trek producer GENE L. COON asked David for five additional story ideas. One eventually developed into the fan-favorite episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” The other four were never used, but one of them was titled “The Protracted Man.” (You can read a synopsis here—don’t ya just love the Internet?)

David Gerrold

David Gerrold had initially gotten involved with Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II a few years prior to 2010 when he co-wrote the two-part “Blood and Fire,” based on a ST:TNG script idea dealing with homosexuality and AIDS that had been rejected by Paramount for being too hot-button. However, when David joined the group in Ticonderoga, that script was adapted by CARLOS PEDRAZA, and David directed the episode, the first to transition the series name from New Voyages to Phase II.

Dave Galanter

Star Trek novelist DAVE GALANTER came aboard for Phase II‘s next episode, “Enemy: Starfleet” (based on a story by Dave and writing partner GREG BRODEUR), and also updated the writers guide for the series. When the opportunity came to adapt David Gerrold’s “The Protracted Man” into an episode of Phase II, the idea merged with something that Dave Galanter had wanted to try: a story focusing on young Cadet James Kirk at Starfleet Academy. The J.J. ABRAMS’ 2009 Star Trek reboot had premiered the year before, establishing that Jim Kirk’s father, George Kirk, had served in Starfleet. The hybrid story, co-written by both David and Dave, used certain elements of the original 1967 idea but with Cadet Kirk trying to save his father George, who is serving on board the U.S.S. Enterprise under command of Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, first officer Number One, and an annoying Vulcan science officer named Spock.

Last week on January 4, 2021, without any fanfare or explanation, James Cawley quietly posted “Origins: The Protracted Man” in its unfinished format. The film is still very close to completed, but there are some obvious places where the sound and/or image quality is off, the VFX are low resolution or missing entirely, and some scenes remain unfilmed. And the entire film is has a slight horizontal compression. But nevertheless, there is enough to get a good feel for how this excellent fan film would have turned out…including amazingly powerful performances by Colin Cunningham as Pike, Vic Mignogna as George Kirk, BRANDON STACY as Spock, and perhaps most impressive, MATTHEW EWALD as Cadet James Kirk.

I’ve reached out to James Cawley to see why he decided to post this 2-part fan film now, but he has not yet responded. It’s possible that James felt it was appropriate to release “Origins” now following the untimely death of Dave Galanter on December 12, 2020. Six weeks earlier, Dave had announced via Facebook and Twitter that he had cancer originating in his bile ducts and had been fighting the disease for the past year. His doctors now said that he had perhaps another 3 to 6 months to live, but sadly, he passed away only a month and a half later. It seems appropriate that this fan film that he worked on is now finally being shown to the public.


UPDATE – A day after this blog was posted, the two videos of “Origins” were removed from YouTube by James Cawley, a week after initially being posted.

Just as I was considering pulling down this blog, I was contacted by a reader in another country informing me that he had made certain to download both videos from YouTube just in case they were ever removed. As soon as he (I think it’s a “he”—this person uses a pseudonym) discovered the videos had been taken down from YouTube, he re-posted them and offered me the new links.

I’ve just spent some time thinking about whether to publish those links or just pull down this blog entry. You see, unlike “Torment of Destiny”—which James Cawley had also posted online in an uncompleted version and then took down but which will, in fact, one day be finished—“Origins” will never be completed. There is footage that was never shot, and the actors who need to finish it are no longer available and are a decade older now anyway. So really, this is the only chance for fans to see this important piece of Star Trek fan film history.

And so, after much thought, and in honor of Dave Galanter’s recent passing, I have decided to keep the blog posted and include the following new links to a separate posting of the episode. Not being the one to have posted the video, I am simply linking to a version of the videos that are out there anyway. Assuming that my reader leaves the videos posted, fans will be able to view them below (links included for those who don’t see the videos on this page)…

Part 1: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7yp2fh

Part 2: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7yp2fk

28 thoughts on “JAMES CAWLEY releases the unfinished STAR TREK: PHASE II “Origins: The Protracted Man”!”

  1. Oh, and it seems a very rough, but complete copy of “Torment of Destiny” (Missing music, all of the FX, no Captain’s Logs voice over) James had actually posted (but I’m guessing it was “unlisted”) some time ago is now also available.

    This is a good example showing how Fan Films are put together. I’m grateful James had made these two available.

    I’m actually surprised ViacomCBS had no problem with him releasing the unfinished version…

    1. I’ve removed the link to “Torment” from you comment, Herb, because I was asked not to publish it. That was a very early rough edit given to James Cawley as a courtesy and never intended to be shown publicly. One actually wonders why James didn’t contact the person with the original footage to tell them that it was now finally okay to finish “Torment” the way it was always intended. That would honor Richard Hatch’s performance much better than this unfinished rough cut. The episode is actually ready to be properly completed with editing, sound-mixing, VFX, etc., but it will require a concerted effort by a number of people to bring that to fruition (and probably some crowd-funding…I’lll keep you posted). Until then, however, I have chosen not to facilitate people linking to the rough cut.

  2. Fascinating is that in “Origins…” like later in DISCO Pike is shown as kind of joker. Accidental (???) continuity, and the same direction of retcon explaining his words from “The Cage” that sounds today as sexist and outdated.

    1. It’s hard to judge 1965 by the standards of 2020. In the same way, I am certain that 2075 (assuming we make it) will look back at 2020 with great disdain for our “outdated” opinions. 🙂

      1. I’m not attacking TOS, Jonathan. Yes, times are changing, and collective consciousness is changing too 😉 . And… for its times The Original Trek was progressive as hell 😉 .

        1. I didn’t think you were attacking TOS; I simply wanted to point out (as you just did, too) that even a progressive show for its time still suffered from many of the societal naiveties of its era. As it happened, Pike’s comment was actually pretty forward-thinking for its time. He, a man living 300 years in the future, couldn’t get used to women on the bridge. What Roddenberry was saying was that he believed that women would eventually be treated as equals…Roddenberry simply believed it would take another 300 years to happen. He, like most men of the 60s, had no idea that they were onlly one decade away from the women’s rights movement and the dawn of the E.R.A.

  3. Awe to get this in any form…How about a campaign to get “Torment of Destiny” completed AND released in memory of Richard Hatch!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2op9JsNwuo0
    Allegedly it’s all in the can and just needs post (not a small task I realize), but it was shot before the guidelines as were many now seeing the light of day (Yorktown: A time to Heal being imminent too).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb1gFKzfzpg

    None of these will be 15 min for sure….
    Any takers?

    1. Actually, there are wheels that have just started spinning on this. However, there will need to be quite a large amount of crowd-funding–likely in the low-to-mid five-figure range–to finance post-production properly. But I know that fans loved Richard Hatch and will want to see this project completed. Stay tuned.

  4. You probably already know that the videos are marked “Private” and “removed by uploader”.

    Too bad. I was a real fan of the collaboration between the professionals and fans back in the “New Voyages”/”Phase II” days. And I was looking forward to seeing these videos.

    Sigh.

    1. Look again. A fan from the other side of the planet decided to download the videos while they were still available and then reposted them. I’ve decided to re-link to those uploaded versions so that fans will be able to keep enjoying this film.

  5. I came across it by chance on YT a couple of days ago, under the rather innocuous title of VTS (parts 1&2). I even considered e-mailing you in case you were unaware, but silly me – of course you were!

    I thought it was absolutely terrific. Such a shame it wasn’t released as intended, but even in its unfinished and un-polished form it still told an exciting and engaging story with action and pathos in good measure, and highly respectful of characters and canon. Pike’s dressing-down of cadet Kirk was top notch, and well played by both actors. Kinda nice to see James Cawley back in the centre seat too, despite some of his rather unkind detractors. And overall I thought it was a good deal more entertaining, dramatic and credible than any episode of Discovery to be honest, but that would lead to a well-worn rant…

    I was (pleasantly) surprised that it was released TBH, given all that has happened. I’m not a great student of ST fan films or the emerging rivalry between P2/NV and STC, but there’s little doubt that both camps delivered some highly impressive productions. I think that “World Enough and Time” from P2/NV (with George Takei) was probably one of the finest examples of Star Trek of any kind, despite being a fan production. And STC’s “Lolani” was also right from the top drawer.

    I seem to remember you were planning to write a detailed blog entry about P2/New Voyages. Is that still on the cards?

    Best,

    B

    1. The blog history of ST:NV/P2 is gonna be a real bear to write, and the problem is that James Cawley doesn’t seem inclined to communicate with me or others that I know who know him. Not sure what happened there, as I did interview him back in 2015 for “Mind-Sifter.” There are, of course, certain others who were involved in that series whom I can talk to, but it’s still gonna be a ridiculous amount of work piecing together 13 years of fan film history (not all of it pretty). And right now, I’m focusing on Starship Valiant. After that, my next major established fan series history will likely be either Natures Hunger or George Kayaian’s early work. I also never wrote a history of Prelude to Axanar (a history of just the fan film, that is, not the lawsuit). That one needs some time, too. So NV/P2 is definitely far out on long-range sensors.

    1. Nope. I reached out to two people who had been reaching out to James to find out why he posted them in the first place. Nobody has heard anything back about why they were posted nor why they were then taken down.

  6. James released the episode just for those who worked on the production to see. He thought all copies had been lost, but then found a copy on DVD and he simply uploaded the files for folks to see with a statement that it will never be finished. It was not intended as a public release and he gave instructions not to announce this anywhere. When we was made aware of this page, we was angry and took his videos offline again. You should have obtained his permission before publishing this article.

    1. I did try to contact James via Facebook and e-mail, Peter (using the last Yahoo e-mail I had from back in 2016). I also asked Alec Peters to reach out to James in case I didn’t get a response (which I didn’t). I even waited a couple of days to give James a chance to contact me back. Beyond that, I don’t have any contacts who know how to get ahold of James except for two people who, sadly and for different reasons, refuse to talk to him anymore (and yes, I did reach out to them, as well, which is how I know they won’t talk to him). So yes, Peter, the effort to reach out to James was indeed made.

      To be honest, I didn’t even know that the videos had been posted until three different readers messaged me, very excited, late last week. As we al know, once something is released onto the Internet, it’s out there. The newly uploaded videos are now posted elsewhere and will remain out there whether my blog exists or not. So from a purely journalistic perspective, it seems reasonable to leave the blog up.

      It is nice to know, however, the reason that James posted both video, so I appreciate you commenting, Peter.

  7. I came back to see what was up with the last posting of videos and all I see is “publishing in progress”. Oh well. Too bad.

    1. “Origins”… I understand your motivation for not linking crude version of “Torment of Destiny” when it was publicly available but… if your mysterious friend “George Kirk” has its copy of this episode too and will upload it on his Dailymotion account, I will be really glad.

      1. I’ve actually asked him not to, and if he chooses to, I won’t share the link. “Torment of Destiny” can actually be finished properly, and I’ve been asked not to publicize any version of it in the current rough cut stage.

  8. instead of banning star trek continues and star trek phase two they those despicable people should have paid to air those and following episodes they are great and take us back to real star trek….the production for such a small budget words fail me totally bummed

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