Visionary Views - Star Trek Phase II
At this point, I can't imagine anyone being a fan of Star Trek and yet somehow NOT being aware of this long-running and pretty solid fan effort, that has garnered a lot of media attention and accolades. They've been all over the net and hit some pretty high marks including featuring original cast episodes with George Takei and Walter Koenig, and landing creator/producer and former Kirk James Cawley a cameo on JJ Abrams relaunch of the franchise. They just recently released their 9th full-length episode which represents some major changes for them as a production.
First, yes, its a fan-made production and I don't mean it in a dismissive way but know that going in, so it has its rough edges. But its better than most fan productions and it started strong in a lot of areas, and has continued to improve. It features some amazing special effects, the spaceship scenes are gorgeous. The writing has improved, but still has some bumps. Initial episodes embodied the markers of fan-fiction, with cool concepts more for the sake of 'seeing it happen' then story, but since then, they've adapted scripts that ended up elsewhere in Trek lore, or been done by original screenwriters from Trek, and that has helped. Some episodes have been top notch, others astray, but all decent. Sets are faithfully reconstructed and lit, to give it a classic Trek feel, and the acting ranges from flat to not bad, to some pretty solid performances.
I will say despite the rough edges, the dedication and obvious love and respect for the series makes it rise above. I'm not normally much for fan-produced content, as I rarely get so into any given series that I'd rather pass up something else top notch and new, to explore the watered down variations of the old, but, I've made an exception in this case and follow them pretty faithfully. Maybe part of that is my own deep-set desire as a creator to someday contribute my own story to Trek lore, and thus my support of someone doing just that on an ongoing basis.
Check them out, all their episodes are hosted on their site, as well as a bunch of behind-the-scenes and supplementary material. And of course, its absolutely free, but you can also support the endeavor if you wish. (Or should I call it the enterprise?)