To Boldy Go… Again

November 22nd, 2008 | Posted in General

A never considered myself much of a “Trekkie” (or “Trekker” if you prefer). The original “Star Trek” series aired when I was only 2 years old so I grew up watching it on syndication… which is appropriate since that is when Star Trek really became a phenomenon. Being a comic book reader and science fiction fan I naturally liked and watched the show but I was more of a cape and cowl kid. I did buy many of the old Star Trek model kits that contained a phaser, communicator and tricorder (I must have slipped that slimy decal of the alien face onto that tiny tricorder screen two dozen times or more), which I built, played with and which promptly broke. A friend of mine had a pair of those cheesy “communicator” walkie talkies. Around age 8 or 9 was the peak of my Star Trek interest.

Then when I was in college along came “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Great show, and while I didn’t do much TV watching in those days I did enjoy that program… so much so that I enrolled in the video series library program where I got two episodes mailed to me a month (one tape) in a nice clamshell container. I kept that up until I had the whole collection… then it was released on DVD. Ugh. I sold the whole lot on eBay for a decent amount of $$ and then never bought the DVD sets. I watched only occasional episodes of the other spin offs.

Therefore as just a casual Trek fan I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about the new J.J. Abrams film coming out next year, the new trailer of which has recently been released.

See it in higher resolution here.

I watched the trailer and cringed at the opening scene showing a ridiculous looking kid yelling his name, “JAMES TIBERIOUS KIRK!” at a cop who just chased him down and watched him leap from a speeding convertible before it when over a ravine. I get it… Kirk = reckless daredevil. Meh. The movie might be good, might not, although the rest of the trailer is pretty cool. I’ll go to the theater and plunk down my $10.00 (!!!) and find out in May.

Meanwhile this fall Paramount released the first several of what will eventually be a complete remastering and digital face-lift of the original series for syndication. The original live action footage has been rescanned from the original 35mm source, and special effects shots have been redone completely as CGI. Sound has also been digitally remastered. The result is a high definition remastering of individual episodes with more vibrant color, better picture and resolution, much better sound and CGI replaced special effects.

Hearing that also made me cringe, thinking of the “remastered” Star Wars films where an apparently clueless George Lucas messed around fixing what wasn’t really broken. My thought was “can’t something just stay a representation of the films (or TV shows) of the time?”. The cheesy nature of the sets and effects of the original Str Trek series are part of the charm. Did they go in and sharpen all the Vaseline-lens fuzzy shots they did of the sexy women closeups in the original series? Lucas would have. 🙂 Then again after Ted Turner bought the rights to “The Wizard of OZ” we all thought he’d colorize the first half hour.

I have yet to see one of these episodes, but according to reviews I’ve read Paramount did it right. They didn’t pull any “Greedo shot first” shenannigans and stayed tremendously loyal to the original episodes and thier intent and action. Each episode is remastered shot for shot, with no “reimagining”. Apparently even the exterior shots of the space ships, battles and such are the same movements and action, just in sharp CGI instead of matte lined, 60’s era special effects. Smart move. Paramount knows their audience.

So why all the trouble and expense? DVD and blu-ray, of course. Although the syndicated shows are in standard definition, you can bet Paramount is planning on a major Ka-Ching! when they release the remastered series in High Def on blu-ray. The best part is it will actually be in real high def BECAUSE it’s so old. TV shows used to be shot in 35 mm film just like movies, until the advent of video tape technology. Original film sources are the equivilent of 4000p, so transfer to 1080p results in as high def a picture as transfer of any film source. Later TV shows will never be able to be in true high def, as they were shot and mastered on video tape, which has a resolution of only 625i (PAL) or 525i (NTSC), which is too low for hi def imagery.

Here’s a great and funny short promo for the new syndicated series, which is hard to locate airing times for but I hope I can find an episode or two to check out and see for myself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPxBjNLA-ds

Thanks to Mike Lynch for the heads up.

Comments

  1. JWB1 says:

    Don’t you think Sylar makes a great Vulcan? I didn’t really discover the series until it was in daily reruns in the mid 70’s. Guess I’m a bit of a Trekkie. I was at a bar earlier tonight where the TV was on a station that went right from the NCAA football game to one of those remastered episodes. I identified the episode from the opening interior shot (Tower of Babel)! After the last two dismal feature films I’m really interested in seeing J.J.’s take on it! How can you not love Simon Pegg as Scotty and John(Harold) Cho as Sulu?

  2. Tom says:

    I agree the casting is terrific. Zachary Quinto looks freakishly like a young Nimoy… right down to the scrawny, narrow-shouldered build. It all boils down to story. These characters are so well known that anything “out of character” will stick out like a sore thumb. Abrams is a smart guy, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say this movie will be on target.

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