Thursday, September 07, 2006

Original Trek gets facelift


This is, of course, stirring up a lot of turmoil amongst fans. As always there are two camps: purists and pro-changers.

I'm sitting squarely in the pro-changer camp, with one foot over the fence.

Watching the original series is thoroughly enjoyable for a number of reasons. Part of the whole experience is the cheesy special effects. I'll always enjoy that.

On the other hand, they're disengaging. Just when you start getting really sucked into the story, the effects spoil it. It's hard to lose yourself in the plot when suddenly you see a shot of the Enterprise flying at an impossible angle or an alien ship consisting of nothing more than a multi-coloured flashing light.

I'm on a mission at the moment to watch through all of Trek in chronological order. When I moved from the slick and shiny Enterprise to the clusmy and primative Original Series it was a real shock to the system.

We've seen in a few episodes, most notably "In a mirror, darkly" from Enterpise, updated CGI renderings of the TOS era. The USS Defiant from that episode was slick and shiny like the rest of the Enterprise graphics, but remained true to the TOS look and feel of her sister ship from TOS.

It's not just the ships. On a couple of occasions in TOS, we saw Earth (or, a couple of times, a planet exactly like Earth) from space... it looked ridiculous. This was years before Apollo sent back that famous photograph of Earth from space, so it's to be expected that they didn't know what it looked like.

Now they can remake it, with a convincing image of Earth (or any other planet, for that matter), and a Starship that moves convincingly through space.

I will be very glad to see the upgrades, and I anticipate that watching those for the first time will be a whole new Trek experience.

The added benefit is the appeal this will have for youngsters (including my own generation). Most of today's sophisticated TV watchers have become accustomed to the kind of effects found in series like Farscape and the new Battlestar Galactica. As soon as they see the archaic "models on strings" effects from TOS, they burst out laughing and change the channel. They don't watch it long enough to find out just how kickass Kirk and the gang really were!

I suspect that these upgraded episodes will be the first that I will acquire on the new HD media format... be it HD DVD or Blu-ray. That will be a good week.