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Chief Justice Michael Stailey • Location: Santa Monica, CA
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Star Trek: TOS on HD DVD
July 26th, 2007 4:29PM

Just when everyone thought Paramount had done all they could with the Trek franchise on DVD (after all, everything has now been released), producers Ryan Adams, David Grant, Cory Watson, and Jason Hillhouse have given the series new life on HD. Going back to the original source negative, they're remastering every Season One episode and enhancing them with updated effects, in-movie experiences, and much more.

When the idea was first brought up, the initial outcry from fans and industry executives alike was "NOOOOOOO!!!! Don't touch it!" But once the knee jerk reaction subsided, the creative team went to work knowing they had a huge responsibility to be faithful to the series while allowing it to be seen the way it was always meant to be, if Gene Roddenberry's team has the time, budget, and technology to do so. Gene's son Rod, who was on the panel but not involved in the project, said his initial concerns were not wanting to Lucas-ize the series with "the Star Wars effect." Driven by Trek veterans Mike and Denise Okuda, the production team had many late night battles over what should and shouldn't be touched. In fact, one of the bonus features on the Season One set will be a documentary on what they did and why. Jason mentioned "the word Greedo came up a lot." It be easy to say let's go back and redo everything, but the original series has a distinct camp feel they didn't want to lose. The goal was not to change, but enhance. Jason, "It adds another level of realism without taking you out of it."

The promo clip they brought showcased many of the things they are most excited about...
* All exteriors (ships, planets, space stations) have been upgraded with new CGI effects
* Bevy of many little touches only the die hards will appreciate -- "You will see a Gorn blink!"
* A number of alien effects that look horribly outdated have been replaced with subtle yet effective alternatives
* New camera angles on the Enterprise, Galileo, and other ships have been added to give scenes depth
* The original score has been re-recording by full orchestra from the original arrangements by Alexander Courage and others
* They've drawn a great deal of Trek history back into the first season, but didn't exactly explain what that meant
* Background player Billy Blackburn, who played a different character in nearly every episode (White Rabbit, Gorn, Navigator, Red Shirt), shares 8mm and Super 8 films he shot on set, giving fans a whole new perspective of what the series was like to work on
* You have the ability to pilot a shuttlecraft around the exterior of the Enterprise and explore the ship in a way that has never been done before

While some of the new CG looks a bit cheesy (I'm just being honest), for the most part they have done an amazing job at upgrading this classic series. I watched these shows at many times throughout my life -- as a kid, in college, as an adult -- and this looks to provide a whole new level of enjoyment and rediscovery. Jason mentioned that no matter how many times he works on or watches these episodes, he always manages to see something new.

When asked what the producers felt has been the most satisfying episode thus far, to a person everyone said "The Menagerie." From the colors, to the added depth in the matte paintings, to the dome fly-in money shot, this will no doubt be the crown jewel of Season One. But you can judge for yourself when Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One arrives on HD DVD November 20 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Work on Season Two starts on Monday (July 30) and there are talks about giving Star Trek: The Next Generation the same treatment, but no decisions have been made yet.


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