Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Geek factor +10

I've always enjoyed the original Star Trek episodes. The cheesy special effects, William Shatner's overacting and kissing of alien life forms, and the predictable deaths of no-name ensigns who go down to the planet with the main characters is simply fun to watch.

Last night I went to see the theatrical release of the original two-part TV episode, "The Menagerie" from 1966. This episode has the famous Captain Pike, original Captain of the Enterprise, who through a "space accident" was relegated to sitting in a rolling box only able to communicate by blinking a light once for "yes" and twice for "no." Portions of this episode have been spoofed by various TV shows and cartoons.

Everything had been digitally remastered from the original film, new visual effects had been added and the famous Star Trek theme had even been newly recorded using the original score sheets.

There was a nice short documentary at the beginning, hosted by Eugene Roddenberry, Gene Roddenberry's son, that showed the remastering, cleanup and production process. The newly digitized film was remarkably clear and the new visual effects were noticeable (spacecraft, planets and stars) but not distracting. Actually the new effects contributed to the suspension of disbelief since the appearance was what viewers have come to expect in science fiction and it wasn't so obvious this was made in the 1960s.

The showing was done in high definition, but was in the original TV format of 4:3, so no extra widescreen real estate. It appeared that the theater projected it directly from a computer, as evidenced by the Windows task bar, including the "Start" button in the lower left corner, appearing below the movie screen after the end credits rolled and the lights were raised.

The entire first season will be released this month on HD-DVD/DVD combo discs and the second season will be out in 2008, all remastered in the same way this theatrical release was.

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