The Next Generation of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Tonight, in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, select theaters aired sneak peeks at the beautiful remastering and special features of the Season 1 Blu-Ray. To show off this hi-def polished version, the episodes “Where No One Has Gone Before” and “Datalore” were viewed, and let me tell you it was a super treat for the whole audience… and make no mistake, the theater was packed.
The first featurette started to delve into what goes in to remastering a film that is a mix of both practical (physical) effects and models, along with early stage computer generated images and green screen. It’s overwhelming to realize what went in to the original series, not to mention what it takes to remaster it. Fortunately, this is the Roddenberry people and not the Lucas people, so there’s great loyalty to the original vision and the charming attributes of the sci-fi at the time. Instead of making new/more complex effects, there’s an amazing amount of sharpening existing effects, or changing them just enough to not look cheesy.
Before you start to complain that the cheesiness is the charm, think about it and don’t kid yourself. I’ve recently re-watched the bulk of TNG on Netflix. The special effects do NOT hold up. They are incredible for their time, but are missing a precision that would give them longevity. For instance, the intelligent crystal in “Datalore” originally was computer generated in a pretty good way for 1986, but definitely looks like the background of one of my school pictures around the same era… very “lazer beem” if you know what I mean. In the remastered version, it is exactly the same shape, colors and has the same pulsing effects, but it now looks like a crystal. It was gorgeous. The whole audience gasped. With touch ups like that, it’s tempting to forget the little nudges that make the experience better. The screen at the front of the bridge no longer looks like green screen, it’s been finessed to look as they intended but were not able to do at the time. It’s still 80′s-tastic, but more palatable.
As far as cheese, it’s all still there. There’s some gorgeous outtakes and screen tests that add to the fun; lots of footage that previously was only available in bootleg VHS form if you were a true Trekker. I thought they did a good job at this teaser event of mixing the stars of the show along with the production crew, the effects people, and the remaster team. It did it’s job well because now I TOTALLY want the Blu-Ray, not just for the show but the extra content. Season 2 was announced to be released remastered as well, and THAT season with have a 25 year reunion interview footage with the entire principal cast, of which the preview was tantalizing.
I went planning to enjoy the event, but also planning on resisting any desire for the Blu-Rays, especially with the whole series on Netflix… but was surprised at how beautiful the visuals and sound was, how fun it is to still yell “Shut Up, Westley”, and determined to buy the series in the new format and watch all the extras.