Paramount Is Boldly Going


I know a Tholian Web from a Tribble, a Tricorder from Trelane, and can quote scads of dialog from many Star Trek episodes, and recognize it from almost all of them.

I can still see the tortured faces of Matt Decker and Anton Karidian, the delirium of Sulu swashbuckling down the halls or that young ensign (Robert Walker Jr. if you must know) singing "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" ad nauseum. And I haven't watched the original in 20 years or more.

I totally get that Spock/Horta mind-meld "pain" reference in that current ad featuring the smart-alecky systems manager. I even toured the opening of the Star Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian with a number of cast members, though not Shatner or Nimoy.

I'm not proud of this "parents' basement" cultural literacy–OK, secretly just a little–but I am a died-in-the-velour fan of the show.

I firmly believe that everyone who flips open their cell phone is paying homage to the show's communicators. Don't tell me that's not where the design comes from, even it it isn't.

Though I am not easily phased, I had to set my self on "stunned" when I found out that Paramount Domestic Television, for the first broadcast syndicated run of the original show in a decade and a half, is boldly going to digitally doodle with the wonderfully cheesy graphics and wonderfully uncheesy matte paintings, as well as the iconic theme and opening riff on the original Star Trek.

The idea is to make them more realistic and, thus, theoretically more attractive to viewers raised on CGI reality.

"What?" I fumed, suddenly needing a good, stiff, shot of tranya. Why, that is like tugging on Superman's cape, spitting into the wind, pulling the mask off that old Kodos the Executioner…well you get the idea.

Part of the charm of the show was that the doors whooshed while so obviously being operated by stagehands, or the creatures that looked like whatever old movie props could be hustled from somewhere on the Paramount back lot. The special effects were OK for their day, but when the special effects budget had been blown, suddenly the Enterprising space cowboys would land on a planet that looked suspiciously like a Western town or city street built by the stagehands for an old Paramount movie.

Tranya-less, I paused, took a deep breath, reset my high-dudgeon meter to medium-low, and remembered that I actually like the colorized version of Casablanca that Turner did lo these many years ago.

Amid the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on that process as a violation of everything holy and sacred about filmmaking, I long ago concluded that movies have always been a commercial venture no more sacrosanct than the latest pre-screenings. Films have almost always been rewritten, re-edited and reformatted to make them more saleable, both before and after they were finished.

If Paramount thinks it can reach the next generation with the remastered show, it would be foolish not to try. Why it would be like not trying to reverse the polarity of the warp drive when faced with some giant spinning cube.

Editor's Note: Did you know that Glenda the Good Witch's bubble in The Wizard of Oz was the ballcock from a toilet? Just thought I would throw that in by way of a digression.

Anyway, my advice to fellow Trek fans is to give the new graphics a chance, and remember that G4 is showing, and TV Land will be showing, the unalloyed version, with original Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon battle cruiser if that's what floats your shuttlecraft.

I think there is room for both to live long and prosper.

By John Eggerton