John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television, says it was a coincidence that the latest Star Trek series, Enterprise was moved out of weekend broadcast syndication at the same time stations were being pitched the weekend version of the remastered original, Star Trek. for similar time periods.
When a reporter suggested Wednesday that some stations had indicated CBS Paramount had pulled Enterprise and requiring them to fill the rest of the contract with the remastered original, Nogawski pointed out that Enterprise was an annual deal and said, instead, that the company thought it was better for it and viewers to move the show to cable--Sci-Fi and HD Net--where it would be stripped (airing daily during the week). The original Star Trek would have gone back into broadcast syndication with or without Enterprise exiting weekend syndication, he said.
It's hard to argue with the timing of the original's return to broadcast syndication after a 16-year absence. Star Trek marks its 40th anniversary Sept. 8, with the CGI-enhanced original debuting on stations about a week later. It was broadcast syndication, after all, that turned the show from a short-lived, relatively low-rated space opera into a mega-franchise and cultural phenomenon that spawned spin-offs, film,s and much more.
Nogawski, joined by visual effects whizzes Dave Rossi and Michael Okuda, talked with reporters Wednesday about their digital makeover of the cult classic.
Although part of the reason for the makeover is to make the series ready for HDTV airings, almost no stations can currently air it in HDTV, says Nogawski, pointing to a lack of storage space for the show, which is delivered to stations several days in advance of airing. But he said the show will be ready for HDTV when stations are.
Nogawski said he had not personally heard from any Star Trek fans who might see the move as tampering with the original, but said that he expected applause once they see that CBS Paramount is enhancing, rather than altering, the series. Nothing will change with the exception of quality, he said.
The process will preserve the original "right down to the placement of the stars," he said, while improving the graphic look, not only for younger viewers who may have never seen the show, but for older viewers who will be looking at TV in a whole new light, and with many more lines of resolution, once it transitions to digital and HDTV.
He called the move "imperative," saying otherwise the series would not hold up for the next generation of viewers.
The enhancements include a newly-scored opening and CGI enhancement of stars, screen shots from the bridge, and some matte paintings. It will take about year to remaster the 79 episodes, he said.
Okuda called Star Trek essentially a period piece, albeit one whose period was far into the future. As such, he said, they respected the production styles, cinematography, and editing of the original. For instance, they were confined to the length of edits. A two-second phaser shot had to remain two seconds, for example.
Rossi said they would not think of updating the Klingons to make them look like they did in the later series, or even later in the same series. Nor were they out to airbrush the zippers on aliens, even given the resources at their disposal, he said.
One example Rossi gave of a change they did make: In "The Naked Time," Scotty is trying to cut through a bulkhead with a phaser. There are sparks on the wall but no phaser beam. They went in and added the beam, he said.
As a fan of the show who had worked on its progeny starting with Next Generation, Okuda said he was initially skeptical of the makeover, but that when he realized what CBS Paramount was trying to do, which was enhance while honoring the original, he became enthusiastic. But they also conceded that they had always had a wish list of special effects updates they might make on the old series, pointing out they had already done some of that in episodes of later series that revisited the original.