Originals

It looked like a meeting of the first Star Trek fan club’s original members. Huntsville shines in its ability ti turn out the proto-geeks by the dozen (Mr. Fu included). We gathered and paid money to see a two hour long advertisement for Paramount Pictures latest release in the science fiction genre, the re-mastered Star Trek, The Original Series.

Rob Roddenberry (Gene‘s son with Majel Barrett) presented a nice introduction with some insights into his early views of the series in his father’s den at home. There was some discussion about the re-mastering and re-scoring process. Many statements were made trying to re-assure the fans that the essence and original intent of the show remained untouched. Perhaps the public is a bit wary on this front given George Lucas’s butchery of childhood memories and blatant pandering to toddlers.

It was hoped that they would not be digitally inserting ewoks or Wesley Crusher in with Kirk and Spock. They digitized the original negatives, so it is nice to know this bit of television history can be digitally propagated into the future. Mr. Fu wonders what the future will have to say about the show.

There was a look at some home movies filmed on the set by Billy Blackburn. Billy was a uncredited extra in many episodes, never with a speaking role. Several shots included an arrow pointing to one of the actors, labeling him “Billy.” The actually presented a different behind the scenes view of the series then Mr. Fu had previously experienced, giving some insight into the personalities involved. Though it added an element that somewhat haunted the show was the episode itself started.

The episode “The Menagerie” finally kicked off. The contrast and brightness as presented in the theater was a bit dark. Mr. Fu kept expecting it to get better or his eyes to adjust, neither of which happened. But anticipation kept him from heading out to have a discussion on quality control with the management. Even with the conditions in the theater (including the other patrons, which is one of the reasons Mr. Fu avoids the theaters) the re-mastered images were very crisp. The update effects were obvious, but not jarring. They actually enhances the experience though this was not an effects heavy episode. But there had been enough effects shown in the preview to demonstrate they were treating the subject well and making some really nice, but not substantive, changes.

Perhaps experience (read age) added an appreciation of this episode that Mr. Fu had lacked. Recent politics has only heightened Mr. Fu’s bristling reaction to the idea of even highly attractive gilded cages. Mr. Fu noticed two things about the Talosians: 1) while they appeared evil for imprisoning members of many different species and judging their suitability for a purpose, that purpose was the survival of their race, 2) they were concerned enough for the survival of the human species to refuse Captain Pike’s offer of help, lest humans learn the Talosian’s power and destroy themselves as well.

There was recently an article on awesome sci-fi inventions that would actually suck.  One invention mentioned was the holodeck:

“If aliens showed up to Earth 1,000 years later, they’d find an abandoned planet with ten billion mummified corpses laying on the floor of ten billion dusty holodecks, with huge smiles on their faces.”

Death by fantasy, the fate that the Talosians warned Pike about.  And the reason for General Order Seven.  It is interesting considering the warnings of this episode the that holodeck, and its multitude of problem, would be featured so prominently in the follow-on series.

The was the craft of putting together a television show that made the original series great.  Drama mixed with comedic moments.  A formula lost in the follow-ons, but recaptured brilliantly in Babylon 5 and Firefly, to name two of the other greats.  In “The Menagerie” Vena’s complaint that in matching Christopher Pike with Number One that they “might as well cross him with a computer” lays the irony that Majel Barrett went on to provide the voice of many of the computer systems later in the series and follow-ons.

But, through the whole episode whenever there was a shot with extras about, Mr. Fu kept expecting the test “Billy” to appear and a large arrow to point to one of the chorus.  And the appearance of the backs of the Talosian’s heads always invited the term “butthead” to one’s mind.

This vast commercial had the desired effect, Mr. Fu and THE KAT are both interested in purchasing the re-mastered series.  But we are first going to review the original set of DVDs before venturing into the newly digitized world of Star Trek.

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