This past weekend I stumbled across an old original (or so I thought) Star Trek episode called “The Doomsday Machine” where a big ugly “horn-o-plenty” looking space robot goes around munching up whole worlds for the sheer mindless fun of it. (Insert your own Wal-Mart joke here)
My 3 1/2 year old son William, who has never seen Star Trek, was immediately mesmerized by the episode, and he and daddy played “space rock monster” using a brown blanket after seeing the evil beast, which looked in the original series like a paper mache’ horn-o-plenty, like you might make in first grade around Thanksgiving, suspended on strings with model space ships around it over a star background. In fact, it was exactly how that was done.
You could always count of the original TV show looking a bit cheesy in the effects department. It goes with William Shatner’s anguished overacting perfectly.
But something about the episode I saw this weekend on Channel 30 caught my eye…lo and behold, the cheesy effects were gone! And while the ‘horn-o-plenty turned space beast’ was still there, it now took on some new 3 dimensional qualities…and then I saw some 3D flybys over the wrecked hulk of the USS Constellation, which also figured in this episode…and to my surprise…IT LOOKED REAL.
Holy cow! Even the view-screen scenes from the deck of the Enterprise look different! Whats going on?
Doing a little web searching I found this: CBS Paramount Confirms Original Star Trek Episodes Have Been Remastered and Updated – High-Definition version of the 1960’s series, featuring new special effects to air soon
Apparently, every scene that could have some CGI update to it has been.
According to the press release, special effects have been redone for many aspects of the series, with new CGI effects replacing the 1960’s imagery. The press release lists the following alterations:
Space ship exteriors — The space ship Enterprise, as well as other Starships, will be replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Show opening — The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence will be redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.
Galaxy shots — All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the window on the Enterprise’s bridge, will be redone.
Exteriors — The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon Battle Cruisers) will be updated.
Background scenes — Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds explored by the Enterprise crew will get a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.
If you’d like to see some samples of the new look, then here is a photo and video gallery:
Now if they can just get William Shatner’s pained facial expressions even more realistic. Its on Sunday nights at 6-7PM on Channel 30, and worth a look.