Star Trek the original series: Bluray reviewMikey 2 comments
I love my ever growing Bluray collection, and when it was announced the original Star Trek series had been remastered for the high definition format I was a giddy as a kid in a chocolate shop. But then I learned two seemingly undesirable facts.
First was the price - an astonishing $AU138 just for the first season. Secondly, after I did some more research to see if it was worth my hard earned dollars, was that the term 'remastering' was an understatement.
The original Star Trek series had not only undergone the process of colour correction, dust and scratch removal - all the good stuff - but every special effects shot has been replaced with brand spanking new CGI footage.
My first thought was "Have we not learned anything from the Star Wars enhancements?". Playing with the TV show that introduced me to science fiction and guaranteed my attention every Friday night as a kid seems simultaneously sacrilegious and blasphemous.
But thinking more about it, the original Star Trek series could probably benefit from some enhancements in this day and age. If Star Trek can be accused of anything, it's the effects were so poor that they are more often than not an actual distraction. This wasn't due to technical limitations (consider that 2001: A Space Odyssey won awards for groundbreaking special effects and was made the same year as Season 2 of Star Trek), but just a time and budget constraint.
So with that potentially malformed logic tucked firmly into my cerebrum I made the leap of faith and purchased Season 1 on Bluray.
How does it look?
In a single word? Out-fricking-standing. The HD featurette which comes on the first disc (this is a 7 disc set) walks us through the insanely detailed process of bringing Star Trek into the 21st century.
It might help that it's been more than 20 years since I last watched the original Star Trek and that was on VHS. Thanks to the painstaking work of the team that developed the Bluray version, Star Trek has never looked better.
The image is so razor sharp that you'll see every freckle, mole, hair and pore on Spock's face, every bead of sweat on Kirks brow and every wrinkle on McCoy's eye line. This level of detail is nothing new for any Bluray movie of course, but to see this level of detail given to an entire 40 year old television series is mind blowing.
It probably helped that the team were able to secure access to Rodenberrys' original film negatives, so they could fix up the new transfer frame by frame.
The colour is beautiful with generous levels of contrast used to good effect. Although it's obvious how clear the image is right from the start, the aforementioned featurette actually demonstrates before and after shots so you can appreciate it more.
What about those enhancements?
As mentioned I was a bit sceptical at first but after watching just one episode - The Man Trap - I realised this is actually a good thing. Outside fly-bys of the Enterprise are now all CG but they are faithful to the original style. In other words they don't look out of place. Also given the CG treatment are planet surface environments, phaser blasts, and within reason, most everything else that suffered from the shows budgetary constraints.
How does it sound?
How do you convert an original mono audio track into a 7.1 surround sound masterpiece? You recreate it from scratch. The opening theme originally produced by Alexander Courage has been re-orchestrated using the mans original notation and many of the original performers. I know the theme intimately and can spot a fake in a nanosecond, and the re-orchestrated version is 100% spot on right down to the soprano.
The music throughout the episodes has also been reproduced as have many of the sound effects. The vocal audio has been cleaned up and is incredibly crisp.
If you're into the original Star Trek, be assured this is the best way you will ever see and hear it. Consider that I, a hardcore devotee of the original series, went in a sceptic but came out convinced that I had just watched the original Star Trek in the best possible way. Now I just have to save my pennies for the other 2 seasons.