I have long been known as an original series Star Trek Trekker/Trekkie (either title is okay with me, but I don’t buy and wear costumes, nor do I attend Star Trek conventions these days). But as someone who was excited about J. J. Abrams taking on Star Trek and putting his stamp on it, I was as excited as anyone about a new addition to the franchise.
I was already acquainted with JJ because of Lost, and since his doing his version of Star Trek, I have also found I love his work on Revolution. Well, guess what, JJ Trek to me is just garbage. Now those who are new to it, who are not familiar with Gene Roddenberry’s vision, and his timeline (and canon) are understandably interested in this new version. However, we who love the original trek are not so much.
What it caused me to do, and which JJ would not be happy about, is that I decided to order the original series of which I have only a few videos, as well as all five of the movies. Today I got my set of DVDs of the original series, all 69 episodes, which I ordered by computer. It is advertised as enhanced, and is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray. I was guaranteed by every website I went to that it was true to the original series, just enhanced. Well, when one reads enhanced, one wonders exactly how enhanced it was – not wanting all the bells and whistles, but loving the original because of the great storylines and the very human aspect of those space farers, and the beings they met along the way.
I have to say I am completely pleased. First of all, it has been many years since I saw most of the original episodes, depending on my memory when I was with people who wanted to talk about it. So watching this is going to be a fairly new experience for me to see some of the episodes I have not seen for some 30-40 years.
The discs are set up to show the episodes by date it was first run. And tonight I watched the first three. In the process, I saw some things I had not remembered, particularly based on trying to get the series off the ground. I always thought Where No Man Has Gone Before was the first shown (after The Cage), but it was the third shown by television dates. So there were changes in the costumes, changes in the cast, and changes in makeup. There is a difference in some of the traditional thoughts about the show – like only red shirts got killed. I have always knows the traditional gold for officers, blue for medical, and red for engineering. Staff wore different colours of the non-stars in the show. But it was not like that in the beginning.
So the first three shows I watched, in order as they come out of the set (which is divided into three seasons) were The Man Trap, Charlie X, and Where No Man Has Gone Before.
In Man Trap, we had Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, and Sulu. Kirk was wearing his gold shirt which we saw most of. Four men were killed – two were in blue, one was in gold, and one was in a uniform apparently worn by the maintenance people, coveralls, these in white with black accents.
In Charlie X, Kirk started out with the green wrap-around shirt with gold braid, ended in the gold shirt. Sulu was in blue. The only people killed were the men in the Antares, not seen on screen, but known when Charlie did it. All of the rest of the people who came to harm were not killed, thus the Thasians, when they came to the rescue, restored them all (even though all we actually saw was Janice Rand in her pink negligee reappear on the bridge). Again, we had Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, and Uhura.
Finally, in Where No Man Has Gone Before, there was a different cast, and very different uniforms. Kirk, Spock, Sulu, we saw Scottie for the first time, and Dr. Mark Pike, who had been in the original pilot for The Cage. Nine people died at the beginning, but we never saw them. Uniforms were shirts with knitted turtle-neck type collars. They were worn outside the pants, and they wore belts to carry their lasers or other paraphernalia. Kirk and Spock wore greenish gold with green knit collars; Sulu and Dr. Pike in blue; Uhura was not there. Gary Mitchell, who was navigator, Scottie, and Lee Kelso, the pilot, were in pale golden tan shirts. Lee Kelso was the only other person killed on the episode (besides Gary Mitchell and the doctor, of course). And Spock has those eyebrows which went up at a strange angle, and looked quite funny. He also smiled a few times.
I decided to not watch that many tonight; I need to chew them up a few at a time. Tomorrow, when I begin disc two of the first season, the first show is The Naked Time. As I recall it from so long ago, I believe it will be the first one to have the complete cast (other than Chekov, who doesn’t show up until season two) in their regular parts, and wearing their regular uniforms, although I might expect Kirk to wear that green wrap-around again.
As for enhanced, it is excellent. I would say the biggest amount of work was done by Michael and Denise Okuda, working under the supervision of a man named Dave, and what they have done is take the old negatives, which were fading fairly fast, and had cuts and tears in them, and were colour-enhanced and repaired, along with giving us more views of the Enterprise 1701 from different angles than the static view of it simply passing in front of our eyes; there have been things like we would see Scottie cutting and all we would see were the sparks, but now we can see the laser beam leading to those sparks; the planets the Enterprise floated around in the outside shots, instead of just being red, blue, green, or yellow fuzzy orbs, now are seen with geographical differences, and clouds in the atmosphere. When you see the phasers, you don’t just see two blue lights out in front of the ship, but they look like moving lights as phasers would appear.
I cannot think of anyone better to do this work than Michael and Denise because I have long known them as two people who absolutely respect what we older folks fell in love with so long ago.
Finally, the musical score has been redone. Instead of the scratchy sounds from years ago, they have taken Alexander Courage’s original score, and re-recorded it with a 28-piece orchestra, and I think the original soprano singing, or if not the original, a woman who sounds very like the original. Along with that, they found the original tapes of William Shatner with the “……….these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise……..” in his original voice.
Altogether, a beautiful experience, and one I am looking forward to continuing until I get all of the shows seen, and then very likely, I’ll go back and rewatch favourites from time to time.
Live Long and Prosper