Star Trek journeys to the 21st century as the Original Series returns to broadcast syndication for the first time in 16 years with brand-new digitally remastered episodes to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
CBS Paramount Domestic Television has officially announced that they are releasing digitally remastered episodes of Star Trek, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series' 40th anniversary, according to John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television.
The Star Trek episodes will begin airing on the more than 200 stations that own the rights to the weekend broadcast syndication window starting September 16. (As always, please check your local listings for station and dates.) The plan is for all 79 episodes of the Original Series to be remastered, with the first batch of episodes chosen from a list of Star Trek fans' favorite shows.
With the complete running order to be determined, the syndication schedule won't follow the classic air-date order or production order format familiar to fans. The first episode to air will be the Season One classic "Balance of Terror." "That gives us a chance to really show off the 'new' Enterprise," says Mike Okuda, 18-year veteran of the Star Trek art department and one of the supervisors on this project. His comments and more can be found in next week's TV Guide.
"Star Trek redefined science-fiction and constantly pushed the envelope with concepts that were ahead of their time," Nogawski said. "By giving the series a digital upgrade using the best technology available today, it will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge television programming as we introduce the series to a new generation of viewers."
The most noticeable change will be redoing many of the special effects, created with 1960s technology, with 21st century computer-generated imagery (CGI). Upgrades include:
• Space ship exteriors – The 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 viewscreen 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.
The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner's classic original recording of the 38-word "Space, the final frontier..." monologue continues to open each episode.
The remastered episodes have been converted from the original film into a High-Definition format, which gives viewers a clearer, crisper, more vibrant picture than before, even when viewed in standard definition. Once stations upgrade and start broadcasting HD signals, the episodes will be all ready for viewers to enjoy in HD.