CG Facelift for Classic Trek

CBS and Paramount are giving the original 1966 Star Trek series a CG brush-up for the HDTV age and the property’s 40th Anniversary. The show will be digitally remastered and repackaged for syndication with updated visual effects that will mostly affect the space scenes. While all 79 episodes will eventually be remastered, initial efforts are being focused on fans favorites.

The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In addition giving all the spaceships and battle scenes a CG polish, CBS and Paramount will augment static paintings used in the series with new animation and other details. For example, CG people will be seen walking around on previously empty star bases and alien planets will be brought to life with slow-moving clouds and shimmering water. The view of space from the Enterprise’s bridge will also be redone, as will the opening title sequence, which will feature a re-recorded version of Emmy-winning composer Alexander Courage’s original score.

George Lucas had to endure some backlash when he introduced digital technology to the original Star Wars Trilogy for the Special Edition theatrical releases of the late 1990s. However, the tampering did serve as an excuse to get the films back on the big screen. Likewise, some visual updating may prove beneficial in bringing younger viewers to the first voyages of the Starship Enterprise, which are dated by their low-budget ’60s effects.

Created by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek debuted on CBS on Sept. 8, 1966. Though it enjoyed only a short run before cancellation, the show has become one of science-fiction’s biggest icons and has spawned a number of spin-off series and ten feature films. An eleventh movie is currently in the works with Lost and Alias creator J.J. Abrams attached to direct. Rumor has it the Mission: Impossible 3 director will recast the roles made famous by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei.

The updated Star Trek: The Original Series episodes will begin airing on more than 200 stations starting Sept. 16. Check your local listings for station and dates.