IT’S hard to believe it was 25 years ago when the catch phrases, “make it so” and “Earl Grey, hot”, entered the lexicon of geeks around the world.
That’s right, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) made its debut in 1987 and this year, to celebrate a quarter century of “boldly going where no-one has gone before” the complete first season has been given a high definition makeover for a must-have Blu-ray release.
For Aussie Trekkers (not Trekkies), the first time TNG appeared on our screens was not on broadcast television, but in video stores. I still vividly remember having to wait for my monthly fix of two episodes to arrive at my rental outlet on VHS.
I wasn’t a big fan of the original series. Despite my adoration of all things Shatner, the adventures of Kirk, Spock and crew in their low tech, cheap looking Enterprise did not fit in well with a mind that was already inundated with the sophisticated special effects (at the time) of the original Star Wars trilogy.
I have the same affliction with early Doctor Who episodes. Send all abuse letters care of the CWD, thanks.
It was a completely different case with TNG. I was completely sold on this vision of the future, where bold explorers toured the universe with a code of ethics almost as stiff as their ridiculous starched, clearly uncomfortable uniforms.
Actually, it wasn’t even as elaborate as that. The genius of Gene Roddenberry’s vision is that there actually is a future for man. Enough of the geek philosophy ... I know it’s just a TV show, but it is a really good one.
Starting with TNG, the Star Trek universe expanded with the debuts of spin-off series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, followed by Star Trek: Voyager. Trekker fandom in Australia peaked in the early 90s and for a while, I was a big enough fanboy to be attending Trek conventions in my very own red jumpsuit uniform. Please don’t tell anyone about this. I would hate to lose my credibility. No-one would take my columns about The Village People seriously if they knew.
I still recall having a bingle in my friend’s car on our way to a convention at Darling Harbour. Having to stand on George Street calling the NRMA in full Starfleet uniform was an interesting experience. I guess that’s why they invented the transporter beam.
Anyway, back to the Blu-ray release. Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One looks absolutely pristine in high definition, as if it was filmed yesterday (or stardate 66178.3).
The detail is stunning, with minute joins in the prosthetic makeup of the aliens and flaws in the set construction and painting now obvious.
Originally shot on film, the restoration process has involved locating the archived master reels, an extensive cleaning process to bring the footage to high definition standards, and then a complete episode rebuild. The special effects have been re-composited from the original film elements and look brilliantly sharp.
As with most long running shows, TNG season one is a little bit of a mess. Characters are yet to be established and are quite inconsistent. The tone isn’t quite right. That comes in by season three or four. I guess at the time of production, the cast and crew had no idea that the show would be a hit.
I don’t really consider myself a Trekker anymore.
Besides, my uniform no longer fits. However, I still consider TNG to be one of the best TV shows ever.
Remastered on blu-ray, you now can experience the series with a visual clarity that wasn’t possible25 years ago.
Regardless of whether you are a casual Trek fan or fluent in Klingon, this box set is a must-buy. Make it so.