I couldn’t sleep last night and found myself channel surfing. I ran across an old Star Trek episode. By old I mean the original series that I grew up with, not the Next Generation or the other spin offs. I used to be a huge fan of Star Trek. I bet I can still can answer just about any trivia question about the “Old Generation” seriously try me… However, it’s been many years since I watched an episode from beginning to end.
The episode that happened to be on was the Doomsday Machine an average episode, better than some worse than others, where the crew of the USS Enterprise answers a call to investigate what happened to the USS Constellation. They find that a robotic planet killer roaming around chewing up solar systems and star ships for fuel, and oh yes, earth is on the machines agenda. It is not one of my favorite episodes, however, it was on and I was not tired, so what the hell.
I was starting to really get into the show, mostly through nostalgia, when I notice something was wrong. It just didn’t seem like the same show I enjoyed as a kid sitting on the living room floor, nestled into a bean bag chair while munching on a slice of bologna covered in ketchup and cheese like a pizza. Yes, it was my own invention. For a while I just couldn’t put my finger on what was different about the episode.
Someone decided to ‘improve’ the special effects of the old series! Some CGI editing geek pimped my Trek!
I found this to be completely distracting and mildly disturbing. Soon I started to see more glaring examples of improved special effects. It was all wrong. Banking turns towards the planet killer, phaser shots that kept the appearance of distance, they even went so far as to make the alien ship look like something other than a spray painted bugle snack cracker. Sure Star Trek is not academy award material, but this offended my sense of television history. Someone screwed around with history, and it frankly irked me. The added special effects and CGI space ships only proved to heighten the cheesy sets when the scene was taken inside. Each transition also seemed to make the acting even worse. Yes, I didn’t think it was possible either.
Apparently this work was done back in 2006 to a select few episodes. Check it out. I hope this is not a trend. Can you imagine other movies and TV shows being likewise re-mastered? What would it look like if they improved the special effects on the 10 Commandments and War of the Worlds? What about all those Godzilla movies, surely they could use some CGI effects to make the buildings look a bit less like balsa wood. What about improving the old twilight zone? What about the Andy Griffith show? Will they update the show by using CGI effects to turn Andy’s desk phone cellular? Does this kind of mokeying around add any entertainment value?
I do think that restoration is a good thing, but it can go too far. Maybe a good example lies in restoring my 68 VW buss. I do not plan on bringing my bus back to its original condition, just fixing it up so its road worthy, safe to drive, and comfortable enough for a camp out. That said I also do not plan on bring my bus up to present day standards. Would the addition of air bags, dingers and door sensors, an air cooled engine, electronic fuel injection, smog control, halogen headlights, crumple zones, antilock brakes, power steering, intermittent wipers, roll cage, etc… really be an improvement? Would it still be a 68 VW bus?
Sometimes it’s best to leave things as they are and fix what breaks.
Here is my advice, leave the old stuff alone and spend the time and effort on preserving it from decay. Use all the CGI Wizardry on new movies. For example the next Star Trek movie looks to be fabulous and I am really looking forward to watching it. Bring on the CGI, make my eyes bleed.
Hollywood- do what you want with the crew of the new Enterprise just leave the old guys alone.