Aliens, Fans Rejoice! Original Star Trek Gets CGI Effects

NEW YORK (August 31, 2006) — While some die hard fans of iconic sixties series Star Trek may be thrilled at the show’s return to syndication, others may be up in arms. As TVGuide.com reports today, the show returns to the small screen for the first time since 1990 with some startling differences: All 79 episodes are being digitally remastered with computer-generated effects not possible when Gene Roddenberry created the show 40 years ago.

“Remastering and updating the original Star Trek is a fantastically wise idea,” says TVGuide.com contributing writer Michael Logan. “Sure, some fans will take issue with it — for them everything Gene Roddenberry touched is sacrosanct — but the vast majority of Trekkers will be dying to check it out. It could also bring a whole new, young audience to the show, and isn’t that what Roddenberry would have wanted?”

Loyalists of the show may bristle at the prospect of the original masterpiece being tinkered with, but longtime Trek staffers in charge of the makeover say they’re honoring the late maestro’s vision, not changing it. “We’re taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original,” says Michael Okuda, who spent 18 years as a scenic art supervisor on Trek films and spinoffs. “Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would Roddenberry have done with today’s technology?” Okuda’s teammates on the two-year project are his wife, Denise Okuda, with whom he’s authored several Trek reference books, and 14-year Trek production veteran David Rossi.

The upgraded episodes - to be shown out of order and one per week - will kick off on September 16 with “Balance of Terror,” a big fan favorite, “that gives us a chance to really show off the ‘new’ Enterprise,” says Okuda. “The exterior of the ship now has depth and detail and it will fly more dynamically.” Painted backdrops will also be brought to life: Once-empty starbases will have CGI people milling about, while static alien landscapes have been given slow-moving clouds and shimmering water. Okuda notes that a view of Earth in the 1966 episode “Miri” has been “replaced with a more accurate image, now that we’ve gone into deep space and looked back at ourselves.”

Trek’s opening theme is also getting an overhaul: The music has been re-recorded in stereo with a bigger orchestra and a new singer has been hired to wail those famous but wordless vocals. In additions, certain goof-ups will be corrected: In “The Naked Time,” there was no beam coming out of Scotty’s phaser when he tried to cut through the bulkhead outside Engineering.

Now there is.

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