Star Trek: Remastered

review and analysis by Fred Dixon

Ever since George Lucas remastered the original Star Wars trilogy, I hoped that Paramount would do the same with the original Star Trek. After all, the show had a limited budget for special effects back in the 1960's. While those effects were outstanding for that period time in many ways, they still came up short for a variety of reasons. They had to reuse many of the stock shots. I recall watching the episodes of the first season on DVD and noting that the same planet was used a dozen times (sometimes with different colors). Three different Enterprises were used: one with antennae on the forward nacelle domes and without, one with louvers in the rear nacelles and one with domes. Sometimes they just didn’t have the technology or the budget to show the Enterprise making a maneuver or showing another ship. Another problem cropped up with DVDs. You could see the outlines of the matte work. Sometimes the entire overlay of the ship would get illuminated with light. Fibers could be seen. The detail was blurred. They actually would layer film of the star background, planet and Enterprise and then rephotograph them. With the age of HD approaching fast, these special effects would never hold up. Then in a surprise announcement in the summer of 2006, CBS Paramount revealed that they were working in-house by CBS-Digital to remaster the original Star Trek. For the most part, it was successful, but there were some lapses.

First, the project was rushed into production, and it was to be accomplished in less than two years. The digital model of the Enterprise was not finalized beforehand. It took about a third of the episodes to get it right. CBS-D also decided initially to stick to the original shots and not enhance or expand upon them. You would think that some shots could have been lengthened to properly display the action. Fortunately, things improved as the project moved along, but unfortunately once they finished a particular show, they were not going to go back to fix problems.

What we did get was a pristine rendering of the live-action, a consistent Enterprise, new angles on the Enterprise, a few new digital scenes, and a different planet every week.

Here is a rundown of the remastered episodes in the order in which they were broadcast. The length of the special effect is in parentheses.

Balance of Terror (2:42)
Interesting new shots of the Romulan warbird such as the hull plating detail, but for most part indistinguishable from original.

Miri (1:27)
New photo-realistic shots of Earth, but not else much here.

The Devil in the Dark (1:41)
Interesting approach shot to Janus VI, and new shot of the Horta burning through rock.

The Naked Time (2:09)
Great shot of the outpost on Psi 2000 (as opposed to original of just clouds), and also the digital chronometer instead of the Schwinn bicycle odometer.

The City on the Edge of Forever (0:53)
Great new shot of the Guardian planet. A great science fiction does not depend on special effects.

I, Mudd (1:23)
Nice surprise of ringed "Mudd" planet and a more realistic version of Norman’s computerized guts.

Arena (1:32)
Nice overview shot of landing party on Cestus III showing foreground and background detail. We get to see Gorn ship, but it is too far away to make out and detail. They should have had a close up of the ship. The Gorn blinks!

Catspaw (1:24)
Good timing to air around Halloween. Good shot of castle added, view of planet from space showed appropriate dismal gray color. They eliminated the strings on the "turkey" puppets at end, but it would have been nice to have a new digital animation. This scene still looked fake.

The Trouble With Tribbles (2:29)
Get to see a Klingon ship again ahead of the Third Season, good views of space station K-7, Klingon ship in station orbit with Enterprise, good view of Enterprise through the window in Manager Lurry’s office.

Mirror, Mirror (1:16)
Actually get to see "I.S.S. Enterprise" markings on the ship, the mirror ship is structurally different than the normal universe Enterprise. Nice touches with showing electric tendrils emanating from the agonize and a warped effect when Chekov was in the agony booth.

Space Seed (1:30)
Excellent rendering of the S.S. Botany Bay; detail showed meteor damage and ship name on the side, great shot of Botany Bay with Enterprise.

The Menagerie, Part I & II (4:19)
Lots of good stuff here: good rendering of Starbase 11 while still remaining faithful to original matte work (which was pretty good in its own right), good beam down to Starbase 11 background added, shuttlecraft detail added (named Picasso, it had Starbase 11 markings), shuttlecraft approach to Enterprise, great approach shot of old Enterprise through the bridge dome onto the bridge, starfield added to captain’s cabin window, good approach to Talos IV, good Talos IV shot on bridge main viewer, new background added to picnic scene that added depth to shot, briefing room scene added new shot of Talos IV. All in all a fine effort. (I saw this in the theater to boot!)

The Corbomite Maneuver (6:32)
Good shots of Enterprise and of Fesarius, but the picture of the Enterprise close in on the Fesarius looked video game-like.

Friday's Child (3:00)
We get to see a Klingon ship again ahead of the Third Season. Nice scanning graphic at the science station (a little reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Wink of an Eye (2:28)
Excellent photo-realistic background added of Scalosian city

Where No Man Has Gone Before (2:24)
What they did was great: Showing the Enterprise with the Milky Way galaxy in the background, the excellent entry and exit from the Barrier, the overhead shot of the Enterprise, the approach to Delta Vega. What they didn’t do was disappointing: redoing the personnel records of Dehner and Mitchell (courier font with pencil marks in the 23rd Century!), Mitchell reading the ship library (still in courier font) on the science station monitor with the wrong perspective, and fixing the "James R. Kirk" name on the tombstone.

For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (1:30)
Redone missiles from Yonada, a new asteroid (different from "The Paradise Syndrome").

Journey to Babel (1:43)
A new design for planet Vulcan, shuttlecraft landing approach, new Orion ship (They tried to stay faithful to the original spinning star design, I don’t think this worked.)

The Doomsday Machine (6:41)
Piece de resistance. The Doomsday Machine was the most special effects laden episode of the series. We get to see more of the damage to the Constellation, better perspectives of the battle with Machine.

Amok Time (1:18)
A new planet Vulcan, the first remastered episode to actually replace original live action footage with digital. They showed land bridges and mountains in the style of Star Trek III. The Vulcan city in the background was based on that of the animated episode, Yesteryear. Great long shot of Spock beaming up to the Enterprise from the arena. This is what the remastering should have been all about: improving the original.

The Paradise Syndrome (1:24)
Redone asteroid. Incongruously, the beam coming out the temple was orange and not the "blue flame" of which the natives spoke.

Wolf in the Fold (0:53)
Not much here, just the Enterprise in orbit around the planet.

The Tholian Web (2:47)
We get to the name and registry of the Defiant on the saucer section. I did not think the winking out of the Defiant was quite as good as the original. Enhanced Tholian ships and web. Nice shadowing on the Enterprise.

The Immunity Syndrome (2:59)
I was surprised that this didn’t turn out better than it did. The original was just as good. The effects were dark after the Enterprise penetrated the protective zone around the amoeba. While this may have been technically correct, it made things hard to see.

And the Children Shall Lead (1:35)
Not much here: the enhancement of the Gorgon effect was minimal, I thought they should have replaced the knives on the viewscreen through which Sulu thought the Enterprise was flying.

All Our Yesterdays (0:37)
Surprising that there were only thirty-seven seconds of effects, but the Beta Niobe sun going supernova and destroying Sarpeidon was great. Also nice perspective from behind the Enterprise when approaching the planet at the beginning of the show.

A Piece of the Action (0:50)
Fuggedaboudit, not much here: an enhanced phaser stun pulse on the gangsters on the street below Oxmyx’s office. But I ain’t sayin’ nuthin’…

Tomorrow Is Yesterday (2:38)
Good shots of the Enterprise in Earth’s atmosphere, nice enhancements of replacing the F-104 stock shots, we get to see the Enterprise pass Mercury, slingshot around the sun, and fly by Pluto. Digital clock replaced the Schwinn bicycle odometer. I thought the original shots of Captain Christopher looking up the Enterprise from his aircraft were superior to the remastered version (it showed a view through the cockpit plexiglass), the remastered Enterprise looked video-game like.

Errand of Mercy (1:04)
This again is what the remastering was about: we get to see eight Klingon ships closing on the Enterprise. Sweet!

Patterns of Force (0:59)
Good opening, the Enterprise passing the ringed planet Zeon on approach to Ekos.

Shore Leave (1:00)
Not much here, just the Enterprise in orbit. CBS-D got to take a shore leave that week.

Bread and Circuses (1:16)
We get to see the Enterprise passing the debris of the Beagle in route to the "Roman" planet. Nice dual moons added to background on the beamdown site on the planet.

Spock's Brain (2:00)
Ironically for such a horrible episode, there were good special effects: the new Eyemorg ship, the initial beamdown to Sigma Draconis VI was enhanced and widened to show snow-capped mountains in the background.

Plato's Stepchildren (1:10)
Not a whole lot here, just the Enterprise in orbit. Also, a small tricorder visual effect added.

The Omega Glory (1:00)
Nice timing to originally air around the 4th of July, New shot of Enterprise in orbit around Omega IV side by side with the Exeter (with visible markings); however not as dramatic as original perspective. The original had the Enterprise ominously standing off behind the plague ship Exeter.

Return to Tomorrow (1:06)
Just the Enterprise orbiting Sargon’s planet.

Charlie X (1:07)
We get to see the Antares (which was based on the supply ships in the TAS "More Tribbles, More Troubles" episode), the redo of the Thasian ship was somewhat underwhelming: just sequences of green blobs. No enhancements were needed for Grace Lee Whitney.

The Squire of Gothos (1:40)
CBS-D straightened out the cat-and-mouse maneuvering between the Enterprise and the planet Gothos. The planet moves about and so does the starfield. You can see the lightning storms on Gothos from orbit (I have seen lightning from above in an airliner; it is awesome.)

This Side of Paradise (1:32)
Omicron Ceti III was a standard class M remastered planet with the interesting exception of showing turquoise auroras in the atmosphere to represent the Berthold rays.

The Galileo Seven (4:08)
A special effects extravaganza and the first episode of the remastered second season: new swirling green pulsar with a radiation plume, new shots of the Galileo including a shuttlecraft launch, the Columbia was depicted as well. I thought the shots in orbit around Taurus II looked video-gamey; the green swirls of the pulsar in the background looked cartoonish. We see the Galileo in low orbit over the planet. Still better storyboarding than the original.

The Conscience of the King (1:32)
Not much here: just the Enterprise orbiting the planet and in flight. Nice touch of adding a moving starfield in the observation deck scene. Too bad they did not change the city backdrop to the Leighton’s residence. It was originally used in the picnic scene in "The Cage" as a city in the Mojave area and not terrifically effective.

The Man Trap (2:19)
Excellent establishing shot of Professor Crater’s residence on M-113. Nice panorama shot showing the desolation and the arid conditions.

What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1:27)
Now here is one of the best remastered scenes in the entire project: It is a forty second sequence of the Enterprise orbiting Exo III. The shot is close and underneath the ship as it moves across the frame. It is almost 3D and you get a really good perspective on the size of a starship. It also enhances Kirk’s log entry. The early first season log entries were given a soft, thoughtful tone by Shatner. Shatner’s voice and the vastness of the shot seemed to show that the Enterprise was really only a grain sand in the ocean of space.

Dagger of the Mind (1:28)
Nice shot of the Enterprise executing a 180 turn back to the Tantalus Colony.

The Gamesters of Triskelion (1:20)
Nice orbiting shot of the Enterprise around the ringed, pock-marked Gamma II. Good shot of the trinary sun system and Triskelion in space.

Metamorphosis (1:35)
New shots of the Galileo II as it is engulfed by the Companion, nice shot of the Enterprise approaching the Asteroid Belt, also a shot of the Galileo approaching the Enterprise from behind to land. Some color enhancement added depth to the terrain Cochrane ran over to get to the shuttle.

The Deadly Years (1:35)
Improved scene of the Enterprise surrounded by Romulan ships, good perspectives of the warbirds encircling and firing on the Federation ship. You get a 3D feeling from the proceedings.

The Alternative Factor (1:05)
This horrible episode could not be helped by remastering, although the remastered planet was appropriately dead-looking, and there was a nice shot of the planet receding between the Enterprise’s nacelles as the ship broke orbit and flew off.

The Return of the Archons (1:14)
Good close in flyby shot of the lower hull and then a zoom in to the surface of Beta III. This was sweet little piece of digitalization.

A Taste of Armageddon (1:45)
Nice redo of the capital city of Eminiar VII. You could see people and a monorail moving in the background. However, they went with a matte-painting style instead of photorealism like in "Wink of an Eye". CBS-D mentioned something about being faithful to the original. I would have gone with photorealism.

Day of the Dove (1:00)
We see a nice shot of the Klingon ship shakily maneuvering behind the Enterprise. The shot of the Enterprise destroying the Klingon vessel was good, but I thought the original was better. The remastered shot was quick, and the flash washed out the detail of the ship’s debris from the explosion.

Who Mourns for Adonais? (2:30)
Good shot of the hand coming up from the planet. Also, we finally see the Enterprise shooting through the hand. In the original, the hand was not in the phaser firing sequence presumably for budgetary reasons. Here it faded out as the temple disintegrated from the bombardment of the Enterprise.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (3:30)
Good shot of the stricken shuttle landing on the hangar deck, nice shots of a drab Arianas becoming bright green on the land masses and deep blue in the oceans as the Enterprise sprays the planet.

The Enemy Within (1:00)
Not much here, just shots of the Enterprise in orbit around Alpha 177.

The Changeling (1:08)
Enhanced shots of Nomad as a green glowing, ablating sphere and shooting glowing green plasma bolts at the Enterprise. Oh, wait a minute. They remastered this episode in 1979, too. It was called Star Trek the Motion Picture. That had glowing green plasma bolts, too.

The Ultimate Computer (1:42)
Another special effects extravaganza. Nice shot of the Enterprise approaching a new designed space station (Masao Okazaki's Vanguard space station from the Pocketbooks series) with the Lexington already docked. The Woden is an Antares-like vessel in the remastered version instead of recycled Botany Bay. We see more detail in the starship war games and then battle, but the other starships always seem too distant. You cannot make out any detail and they are somewhat hard to see. (As opposed to Enterprise squaring off against the Reliant in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.) This may be technically correct, but it is not visually satisfying. What was satisfying is the sweeping shot of the four other starships moving in on the Enterprise, and later the three surviving ships massing for an attack. You can only see the registration detail on the Lexington, but not on the Excalibur, Hood and Potemkin unfortunately.

Operation: Annihilate! (2:01)
The 60 watt light bulb was replaced with a realistic sun. You can see the tiny Denevan ship fly into the sun. Also, nice shots of the Enterprise deploying the trimagnesite satellites around Deneva (this replaced some live action footage).

The Apple (1:56)
A green and blue remastered planet with reddish tinges replaces the apple-red original one (get it?). The phaser beams glow and pulsate as they hit Vaal.

By Any Other Name (1:23)
New shot of the beamdown to the planet showing a wide angle of the area. New shots of the Enterprise flying through the Barrier and onto the Andromeda galaxy. Neat shot of the Enterprise turning 180 around to go back to the Milky Way.

That Which Survives (1:04)
The only shot of note was the electric tendrils around the Enterprise as it was transported 1,000, er, 990.7 light years away. (Note: the syndicated remastered version mercifully cut the exchange between Uhura and Spock when she asked what happened. The writers made Spock appear to be a literal-minded person who came off as a jackass instead of a Vulcan.)

Is There In Truth No Beauty? (1:50)
Nice sequence showing entry into the purplish barrier and transitioning to the blue/green/black of uncharted space. Nice exit transition from the uncharted space to the Milky Way. A nice detail was throw in showing the rendezvous of the Enterprise with the Medusan vessel. Also good shot of the Enterprise flying away with a sun in the background causing flares in the camera lens.

Elaan of Troyius (2:20)
Good sequences of the Klingon ship following the Enterprise and also the battle between the two ships. Shots showed different perspectives that enhanced the limited shots of the original. The Enterprise firing on the Klingon from below was highly reminiscent of a similar sequence in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The Enterprise Incident (2:05)
The Romulan ships running under Klingon designed are rendered with a bird of prey painted on their keels. Instead of having three Klingon design ships, the third ship is a standard Romulan warbird. Nice perspectives of the three Romulan ships as they surround the Enterprise. Also good shot of the Romulan flagship from slightly below. Nice touch showing the flagship firing as it heads off in the wrong direction from the cloaked Enterprise. I always thought that it was expedient to introduce the new Klingon ship as a Romulan vessel. It seemed to be a deus ex machina device to explain this expediency away. I was told that the original model of the Romulan ship was destroyed or lost between the second and third seasons. This was the reason that the Klingon ship was used because the limited budget prevented the construction of a replacement. The remastering could have corrected this by cutting the line about Starfleet intelligence reporting that Romulan ships were running under Klingon design and changing the graphics in the briefing room scene.

Obsession (1:06)
The remastered cloud creature was somewhat underwhelming and not much of an improvement on the original. However, a nice touch was added when as the Enterprise broke orbit around Tycho IV. As the Enterprise cleared the planet, the shot revealed the blast radius from the antimatter detonation.

Mudd's Women (1:34)
We see Mudd’s ship instead of a light blob, but it is too far away to make out any detail. This was frustrating reoccurrence throughout this project. We want to see the ships, not hew to some technical reason as to why they would not be close in a realistic situation. Good shots of the pursuit (with the exception noted) and flying through the asteroid field. There is a nice overhead shot of the three huts occupied by Childress, Gossett and Benton on Rigel XII.

Assignment: Earth (1:07)
Nice shots of the Earth with the Moon in the background (not seen in Miri or Tomorrow Is Yesterday). The syndicated version cut out the process shots of the Saturn V, so I don’t know if these were redone.

Court Martial (1:35)
We see the effect the ion storm had on the Enterprise. The hull is blackened and scarred. We see the U.S.S. Republic in orbit nearby and shuttlecraft buzzing around. Also shown is the blackened portal where the ion pod was ejected. All nice detail and the reason for remastering. The excellent Starbase 11 shots were reused from The Menagerie to great effect.

A Private Little War (0:53)
This remastering was worth it just to see a Klingon ship orbiting a planet.

Whom Gods Destroy (0:48)
Elba II was rendered as a brown planet with green clouds. This matched the exterior planet surface shots.

The Mark of Gideon (1:18):
Just shots of the Enterprise orbiting Gideon. One nice touch was the digital replacement of the Schwinn bicycle odometer-like chronometer. The camera was moving, making it somewhat of a deft technological achievement.

The Lights of Zetar (4:08)
The Zetar cloud community is rendered as a collection of multi-colored splotches than pulsate and fade, improving on the original. The Memory Alpha rendering should have gotten a sponsorship from Chrysler as the pentagon-shaped library complex was highly reminiscent of that company’s logo. The Enterprise/Memory Alpha sequences were good, but seemed a little video-game like. The main viewer graphics should have been remastered as well, but were not.

The Way to Eden (2:13)
We see the new Aurora. It looks like a passenger ship with large windows along the side with two lower nacelles. (The old Aurora was a reworking of the Tholian vessel). We are also were treated to a remastered Eden in space with two moons and on the surface with two wide gorgeous cgi shots of forests, mountains and streams.

Requiem for Methuselah (1:11)
CBS-D must love planets with two moons, this seems to be the fourth or fifth one they have rendered. Great shot of Flint’s castle; you can see the small figures of Flint, Kirk, Spock and McCoy walking across the bridge to the residence. If you look just below the observatory-like structure, you can see a shuttlecraft on an incline. (It was nice to not have the fortress from "The Cage" recycled.)

The Savage Curtain (2:04)
We see the tortured volcanic surface of Excalbia instead of an orange ball. The class M area appears before our eyes on the view screen. Also, there is a shot of the Enterprise flying in front of that area. Nice touches.

The Cloud Minders (3:15)
Good angled shot of the Enterprise zooming along to Ardana. The fake floating city of Stratos from the original is digitally replaced. The view from the planet surface is like an early Pixar effort and has a plastic model-like quality. The view from above the city is more photorealistic and effective, fortunately. Nice touch showing an orange tinge on the planet as seen from orbit to match the planet exterior shots. Spock’s mediation/commentary sequence is remastered to include the new shots of Stratos, a nice piece of technological legerdemain.

Spectre of the Gun (1:51)
The Melkotian buoy is rendered as translucent, emitting a spectrum of colors. This episode, among others, fixes the problem of the object that is supposedly blocking the Enterprise as it moves while the starfield remains static. Here the starfield moves with the buoy.

The Empath (0:57)
Good shot of the Minaran sun as it is about to go nova. Solar flares writhe about its surface. The healing sequences involving Gem, Kirk and McCoy are improved; they fade and appear more realistically (maybe a little too realistically...urp).

Turnabout Intruder (0:30)
This show was awful, but it ended the remastered series spectacularly with the Enterprise flying off into a brilliant star cluster, not unlike the Enterprise-D and Enterprise NX-01.

The Cage (5:23)
In addition to what we saw on "The Menagerie": What they did do: Enhanced the opening credits using the ending shot of the "Turnabout Intruder" as a background, used a flyby and an approach of the Enterprise to Talos IV instead of the superimposed starfield on the bridge, the Talosian scan of the Enterprise computer was enhanced with updated and clear images, enhanced the end with a reverse of the classic shot of going through the exterior bridge dome. What they didn't do: Apparently they did not fix Captain Pike's fellow inmates in "The Cage": the pig snout creature, the fake birdman, the spider or rosebush. They did not add credits to cover the encampment survivors or other crewman on the Enterprise: the geologist, transporter chief, etc. It still was a nice job. (Note: "The Cage" was the only remastered episode not televised as of the writing of this article. It was originally scheduled to be shown on April 26, 2008, but it was pulled from the schedule. The latest word is that it will be broadcast in May 2009, presumably before the premiere of the new Star Trek movie on May 8. It has been already released in November 2008 with the season three remastered DVD collection.)

One major thing I noticed while watching this series was how the stories were largely independent of the special effects. While enhancement is nice and can expand a story, it is not essential. Did we really need to see the Antares in "Charlie X"? We knew it was there, and that was enough. Did we need to see the Medusan vessel at the end of "In Truth Is There No Beauty?" No, but it was cool.

If you want the mathematics of this…
Special effects averaged about two minutes per episode. The high point was "The Doomsday Machine" clocking in at almost a whole seven minutes. The minimum was thirty seconds, not coincidentally the last episode, "The Turnabout Intruder." On average, special effects were 4% of any episode. There was approximately 150 minutes of special effects in 79 episodes (plus The Cage).

You can find the remastered special effects reels on YouTube and The remastered episodes have all been released on DVD and are due to be released on Blue Ray starting later in 2009. iTunes also has the First Season available for download. The remastered series is still in syndication, but episodes are edited from the original 51 minutes down to 42. They are often only shown in the middle of the night. For instance, my local CBS affiliate shows them at 2:05AM on Mondays. Come to think of it, Star Trek originally had trouble with time slots…

I think the remastering was an overall success. There were some missteps and omissions along with the individual successes, and it was a worthy effort. I certainly enjoyed revisiting these original episodes. When the last shot in "The Turnabout Intruder" of Enterprise flying off into the distance faded from the screen, an old feeling came over me. It was the same one I had back in 1969 when this last episode was shown, and I thought that Star Trek would be no more. The remastered original series was complete (save for a showing of "The Cage"), and there would be no more. Sure, the new movie is coming out in May 2009, and there are lots of fanfilms around. This doesn’t change the fact that the original Star Trek should have had a run as long as Bonanza or Gun Smoke. There was a lot potential lost due to its early cancellation that was not quite made up by the movie series or The Next Generation. "If only, if only…"

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