Add to Queue 86: The not-so-final frontier

Media | A2Q Archives | The Author on Twitter | A2Q #86 | April 28, 2009

[[image:090428_star.jpg::right:0]]Being a cinephile, particularly when it comes to genre films, I usually catch people by surprise when I admit that I’ve never seen even a single episode of Star Trek: The Original Series (whose first season arrives on Blu-ray this week), let alone any of the Trek films. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the films: I remember seeing Leonard Nimoy attacking a punk rocker with a boom box on a bus, but I don’t really have a sense of what Captain Kirk’s Enterprise is about. Perhaps I absorbed some of the old “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” fanboy prejudices by osmosis, but honestly — I think the reason I never became a fan of Trek is because I was born in 1979, after the show’s heyday, and never came across the syndicated reruns. The only William Shatner I know is Shatner-as-parody. His acting and his singing are both common targets of jest. The commercials and contemporary shows I’ve seen him act in feature completely overblown performances. Shatner has seemingly accepted that self-parody is what people want from him these days and strives to fill that expectation.

Is it any wonder that I never sought out original Trek? This was the show where people yelled “He’s dead, Jim!” and “The engines can’t take it, Cap’n! She’ll break apart!” Where Captain Kirk laid every femme alien he came across, and where the aliens are mostly humanoids with slightly different facial and cranial features. When I was old enough to choose what I watched, rather than whatever happened to be on after He-Man, I didn’t the need to go back and watch Trek when I was already completely enamored by Star Wars. After all, I’m a bigger fan of fantasy than I ever was of science fiction. Asimov and Clarke never made my heart race the way J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Ray Bradbury (among others) can, and Trek is much more a sci-fi franchise than Star Wars ever was.

Eventually I came to realize that there was a Star Trek-sized void in my knowledge of genre entertainment. I’ve been meaning to rectify that for a while, but I’m always so behind on games, television, film and books that I never made the time to catch up. Now, with the upcoming Trek film by J.J. Abrams due out in just over a week, I feel like failing to catch up on Trek was actually a lucky break. Unlike the vast majority of the people excited for Star Trek, I’ll be going in as a clean slate. I won’t be comparing the new actors to the previous actors who held those roles. I won’t be distracted by Trek canon or beholden to what has come before. I’ve often wondered how the Star Wars prequels would have affected me if they were my first exposure to that Galaxy Far Far Away. Now I can watch the prequel of Star Trek before I watch the events that occur chronologically later but were written and filmed decades earlier. After I watch the new Trek movie, I’ll add the newly released Blu-ray edition of the original Trek series to my Netflix queue and watch it with the new perspective (if any) the prequel film gives me.

Maybe I’ll even write something about it.

I worked in a bookstore when The Da Vinci Code mania was at its peak. I had heard that it was a fast-paced thriller that perhaps wasn’t the greatest bit of literature yet managed to be exciting enough to hook millions of readers and fill the shelves of the New Age section I was in charge of with an excess of books purporting to tell the story of the “Real” Da Vinci code. I mentally filed The Da Vinci Code conspiracy theorists along with all the other New Age/occult systems and secrets I disdain. Imagine my surprise when I saw the film and found that the film version of the fictional story that inspired shelves and shelves of schizophrenic rantings was so… boring. Not even the accomplished actors Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen could make the events even the slightest bit interesting. Now that a prequel is being released to theaters, the original movie is hitting BD in an extended version. If there’s one thing that make an overlong and boring movie better, it’s an extended running time! Great idea, guys.

I’m pretty curious to see JCVD, a fictionalized biopic of Jean Claude Van Damme. It got a lot of buzz on the festival circuit and is apparently a pretty clever reimagining of the the man behind Van Damme’s legacy. I’m not at all curious about Bride Wars or Hotel for Dogs, and perhaps that makes me close-minded. Still, I’d ratfher be close-minded and miss out on Bride Wars, as the alternative is too horrifying to even imagine.

Thanks for reading Add to Queue, GameSpite’s weekly round-up of US Blu-ray release highlights. Sorry, rest of the world; region locks are the industry’s way of saying they still don’t understand the Internet. I placed my apostrophe ironically, but no one understood. Cover art courtesy of Amazon. Follow Levi Tinney on Twitter, or add him to your PSN or XBL friends list: VsRobot. You can also contact him via e-mail via levivsrobot [at] gmail [dot] com.

28 thoughts on “Add to Queue 86: The not-so-final frontier

  1. I was also born in 1979 and absolutely devoured the Star Trek reruns that were on when I was a kid. I think that must be the main thing. When I was 5 I didn’t care if it was Star Trek or Star Wars or old-school BSG; it there were spaceships, I wanted to watch it.

  2. Unlike Mr. Author Man, I love Trek… but this Blu-ray set has been almost completely new to me. And to my amazement, the show hasn’t been cheesy or corny or stupid. It’s dated in places, sure, and there are some weak episodes. But some of it is brilliant, timeless, TV full of interesting sci-fi and unexpectedly well-defined characters. We’ll be talking about it in the next Retronauts, in fact.

  3. My TV memories are so weird. I never watched GI JOE cartoons as a tot either. Devoured Spider-man and his Amazing Friends, Masters of the Universe, the live action Hulk show, and I was completely obsessed with a Lee Majors show called The Fall Guy. I once refused to leave the hotel room to visit landmarks on my family’s trip to DC because The Fall Guy was on.

  4. I wasn’t allowed to watch GI Joe at home (I could sneak it in at a friend’s house, though). It was all about Transformers and Silverhawks and Comic Strip.

    I wasn’t allowed to have Contra or Double Dragon, either.

  5. Actually, it was really TNG that did the whole “aliens are humans with funny noses and ears” bit. The original would often go and throw in properly weird looking stuff, with the one notable exception being Klingons who didn’t even have weird facial decorations. They were pretty much humans with a bit of a mongolian warrior sorta vibe.

    It’s also notable that the original rarely ever did anything WITH aliens, honestly. The format was more: We’re checking in on this colony. They’ve developed Major Problems since the last time someone swung by. As opposed to “hey, let’s visit this new planet we just made contact with, and learn what aspect of their exaggerated mono-culture we find offensive!”

  6. While I grew up loving Star Trek re-runs in the 80s before the TNG era began a very different kind of show, it is the movies I have the most fond memories of. No doubt, I try to catch the remastered episodes when they pop up on NHK here in Japan, but the movies were a much more integral part of my childhood. Parts II, III and IV are really wonderful even without much exposure to the Original Series, although I suppose III leans on the legacy a bit harder because of the outrageous climactic battle between Kirk and a Klingon played by Christopher Lloyd.

  7. I should really watch some of The Original Series at some point. I like Trek, but have seen almost no TOS – my exposure consists almost entirely of bits of TNG and all of the movies, with a smattering of random DS9 episodes and the first season of Voyager before I gave up on it.

  8. I’m in a bit of the same boat: I’m a huge TNG fan, and have watched a bit of DS9 and quite a bit of Enterprise (hey, I liked it!). But I also skip over TOS when it’s on TV. I do mean to give it a shot sometime though.

    Also, I always thought of Ray Bradbury as more of a sci-fi writer than a fantasy one. I’ve only read Farenheit 451 and a couple short stories, but they have definitely leaned more towards sci-fi.

  9. Sounds like a good set… But is there an advantage to watching a 1960’s television show on Blu-Ray?

  10. My mom loves the various Star Trek series, so I have sort of tailed along with her. I have not seen any of the movies in their entirety though.

    Although it is a DVD release, Seasons 1 and 2 of Freakazoid are out at $20 per set. I don’t remember if the show has gotten the DVD treatment before, but the price is certainly right.

  11. I have never watched Star Trek anything – movies, TV shows, nothing. I’m not sure why, really. Maybe someday I’ll check these Blu-rays out.

  12. @ Bird Week Every Week

    This stuff was shot on film, so it had way more resolution than the original broadcasts were capable of showing. With the remastering, there’s no reason for it to look blurry or grainy or anything.

  13. Yeah, they rescanned the negatives, cleaned up the dust and scratches, and adjusted contrast and saturation, so the visuals are amazing. It’s only blurry in the silly soft-focus shots, or when the camera man screwed up. There’s a scene in the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” that drove me nuts because the camera was shooting a shallow depth-of-field and the guy behind the camera fixed his focus on Kirk’s collar; Kirk’s face was constantly blurry. Really, though, this is a great restoration, on par with the Bond and Disney Blu-rays. I’ve become a huge fan of the format just because it’s playing host to so many ultimate archival editions of the classics.

  14. Think you’ll be getting review copies of the Blu Ray Star Trek movie collection, Parish? I’m interested in seeing what Gamespite has to say about that set, too (I was once the fence about checking out Season 1 of Star Trek on Blu Ray until I read this and the write-up you posted at 1up)

  15. Wait a second…1979…ooooh, somebody’s hitting the big 3-0 this year!

    Anyway, whenever you finally watch the original series, Levi, I’m sure you’ll like ’em. Like Parish said, there’s a surprising amount of high quality episodes.

  16. So this doesn’t have the updated effects or anything does it?

    Not that I’ve even seen that version..

  17. The revised effects are present and are included as an alternate angle so you can switch on-the-fly between original SFX and new. They really did pretty much everything right.

  18. I recently watched through most of the first two seasons, and what really struck me was how amazing the incidental music was. Seriously – I love TNG and DS9, but their tonal awesomeness ends at their respective theme songs (and TNG’s wasn’t even created for the show).

  19. JCVD was fantastic, but I’m also a serious Jean-Claude apologist and believe the man is the best action star since Dolph Lundgren (and hasn’t been surpassed yet). Take that as you will.

  20. The Star Trek films were probably my favorite films growing up. II, IV, and VI were awesome. VI was one of the first films I ever saw in theaters as a kid. III was tolerable, I was boring and like a TV episode stretched far too thin, and V… I pretend V doesn’t exist… My parents, knowledgeable in Trek, tried to protect and shield me from V, but I wouldn’t listen… I’m sorry Mom & Dad! You knew better!

  21. I’d suggest NOT watching the BluRay disc for the first Trek movie-Trek 1, 2, and 6 will be the original theatrical versions on BluRay, and Trek 1 is godawful miserable. Pick up the Director’s Cut DVD that was put out in 2001, it is seriously reworked with the special effects finished, or new effects shots bridging old ones. “New” effects shots-not Star Wars Special Editions new, but done to match style and tech limits of the 70s.

    Trek 2 isn’t drastically different in it’s two forms.

    Trek 6 has a different ending in the theatrical version (which has never been available on home video before), there’s no M Night Shymalamadingdong style senseless “twist”, not that the Director’s Cut version (infamously known to many fans as the Scooby Doo Ending) really wrecks my favorite Trek flick.

  22. Yeah, you can actually see it in the version you get off Xbox Live Marketplace (which I discovered to my confusion).

    *****SPOILERS BELOW!!!*****

    In the theatrical version it really is some Klingon who tries to assassinate the president at the end, not Federation Col. West in disguise as a Klingon. You can tell it was a late cut, because even in the theatrical version the blood pooling under him is red, not purple.

    A few other scenes are missing, too.

  23. I don’t think being born in 1979 has anything to do with it, since the show was still airing in syndication at least until TNG came on the air. It was definitely exposure as a child. Both of my parents are casual fans of TOS so I would often watch it with them when it came on the television and I’m sure at one point we rented Star Treks II, III, and IV.

    Granted, most people of my generation are fans of TNG or DS9 for the obvious reason that it was what was on television when they were growing up. TOS gets an unfair reputation as hokey or corny or whatever and the effects don’t stand up at all, but the first two seasons had some really great episodes.

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