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Star Trekkin'

2006-09-25 - 1:26 p.m.

As mentioned by our own Bindyree, the newest tweaked edition of Star Trek (TOS) is on the air. In her neighborhood, it's on CW (that strange merge of WB and UPN), but down here it's on the local NBC affiliate. How THAT happened, I don't know.

The episode was "Devil In The Dark", which some of you may remember as the Horta episode. Now, in these new-and-improved versions, they supposedly tweaked the special effects (such as phaser shots), some of the music, and the shots of the Enterprise flying through space and around planets. The only "new" thing I saw was the Enterprise shots...but then, I didn't know it was on until about halfway through.

(One thing I also noticed about the Star Trek "updates" were that these are the 1978 prints, much ballyhooed at the time. These prints were brighter and cleaner than the overplayed pieces of film that had been shown before. My big gripe with those was that they put more commercial breaks the worst places, and in the worst way. Example: in the 1978 print of "I, Mudd", right after Mudd declares "I finally got even with her...[wags his finger at Kirk]...and with YOU" and stomps off, the image FREEZES on Kirk while the music continues...then it fades to black for a commercial.)

Watching ST:TOS on DVD, you can see every little mistake. You must remember, this show came out in the 1960s, long before high-def televisions and digital transfers. You can clearly see the matte lines, where the picture of the Enterprise model was superimposed over the starfield.

That said, the "new" Enterprise looks much like the one from the movies: more gray than white, with spotlights at strategic points. And the starfield looks much nicer. And, of course, they fixed the long-standing "vent" mistake.

But still. They changed things.

This is one reason why film adaptations of classic TV series don't usually do well. And I'm not talking about the Trek franchise movies, which had the original casts of the TV series but with a bigger budget. I'm talking about movies like "Dukes Of Hazzard", "Leave It To Beaver", and "Bewitched", and the upcoming "Dallas" and (God help us all) "I Dream Of Jeannie".

Hollywood is trying to cash in on the nostalgia crowd, which is fine as far as it goes. But one thing they forget is that the TV series had time to grow, and had time to establish its own history and precedents. Then it's thirty years later, and the young producers figure that they can make a movie that explains all the backstory in maybe 15 minutes - after all, the younger audience won't care about all that stuff. Then, they cast these young "hot" actors in the main roles (Jimmy Fallon is, at this writing, "rumored" to play Tony Nelson in "Jeannie" [insert gagging sound here]) or actors that, while popular, make you sit up and scream WTF (John Travolta as J. R. in "Dallas"). Then, they make changes to the backstory that will alienate the older fans of the show. AND, on top of all that, they usually hire writers who know nothing about these series, and how seriously the older fans feel about these beloved characters. (One exception: Sidney Sheldon, the original creator and writer for "Jeannie", wrote the script for the movie. But how much you wanna bet they'll bring in some young kid to "modernize" it?)

Is it any freaking WONDER that the movies don't do well? What's next - a movie update where they change everyone's race? Oh, wait...they already did that.

Same thing goes for movies based on video games. They try to tap a supposedly built-in market, and then rely on special effects and big stars (see "Doom" or "House Of The Dead"). Or the kiddie market (as in "Super Mario Brothers" or "Double Dragon" - DON'T see those). There was only one really good adaptation of a video game into a movie - this one.

What might work is a "next generation"-type movie. You get the original cast members playing the beloved characters, with a new group of kids to teach/raise/interact with. That way, you can have the classic original characters as remembered - with all the appropriate in-jokes for the old fans - and still have the young studs for the new viewers.

Now, come on - how about Martin Milner and Kent McCord teaching a new group of young cops? Or Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth as co-captains of a firehouse and paramedic squad?

THAT would be something I'd pay to see.


Well, duty calls.

Be seeing you.


3 comments so far

Smed - 2006-09-25 18:20:06 -
The new versions of Star Trek are syndicated. In Indy they are on the CBS affiliate. I prefer wathing the extended versions on G4.


Requiel - 2006-09-26 13:24:29 -
What about Blade??? Blade is good right? I'm loving the new series.


Dave - 2006-09-26 13:38:03 -
BLADE went backwards - movie first, TV show second. Those CAN be successful - look at "M*A*S*H" or "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". There, the backstory is established by the movie, and expanded upon by the TV series. I haven't seen any Blade anything, so I can't comment on its merits or lack thereof.


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