It’s hard for me to believe that it has been 25 years since The Next Generation made its debut as a risky syndicated attempt to recapture the magic of Star Trek. Then again, when I revisit some of those old episodes, they often do look pretty dated. (Or Data’d). Fortunately, the good folks at CBS profess to love this property and have made a significant investment to bring it up to modern standards. After remastering the original Star Trek series, the company began to assess TNG in 2005. A wildly enthusiastic audience at the San Diego Comic Con demonstrated there’s still a large and faithful following of the series. A CBS panel featuring technical experts as well as Star Trek historians Denise and Michael Okuda discussed the challenges of transferring the series to blu-ray and the decisions made along the way.
Now, I’m a big fan of the show, but I must admit that I wasn’t certain if I’d pick the series up on blu-ray, especially the early seasons. I’d seen some of the improved visuals on the Internet, but was still on the fence. Once the panel began to show several remastered scenes, I was hooked. To say that the new version is far more vibrant is an understatement. The panel joked, when showing off the brilliant hues of the crew’s uniforms in high definition that “everyone has been cosplaying wrong for the past 25 years.”
Suffice to say that my poor photos of the even do not do the stunning visuals justice.
The panel discussed the audio upgrade to 7.1 channel stereo. They also provided a good, if a bit technical, explanation as to why the series kept the original 4:3 aspect ratio rather than trying to change it to 16:9.
But the biggest feature influencing my decision to purchase the blu-ray discs is the addition of several new interviews and archival photos. They said that the most recent interviews with Patrick Stewart were filmed only a month ago. And the panel revealed that the extras will include an interview with the actor originally offered the role of Picard but rejected it. They refused to say who this was – anyone know? And, perhaps most importantly, they said that the interviews and extras were especially candid. They noted that the show didn’t fully hit its stride until the third season and would explore some of the challenges and problems to affect the series in its early days. Combined with the stunning visuals, I think this has placed the blu-rays of The Next Generation firmly on my wish list.