EXCLUSIVE: This weekend on the digitally remastered Star Trek airing in syndication we will be treated to a brand new version of "The Ultimate Computer." This effects-heavy episode features the USS Enterprise facing off against four Federation Starships in a wargame that turns deadly. The TOS-R producers talked exclusively with TrekMovie.com about the episode and also shared some new preview images.
The TOS-R team chose this episode to be their ‘big event’ sweeps episode for the 2nd year of the show (last year it was "The Doomsday Machine"). TrekMovie.com talked with Star Trek Remastered producers Mike Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Dave Rossi about what we can expect.
TREKMOVIE.COM: Do you consider "The Ultimate Computer," the most challenging episode for the ‘second season’ of Trek Remastered?
DENISE: I think our friends at CBS Digital will agree with that, although sometimes an episode that you think will be relatively easy will surprise us.
TREKMOVIE.COM: In the scenes showing the four ships, did you consider using different ship types instead of just using Constitution-class ships?
DAVE: We sure did. This was the only time in the entire series that we saw anything like fleet maneuvers, and our first thought was to use this episode to show that there’s more to Starfleet than just the Enterprise.
DENISE: We talked about this at length. Mike and Dave were excited about coming up with new ships, but eventually we all decided that it was best to honor the expectations of fans who had grown up seeing four Constitution-class ships.
MIKE: One of the ideas we considered was to have a Reliant-type configuration for a couple of the guest ships. The problem with a smaller ship is that you don’t want the sense that the Enterprise is more powerful, because that would hurt the drama of the story. Ultimately, keeping all four ships the same emphasizes that the only variable is that the Enterprise is piloted by the M5 computer.
DENISE: We did make some really, really subtle changes in the other ships. At least, they were really subtle to me. I’m sure some fans will pick up on them.
TREKMOVIE.COM: Like what?
DAVE: You’ll have to watch and see!
TREKMOVIE.COM: The original show had a rather cheap ‘copy and paste’ shot with the 4 ships on screen….how did you guys decide to mix it up?
MIKE: Well, first, I’d disagree with the suggestion that the original series effects were in any way substandard. Certainly, they were on an extremely tight budget with distinct limits, but those optical printer effects were cutting edge technology for the time.
DAVE: That said, we really wanted to help tell D.C. Fontana’s story of how the Enterprise, under the uncanny control of this superhuman computer, was able to outmaneuver four Federation starships. One of the things that always bugged me as a kid was that the maneuvers they talked about were often shown visually with stock shots that had nothing to do with what was just discussed in dialogue. One of our missions with this project was to rectify that whenever possible. In the case of this episode, we can SEE the Enterprise bearing down on the hapless Excalibur and then peeling off for its next victim. The Enterprise becomes this methodical killing machine. Oh yeah, that was fun!
DENISE: Which means they were two kids playing with starships! We have a couple of little Enterprise toys that we used for planning shots during meetings. Dave and Mike would take turns flying the ships around the room, showing each other how they thought they should maneuver. Sometimes Niel [Wray] and Wendy [Ruiz, visual effects coordinator] would join us, and they’d take their turns, too!
TREKMOVIE.COM: I understand you have changed out the automated freighter that was a reuse for the Botany Bay from “Space Seed”…is this a new ship and if so where did the inspiration come from?
DAVE: The cargo ship Woden is now based on the automated grain ships in the animated episode, “More Tribbles, More Troubles.” You may recall that we saw the Antares in the first shot of “Charlie X,” which was based on the same design, although we added a crew module for that one.
MIKE: I’ve always liked that ship design. It’s not just a kitbash of Enterprise components. It’s very different from the Enterprise, nowhere near as sleek and powerful, but it really looks like something that might have come from Matt Jefferies’ drawing board.
TREKMOVIE.COM: Any more surprises for “The Ultimate Computer”?
DAVE: Hmm. Well, the space station is now based on the Vanguard starbase from the Star Trek novels published by Pocket Books. Looks pretty cool.
More this weekendTrekMovie.com will have more “Ultimate Computer” coverage this weekend.