Watching Trek Remastered these past few weeks has been a real joy. It is at first a little odd to think that I would derive such pleasure from it — I’ve seen every episode of the original series many many times. Yet knowing that I am watching it on broadcast TV, not cable, not on DVD, means something. Watching it on broadcast TV is different. It takes me back to watching the syndicated repeats of TOS in the late 80’s and early 90’s that were on every weekend thanks to my local Fox station. I’ve had great fun watching these old friends restored and enhanced. Even though I know the stories by heart watching for the revised effects and seeing the sets, actors, and props in renewed detail is exciting.
In a nutshell
In “The Naked Time” the Enterprise is observing the breakup of a planet and while taking readings they find odd situations: people frozen at their workpost, taking a shower fully clothed, and more.
A “genius” crewman gets an itchy nose and decides to take off his isolation suit glove and a whole mess of trouble starts… that great little sizzle sound effect when the disease is passed on is a classic.
This is a rather fun episode where the whole crew gets to act a bit intoxicated and out of character: We see Sulu’s hobby of fencing taking on a new life of its own, Kirk’s loneliness of command, Spock’s buried human half surfacing, Nurse Chapel yearning for Spock to love her, a crewman going space nutty and committing suicide, and a young lieutenant of Irish heritage decides he knows how to run the ship and takes over engineering locking the ship into the gravity well of the decaying planet.
In the end they break away from the planet using an improbable warp drive intermix formula; it turns out that this formula results in a reversal of time. The Enterprise is thrown clear and back to before the mission ever started.
Let’s talk space
The newly enhanced special effects are a big reason why we’re all watching. Again the CBS crew shows restraint and tastefully recreates shots nearly identical to the original but enhanced in CG.
The opening scene is quite noticeable; in the classic version the planet PSI 2000 is clearly the generic orange planet re-tinted blue. The team did a nice job making a cold pale blue planet. The sweeping shot of the surface was totaly redone and for the better. Instead of what appears to be stock footage of the Arctic we now get some obvious landscape and we see the outisde of the science station Spock and Joe Tormolen are investigating on the inside. Touches like this are what make the CG overhaul worthwhile.
The new surface of PSI 2000
Back on the bridge we can see the Enterprise settled into orbit, the CBS team adjusted the planet to be on the left side of the view screen showing the proper angle for the Enterprise’s orbit as established earlier. In the original version the image on the viewscreen made it appear as if the Enterprise is right on top of the planet, orbiting around the northern pole. As the Enterpise is pulled into PSI 2000 the clarity of the CG really shines. The old version is basically a zoom in on the optical of the planet and loses more and more detail the closer to impact the Enterprise gets. The new CG version gains more detail as the Enterprise gets closer to the surface, we start to see landmasses. As the Enterprise hits the atmosphere the shots of the viewscreen now have flames at the bottom of the image as the Enterprise skips along the atmosphere and the ship’s skin gets hotter and hotter.
The time warp effect from the end of the episode was recreated in CG and has no enhancements or changes to speak of — for better or worse. The time warp effect is still a mass cluster of stars pulled into the center of the screen as other closer stars pass by at high speed. I do wish they had enhanced this, there is precedent for effects very similar to this in various Trek movies and TV series.
The Enterprise herself hasn’t changed much since the last episode; it still looks a little out of place at times. We aren’t treated to any special shots of the Enterprise. Last week during Devil in the Dark the closing shot of the Enterprise was a surprise, the CBS team made what used to be a jerky sequence of cuts of the Enterprise passing the camera into a smooth seamless pass. Alas this time around the stock sequence was used for the basis of the CG, granted the original sequence wasn’t as complicated as last week.
As was announced a few weeks ago, when the details of Trek Remastered was released, the oversight of the TOS effects artists not animating in a phaser beam for Scotty’s cutting of the bulkhead near engineering is fixed. A red beam is now emitted from his phaser during the proper shots. The effect looks like it was never missing, kudos.
The last tweak is not totally unexpected given some comments by the CBS team about a similar analog display from “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” The timepiece in Sulu’s console has been changed somewhat. I was worried when I found this out. I didn’t know if CBS would make an overhaul to the whole look of the chronometer to make it more fitting for something in the future from our 2006 perspective. I was very happy to see what was essentially a cleaned up version of the analog clock. They used the same typeface as was on the rotating wheels of the clock from the original. They did tweak what the counters displayed to be more consistent with idea of time keeping set forth in the rest of the Star Trek universe. The two displays are now for the stardate and the relative local time aboard the ship.
The new chronometer