Today the shared owners of Star Trek are making moves in the digital world. First up is CBS who announced they are offering ‘classics’ from their television library to a new “CBS Audience Network” of sites. The initial programming consists of The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, Melrose Place and (most importantly) Star Trek (TOS). Shows are streamed in their entirety for free, with advertising.
Last Fall CBS and Toshiba made a big splash over Star Trek coming out exclusively on HD DVD, starting with the first season of The Original Series. Toshiba reps dressed up in Trek uniforms at an industry trade show, they did a phaser remote-control give-away, and used Trek as a big selling point for their platform during the holiday season. However 2008 has been a very bad year for HD DVD and indications are that the format war is over and HD DVD has lost. Studios and retailers alike are jumping ship and all that is left is for Toshiba to finally call uncle…leaving Trek as a casualty of war.
Last week when Warner Brothers switched to Blu Ray in the HD format war there were some questions about whether or not CBS and Paramount would stick with their agreement to go HD DVD exclusive. Earlier today a report from the Financial Times indicated that Paramount was considering dropping support for HD DVD, but a subsequent report with Bloomberg states that Paramount has denied the FT report.
Season One of Star Trek The Original Series was released on HD DVD/DVD Combo six weeks ago and it appears that CBS is happy with the returns and are hoping to follow it up by releasing the rest of the series in HD later this year. However, the HD DVD format took a big hit this week as another studio dropped it entirely.
On Tuesday Star Trek Season One is released on the combo HD DVD/DVD format. Recently Paramount Home Entertainment announced that it is committed to HD DVD exclusively until 2009 (Star Trek Season Two hits stores on March 25th and Season Three by the end of 2008). So if you want to see the new box set or any other Trek in HD in the near future, then you will have to get yourself an HD DVD player. The good news is that it wont cost you too much latinum.
A year before J.J. Abrams brings his vision of The Original Series to the big screen, the original Original Series is going to get a go. CBS just announced a special presentation of the remastered "The Menagerie" on November 13th at almost 300 theaters nationwide. Both parts of "The Menagerie" will be shown in HD and cinema surround sound. The presentation includes a 30 minute behind-the-scenes featurette about the remastering. You can find theaters and buy tickets at Fathom Events ($12.50). More info at STARTREK.com Of course it is no coincidence that these screenings are being held one week before the release of Star Trek: TOS – The Complete First Season [on HD DVD]
It seems strange now to think that Star Trek: The Next Generation first debuted some 20 years ago, but there it is – there’s no denying it. I was in college at Wisconsin when the first episode, "Encounter at Farpoint," appeared on the air. I’d been watching reruns of The Original Series for as long as I could remember, so at the time it was a thrill just to have Trek back on the air. The sets, the ships, the technology – it all seemed so sleek and futuristic back in 1987. So it’s somewhat shocking, all these years later, to realize just how dated The Next Generation seems today. Unfortunately, of all the Trek TV series – including The Original Series – this is the one that’s suffered most the passage of time.
Besides the TOS-R HD DVDs, there will be two other Star Trek releases on DVD this year. The first release is another ‘Fan Collective’ called "Captains Log" with episodes chosen by each of Trek’s captains: Kirk (William Shatner), Picard (Patrick Stewart), Sisko (Avery Brooks), Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and Archer (Scott Bakula). The set will include new special features from each of the actors as well (details below) and is released on July 24th. The second release is a new complete box set for Star Trek: The Next Generation coming out October 3rd (just in time for the 20th anniversary). That set will include new special features as well More details below