Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
Well hot damn. Local station KTLA didn’t remove Star Trek from their schedule, they just pushed it back a day to Sunday mornings. At 4 am. (Beggars and choosers.)
With the brand new Star Trek feature film coming out next week, they've rolled out one of the good ones. For the five of you on the planet who don’t know, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” where one of Kirk's best friends becomes a god with psychic superpowers, is actually the second pilot episode shot and presented to the NBC network to try and convince them to turn Star Trek into a weekly series. Forty years and a billion dollar franchise later, I think they made the right choice.
“Where No Man” is much looser and more action-packed than the more cerebral first pilot, “The Cage.” Out went the tightly wound Jeffrey Hunter and into the captain’s chair went an up and coming Canadian actor named Denny Crane, I mean, William Shatner. The only actor and character to carry over from one pilot to the next, and into the series, was Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock. Into the mix were added Mr. Sulu and Scotty, respectively played by George Takei and James Doohan. Two notable guest stars were Gary Lockwood, just a couple years away from playing his most famous role in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sally Kellerman, who would go on to play Hot Lips in the movie M*A*S*H.
This episode has several great moments: the Enterprise crosses out of our galaxy by passing through a colorful energy barrier; Lockwood’s Gary Mitchell and Kellerman’s Dr. Dehner have their natural ESP abilities exponentially magnified to god-like levels threatening the ship; the faster-than-light Enterprise is crippled and far, far from home; the seeds of the Kirk and Spock friendship are planted; and last but not least, Kirk has to make a painful decision regarding the life of one of his oldest and closet friends. Space travel sure ain’t easy, folks. (All that and a good, old-fashioned fist fight thrown in for good measure.)
CBS Digital gives us new barrier effects and a new planet, which are fine, but I have to admit the CGI Enterprise looks really fake especially when it encounters the extremely bright lights of the galactic barrier (in HD it looks much worse). I’ve read that properly lighting a CGI model is very important to make it appear like a real, physical thing. The company who handled Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s CGI effects in its final seasons managed to match the look of that show’s earlier physical model photography; I don't know why they couldn't do the same here. I know CBS Digital had a limited budget and time, but most Remastered episodes’ visual effects look like CGI effects (there is that clean plastic-y look). Maybe that’s what the “younger viewers” they are hoping to snare enjoy. Give me great physical model effects (or CGI made to look like physical models) any day.