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Extreme Makeover: "Star Trek" Edition


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By Natalie Finn

Fri Sep 1, 7:22 PM ET




The United Federation of Planets has never looked so crisp and full of dimension.


CBS Paramount gave Trekkers reason to throw their pointy ears in the air Thursday with the announcement that all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek are being digitally remastered and will be heading into syndication next month for the first time in 16 years in honor of the sci-fi classic's 40th anniversary.



Many of the series' beloved yet decidedly dated visual staples, from the galaxy glimpsed in the opening title sequence to the myriad otherworldly landscapes seen from the bridge of the starship Enterprise, will receive a CGI makeover to appeal to the sons and daughters of 1960s-era Star Trek fans who actually found someone to mate with.



"Star Trek redefined science fiction and constantly pushed the envelope with concepts that were ahead of their time," John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television, said in a statement. "By giving the series a digital upgrade using the best technology available today, it will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge television programming as we introduce the series to a new generation of viewers."



The hull of the Enterprise, as well as every other spaceship that passes by, will soon be computer generated, so it will no longer resemble a Frisbee with a couple of batteries attached to it. But rest assured, you loyalists out there--the digitally redone Enterprise is based on the original model, which is now docked for posterity at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.



What the minds behind the redecorating want you to know, however, is that nothing is being altered too drastically, a la the changes that left Star Wars purists up in arms a few years ago--when George Lucas peppered the original three films with CGI "upgrades."



"We're taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original," Michael Okuda, a scenic-art supervisor on the Star Trek films and spinoffs for the past 18 years, told TVGuide.com. "Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would [creator Gene] Roddenberry have done with today's technology?"



Battle sequences, ship exteriors, galaxy shots and landscapes (which previously came courtesy of matte paintings) will be given more shading, depth and computer-generated authenticity. The original score, composed by Alexander Courage, has been rerecorded in stereo and, perhaps best of all, William Shatner's opening monologue has been remastered, so that "Space, the final frontier..." will sound better than ever.



The episodes are not being tweaked in the order they originally aired. Instead, Okuda, his wife, Denise, and producer David Rossi have chosen to unveil the revamped series starting with the fans' favorite episodes. Each installment is also being converted into high definition--the ultraclear format will be ready to roll when the more than 200 stations that own the rights to the weekend syndication time slot are able to broadcast in HD.



Star Trek: The Original Series goes all 21st century on us Sept. 16, beginning with the first-season episode "Balance of Terror," in which the Enterprise crew matches wits with the Romulans.



This latest development is not to be confused with TV Land's announcement that it will be showing the series in its entirety--in its original format--starting in November. Paramount also recently issued a "director's edition" of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which includes CGI enhancements.



Sure to be vividly awash in CGI, however, is the Star Trek prequel in the works at Paramount, to be helmed by Lost auteur JJ Abrams. The feature film chronicling the early adventures of Spock and Kirk is being prepped for a 2008 release.



Star Trek: Legacy, a videogame bringing all five captains of the Enterprise together, from Shatner to Scott Bakula, is due in stores this fall.



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