Nerd School: The Next Generation in Blu Ray? pt.1

by Joe on September 13, 2011

The Interwebs are positively abuzz with the notion that CBS/Paramount is finally converting fan favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation to Blu-ray. But they are only putting out 4 episodes? What the…

The rumors began to swell last Tuesday when Bill Hunt of Digital News Bits wrote:

“In other news, we’ve gotten a bit of clarification from our sources on CBS’s in-progress Star Trek: The Next Generation – Remastered Blu-ray sampler disc. The disc will include FOUR episodes, two of which will include Encounter at Farpoint, Parts 1 and 2. We’re told that the other two should be The Inner Light and Sins of the Father.”

This was then picked up by just about every online media outlet on the planet turning into a crazy speculative shitstorm. In fact the only real confirmation on the web that this is occurring was Levar Burton himself stating via twitter  “Stopped by to see how the TNG conversion to HD for Blue Ray was coming along…”

So, let’s assume that this is happening as Hunt has said. I mean no one at CBS is currently denying  any of the rumors. So the big question has to be asked, why is arguably the biggest sci-fi show of the last 30 years only getting a four episode Blu-ray?

The problem with releasing a show like “The Next Generation” on Blu Ray is that it was on air at a shitty time for television. In all seriousness now, not many shows from the 1980’s and 1990’s will ever get the Blu Ray touch. In fact using an informal search of Amazon, the only true TV series from the 80’s with a Blu-ray release is Diff’rent Strokes. Well, the main reason is that a lot of TV is done on tape, which just does not look good in HD.

Fly free on angel's wings sweet prince...

So in order to get  “The Next Generation” on Blu-ray they have to retransfer and edit each episode. You see TNG was actually shot in 35mm and then edited in video. All of the special effects were also done in a similar fashion. So you have these beautiful film quality prints which were then transferred to essentially VHS tapes (though I’ve been told by a former video editor that they probably used beta). That’s why TNG looks like ass when it’s blown up on your 60″ flatscreen. Well that and the fact that you probably bought some cheapo brand at Costco so you could save a few bucks.

Larry the Cable Guy looks almost lifesized!

By no means is this a difficult or even time consuming process, it happens all of the time for DVD transfers.  In fact it would probably be much easier than say the new Blu-ray transfer of Citizen Kane, because the originals aren’t that old.

But still, why are they only doing 4 episodes?

What I keep seeing on the net is that they are test episodes. Well, what are they testing? Let’s look at this in three parts:

1: CBS is testing whether or not the Blu- ray transfer will work. OK, I get this part. As I stated above, very few shows from this time period have ever seen Blu-ray transfers. It is unknown whether or not it will actually look good. Wait, I take that back. The actual acting and filming will definitely look good. What is not going to look good are the effects. The special effects in the early season of “The Next Generation” tended towards the terribly low budget/campy side. I point to “Skin of Evil” as a prime example.

awww shit, someone went swimmin in the Gulf!

2: CBS is testing whether or not people would buy the Blu-ray transfers. This I get more than the previous excuse. I know what you’re thinking. “But, Star Trek fans will buy anything!” This I agree with. Yes, Trek fans are rabid, but I remember a friend of mine in college stealing his dad’s Next Gen DVD sets which came in at 80 dollars a piece. And most Trek fans have access to TNG already either own those 80$ DVD sets or can watch them streaming on Netflix. Now you have to remember that these Blu-rays are not going to sell for cheap. The Original Series Blu-rays sold for 130$ a piece, but are now at a still high 65$ on Amazon. That being said lets remember that Star Trek: The Next Generation ran for 7 seasons.  That would be a cost of 910$ for a product that is essentially shown for free on the internet.

3: CBS is testing whether or not “The Next Generation” is still relevant to the Star Trek fanbase. Now, I know it, you know it, everyone on the internet knows it, but we are dealing with Hollywood people. The whole Rick Berman era of Star Trek has been off the air for 7 years now, and its been 2 years without a major motion picture. That’s forever in  Hollywood time. These are people that think 4 years is enough to let us forget Sam Raimi’s Spiderman. In all reality most execs probably think we’ve forgotten the Enterprise-D.

My wife wants them to kiss...

This is simply a ploy people. Unfortunately it’s a ploy “The Next Generation” fans have to play into. No, I don’t want to buy a four episode Blu-ray, I would rather save the 30$ and use it to buy the first season. However, if we all do that CBS will most likely say “Well no one wants to buy this, why do the whole season?” It’s a Catch 22.

I think the best argument that this will work, and look good is the 5th season Deep Space 9 “Trials and Tribble-ations” which had a HD transfer on the “Star Trek: The Original Series season 2” Blu-ray set. Though it wasn’t a true Blu-ray transfer, it had this in HD:

Anthony still thinks Troi is hotter.

In my next article I’m going to do a Spoiler Heavy Review of those 4 episodes to see if it is at least worth the cash.

Read Joe’s other articles: Doctor Who Season 6 Round Up, ConanPrimer, GOT COK: Casting Roundup  1 + 2, Trek in your Queue 1 and 2, Game of Thrones Primer II,  Obama Trek Mutant Fatigue Sci-Fi A-Team Star Trek: A Different Generation, An Alternate History of the Doctor, Inn at the Crossroads interview, A Love Letter to Natalie Portman, Failed Star Trek Spinoffs, Thor Primer, Doctor Who Season 6 primer, A Game of Thrones Primer, More

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Snoogans September 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Too soon re: the Gulf reference

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Thomas September 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Hi,

who is the little Boy? I can remember to know him from TV, but tahts lang ago.

What’s his name? So i can google more for him?

Can anybody help? Thx

Reply

Joe October 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm

are you thinking Wesley Crusher? if so he was played by Will Wheaton.

Reply

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