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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Star Trek 2.0
G4 started airing their new Star Trek 2.0 last night. As a Star Trek fan, I am delighted to see the show get a big relaunch for the classic 79 that were what made me first love all things Star Trek.

I tuned in for the first few minutes of Trek 2.0. G4 aired the original pilot, "The Cage" last night and we'll kick off the Captain Kirk episodes tonight. What makes this Trek 2.0 is that the episode is shown inside a window and all around it, it's got all kinds of nuggets of Trek trivia and information. On the bottom is a live chat that I assume you can take part in on G4's web site. Across the top are random, totally useful trivia facts about the original series. On the left side is a scrolling count of how often certain things occur per episode such as a red-shirt dying or Spock saying "logical". And on the right side is the SpockMarket where you can log in and buy shares of ships, characters and events from the show. I've already signed up and purchased a few shares of my main man, Captain James T. Kirk.

But I've got to admit that while all of this is kind of fun, it's a bit of an information overload. I found myself either paying attention to the epiosde and blocking out the useful facts or trying too hard to figure out the tally of cues on the side of the screen and ignoring the episode. Plus it's not like "The Cage" has a lot of the tyical cues from a Trek episode to start with.

But what's really great about what G4 is doing is they're showing the full-version of the classic episodes on Saturdays starting at 8 a.m and running to 3 p.m. CST. As a Trek fan, I'm delighed to see the episodes restored to their original versions. On Satudays, there is no Trek 2.0, just the classic Star Trek we've come to know and love. It's nice to see the act breaks all in the same place and the butchering of stories done by SciFi to fit into their alloted time-slots reversed. (I saw a repeat of "The Trouble with Tribbles" that skips the entire scene where Kirk finds the tribbles are in the ventallation system on the Enterprise and realizes the trouble this could mean on the space station).

Now, I'm not sure if these are the full, un-edited episodes airing on Saturdays or if they're the full original syndication edits. Star Trek was made in the 60s when we had fewer commercials. Over the years, in syndication as much as three or so minutes per story were cropped out to allow for more commercials as well as putting in a fifth break per hour for commercial time. There was an entire book by Phil Farrand that detailed these edits as compared to the commercially released version of the stories that were unedited. And yes, I loved every last page of it and for months kept it by my chair as I'd watch classic Trek, looking up where this lost footage was. (I am a sad, strange little man...I admit it).

Also, G4 is airing the episodes in production order as opposed to the air order. SciFi went in the order of airdate on NBC, which is OK, but after 30 plus years of being syndicated in the production order, it was hard to get used to. I've got to admit this is the one thing about the DVD box sets that bugs me--they're in the air date order. Sure, you can watch them in production order, but it requires flipping DVDs between stories. And while it's not like classic Trek was built on an on-going arc storyline, there are some things that happen such as Kirk's becoming friends with Spock in the first few stories that it's fun to watch for. Also, it's fun to watch the show evolve on-screen, esp. the character of Spock in the first six to eight episodes.

The thing that bugged me was when SciFi purchased the rights to be the exclusive home of Star Trek for a few years, they promised they would restore the epiosdes to their original glory and never edit them again. This lasted one and a half times through the original run. (Oh sure, they digitally remastered the show and such, but that was just a warm-up for the DVD releases. Speaking of which--I wish the interviews with cast ,crew, etc from the SciFi Special Editions would be released commercially. I learned stuff I never knew about Star Trek from them..and this is me--the world's most obsessive Star Trek fan talking here!)

But it doesn't really matter. All I know is that classic Trek is back in a less butchered format. Cheers to G4 for running the episodes on Saturday in a longer time slot (about 70 minutes) we the fans can get as close to the original version as possible. What a great way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest televsion shows ever made.

Sure, TNG and DS9 are great, but there's just something magical about classic Star Trek.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/11/2006 02:29:00 PM | |
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