DarenDoc's Slightly Nifty Musings Inc.

The TOS Films… in Blu-Ray

by on May.28, 2009, under Star Trek


Not so sure about the order of those faces on the discs...

Not so sure about the order of those faces on the discs...

I’ve always been a bit of a completist… that’s why I was glad that Paramount finally announced that they would release all of the TOS Films’ Theatrical versions as a box set.  I was also honored that they asked me to be a small part of it… they were looking to do a different take on commentaries for the films, using  some established “fans” to give a different perspective on the films.  I was happy to have been included to do the commentary on Trek I and V with Mike and Denise Okuda and Judi and Garfield Reeves-Stevens…  The Okudas’ contributions to trek are immense, and the Reeves-Stevens’ resume would be great even if it only had the amazing novel “Prime Directive”… so I was delighted to spend the 4 hours talking about Trek with them.  The other movies feature new commentaries by:

Manny Coto and Nicholas Meyer on Trek II (some interesting insights that didn’t come out on Meyer’s previous commentary)

Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor on Trek III (it’s nice to hear Ron Moore wax nostalgic on “Prime Trek”… you can really hear his fan roots)

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman on Trek IV (It’s understandible that this movie is Orci and Kurtzman’s main reference when it comes to Trek)

The Okudas and Reeves-Stevens and myself again for Trek V (I’m glad we got to give a positive spin to this much maligned entry…)

Larry Nemecek and Ira Steven Behr on Trek VI (not my favorite of the films… but an interesting and entertaining commentary)


The films do look cleaner than they ever have before… (some a little too clean… but I think there is a backlash on normal film grain these days… which I’m sad to say)  One point on the commentary of TMP that I’d like to clarify… when we made the recording, we were watching the transfer of the film that Robert Wise supervised the color timing for… and you can hear me commenting on that, and the fact that the two shots in the v’ger interior where we corrected the deflector dish color were in the copy we were watching… are not in fact in the new HD transfer.  Overall, I’m sorry to see that the timing supervised by Mr. Wise and approved by cinematographer Richard Kline isn’t on this release… the new transfer seems shifted a bit too much toward the cyan in most scenes… but the contrast and black density seems proper now, now that NTSC vagueries aren’t a consideration.  The colors on Trek II seem very cold and blue too… much more than I remember them… so perhaps this shift in color temperature is related.

Also, on another note… I seem to remember that our commentary for TMP was mostly wall to wall talking… we all had a lot to say during the film, and I was surprised that there were several sections edited out… (you can hear large sections of commentary silence that weren’t originally intended that way…)  I can’t remember specifically what was discussed during these sections, but I guess there were reasons for editing… would just like to know what the concern was… :)

I think it’s a good thing that the studio has released these original theatrical versions to preserve what we saw (more or less) in their original run… I hope that these discs do well enough to convince the studio to continue the Hi Def goodness with the release of the Directors Editions…   but maybe I’m biased. lol  But it is nice to see that the image of the Enterprise on the packaging is, in fact, our CG model from the TMP:DE…

14 comments for this entry:
  1. avatar

    Ah, good to see them using the current success of Trek in the theater to give Trek Prime a nice new treatment. Cool you could be part of it. I look forward to seeing/hearing them.

    Oh, and V is my fav Trek film, It’s the closest in “feel” to the original series, IMO. And as a side-note; it’s the catalyst for bringing my wife and I together.


  2. avatar

    Regarding the silence, it was probably something the lawyers didn’t feel comfortable with.

    A little bit of trivia: on the original Airplane! DVD, there’s a huge gap in the commentary during the scene when Robert Hays finally boards the plane.

    On the Special Edition DVD, I guess someone was asleep at the wheel since that gap is no longer there and you can hear what Abrahams and the Zuckers were saying. They were talking about the problem of getting the multiple director credit and the various issues that came up with the DGA and who voted for what, etc.

  3. avatar

    I have yet to go Blu-ray and thus have not seen these. I’m a bit put off by the grain scrubbing I’ve heard about and the weirdly blue-ish images I’ve seen from the TWOK disc.

    Still, I am very interested in owning the original theatrical cuts of the first six movies, if for no other reason that to satisfy the completist in me and to prepare for any future opportunities to be Burgess Meredith in a post-apocalyptic bank vault. But also I would just like to have the option of seeing those films the way I remember them. I had occasion to watch TWOK and TUC Monday with some friends, and I was kind of startled by what I saw on the DVDs. We were watching my DVDs, so obviously I knew, intellectually, that Mr. Meyer had tinkered with both of films for DVD, but it just kind of took me how much different they were from the theatrical cuts. I’m not saying the revised versions don’t have merits or aren’t even improvements over the originals in some instances, but it was just weird. Especially Meyer’s most recent change to TUC, which was the inclusion of those Scooby-Doo-esque image flashes when Spock is mind-raping information out of Valeris. Not too subtle.

  4. avatar

    Yes, Scott… I’m sure it was something like that… the Paramount legal dept is very good at being careful…

  5. avatar

    Grain-scrubbing = wrong, IMO.

  6. avatar

    I’m confused. What were you watching, exactly? A color corrected theatrical version? Was it a Blu Ray at all? Why/How does that exist?

  7. avatar

    We were watching a video of the original theatrical edition. When we color corrected the theatrical version with Mr. Wise, it was in HD… that was then down converted and used as the source material to do the Director’s Edition. This version of the theatrical cut was what we were watching when we did the commentary. We watched a standard def video when doing the commentary.

  8. avatar
    Matt Wright

    I wondered about your comment on TMP, because as you noted here things are different from the DE, most notably though they seem to have crushed the darker portion of the image a bit, details that used to be clear in the distance now disappear. I think there was probably a middle ground there that they could have hit. The V’gr interior is quite something though, those guys put a ton of detailing into it!

  9. avatar

    Uhura: A faint message from Starfleet sir.
    Daren: It says HELP!

    Daren, that was the biggest laugh I’ve ever gotten out of a commentary track for any Star Trek. Just the way the movie works in how everyone is slowly talking to each other, taking their good time to solve issues, waiting for a long time for something to happen, and all of a sudden you come in saying that, that did it for me.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I love TMP and the work that was done on the Director’s Edition. Your “Help!” had that “Get on with it!” feel to it that was just so funny.

    Oh, by the way. You do a much better job at giving a commentary track to a film than Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s a big deal!

  10. avatar

    So there’s an HD color corrected version of TMP out there. Awesome. Shame no one will ever see it!

  11. avatar
    Scott Gammans

    They REALLY need to release ST:TMP-DE on Blu-Ray. Here’s hoping!

  12. avatar

    ^ doubleofive

    Exactly, although a bit of me doesn’t mind because a shot like that belongs in the version that Robert Wise wants to show us. It just needs to be released on BluRay/High Deffinition.

    Oh, Daren. Would you or any other crew member who worked on the Director’s Edition be opposed to the restoration work that was done on the film? Instances like the dirt/scratches removal and the contrast levels. I have the Klingon fleet opening shot embedded in my head ever since I was four and now that the ships travel in a much blacker space and their matte lines aren’t as obvious I think makes it look wonderful. Of course, everyone is also a grain nut so that stuff can stay, but the cleaner, more contrasty look is just so good to watch.

  13. avatar
    Chris Dawson

    Glad to see that someone else appreciated Star Trek 5

    For me it was all about Kirk, Spock and McCoy around that campfire talking about life . . .

  14. avatar
    Dan M

    I received this set for Christmas and watched both TMP and TFF over the last two days. I really enjoyed the commentary provided by you, the Okudas and the Reeves-Stevens, so much so that I found myself wishing that you’d recorded a track for the four other movies.

    I know a great deal about TMP, but I enjoyed learning even more from some Trek experts.

    I loved how you all understood that there are so many nice touches in TFF. Certainly, the movie didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s all worth it for the character moments. “I need my pain” is a perfect Kirk line.

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