Star Trek: The Menagerie

Star Trek beamed on to the big screen in a major way on Monday night for a special screening of the classic original series episode, The Menagerie.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the creation of Star Trek and to celebrate, both this milestone anniversary and the launch of the Star Trek Remastered DVDs, Paramount Pictures and CBS have pulled out all the stops in cleaning up the 79 original episodes.

The Menagerie’s plot contains elements of Star Trek’s pilot episode, The Cage, in which Spock sets out to help the Enterprise’s previous commander, Captain Christopher Pike, after learning his exposure to large amounts of radiation, rendering him unable to speak or move.

In a desperate bid help Captain Pike and relieve his suffering, Spock hijacks the Enterprise and set a course for the planet, Talos IV, a world that exists under a state of permanent quarantine due to the fact that it home to a race of telepathic aliens who are capable of making any illusion seem totally real.

As the theft of a starship is a crime, Spock is placed on trial in order to determine exactly why he has chosen to embark on this course of action, knowing that any attempt to return to Talos IV carries with it, a sentence of death should, Spock be found guilty.

Some Star Trek fans may have visions of George Lucas’s 1997 update of his Star Wars trilogy when reading these words. They are probably having images of whole new scenes being created for just for this event. If that is the case, then don’t worry, no such thing has taken place with the restoration Star Trek. That said, however, Star Trek is in excellent hands. Before the actual episodes began, there was behind the scenes look at the restoration process, which included repairing tears, stains and other blemishes on the original negative of the episodes.

The most noticeable aspect of the restoration is in the special effects. The CBS restoration team replaced all of the model shots with computer generated images. The digital Enterprise was beautiful to look at and seeing those sleek lines filling the movie screen was a real treat. Almost as wonderful as the updated special effects, was the music.

During the restoration process, it was decided to take advantage of advances in technology and rerecord the Star Trek theme music. This was a very smart decision. The music coming out of the theatre’s sound system was deep and rich. This is what it must have been like to hear this music played for the first time in the recording studio.

This screening of The Menagerie was a one-night-only event. That said, it is clear that much time and energy has been spent restoring Star Trek. It is not unreasonable to hope that as, the release date for J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie draws nearer, Paramount Pictures will screen more Star Trek episodes in this fashion.

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