Star Trek goes digital

Space. The reimagined frontier.

Star Trek, the 1960s TV series that literally launched a thousand ships, will return for a new syndicated run with a computer-assisted face-lift. When the show airs in syndication beginning September 16, it will feature computer-generated effects and a new version of the theme song.

In celebration of the show's 40th Anniversary, all 79 episodes from the original series are being digitally remastered, and key special effects are being redone. The Enterprise spaceship is being enhanced, planets in the background will now appear more realistic, and the floating Starbases the Enterpise docks with will teem with CG inhabitants.

"The exterior of the ship now has depth and detail, and it will fly more dynamically," Michael Okuda, a longtime Trek scenic-art supervisor, told TV Guide. "We're taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original. Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would [show creator Gene] Roddenberry have done with today's technology?"

Additionally, a version of the theme song has been rerecorded, with a new voice operatically lilting in stereo.

Star Trek isn't the first aging space opera to receive digital tweaking. In 1997, George Lucas rereleased his Star Wars trilogy with beefed-up special effects and additional scenes.

That redux wasn't met with universal praise from fans and purists. They cite, for example, a scene from the original Star Wars involving the space mercenary Han Solo and the bounty hunter Greedo, in which Solo coldly blasts Greedo to death, was altered. In the redone scene, Greedo shoots at Solo first, making Solo's shooting an act of self-defense.

Angry Star Wars fans created t-shirts which read, "Han shot first."

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