Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm not dead, Jim

I’m cannibalizing a comment I left at Jaime Weinman’s Something Old, Nothing New so I can put it up for discussion here. In a post about the recently announced upcoming Star Trek movie, which will concern the first meeting of Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy and will have new actors in those roles, he writes this:
What I'd really like to see, actually, is a revival of the original Trek with new actors in the original roles, but taking advantage of the modern TV series' ability to do real character growth and development. The original series, being done like an anthology show with continuing characters -- the default format for a drama series at the time -- could never really develop the characters; anything Kirk and Spock learned about each other in one episode could never be carried over to the next episode, because every hour was completely self-contained.
As one of the rare fans who'll argue that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the best Trek series because it introduced extended story arcs and took character development to a new high, I'm with him except for one thing: What I want is a revival of the original Trek with the original actors in the original roles ... sort of.

The future of entertainment is in computer-generated recreations of the younger and/or living versions of old and/or dead actors. It's been inevitable ever since Humphrey Bogart was in that Diet Coke commercial. Once we can get over the uncanny valley that still makes things like the Final Fantasy movie so creepy to look at, the computerized version is going to be even better than the real thing. CGI actors will work cheaper (although you'll have to pay a licensing fee to the estate), they don't age, and they do their own stunts. You can really push around CGI actors.

And what could be more appropriate than to let Star Trek be the first to embark on this bold new mission? They already did it once with Star Trek: The Animated Series, which chronicled the continuing adventures of the starship Enterprise in cartoon format. And the concept is also very familiar to Trekkies since Trek characters have long been using their holodecks to recreate Moriarty, Dixon Hill, Buck Bokai, Leonardo Da Vinci, and any other fictional character or historical personage they can think of. And the franchise tread similar territory with the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", which juxtaposed new footage of the DS9 actors with footage from the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" to incorporate them into the storyline. There's no reason you couldn't also juxtapose actual living actors with a CGI Kirk and Spock, by the way, and I imagine there are a bunch who were weaned on Star Trek and would jump at the chance to cameo as a doomed redshirt.

A special-effects-driven series like Star Trek is going to be largely computer-generated anyway, and even if you don't get it right, so much the better. The original Star Trek never looked quite right anyway, with its blue-screen backgrounds, foam rocks, and model spacecraft on strings, so a new show would benefit from a lower standard of perfection.

Besides, it's not like the acting quality could really suffer in the process either. A CGI Shatner couldn't really be any worse than the original. In fact, he'll be better. At least a CGI Shatner will never make a disastrous attempt at directing a Star Trek feature film.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure they could do bluescreening when the original Star Trek was in production. I've seen only a couple episodes but I'm fairly certain everything was done with bad props and hand-painted backdrops.

Also: Nerrrrrrrrrrrd!

4/24/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

If that's Tyler, I think they did have bluescreening, and you're the last guy to be throwing the word "nerd" around.

4/24/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about your uncanny valleys:
http://www.wigsalon.com/wigx.htm?wig=2249

And, yeah, it was me. Sorry. I think bluscreening was around then, and I'm only going on the quality of Shatner's hairpiece in the series in my assessment here, but I doubt they had the budget for it.

4/25/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I don't know how or why you ended up at that link, but dear god, is it creepy. Good example of the Uncanny Valley.

4/25/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger The Fed Ex of Funk said...

I keep thinking about all the wonderful things we can do with Mirina Sirtis' CGI cleavage. Like maybe balance it out. Seriously, why did her uniform always show more of the left than the right?

4/25/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger John Eje Thelin said...

Mark me down as someone who thinks that DS9 was the only decent post-TOS series. I'm slowly rewatching all the episodes from season 3 onwards, and some of it has dated badly, but other details really shine.

4/27/2006 08:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree -- Deep Space Nine makes the other series look like crap in a hat. Let's start a club; Peter can be Secretary-At-Arms.

I always thought that a CGI version of Dr. Who would be awesome.

-- hilly

5/01/2006 01:48:00 PM  

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