Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Enterprise-D in HD

Captain's Log: Next Gen Blu-Ray, Trek JJA Cast and Other Cosmic News

The big news for classic Star Trek fans is the imminent release of three episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in High Definition.  This Blu-Ray sampler introduces release of the entire series in HD, beginning later this year.

The official Star Trek site has info on this, including a terrific interview with the Okudas who worked on the project, ensuring its Trekness,  but the site that has been on this story the longest, and with the most thorough information and visuals is Trek

The episodes on the sampler are Encounter at Farpoint (in its feature length), Sins of the Father and The Inner Light.  I've written about two of those here--the universally praised The Inner Light (with a comment from one of the writers) and that first Next Gen, Encounter at Farpoint, which I regard as one of the most significant stories in the saga, especially in how it fills in the future between now and the 23rd and 24th century of Star Trek.

Meanwhile the second Abrams' Star Trek movie is moving along, with script apparently completed,  casting begun and some filming underway.  In addition to bringing back the crew from the first Star Trek JJA, two of the announced guest actors are from an alien world: one called BBC. 
When Doctor Who was revived on the BBC and Enterprise was new in the U.S.,  Who producer Russell T Davis contemplated a Who/Trek crossover episode, with the Tardis materializing inside the Enterprise.  But that Enterprise disappeared.  So it took until now for any kind of crossover to happen, when British actor Noel Clarke was announced as joining the Star Trek JJA2 movie cast.  Noel Clarke had a major role in Doctor Who ( as Mickey Smith) with a long arc (from buffoon boyfriend to inter-dimensional space hero) in the Chris Eccleston /David Tennant era. 
But the big casting news was the other Planet BBCer, Benedict Cumberbatch, apparently cast as the "villain" in JJA2.  Cumberbatch is best known for his current portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series written and produced by two veteran Doctor Who writers, one of whom ( Steven Moffat) is the current Who showrunner.  One of Moffat's first duties was casting the new Doctor Who, and he picked Matt Smith over Cumberbatch (who reportedly auditioned), though the two look very much alike.

Doctor Who history was made on New Year's Day, by the way, when David Tennant (the tenth Doctor) became the son-in-law of Peter Davison (the fifth Doctor) by marrying Davison's daughter, who he met while she was playing his (the 10th Doctor's) daughter in, well, "The Doctor's Daughter."

Back to Trek, and to a hero rather than a villain: in real life this time.  Fresh from filming on JJA2, Zoe Saldana (who plays Uhura) saw a traffic accident outside the studio, called 911 and went to the aid of one of the victims, an elderly woman.  She helped move the woman to the sidewalk and stayed with her as EMTs arrived.  It was the kind of compassion that's in keeping with her character and Star Trek in general. 

In other Trek News: A version of the bio-bed first seen on the original Star Trek series has become almost as ordinary in American hospitals as the doors that swish open at grocery stores.  But the medical tricorder is still pretty futuristic.  Can it be made a practical reality?  Well, one thing for sure--anybody who does it soon can claim a $10 million prize.

That's the challenge of the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize--to create a hand-held device capable of capturing "key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases".   The prize administrators suggest it's a daunting challenge but the time may be right to start thinking practically about combining and expanding existing technologies to try it.  After all, an earlier X prize did result in a civilian spaceship.  And here's how it could be done--and soon.

23rd Trek tech continues to become today's reality, and sometimes with almost the same name: for instance, the ipad/PADD.

As for those strange new worlds, a couple of astronomical discoveries increase the possibilities.  A new study concludes that most if not all stars have planets, and that there are more planets in the universe than stars.   And exoplanet researchers have now found planets smaller than Earth around another star.  They are rapidly honing in on Trek's Class M planets: of the right size, distance from their star, with a possible atmosphere, etc. to suggest the possibility of life. 

And since we started out talking about HD, NASA has just released some HD (well, HR, high resolution) photos from the future that was: the Gemini flights in the early 1960s, just the second set of missions into space, and the first to involve more than one astronaut, as well as space docking and other procedures never done before.
   This is one of those GEMINI photos.

And this is the new HD version of the creature in Encounter at Farpoint.
Okay, it's not really.  It's a jellyfish--but it is HD.


star trek addict said...

I can't wait for the release of the Blu-ray version of it. I'm sure many fans like me will buy once more the Star Trek saga.

Maurice Mitchell said...

The Blu-Ray looks sick. Too bad there's only three episodes. Zoe Saldana is one good person helping out that old lady. She's like the reverse Paris Hilton.