Star Trek TNG Screening Review
|REVIEWS - TV|
Does the continuing mission continue to entertain? Our own Guy Kelly attempts to make is so ...
As a youth, I imagined the life of a writer as filled with glamour and excitement. I pictured myself sitting with a notebook and an intense expression, pouring my heart out through the nib of my pen, while my elegant goatee beard and far-away look drew admiring stares from girls in coffee shops everywhere. I saw myself travelling to far-off places and sipping cocktails with the great and the good.
This, it turns out, was not exactly correct.
I occasionally catch glimpses of myself; horrible reflections distorted by the film on my coffee as I scratch out bile and scorn through a leaky pen into an overpriced Moleskine. Girls in coffee shops gasp in horror at my straggly beard and wonder what could have caused so many spiders to lose their legs in one place. Any invitations to travel that I receive are usually screenings of the latest Health and Safety in the Workplace video, held in an upside-down skip in a layby off the M4.
Know then that I am telling the truth when I say that the highlight of my week was attending a screening of the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in glorious high definition, in advance of the Blu-Ray release of the first series.
We took our seats, pockets chiming with the sound of pilfered beer, and set our expectations to 'zero'
I have never been a tremendous Trekkie. I enjoyed watching TNG (as it shall henceforth be referred to) if it happened to be on, but I was never the sort of person who would happily whittle a to-scale model of the Enterprise from a bar of soap, or, say, carve my dislike of Wesley Crusher into a beloved family pet. TNG was, for me at least, a part of the background: an interesting distraction rather than the main event.
In order to make this experience as scientific as possible (and to avoid looking like a shifty-eyed fiend who was only there for the nibbles), I brought along a chum who had never before seen a single episode of one of the most popular Sci-Fi franchises of all time. We took our seats, pockets chiming with the sound of pilfered beer, and set our expectations to 'zero'. The lights dimmed and the evening's two "special guests" took the stage.
I'd been briefed about this beforehand. The voice of Irrational Optimism inside me cried "It's going to be Shatner! Shatner and Stewart!" while the voice of Inexplicable Horror cried "They're going to wrestle! Wrestle in a pit in front of us and the victor will wear the skin of his vanquished foe!"
The voice of Obvious Rationalism took them both aside and patiently explained that it was going to be two men from Bristol who were dressed as Klingons.
It wasn't wrong.
The (spectacularly attired) gentlemen took the stage and introduced the evening, before a harried PR read a note from one of Paramount's big cheeses which semi-convincingly wished us all well. With that, we were thrown into the fray.
I have to admit to being impressed with the quality of the footage. The original negatives have been scanned for the Blu-Ray release, which means you can make out, amongst other things, each distinct crease of Worf's head. This does mean, however, that the episodes are presented in 4:3 format, rather than widescreen. I know that this will bother some people but I found myself forgetting all about the black borders and instead marvelling at Ryker's hairless chin.
As for the episode itself, it is fair to say that it has aged poorly. The Bristolian gentlemen who introduced the evening were more convincing Klingons than Worf, while the SFX have, shall we say, not quite stood the test of time. Of course, that's not to say that it's not fun: the characters are introduced without battering the audience about the face and neck while the feel of the show plays homage to the original even as it attempts to assert its independence.
Going to this event as someone with only a passing knowledge of the show, I felt that I was looking through the old baby photos of a world-famous economist. Lots of promise, but ultimately it's only ever going to be a picture of someone gumming an abacus.
Speaking to my Trek-averse compatriot, I found that she had been spellbound. She agreed that the sets were wonky and that Colonel Overacting had paid a visit for ham sandwiches, but by and large she was riveted, having developed a bond with the characters and invested herself in their futures.
If you're a Star Trek fan, a Blu-Ray remaster will be so far up your street it will be knocking at your door trying to lend you a cup of sugar, while a casual viewer looking for a slice of TV history could do a lot worse.
The chief moral to take from this, however, is the following: If you ever meet someone at an event who is a professional Klingon, by god talk to them afterwards.
The stories they tell...
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