Sorry if it makes you feel old, but it was 25 years ago this week that "Star Trek: The Next Generation" went on the air. The show was the sequel to Gene Roddenberry's original series "Star Trek," which aired from 1966 to 1969, became a cult classic, and then spawned a series of movies that surprised everybody and turned the Star Trek franchise into one of the most valuable properties in Hollywood.
But a sequel TV series was still considered a gamble. Obviously, it paid off.
To mark the 25th anniversary of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," CBS is issuing all the episodes on Blu-Ray discs. But this is not your typical Blu-Ray release, with 353 megaquadrants per square pixel instead of the usual 352, with a few tiny tweaks to entice you to rebuy the whole series. This is a true restoration, done from the ground up, from the original 35mm film.
That film -- on reels that until recently were stored in cartons in a salt mine in Pennsylvania (!) -- was digitized reel by reel, then the episodes were entirely re-edited according to the original, 25-year old instructions. Shot by shot, sometimes frame by frame. They reassembled all the special effects, and in a few cases, recreated them. The intent, CBS says, was always to stick with the original vision, not to pull a George Lucas and re-imagine the thing millions of Trekkies around the world have come to love.
I went to CBS Television City, where they're still working on the restoration of all seven seasons and 178 episodes, and talk with just three of the people who made it happen: Phil Bishop, Craig Weiss, and Sarah Paul.