Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Do you know the way to ShiKahr?

American television audiences channel flipping for random episodes of original Star Trek (TOS) in syndication are enjoying all-new special effects footage, which is being recreated/repaired/enhanced with CGI in remastered, high definition versions of the episodes. Although current syndication advertisement ratios require extensive cutting of popular lines and (sometimes) whole scenes, there is an intention to release uncut HD DVDs of the "remastered" TOS.

TOS was made on film, not videotape, which means that it looks amazing on HD TV, but the FX made in the 1960s are simply not up to scratch, due to the number of composite film layers required to produce SPFX footage of transporter effects, phaser beams, ship passes and matt paintings. The episodes still look good on regular TVs, but DVD already shows up problems (the joins on Nimoy's pointed ear tips, for one) and HD TV and DVD will show up many more faults, especially in the old SPFX.

While some fans have been angered by any attempt to meddle with a cultural icon - especially the attempts to recreate CGI versions of the Enterprise's rotating nacelle caps, and the artists putting miniature, moving versions of themselves in the new computer-drawn matt paintings - the CBS SPFX team are doing an amazing job, from the still and moving examples I've seen so far.

But last week, CBS unveiled its remastered version of "Amok Time". Suddenly, that well-known scene of Spock and Kirk's battle for T'Pring, Spock's intended bondmate, has been elevated, literally, onto an impossibly precarious land bridge, similar to those seen in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"! And, in the distance, we can now see a CGI recreation of Spock's home city of ShiKahr, which had previously been named and visited in the Filmation animated episode, "Yesteryear" (TAS).

ShiKahr, TASwhiteShiKahr, TOS-R
Left: ShiKahr in TAS; Right: a distant ShiKahr in TOS-R.

While most of Filmation's TAS was shunted out of "canon" via a Star Trek Office memo in 1989, several names and events from "Yesteryear" (plus Captain Robert April of "The Counter-clock Incident") are embraced by the "Star Trek Encyclopedia" and the "Star Trek Chronology", with Gene Roddenberry's approval. Unfortunately, Spock's city of birth is misspelt "ShirKahr" in those publications, and that pesky error has permeated TAS mentions in other licensed Star Trek products.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the moon-like object in the sky over Shikahr in the "Yesteryear" still, that is "T'Kuht", coined in the 70s by fanzine identity, Gordon Carleton, to explain the misleading TOS quote, "Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura" (in "The Man Trap"). Jean Lorrah once wrote Sarek & Amanda fanzine stories for T'Kuhtian Press.

The TAS error in "Yesteryear" (ie. Dorothy Fontana had scribbled "remove moon" on the art she approved for Filmation, but it wasn't noticed by the animators) was retconned as "Vulcan's twin planet" in the booklet accompanying View-Master's "Yesteryear" adaptation, "Mr. Spock's Time Trek". The planetary body was also shown to dominate the Vulcan sky in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (TMP) in 1979 (below), although it was eliminated for the director's edition DVD.


Several years later, the planetoid turned up in a Pocket Star Trek novel as T'Kuht in "The Vulcan Academy Murders" (below) by Jean Lorrah, acknowledging Gordon Carleton for the name and explanation. The planetoid is even on the cover of "The Vulcan Academy Murders" (below left) and Michael Jan Friedman's "New Worlds, New Civilizations" (below right).

LematyawhiteNew Worlds, New Civilizations

The name is spelt "T'Khut" in Diane Duane's "Spock's World", Jeri Taylor's "Voyager: Pathways" and the books "The Worlds of the Federation" and "New Worlds, New Civilizations". It's called "T'Rukh" in AC Crispin's novel, "Sarek", with an explanation that the name changes are seasonal. It's T'Kuht again in "The Needs of the One" a DC Comics story in its TOS Special, Series II, and Geoffrey Mandel's book, "Star Trek Star Charts".

With the animated series often considered the bastard child of the Star Trek phenomenon, it's always a thrill to me to see TAS acknowledged. With the new version of "Amok Time", ShiKahr and TAS take a new step towards legitimacy and acceptance!


Vacations said...

Thank you for sharing these nice photos with us

the_real_adamj said...

I really really like what they did with the CGI here. I love this new 'battle on the hill top' scene, it adds a whole new dynamic to the scene I believe.

Can be possibly controversial and say they should go one step further and update the cast footage as well, nothing massive, but little touches here and there, say the screens around the top edge of the bridge and just generally enhance the consoles the crew are using. I like the 'hidden tech' style you can surmise already, but I think it needs a few extra touches to really make it special. (not saying it wasn't special already, but today's audiences are much more demanding in what they expect from Sci-Fi)

Therin of Andor said...

Update: Alan Dean Foster has just granted the Vulcan planetoid/moon a new seasonal name: "T'Khul", in his novelization of "Star Trek" (2009).