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The Human Adventure Continues: Talking About Star Trek

The VOY episode Course: Oblivion kinda hits on the same themes you were talking about, Arugula, though it's much bleaker than anything that would probably show up on Prodigy.
That was an interesting episode but full of Bryan Fullerisms. The thing about it though is that while most of the crew has an identity crisis and are filled with doubts, copy-Janeway is the only one who doesn't. She stubbornly to a fault, insists on continuing their mission of getting everyone home to Earth. She doesn't care that she's a copy, she just cares about getting her people home. And when the rest of the crew convince her that Earth is probably unattainable and that it isn't even really their real home, she doesn't give in to despair or sheds her identity, she merely shifts the goals a little. From getting home to Earth, to getting home to the Demon planet.


So talking to some people just now, Profit & Lace came up. The terrible Deep Space 9 episode that everyone hates. And it hit me that, OK, it's still absolutely a terrible episode, but there is a redeeming quality to it, technically! One of those things I see people mutter about now and then is that while Star Trek has always been very good at showing how here in the enlightened future, there is no racism at all, you basically never see anyone who's visibly queer or wears glasses (Geordi aside) or needs a cane or a wheelchair (Captain Pike aside) and sometimes you have to wonder about that whole "eugenics war" in the backstory and how that actually turned out.

But then you have this episode, and part way through it, off camera, presumably we have this exchange:
"Hey, Dr. Bashir, I need a quick gender transition-"
"Yes done."
"Wait, really? I mean, it's for a zany scheme."
"Yeah no whatever, let's freakin' go. I'll squeeze you in before kayacking with O'Brien."
"I don't need like, to forge a letter from a therapist or anything?"
"On the table. We're doin' this."

So OK. Maybe not the best possible answer, but we do have an answer there. We've just got a really really intensively enthusiastic health care system. You want something done? You're getting it done within the hour. So that's nice?
Profit & Lace is symptomatic of a broader trend of Trek from that era where these episodes meant well, but they sure were ignorant/naive in their execution. The whole shoe on the other foot method of exploring a social matter is a good Baby's First Lesson In Empathy, but it's also potentially very alienating to anyone not the target demo, and is also easy for bad faith parties to misconstrue the lessons here.

I don't hate Profit & Lace like many people do, mostly because I'm not particularly bothered by Quark having not learned anything at the end of his journey that episode. Quark is not a good person we should be rooting for, so it never really felt like a betrayal to me. The way the episode plays it for laughs (among the other sexual harassment scenarios it depicts) though is regrettably dismissive and inappropriate however.


Honestly I'm totally fine with playing it for laughs, but if you're gonna do that, the jokes need to not be eye-rollingly bad. But for real, hey, think about it. Instant on demand same day no questions asked deluxe package medical transition canonically exists in the setting now. That's something?
Oh sure. Medicine in the 24th Century is nuts. They can turn people into spiders and salamanders and back and be no worse for the wear; having your gender changed is probably child's play and the kind of stuff med students do in their first year.
Oh sure. Medicine in the 24th Century is nuts. They can turn people into spiders and salamanders and back and be no worse for the wear; having your gender changed is probably child's play and the kind of stuff med students do in their first year.
Not to mention half of all cardassians have been surgically altered to look like some other species for long deep cons. No bone shaving like for Ash Tyler either!
Over the last few days, I've been watching the recent 4K remasters of the first four original films that came out recently:

It doesn't appear to me that they rebuilt the films from the ground up using dailies like they did with TNG that I had hoped they would. (Though that still remains a distinct possibility for the upcoming 4K remaster of the TMP Director's Cut that's on the horizon.) The results here are still fairly impressive and very interesting to watch.

The previous 2K remasters used a lot of digital smoothing techniques and de-noising. And this version, the intent seems to be to maintain as much of the original film grain as possible/guard the integrity of the original theatrical cuts. The results of which gives a very uneven but very interesting watch. Because more than ever before, you can really see with your own eyes all the little imperfections of the classic analog film composition techniques. Shots that didn't require any vfx are crystal clear and downright gorgeous how much detail you can see in every single frame. Any scenes that do have vfx however, have the telltale image quality loss of when you have to refilm film you've previously recorded to composite multiple images together on top of one another. So any of the location shots, especially ones that used matte paintings, or any space ship moments, or anytime the viewscreen gets used, all those scenes are a fair bit fuzzier and less sharp. I'm sure there are some obvious flaws cleaned up for this release as I didn't really spot much grime in these transfers, but I'm positive most of the flaws of the vfx techniques they were using are still intact since you can still see things like the starfield bleed through the Enterprise if you look carefully. I'm sure if you were a film student, this stuff would be like porn just being able to see exactly how with your own eyes these films were chopped and stitched together. And just from an enthusiast's perspective it's also just fascinating in general to see what effects held up and which ones look more dated.

I still wish they'd do a more costly remaster a la TNG/TOS where they rebuilt the movies using modern digital editing and the dailies as the source, so everything could just be 100% crisp and crystal clear. But I'm glad that this version of the films exists as well, just for historical purposes and appreciation of how far the medium has come. I bet there's a sizable contingency of Star Wars fans that would kill for the equivalent remasters to be made of the original trilogy, unblemished by George Lucas's meddling revisions in the 90s and onward. Sometimes it's hard to remember how good Star Trek fans have it when it comes to stuff like this. I very much look forward to seeing the rest of the original movies in 4K when they eventually get around to releasing those. I don't think this box set is worth the $80-90 asking price, and not everyone's got a 4K HDR TV to get the most out of this either. But if you can find a way to watch these at some point it's worth doing eventually.

  • Of all of the movies, I'd say TMP was the most interesting to watch from a "how was this made" perspective. There was a lot of weird decisions in the filming of this movie that are made much more clear in this 4K cut. Like how often, it appears that they'd film a scene twice, with the depth of field focused in different locations, then cut the video in half and stitch the two together so both the foreground and the background were in focus, with a weird blurry halo surrounding both.
  • The best looking film of the four visually was probably WoK, just because whoever was directing the cinematography in that one was knocking things out of the park. It's also got the most interesting/varied color palate of all the films. TMP is often a little too brown and sterile. SFS is very muddy and murky.
  • Voyage Home was weirdly the most disappointing of the four films to watch. I was hoping/expecting for it to be the clearest and cleanest of the four films on account of it being the youngest. But there's a lot of weird unfocused shots in the filming of this movie or other production flaws that are disappointing to see. If I had to guess, it's probably because of the nature of the movie - being mostly filmed on location where filming conditions are volatile, where you're probably naturally discouraged from reshoots or more careful planning due to the nature of the type of filming, and from the inability to inspect the dailies as carefully as if you were filming in a studio. There's one scene in the middle of the movie where Kirk is pawning his antique spectacles, and it was just really weird how the camera during the conversation was focused not on Kirk who was speaking in the foreground, but on Spock standing behind him. Or how certain scenes were a lot fuzzier than others implying they did a lot of pan & scanning in post to zoom in on what they wanted versus what they originally filmed. Just weird stuff like that, that wouldn't ever be evident while watching on DVD, or even in 2K.
  • God damn does the Enterprise refit look incredible.
  • I'm pretty amused by how well made all the costumes are in these. You can see stuff like stitch work on occasion and it all looks very well done like they weren't cutting any corners. Same with a lot of the set design. There's a lot of small details in the sets that nobody would be expected to notice if they were watching in theaters or the past 30+ years of lower resolution home video, but were still squeezed into the movies.
  • I'll never stop being amused by the fact that everyone in Voyage Home is wearing the same outfits they were wearing in Search For Spock, except for Chekov who was permitted to ditch the space-Pilgrim look.
  • Windows 10 has the most ASS HDR support ever. It just straight up doesn't work, and it's infuriating for watching movies like this where the video is encoded for HDR. If you watch the 4K HDR version of this on a device(s) that doesn't support HDR output, you're going to get a series of movies that are much more muted in their color range. It doesn't look bad, but it's also not as vibrant and bright as the films ought to look. I do not like MS's move to make Windows 11, but if they fix HDR support like they're reported to have, that'll be worth the upgrade by itself.
Is TMP the early 2000s director's cut?
No, these are all the theatrical cuts. They're working on rebuilding the Director's Cut separately and that'll come out later at some point. They had a small preview trailer for it during the most recent Star Trek Day. Ostensibly they'll have to rebuild a significant part of the movie from the raw dailies to do this considering the number of changes to the Director's Cut.

I don't really like this video using the SD version of the movie as a point of comparison, but that shot of the Enterprise and the interior of V'Ger is extremely clean and digitally composited. Doesn't look remotely that clean in the 4K theatrical cut.
There’s a moment at the beginning of Voyager’s series finale Endgame that’s very subtle but just low key brilliant. When Admiral Janeway reaches for a mug of coffee, it’s her mug she used on the Voyager for all those 22 years. Only now it’s got a ton of dents in it. She lives in a world where she could have had that mug replaced on command for free. But she choose to keep her busted mug with her because it reminds her of her journey. And I think that thematically, it symbolizes her own traumatized nature from the 22 year voyage. It’s kind of awesome storytelling.


does the Underpants Dance
I never quite got the dislike for Voyager's finale. It really was a clever way imo for the show to have its cake and eat it too, and as you pointed out, it has a bunch of nice character moments for not just Janeway, but basically everyone else too.
There are definitely room for improvements for things they could have done better for Endgame. But it does way more incredible things than not, and it is thematically the most satisfying swan song for any entry to the franchise IMO outside of The Undiscovered Country. The USS Voyager finally getting home felt a lot better than Picard joining the poker game, or Sisko turning into a ghost, or Trip eating it.
I just started a rewatch of ENT today. Today is also the 20 year anniversary of ENT first hitting airwaves. It feels like destiny.

ENT's first episode is low key really good. There's definitely plenty of moments in it where you're like, ok that's obviously some corners cut there for budget purposes. But the CGI work for the ships really holds up well. And it's kinda fascinating to watch them experiment with framing TV in wide screen for the first time. There's a lot of interesting looking camera shots in Broken Bow.