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Boldly going where no TV episode has gone before
"Star Trek" fans will have to wait more than a year before the next epic movie, the 11th film in the franchise, blasts into theaters at warp speed on Christmas Day 2008. However, next Tuesday and Thursday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 15 at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., fans will have a rare chance to see one of the original episodes shown in movie theaters. Locally, it will be playing at the Edwards Theater in River Park.
The two-part episode "The Menagerie" is one of the more unique of the series. The episode, with Spock (Leonard Nemoy) being on trial for mutiny, is combined with archival footage of the rejected original pilot, when the starship Enterprise was commanded by Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter). What makes this screening even more special is that it has been digitally remastered in High-Definition, Cinema Surround Sound and more.
"The episodes shown for the in-theater event have been completely remastered with new special effects," says Dan Diamond, vice president of National CineMedia's Fathom, which is bringing the show to theaters for this special showing in conjunction with CBS Home Entertainment and StarTrek.com. "Fans have never seen these episodes like this before. This will be a very powerful experience for fans."
"The Menagerie", the classic two-part episode of the original "Star Trek" series will be playing in movie theaters Nov. 13 and 15 only.
New CGI animated special effects and the orchestral re-recording of the show's theme music are not the only treats in store for the evening. A special 30-minute, in-theater-only exclusive featurette will preceed the showing. An introduction by series creator Gene Roddenberry's son Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry will greet theater goers, followed by behind-the-scenes footage that has never been shown before and a discussion about the remastering process.
"This event gives 'Star Trek' fans the opportunity to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event with other fans in their local theaters," Diamond says. "This is the only opportunity they'll have to see 'Star Trek' in its original form in movie theaters."
Grace Lee Whitney played Yeoman Janice Rand during the first season of the original series. Although she did not appear in "The Menagerie," Whitney knows it is a fan-favorite and one of the most foundational episodes for the appeal of the entire series.
"Do it," she says when she heard about the showing of a vintage 'Trek' episode in a theater. "Keep it going. We all love those old, original episodes. I don't think NBC knew what they had. It's a very good show."
Original series actress Grace Lee Whitney poses next to a poster of herself as Yeoman Janice Rand.
Whitney, who still does fan conventions and published her autobiography "The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy," is constantly amazed at the longevity of the series that premiered 41 years ago. The original series has since spawned five spin-off television series, innumerable paperback adventures, games, toys, 10 completed films with a new one on the way. But it's the original show that started it all and "The Menagerie," with it's part familiar series cast / part pilot, is one of the key episodes that paved the way for all the "Star Trek" that later came.
"That was an amazing episode," she says. "It's one of my favorites."
Whitney, who is a resident of Coarsegold, knew the original captain, actor Jeffrey Hunter, prior to his taking the helm in the pilot for the sci-fi series. "Jeff Hunter and I were good friends," she says. "We had just done a pilot at Warnor Brothers. It wasn't picked up and then he got the call to do 'Star Trek.' He was a wonderful man. He was very good as Captain Pike. The fans love him and 'The Menagerie.' Susan Oliver [who plays Vina in the episode], she's just my favorite. She was just beautiful. I'm happy it's playing."
Demand for this presentation, which was originally scheduled to be a one-time-only event, is expected to be high, so National CineMedia's Fathom opted to expand the showings to a second night with two additional screenings. Tickets cost $12.50. The event preceeds the debut of the totally remastered, High Definition release of the first season of the original "Star Trek" on DVD the following week.