Survey of Star Trek – Part 1: Intro & The Original Series

Star Trek is ostensibly the kind of thing I should be really into. It’s nerdy, detail-driven science fiction more focused on ideas than action. It presents opportunities for a vast array of plots, characters, settings, and themes to be presented and explored. Reportedly, it has done those things and frequently done a good job.

But I can’t get into it. I’ve never been able to.

Every time I’ve tried to watch a Star Trek TV series I’ve come away with no desire to continue after an episode or two. The shows in actuality seem slow, boring, dumb, and inconsistent.

I like three pieces of Star Trek fiction I have seen: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek (2009), and The Next Generation episode “The Best of Both Worlds.” Everything else has bored me or insulted my intelligence.

But Star Trek is such a mainstay of culture and especially nerd culture that I keep coming back to the idea of trying to watch it. And now, with the return of Star Trek to television (sort of), I figure this is as good a time as any to do a little experiment.

I am going to watch the pilot or first episode of each Star Trek series to see if any grab me this time around. Even if the actual episodes are still boring, comparing the different series of this vast and long running franchise should make for an fascinating trip through some television history.

The Original Series

As the oldest Star Trek show, this one has aged the worst in many ways. The style and culture of the 60s are dripping from it. It’s colorful, boisterous, and self-assured. Despite being incredibly progressive with a diverse cast for its time, there’s still a palpable air of 60s misogyny about it.

Looking at Star Trek with entirely modern sensibilities is probably wildly unfair. Clearly the show is special for its lasting impact and for the strides it did make in being more inclusive of minorities and other nationalities which is particularly notable in the midst of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Its probably fairly sophisticated for 60s TV as well.

A simple Google search of “1960s TV dramas” returns a list of names that are only vaguely recognizable to this millennial. I’ve heard of Perry Mason, The Avengers (a British spy show, not Marvels superhero team), The Wild Wild West, and Adam-12, but haven’t seen so much as a single clip from any of them. Other shows from the time like Mission Impossible, The Twilight Zone, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. have all had recent reincarnations (or lasting influence on other series in the case of Twilight Zone). But none of those have had the staying power of Star Trek. None of them turned into a massive TV and film franchise on that level.

Finding the “first” or “pilot” episode of The Original Series (TOS) is a bit tricky. Technically “The Cage” is the original pilot of Star Trek. It was rejected for being “too cerebral” which makes me kind of curious to watch it. I’m dubious about what “too cerebral” meant back then.

Even so, “The Cage” is listed on Netflix as the first episode of Star Trek which I have to imagine confuses a lot of people looking to experience the earliest adventures of Kirk and Spock. Kirk does not appear in that episode. The original protagonist of Star Trek was Captain Christopher Pike, but after the rejection of this pilot, the actor who played Pike dropped out.

Lucille Ball (of I Love Lucy fame) who ran the studio where Star Trek was produced liked Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, and convinced the network to give Trek another chance at life. William Shatner came aboard to play Captain James T. Kirk, the new lead character for the series’ second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

I thought about watching that episode instead since it’s the one that got the show greenlit. I actually did watch about 20 minutes before I got sick of the dumb ESP-related plot. Then I decided to view what’s broadly considered to be the “first” episode instead.

“The Man Trap”

People like to point out how Star Trek predicted cell phones. Pssh. Kirk’s got a lame old flip phone there. Get with the times, Jim!

“The Man Trap” was the broadcast debut of Star Trek way back in September of ’66. It features much of what’s iconic about the Original Series: the Enterprise, beaming, expendable crewmen (eventually known as “red shirts”), sick bay, strange aliens, and of course its memorable cast of characters (although Scotty and Chekov were still absent and Sulu wasn’t on the bridge just yet.)

This episode strikes me as pretty typical of the Original Series. There’s a strange, alien happening at the beginning of the episode which the characters gradually unravel through the rest of the runtime concluding with a fistfight or speech or both.

One thing that’s extremely out of step with modern television is a lack of setup. “The Man Trap” doesn’t do anything special to introduce us to the characters or the concept of the show. The only explanation we’re given is the famous opening monologue that was present in every episode.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Though I am no Trekkie, I could have written that from memory. It’s another iconic piece of the show.

No matter how dorky the show might be, the Enterprise is still a cool spaceship

In this episode, Kirk, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and the obligatory expendable crewman beam down to a planet to conduct a routine medical checkup of researchers Nancy and Robert Crater. Bones has a special interest in this mission as he used to be romantically involved with Nancy.

The mission goes awry when the crewman ends up dead. Kirk, Spock, and Bones launch an investigation. They eventually discover that a shapeshifting alien disguised itself as Nancy and then several Enterprise crew members in a fight for survival. The creature is the last of its kind, but eventually they are forced to kill it after it threatens the lives of several crew members and Kirk himself.

The plot itself is relatively uninteresting. I think it could have been more compelling to watch if the show had been directed differently. The audience knows far more than the characters know. We’re shown early on that the alien presents itself differently to Bones, Kirk, and the doomed crewman so we know something’s up. We aren’t solving a mystery with our characters, we’re waiting for them to catch up to what we already know. The director’s already showed us the answer.

That’s a recipe for suspense rather than mystery, but I don’t think the suspense works for a modern audience. It’s hard to be truly concerned about the fate of any of these characters. We know Kirk, Bones, and Spock are all going to be fine though I supposed the original audience wouldn’t have the same assurance. It’s also become a well-known cliche that Star Trek would kill off otherwise unimportant crew members to heighten the stakes. Knowing this does a lot to dispel the illusion of danger. You can see the scriptwriter pulling the strings all too clearly.

Regardless, the first half of the episode mostly works. It’s a decent setup and there’s ample opportunity for the leads to interact and show off their character traits.

Kirk is a confident, charismatic leader who’s much less brash than pop culture’s collective memory has lead to me believe (granted, this is a tiny sample size). Bones is a soft-hearted, down-to-earth kind of guy. Spock demonstrates his perceptive intelligence and, of course, lack of overt emotion.

The episode falls apart in the second half, however.

There’s a hamfisted “moral” to the story. After being questioned, Robert Crater reveals that he’s known about the alien creature. It killed the real Nancy years ago, but since it was the last of its kind, he spared its life. He was content to let the creature play the part of Nancy as the next best thing. That’s super weird and creepy. Fortunately we aren’t given much time to think about that before Crater draws an absurd parallel between the creature and the buffalo.

This is really funny now. The concept of species extinction must not have been commonly known because the word “extinct” is never used. The show literally has to explain it to the audience and thus to the “enlightened” 23rd century crew. You’d think explorers might understand that already.

It doesn’t work as a parallel either. Buffalo (by which they mean American bison) aren’t extinct although it’s true that they were nearly hunted to extinction. It’s a touchpoint for the show’s audience, not for the show’s characters.

This is just like the buffalo

I guess there’s supposed to be a message about conservation or something in there? It feels incredibly tacked on. Still, this was an example of how Star Trek would at least attempt to highlight social, political, and environmental concerns even if it didn’t always work.

It’s also frustrating to watch our lead characters slowly catch on to what we already know. There’s a good scene where the ship’s officers are discussing what to do about the creature onboard and how they can find it. The creature is present at the meeting disguised as Bones. The real McCoy (ha!) was lured to sleep earlier by the alien in disguise as Nancy. I thought Kirk was catching on to fake Dr. McCoy in this scene. They kept cutting to his and Spock’s faces like they might know what’s up and I thought he was baiting the creature into revealing itself which would have been really clever.

Actually, Kirk behaves rather stupidly in the end. Spock is assaulted by the creature. He tells Kirk that the alien was disguised as Bones. Kirk rushes to Dr. McCoy’s quarters knowing that he’s likely to find the creature there. Like a moron, he goes with no backup (not even a red shirt) and he nearly gets killed because of it. He only lives because Spock conveniently shows up at the last second.

There are plenty of other silly details too. While it makes sense for a starship captain to lead the away team on diplomatic missions, it’s pretty silly that Kirk beams down with Bones and the crewman at the beginning for this “routine” medical mission. It would set a precedent for things to come – high-ranking officers regularly getting involved in mundane tasks that would spin out into larger adventures.

Given that this was a TV show, I’m impressed by the effects for the time. Just two years later, 2001: A Space Odyssey would blow away everything that had come before it in terms of convincing space travel special effects. But TV has a much more constrained budget than feature films – especially features by high-profile directors like Stanley Kubrick.

2001: A Space Odyssey came out two years after Star Trek’s premier featuring special effects that would not be eclipsed for decades

I hesitate to call the acting outright bad. It’s certainly dated. Sure, some of it seems outright poor. But acting sensibilities have changed a lot. Dramatic acting today tends to be a lot more naturalistic and subtle. I don’t think they were going for that back then.

Nevertheless, I like the lead actors in their roles. Nimoy is great and judging by this episode, he was great as Spock from the very start. DeForest Kelley is charming as Dr. McCoy which goes a long way for a character that seemed to provide so much of the show’s soul and humanity.

Whether William Shatner can act is somewhat controversial. I’ll simply say that he seems well cast and comes off as capable, and charismatic apart from the dumb decisions at the end of the episode. I like him in the role.

The Verdict

If nothing else, the characters are iconic for a reason

According to contemporary retrospectives, “The Man Trap” is one of the worst episodes of The Original Series. Dull and pointless as it was, I can still see why Star Trek became beloved. The Kirk/Spock/Bones dynamic really does work and, like I said at the outset, the concept of the show allows for all kinds of plots, characters, and themes to be explored.

If it’s true that most of TOS is better than this, I may give select episodes a watch, but I have no intention of going front-to-back through the show.

Unlike later series, TOS doesn’t have a ton of continuity to keep up with. I think its more episodic approach will allow me to pop in and out of the series at virtually any point and not be lost.

The episodic approach is a double-edged sword. On one hand, shows that don’t leverage continuity can feel weightless without significant consequences from one episode to the next or one season to the next. On the other hand, the serial approach necessitates viewers wade through most, if not all the previous canon, to get the most out of the show. That’s a high barrier to entry. We’ll talk about that next time.

LLAP

Why I Don’t Want to Watch Any Star Wars Trailers

Today begins my quest to avoid trailers, promos, and other spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (I guess we sorta stopped counting episode numbers?) It will be difficult, I expect.

I will see this movie when I comes out.  They’ve already sold me a ticket. I don’t need to ride the hype train to release day.

I’m avoiding all of this for several reasons. Obviously, I don’t want anything to be spoiled. How many times have we all watched a trailer only to come away feeling like we’d already seen the movie?

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Want to Watch Any Star Wars Trailers”

Happy Birthday, St. Louis!

The City of St. Louis is 250 years old today… maybe. Then again, it could have been yesterday.

Our city’s French founder, Auguste Chouteau, wrote the date in his diary, but authorities have gone back and forth about whether he wrote February 14th or 15th. Nobody’s quite sure which is the right date. Yay for bad handwriting!

I’ve lived in St. Louis, Missouri my entire life. Okay, technically I’ve lived in the suburbs of St. Louis and not the city proper, but we claim St. Louis residency and culture just the same.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, St. Louis!”

Favorite Games of 2013

A new year is upon us and that means it’s time to hand out meaningless accolades to various media properties because making lists is fun!

I am quite intentionally calling these “favorite” lists rather than “best of” lists because there’s a lot of games, movies, and music I didn’t experience in 2013 which no doubt deserve attention and praise, but I can’t consume everything in a year. With that in mind, I am limiting my lists to a Top 3 with possible honorable and dishonorable mentions.

3. The Stanley Parable

SP1

Continue reading “Favorite Games of 2013”

The Star Wars Prequels: looking on the bright side

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C’mon. You know this is cool.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine made me aware of this article: Watching the Star Wars Prequels on Mute: An Experiment.

Much has been said about the Star Wars prequels. Most of it negative. The internet loves talking about how awful they are, how much they missed the mark, how the writing’s no good, and what the heck was George Lucas thinking anyway?

Actually, I’m more annoyed with how Lucas has altered the old films than by the prequels themselves. It always seemed apparent to me that he was really trying even if he was also really failing.

Or did he fail after all?

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The drama! The horror!

This post looks at Star Wars as visual art. By watching the movies on mute you take away the terrible dialogue and the awkward delivery of said dialogue. Remove the ham-handed scripts and these films become all about the imagery and what that communicates.

Film has so many aspects to it and not all filmmakers are great at wielding every element. For some, their strength lies in writing, plotting, and working with actors. George Lucas is infamously bad at all of those things. But the man has proven himself to be a master of visuals.

We can debate his focus on innovation over proper storytelling, sure. Did he go too far with GCI? Absolutely. Did it make the films terrible? No. It gave them a different aesthetic. We may like it or hate it, but I can’t deny that there’s a certain power in the visuals of Star Wars – even in the prequels.

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It might not look real, but there’s certain fantastic quality to this shot

Like a lot of Millennials, I saw the original trilogy growing up. I watched them on VHS for the first time in the mid 90s and then saw the special edition re-releases in theaters. I was absolutely psyched when Phantom Menace came out.

I was also nine years old so I enjoyed it and thought it was good.

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Remember these, guys?

After the prequels ended in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith, I started hearing the negative talk about the movies. As I listened to the criticism and my artistic and critical sensibilities grew and matured, I began to turn on the prequels as well. I saw them as terrible movies made by a man who had lost his way.

But I could never hate them. I could never bring myself to actually dislike watching them. They were still Star Wars to me – even if a sloppy, less-than-perfect Star Wars.

Reading this article reminded me why there’s definitely still some artistic merit to these movies. There are legitimate reasons to not write them off completely and to enjoy them for what they do well.

I’m probably not going to try the exercise of watching Star Wars on mute myself. I don’t really have the time for that. But by reading this post, I have gained a bit more of an appreciation for movies that I dearly wish had turned out better. It even helped me regain some respect for George Lucas. Despite what he’s done to the films in re-releases, the man is still a visionary and he’s gotten an immense amount of hatred for something that doesn’t really make an eternal difference to anyone.

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Now if J.J. Abrams makes a bad Star Wars movie…

Just don’t, J.J.

Just don’t.

an aimless discussion of romance

parks cover

“Romance is a word that if I tried to define concretely wouldn’t mean as much.”

… that’s according to the protagonist of “Parks,” the short film I did for my capstone project last Spring semester. I’m not sure that I agree with him.

As today is Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day or National Hate Day depending on who you talk to) I thought I’d use the occasion and my film to ramble aimlessly about the subject of romance. I find it a fascinating subject for many reasons.

The whole point of the film was to discuss romance – what it is and how people view it. It’s the story of a guy and girl who fall for each other whilst discussing the topic.

He’s got all sorts of preconceived notions about romance. Who knows where he got them. Movies, music, books, family. Whatever. In his view certain things are just intrinsically romantic. As indicated by the quote above, he’s not particularly interested in defining romance but he does think he can construct a romantic ideal from components he’s deemed “romantic.”

She’s not so sure that romance is definable at all. She finds his romantic notions and fascination with them amusing. This amusement leads to a growing curiosity. Eventually, she comes to buy his sincerity and even his romantic notions and they end up together.

The thing is this relationship is based on almost nothing real. There’s no realistic evidence given in the film that the relationship will last. That’s the impression that I wanted to leave people with but I couldn’t figure out a way to pull it off in time so I left it out altogether. Against my personality and my life circumstances when I made this film, I left it with an optimistic ending. Maybe that’s exactly why – I wanted to believe in something like it. I didn’t want the short film equipment of a sad song. I have enough of those.

Now that the turbulence of my life has settled, I’m looking at things more realistically again… or so I think. I donno. You be the judge of that.

Many, many people have noted the massive gulf between the way romance is portrayed in our media and popular culture and how it plays out in real life.

You know what? I don’t think actually think that’s the case. Romance often comes off as authentic in fiction. I’m not talking about the stories where the couple gets together barely knowing each others names – I’m talking about the ones that take more time; that actually build their relationship on some kind of foundation more than sex appeal.

No, I think the disconnect is how easy the romantic genre makes things look and the expectations it gives people consciously or (more generally) unconsciously.

Our romantic media, including all the stuff sold to us for Valentine’s Day, is a representation of something we very much want even if it is seemingly unachievable in the “real world.”

Perhaps I am merely being pessimistic, but from my vantage point it seems most couples exist in a state of unhappiness for pretty much of the time. Maybe they’re mad at each other, maybe they’re just unsatisfied in the relationship. One thing they aren’t is madly in love.

It is remarkable how many couples go from longing to loathing over the course of years. Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt. People stop trying to be their best for one another and the romance dies.

In contrast are the few exemplary couples who seem to actually have a romance-movie relationship. Their lives aren’t perfect or conflict-free, but they appear to be, more often than not, better and happier with each other. They make marriage look palatable despite the many mundane and negative examples which are the vast majority.

So what’s the difference? Did the happy couples find their soulmate while everyone else settled for less?

No. The concept of a soulmate as your perfect match is like the Fountain of Youth. It’s a lie we invented because we want it so badly. While some people are more “compatible” with one another naturally, the fact remains that all people are fallen. None of us sinners should expect to have an easy time living with one another.

I find it incredibly sad when I see hollow marriages and dying relationships around me. That’s because I’m a single still in the “longing” stage of life (or “pre-longing,” I suppose, since I’m not longing after anyone in particular.) But I’ve been in relationships enough to see the decaying trajectory of a neglected relationship.

Like my short film character I’m not really interested in nailing down a definition of romance. But I will say this: it’s important. Many well-intentioned people have tried to downplay romance as being shallow or unnecessary.

Certainly there are many other aspects to a relationship that are just as important but to neglect romance is unhealthy. Romance is about feelings and feelings are significant because God created them as part of the human experience. Unquestionably they are part of human relationships.

The critical mistake made by the protagonist of “Parks” was coming up with a list romantic things apart from someone else. Love letters are not love and wedding rings are not marriage. While we might have things we each individually consider “romantic,” true romance is only created in concert with another person.

Romance looks different (on the surface) from couple to couple; culture to culture. But there are universals. The things that are romantic to all times, places, and peoples are acts of selflessness. Is this not the core of romance, of friendship, of love?

 

Strangely on this Valentine’s Day I am not bitter as I once suspected I might be. I am content where I am and with the potential before me. Whether you are single like me, married, or dating I hope you are similarly contented in the blessings of God.

And if you’re part of a couple then for goodness sake be romantic today, alright?

Disney-made Star Wars might not be the worst thing ever

Last week Disney shocked the nerd world by announcing their intention to acquire LucasFilm and make Star Wars: Episode VII which is due in 2015. That news came right the heck outta nowhere.

My initial reaction (aside from shock) was something like “oh great, Disney’s going to ruin Star Wars now.” And then I remembered the horrible reality in which we live. The prequels happened. Clone Wars happened. Jar Jar Binks is a thing that exists. Oh yeah.

So given that reality and the recent-but-strange return of my optimism, I decided on a different outlook. Y’know what? All joking aside, this might be the best thing that’s happened to the Star Wars franchise since George Lucas decided to stop ruining making movies. Here’s why.

Production Pipeline

Disney has money. This we know. Well, now they have a few billion less after giving some to George Lucas. But, still. They’ve got mountains of cash. Disney also has a massive amount of capital in filmmaking. They’ve got studios full of creative people and loads of experience getting films made.

All of this is essential to making films. Science fiction films are generally more expensive to make than your average movie so it’s good that the studio has the cash to invest in the films.

Mo money mo problems or mo movies?

In addition to the new movies, we might actually get that Star Wars TV show that’s been kicking around since 2005. I would love that. Ever since SyFy canceled Stargate Universe just when it was getting good, I’ve been wishing for a new sci-fi show to watch. Apparently there are a bunch of episodes written for the show, but the problem has been money. Back in 2010 Lucas said that they couldn’t find a way to make the show for less than $50 an episode and they were waiting (again) for technology to catch up the vision and make the process cheaper. Perhaps with Disney at the helm this won’t be such a problem.

Of course quantity and more money doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. In fact, sometimes it’s the opposite. On the other hand, Disney and Lucas seem like they’re willing to seek out new directions and new talent.

New Blood

When I went to see Revenge of the Sith in 2005 there was a movie called Batman Begins showing in the theater next door. That movie along with Casino Royal and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek showed that the idea of rebooting a franchise can be more than just a cynical cash grab. They can shed new light on old characters. Recast beloved stories in new contexts or just give another creative team the chance to tell the same story in their unique voice.

Star Wars needs a reboot. It does. The outline for a great saga is in the existing six films. It just needs to be made from the ground-up. It needs to be made in chronological order so everything cohesive. It needs to be made with the emphasis on story and character first and foremost.

Okay, so that’s my wild nerdy dream.

In reality we’re supposedly getting an Episode VII. And VIII. And IX. Okay. Some good could come of these as long as they don’t get overly ambitious and just try to tell a good story in an appropriate swath of the Expanded Universe. I don’t expect masterpieces. But this is a great opportunity for fresh new takes on the franchise. They just need to make sure to not hire some stary-eyed fanboy to do them. Actually, Disney is currently in talks with X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn who seems like a good choice for the task at hand. Here’s hoping they give the job to the right person.

But if the whole thing does crash and burn and they’ve milked the Star Wars utters dry after Luke Skywalker Meets the Avengers, then they can reboot it and we can get back to great Star Wars stories.

Less involvement of George Lucas

As is the case with most nerds and Star Wars fans, I have love/hate relationship with George Lucas. Sometimes when I hear his name it conjures images of a young, pioneering filmmaker fighting heatstroke and budgetary concerns shooting on location in Tunisia. That guy was cool. He worked hard for something that nobody thought would succeed. He used models and practical effects. He took advice from others. And best of all, he knew that story was paramount. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

And that brings me to the other George Lucas that I think of. An older, fatter, less cool guy who seemingly disregarded everything his younger self had to say. This was a top comment on the above YouTube video:

“I’m very well convinced this person interviewed is not the same person who made those awful CGI infested, horribly written and acted Star Wars prequels as well as making those stupid unnecessary changes to the Original trilogy. My conclusion is that he was either adbucted [sic] sometime in mid 90’s and impersonated by an imposter [sic] who resembles him, maybe an evil twin brother, or a demon possessed him.”

You know what? For once a YouTube comment rings true. Actually, my theory is that the George Lucas who made the prequel trilogy is an evil clone, not an evil twin brother.

Clone George certainly seems to have fallen off the wagon of good filmmaking in recent years. With the release of the poorly-reviewed prequel trilogy and the poorly-received Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Lucas became a man whom some blame for reviving and ruining two classic franchises he helped create. Some have pointed to these works (especially to the prequel trilogy) to say that Lucas was never that great a filmmaker to begin with, but I have to disagree. There’s a reason that the original trilogy has a place in the hearts of so many and that is because it’s genuinely good (among other reasons). Lucas had a lot to do with that even though his role might have been exaggerated in recent years. One thing’s for sure: without him the beloved franchise wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Clone George Lucas had (from what I understand) basically total creative control of the prequel trilogy. Given the way those films turned out, it’s probably best that he’s taking more of a backseat in future Star Wars productions. Lucas wrote the treatments for the upcoming film trilogy and hopefully that’s the most input he’ll have over the process. Lucas has proven to be a pretty good ideas man in the past. You can see the outline of a great story in the prequel trilogy. He just struggles with the nitty gritty of writing those ideas into a script and directing actors effectively. A new trilogy plotted at a high level by Lucas but written and directed by others could be really exciting to watch.

Re-releases

Speaking of George Lucas, one of the worst things he’s done aside from the prequels is to keep changing things in the original movies ad nauseam! From the first simple retcon of the 1977 movie’s title to the horror of the Blu-ray releases (and that’s not even mentioning the inevitable 3D release), the man just can’t leave well enough alone. For proof, see this extensive list of changes made to the movies in re-releases.

Some of the changes are just cosmetic – supposed “improvements” to the visuals using modern day computer graphics. A lot of people hate these changes and some others find them harmless. It’s the story changes that really irk people: the most heinous and well-known of them all is Greedo shooting first instead of Han Solo in A New Hope. And that’s not just nitpicking from overly-invested fans. It really does have an impact on the story and character arc of Han Solo throughout the trilogy.

But here’s the real kicker: even if you want a Star Wars without these changes, you can’t get it. It isn’t like there’s a “Director’s Cut” and a “Theatrical Cut” version you can buy. No. The only versions you can buy on Blu-ray and DVD are significantly altered. I actually don’t own any of the Star Wars films for this reason. The last time the original trilogy was released without the offending changes was on the 2006 DVD boxed set but unfortunately those versions were low-resolution with lackluster picture and sound quality.

The best thing about Lucas constantly messing with the films is that the updated versions do look nice. You know how you can tell when a movie’s from a certain era just by looking at it? The first time I saw the HD version of Empire Strikes Back I couldn’t tell it was shot in the late 70s and early 80s. The colors were vibrant, the contrast was great. It just looked really, really good. Similarly, the audio quality has been improved throughout the years. Personally, I have no problem with these kinds of changes. It’s the story changes and the extraneous silly stuff that really irks me and a lot of other fans.

Now with Disney in control of the property, will they do what fans have been wanting for years? Will they release an unchanged original trilogy with the proper restoration it deserves? Are you listening Disney? There’s money there, guys. You could even use that stupid “Disney vault” ploy to get us to buy it.

Remember, no matter what happens, it can’t really get worse.

Well. No. That’s not true, is it? That’s a failure of imagination.

Let me put it this way: it probably won’t get any worse and if it does it’ll be super entertaining.

See you at the theater in 2015!