Star Trek on iTunes update: Enhanced or no?

UPDATE March 26: After nearly a two month stint of being offline at the iTunes Store, the Star Trek TOS is back. The complete first season is available in its original broadcast form. Additionally, newly remastered episodes from the first season are available in their own section. At this time, iTunes is still the only source for them in their uncut form.

Remastered First Season Episodes on iTunes


Since the first season of the original Star Trek was unleashed unto iTunes a couple weeks ago, there’s been some controversy as to whether the episodes are the original cuts or the new “remastered” versions that started broadcasting last year. Having not purchased any episodes, my original supposition was that the iTunes version were the same as the DVDs, since the new ones haven’t even finished broadcasting.

In fact, as of Jan 19, only 16 new versions have been aired, and of those only 11 have been from the first season (of the total 29 episodes).

But after partaking in this conversation at OneDigitalLife, I reexamined my assumptions and did some research and it looks like some of the episodes are indeed remastered. Space Seed for example.

iTunes Store preview. Click for full-size image.

If Paramount/CBS/Apple are adding enhanced episodes after they air, that’s an interesting strategy. The iTunes Store is currently the only way, if you don’t record them on a DVR, to get a copies of the remastered episodes. It’s much like being able to download the recently broadcast episodes of Lost or CSI. Plus, iTunes is the only place to get full-length (not cut for commercials) versions of the enhanced episodes (for now)

There are some pitfalls to this approach however.

The store doesn’t indicate which episodes are new and which are not. Can we assume that every remastered episode that has aired can be found on iTunes after the airdate? Nope, some of the new broadcast episodes are on the store, some are not. Space Seed on iTunes is enhanced, as is Balance of Terror, while reviews say City of the Edge of Forever is not, even though all three broadcast months ago and all three broadcast before the show debuted on iTunes.

Also, if I were to buy Where No Man Has Gone Before today (the 19th) and a remastered version airs tomorrow (it’s on the schedule), would I then have to buy it again to get the new one? Probably yes. Same goes for any future remastered versions. My guess is that if I bought the whole season now, and the episodes were refreshed, I’d have to buy the remastered ones again.

Then there’s always the possibility that someone doesn’t want the remastered versions. That person would be stuck shelling out for the DVDs and just have to encode them themselves.

Update: CBS announced today that episodes of Trek remastered will be released on HD-DVD some time during the fourth quarter of 2007. Until then, iTunes is the only way to go.

7 thoughts on “Star Trek on iTunes update: Enhanced or no?

  1. To quote everyone’s favorite Vulcan: “Fascinating”. It definitely ups the appeal of the iTunes download, to check out the remastered versions. I’m still a bit on the Lucas-wary side of the fence here – I did watch one of the episodes and while I admired the clear picture quality I was a bit “meh” on the effects.

    Now I’m wondering what the pricing will be on these HD DVDs. And it also makes sense why the current DVDs have dropped in price.


  2. Yeah, I do appreciate that CBS is taking a subtle approach with the remastering, but having seen a couple episodes I gotta say that I prefer the original versions’ retro charm.

    Though if you read the reviews of the first season at the iTunes Store, there’s one comment saying that the visual remastering was necessary for the upgrade to high definition. The optical effects just weren’t transfering.


  3. If you look at the Show Description in the iTunes store, it will tellyou which episodes are the remastered editions. Should be more obvious, but it is there at least.


    tunequest Reply:

    thanks for the tip, jrc. and yeah you’re right, it should be easier to find. you actually have to click the little grey “i” icon and read the full description to find the official word on the matter.


  4. Hi Steve. I say as much at the top of this page. It’s a bit of a bummer because the edited-for-broadcast versions are sometimes awkwardly spliced. There haven’t been any developments as of yet, but I’ve been tracking them here.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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