Star Trek back at iTunes Store. Features original first season and remastered episodes

remastered trek on itunes

Yes, after nearly two months offline, Star Trek is back on the iTunes Store. The store has separated the newly remastered episodes from the original broadcast versions. Still, only episodes from the first season are available.

iTunes remains the only source to buy and download the original series remastered in the uncut versions.

The first season of Enterprise has also returned.

City on the Edge of Forever (remastered)
City on the Edge of Forever (original)

Star Trek sold out at iTunes Store?

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. iTunes is still the only source for them in their uncut form.

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star trek on itunes

Star Trek tv shows are suddenly missing from the iTunes Store. Both the Original Series and Enterprise are completely gone. The movies are still there though. I wonder what’s up with that.

A quick scouring of the internet doesn’t turn up any information, so who knows.. Maybe the store is just out of stock… 🙂

Seriously though, this is surprising. I don’t have any figures, but I bet the shows were selling well. Especially the new remastered episodes that were available. The iTunes Store was the only place to download uncut versions of select remastered episodes.

According to the boards at startrek.com, the eps were pulled for a “technical reason.” We’re left to speculate what that actual reason was, but it would be pretty swell if CBS and Apple were building a Star Trek portal/store-within-a-store/wormhole inside iTunes.

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

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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.

Deal with Paramount adds Star Trek Films to iTunes Store

During the Macworld expo keynote a week ago, Steve Jobs made the off-hand comment that Paramount Pictures had joined Disney in selling films through the iTunes Store. Of course, that deal means that all of the Star Trek motion pictures (except the Search for Spock) are now available for digital download, enabling portable viewing on a iPod or streaming to a new Apple TV.

Like all movie downloads from the store, the films cost $9.99 each, decent-enough price I you just have to have it now. For my money though, I’d much prefer the physical DVDs with all the special features and bonus materials. Still, if you don’t care about those things or already own the DVDs and don’t mind having your fair use rights sold back to you, downloading might just hit the spot. If not, I suggest you give Handbrake a shot.

Anyway, back to iTunes. At 640 pixels wide, the resolution of the pictures is adequate for most viewing situations. Compression artifacts are few, and motion is smooth and seamless. The sound was also acceptable, but I was using my PowerBook’s speakers.


Artifacting is usually very noticeable with red. Click to see this shot (PNG-24) from the First Contact trailer. It shows that the store’s compression holds up pretty well.

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Acrobat 7’s nifty optical character recognition
(aka Call off the search, I found Spock)

The other day I discovered that Acrobat 7 Pro has built-in OCR (optical character recognition). So I decided to run some scanned pages of text through to see how well it works.

Well, it actually does work, and with surprising accuracy, though the resulting document was nearly double the file size of the original. It’s really cool though, because Acrobat layers the OCR’d text invisibly over the image, making it look like you can select, copy and search the imaged text directly from the PDF.

But the point of this is, that while running some basic search strings on the doc to verify its accuracy, I unintentionally did something funny:

searchforspock.png
I guess Spock wasn’t on the Genesis Planet after all. Now if we could only find out why he’s not at the iTunes Store…

Here’s a video podcast of Acrobat’s OCR in action. [creativesuitepodcast.com. requires Quicktime]

Original Star Trek on iTunes Store now

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. iTunes is still the only source for them in their uncut form.

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Episodes of the original Star Trek are now available on the iTunes Store. As if you needed Star Trek in another medium. Still, if you just can’t live without your Trek-to-go and don’t feel like encoding them yourself, 2 bucks an episode isn’t too bad. So far it’s only the first season but I’d expect the later ones soon. The image quality isn’t too bad either (based on the preview snippet at least).

And since the new "enhanced" episodes haven’t finished airing yet, my guess is that they’re the original cuts.

Five Things you might not have known about me

me

So Webomatica tagged me and I guess I’m now “it” for the five things chain blog that’s been making the rounds. The idea is for a blogger to post five items of potentially new information about themselves. I guess it’s to help readers gain more insight into the writer. So, I’m game.

Number One

I back-date my songs in iTunes’ Date Added field. If I’m encoding a CD I originally got as a birthday present in 1994, I set my Mac’s date to my birthday 1994 when importing it into my library. This is an awesome technique for creating Smart Playlists based on the various eras of my life. So if I want to relive my college days, I just have to set the playlist criteria to Date Added is between May 1997 and August 2000. It’s pretty rad.

Number Two

Of the 4 members of my nuclear family growing up, only my mom was born in the United States, yet we are all American citizens by birth. In fact, it’s about time to renew my passport.

One of my grandmothers however, is a citizen of France.

Number Three

I graduated from an International Baccalaureate high school, ninth in my class, and finished college in 3 years, with high honors. I’ve been wasting potential every day since.

Number Four

I’m currently sporting a shaved head and a kick-ass 10-week-old beard, real son-of-the-south style. But in high school, I had long thick hair. I was notorious on campus for it. Friends would joke that it was home to wild, scalp-dwelling beasts and that it had its own gravity well.

Near the end of chemistry class one day, I got into a “Fro Contest” with a friend. We both whipped out our combs and started to fling our coiffures up and around.

Since my hair was longer, gravity kept pulling it down. He won on height; I won on volume.

Number Five

And finally…

Famous People!

We all know the Six Degrees game, where you count how many people it takes to connect one person to another. The philosophy holds that every person in the world is separated at most by relationships to six other persons.

One thing that’s never been clear to me though, is how one counts the first connection. My inclination is that if you have a direct relationship with someone, then your degree of separation is “zero.” Thus, that person’s relationships with other people are the ones that are separated. Using this formula, your degrees of separating are equal to the number of people between yourself and someone else.

However, others might consider your relationship with yourself as “zero” and that the first connection is the one that’s separated from you. In that scenario, your direct relationships are the first degree of separation.

I like my idea, because it brings people closer together. It also sounds more impressive if are you’re able to connect yourself to notable people, which brings me to my fifth and final…

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Me: Number Five

I can count the chain, and I’m two degrees of separation away from Jon Stewart of Death to Smoochy and The Daily Show fame. I’m also only one degree of separation away from Avery Brooks, aka Captain Ben Sisko or as others may remember him, the baddass Hawk.

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There you have it, my “five things.” Part of the game is that I’m now supposed to tag five other people to now complete this same task. Well, I don’t normally pass on chain letter, but this one is kinda fun. I don’t know five other bloggers though, so I’ll be limited to my co-resident, themodernista.

Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space

Part of the Musical Star Trek Actors Series

  1. Shatner Rapping: No Tears for Caesar
  2. Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space

From the archives: I wrote the original version of this article for a newspaper column about 5 years ago. So it reads more like a newspaper column and not so much like a the informal blogginess that’s usually found around here. It’s from the Records that time forgot series that I hope to revive in 2007. This version corrects a couple awkward sentences and updates the formatting, but remains largely unchanged.

nimoy strums guitar

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Actors want to be rock stars and rock stars are increasingly actors. It’s all theatrics. But it is by no means a recent phenomenon. Stars from Marlene Dietrich to Frank Sinatra to Snoop Dogg have crossed the line between audio and video for decades. That’s okay; they all had the talent to do it successfully yes, even snoop dogg.

Then there is another class of star who, no matter how talented in one field, fail in the other. You’ve got your Jennifer Love Hewitts, your Keanu Reeves I know, I use “talented” loosely and your Leonard Nimoys.

Nimoy was part of an explosion of such entertainers that occurred in the 60s. They were known as “Golden Throats,” popular screen actors who were way out of their element in front of a microphone. That description is not entirely fair to Nimoy though. He has a distinct and decent enough voice, which he uses to greater effect on his later albums. But this, his first, pretty much defines the word “doozy.”

Judged solely on its musical value, Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space would show few bright spots. Most people might even argue that it is a record best left forgotten. But 30 years and the age of ironic reinterpretation have added an entirely new dimension to Nimoy’s recording career, firmly entrenching this album in the novelty camp. This is a record for hardcore Star Trek fans and fans of junk culture kitsch alike.

Time has made this album into pure comedy gold.

Opening with a swingin’, go-go, Austin Powers-esque version of the original Star Trek theme, MSMFOS goes where no Star Trek actor had gone before, the recording booth. Released in 1967 to cash in on Star Trek’s, and Spock’s, growing popularity, MSMFOS edges out William Shatner’s own recording debut, The Transformed Man, by a year and is the first of Leonard Nimoy’s dozen-plus records.

MSMFOS is at once hilarious and completely non-cohesive. Like the variety shows of the era, the album veers erratically round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom in a torrent of lounge, spoken word, and crooning before finally giving up.

Parts of the album even seem to have been put together without any input from the actor at all. Music to Watch Space Girls By is a nifty lounge-pop instrumental as is the included version of Lalo Schiffrin’s Mission: Impossible theme. In a strange turn, Nimoy would join the cast of that show three years later. Still, these pieces are obviously filler.

Of the vocal tracks on the record, most are presented from Spock’s point of view, casting his alien observations on humanity in spoken word and swing vocal form. Imagine that, Vulcan poetry.

But pop culture re-visioning can’t make up for everything on the disc. Twinkle Twinkle Little Earth is a horrendous essay on the use of the word “star” full of Gordon-level puns while Visit to a Sad Planet attempts to preach against nuclear violence in a narration with an eminently predictable twist that’s all too expected in a post-Planet of the Apes (1968) world.

For the most part, if you’re into novelty, the record is a treat if not overly rewarding. Like Halloween candy, it’s enjoyable is small doses, but don’t overdo it.

“Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space” remains out of print in both vinyl and CD formats. But if you can manage to find it, set your phasers to fun and prepare to be stunned by the vocal stylings of Leonard Nimoy.

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Addendum: No, this is not the record that features The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, but if you’re desperate enough to experience that hilarity, watch this disturbing video. You’ll have nightmares for sure.

Paramount Pictures closes Stage M

Paramount Pictures closed its legendary Stage M this past August.

The stage opened in 1932 and since then, many famous and notable film scores have been recorded on it, including The Ten Commandments, Out of Africa, as well as a great portion of Star Trek’s music. More recently, Danny Elfman’s score for Nacho Libre was laid down there. try this Google search to see some more examples of music that was recorded on the stage.

Paramount attributed the closing to the company’s financial redevelopment, but said nothing specific. From the article:

A Par spokeswoman attributed the closing to part of the studio’s ongoing efforts to “use the stage the best way we can, as we transform our business here on the lot.” What will happen to the space is anybody’s guess: “that has not yet been determined,” said the spokeswoman.

This is the type of story that, to me, brings home the idea that actual people create all this music I enjoy, that it’s not just academics and abstract relationships. In a world where the months of writing that goes into a symphony and weeks spent recording a rock opus are reduced to but a few minutes of play time, a handful of megabytes on a disk and a couple of lines in a database, that notion can be easily lost. It can all seem like a collector’s game when switching from Beethoven to the Bee Gees requires little more than a thought and a click.

Of course, I know that music is made by people. However, that’s completely intellectual knowledge. Before reading that story, I’d never heard of Stage M. Yet, based on its credits, it was a place that has brought me much listening pleasure in my life. But just as revelations grant power over the ephemeral, my discovery of the that specific recording studio’s existence suddenly makes much of the film music in my library feel more visceral, more real.

And while I can bemoan the passing of the stage, I can partially look at it positively, because if it had never closed, I probably would have never come to know it at all.

L.A. Independent has more on the closing and the history of Stage M.