Star Trek’s Lost Audio Commentaries: ‘Judgment,’ ‘North Star,’ and ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’

commentary-siteIn 2005, the official Star Trek website offered five free audio commentary downloads meant to be paired with several episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 2’s “Judgment,” Season 3’s “Twilight” and “North Star,” and In a Mirror, Darkly, In a Mirror, Darkly Part II, and “Terra Prime” from Season 4.

The “Twilight” commentary was later released commercially as part of the 2008 Alternate Realities Fan Collective DVD set (and the Season 3 Blu-ray set released this month); the three Season 4 recordings made it to the Season 4 DVD set in 2005 and will be included on the Blu-rays coming in April.

The tracks for “Judgment” and “North Star,” however, were released after their corresponding DVD sets hit store shelves, so each commentary was intended as a companion audio track and included an opening cue intended to sync up the start of your video playback.

Additionally, a feature-length commentary for 2001’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition, featuring members of the project’s restoration team, was released to the web in 2007 for the revised version of the first Star Trek film.

These three audio tracks simply vanished into the digital ether after CBS’s 2007 corporate restructuring of StarTrek.com, which resulted in the departure of the entire site editorial team (including StarTrek.com editorial director Tim Gaskill, who served as moderator for the Enterprise podcasts).

JUDGMENT

Published online on July 26, 2005, this podcast release pairs up “Judgment” writer David A. Goodman with StarTrek.com’s then-editorial director Tim Gaskill. Since this audio track was released after the Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2 DVD set was finalized -- though it was released the same day the S2 DVDs hit store shelves -- the commentary includes an opening cue intended to sync up the start of your episode playback.

Goodman spends the hour providing a mountain of information about the creation of this episode, which was combined with a previously-developed ‘Archer on trial’ concept pitched by credited co-writer Taylor Elmore. He also addresses fan criticisms that the episode was a “rip-off” of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Goodman admits that the trial setting and the visit to Rura Penthe were things that the production team “really wanted to see on [the show],” but he is quick to clarify that he believes that the episode’s story is sufficiently different to avoid the copying charges.

Plenty of behind-the-scenes facts come out during this commentary, including: Archer’s trial was held on Narendra III (though the planet’s name was never mentioned on camera); Connor Trinneer was so sick during the filming of the episode that he had to be written out of several scenes; actor J.G. Hertzler enjoyed his Kolos character so much he wanted to join the NX-01’s crew; the episode’s original ending included the liberation of Archer from a prisoner transport vessel, an idea Brannon Braga found so compelling that it was excised from the story and expanded into “Canamar."

It’s really too bad that CBS did not include this audio track with the Season 2 Blu-ray release, since there’s a lot of really interesting information that comes out in the discussion – and Scott Bakula has named “Judgment” his favorite episode of the series – but because it disappeared from the Internet years ago during the StarTrek.com corporate reshuffling, it’s likely the Blu-ray team wasn’t even aware of the commentary’s existence.

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NORTHSTAR

While the Enterprise Season 3 DVDs contained a “North Star” audio track by assistant producer Mike DeMeritt, this podcast commentary – also featuring David A. Goodman and Tim Gaskill – was not released until October 10, 2005, two weeks after the DVD release.

Goodman goes into a lot of detail about the creation of the episode, which began as a need for standalone episodes to fit into the larger Xindi Arc of Season 3, and went into production due to a need for already-prepared ideas to go to the scripting stage.

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Other topics include reflecting on the rare opportunity to escape the Paramount soundstages for a location shoot, the desire to harken back to the "planet of the week" stories seen in the Original Series, Goodman's reverence for old Western movies (and his in-story references to the classic Western TV series Wagon Train), and plenty of other insights into the episode's production.

If you’ve bought the Enterprise Season 3 Blu-ray set, you can probably skip this one. Almost all of the information found here is covered in the new recording, which pairs Goodman with episode co-writer Chris Black – however, if you only have the DVD set, this commentary is definitely a must-have for your collection.

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TMP-HEADER

On July 12, 2007 -- more than five and a half years after the remastered Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released to DVD -- three lead members of the film’s renovation team sat down and recorded a feature-length commentary track for the updated version of the film.

Visual effects supervisor Daren R. Dochterman, restoration supervisor Michael Matessino, and producer David C. Fein fill nearly two-and-a-half hours with a discussion about not only the visual effects work needed to compete the film under director Robert Wise’s supervision, but also a wide variety of topics from the revised opening credits to the Jerry Goldsmith score to the cuts and additions made to streamline the film’s presentation.

tmp-teamDochterman, Matessino, and Fein offer compelling conversation for the entirety of the film.

This trio clearly has a love for this film, and spend lots of time talking about the theme of ‘human connection’ which they worked to bring out in the updated cut of the film; with Robert Wise’s approval, many subtle tech-heavy elements were removed in this version of The Motion Picture – extraneous computer voices, clunky stating-the-obvious lines of technobabble dialogue, and exchanging repetitive sensor monitor shots with previously-unused character close-ups.

Compared to the commentary presented on the 2001 DVD – which was a combined edit of separate recordings from Robert Wise, actor Stephen Collins, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and effects artists Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra – this recording is a much livelier affair, and should be considered essential listening for any fan of the Director’s Edition of this film.

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Special thanks to Daniel Buckley, @doubleofive, and @bugmancx who helped us rescue these three 'lost' audio commentaries from digital oblivion and present them to the world once again!

crimson_small Order Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition today! 
  • Sykes

    I think I have the TMP commentary lying around unlistened-to somewhere, but this is awesome to have all the “lost” commentaries all in one place. Well done!

    • bbock

      The TPM DE commentary is quite good.

  • Michael Rasmussen

    I didn’t realize they were lost. I have the entire StarTrek.com Podcast still in my iTunes. I have all of those commentaries, plus a ton of the Star Trek Remastered Episode Previews, there is an exclusive video interview with model maker Greg Jein, an excerpt from the 2007 Comic Con panel for JJ Abrams 2009 movie, and the trailer for the Fathom Events The Menagerie remastered in theaters.

    • Michael Rasmussen

      Oh and a hilarious William Shatner interview where he pranks the reporter’s wife on the cell phone.

  • mjdavid

    Fantastic work, as usual, TrekCore!!! Seeing this article made me think of something … as I’ve collected the Blu-Rays, which thankfully have the bonus features from the DVD’s, I’ve listened to the audio commentaries from some of the episodes. In some cases this has helped me to like episodes I didn’t much care for before. I got to thinking … for some of these Blu-Ray releases, what would it entail to get some more cast members to record commentaries? Like for the TNG releases, what would it entail getting each member of the principal cast to record a commentary for an episode in which he/she was heavily featured? It would be a great way for them to share more stories with us, about what they remember. I’m sure there would be some pretty high monetary costs involved, but the TNG cast especially has seemed so eager to appear in the new docs and share their experiences, it would be one more thing to make the releases all the more special.

    • Mike C.

      They should do it for nothing — it will give them dividends in additional sales for that VAM.

    • archer9234

      I think it just comes down to people just wanting to do it. I mean, you’re not gonna get Patrick Steweart doing one. If he just says no. I sitll find it odd Frakes’ didn’t do any of his directed episodes (so far). He did the ST movies.

  • bbock

    It just shows what a piece of Garbage Startrek.com has become since then. Now they sell really horrible things like Star Trek bathrobes and have all but forgotten cool content.

    • pittrek

      Exactly. I want the old startrek.com back :-(

      • bbock

        You’d think with all the cash squeezed out of the Star Trek franchise out of fans’ pockets they’d show the fans some respect. I’m not talking about people at CBS doing the amazing work on the HD TNG (and hopefully DS9 and Voyager). But would it really break the bank if they hired a half dozen people to make Startrek.com the best Trek fan resource instead of a third-rate shopping site? There’s plenty of content they own from the old Microsoft site and the years when their site didn’t suck. Plus they could make deals to repurpose some of the old CD-ROM properties. But they’d rather put up a commerce site that even a Ferengi would find shameful.

  • Jamie

    Thank you Trekcore for making these available to the masses.

  • New Horizon

    Would be great if Paramount would fund a bluray release of the Directors Edition. It was short sighted of them to not allow an HD copy in the first place.

    • archer9234

      Paramount just doesn’t want to pay to redo all the DC effects in HD. They probably think it won’t sell enough to recoup costs.

  • Zarm

    In the cause of the Star trek.com restructuring, one thing I’ve always lamented the loss of was the Star Trek Remastered trailers, which were always cinematic and fun revisits. The site seemed to go down when they were about 2/3rds of the way done, and I never found out if they ever finished making them or laid off when the site went down. Is there any chance of seeing future article about these in the ‘looking back’ series- who put them together, which were made, and where (if anywhere) they can still be found… perhaps looking at all of the in-progress Trek Remastered materials that were cut down in their prime?

    • Trekoid

      I have a bunch of the remastered trailers in my iTunes for the ones that were released through the Podcast. I would be willing to post them somewhere. The podcast definitely doesn’t have all 80 episodes, but I imagine one was all made for all 80 since they were all rebroadcast on the SciFi channel and CBS and I recall them promoting them. Maybe I will try putting a few of them on YouTube and see what happens.

      • trekcore

        Hi Michael. Drop me a line at adam [at] trekcore [dot] com and we can discuss it. Perhaps we can make them available through the site, depending on their quality.

        • Zarm

          Trekoid – sorry, I just found the ‘replied’ notification today. :-) I would love to see a few on youtube… though of course via Trekcore is always a fantastic option. Perhaps, Trekcore, if you could track down Galoob prototypes, you could also track down what happened to the final batch (if anything)?

  • pwb1280

    Thanks for resurrecting these commentaries! I’ve been looking for the Motion Picture commentary for years!

  • archer9234

    Thanks a lot. I only had the TMP DC commetnary saved. THe other ones I didn’t even know they did. I thought these where not done anymore. Still stupid that the official site lost them.

  • Yotsuyasan

    That TMP commentary was a good listen. It was heartbreaking hearing them talk at one point about how they’d wanted to make it in HD at the time, but Paramount wouldn’t let them, and they still have all of the necessary files saved, ready to re-do the rendering, just waiting for Paramount to ask them for it… Come on, Paramount! Give us an HD Blu-ray release of the Director’s Edition!
    .
    (Or better yet, make it a two disc set with the Director’s Edition on one disc, and a second disc with the theatrical cut and the longer TV cut via seamless branching…)