As you saw in our review from a few weeks ago, the new Star Trek 50th Anniversary Blu-ray collection is a hearty box set – a beautiful gold and black package containing not just the full run of Original Series cast adventures from television and film, but some wonderful collectibles as well.
The most substantial new part of the collection is the exclusive bonus disc contained inside, The Journey to the Silver Screen, a long series of new interviews with behind-the-scenes talent covering the span of time from the classic show’s cancellation through the final film in 1991.
We last spoke to producer Roger Lay, Jr. – one of the lead forces behind the amazing bonus features on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray collections – back in 2013 as Enterprise was being released in high definition, in an illuminating five-part interview.
We caught up again with Roger earlier this month at the Star Trek: Mission New York convention to talk about his newest contribution to the Star Trek media library.
TREKCORE: So this big box – which by the way, is really a beautiful package – is the first time that the Original Series television episodes and movies have all been released in one set, right?
ROGER LAY: Yeah, I think so. And this is the fiftieth anniversary, so it’s the perfect time to offer fans the massive binge-watching package, you know? To put everything related to the Original Series – and the Animated Series, for the first time – in one Blu-ray collection.
TREKCORE: It’s really great that the Animated Series has finally gotten a high-definition release on disc. It’s always been kind of overlooked – it was the last of the DVD releases…
LAY: …and as I said in our panel, I feel that it’s part of the canon. You know, Gene was there supervising everything, Dorothy Fontana and David Gerrold and Sam Peeples wrote for that show. “Yesteryear,” especially, is canon in my book!
TREKCORE: Well, they pulled from TAS for not just the Original Series remastering updates, but the Enterprise writers included some of that stuff too.
LAY: Absolutely! You see a sehlat in “The Forge” – what more connective tissue do you need than that?
TREKCORE: Well, speaking of the Animated Series – there aren’t any new features on this set. Everything from the DVDs is ported over, including the text commentaries which have sometimes been left behind, but why wasn’t there any new material created for this TAS release?
LAY: Well, the team felt that the stuff that was created for the Animated Series DVDs was great, and that it covered the series well already – and we really wanted to focus on the films our new set of interviews on the bonus disc.
With The Roddenberry Vault coming in December, we’re telling the story of the original show – so with this, we wanted to focus on everything that happened once the television show was cancelled. The bonus disc – called Star Trek: The Journey to the Silver Screen – picks up the moment the Original Series ended.
You hear from Bjo and John Trimble, Dorothy Fontana, David Gerrold, John Black… with all the people who were there when the show was in production, we also get to explore how everything came to an end. They guide you through what happened next, with all the fan efforts to resurrect Star Trek.
Devra Langsam, who was part of the committee who organized the first Star Trek convention – she’s in that piece, talking about putting that first convention together and how it inspired the studio to possibly do more Star Trek.
Then we go into the whole back-and-forth about if the show is coming back to television, or becoming a movie, and all the concepts that never made it to screen. We explore all of that in The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek, before we even go into the making of The Motion Picture.
Then there’s an entire piece just on The Wrath of Khan – since it’s such a significant movie – and then a whole piece on the Harve Bennett era, which explores a lot of Harve’s ideas that didn’t make it to the films, like Prison Planet, the early Star Trek III script that were very different from the final movie, and then Star Trek IV with the whole Eddie Murphy thing.
There’s a great archival interview I found with Harve Bennett where he guides you through the storyline for his Academy Years movie, along with a new interview with David Loughery who also takes you through that story. So between Harve and David, plus Ralph Winter – who first came up with the thought of keeping the film series going with a new cast in case they didn’t get the original actors back for the next movie, as it was so difficult to get them for Star Trek V.
TREKCORE: It’s definitely not the same “making of” style of interviews that were on the original movie discs.
LAY: Well, I felt that no one had really covered the film era from this perspective – the idea that for every Star Trek film that was made, there were two or three that didn’t make it. And again, with everything I do, I like to provide context and a chronological narrative for everything.
So even though I’m exploring the movies that didn’t happen, we’re also showing you what DID happen. We shot a ton of new interviews with people like Ralph Winter, who was really responsible for all those movies along with Harve; he started as a studio executive on The Wrath of Khan and then left Paramount to work on the movies directly as a producer.
Kirk Thatcher, too, who was Leonard Nimoy’s assistant, who did VFX stuff at ILM for Star Trek III, and then by Star Trek IV he had become an associate producer. So I interviewed everyone that was still around.
And by the way, the research to find all the script pages, and outlines, and the other documents we include took a long time to do, but we wanted to make sure that it was definitive as it could be.
TREKCORE: It’s almost two-and-a-half hours – certainly longer than we expected!
LAY: It wasn’t easy. Everything you see in there – from the filming of the interviews, to the editing process, finding all the images, animating things like the Ralph McQuarry concept art – was done in four months, and it was a lot of work, and I hope fans will get to see it because there’s so much great information in there.
TREKCORE: And you’re kind of a completionist when it comes to this stuff, right? Because many people have bought this stuff separately already…
LAY: Well, if you go to a Broadway show, you know, you buy the souvenir program – and this is kind of the ‘souvenir set’ for the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, because everything is in there, the packaging is beautiful, and you get those art cards, the cool pin, and the Journey to the Silver Screen bonus disc.
If you’re a completionist like me – and I know that not everyone is as an insane fan as I am – you want to have a souvenir of everything important to you, and this box is that for Trek, celebrating every aspect of the original cast.
TREKCORE: Well, we have one last question for you – the one we’re always asked – what’s the status of Deep Space Nine and Voyager?
LAY: Everyone wants to do it – there’s not a person involved in these projects that doesn’t want to jump in on Deep Space Nine. We talk about it all the time, but there has to be a market supporting the expense. The reality is that it’s a business, and it’s getting more and more expensive to do these things.
What I always say is that the best way to show support is to buy the Blu-rays we’ve put out. I know it’s expensive sometimes, but then I go, “Well, why would someone want us to put out DS9 on Blu-ray if they’re not even buying the other things we’ve produced?” It’s a kind of a Catch-22.
It’s not like people have forgotten about it; Deep Space Nine comes up all the time. Is there something fans can do? Yes. If you show support for all of the content – and remember, CBS hasn’t just been putting out the episodes barebones on Blu-ray, they’ve spent a great deal of time and money to give fans the definitive experience of Next Generation and Enterprise with tons of newly-produced content for each collection.
We love DS9, but it’s expensive, and it takes time, and these things have to generate a return – and I’m sure CBS would love to get to a point where the entire Star Trek episodic library is available in glorious HD, but it’s all dictated by the marketplace. So if fans keep showing their support by picking up the amazing content already available, that’s the first step.
DS9 is a dream project; it’s my favorite of the modern-era Trek shows. I know Mike and Denise Okuda really like that show, and they have great memories of the time they spent working on it – so it would be fantastic for them, too, to get to revisit it and get together with old friends for those special features.
But as our friend Mr. Spock said, “There are always possibilities.”
TREKCORE: So keep hope alive?
LAY: Absolutely, there’s no reason not to – but buy some Blu-rays, too!
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