My Two Cents
Friday, 24 January 2014 15:42

Catching Fire on 3/7, plus Ten Genre TV Series That Deserve HD Remastering for Blu-ray

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All right, we’ve got a big bit of announcement news to close out the week…

Lionsgate has just officially set The Hunger Games: Catching Fire for release on Blu-ray Combo, DVD and digital on 3/7 (SRP $39.99 and $29.95 for the discs). Extras will include audio commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, the 9-part (feature-length) Surviving the Game: Making Catching Fire documentary, deleted scenes and a sneak peek of Lionsgate’s Divergent. You’ll find final cover art below and the title is now available for pre-order on Amazon. [Read on here…]

Now then... with the recent revelation that the classic Batman TV series is finally coming to Blu-ray, as well as all the great work that’s been done over the past couple years on Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation and Enterprise, and word that Twin Peaks and The X-Files are being prepared for Blu-ray too, we’ve been asking ourselves... what other great genre shows deserve to be remastered in high-def and – where necessary – have their dated visual effects upgraded with modern CG to allow for Blu-ray Disc release? We’ve come up with a list of what we think are among the most deserving, so we thought we’d share it with you... maybe get a little discussion going via e-mail and over on The Bits’ Facebook page. So here you go...

Ten Genre TV Series That Deserve HD Remastering for Blu-ray

10. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – This series was shot on film so in theory it should be possible to treat it to the same process CBS Digital used on classic Star Trek.

9. Space Above and Beyond – Also shot on film, this series marked an early use of CG visual effects that, by today’s standards, look somewhat dated.

8. Firefly – Even though this show is already available on Blu-ray, this is a no-brainer and falls into the same category as Space Above and Beyond. With great production values, this show really suffers only from the fact that its CG visual effects were produced at low resolution. Given the show’s popularity, why not give them a polish?

7. Smallville – Here’s a case of one of those shows that, like The X-Files, fell right in the middle of the transition to digital and widescreen TVs. Early seasons were produced in SD 4x3, while later seasons were finished in 1.78:1 widescreen and HD. It’s also wildly popular – we hear all kinds of requests for a Complete Series BD release on this one.

6. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine & Voyager – These titles are obvious, of course, and we know that CBS is already trying to figure out a way to make the economics work on remastering them. They aren’t sure things by any means, but DS9 is probably the closest to happening of any show on this list.

5. Babylon 5 – This show is a semi-forgotten gem that badly deserves new life in HD. Babylon 5 was again shot on film, and its creators even protected the image for future widescreen presentation. But while the show almost single-handedly pioneered the use of CG-based visual effects in TV (and won an Emmy for doing so), the technology used was primitive by today’s standards. Amiga-based Video Toasters anyone? If this was remastered for HD, with updated visual effects, it could be a real stunner on Blu-ray.

4. Farscape (Syfy series) – This show was as daring as TV science fiction has ever been, with revolutionary production design, eye-popping visuals and stories that challenged the intellect. It was wildly popular with audiences too. But again, it fell right in the SD to HD transition. The final season and the concluding Peacekeeper Wars miniseries were finished in HD and widescreen, but with lower resolution visual effects. Still, the complete series really deserves to be given new life in full HD.

3. From the Earth to the Moon (HBO miniseries) – This is another production that fell right in the SD/HD transition, and unfortunately wasn’t produced with the future in mind. But this Emmy-winning miniseries is as good as TV gets. It’s also probably the most requested MIA Blu-ray title that we get asked about at The Bits. Come on, Tom Hanks and HBO! Put your muscle (and money) behind this one and let’s get this show out on Blu-ray already!

2. Frank Herbert’s Dune & Children of Dune (Syfy miniseries) – When these miniseries debuted on the then-Sci-Fi Channel, they were the highest rated programs that had ever aired on the network. Once again, though, they arrived right in the midst of the transition to HD. Both were actually shot on film and were finished in HD, but the visual effects for both (and especially the first miniseries) were produced at very low resolution. Still, given the outstanding cinematography here (the legendary Vittorio Storaro – of Apocalypse Now and The Last Emperor fame – was the D.P. on the original Dune miniseries) and with upgraded visual effects produced at today’s level of quality, these could be real gems on Blu-ray. And we happen to know that director/producer John Harrison would be happy to participate.

1. Battlestar Galactica (Classic) – Given the popularity of the more recent Ron Moore series, this is a complete no brainer. An un-remastered version of this show is already available on Blu-ray in Germany and we can attest firsthand that it looks pretty damn good. (See for yourself – you can also see it in HD on Netflix and Hulu+.) What most fans don’t know is that the producers actually protected this series for widescreen when they shot it, so it could easily be remastered for Blu-ray at the 1.78: 1 aspect ratio. And nu-BSG has proven how ready this show is for CG-updated visual effects. Universal would really be foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity.

So that’s our list. With any luck, it’ll inspire some good discussion over on Facebook and – just maybe – spark an idea in the minds of studio executives who might be in a position to make them happen at some point.

As a bonus, though, here are two more classic genre projects that don’t need CG help but that we’d simply really love to see released in HD:

The 1940s Fleischer Studios Superman shorts – Gorgeous, vibrant, landmark animation in HD? What’s not to like?

The original 1930s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers film serials – Sure, these serials are going to reveal their age in HD. But the chance to see them in the same quality that theater-goers did originally would still be a treat. And our guess is they could probably use a good HD preservation effort anyway.

Now then… here’s a look at the final cover artwork for both versions of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and also Grindhouse Releasing’s The Swimmer (due on 3/11)…

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (DVD)    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Blu-ray Disc)    The Swimmer (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Monday!

- Bill Hunt


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