Two classic episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” are about to reach an unexpected frontier — the big screen in 44 states.
On Monday night at 7 p.m., theaters across the country will screen new, digitally spruced-up versions of “Where No One Has Gone Before” (October 1987) and “Datalore” (January 1988) as well as behind-the-scenes programming as part of the silver anniversary celebration for the sci-fi series. Tickets for the screenings went on sale early last month but the event will arrive in a changed country. The “Trek” program from CBS TV and Fathom is the first nationwide event for a “fan tribe” in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre that left 12 dead and 50 wounded at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
It was 25 years ago this October that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” arrived with a promise of innovation — even if it was packaged in a borrowed pledge. Each week, in the opening monologue, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (indelibly played by Patrick Stewart) dramatically declared that his crew would “boldly go where no one has gone before” – another reminder of the primacy and popularity of the original “Star Trek” series, which ran from 1966 to 1969, and opened with a near-identical mission statement. Even so, the intrepid Picard and his spacefaring crew proved up to the challenge, logging seven seasons and four feature films, notching 18 Primetime Emmys, and establishing a place of their own in the pop-culture pantheon.
On Monday fans can see two of the memorable early episodes featuring Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby. The first episode involves an experimental warp engine that sends the Enterprise to the edge of the universe. The second, centers on the discovery of the android Data’s long-lost twin brother (with both bots played by Spiner).
The theatrical screening will provide an early glimpse of the show’s newly restored first season, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the show and details on the restoration process — all of it culled from the Blu-ray release that arrives on store shelves the following day.
It’s been a bountiful year so far for “TNG” fans, with the anniversary event arriving on the heels of onstage cast reunions at Calgary Expo in April and Phoenix Comic Con in May. Next month brings the Star Trek Las Vegas convention, which promises guest appearances from Spiner, Frakes, Dorn and Burton, among others.
– Oliver Gettell
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