I always find it interesting that there is a general disapproval of George Lucas going back and making changes to the ‘Star Wars’ movies, but a general acceptance of the re-mastered versions of the original series Star Trek episodes.  Granted, there were some effects that just did NOT hold up since 1966 and the new version of the “paradise” planet in ‘The Way To Eden’, for instance, helps to bring a terrible episode up to almost-passable status.  (The space hippies are still pretty ridiculous, though.)  It may be that the changes to Trek are merely cosmetic in most cases, while Lucas has shown repeatedly that he is never satisfied with his finished work and wants to take any and all opportunities to “fix” aspects of the work.  It’s kind of an admirable view, really, given the number of people who seem to take a laconic, “That’s probably good enough” view of their work, but it does raise the question of whether the updated versions should be considered as different art entirely… If, for instance, John Byrne were to redraw ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ would it still be the same as the original Frank Miller madness?

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) is a doctor, not a human-resources specialist, asking:
Given the option, what classic pop culture would you go back and enhance? Could it still be considered the same work afterwards?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I don’t know, but I think I would have to preserve the original in some way. I think I’d just consider it a different version or and update of the same work. But the original would have to be preserved, for posterity’s sake if nothing else.

  2. Not so much enhance, but re-create. There are numerous ‘lost’ Doctor Who episodes that exist onlyh as audio recordings. I think it would be super cool if the audio was cleaned up as best as possible, and then the episodes re-created in animated form.

  3. War Games. This movie was great when it first came out, but it hasn’t aged well at all – 8 inch floppy disks, modems you plugged the phone receiver into, artificial voice boxes, and a super computer that looked like something from a 50s sci-fi movie. I wonder how many kids, if watching that movie today, would even know what the technology shown in the movie was – good luck even finding a telephone with a handset that would fit a modem like that these days! Our cell phones and Nintendo DS have more functionality and power even than movie’s supercomputer.

    Somebody could go in using a real supercomputer and composite in modern technology in the vital scenes and restore a classic that has lost all relevance due to the archaic technology. Would it be the same work afterwards? Well, no, quite frankly, that’s a ridiculous question. It you make any changes at all, it’s not the original. If you took Andy Worhol’s famous Campbells soup can painting and changed all the soup can labels to Progresso soup, it wouldn’t be the same painting. A case in point: Even without the enhanced special effects, the Star Trek OS episodes you see on TV aren’t the original episodes, because they’ve cut about 15 mins. out of each one in order to shoehorn more commercials in. A lot of the cuts are rather brutal, excising scenes that were vital to the story. Which is why I bought the DVDs of the enhanced version.

  4. Also, perhaps the reason people accept the enhancement to STTOS and reject Lucas’ revisions to Star Wars is because, while the Star Trek enhancements replaced special effects that were not state of the art even in the sixties, the essence of each episode was left alone. Lucas was changing scenes and dialog and even altering the characters themselves. Some of it was okay – we’ve had three different Anikan Skywalkers in the last scene of Return of the Jedi – and each has made sense (but I feel sorry for the poor sap whose only role in the movie was to appear as the de-Vadered Skywalker because he’s been totally excised from the movie now). I don’t miss the Lapti Nek song, nor the original Ewok orgy scene from the end of ROTJ.

    On the other hand, the scene with Gredo and Han, with Gredo shooting first, did disturb me because it takes away from the Han Solo we first knew and loved. He was ruthless enough to blow Gredo away without warning to save his own skin, which made Han’s conversion to the good side all the more satisfying. Going back and making him “more honorable” wipes all that personal growth away. It would be like doing a version of “A Christmas Carol” where Scrooge is a kind, compassionate soul from the very beginning. What’s the point? Being that the original story told in Star Wars was the redemption of various character through the Heroes Journey, it’s odd that Lucas would forget his original concept and attempt to pretty up the shadier characters, like Han.

    I half expected Lucas to remove all references to Han being a smuggler and turn him into a Star Wars equivalent of a school bus driver or something. Then hack out all the bits about wanting a reward for rescuing the princess. And then, at last, digitally remove Han Solo altogether and splice in a digital Billy Graham or Pat Boone to take his place. We may end up with Mouse Ears on the Death Star now, but at least George won’t be able to tinker with the movies any further.

    Another reason why people might be upset with the alterations to Star Wars is that it was responsible for the revival of the sci-fi genre. With no Star Wars, there’s have been no more Star Trek, no Firefly, no Aliens. Star Wars revitilized the genre and raised it above the level of rubber monsters, and space horror films it had descended into; the same way that Unforgiven gave new life to a jaded and nearly abandoned genre of western films. For these reasons, Star Wars meant a lot to its fans, and to have its creator rip it apart and change it borders on sacrilege.

  5. I would love to see The Last Starfighter digitally redone. They wouldn’t need to touch any of the scenes where they are not in a space ship, just the action scenes really. The star fighter battles did not age well and look like an old PS one game. Another one like this would be the TV show Space: Above and Beyond. It had a good premise, but the digital effects look so dated it ruins the show now.

    There is nothing wrong with going back and enhancing things to make them look better as long as it does not interfere with the original story or iconic moments. To use the Star Wars example, I thought all of the space scene updates done in all of the movies were fantastic. I had a problem with scenes like Han shooting first, or getting rid of the Ewoks singing at the end of Jedi because they either change our character perceptions or change iconic moments.

    I used to love the Ewok song when I was a kid………

  6. I’d touch up some old Doctor Who episodes very subtly (updating regeneration scenes a bit so they merge a bit more over the years and add some updated vortex travel images briefly). I’d also have some of the lost episodes remade, possibly animated or CGI just so people who never saw them could finally have the chance, even keeping them black and white for the lost episodes of those of the oldest seasons. Nothing too extravagant or anything that changes the story, just some minor enhancements and touch-ups to old episodes and re-creations of the lost episodes.

    I’d also like to re-re-edit the Star Wars movies. Han shoots first and Anakin’s Force ghost is older, but keep the updated Cloud City and Sarlacc scenes.

    But for the most part all changes I’d do would be light. Touch-ups are fine (such as Trek), but drastic changes (Many of the Star Wars reveisions or did you ever see the re-made MMPR Season 1 Disney did?) change the whole thing way too much.

  7. The problem with those remastered episodes is that the action in the new effects scenes doesn’t match up to the theme music. In the original scenes a ship might creep across the screen during the ‘bada bada bada bada’ part of the theme music and fire disrupters at the ‘Badeee badeee’ part. Now with the new effects there’s no correlation between the music and the action on screen.

  8. I wouldn’t call it a classic, but certainly pop culture, I would like to see Independence Day retooled just a little bit and have some of the cheesier visual effects touched up. They touted the movie as a powerhouse visual movie and when I rewatch it, it really just feels like it was made for tv. Now maybe I watched a poor version of it, but the last time I saw it, I wasn’t too impressed.

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