Star Trek fans all over the world have been waiting what seems like forever for this news: Star Trek: The Next Generation will beam into our homes on beautiful high-def Blu-ray just in time to celebrate the show's upcoming 25th anniversary in 2012.
The news broke today—on the 24th anniversary of The Next Generation's TV premiere back on Sept. 28, 1987—and first popped up on Star Trek.com. Here's what looks to be their official press-releasey announcement:
Star Trek: The Next Generation will be released in high-definition Blu-ray, starting in January with a sampler of several popular episodes, followed by a season-one set to be released later on in 2012, and subsequent seasons beaming down after that. Each of the 178 episodes spanning The Next Generation's seven seasons will be transferred to true high-definition 1080p for release in the Blu-ray format and, eventually, for runs on television and digital platforms in the U.S. and across the world. Star Trek: The Next Generation will, as fans know, be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012.
"Fans have been clamoring for a high-definition release of Star Trek: The Next Generation," Ken Ross, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Entertainment, said in a statement. "Transferring the series to high-definition presented difficult technical challenges, but our team has come up with a process to create true 1080p HD masters with true HD visual effects. We can't wait to show fans how pristine the series looks and sounds with our upcoming Blu-ray releases."
CBS is, in fact, returning to the original film negatives, a mother lode of material encompassing 25,000-plus reels of footage, and editing the episodes together precisely as they were when they originally aired between 1987 and 1994. Visual effects will not be upconverted from videotape, but instead will be recompositioned. The freshly cut film will ultimately be transferred to high definition with 7.1 DTS Master Audio. And all of the work is being done in conjunction with respected, longtime Star Trek figures Denise and Michael Okuda, who are on board as consultants.
The episodes included in the single-disc sampler called Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Next Level are the series' two-hour pilot "Encounter at Farpoint," "Sins of the Father" and "The Inner Light." (Not a bad selection, though we'd have liked to see either "Yesterday's Enterprise" or the "Best of Both Worlds" two-parter as well.) The sampler will hit stores on Jan. 31, 2012.