>New vs Old

>When the news hit the Internet that George Lucas was planning to remaster the entire Star Wars saga into 3-D and re-release the films in theaters, some fans (this one included) were a bit concerned. Given the changes done to the original trilogy (esp. A New Hope) for the special editions, many of us wondered what else George might decide to insert into the film, all in the name of upgrading them once again.

Then came the news that instead of going in release order, Lucas would go in chronological order. That means that in order to get to A New Hope, we’ve got to sit through Jar Jar and the pod-races. A certain segment of the fandom flew into a tizzy over the news and it was only heightened this week when LucasFilm producer Rick McCallum told the LA Times that unless Phantom Menace makes enough money at theaters for its 3-D run, LucasFilm may not bother remastering the other five films into 3D.

For many, the implied message was, “If you want New Hope, you’d better come out and see the new trilogy first.”

And, of course, fans got upset.

And while I don’t necessarily agree with the release strategy (I think they should do A New Hope first), I do see why McCallum says it. Like it or not, George Lucas and company are in the business of making money and if the films don’t make a return on that investment, they’ll stop remastering them and releasing them in 3-D. Oh sure, George has more money than Jabba the Hut, but then again he didn’t get it by releasing flops at the box-office (Howard the Duck, not withstanding).

It’s interesting to watch the debate and to hear the various sides each argue vehemently that their trilogy should be the one that goes first. It’s almost a generational thing–there are some of us who grew up knowing Star Wars as episodes IV-VI and those who grew up with Star Wars as episodes I-III. I’m sure there are some younger fans who would call the movies I loved so much, slow, padded and a bit dated special effects wise. To them, I’d say, yes, but we don’t have Jar-Jar…..

In many ways, the debate reminds me a bit of how fans are approaching Doctor Who these days. (You knew it was coming around to that eventually, didn’t you?) As a longtime fan of Doctor Who, I like the new series but I love the original classic serials. (I believe the number of times I’ve purchased the serials is a testament to that).

I realize that while I can watch and enjoy the new series, I’m not the target audience any longer. But that still doesn’t meant I can’t watch and enjoy. It also means I’m allowed to be that grumpy old guy who occasionally gets annoyed cause the new kids are partying on my lawn and playing their music too loud. I can still get irritated at those fans who only want David Tennant as Doctor and cry when we get a gap year with only four new episodes. Wait fourteen years with only one backdoor, 90-minute pilot/TV movie and then tell me about enduring a long wait for new episodes….

In short, I was Doctor Who when Doctor Who wasn’t cool.

But, I digress.

My hope is that those fans coming into the fold since 2005 will, at some point, want to wander back and see what all the fuss was about before the series started its successful run again and maybe at least see why some of us loved it so much. And the same thing with Star Wars…while I’m not a huge fan of Phantom Menace, I’d hope that those who came to the fold with it would go back and at least try to understand why the original trilogy was so special to some of us and why many of us have such fond memories associated with it.

Of course, all of this would be a bit easier to take if Lucas would realize that what the fans want most is for remastered versions of the original trilogy to be available on Blu-Ray and DVD. And, no I don’t mean the ported over laserdisc release that was slapped on DVD a few years ago. Compare it to the remastered versions for picture and sound and it pales by comparison. To many of us, Han should always shoot first and Luke fall in silent defiance of Vader in the waning moments of Empire.

In this case, this is one area that Doctor Who gets it right. Yes ,we occasionally get upgraded effects or a new edit of a serial on the DVDs. But the BBC understands that fans want the originals as well and will give us both versions in the same release. And in both cases, the picture and sound are remastered for DVD release.

George should think about following the example….

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