This is an article is long overdue, but one of the reasons I never tackled it is because I wasn’t sure how to. Yeah I could do a whole rundown of these but you can find those anywhere.
Anyway, let me start at the beginning. About ten years ago Star Trek was returned to syndication with a cool change-all of the dated effects were enhanced with modern computer effects. No changes were made to the story, dialogue, or action. It was the same show, it’s just the effects looked much cooler. There was worry when this was announced, that it would harm the original product. But truth is, these effects are fantastic, so much that I find it almost impossible to go back and watch the original versions in some cases. Just check out the differences in “Where no Man” when the Enterprise enters the barrier. The 60’s effects were awful even for then, with the CGI it’s a beautiful sequence now!
To be fair, some of them were more unnecessary than others to be honest. There are times I miss the old shots of the Enterprise. The effects in “Tholian Web” were so damn cool even for the time that all the enhancements did was clean them up a bit. There just wasn’t many changes needed. The scene in “Mirror Mirror” where the Enterprise switches places is fine but my heart prefers the original. And someone decided the chronometer on the Enterprise needed to be different. I guess it’s better but ? And they couldn’t fix everything, for example in “Miri” since they talked about the fact hey had found a duplicate Earth they had to keep it in even though it makes no sense. And the Gorn still looks kind of silly, even with the blinking.
But most changes worked, cleaning up all kinds of shots. We got amazing shots of the Enterprise rather than the same footage over and over. Ships were made cooler, like the Botany Bay in “Space Seed” which retains the original design but is so much better. Some were given unique designs rather than just using the same stock footage over and over like how the star base shuttle in “Menagerie” has its own design. And other vessels appeared fully realized which we simply never saw. In “Is There in Truth No Beauty” the Enterprise rendezvous with a vessel in the end. In the original we see the Enterprise just arriving at a stock planet here we see a unique vessel and it’s a nice design. The same thing happens in the beginning of “Charlie X”, when Kirk says they are arriving alongside a cargo vessel WE SEE THE ENTERPRISE ARRIVE ALONGSIDE THE CARGO VESSEL!! Seems like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? Heck in “Trouble with Tribbles” rather than am obvious model of the Enterprise hanging outside a window we see the Enterprise literally pass by. Subtle, but beautiful! And yes we actually see the Klingon vessel this time (and kudos to the CGI artists for not copying the effects from the DS9 episode).
Matte paintings were enhanced to give us much better establishing shots for these planets, like in “A Taste of Armageddon” where not only does the city look cooler but we can even see people and a working monorail in the distance. In “Man Trap” the planet looks cooler and not so “set” like. The mining cave in “Devil in the Dark” is much more elaborate. Also Rather than seeing the ship orbit the same planet week dafter week, every planet could look unique (and in some cases accurate to the episode). And the action scenes were improved and we could get original shots. Like in “The Deadly Years” which has much cooler shots of the Romulans swarming the Enterprise rather than just watching the stock footage from “Balance of Terror”. Very often the enemy vessels were unseen or just a blur on the screen, now they could be realized. “Errand of Mercy” for instance which not only enhanced the battle scenes but added some shots of the attacking Klingon vessels which we NEVER saw. We even got a glimpse of the Gorn ship in “Arena”!
Rather than just list all of these, which would take forever and can be found elsewhere, here are my ten favorites. Changes so cool they actually enhance the episode! I don’t usually feel the need to point this out, but suffice to say these pictures are taken from the internet and not my own.
10.The Enterprise Incident
Ok I mentioned how the battle scenes could enhanced it wasn’t just stock footage. Here they even fixed a problem. The Romulans having Klingon design was lame, obviously this was to save money (this was season 3), but it was also a line of dialogue so they had to keep it. But nothing stopped them from also adding a few Romulan Bird of Prey which is what should have been there! Even better? The Klingon vessels have the Romulan bird of prey design on them to make it clear these are not Klingon ships. Very nice.