Just As I Thought

The past in greater detail

I recently started getting “HDNet,” a channel that broadcasts only high definition programs. Along with the movies, sports, and helicopter fly-over footage, they also show two old television series — Hogans Heroes and Charlie’s Angels. Because these shows were made on film, it was possible to convert them to a high definition format. The sad thing is, most programs from the more recent past will never make it to HD. For example: the original Star Trek series could easily be converted to HD because the entire program — live action and special effects — was created and composited on film, a high definition format. The Next Generation series can’t be shown in high definition because although the live action and the model work was on film, it was composited and edited on videotape at the low standard definition resolution. So many television programs have their post production work done at standard resolution that they will never make the move to the new digital realm. This irony means that you can watch I Love Lucy in high definition, but not Life With Lucy.

Oh, and there’s one more drawback to this revival of old shows — they were never meant to be seen at this level of resolution. In a scene I just saw in Charlie’s Angels, they did a close up of a woman’s handbag. So that the viewing audience would know what was what, they put Jill’s name on it. It was quite clearly created with a Dymo labeler and stuck to the handbag. Cheap, and it looked it in HD.

I turned on this episode because the guest star is Hugh O’Brian. He was honored by National Council for the Social Studies last week when we were in Chicago for his work helping children through the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation. It suddenly made me realize how long ago this TV series ran — he looks so young. Ah, well… didn’t we all?

[Last night on Discovery HD Theatre I saw the first truly interesting show they’ve aired — a live, high definition feed of the total solar eclipse in the Antarctic. It was spectacular, albeit shortlived.]

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