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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO
Created By:
Gene Roddenberry
Cast:
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
For the first time on DVD in a complete set, join the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on their intrepid five year mission, as they boldly go where no man has gone before. Featuring classic episodes such as "Balance of Terror", "Arena", "The Devil in the Dark" and the acclaimed "The City on the Edge of Forever." Now you can experience the first season of the series that started the worldwide phenomenon as you've never seen it before ... beautifully remastered in pristine condition with stunning 5.1 audio. The history of the future never looked better ...

MPAA:
Not Rated.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
8-Disc set
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 1461 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 8/31/2004

Bonus:
• Four Text Commentaries
• “The Birth of a Timeless Legacy” Featurette
• “Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner” Featurette
• “To Boldly Go… (Season One)” Featurette
• “Reflections on Spock” Featurette
• “Sci-Fi Visionaries” Featurette
• Photo Log
• Original Promotional Trailers


PURCHASE
DVD

Search Products:

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One (1966)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2004)

DVD SIX:

The Return of the Archons (broadcast 2/9/67) provides about three-fourths of a good episode. During those parts, we're treated to a nice detective story as Kirk and company attempt to get to the heart of an omniscient being called "Landru" who controls a population of outwardly-blissful but zombie-fied people. Most of the show moved at a nice pace and kept me interested and curious, but the ending completely collapsed.

This occurred because too much of the story happened for no apparent reason and remained left unexplained. Early on we see an chaotic event called "Festival", which is the only time in which the calm disappears. It's clear that Landru controls this, but why? Maybe I blacked out and missed something, but this aspect of the story is never explained and never made sense to me.

Plenty of other parts of "Archons" go similarly by the wayside, though this doesn't present a problem until the ending. That's when the preceding carelessness causes the story's fissures and the climax fizzles. I still found enough of "Archons" to like to make it worth watching, but that ending left a bad taste in my mouth.

More bad special effects also mar this episode. The Enterprise is back in outer space - where more flaws can be hidden - but some problems still appear, such as when the ship is being affected by Landru; the expected impact of the attacks seems nonexistent. I also noted some poor use of fake rocks as Kirk and friends attempt to escape the insanity of "Festival"; they bounce harmlessly off the fleeing crewmen and don't seem terribly heavy.

Perhaps some may think it's unfair of me to come down so hard on the effects of some episodes considering the then-current state of technology, but I don't do so consistently; my other Trek reviews lacked these criticisms. I only mention the problems with a few shows because they seem weak even compared to other episodes of Trek.

Space Seed (broadcast 2/16/67) is one of the best known of all 79 Trek shows since it connects to 1982's film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Overall, "Seed" presents a good program but I must admit I found it a little disappointing, probably because of the high expectations its history engendered in me.

In "Seed", the Enterprise encounters a derelict ship from the 20th century with faint signs of life aboard. These turn out to be its crew, most notably including their leader, Khan (Ricardo Montalban). McCoy revives Khan - and eventually the other survivors - and we slowly see his story unfold and learn of his quest for power.

"Seed" works well overall, and proceeds at a nice clip. As with many Trek episodes, much of it is predictable - let's see a show of hands for anyone who thought Lt. McGivers (Madlyn Rhue) would last for more than just this episode - but it's fun to see how the events unfold. As with James Bond films, the most enjoyment from Trek revolves around how our heroes will escape apparently impossible situations. "Seed" is a minor disappointment in that regard; I don't want to reveal the climax, but I thought it lacked cleverness and ended the tale on a bland note.

The show's finale also revealed one of the worst stunt doubles I've yet seen. Oh, he's a fine stunt man, but he looks little like William Shatner, and the guy appears on screen in many shots that make it absurdly obvious we aren't seeing Shatner; they did a terrible job of cutting around his face and hiding his true identity.

(As for the event "Seed" predicted that never happened? A world war in the 1990s. I guess you can't win them all!)

Trek doesn't have a great record for predicting the future - as shown in "Space Seed" - but A Taste of Armageddon (broadcast 2/23/67) does sort of foreshadow the invention of the neutron bomb. A diplomatic mission sends the crew of the Enterprise to Eminiar VII, a planet that's supposed to be "off limits"; Ambassador Fox (Gene Lyons) insists that they ignore that status in an attempt to establish diplomatic contact. Inevitably, it turns out there was a good reason this planet was on the "stay away" list: they've been at war for 500 years with another planet called Vendikar.

Also inevitably - since it's Trek - this is no ordinary war. Instead of normal weapons attacks, this fight occurs through computers which simulate effects and then report casualties. Anyone who would have been hit in a real attack then has to report for "disintegration".

This reminded me an awful lot of the "clean wars" the neutron bomb was supposed to allow; the participants in this conflagration stick with the technique since it "only" kills people and allows the infrastructures of society to continue. The warring factions don't suspect the price they have to pay for such "progress", and it's up to our crew to teach them.

"Taste" offers a fast-paced and dramatic episode of Trek. Of course we know that our heroes will escape annihilation, but this show makes it even more interesting than usual to watch how it occurs. I found the program to provide unusually thought-provoking material as well, since it concerns the nature of warfare itself and depicts the drawbacks to apparently "civilized" forms of battle. "Taste" kept me involved and stimulated from beginning to end; it's a strong episode.

This Side of Paradise (broadcast 3/2/67) provides a moderately uncompelling show as the crew of the Enterprise is affected by a mysterious force that alters their judgment. This starts with Spock, who actually displays emotions (and scores, too - whoo-hoo!), and eventually spreads to all members of the crew.

Hmmm... Haven't we seen this one before? A similar plot appeared in "The Naked Time" and we'll almost certainly see its likes again; hey, they have to find some reason to make Spock behave unnaturally! While it was nice to see Leonard Nimoy get to display some range of emotion, I thought the show itself was unspectacular. It proceeded along a mildly interesting line but didn't do a whole lot for me.

Possibly the most distinct aspect of "Paradise" is that - despite the usual rather liberal politics of the Trek world - this show could be seen as making a stand for capitalism. In this episode, we see how stagnant society becomes when everyone seems mindlessly happy and no longer strives to succeed and move ahead with the culture. Maybe this is a reach, but I saw that as a slam on communism, and the solution to everyone's problems was to crack the whip and get to work! (Everyone except Spock that is, whose reality provides the episode with a bittersweet ending.)

DVD SEVEN:

The Devil In the Dark (broadcast 3/9/67) made a political statement, though it walked upon standard Trek ground. The show starts as a standard monster story but evolves into something more interesting. A creature is killing members of a mining crew on Janus IV, which ultimately endangers the lives of residents above the surface. When Kirk and company stalk the beast, they (inevitably) discover all is not what it seems.

Although this growth seems fairly predictable, I found it interesting and convincing, and the conclusion actually was tense; the threat to the Horta - the monster in question - appeared real and for once, I wasn't completely sure how an episode would end. The show offers a nice little ecological message, in that when we destroy without knowledge, we can endanger more than we know, but it's not incredibly overt. All in all, I liked this episode a fair amount.

Errand of Mercy (broadcast 3/23/67) is historically-significant for one reason: it marks the first-ever appearance of the Klingons. Although the appearance of these neo-Nazis would change significantly in later shows - they're recognizable as Klingons but just barely - the attitude wouldn't; even with this first bow, the brutes were as vicious and fascist as ever.

Other than that historical footnote, I found "Mercy" to be somewhat bland. I liked the episode mainly because it kept me guessing until the end. The Klingons and the Federation have come to blows over strategically-located Organia, but the residents of the planet seem curiously unconcerned over their fate. Kirk and Spock lead a two-man resistance which - we ultimately discover - truly was futile.

The semi-surprise conclusion was the best part about "Errand", or at least the tension that led to the ending was good. The actual finish seemed rather patronizing and stiff, but the program kept me interested until that point, at least, so it stands as a decent episode of Trek.

Judging by the fact that it was shot twentieth but not shown until very late in the season, I'd take that as a sign that the show's producers knew that The Alternative Factor (broadcast 3/30/67) wasn't much of an episode. It's a completely uninspired mess, really, from the bland title all the way through the muddled story and forced philosophizing of its conclusion, this one's quite forgettable.

The plot really is what kills this episode, as it's far too complicated. That doesn't mean it's deep or intellectual and my tiny brain couldn't handle it; it simply means that the story doesn't get told effectively and the result is a botched mess. There's some potential to the tale of alternative universes, but the execution kills it by making the entire affair thoroughly confusing. I suppose this one might work better upon subsequent viewings, but probably not.

Continuity strangeness redux: the main guest on this episode - Robert Brown as the mysterious Lazarus (not too creative in the naming department!) - bears an odd fu manchu-style mustache and a stringy little beard. Enjoy yourself as you note how the density of his facial hair varies radically throughout the show! I kept waiting for some alternative-universe oriented explanation as to why he sometimes looked like a 23rd century relative of the guys in ZZ Top but on other occasions displayed almost no growth, but that assistance never came.

The City on the Edge of Forever (broadcast 4/6/67) is viewed with very high regard, and I can understand those opinions. The story itself is nothing spectacular, as it involves the semi-usual time-traveling and various urgent problems to be solved, but the character development of the show is what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Trek was never afraid to be different than the typical sci-fi shows; most of them were all silly heroics and whiz-bang theatrics, while Trek often took a more cerebral and more ambivalent tone. As such, we often encountered shows that ended in a rather melancholy way.

"City" takes that bittersweet quality to a different level and features greater moral complexity than usual. In a way, it's a precursor of the theme seen in Star Trek II, the whole "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one or the few" deal, as Kirk has to decide if one death to save many is an acceptable bargain.

I won't spoil the ending, but it isn't something you see everyday on network TV, and I'm sure it stood out even more starkly in the mid-Sixties. Across the board, "City" is a well-made episode; even Shatner's usual hamminess seems toned down to a degree, and he makes Kirk more human than ever. All in all, it's a very good episode.

DVD EIGHT:

Operation - Annihilate! (broadcast 4/13/67) proceeded along a mildly interesting line but didn't do a whole lot for me. Its storyline is typical Trek: a mysterious disease is killing inhabitants of a planet - Deneva, in this case - and it's up to the occupants of the Enterprise to stop it. To up the ante, Spock gets stricken by the malady.

The episode offers one historical oddity: the only appearance of Kirk's older brother Sam. Apparently Sam is mentioned in an earlier episode - "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" but "Operation" provides his only on-screen "work"; he's played (as a corpse) by a lightly made-up William Shatner.

Unfortunately, the use of Sam and his family are one of the episode's weak points. One would think that Kirk would be tremendously upset by the demise of his brother and the infection of his extended family, but he barely seems phased by the incidents. I felt as though Sam, et al. were used as a cheap plot device that was completely unnecessary; they add to the bathos but for no productive purpose, as they come and go quickly and have virtually nothing to do with the plot of the Enterprise's involvement in the problem.

One positive aspect of this episode, however, comes from Leonard Nimoy's terrific acting as Spock. When Spock gets the disease, it takes incredible effort on his part to control the pain. Nimoy effectively conveys the presence of our favorite Vulcan as he does his best to maintain his "game face" while subjected to intense agony. Nimoy provides some of his best acting as he does this; it's a remarkable performance.

That's all about "Operation - Annihilate!" that I can call "remarkable", though. In any case, it offers a solid though unexceptional piece of Trek that I generally enjoyed.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Star Trek appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the episodes looked better than one might expect, they still suffered from a mix of concerns that left my rating in the average range.

Sharpness generally seemed adequate to good, but it could vary quite a bit. Most scenes appeared relatively crisp but some serious softness could - and did - intrude on the image. Moiré effects were largely nonexistent, at least, although I witnessed occasional jagged edges. Mild edge enhancement cropped up periodically.

More frequently I saw issues related to print quality. Grain often intruded upon the image and seemed heavier than I’d expect for material of this vintage; some grain was inevitable, but the shows demonstrated an awful lot of it. I also saw scratches, speckles, streaks and black spots on not-infrequent occasions. “City on the Edge of Forever” exhibited a mild jitter at times that has bothered some fans ever since the old DVD appeared, and it’s still there. These weren't a constant nuisance, but they're there in some form with greater frequency than I’d prefer.

Color was a strong element of Star Trek, and the tones fared moderately well. At times, the hues on these DVDs seemed oversaturated. I wouldn't say they bled, really, but they could appear denser and heavier than they should. While this did make the show colorful and honestly seemed impressive at first, once I adjusted I realized how off-kilter the hues really were. The tones weren't wrong; they were just too strong.

Black levels weren't much of an issue of Trek; such an emphasis was placed on color that we didn't see too many dark hues. What I witnessed seemed okay, though, and shadow detail - which also didn't appear too frequently in the brightly-lit sets - looked similarly acceptable but unspectacular.

Those are all of the objective reasons I felt I had to give these Star Trek episodes a "C+". I definitely flip-flopped quite a lot, especially because the quality did vary somewhat from episode to episode. However, these differences are pretty minor so I felt comfortable with the one overall grade.

Though I didn’t feel comfortable with a grade above a “C+”, I really thought that all things considered, these Trek episodes looked darned good. I was so accustomed to the memories of the scarred, flat appearances of the syndicated broadcasts that I found these to be a revelation and I initially thought they looked really great. Once I got used to the look, I was able to find the flaws, but I still felt that these shows aged surprisingly well. Yeah, they're still just a "C+", but it's a happy "C+"

. My praise for the remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks of all these episodes was much less equivocal. Put simply, they sounded great. Because I grade audio on an age-related curve, don't confuse the "B+" of these shows with a "B+" for a more recent production; the two don't compare. However, for material the age of Trek, these mixes really did sound fantastic.

The audio came from the monaural tracks of the original. The soundfield remained pretty heavily oriented toward the center, but it opened up quite a bit. Many sounds came from the front right and left channels, and we also heard occasional activity from the rears. The surrounds often gave off some good ambient information - like the hum of the Enterprise - and split surround usage occurred on occasion, such as when the ship flies by or when a phaser blast heads to one side. No one will mistake these tracks for recent efforts, but the effects worked quite well.

Even more pleasantly surprising was the good quality of the sound. Dialogue appeared very clear and reasonably warm and natural, with absolutely no intelligibility problems. Music seemed a bit flat but generally nice, and effects came across quite well for the most part. Although some distortion could interfere with effects, they're usually very clean and they even boasted some good bass at times. Whoever remixed these suckers deserves a serious pat on the back; the results were very positive.

Of primary interest to fans will be comparisons between this package and the two-episode DVDs in regard to their quality. From what I saw and heard, the two seemed identical. I noticed all the same positives and negatives when I compared new and old, so anyone who expected changes in these departments won’t get what they want here.

However, whereas the old two-episode Original Series DVDs included almost no supplements, Season One presents a mix of extras. Returning from the prior discs, we get preview trailers for each of the 29 shows. Each of these provides a minute-long teaser for the show in question.

Everything else is new to this season set. We find text commentaries for four episodes: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, “The Menagerie, Part I”, “The Menagerie, Part II”, and “The Conscience of the King”. Written by Michael and Denise Okuda, these greatly resemble that couple’s efforts for the Trek movies on DVD. We get a mix of production notes, facts about various participants, goofs, and general trivia. These don’t give us a terrific feel for the history of the production, but we learn a fair amount of background and also discover some entertaining bits. They’re informative and worth a look.

All of the remaining supplements appear on DVD Eight. For a look at the show’s creation, we head to The Birth of a Timeless Legacy. It fills 24 minutes and 13 seconds as we see show clips, archival materials, and interviews both recent and older. We discover notes from creator/executive producer Gene Roddenberry, producer Robert Justman, associate producer John DF Black, secretary Mary Black, story editor/writer DC Fontana, and actors William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols. We mostly get general production notes about the series’ start, shooting two pilots, casting and recasting, character development, and various bits of trivia like the creation of Spock’s ears. Trek fans won’t find anything revelatory here, but it’s a fairly decent overview of the series’ beginnings.

Next we get Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner. In this 10-minute and 27-second piece, we hear from the actor and his wife Elizabeth as they chat about their mutual love of horse-riding. Horse trainer Danny Gerardi also offers some comments about Shatner. On the surface, a featurette about Shatner’s hobby sounds pretty dull, but in reality… well, it’s actually just as boring as I thought. Maybe somebody out there’s interested to hear about how much Shatner loves horse, but I’m not that person, and I found nothing compelling in this featurette.

To Boldly Go… Season One presents an 18-minute and 59-second featurette. We find more information from Nimoy, Justman, Shatner, Takei, John DF Black, and actors Ricardo Montalban and William Campbell. We get some particulars about the episodes “Man Trap”, “The Naked Time”, “Devil in the Dark”, “The Menagerie”, “Space Seed”, “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “The Squire of Gothos” as well as remarks about the series’ fight sequences. It’s a very good program, and Nimoy presents the best information of the bunch. He presents great details about some shows plus some funny anecdotes. I also like the notes from the guest actors, and all of that adds up to a fine featurette.

For Reflections on Spock, we take 12 minutes and 12 seconds to get more notes from Nimoy. He talks about the reasons for the character’s popularity as well as the public perception that he hates the role. That latter topic informs much of the program as he explains his attitude and discusses his book I Am Not Spock, which he believes is the main reason for the misperception. Nimoy continues to be interesting and open as he helps make this another good featurette.

The final featurette for Season One, Sci-Fi Visionaries fills 16 minutes, 39 seconds. Shatner, Roddenberry, Fontana, Justman, John DF Block, and Mary Black. They discuss the desire to use noted science fiction writers instead of just TV writers, the manner in which scripts were developed, the notions behind the series’ concepts, and character issues and growth. The Blacks dominate this one, as they offer lots of good notes on the writers’ side of things. It’s a compelling and informative discussion.

Within the Photo Log, we get a collection of stills. 40 of these appear. They mainly depict shots from various episodes, though we do get a close-up of a miniature as well.

Continuing a tradition begun with the Deep Space Nine DVDs, The Original Series includes some Easter Eggs. We get four of these strewn throughout the first two screens of the DVD’s extras menu. Called “Red Shirt Logs”, these clips last between 96 seconds and four minutes, 16 seconds, for 10 minutes, seven seconds of material. We find comments from Takei, Justman, and John DF Black. In these, Takei debunks a Trek urban legend about his behavior, Justman tells of an unused attempt to make a set look bigger, some unusual casting, and Shatner’s early fears for the series’ success. Takei’s tale is fun, but the other three don’t offer much of interest.

Lastly, Season One includes a nice little booklet. It presents plot synopses for all 29 episodes as well as a listing of special features. It also tosses in some notes about Starfleet Command and the Romulans.

Easily one of the most popular and important TV series of all-time, Star Trek started well and presented a good initial batch of shows, as evidenced on this Season One set of The Original Series. All 29 episodes pop up here, and while some of them fare less well than others, they offer a fine conglomeration of intriguing and inventive science fiction. The DVDs give us flawed but relatively strong picture quality along with very solid audio and a fairly interesting roster of extras highlighted by four informative text commentaries and some insightful interviews.

The Original Series remains my favorite of the Trek programs, and I definitely recommend this Season One package of the show. With a list price of $130, the set doesn’t come cheap, though compared with the $300 it would have cost to get the 29 episodes on the old two-show DVDs, it seems like a bargain.

While fans without any of the prior DVDs should grab this Season One set, what about those who already went to the expense to snag the old discs? Is Season One worth an “upgrade”? Nope. Picture and audio appeared identical. The extras were generally good, and I’m sure fans would love to have Season One in a package that takes up about 1/5th the space of the old discs. If those two factors are enough to warrant the expense, then grab Season One, but I think for most people they aren’t enough to justify the purchase.

Back to the review of Discs 1-5