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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:
In these definitive collector's boxed sets with completely remastered sound, fans of the landmark series can finally own and enjoy the entire second season, featuring hours of new and never-before-seen bonus features.

Season Three is a 7-disc set that includes all 26 first run episodes and exclusive retrospective featurettes that are out of this world!

MPAA:
Not Rated.

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

Runtime: 1349 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 12/14/2004

Bonus:
• Two Text Commentaries
• “To Boldly Go… Season Three” Featurette
• “Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig” Featurette
• “Memoir from Mr. Sulu” Featurette
• “Chief Engineer’s Log” Featurette
• “Star Trek’s Impact” Featurette
• “A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True” Featurette
• Production Art
• 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 Three (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 9, 2004)

DVD SIX:

If nothing else, The Cloud Minders (production number 74) deserves a place in history since it may have influenced The Empire Strikes Back. In this program, the Enterprise ventures to the planet Ardana, which houses Stratos, a cloud city that floats above its surface. Sound familiar? The land-based inhabitants of Ardana - not-so-bright folks known as Troglytes - mine for a substance called zenite, and that’s what the Starfleet personnel are there to get.

However, all is not well, for the Troglytes aim some terrorist activity at the residents of Stratos. Early in the show, Kirk and the others are attacked by some Troglytes until snooty Stratosian bigwig Plasus (Jeff Corey) disrupts the incident. The Troglytes won’t fork over the needed zenite, and who can blame them? They’re kept hard at work in the mines while the allegedly-smarter Stratosians live the life of ease; some social unrest seems inevitable, and gorgeous Vanna (Charlene Polite) - who used to serve on Stratos - has taken the lead.

Plasus seems absolutely convinced that there are crucial differences between the Stratosians and the Troglytes, despite indications from Dr. McCoy that the two races are virtually identical. It turns out the intellectual variations result from prolonged exposure to the zenite; once removed from its effects, subjects regain their cognitive skills, and that’s why Vanna seems so much brighter than her mine-bound coworkers.

Plasus refuses to acknowledge this possibility, and Kirk has an uphill battle to placate both sides of the battle and get the needed mineral. Meanwhile, Plasus’ sexy daughter Droxine (Diana Ewing) appears smitten by Mr. Spock, and he returns the thoughts in his own asexual way.

That latter element was the main gimmicky aspect of “Minders”, and it remained ill explored. Droxine showed interest in Spock, and he also related curiosity about her, but this area went nowhere.

Instead, the show largely focused on the eternal battle between the haves and the have-nots, and it featured some basic social commentary. That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, Trek had just dealt with a similar issue during “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Granted, that episode worked more from a racial point of view, but the message was the same, and “Minders” suffered from this sense of the overly familiar.

Overall, this seemed like another decent but unspectacular episode. “Minders” generally was a bit bland and flat. If it weren’t for the two - count ‘em, two! - babes introduced during the show, I’d probably have forgotten it already.

The Savage Curtain (production number 77) finds the Enterprise above the planet Excalbia. There the floating image of Abe Lincoln (Lee Bergere) beckons to them, and since the normally inhospitable planet surface suddenly sprouts a habitable spot, Kirk and Spock visit the surface. There they hang out with this apparent-Lincoln and others like noted Vulcan leader Suark (Barry Atwater).

As the two try to figure out from whence these seemingly-flawless doppelgangers came, a freaky rock monster named Yarnek introduces additional historical figures like Genghis Khan (Nathan Jung) and Kahless the Unforgettable, the Klingon who inspired their bloodthirsty ways. Rocky forces Kirk and the forces of peace to duke it for its own amusement. When Kirk declines interest, the creature threatens the lives of all aboard the Enterprise, and their continued survival depends on the success of this crew.

Despite the novelty of "real-life" Lincoln and the others, "Savage" felt like a "been there, done that" episode. How frequently did the series present these seemingly omnipotent beings who toyed with Kirk and crew for their own amusement? Many times, as it happened, and the storyline got a bit old after a while. Frankly, the innovation of the historical figures seemed pretty cheesy, and the gimmick came across as nothing more than a dopey device.

While it remained watchable, "Savage" still appeared to be a fairly tedious rehash of that generic plot. Gene Roddenberry's script suffered from his usual preachy tendencies; while I respect some of the man's utopian ideals, these often translated into insufferable and heavy-handed shows. "Savage" seemed moderately entertaining but lackluster and stale.

(By the way, I guess the afterlife's been good to Lincoln: check out the killer tan on Abe!)

In All Our Yesterdays (production number 78), the Enterprise travels to the moon of Sarpedon. It orbits a planet destined to explode in a few hours. They discover the remnants of ian advanced society, though only a librarian named Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe) remains along with some clones who assist him.

After a while, Kirk, Spock and McCoy discover that the inhabitants of the planet escaped by going into its past. By accident, they slip through the time portals into the olden days as well. Kirk visits an era similar to Earth's 19th century, where he gets hailed as a sorcerer, while Spock and McCoy go back to the Ice Age. There they meet a babe named Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley), for whom Spock actually falls. It seems that the move back in time affects his inner equilibrium, as Spock starts to behave like his Vulcan ancestors who were ruled by their emotions.

As with "Savage", "Yesterdays" also packs in a mix of Trek clichés: the ticking-clock due to the impending explosion, time travel, and Spock behaving emotionally. As such, the episode offers little in the form of originality, but it still provides a reasonably entertaining experience. This version of "emotional Spock" has a few twists, and the show features a fairly intriguing storyline. It even manages some touching moments via the relationship between Spock and Zarabeth. Overall, "Yesterdays" isn't great Trek, but it seems to be above average, especially for Season Three.

One part I didn't understand: why in the world would Zarabeth run around her frozen confines in such a skimpy outfit? Oh yeah - because it looks sexy! Gene Roddenberry surely loved his scantily clad guest females.

Had "Yesterdays" been the final episode of Trek, it would have seemed like a somewhat appropriate closing note, what with its bittersweet ending. Unfortunately, they still had one more program in the hopper. Turnabout Intruder (production number 79) formally concluded the series' three-year run with more of a whimper than a bang. Though not a bad episode, "Intruder" was far from the best the show had to offer.

At the start of the show, Kirk falls for a trap set by Dr. Coleman (Harry Landers) and the mentally ill Dr. Lester (Sandra Smith). Kirk had a fling with Lester back at the Starfleet Academy, but she got booted due to her instability. She still feels bitter about that experience and resents men because she can't enter the same ranks of Starfleet advanced personnel. Of course, she especially dislikes Kirk, since he represents the best of the best within the world she can't enter.

Anyway, as part of this trap, Kirk and Lester swap bodies. She takes over his form and plans to kill her old body with Kirk in it. This goes awry, so she has to take Kirk back on board the Enterprise. While there, the fake captain performs a slew of inappropriate and atypical actions, which stirs suspicion from Spock. Trapped in the female body, Kirk has to find a way to convince others of what's happened and eventually restore his mind to his manly form.

Though clearly a silly episode, "Intruder" had some potential due to the intriguing theme. However, some poor acting and surprisingly non-progressive attitudes made it less than terrific. In regard to the former, Smith actually did a pretty nice job as Kirk in Lester's body. She brought positive authority to the role and seemed convincing. Honestly, in some ways she appeared superior to Shatner, as she lacked his emotive tendencies.

On the other hand, Shatner's turn as Lester in Kirk's body could not have been more absurd. He strongly played up the stereotypically female aspects of the role and made it a tremendously camp experience. Shatner's wispy and eccentric performance made it difficult to believe that so few suspected anything was up with the captain.

As I mentioned, the show treated women in a particularly stereotypical manner that I didn't expect given the series' generally forward-looking attitudes. Granted, Trek did better in that regard when it came to different races; the program never could figure out what it thought of women. Still, the bitter and psychotic Dr. Lester seemed like a poor representation of the female attitude, and this element hurt the show.

DVD SEVEN:

In addition to these shows, we find the series' original pilot. Actually, Trek had two pilots. The second - which eventually aired as "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - was created after NBC declined to pursue the first. In an unprecedented move, the network told Roddenberry and company to recast the show and redo some elements, and the result made TV history.

Since they spent so much money on the first pilot - entitled The Cage - the show's honchos didn't let it go to waste. As such, it was chopped up for inclusion as part of the series' only two-part episode, Season One’s "The Menagerie".

After Trek demonstrated such remarkable life following its 1969 cancellation, Roddenberry eventually went back and reconstructed "The Cage" so fans could see the entire original episode. When this occurred in 1986, however, the full color elements had disappeared. As such, the version of "The Cage" that came out back then combined color pieces from "The Menagerie" with some very rough black and white material.

Apparently the original color elements weren't as lost as previously believed. They eventually came back and were issued as the full-color version of "The Cage" found on this DVD. After many decades, it's nice that fans can see the first pilot as it originally looked.

"The Cage" (not broadcast during the show's original run) offers a look at a Trek that could have been. Only one familiar crewmember remains: Spock. Otherwise, we find a totally different roster. Instead of Kirk, we get Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter), and Dr. Boyce (John Hoyt) replaces Bones. Roddenberry squeeze Majel Barrett would later play the recurring role of Nurse Chapel on Trek but here she possesses a much stronger part as Number One, the second-in-command to Pike.

Females played a greater part in this prototypical Trek; in addition to Number One, young Yeoman Colt (Laurel Goodwin) had a substantial role. That was part of the reason NBC didn't go for the first incarnation of Trek; they didn't care for the heavy female presence in leadership parts. It seems odd that the pilot is more progressive than the final episode!

Anyway, "The Cage" introduces all of these characters as the Enterprise encounters an old distress signal. They head to Talos IV to find the survivors of a lost Earth vessel. When Pike and the others meet these folks, they seem too healthy, and they quickly learn the whole thing is a ruse led by the Talosians. These super-intelligent beings run their own little zoo and want a strapping human to go with their sexy female named Vina (Susan Oliver). However, they didn't count on the captain's refusal to go quietly, and he plots with the others to escape from their clutches, all while the Talosians use their mighty brain powers to create powerful illusions that trap the prisoners.

While most interesting as a piece of history, "The Cage" actually offers a pretty compelling episode of Trek. It's somewhat hard to place it among the others since so much about it is different; though the overall plot and theme match that of later shows and Pike doesn't vary much from the Kirk archetype, the inclusion of the two prominent female roles makes it stand out from the crowd.

Otherwise, "The Cage" is a pretty typical program that works well. Of course, it lacks the character development and general confidence seen when the series had been on the air for a while, but it still seems provocative and entertaining. Would Trek have become so memorable if this crew remained in charge? I don't know, but it's interesting to get a glimpse of this alternate universe.

Actually, some of the ideas found in "The Cage" would reappear in 1987 when Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the air. That program still failed to provide a female leader; we wouldn't get a non-male captain until Voyager's Janeway, though Next Generation at least escalated the roles for women with two important female crewmembers. I thought it was interesting to note, however, that Picard often refers to his first mate as "Number One", and we also heard Pike use the phrase "engage" during "The Cage". In addition, parts of that episode foreshadowed 1994's Generations, the first Next Generation film.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Star Trek appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Season Three may have offered the worst overall quality of Trek episodes, but it presented the best visuals.

Sharpness usually appeared nicely crisp and well defined, though not always. At times, the picture came across as somewhat soft and fuzzy. This tendency usually affected wider shots, but a few close-ups also looked modestly blurry. However, most of the time the picture was distinct and clear. Light moiré effects and jagged edges occurred occasionally, but not with much frequency or severity. Edge enhancement remained minor.

Print flaws caused modest concerns. The shows looked somewhat grainy at times, and a mix of other defects cropped up on occasion. At various times, I saw grit, speckles, a few nicks, some blotches, and a bit of general dirt. These issues never became heavy, though the stock footage used for elements like viewscreens showed the biggest concerns. Nonetheless, the programs demonstrated reasonable cleanness for the most part.

Colors offered some nicely bright and broad hues, and the tones seen in these four shows looked very nice. Trek always played up the varied and vivid hues – got to move these color TVs! – and the episodes demonstrated those tendencies well. A few muddy spots occurred, but as a whole, the colors looked clear and vibrant, with few signs of muddy or tentative tones. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, and shadow detail was acceptably distinct but not overly thick. Overall, these episodes were a little too spotty to merit above a “B-“, but they still looked pretty nice.

To my surprise, the best-looking episode was the oldest one. “The Cage” looked almost shockingly attractive given its age. Yes, it still showed a mix of defects like grit, grain, speckles, streaks, lines and debris, but these seemed to be fairly minor. Colors were bright and vivid, and the image remained nicely crisp and detailed most of the time. Frankly, it provided a stronger picture than many of the other Season Three episodes. Since much of this footage was thought to be lost for so long, that felt like an amazing fact.

As has been the case with the prior Star Trek volumes, Season Three featured remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This audio came from the original monaural tracks. The soundfield remained pretty heavily oriented toward the center, but it opened up a bit. Actually, earlier DVDs more aggressively pushed the auditory envelope, while these seemed more content to gently broaden the horizons. The score dominated the track, as the music presented very good presence and stereo separation throughout the shows. Again, the score stayed pretty heavily in the front channels, where it added life to the shows.

In regard to the effects, they mainly provided general ambience. Some distinct side and rear usage occurred, particularly when the Enterprise flew past us, but for the most part, the shows avoided this sort of element. Instead, we usually heard nice environmental sounds, such as the hum of force fields. The mix never became terribly active and involving, but it presented a nice sense of aura nonetheless.

Audio quality appeared consistently good. As always, speech sounded nicely natural and distinct, and I detected no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects came across as a little thin, but they usually seemed clean and accurate, and they lacked any significant distortion, even during louder noises like explosions. At those times, the effects also boasted reasonable bass response; the booms won’t rock your house, but they appeared good for the age of the material. Music enjoyed the strongest quality, as the score consistently appeared very clear and vibrant. The music showed nice dynamic range, with bright highs and fairly rich lows. Overall, these tracks seemed quite similar, and they compared favorably with the audio heard on prior Trek DVDs.

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 Three presents a mix of extras. Returning from the prior discs, we get preview trailers for each of the 24 shows that aired in 1968-69; no ads for the two versions of “The Cage” appear. 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 two episodes: “The Savage Curtain” and “Turnabout Intruder”. 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.

To Boldly Go… Season Three presents a 22-minute and 35-second featurette. We find information from actors Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and William Shatner, Trek activist/author Bjo Trimble, producer Robert Justman, They discuss the campaign to bring Trek back for a third season and issues related to keeping it on the air, Gene Roddenberry’s departure from the series, production changes, the series’ end, and notes about a few particular episodes like “Spectre of the Gun”, “Plato’s Stepchildren”, and “Spock’s Brain”. Not a lot of depth shows up here, but the program gives us some interesting tidbits. The anecdotes prove entertaining and the information becomes generally useful in this decent little piece.

Next we get Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig. In this 10-minute and 57-second piece, we hear from the actor as he discusses how he ended up on Trek as well as subsequent acting work and his collection of comics, toys and other things. Given the distance that so many Trek actors seem to put between themselves and the series, it’s fun to see how Koenig embraces the geeky side of things.

For Memoir from Mr. Sulu, we take eight minutes and 42 seconds to hear from Takei. He discusses his thoughts about what Sulu did after Trek, the series’ impact on his life, and his activities related to the preservation of Japanese-American history. The latter element fills most of the featurette and gives it some heart, especially when Takei gets into his childhood experiences.

After this we find the Chief Engineer’s Log. In the six-minute and 11-second program, we get notes from actor James Doohan. He talks a little about how he landed on the show and the series’ legacy. There’s not much to it, as Doohan - shot in December 2003 - clearly isn’t doing well enough to offer substantial comments. However, it’s nice to hear a little from him, as he went absent in most of the extras in prior packages.

In Star Trek’s Impact, we get a nine-minute and three-second look at that topic. We find comments from Rod Roddenberry, the son of series creator Gene. He discusses his thoughts about various elements of the series’ philosophy and presentation of various elements. Roddenberry doesn’t delve into things all that well, and these are subjects Trek fans will know, as he mainly reiterates well-known concepts.

For the last featurette, we get the seven-minute and five-second A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True. It presents model and miniature designer John Long as he leads us on a tour of some Trek props that he would replicate. It’s enjoyable to get a closer look at the originals and see their workings as well as the nuts and bolts of the replicas.

A gallery with Production Art appears. It includes 40 images. These give us a nice look at planning sketches.

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 three screens of the DVD’s extras menu. Called “Red Shirt Logs”, these clips last between two minutes, five seconds and four minutes, 40 seconds, for 18 minutes, 45 seconds of material. We find comments from Shatner, Takei, Trimble and Nimoy. They go over the show’s legacy, Takei’s desire to see Sulu in the captain’s seat, the 25th anniversary convention, Nimoy’s post-Trek work on Mission: Impossible, the social overtones of “Battlefield”, and a couple of notes connected to “Elaan of Troyus”. As with past entries, the “Logs” present some decent tidbits and that’s about it.

Lastly, Season Three includes a nice little booklet. It presents plot synopses for all 26 episodes as well as a listing of special features. It also tosses in some notes about the role of engineering on the Enterprise as well as the “changing face” of the Klingons. No, the piece doesn’t try to explain why the later Klingons looked so different compared to those in the Sixties’ shows.

The Original Series remains my favorite of the Trek programs, and I definitely recommend this Season Three package of the show, even though it’s the weakest of the three years. The shows look and sound quite good, and a collection of extras adds some fun elements. With a list price of $130, the set doesn’t come cheap, though compared with the $260 it would have cost to get the 26 episodes on the old two-show DVDs, it seems like a bargain.

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

Back to the review of Discs 1-5