STAR TREK: ORIGINAL SERIES
Review by Michael Jacobson
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George
Takei, Nichelle Nichols
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 1461 Minutes
Release Date: August 31, 2004
Trekkies, the world is a wonderful place. Some
of us have spent our entire lives basking in the glow of creator Gene
Roddenberry’s original sci-fi vision, and the many wonderful fruits that have
blossomed from that first seed over the last several decades.
From television to film and back again, from novels and comic books to
conventions and outright fandemonium, Star Trek has enthralled us with
its adventures, filled us with its sense of wonder and optimism, and filled our
imaginations with all the possibilities our futures might hold for us.
it seems like the family tree for Star Trek goes back a long way, but
every once in a while, it’s definitely worth it to trace the roots back and
take that proverbial trip back in time and remember how it all started.
Now, there’s no better way to do just that than with Paramount’s new
box set of The Original Series: Season One.
have clamored a long time for the original show to be brought to DVD in full
season boxed sets, and now the folks on the mighty mountaintop have granted our
wish. This terrific 8 disc box set
boasts all 29 first year episodes in broadcast order, with newly remastered 5.1
soundtracks and a bevy of extra features—more on those further down.
the beginning, Star Trek would show television audiences a vision of
science fiction never quite seen before. From
a simple premise—a starship and crew on a five year mission of
exploration—would come a weekly foray into the unfamiliar with a group of
people who soon became VERY familiar to fans.
was Captain James T. Kirk (Shatner), the brave leader, the first officer Mr.
Spock (Nimoy), a Vulcan who prized logic over emotion, and the medical officer
Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Kelley), a man whose gruff exterior never fully
masked his kindly heart. Then there
was chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Doohan), communications
officer Lt. Uhura (Nichols), and navigator Ensign Sulu (Takei). This crew was unlike what audiences were used to seeing:
sexually and racially diverse and interacting in a time when skin color
or sex was finally overlooked just the way Dr. King had envisioned.
unlike many shows starting out, Star Trek didn’t seem to take long to
find its footing. Even later
incarnations of Trek seemed to take a year or so to really come together,
but the first season of the original series is peppered with some of the best
individual episodes to ever come out of the Trek universe.
Who could ever forget good Kirk battling evil Kirk in “The Enemy
Within”, featuring the introduction of Spock’s Vulcan neck pinch?
Or “The Naked Time”, where the crew loses control and even Spock’s
unemotional façade crumbles? How
about the introduction of a once and future nemesis for Kirk named Khan (Ricardo
Montalban) in “Space Seed” or the wild, unleashed fantasy of “Shore
episodes in particular deserve mention, because they are my all time favorites:
the original series’ only two part episode “The Menagerie”, which
incorporated footage from the original failed pilot “The Cage”.
In it, Spock commits an unthinkable mutiny in a chance to save his former
commander Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter), now an invalid. Spock’s future hangs in the balance as his trial examines
the history of Pike and a strange planet that had been declared off limits by
the Federation. Over the course of
the two parts, we learn the back story, and realize why Spock risked everything
to return his former commander to that forbidden world. It was a masterful way of turning a solid original pilot into
something more…as always, Gene Roddenberry always found ways to move his
visions into the future.
the one standout episode in the entire history of all incarnations of Star
Trek is the award winning “The City on the Edge of Forever”.
In it, an accidentally drugged and crazed McCoy beams down to a planet
and finds a gateway to Earth’s past, where he does SOMETHING to alter the
course of human history and thus threaten the existence of the Enterprise and
her crew. Spock and Kirk are forced
to go back to depression era America ahead of McCoy and try to figure out what
he does that changes the future and stop him.
It turns out to involve a remarkable woman, Edith Keeler (Joan Collins),
who may have been the one woman in the scope of Star Trek to be really
perfect for Kirk. But when Spock
pieces together the entire puzzle of the historical revision, it leads the
captain to the most difficult and heartbreaking choice he’ll ever have to
make. I don’t mind saying when I
first saw this episode as a kid, it brought me to tears.
Even now, it still has that effect.
Science fiction has rarely seen so high an apex.
two episodes in particular really sum up everything that made Star Trek such
a great show. The premises were
futuristic, yet grounded in very real substances that even we in the past could
grasp, appreciate, and understand. The
stories were based in fantasy, yet steeped in pure human truths.
The tone was optimistic; it laid out for us a future to look forward to
not because of technological advancements, but because of great leaps forward in
the spirit of mankind. Most of all,
the crew was peopled with characters we could identify with and love, and as a
result, their experiences became our experiences.
show would run for two more years, going from time slot to time slot until the
networks decided to pull the plug. But
as history would show, that was hardly the end of Star Trek.
A fan base would continue to grow from syndicated reruns until
overwhelming popularity necessitated the resurrection of the Enterprise for more
adventures on the silver screen.
that (reportedly) the final Trek movie has flickered away the possible
last adventure of one of science fiction’s most enduring franchises, now is a
perfect time to go back to the beginning and reminisce about how it all began:
a ship, a captain, a Vulcan, a doctor, a crew, a five year mission, and
the enduring spirit and creativity of a man named Gene.
This primary season of the original series is an everlasting testament to
The episodes are organized according to original airdate, but are
numbered according to the way they were filmed and originally presented to be
aired…the pilot episode for example, was actually the third one aired instead
of the first!
held up pretty well over the years, and the new digital transfers from Paramount
are a treat. Colors are bright and
vivid throughout and the overall prints were cleaned up nicely.
Some darker shots, i.e. outer space, show a bit more grain and aging
effects than others, but at levels that are perfectly acceptable for a classic
new 5.1 remixes are a nice touch, but not too gauche. A few ambient sounds from behind and accentuated starship
swooshing are the main touches. For
the most part, dialogue and action are focused on the front stage, and sound
perfectly adequate for a nearly 40 year old season.
set contains an 8th disc of all bonus material, starting with the new
documentary “The Birth of a Timeless Legacy”. Cast and crew interviews, including some vintage footage of
Roddenberry, shed light on how the show came to be, including a look at the
original pilot “The Cage” and how Trek was reborn after its initial
rejection. “To Boldly Go” takes
a closer look at the primary season. The
captain is featured on “William Shatner:
Life Beyond Trek”, while “Reflections on Spock” focuses on the
Vulcan science officer. “Sci-Fi
Visionaries” features the many writers that made the show instantly great.
A photo log rounds out.
on the individual discs are the promo trailers for each show and some cool
animated menus replicating the Enterprise bridge. There is also text commentary on the pilot episode “Where
No Man Has Gone Before” by Star Trek Encyclopedia authors Michael and
Denise Okuda. The packaging itself
is also different than anything you’ve seen before in DVD, and quite cool.
yes, look for some easy-to-find Easter eggs on the bonus disc for some “Red
Shirt Log” remembrances!