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In my youth, STAR TREK was at the height of its syndicated popularity, and as a dutiful science fiction fan, I watched the show each and every day for years and years. As time rolled on, the popularity of STAR TREK continued to increase, which gave rise to the movie versions of the television series, followed by THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE 9, VOYAGER and finally ENTERPRISE. Of course, across that expanse of time, STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES (as it is now referred to) had become a bit more difficult to see, as it was no longer the syndicated darling that it once was.

As you might expect, I stopped watching STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES on a regular basis, and only caught part of an occasional episode on the Sci-Fi channel. Not having watched STAR TREK with any regularity for quite a long time, spending time with the DVD release comes as something of a revelation, as I had honestly forgotten how good this television series actually was. STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES really was well written and a rather intelligent science fiction series. Sure, there were some stinkers that crept up during the show’s all too brief three year run (Spock’s Brain immediately comes to mind), but for the most part, STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES never failed to entertain. Cementing the show’s entertainment value was the show’s three leading characters, who had a perfect chemistry, based upon their divergent personalities, which many have compared to the Freudian concepts of Id, Ego and Superego. Therefore any heated debate, or conversation in general, in which the three participated, always made it fun to tune in to STAR TREK.

For those of you unfamiliar with STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES the show was the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry, who pitched the science fiction series, at a time when westerns were popular TV fodder, as a Wagon Train to the stars. Set several centuries in the future, STAR TREK takes place on board the Starship Enterprise, whose five-year mission was to explore strange, new worlds… seek out new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no man has gone before. The cast for the first season of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES featured William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as the ship’s Vulcan first officer Commander Spock, DeForest Kelley as ship’s surgeon Dr. Leonard McCoy, James Doohan as ship’s engineer Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott, George Takei as helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu, Nichelle Nichols as communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura, Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel and Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Janice Rand.

STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($130) comes to DVD in a eight-disc set that features all twenty-nine episodes that were aired in that freshman year. The twenty-nine featured episodes are as follows: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time, The Enemy Within, Mudd's Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, Miri, Dagger Of The Mind, The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie Part 1, The Menagerie Part 2, The Conscience Of The King, Balance Of Terror, Shore Leave, The Galileo Seven, The Squire Of Gothos, Arena, Tomorrow Is Yesterday, Court Martial, The Return Of The Archons, Space Seed, A Taste Of Armageddon, This Side Of Paradise, The Devil In The Dark, Errand Of Mercy, The Alternative Factor, The City On The Edge Of Forever and Operation -- Annihilate!.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-nine episodes from STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. With some minor variations in quality, every one of these episodes really looks great on DVD. Each episode features an image that appears quite sharp, with more picture detail than was seen during the initial broadcasts or in syndication. Sure, there are shots within episodes that are somewhat soft, but it is generally related to the original photography and not a flaw in the transfers. Colors are generally quite bold and appear fully saturated, without any noise or noticeable fuzziness. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is quite smooth. The film elements are pretty clean for a mid-1960s television series, with only very minor blemishes being present. A noticeable grain structure crops up from time to time in the episodes, but it never becomes bothersome. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are well concealed.

All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Considering that the show was originally monaural and intended for the fidelity of television speakers, these new 5.1 channel remixes are quite wonderful. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves each episode with a generally smooth sounding quality. Channel separations are well done, giving the music a stereo quality, while sound effects are effectively spread to the various outlying channels. Since there are a limited number of sound effects to work with in the original recordings, none of the remixes are aggressively implemented. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue is always easy to understand. The bass channel provides a surprising bit of depth to the sound, but is never overbearing. English Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.

3-D animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s cool interactive menus- CGI renderings of plywood sets are always cool in my book. The menus provide access to the set up and episode selection features, as well as the supplemental materials, most of which are presented on disc eight of the set. However, throughout the set, one will find a preview trailers for each of the episodes, while Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie Part 1, The Menagerie Part 2 and The Conscience Of The King feature popup factoid text commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda. On disc eight one will find the rest of the supplemental programs and features. The Birth of a Timeless Legacy is a twenty-four minute program that looks at the shows origins, and features recent interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Robert Justman, as well as archival interviews with James Doohan and series creator Gene Roddenberry.

Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner runs ten minutes and features the actor talking about his love of horses and horsemanship. To Boldly Go"... Season One is almost nineteen minutes in length and looks at the difficulties in producing the sci-fi series first year on a small budget, as well as some of the standout episodes including Space Seed, which features archival interviews with Ricardo Montalban, as well as a recent interview with William Campbell who had the title role in The Squire Of Gothos. Reflections On Spock clocks in at twelve minutes and features Leonard Nimoy discussing his character and its relationship to him as an actor. Sci-Fi Visionaries is a sixteen-minute program that pays tribute to the great writers that helped make STAR TREK the classic it has become. A photo gallery closes out the supplements.

Having STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON on DVD allows both fans and non-fans to see how great the television show that spawned an empire actually was. Paramount has done a truly fine job with the set, offering the episodes with the kind of visual and audio quality they never saw in syndication, as well as some great supplemental features. If you are a fan and haven’t picked up the individual releases of the episodes, this set is an absolute must have. Highly recommended.



Star Trek The Original Series - The Complete First Season (1966)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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