STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL
After having been canceled at the end of its second season, a massive letter writing campaign earned STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES a reprieve that brought it back for a third year. Of course, the NBC network must have been none to thrilled with the prospect of running the series for a third season- because they relegated the show to a time slot that should have been considered the kiss of death. Personally, I don’t know if it was the time slot that did the show in, or it was the network’s lack of vision (and financing), or maybe it was a series of lackluster episodes. Anyway, the ultimate reason behind the cancellation has become a moot point, because STAR TREK has since grown into the most successful franchise in the history of television.
Getting back to season three of STAR TREK, as a lifelong fan of the show, even I have to admit that season three was definitely the weakest in the show’s run. Certainly, season three produced more than its share of memorable, entertaining and classic episodes, although there were more than a few klunkers that got launched into subspace along the way. Let’s face it, season three got off on the wrong foot, by premiering with the infamously silly Spock's Brain. But, at least, the show bounced back immediately with The Enterprise Incident, one of the most intriguing episodes that came out of Trek’s all too short, three year run.
For the handful of you completely unfamiliar with STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES the STAR TREK is set several centuries in the future, and 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 regular cast for the second 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, Walter Koenig as navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov and Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel.
STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($130) comes to DVD in a seven-disc set that features all twenty-four episodes that were aired during the show’s that sophomore year. The twenty-four featured episodes are as follows: Spock's Brain, The Enterprise Incident, The Paradise Syndrome, And The Children Shall Lead, Is There In Truth No Beauty?, Spectre Of The Gun, Day Of The Dove, For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky, The Tholian Web, Plato's Stepchildren, Wink Of An Eye, The Empath, Elaan Of Troyius, Whom Gods Destroy, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, The Mark Of Gideon, That Which Survives, The Lights Of Zetar, Requiem For Methuselah, The Way To Eden, The Cloudminders, The Savage Curtain, All Our Yesterdays and Turnabout Intruder.
Personal favorites out of season three include: The Enterprise Incident, in Captain Kirk shows signs of madness- taking the Enterprise across the neutral zone and into the heart Romulan territory. Is There In Truth No Beauty? features a story built around a race of aliens so hideous, that their very sight is enough to drive a human to madness. Day Of The Dove finds the crew of the Enterprise locked in a deadly conflict with the Klingons, from which there appears to be no escape- not even death. For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky brings Dr. McCoy to the forefront of a story about a dying member of the Enterprise crew. All Our Yesterdays finds Spock and McCoy thrown into the distant past of an alien planet, and Spock becoming more like his emotional and savage Vulcan forefathers. Finally, Turnabout Intruder is something of a guilty pleasure, watching William Shatner portray Captain Kirk as though he were possessed by the mind of a woman is something that must be seen, to be believed.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four episodes from STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Looking pretty much like the previous two seasons, the image quality on this batch of episodes is pretty great for a show warping towards the forty-year mark. Sharpness and image detail are always just fine. Close ups usually look the best, with medium and long shots appearing a tad bit softer. Colors are generally rendered with very good saturation and complete stability. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and the contrast is generally smooth. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred appear pretty clean for a vintage 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 nicely camouflaged.
As with the preceding sets, all the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON come with upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. I remain impressed with the quality of these sound mixes, especially since the elements are well over three decades old and were originally intended for playback on something as undemanding as a television speaker. Most instances of background hiss and audible surface noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves each episode with a generally smooth sonic quality. There are some limitations in fidelity, but these tracks produce a surprisingly solid bottom end. The music usually sounds reasonable pleasant, and certainly never coming across as either harsh or shrill. There are some nicely implemented effects in the outlying channels, with a general ambience coming from the rears and an occasional active surround sound effect. Voices are always cleanly rendered, plus the dialogue is easy to understand. 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- I still love those CGI renderings of show’s plywood sets. Through the menus, one has access to the standard set up and episode selection features, as well as the supplemental materials. Throughout the set, one will find a preview trailers for each of the episodes, while The Savage Curtain and Turnabout Intruder feature popup factoid text commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda. On disc seven, one will find the rest of the supplemental programs and features. Starting things off are two separate versions of the original STAR TREK pilot, The Cage, featuring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. The Cage: The Original Version offers a mixture of Gene Roddenberry’s original black and white work print, with color footage taken from The Menagerie. The Cage: The Restored Version is actually the entire program in color, taken from film elements previously believed destroyed.
To Boldly Go... Season Three runs twenty two minutes and looks at the fan enthusiasm that brought Trek back for a third year, some of its highlights, as well as the ultimate failure of the show to survive beyond year three. Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig spends ten minutes with actor Walter Koenig, who discusses Trek, plus his body of work since the show and other interests. Chief Engineer’s Log is six minutes with the frail, but still enthusiastic James Doohan, who talks about his time on Trek. Memoir From Mr. Sulu clocks in at eight minutes and features George Takei talking about how Trek affected his career, as well as his experiences as a Japanese American. Star Trek’s Impact is a nine-minute program featuring the son of the Great Bird of the Galaxy, Eugene Roddenberry, talking about his father’s work and the show he created. A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True runs seven minutes and features a Trek fan going from replica model maker to working in the film industry. Production Art is a gallery of design drawings by Matt Jefferies, while the Photo Gallery offers an assembly of production and publicity photographs.
While year three was the weakest in the show’s entire run, STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON featured more than its fair share of episodes that are now considered classics. Not surprisingly, Paramount has done their usual terrific job in the audio and video department, not to mention providing some very nice supplements. If you are a Trek fan and haven’t picked up the individual releases of these episodes, you’ll want to add STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON to your Starfleet library. Recommended.
reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.