STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES
After the classic seventy-nine episodes of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES found new success in the realm of syndication, the franchise was briefly reinvented for the Saturday morning crowd in 1973 as STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES. This animated version of STAR TREK had many of the key players in place, once again William Shatner was in command of the Starship enterprise as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy was the ship’s Vulcan first officer Commander Spock and DeForest Kelley was the ship’s surgeon Dr. Leonard McCoy- of course, only their voices were present, as this was a Saturday morning cartoon series. But what a cartoon series it proved to be.
As it was STAR TREK, this animated series set the bar higher than the your typical Saturday morning fodder, trying to present somewhat more intelligent science fiction concepts in a brief half hour time slot- and the production team generally succeeded well enough for the series to win a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series. STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES takes place after the events chronicled in STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES and lasted for a total of twenty-two episodes and helped bridge fans craving for more Trek until STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE arrived in 1979. In addition to the three leads, original series regulars Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Majel Barrett and James Doohan contributed their vocal talents to the show.
STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES ($55) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during the series entire run: Beyond The Farthest Star, Yesteryear, One Of Our Planets Is Missing, The Lorelei Signal, More Tribbles, More Troubles, The Survivor, The Infinite Vulcan, The Magicks Of Megas-Tu, Once Upon A Planet, Mudd's Passion, The Terratin Incident, The Time Trap, The Ambergris Element, The Slaver Weapon, The Eye Of The Beholder, The Jihad, The Pirates Of Orion, Bem, The Practical Joker, Albatross, How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth? and The Counter-Clock Incident.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-two episodes from STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. These episodes really look terrific on DVD. The image is consistently clean, which makes it easy for one to forget that these animated programs first debuted on television thirty-three years ago. Sharpness and detail are about all one can expect from Saturday morning caliber 2D cel animation from the early 1970s. Colors are fairly vibrant and are completely stable. Blacks appear solid and the whites are crisp. Film grain is quite minimal, as are noticeable blemishes. Digital compression artifacts are held in check.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES come with upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Considering that the show was originally monaural, with a Saturday morning level of fidelity, these new 5.1 channel remixes are pretty snappy. The outlying channels are reasonably well utilized for sound effects and music, but the whole thing never sounds forced. Dialogue is always easy to understand. The majority of background hiss and surface noise has been cleaned up in the mastering process, which has left the episode with a smooth sonic quality. English and Spanish monaural soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Running Audio Commentaries are provided for the following episodes: More Tribbles, More Troubles, Bem, and How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth? Additionally, factoid Text Commentaries are provided for Yesteryear, The Eye Of The Beholder and The Counter-Clock Incident by Michael and Denise Okuda. Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series is a twenty-minute program that looks back on the show with members of the production team. What’s The Star Trek Connection? looks at The Animated Series place in the Trek universe. A Storyboard Gallery and Show History close out the extras.
STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES represents the final television incarnation of Trek to be released on DVD and the one least often seen by modern audiences. Paramount has done their usual excellent job, and have brought this superior Saturday morning cartoon show to DVD in first class presentations. Having grown up watching STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES on Saturday morning television, its great to be able to see them once again- anytime I want. Highly recommended to Trek fans everywhere.
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