Star Trek: The Original Series Season One review by Mike Long

This review is aimed at the casual Star Trek fan. For I'm sure that there's not much that I can say about Star Trek: The Original Series Season One that will affect the purchasing decision for a true Trekkie. You either already have the shows on DVD or you plan to buy this new set. No, this review is meant for folks like me, those who like, but don't love Star Trek, and have an overwhelming curiosity about the show.

Given the long history of Star Trek, through the many films and TV series, many may have forgotten exactly what went on in the original show. The show debuted in September, 1966, and chronicled the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), oversaw the doings of the Enterprise, along with his second-in-command, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), a half-human/half-Vulcan being who was known for his impeccable logic. In the second (aired) episode, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the crew and became Kirk's trusted confident. On their many missions, the crew of the Enterprise encountered many bizarre aliens and often found themselves in mortal danger.

As is probably the case with many casual Star Trek fans, I only caught episodes of the show in syndication and viewing this boxed set was the first time that I'd ever seen the original shows in any kind of order. Viewing these shows in marathon fashion points out many patterns and misconceptions about the show. For one thing, Captain Kirk has a reputation for being a ladies' man, but this must not happen until Season Two, for he rarely has time for romance in Season One. One also quickly notices that aside from Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley, the cast of Star Trek isn't that consistent, as series regulars Lieutenant Uhurua (Nichelle Nichols), Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei), and Mr. Scott (James Doohan), aren't seen at all in some episodes. (And Chekov (Walter Koenig) is nowhere to be found as he didn't join the show until the second season!) And while the show couldn't have drama without some sort of turmoil, you'll soon learn to accept the fact that the Enterprise is a piece-of-shit which breaks down every week.

However, viewing all of Season One will also demonstrate why Star Trek is so enduring. For one thing, the show isn't about outer space. Series creator/producer Gene Roddenberry and his crew were geniuses at having most of the episodes deftly mix science-fiction with another genre, such as a murder-mystery, a court-room drama, or an action-adventure to A) save on the budget that it would take to create multiple outer-space special effects and B) make the show more accessible to more viewers. (Heck, even my wife, who swore that she wasn't going to watch this with me, got involved in a few of the shows.) The other thing which makes Star Trek work is the writing. Despite the low-budget sets and over-the-top acting, this is basically good sci-fi which is written with intelligence and heart. The main characters have unique personalities (which seem so clichd now) and we begin to care for them. Yes, Shatner appears to be in a totally different TV show at times, but that can be very endearing in some scenes. And while the show is a bit rough around the edges, especially the episode where Kirk and Spock fight an angry shag carpet, the special effects must have been very impressive at the time. As someone whos only had a passing interest in Star Trek in the past, viewing this set has given me a newfound appreciation of the and Im now looking forward to Seasons 2 and 3.

The following episodes are included in this 8-disc set. The shows were not originally aired in the sequence in which they were made, so the number to the right of the title represent the episode number. (Note: There is no episode 1 here because the original pilot episode, The Cage, was incorporated into The Menagrie.)

1. The Man Trap (6) September 8, 1966

2. Charlie X (8) September 15, 1966

3. Where No Man Has Gone Before (2) September 22, 1966

4. The Naked Time (7) September 29, 1966

5. The Enemy Within (5) October 6, 1966

6. Mudds Women (4) October 13, 1966

7. What Are Little Girls Made Of? (10) October 20, 1966

8. Miri (12) October 27, 1966

9. Dagger of the Mind (11) November 3, 1966

10. The Corbomite Maneuver (3) November 10, 1966

11. The Menagerie, Part 1 (16A) November 17, 1966

12. The Menagerie, Part 2 (16B) November 24, 1966

13. The Conscience of the King (13) December 8, 1966

14. Balance of Terror (9) December 15, 1966

15. Shore Leave (17) December 29, 1966

16. The Galileo Seven (14) January 5, 1967

17. The Squire of Gothos (18) January 12, 1967

18. Arena (19) January 19, 1967

19. Tomorrow is Yesterday (21) January 26, 1967

20. Court Martial (15) February 2, 1967

21. The Return of the Archons (22) February 9, 1967

22. Space Seed (24) February 16, 1967

23. A Taste of Armageddon (23) February 23, 1967

24. This Side of Paradise (25) March 2, 1967

25. The Devil in the Dark (26) March 9, 1967

26. Errand of Mercy (27) March 23, 1967

27. The Alternative Factor (20) March 30, 1967

28. The City on the Edge of Forever (28) April 6, 1967

29. Operation: Annihilate! (29) April 13, 1967

Star Trek: The Original Series Season One beams aboard DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The 8-disc set contains all 29 episodes of the shows frist season. The shows are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratios. Considering the fact that these episodes are nearly 40 years old, the transfers look quite good. The images are sharp and clear, showing very little grain and only a slight bit of distortion. Most of the episodes show some defects from the source print, but these are usually mild -- its only occasionally that we get any overt lines or black spots. The makers of Star Trek were apparently determined to give the viewers every color that they could for that new Color TV, as the show is awash in primary hues. These colors look quite good here, although the reds do bleed at times. The picture shows some artifacting in some of the episodes and is noticeably soft at times. The DVDs feature a newly created remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and a surprising amount of surround sound from the woosh of the Enterprise passing by on-screen (although there isnt very much in the way of subwoofer action). The DVDs also contain a Dolby Surround track. Purists may be disappointed that the original mono tracks arent included.

This set contains a few extra features, which unfortunately probably wont appeal to newbies or die-hard fans. The best extras are the text commentaries from Star Trek experts Michael & Denise Okuda. These subtitle-like facts appear on Where No Man Has Gone Before (Disc 1), The Menagerie, Part 1 (Disc 3), The Menagerie, Part II (Disc 3), and The Conscience of the King (Disc 4). The rest of the special features can be found on Disc 8. We start with The Birth of a Timeless Legacy. This 24-minute segment examines the origins of the show, from the creation by Roddenberry through casting and production. The stories are told through interviews with Shatner, Nimoy, Nichols, Doohan, Takei, and Roddenberry (archive footage), producer Robert Justman, associate producer John D.F. Black, secratary Mary Black, and writer D.C. Fontana. Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner is a 10-minute segment in which we get to see Shatner and his wife ride horses...and thats about it. The 19-minute featurette To Boldly Go...Season One features interviews with cast & crew as they give their opinions on Naked Time, Devil in the Dark, The Menagerie, Space Seed (with comments from Ricardo Montalban),The Squire of Gothos and The City on the Edge of Forever. Leonard Nimoy talks about his character and his books in Reflections on Spock (12 minutes). Sci-Fi Visionaries briefly examines the fact that Star Trek used established science-fiction writers to ensure quality scripts. The extras are rounded out by a Photo Log still gallery.

(Footnote: The "communicator" packaging of this set is nowhere near as cool as it looks, for once you open the plastic box, one merely finds a stack of 8 clear plastic trays holding the DVDs and a small booklet.)

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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