One of the most beloved television shows of all time, "Star Trek" became a lasting success, spawning seven feature films (including the classic, "Wrath of Khan") and multiple TV spin-offs, books and more. While the feature films did start to run out of steam with "Star Trek: Nemesis", the franchise is being rebooted with director JJ Abrams' "Star Trek", which arrives in theaters 5/8/09.
Although a couple of the most widely known episodes of the series come in the second season ("Amok Time" and "The Trouble With Tribbles"), the first season of the series certainly provides terrific entertainment, following the early adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Vulcan first officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), chief engineer Scotty (James Doohan),chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly), officer Sulu (George Takei) and communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols.) Chekov (Walter Koenig)'s first appearance was in season 2.
The first season does have some superb episodes, including "Space Seed", which sees the Enterprise crew finding a crew of superhumans in suspended animation aboard. When revived, their leader, Khan (Ricardo Montalban) intends to create a new empire and tries to overthrow the Enterprise. Montalban creates an incredibly memorable villain in Khan - memorable enough so that the character was, of course, the villain once again in the classic "Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan".
Other highlights from this first season include: "The Menagerie" (a 2-part episode which has Spock taking his crippled former captain to a quarantined planet, risking his career), "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (the Enterprise is thrown back in time, then has to figure out how to correct matters when they rescue an air force pilot and cannot return him without changing history) and "The City at the Edge of Forever" (written by famed author Harlan Ellison, this episode sees Spock and Kirk following an unhinged McCoy back to the 1930's to keep him from altering the future.
The newly produced visual effects that have been integrated into some major scenes in the series are quite fine and most of them do a nice job of "freshening up" dated effects. Although there are some exceptions, most of them also blend in reasonably well. The greater benefit of this set is the appearance of the episodes themselves, which look fresher and more vibrant than I've ever seen them before. The effects are a fun touch (although I'm sure there will be quite a bit of debate from fans who understandably aren't keen on new effects worked into the old-fashioned look of the show), but I think everyone can agree those who worked on the remastered presentations did a fantastic job.
For those who don't care for the newly added visual effects, the Blu-Ray edition offers the terrific option of being able to use the angle button to flip between the original version and the new version with added effects during the effects sequences. Fans may have fun doing comparisons between the versions.
1. 1- 2 8 Sep 66 The Man Trap
2. 1- 3 15 Sep 66 Charlie X
3. 1- 4 22 Sep 66 Where No Man Has Gone Before
4. 1- 5 29 Sep 66 The Naked Time
5. 1- 6 6 Oct 66 The Enemy Within
6. 1- 7 13 Oct 66 Mudd's Women
7. 1- 8 20 Oct 66 What Are Little Girls Made Of?
8. 1- 9 27 Oct 66 Miri
9. 1-10 3 Nov 66 Dagger of the Mind
10. 1-11 10 Nov 66 The Corbomite Maneuver
11. 1-12 17 Nov 66 The Menagerie - Part I
12. 1-13 24 Nov 66 The Menagerie - Part II
13. 1-14 8 Dec 66 The Conscience of the King
14. 1-15 15 Dec 66 Balance of Terror
15. 1-16 29 Dec 66 Shore Leave
16. 1-17 5 Jan 67 The Galileo Seven
17. 1-18 12 Jan 67 The Squire of Gothos
18. 1-19 19 Jan 67 Arena
19. 1-20 26 Jan 67 Tomorrow is Yesterday
20. 1-21 2 Feb 67 Court Martial
21. 1-22 9 Feb 67 The Return of the Archons
22. 1-23 16 Feb 67 Space Seed
23. 1-24 23 Feb 67 A Taste of Armageddon
24. 1-25 2 Mar 67 This Side of Paradise
25. 1-26 9 Mar 67 The Devil in the Dark
26. 1-27 23 Mar 67 Errand of Mercy
27. 1-28 30 Mar 67 The Alternative Factor
28. 1-29 6 Apr 67 The City on the Edge of Forever
29. 1-30 13 Apr 67 Operation -- Annihilate!
VIDEO: Paramount presents these first season episodes of "Star Trek" in 1.33:1 full-frame, and the results - while understandably not perfect - are still pretty astonishing at times. Sharpness and detail can vary at times, but overall, these episodes have probably never looked crisper or more detailed than they do here. No edge enhancement was seen, nor were any instances of noise. A couple of slight print flaws were still spotted, but the majority of the wear-and-tear has been removed (as is seen in the "Stargazing" documentary about the restoration work that was done.) Colors certainly appear "perked up", looking fresh, well-saturated and pleasing. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones looked natural. The series looks simply fantastic on its Blu-Ray debut, and the presentation should definitely thrill fans of the show.
SOUND: The episodes are presented on this release with new DTS-HD 7.1 soundtracks. The sound quality is generally very good, considering these are repurposed soundtracks of a show that's over thirty years old. The audio was mainly focused from the front channels, although there were certainly some moments where the surrounds kicked into gear with sounds of the Enterprise, some various sound effects or other ambience.
While the amount of activity was pleasing, considering the show's age, also very enjoyable was the audio quality - while these soundtracks definitely don't sound like more recent audio productions, the show did sound quite good. A couple of slight instances of distortion were noticed, but the audio otherwise seemed clean The DTS-HD presentations on the Blu-Ray were a noticeable improvement over the DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentations, with audio that sounded tighter, somewhat more precise and mildly warmer. The audio presentation on this Blu-Ray presentation does certainly seem to squeeze out audio that I can only guess is about as good as the original elements can sound. The original mono is also offered.
EXTRAS: The first extra that I immediately jumped to was "William Shatner: Life After Star Trek", as Shatner, at middle age, somehow has become naturally hilarious. This featurette focuses on how Shatner has seemingly become a "Horse Whisperer", chatting about his newfound passion for raising horses and how he "becomes one" with the horses. While it's very nice to see that Shatner has found a very respectable hobby, his serious delivery of this interview footage combined with statements like comparing horses to potato chips ("you can't own just one.") and tidbits like the fact that Shatner invented a horse training class ("The Shatner Class") make for some funny moments. I watched this again on the Blu-Ray edition after watching it on the DVD edition and it's just as funny now, if not even funnier.
"The Birth of A Timeless Legacy" is a 24-minute documentary that provides a very interesting look at the early days of the series, including some information on the very "different" original pilot (involving alien procreation) that the networks - not surprisingly for the time - just didn't get. The piece interviews members of the cast and many members of the original crew, and we learn more about budgetary restraints that the show had to work under, the original casting (such as the fight against the network to get Nichelle Nichols onto the series) and creating the look of the series (including Spock's "last-minute" ears).
"To Boldly Go...Season 1" is an 18-minute piece that continues a lot of the discussion in the "Legacy" piece. We learn more about the budget that the show had to deal with, given the fact that the networks never had a great deal of confidence in the series. There's also additional information about creating character arcs throughout the first season and how the creators came up with some of the plots for some of the more popular episodes of this opening season.
"Stargazing" (HD) is a 20-minute documentary that looks into the restoration of the series, which is a pretty fascinating experience. First, we are taken through the attempts to transfer the original camera negatives and go frame-by-frame to do clean-up work on the show. We also learn about the effects and audio work that was done, although the focus is largely on the effects, as the artists discuss their approach to integrating newer effects.
"Starfleet Access" is provided on “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, “The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2”, “Balance of Terror”, “Space Seed” and “Errand of Mercy”. When this option is selected, viewers get both some picture-in-picture information (additional interviews and behind-the-scenes footage), as well as text trivia. An "Interactive Exploration" of the Enterprise (HD) is also offered on disc 6. "Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories" is a documentary running a bit less than 15 minutes that offers thoughts from the supporting actor, as well as some fascinating and rare behind-the-scenes footage.
Finally, there is "Reflections on Spock" and "Sci-Fi Visionaries". "Spock" is a featurette that looks the development of Leonard Nimoy's incredibly famous role, with interviews with the actor. "Sci-Fi Visionaries" is a look at some of the show's famed writers, who are interviewed throughout the piece. "Kiss N'Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century" is a brief look into some of the romances on "Trek". There's also a photo gallery included on disc 8, as well as episode previews on each disc and a preview trailer for the new 2009 remake.
As for the set's BD-Live extras (from the press release): "Owners of STAR TREK®: THE ORIGINAL SERIES on Blu-ray will be able to access daily reports from FEDCON, Europe’s largest STAR TREK convention, for direct download from the disc’s BD-Live portal. Apart from the additional information and exclusive videos and trailers provided via BD-Live, videos of the highlights at FEDCON will be available for download.
For the first time ever, CBS Home Entertainment will have teams onsite at FEDCON, filming behind-the-scenes footage, talent interviews and more which will then be made available daily for direct download.
The convention in Germany features appearances from many stars of the STAR TREK universe including Nichelle Nichols (Captain Uhura) from the classic STAR TREK series. More than 5,000 fans will get together in Bonn to celebrate their favorite series over the weekend. All fans are also invited to post their private pictures and comments at CBS’s new website dedicated to BD-Live at: www.cbs-bdlive.com."
Final Thoughts: The original "Star Trek" series is a groundbreaking, classic effort that built its popularity on a foundation of a strong cast and bold, imaginative writing. The Blu-Ray presentation provides outstanding (considering the age of the series) video quality, very good audio quality and a terrific set of bonus features (as well as the option to watch original versions of scenes or "enhanced" versions with the new effects.) Highly recommended.