“Space…The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship
I have heard very little complaint about these efforts. Most of the shots appear to be identical in scope to the originals, and with a few exceptions don’t appear to detract from the rest of the show. It helps that the restoration process itself has made even the original material look quite fresh, but more about that in the video portion of this review. I have to say I was about as skeptical as anyone when I first heard of this enormous undertaking. I knew that if they didn’t get the right people, there would be too much of a temptation to show off. I’m glad to report that every shot is respectful and not as overpowering as it could have been. There is a lot of respect paid to the source material, and the f/x appear to blend in almost seamlessly. You might even find yourself unsure if a shot is new or old, particularly planet-side additions. There was more than one occasion I had to dust off my old laserdisc collection and make some side by side comparisons. To me, those moments of uncertainty said more about the project than anything else. Imagine if we had gotten some George Lucas wannabe on this project. There would have been so much effort spent to dazzle us that the simplicity, and yet genius of these episodes would have been lost. I’m happy to report the results are something I think Roddenberry himself would have approved of.
Season three might have been the end of the original Star Trek, but it was certainly the beginning of something much larger than anything you will find in these discs. After over 500 hours of Star Trek out there, it isn’t over yet. The end really was just the beginning.
Spectre Of The Gun: Sure, the story’s been done already a half dozen times, but look at how good the characters are in this one. It’s Star Trek and good old time Western shoot ‘em up. And Chekhov gets the girl this time.
The Tholian Web: Maybe one of the best Treks ever. Kirk’s final orders is one of the more tender McCoy/Spock moments. The Tholians should have been used more. They finally did show up on
For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky: A great McCoy episode, to be sure. The title is also one of the best lines spoken in a Trek episode.
Requiem For Methuselah: Shatner overacts badly here, but it’s one of the most original Trek episodes made. I did sense a bit of Forbidden Planet here, which is likely intentional, as Roddenberry has often credited that film as a major source of inspiration for Trek. Louise Sorel is also the most attractive of Kirk’s women.
All Our Yesteryears: I’m not sure why I like this one so much. I just do.
Spock’s Brain: Imagine Spock on a remote control device being led around in search of his brain. Wait a minute. You don’t have to.
And The Children Shall Lead: Didn’t we see the same episode in Miri? God, this one is awful.
Plato’s Stepchildren: Yes, I know this one is historic for having the first interracial kiss on television, but honestly, this one is severely bad. The Plutonians move the crew around like puppets. Too bad they couldn’t have exercised more control over the writers.
The Empath: Kelley considers this one of the show’s best. I know he plays a doctor, but that’s no excuse to self medicate. I love the late DeForest Kelley dearly, but this episode was slower than maple syrup poured on an Arctic stack of pancakes.
Is There No Truth In Beauty: Apparently not. Diane Muldaur and a shiny alien that makes you crazy. That’s like asking Aunt Esther the title question.
Turnabout Intruder: The episode that killed Trek. ‘Nough said.
Each episode of the series is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. I would have loved to see these things wide. Since these were remastered in HD I expected them to recrop the dang things. HD is supposed to mean wide. Anyway, the restoration is a pretty sweet piece of work. Colors jump out like they have never before. I noticed details that I’ve been missing for over 40 years. I’ve seen these episodes hundreds of times, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was actually seeing them for the first time. Reds were particularly blazing for the first time ever. The new f/x shots blended in perfectly and exhibited an appropriate picture quality. The f/x were clear and clean, but yet made to look like the original film stock. I saw sashes on the guards in Friday’s Child I never knew existed before. Each has their own color, and they really have color. Gone are some of the print flaws from earlier releases. The transfers are very clean. If for no other reason, you need to see Star Trek in a form that was never possible before even in first run broadcast. These episodes leap at you at warp speed.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a welcome upgrade here. Again the key is that it does not impose itself as a distraction. The surround mix is negligible enough to fit in with what we remember while adding more on the dynamic side rather than any kind of aggressive mix. The opening theme has been rerecorded, and here I find my only minor complaint with the new work. The female vocal intonations were mixed far more forward and, I think, overpower the wonderful Alexander Courage score. The dialog has been obviously enhanced by the new mix with good results. The iconic incidental music is better than ever before. You get everything you’re used to, but better, in this audio presentation.
This 7 disc contains a few extras to be found spread throughout. You get the original “next week on Star Trek” promos that were packaged with the episodes on laser. These are not remastered, so if you want to see what a truly remarkable job was done here, just check out these promos and compare.
This time all of the extras are on the 7th disc.
Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest – Rare Home Movies And Special Memories Part 3: That’s a long name. Billy was for Star Trek what in baseball you’d call a utility player. He appeared in many episodes in a variety of roles, usually not speaking. He often could be found at the helm when Chekhov or Sulu needed a break. He wore monster masks and often appeared as background aliens in many episodes. During his time on the set he took a lot of 16mm footage that supplies some rather nice moments for fans. You get to see costume and makeup tests, because Billy was also the test dummy for the show. It’s part two, likely because the HD-DVD version contained the first in this series.
To Boldly Go – Season 3: There’s talk about Roddenberry’s highly publicized departure as cast and crew examine the final year of the original show. The letter writing campaign is discussed, although Shatner, being his egomaniacal self, dismisses the letters as any significant impact on rescuing the show. This runs about 22 minutes.
A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True: John Long is an industry prop designer who was given some original series props to create detailed replicas. He demonstrates his replicas and compares them with the original props. The feature runs about 7 minutes.
Life Beyond Trek – Walter Koenig: Koenig shows us his remarkable collection of books and buttons. He talks about Trek’s impact on his life and his few other ventures into television and film. There must have been some rights issues as some of his collection appears blurred out.
Chief Engineer’s Log: The late James Doohan talks about Trek and his own life. He explains how he lost his finger, something he and the Trek people worked hard at hiding over the years. I hadn’t known until I met him here in
Memoirs From Mr. Sulu: George Takei talks about his experiences on Star Trek. He also talks a lot about his Japanese heritage and time spent in a World War II internment camp. Trust me when I tell you this 9 minutes does not adequately cover the man’s topics. I’ve seen him speak on the matter extensively, and if you get the chance so should you. It appears he’s still campaigning for the Captain Sulu television series he has been working for since I first met him in the early 90’s.
Star Trek’s Impact: This 9 minute feature is somewhat disappointing. Roddenberry’s son talks about Trek as though he had been actively involved in its creation, seeming to take credit for its themes and ideas. Phrases like “the Roddenberry philosophy” turned me off quite a bit. The feature really doesn’t even cover what the title implies it will.
Collectible Trek: From action figures to authentic props there’s no shortage of Trek paraphernalia out there. Anyone who has been to a convention has seen most of this stuff.
Captain’s Log – Bob Justman: Like Matt Jeffries, Bob Justman was one of the moving forces behind Star Trek. He was responsible for bringing everything together and within budget. His influence can be felt through to today on the franchise and this 9 minute feature is long overdue and is inadequate to do the late Trek production designer credit.
Paramount insiders have let it slip that the first 6 films will be available in Blu-ray high definition in time for the upcoming new Trek feature. With so much happening in Star Trek in the months and hopefully years to come, it is nice to look back, but with a fresh perspective. That’s exactly what these discs allow you to do. Before you embark on a brand new adventure with some very old friends, you simply need to pick up these remastered gems and catch back up with the family. Anything else would be “illogical”.