With the original series I see no reason at all to buy into a 4 episode release. This stuff has already appeared countless times in the last 5 years or so. The episodes appeared in double episode discs originally. Then there were the complete seasons. There was the remastered DVD season sets. Finally, the best news yet, the release of these episodes in high definition on Blu-ray. So, why is Paramount releasing these single disc DVD’s now? There’s no question that they picked 4 of the best episodes, and they are the remastered versions.
The City On The Edge Of Forever: McCoy accidentally injects himself with a drug that brings on intense paranoia. He slips the ship and ends up on a planet, where a donut shaped ruin is discovered. This Guardian of Forever can transport a person back in time, where McCoy’s delusional state causes him to change the past. Now Kirk and Spock must go back, find him, and fix whatever went wrong, even if that means letting a woman that Kirk’s fallen in love with die. Ellison never stops complaining, and I hate the guy, but was there ever a more dramatic and emotional episode? One of the best episodes of Trek in all of its incarnations.
The Trouble With Tribbles: Do I really have to talk about this one at all? A recent poll finds that this single episode is the most remembered of all of the incarnations of Star Trek. There are over 600 hours of Star Trek in one form or another, and Tribbles beats them all for enduring.
Balance Of Terror: This claustrophobic The Enemy Below knockoff was some of the best drama Trek ever delivered. The first on screen meeting of the Romulans finds they look strikingly like Vulcans. Kirk and the Romulan Commander played artfully by Mark Lenard is nail biting Trek. Lenard, of course, would return as Spock’s daddy.
Amok Time: Sci-fi great Theodore Sturgeon penned one of the most important episodes in the Vulcan mythology. Nimoy also gave us the famous “Live long and prosper” Vulcan hand gesture in this episode, based on a Jewish blessing he once observed as a child. Who can forget the Kirk and Spock battle? The scene along with its familiar music has been parodied a thousand times since. Finally, who can forget that wide smile…just for a second, when Spock sees Kirk is still alive?
Each episode of Star Trek is presented in a full frame aspect ratio. The picture looks every bit as good as the broadcasts on my satellite television system. Colors are outstanding, as is the level of detail. Black levels never fail to produce fine shadow detail.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works very well to spread out many of the show’s claustrophobic moments. While not extremely aggressive, you get a good sense of space with the ambient channels. Dialog is clear and always placed correctly compared with what’s on the screen. Occasionally musical cues are a little louder than I’d like, but the clarity and quality are always consistent.
At the risk of repeating myself: No one and nothing is ever dead in the Star Trek universe. With the remastered shows taking center stage and the films soon to follow in HD, I thought we’d seen the last of these Fan Collective sets. With the last release, I thought I heard the unmistakable voice of DeForest Kelley announce: “It’s dead, Gino”. Alas, the temptation to double dip was too much for Paramount to resist, and a new release is upon us. These are very good episodes, but it’s just four in a large number of equally as worthy episodes. I’d rather Paramount keep working on the HD product and let these collections pass away quietly into the night, but it appears that there is “just one duty left to perform”.