Best Of Star Trek: The Original Series (The)
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (23rd May 2009).
The Film

It’s hard to believe that more than 40 years of phasers, transport beams, Klingon jokes and sci-fi conventions were all spawned back in 1966 from a relatively low-rated television show. Yet “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966-1969) is far more than its detractors and lampooners would lead the general public to believe. By today’s standards it’s easy to defile the show and its low-fi production values as being cheap and shoddy. But the uninitiated would be unwise to do so, as they are truly missing out on one of the most rewarding television programs of the century. “Star Trek” was always a forward-thinking show with plots and technology that sought to examine where man’s place is in the universe and, more importantly, where he is going. Even with its limited budget and frequently reused set pieces, the stories that each episode told were superbly written. Legendary writers, such as Harlan Ellison, even contributed stories to the show. Yet, sadly, almost all of this would be eclipsed in the ensuing years by the ham-fisted performance of one William Shatner. His stilted delivery and quirky mannerisms, along with the infamous phaser weapon, are all that would be remembered by the pop culture zeitgeist for years to come.

However, those unfamiliar with the show would be foolish to outright dismiss it based on these trivial facts. Thankfully, Paramount has sought to make initiation into the original "Trek" universe much easier thanks to this new "Best Of" collection. Now, people who aren’t so inclined to drop $70 on the brand new Blu-ray season sets can easily part with a much smaller fee to enjoy some of the best episodes the series has to offer.

Included on this single disc DVD are the following 4 episodes:

- “The City on the Edge of Forever” – Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) enter the “Guardian of Forever” archway, which transports them to 1930. Kirk falls for a peace activist (the legendary Joan Collins), whom he tries to rescue. However, in doing so he may radically alter the future in addition to trapping himself and his crew in time.

- “The Trouble with Tribbles” – When the Enterprise docks at the same space station as the Klingons, trouble soon follows. At the same time, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) purchases a “tribble”, a furry little creature that, once aboard the Enterprise, begins to quickly reproduce at an alarming rate.

- “Balance of Terror” – When the Enterprise encounters a Romulan warship hidden by a cloaking device the crew isn’t sure who to trust as Romulans look very similar to Vulcans, Spock’s race. Capt. Kirk is forced to attempt to protect his ship while also preventing a race war from within as the crew loses sight of who the true enemy is.

- “Amok Time” – Spock is in heat, big time, and the only cure is for him to mate. In order to prevent a full-scale meltdown, Kirk orders the Enterprise to set down on Vulcan so Spock can find a mate. Unfortunately, the girl he chooses prefers Kirk, leading to a duel between the two friends.
While I feel that Paramount has selected some of the most popular fan-favorite episodes, as a fan of the series I think they could have made some stronger choices. As with any media medium, it’s all subjective, so my choices certainly wouldn’t align with other fans. Regardless of the selections, these episodes are a good representation of what makes “Star Trek” so unique. The series’ humor, terror, insight and struggles are all accounted for here.

While some may be turned off by the technical geek-speak of the later series, such as “The Next Generation” (1987-1994), this is a bit more user friendly in terms of writing. Each episode is extremely well-crafted, while any attention (or budgetary constraints) that may have been lost on set designs and costumes is still firmly concentrated on telling a compelling story. Even though the years may not have been kind to this series, as it is often the butt of many a joke, first-time viewers will doubtless be impressed by the quality on display here. Fans of J.J. Abrams’ recent reboot, “Star Trek” (2009), who have an interest in being educated on the "Trek" universe would do well to use this disc as a good launching point.

Video

“Star Trek: The Original Series” is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. For a series that is over 40 years old, the show looks surprisingly good. Colors are warm, skin tones look natural and the picture is much sharper than one might expect. This show was made during a time of bright, flashy colors, and there are often many on display during each episode.

Audio

Audio is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, there are also Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks available. This is a clean track, with no noticeable pops or hisses. I don’t think the 5.1 mix is much benefit here, but it’s still nice to enjoy the occasional ambient sound coming from the rears.
Subtitles are provided in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Extras

There are no extras aside from a couple of bonus trailers for the following:

- “Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1” Blu-ray promo runs for 1 minute and 19 seconds.
- “Star Trek” film and television series Blu-ray promo runs for 32 seconds.
- “Charmed” DVD promo runs for 50 seconds.

Overall

Just as with “The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation”, this release exists solely as a quick cash-grab tie-in for Paramount’s latest cinematic opus. However, the episodes included are all worthwhile and the disc should be found for a reasonable price. More accessible than “The Next Generation”, in my opinion, I highly recommend anyone with remote interest in the "Trek" universe to pick this up and enjoy some quality programming.

The Film: A Video: B Audio: B- Extras: F Overall: B