Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 [Blu-Ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (3rd June 2009).
The Show

I’m willing to bet that way back in 1966 when Gene Roddenberry created “Star Trek” (1966-1969), he never would have guessed the show would go on to hold the Guinness World Record for most number of spin-offs from a single television series. Indeed, more than 40 years after the original series’ debut, "Star Trek" has birthed five additional television series and eleven theatrical films, the latest of which, “Star Trek” (2009), is a reboot to the entire storyline.

However, time has not been so kind to the classic series. What was once a well-received, both critically and by fans, series about space exploration slowly evolved into a running joke among late-nights sketch comedy shows and bullies unfamiliar with the show looking to lampoon geeks in general. What many have missed is that the show was exceptionally written, had a pitch-perfect cast and, though they lacked a substantial budget, featured many fantastic set pieces intended to bring viewers into the 23rd century.

The series’ first season didn’t begin smoothly by any stretch of the imagination. After being passed over by CBS, in favor of "Lost in Space" (1965-1968), Gene Roddenberry, creator of "Star Trek", finally convinced NBC to pick up the show. The network commissioned a pilot episode, “The Cage”, to be shot with Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. NBC decided to reject the pilot for being “too cerebral” but, in a surprise move, they commissioned a second pilot be shot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, with William Shatner, stepping in for Jeffrey Hunter, who was unable to return, taking the reigns of the USS Enterprise over as Captain James T. Kirk. The only other cast member retained by the production was Nimoy’s Spock, while the rest of the cast was filled out with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Deforest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Sulu (George Takei).

The mission statement of the series, as spoken during the show’s opening by Spock, was as follows:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The series intention was to feature the crew exploring the known and unknown universe, interacting with whatever inhabitants they come across along the way. This allowed the series to feature many unique species and races, often times mirroring current social issues relevant to the zeitgeist. The themes within the show dealt with tolerance and acceptance of those who are different; to set aside ethnocentric ways of thinking in favor of embracing what is alien to us. Roddenberry’s decision to include Asian (Sulu) and African-American (Uhura) cast members was a radical choice considering the norm for that time period was to cast white actors in prominent roles. In fact, the series can also boast another major milestone: the first on-screen interracial kiss between fictional characters, as performed by William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in the season three episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren”.

“Star Trek: The Original Series”: Season 1 contains all 29 episodes presented on 7 dual-layered Blu-ray discs. The breakdown is as follows:

DISC ONE:

- “The Man Trap”
- “Charlie X”
- “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
- “The Naked Time”

DISC TWO:

- “The Enemy Within”
- “Mudd’s Women”
- “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
- “Miri”
- “Dagger of the Mind”

DISC THREE:

- “The Corbomite Maneuver”
- “The Menagerie Part I”
- “The Menagerie Part II”
- “The Conscience of the King”

DISC FOUR:

- “Balance of Terror”
- “Shore Leave”
- “The Galileo Seven”
- The Squire of Gothos”

DISC FIVE:

- “Arena”
- “Tomorrow is Yesterday”
- “Court Martial”
- “The Return of the Archons”

DISC SIX:

- “Space Seed”
- “A Taste of Armageddon”
- “This Side of Paradise”
- “The Devil in the Dark”

DISC SEVEN:

- “Errand of Mercy”
- “The Alternative Factor”
- “The City on the Edge of Forever”
- “Operation: Annihilate!”

All of the above episodes are fantastic; nothing stands out as a weak link among this collection. NBC allowed the series to really shine in terms of production design, apparently in an attempt to take advantage of the newly-realized color television technology, so each episode is exceptionally vivid and colorful. My personal favorite episodes are: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, “The Devil in the Dark”, “The Naked Time”, “The Enemy Within” and “Arena”, though that list is subject to change as I do seriously enjoy every episode presented here.

As is the case with the quality of each episode, the cast is equally outstanding. The patriarch of the series is William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk, envisioned as a 23rd century Horatio Hornblower-type with a distinctly rugged, individualistic personality. Shatner certainly made the role his own, and his acting and line delivery have become the stuff of legend. Leonard Nimoy, the only cast member to appear in all 79 episodes, is Capt. Kirk’s polar opposite, possessing a cool demeanor alongside his use of logic and reasoning over quick, rash decision making. Deforest Kelley’s Dr. McCoy is the intermediary between the two, often providing a voice of reason during times of conflict on the bridge. Scotty, as portrayed by James Doohan, is the series go-to repair officer, capable of getting the Enterprise out of any kind of difficult situation with his quick-thinking and on-the-spot fix-it jobs. The series other two leads, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura and George Takei as Sulu, are both excellent in their respective roles, but I’ve often felt their presence was intended solely to round out the cast with a but more culture. Regardless, every single cast member is perfectly cast and I couldn’t imagine the show without any one of them.

Video

“Star Trek: The Original Series” Season 1 has previously been released on DVD and HD DVD, the latter as a combo disc containing both standard and high-definition versions of the episodes. This Blu-ray set contains only the high-definition version of the show, presented in its broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 using the VC-1 codec, and viewers are given an option of watching either the original broadcast episodes or the newly-enhanced versions with computer-generated effects. Switching between the two is as simple as using the “angle” feature on your player’s remote as these discs are seamlessly branched.

I’m somewhat of a purist, so I prefer to watch the original broadcast versions, but I do have to commend the work put into the enhanced versions. Many of the changes are extremely subtle, but I feel that, although the CGI enhancements are well-rendered, they do feel slightly out of place in comparison to the non-enhanced portions of the show. Examples include: the opening shots of the Enterprise flying across the screen now feature a smoother, more modern looking ship, planets have been rendered to look more realistic, cities previously presented as matte paintings now look fuller and have some depth, etc. As I said, many of these new additions are relatively minor and many fans will likely appreciate the efforts made here to bring the show a little closer to current standards, but I prefer my shows, films and any other form of media to be left as is, aside from the requisite spit-and-polish needed to clean them up. There is a noticeable quality shift between the newly-enhanced shots and the older footage but, since both versions are seamlessly branched, you won’t lose out on any level of detail regardless of the version you’re watching.

I’m pleased to say that regardless of which version you choose to watch, “Star Trek” has never looked better. The show was shot on 35mm film so there was a great opportunity to restore the image, and present it in full 1080p 24/fps, with more detail than we’ve ever seen before. Simply put, this blows away the previous DVD editions that were released back in 2004. Colors are vivid, bright and pop off the screen with amazing clarity. Black levels are deep and murky, while whites look cool and natural. Skin tones are more natural than ever, providing an astounding level of detail (make-up, prosthetics and all) on each actor’s face. Fine grain detail has also been preserved, so don’t worry about excessive DNR being applied here. As soon as I began watching the first episode, it felt like I was watching a show that was made in the last 5-10 years, not one that is over 40 years old! This is even more amazing when you consider the fact that television sets in the 60’s weren’t even capable of displaying the image with the level of detail as it was shot in-camera, meaning we’re seeing the absolute best possible presentation imaginable.

Audio

As with the video, the audio for “Star Trek” has been given a complete overhaul. The main track is a superb English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound mixed at 48kHz/24-bit which sounds incredible. Even though some minor hisses were detected, this track is clear and crisp. Surrounds are put to great use, often filling out the track with ambient sounds such as doors opening or people talking. The immersive experience, combined with the restored video, makes watching this series a whole new experience even for the most seasoned Trekker. Also included, for audio purists, are the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track and the French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono dub tracks.
Subtitles are offered in English for the hearing impaired, French, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish.

Extras

This new Blu-ray edition retains some of the bonus features found on the previous DVD and HD DVD editions along with adding some new features to the set. Included here are some behind-the-scenes footage, featurettes, episode trailers, “Starfleet Access” pop-up guides for select episodes and some very worthwhile BD-Live content.

One quick note on “Starfleet Access”: this is an interactive feature which you can turn on very simply from the main menu, at which point the episode will play while video windows will pop-up featuring various members of the show’s cast and crew discussing details about the episode, usually alongside text pop-up which provide information on many of the shows props, crew, weapons, technology and numerous other factoids.

All of the supplements are spread across the 7-disc set, so here is a full breakdown of where each feature appears:

DISC ONE:

“Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century” is a featurette which runs for 20 minutes and 10 seconds. The team responsible for Trek’s restoration talk about how they cleaned up the image using the original film elements, re-recording Alexander Courage’s classic theme in surround sound and integrating newly-created computer-generated effects into the classic show.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc one’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

A bonus trailer for “Star Trek” (2009) runs for 2 minutes and 8 seconds. It is available to watch in a multitude of languages, including: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese (subtitles only) and Spanish.

“Starfleet Access” interactive feature is available for the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.

DISC TWO:

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc two’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

There is an Easter egg that can be found by selecting the blank bulletin point next to the “Communications” option. There is rough footage of the newly-enhanced CGI effects set to some techno music, which runs for 3 minutes and 42 seconds.

DISC THREE:

“Reflection on Spock” is a featurette which runs for 12 minutes and 3 seconds. Leonard Nimoy talks about the enduring legacy of his iconic character, why he feels people can relate to Spock and muses about on-set anecdotes.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc three’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

“Starfleet Access” interactive feature is available for the episodes “The Menagerie Part I” and “The Menagerie Part II”.

DISC FOUR:

“Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner” is a featurette which runs for 10 minutes and 18 seconds. Shatner effusively gushes about his love for… horses? Yep, don’t expect much Trek talk here. This guy has a genuine love for all things equine.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc four’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

“Starfleet Access” interactive feature is available for the episode “Balance of Terror”.

DISC FIVE:

“To Boldly Go… Season One” is a featurette which runs for 18 minutes and 52 seconds. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and other members of the cast and crew reminisce about the show’s early beginnings, how their respective characters were developed and which episodes are their favorites.

“The Birth of a Timeless Legacy” is a featurette which runs for 24 minutes and 7 seconds. Similar to the previous featurette, this one expands much more on the birth of the show and its creator, Gene Roddenberry. A mix of archive and current (as of 2004) interviews fill out the piece with plenty of production notes.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc five’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

Also, there is another Easter egg which can be found just as the last one was: by selecting “Communications” from the main menu and then pressing right. Running for 1 minute and 3 seconds, this is a very funny commercial for the newly re-mastered and re-mixed “Star Trek” episodes.

DISC SIX:

“Sci-fi Visionaries” is a featurette which runs for 16 minutes and 30 seconds. This is a discussion about the incredible forethought of the show’s writers and producers, and the level of quality they demanded for each episode’s script.

“”Interactive Enterprise Inspection” is a Discovery Channel-esque interactive feature that looks at the starship Enterprise. Viewers, assuming the POV of being inside a small aircraft, can virtually fly around the ship and gain insight into every imaginable facet of what makes up the Enterprise. There are many, many areas of information and the tour is very well done.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc six’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

“Starfleet Access” interactive feature is available for “Space Seed”.

DISC SEVEN:

Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories” is a featurette which runs for 13 minutes and 23 seconds. Blackburn, a production assistant on the show, shares memories about the many characters he ended up playing during the series’ run, as well as showing some old videos he had taken of the cast and crew on-set. Some really great old footage is shown here.

“Kiss ‘N’ Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century” is a featurette which runs for 8 minutes and 24 seconds. Shatner sarcastically muses on his many interstellar trysts while playing Capt. Kirk.

Episode trailers are provided for each of disc seven’s episodes, all of which run for 1 minute and 3 seconds each.

“Enhanced Visual Effects Credits” are just what they say they are, credits.

“Starfleet Access” interactive feature is available for “Errand of Mercy”.

There is also a healthy amount of BD-Live content available for those users who have their profile 2.0 player connected to the internet. I’ve never been much of a fan of this feature than Blu-ray seems to tout so proudly. I feel that often times what is available isn’t worth the hassle of the often-laborious loading process. That isn’t the case here however, as there is a lot of worthwhile material presented here. The loading process is still very slow, but once you get in things move very quickly. Here is a breakdown of what’s currently available:

Cast biographies are available for William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Majel Barrett.

Creative team biographies are available for: Gene Roddenberry, Wah Ming Chang, Harlan Ellison, Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana, Walter “Matt” Jefferies, Robert H. Justman, Herbert F. Solow and William Ware “Bill” Theiss.

Character biographies are available for James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr. Leonard H. McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Uhura, Hikaru Sulu and Christine Chapel.

5 databases provide information on aliens, ships, technology, science & medical and places from the Star Trek universe.

A transcript of a chat from TrekWeb.com with Mike and Denise Okuda.

Photo galleries are available for: The Crew, Aliens and all 3 days of the Fedcon Convention 2009.

3 exclusive FedCon 2009 videos are available, one for each of the convention’s 3 days. They run for around 2 minutes and 30 seconds each.

“CBS BD-Live Community” online access allows users to connect with other users on the site.

3 exclusive “Star Trek” featurettes:

- “Filming the Galaxy”, which runs for 1 minute and 58 seconds.
- “Saving the Show”, which runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds.
- “The Sounds of Star Trek”, which runs for 2 minutes and 3 seconds.

“Red Shirt Logs - Season 1” contains 4 featurettes:

- “The Cage”, which runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
- “The Naked Time”, which runs for 4 minutes and 2 seconds.
- “The Corbomite Maneuver Part I”, which runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds.
- “The Corbomite Maneuver Part II”, which runs for 2 minutes and 6 seconds.

“Trekker Connections” is a “Six Degrees of Separation”-type interactive game involving the cast and crew members from the show.

“More CBS Paramount" bonus trailers includes the following:

- “CBS Comedy Trailer” promo runs for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- “TV’s Best” promo runs for 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
- “Twin Peaks Gold Box Edition” runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds.

“More TV Series on DVD” is just a short list of CBS Paramount shows that are on DVD.

Don’t forget that new material is constantly being added to this site, and anytime you log in a prompt will alert you as to whether or not anything has been recently added.

There is more than enough bonus material here for even the most diehard fan, but I wish they had been able to record some audio commentaries, a feature which is sorely lacking here as it would have been great to listen to the living members from the cast and crew discuss some of the season’s key episodes. No matter, as what we do get is quite substantial.

Packaging

This collection is packaged in a deluxe 7-disc Blu-ray case housed in a tin wrap-a-round housing.

Overall

If the exhaustive review above hasn’t convinced you by now, I don’t know what else I could possibly say. This is the best possible presentation of this show in terms of picture quality, audio quality and supplemental material. Everything about this release is fantastic and, as it can usually be found for a reasonable price, I highly recommend anyone with interest do so.

The Show: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A