One of the most beloved sci-fi TV shows of all time, Paramount had previously made episodes of the original "Star Trek" available in shorter volumes, but this release marks the first time the series has been released in a full season set, coming complete with collectable packaging. Despite the fact that the "Trek" films have suffered a slight slide in the past few years, the spin-off shows that the original series has spawned are still going strong and consistently gaining new fans in syndication. This first season box set is a nice place for hardcore followers of the series to recall some of the show's earliest moments and for casual fans to see where it all began.
Disc 1: “The Man Trap”, “Charlie X”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, “The Naked Time”.
Disc 2: “The Enemy Within”, “Mudd’s Women”, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, “Miri”.
Disc 3: “Dagger of the Mind”, “The Corbomite Maneuver”, “The Menagerie, Part I”, “The Menagerie, Part II”.
Disc 4: “The Conscience of the King”, “Balance of Terror”, “Shore Leave”, “The Galileo Seven”.
Disc 5: “The Squire of Gothos”, “Arena”, “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”, “Court Martial”.
Disc 6: “The Return of the Archons”, “Space Seed”, “A Taste of Armageddon”, “This Side of Paradise”.
Disc 7: “The Devil in the Dark”, “Errand of Mercy”, “The Alternative Factor”, “The City on the Edge of Forever”.
Disc 8: “Operation Annihilate” + Featurettes
VIDEO: The episodes here are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentations are pleasing in several ways and slightly disappointing in others. Sharpness and detail are generally very good, and I was impressed at how bright and crisp the image often looked. While there were some exceptions where the image looked slightly softer, definition was better than expected overall.
The main issue with the presentations is simply their age. While the original elements are not in terrible shape, there are some instances throughout each episode where dust, dirt and other minor/mild wear is apparent. Slight instances of compression artifacts were visible on occasion, but these were hardly an issue. Edge enhancement wasn't noticed during the episodes.
Colors appeared bright and surprisingly vivid (especially the strong reds present in many scenes), with very nice saturation and no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones appeared accurate. These are enjoyable presentations, but it would have been nice if the studio had spent a little more time cleaning up the original elements.
SOUND: These episodes are presented by Paramount in remastered Dolby Digital 5.1. These presentations understandably aren't particularly aggressive and don't sound "modern", but they are good for what they are. There is a limited amount of surround use present throughout the episodes and audio quality is satisfying, with clean, clear dialogue and other elements (sound effects, music).
EXTRAS: The first extra that I immediately jumped to was "William Shatner: Life After Star Trek", as Shatner, at middle age, somehow became just 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.
"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.
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. There's also a photo gallery included on disc 8, as well as episode previews on each disc.
While it would have been nice to get audio commentaries on some episodes with the cast and crew reflecting back on their experiences during these early years, viewers are offered text commentaries on 4 episodes ("Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Conscience of the King" and "The Menangerie Parts 1 and 2") from "Trek" historians Michael and Denise Okuda. These subtitle commentaries provide both information on the episode at hand and overall information about the production of the series.
Final Thoughts: The original "Star Trek" series is a groundbreaking, classic effort that built its popularity on a foundation of a strong cast and terrific imagination. Paramount's DVD edition provides a pleasant amount of supplements, fine audio quality and satisfactory image quality. Recommended.