Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1

CBS/Paramount
Release date: April 28th, 2009
MSRP: $129.99 (You can find it for a lot less).

Stars:William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei and Walter Koenig.
My first memory of Star Trek is watching it, on Saturday afternoon, at my babysitter’s house. I was likely around six. I eagerly followed Captain James T. Kirk and co across the galaxy as they boldly went searching for new life and new civilizations.

I stopped paying attention to the Star Trek universe maybe a decade ago. I have watched the second and fourth film since then, but most of the Trek mythos was a faded memory.

Until this set came into my hands. I originally planned to give it to Randy (Our resident Trek geek) but decided to step back into the realm of phasers and saucy green women.

And while the original series certainly looks dated, the fun is still there. Shatner’s delivery has become a thing to make fun of, but I…Still…Enjoy…hearing him talk. The Shat baby! This is what made the man.

I hope to God I do not have to explain the premise of the show. I am assuming you all know, so I am just going to spend a little time talking about which notable episodes appear here.

Perhaps the most notable one is Space Seeds. SS gives us our first look at Kahn (Ricardo Montlebon), the character that would eventually become the antagonist in the best Star Trek film (The Wrath of Kahn). Looking back on this episode, you can see why they chose to revisit Kahn for the second movie. The first had been blasted for being too slow and boring (and rightly so), so they needed the follow up to have not just action, but a compelling villain.

City on the Edge of Forever is another killer. Kirk and Spock are forced to follow McCoy back in time to the 1930s. McCoy has done something that changed history and they need to correct it. It is there that they meet Edith Keeler. Naturally Kirk falls in love with her. But he comes to realize that she is about to be killed in a traffic accident and that McCoy changed history by saving her. Kirk is then forced to prevent his friend from saving the woman he loves. Damn good stuff.

Here is the complete listing of contents for all seven discs. All extras are standard def unless labeled HD.

DISC ONE – Episodes: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before (with Starfleet Access enhancement) and The Naked Time. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode, new Star Trek feature film preview trailer (#1 – HD) and the Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century featurette (HD)

DISC TWO – Episodes: The Enemy Within, Mudd’s Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, Miri, Dagger of the Mind. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode and an FX Sizzle Reel Easter egg featurette.

DISC THREE – Episodes: The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie, Part 1 (with Starfleet Access enhancement), The Menagerie, Part 2 (with Starfleet Access enhancement) and The Conscience of the King. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD) and the Reflections on Spock featurette.

DISC FOUR – Episodes: Balance of Terror (with Starfleet Access enhancement), Shore Leave, The Galileo Seven and The Squire of Gothos. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD) and the Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner featurette.

DISC FIVE – Episodes: Arena, Tomorrow is Yesterday, Court Martial and The Return of the Archons. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode, the To Boldly Go…: Season One and The Birth of a Timeless Legacy featurettes and a Star Trek Remastered Easter egg preview trailer (HD)

DISC SIX – Episodes: Space Seed (with Starfleet Access enhancement), A Taste of Armageddon, This Side of Paradise and The Devil in the Dark. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode , the Sci-Fi Visionaries featurette (HD) and the BD-Java Interactive Enterprise Inspection (HD)

DISC SEVEN – Episodes: Errand of Mercy (with Starfleet Access enhancement), The Alternative Factor, The City on the Edge of Forever and Operation Annihilate!. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode, the Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest featurette (HD), the Kiss ‘N’ Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century featurette and BD-Live online access (includes online galleries and databases, as well as additional downloadable featurettes and other previews)

Video:
Not unexpectedly, the HD presentation draws attention to the seriously weak sets. But each ep has been cleaned up and remastered and looks as good as any show I can recall seeing. Truthfully, these look better than many shows much younger. There still is the occasional scratch, but nowhere near as much as you would think. The colors are very strong, as is the contrast.

Audio:
We are offered both Dolby Digital 2.0 mono as well as 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. My own system is not set for 7.1, but I will say it sounds pretty darn good. It is clear an enormous amount of time was spent to get the sound all gussied up.

There are also French and Spanish mono tracks, with subtitles for English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Extras:
As you can see, there is an impressive number of extras contained here. I really have to commend Paramount for stepping up and delivering the good here. More than once, I have complained about a lack of extras on Paramount television collections, but they have put together a damn fine set for Trek…not that Trekkers (or Trekies or Trekians or whatever you guys are called) would have settled for anything less.

You can’t really compare this series to the modern Sci-fi shows (Battlestar Galactica, Next Generation, Babylon 5) as the genre has progressed quite a big since then. But it is fair to say that Star Trek paved the way for those other shows. ST did deliver some socially progressive stories that stood out at the time, they avoided presenting life as being black and white.

It is also worth pointing out that creator Gene Roddenberry was a visionary in how he viewed the world. He saw the potential for a better world. He took that vision and applied it to Star Trek. We see a cast that includes an African-American, Asian, Russian and Alien. It may not seem like a big deal today, but this aired during the civil rights movement. Gene felt that we could/should strive for tolerance and prosperity. The series often saw the crew helping folks, but making sure they did not interfere with that planets destiny.

Star Trek was, as I said, groundbreaking. While it looks more than a little hokey today, especially in HD, the stories and characters still make it a fun viewing experience. More than a little credit must go to Roddenberry for delivering a concept that was truly unique. Those wandering towards Geezerdom, like myself, will almost certainly enjoy this stroll down memory lane.

Order the Blu-ray of Star Trek: the original series – season one.

Jeremy Lynch