Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 [Blu-ray]
by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
Paramount Home Entertainment Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B001TH16DS
Date: 28 April 2009 List Price $129.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
While I have seen a few episodes of the new enhanced Star Trek: The Original Series on TV, I'm under no illusion that those were anything near the quality of the DVD/HDDVD Combo Remastered Edition released in November 2007, nor this new version on Blu-ray which gives you both the original and digitally remastered versions of each Season 1 episode.
The First Lady of Star Trek
The above sentence appears after the end credits of some of the episodes and although I never had the privilege of meeting this wonderful lady in person, by all accounts she was a very special person in the hearts of those who worked with her.
Watching the Season 1 set of Star Trek: The Original Series is a test of endurance, even if you watch all 24 hours and 20 minutes over 3 or 4 days or hold your own Star Trek marathon over a long weekend.
I had forgotten how great some of these episodes were, but was reminded immediately upon viewing and listening to the new enhanced versions, then watching the same episodes in their original state.
The original masters used to make various generations of copies for broadcast and sale had become so dirty, scratched, and even torn in places that their first task was to use a special machine to scan the film. Since film is High Definition by its very nature, there is no audio or video loss through compression or conversion. Don Freeman speaks of scanning the frames immediately before and after the damaged segments, then using very specialized software like Inferno and Flame to repair the damage. Where digital restoration proved inadequate to the task, they went old school and restored segments by hand.
In addition to enhancing and brightening many of the original scenes, the restoration process also included replacing some scenes that looked flat and obsolete by today's standards with snappy new special effects. From a NASA quality opening sequence for each episode to enhanced segments like the barrier at the edge of our galaxy in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the new scenes rock! Other scenes that really rock are the detailed close-up of the Fesarius in "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Arena" (especially the intro), and the slingshot maneuver used to travel back in time in "Tomorrow is Yesterday".
Conductor Greg Smith speaks with obvious reverence of how they took Alexander Courage's original score, assembled a 28-piece orchestra that duplicated the instruments of the original 28-piece orchestra, used primarily musicians who had worked on the various Star Trek series and films over the years, and even used a soprano for the opening musical interlude, exactly as Gene Roddenberry had insisted upon originally. Smith says that the decision was taken to re-record the theme music using modern digital technology instead of the old analog technology used in 1966. It was nice to see that other than using current recording technology, Alexander Courage's original score was unchanged.
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - Where No Man Has Gone Before include:
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - The Menagerie, Part 1 include:
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - The Menagerie, Part 2 include:
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - Balance of Terror include:
The Birth of a Timeless Legacy also features interviews recorded in 2003-2004 with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Robert H. Justman, John D.F. Black (Associate Producer) and his wife Mary Black (Secretary), Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and D.C. (Dorothy) Fontana. We also get to see footage of the late Gene Roddenberry (recorded in 1988) and the late James Doohan (recorded in 1994). Two of my favorite segments were Leonard Nimoy describing The Cage as Freudian-Jungian and of the difficulties in making his first pair of ears that didn't look hideous and actually fit properly. The third segment that I really enjoyed was Dorothy Fontana reminiscing about the late DeForrest Kelley.
In Sci-Fi Visionaries William Shatner, Gene Roddenberry, Dorothy Fontana, John D.F. Black, Mary Black, and Robert H. Justman talk of how the original series used established science fiction writers such as Theodore Sturgeon (Shore Leave), Robert Bloch (What Are Little Girls Made Of?), Harlan Ellison (The City on the Edge of Forever), and George Clayton Johnson (The Man Trap) to write the teleplays.
I was surprised to learn that The Enemy Below, a 1957 film on World War II starring Robert Mitchum, Curd Jürgens, and David Hedison was the inspiration for Balance of Terror. Written by Paul Schneider, we learn that because his son was a big fan of the Roman Empire, he named the antagonists Romulans.
An amusing story related was how Ray Bradbury visited the studio and sets, spoke very politely and charmingly with everyone, even the secretaries, then turned around and left. Saying that Bradbury obviously felt that writing for television was beneath him, he delivered the most polite and gracious refusal they has ever experienced. Having been introduced to Bradbury by author Hal Clement at ConFederation, the 1986 World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta, I have no doubt that this anecdote is true.
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - Space Seed include:
The Interactive Enterprise Inspection is sure to bring a smile to the face of diehard Star Trek fans, particularly those who own the original "Star Trek Starfleet Technical Manual" written by Franz Joseph and published in 1975.
In Kiss 'N' Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century, William Shatner pretends to complain vociferously about how the show forced him to have affairs with so many different women on the show. Dorothy Fontana talks of how the other male cast members tried to talk the producers into giving them one love interest apiece for every 10 for Captain Kirk. Leonard Nimoy talks of how Dorothy Fontana surprised him by giving Mr. Spock a love interest. George Takei was hilarious when talking about how Sulu's daughter Ensign Demora Sulu appeared in Star Trek: Generations as the helmsman of the Enterprise-B and how he wanted to know who the mother was. Nichelle Nichols speaks fondly about the hinted-at affair between Uhura and Scotty, as well as how it came about because supposedly George Takei said that she and Jimmy Doohan squabbled like a married couple. Walter Koenig gleefully relates how difficult it was to stay professional when surround by so many beautiful women.
Pop-ups in Starfleet Access - Errand of Mercy include:
While the special Starfleet Access episodes are nice with their little pop-up windows, there are other special features that I preferred more. Those would be Spacelift: Transporting Trek Into The 21st Century, Sci-Fi Visionaries, Reflections On Spock, To Boldly Go... Season One, Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest, and Kiss 'N' Tell: Romance In The 23rd Century.
My favorite episodes from Season 1 were Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time, Mudd's Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2, Balance of Terror, Shore Leave, The Squire of Gothos, Arena, Tomorrow Is Yesterday, Space Seed, A Taste of Armageddon, The Devil in the Dark, Errand of Mercy, and The City on the Edge of Forever.
One thing I observed from the very first time I viewed one of the discs are that the episodes, both original and enhanced versions, are broadcast in their original aspect ration of 4:3. Second, on my TV the audio track on the episodes was so low in volume that I had to really crank it up to hear the dialogue, then dial it down as quickly for any of the bonus material. This is somewhat annoying but keeping the remote close at hand is always a good idea in any case.
Watching the entire Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray set the first time through was a real pleasure, one I intend to repeat again and again when I have more time for myself. If you don't already have the enhanced episodes on DVD/HDDVD, then give some serious consideration to buying a Blu-ray set for Mother's Day, Father's Day, or even declare your own private Star Trek Day and start watching.