Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Monday, May 04, 2009
In November of 2007 I was extremely close to buying Star Trek Season 1 in the DVD/HDDVD Combo Remastered Edition. I had grown tired of catching them in reruns; out of order and filled with commercials. I wanted to treat myself and figured it was a safe bet if HDDVD didn’t pan out I would at least have the standard version. I thought this combo of the two on one disc would sway a lot of people to HDDVD. As we all know it didn’t.
Two years later I hold in my hands Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray.An incredible seven disc set with over 1400 minutes set on the bridge of the Enterprise. The only fault that I can find with the entire box set is that Season 2 and 3 are not released yet. Included in the first season are both the original and enhanced episodes in 1080p High Definition 4:3. If you are unaware of what the “enhanced” versions are the good people at Paramount did what George Lucas did to his original Star Wars Trilogy. They “enhanced” the special effects. The ships and planets have been completely redone. Though some might think this is blasphemy it really adds to the over all experience. We have all seen these episodes numerous times and sure the original special effects are charming but they were also cheaply done. These new effects add scope, scale and at times even a new little character trait to an actor in a rubber suit. If you are a purest and want your Trek as Roddenberry produced it fear not, you can watch that version too. The beauty of Blu-ray is that even if you are slightly curious to see what they did to the Botany Bay in “Space Seed” you can switch back and fourth seamlessly.
I picked a few classic episodes to see if, outside of the enhanced effects, the Blu-ray edition really stood apart from the standard edition released back in 2004. “City on the Edge of Forever” is one of the best episodes of the season, if not the best episode of the entire series. Immediately, George Takei’s blue eye shadow pops on screen. After Bones (DeForest Kelley) accidentally overdoes himself on cordrazine he emerges on screen with glistening sweat and pale white skin highlighted by brilliant pink rashes. All those colors were missing from watered down re-runs and the standard DVD. The bridge however did feel and look like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The blues, yellows and reds were expected but the orange just screamed at you from the screen. This episode provided a great contrast because Kirk and Spock traveled back to Earth of the 1930’s. Here the Depression looked bleak and desolate giving the bridge even more of that shiny happy future look. I purposely looked for that hint of green in Nimoy’s make-up that so many books and documentaries have said was there. On the bridge all I could see were his very pink lips and make-up lines on his ears. On Earth in 1930 under natural light the hint of green was there giving him that alien presence that had long since faded in re-runs.
“Space Seed” and “Arena” are two of my other favorite episodes from this season and each have subtle additions in the Blu-ray enhanced versions. The Gorn blinks as he stumbles around the Vasquez Rocks. This is really something so simple yet to see it happen again and again is really cool. Khan’s (Ricardo Montalban) Botany Bay really looks like a space ship now and not a child’s toy submarine. The majority of this episode happens inside but Montalban in 1080p really does look like Superman. If only they could have done something about Khan and Kirk’s fight in engineering. It is even more obvious on Blu-ray that these two men fighting are not Shatner and Montalban.
The original TV previews are included as they were in 2004 and 2007 HDDVD editions. These are great windows into how the studio sold each week’s episode. “Sci-Fi Visionaries” is just one of several great interviews in the set. All of them were recorded for the 2004 release yet here with Blu-ray’s, picture in picture special feature many of them are edited and inter-cut into particular episodes, enabling you to hear the different perspectives of the actors and writers and they reveal details about Roddenberry and the studio.
“To Boldly Go” features William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy discussing the early days of Trek. Shatner is dumbfounded on how much an episode cost way back then. What’s funny is that he compares it to half the catering bill for half a week on a show today. Nimoy on the other hand discusses one of his favorite episodes the “Naked Time”. It was Spock’s emotional turmoil that solidified the character not only for himself but the audience as well. Nimoy knew this by how much more mail he got after that episode premiered.
“Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest” is 13 minutes of interviews, Super 8 and 8 mm movies filmed by Blackburn. Billed as the then uncredited Lt. Hadley, Blackburn was one of those numerous faces in the background, behind a mask or stationed at the helm (for all of about 30 seconds). He had unprecedented access to the cast and crew and was such a regular no one ever told him to stop filming his home movies. Paramount gives you several scenes with Blackburn in them but now the fun part is to go back and watch the show looking for him. Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray is more fun than a star base full of hungry Tribbles. The new enhanced effects make some of the slower episodes like “Tomorrow is Yesterday” a tad more enjoyable. However when it comes to “The Corbomite Maneuver” or the “Balance of Terror” you watch them as if it were the first time. Not a bad way to watch a show that is over forty years old.
Mania Grade: A+
Blu-Ray: Star Trek: The Original Series (Season 1)
Rating: Not Rated
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Joan Collins, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Ricardo Montalban
Written By: Gene Roddenberry (creator)
Directed By: Don McDougall, Gerd Oswald, Harvey Hart, Herschel Daugherty, James Goldstone
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2009 (Blu-ray), 1966 (TV)
Extras: Both original and enhanced versions of the first season, picture in picture interviews, pop-up trivia, Interviews, Rare Home Movies, Star Trek Memories
Series: Star Trek