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Site created 12/15/97.


reviews added: 6/13/00



Star Trek: The Original Series

reviews by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

On to Volumes 5-8

Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 1

Volume 1
Ep #2 Where No Man Has Gone Before
Ep #3 The Corbomite Maneuver
1966 (1999) - Paramount

Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D

Specs and Features:

100 mins (approx 50 mins per episode), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 4 original preview trailers (2 from Vol. 1 episodes & 2 from Vol. 2 episodes), program-themed menu screens, scene access (14 chapters total, split between episodes), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned



Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 2

Volume 2
Ep #4 Mudd's Women
Ep #5 The Enemy Within
1966 (1999) - Paramount

Program Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D

Specs and Features:

100 mins (approx 50 mins per episode), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 4 original preview trailers (2 from Vol. 2 episodes & 2 from Vol. 3 episodes), program-themed menu screens, scene access (13 chapters total, split between episodes), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned



Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 3

Volume 3
Ep #6 The Man Trap
Ep #7 The Naked Time
1966 (1999) - Paramount

Program Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D

Specs and Features:

100 mins (approx 50 mins per episode), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 4 original preview trailers (2 from Vol. 3 episodes & 2 from Vol. 4 episodes), program-themed menu screens, scene access (14 chapters total, split between episodes), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned



Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 4

Volume 4
Ep #8 Charlie X
Ep #9 Balance of Terror
1966 (1999) - Paramount

Program Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D

Specs and Features:

100 mins (approx 50 mins per episode), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 4 original preview trailers (2 from Vol. 4 episodes & 2 from Vol. 5 episodes), program-themed menu screens, scene access (17 chapters total, split between episodes), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


Okay... this is just too cool. As you all know by now, Paramount Home Video is releasing the original Star Trek - the classic version - on DVD. And Trek ain't never looked (or sounded) so good. I'm going to run down a list of the episodes that are included on the first four volumes, and then we'll talk quality...

Volume 1, Episode 2 - Where No Man Has Gone Before

This was the second pilot for the series, which ultimately sold the concept to the studio. The U.S.S. Enterprise, commanded by Captain James R. Kirk (William Shatner - his character's name changes to "James T." in future episodes) is searching for the U.S.S. Valiant, a 200-year-old missing ship, near the edge of the galaxy. They find a mysterious energy barrier there, which affects certain members of the crew, imbuing them with God-like powers. One of these is Lt. Gary Mitchell, Kirk's best friend. And as the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely, so Kirk soon finds himself in a life or death struggle with his best friend, with the lives of his crew hanging in the balance. Gary Lockwood (from 2001) and Sally Kellerman guest star.

Volume 1, Episode 3 - The Corbomite Maneuver

While on patrol in deep space, the Enterprise is intercepted by a massive alien spaceship, called the Fesarius. The alien captain, Balok, informs Kirk and company that they are trespassing, and threatens to destroy them. Kirk takes a gamble, bluffing Balok that if he attacks the Enterprise, a deadly substance in the ship's hull (called corbomite) will be unleashed, and destroy both ships. And yes, that is Ron Howard's younger brother Clint you see at the end of the episode.

Volume 2, Episode 4 - Mudd's Women

When the Enterprise rescues a rogue space swindler (named Harry Mudd) and his cargo from a space wreck in an asteroid field, the dilithium crystals which power its engines are destroyed. As luck would have it, there's a dilithium mining planet nearby, and the miners would be happy to exchange the needed crystals for Harry's "cargo" - a trio of beautiful women. But one of the women has fallen for Captain Kirk (the first of a whole series of space babes to do so in this series). And all three woman are not quite what they appear to be. Roger C. Carmel guests as Mudd.

Volume 2, Episode 5 - The Enemy Within

While surveying planet Alpha 177, a transporter accident splits Captain Kirk's personality into two separate people: a wimpy, indecisive Good Kirk, and a Saurian brandy-swizzling, womanizing Bad Kirk (me thinks normal Kirk is 1 quarter Good, three-quarters Bad). While transporter is down for repairs, Mr. Sulu and his landing party are freezing to death on the planet below. Can Spock, Scotty and Dr. McCoy restore Kirk, and fix the transporter in time to save the landing party? I got two bottles of Romulan Ale says they can.

Volume 3, Episode 6 - The Man Trap

Okay... this isn't one of the better episodes. The Enterprise makes a stop at planet M-113, where archaeologist Robert Crater is studying the ruins of a long-dead civilization. The idea is for Dr. McCoy to give the professor and his wife routine medical check-ups. But McCoy was once romantically involved with Crater's wife Nancy. Making matters worse, Nancy may not be quite who... or what... she appears to be. Can you say salt-sucking creature with suction cups for hands? Yeesh...

Volume 3, Episode 7 - The Naked Time

This one's a little better. The Enterprise arrives to pick up a research team from a planet that's disintegrating, and discovers them all dead... at each other's hands. Turns out there's a nasty alien virus afoot that strips people of their inhibitions, making them lash out at each other with great vengeance and furious anger. Naturally, it gets aboard the ship and wreaks havoc with the crew. Lt. Riley shuts off the engines, placing the starship in jeopardy... but everyone is too busy cutting loose to care, including Sulu, who takes up swashbuckling. Can Kirk and Spock save the ship? Well, the series didn't end after the 7th episode, so what do you think?

Volume 4, Episode 8 - Charlie X

During a rendezvous with the cargo ship Antares, the Enterprise takes aboard young Charlie Evans, to deliver him to the Alpha Five Colony. Charlie was orphaned as a young boy, when he became the sole survivor of the crash of his parent's ship on a planet inhabited by powerful alien beings. These aliens didn't teach him the greatest social skills, but they did give him some pretty scary mental powers, which quickly endanger the Enterprise's crew. Robert Walker, Jr. guest stars as Charlie.

Volume 4, Episode 9 - Balance of Terror

Now we're talking - the series' first truly great episode also introduces us to one of the show's best enemy alien races, and one of its most beloved recurring guest stars. Mark Leonard will later appear on the series as Sarek, Spock's disapproving Vulcan father. But here he's a seasoned Romulan commander, who pits his powerful Warbird against Kirk and the Enterprise in a deadly cat-and-mouse game along the Romulan Neutral Zone to test Federation defenses. A tale of prejudice, duty, honor and the respect of fellow warriors, this episode is good stuff any way you slice it.

Star Trek: TOS - Overall DVD Quality

Since the quality of these discs is pretty even, what follows will describe the general quality of all the volumes in the series (individual differences or abnormalities in quality will be noted if necessary). Let's talk video first. Paramount recently undertook a complete digital remastering of the entire series, for broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel. Fully digital, high-definition transfers were done of all the episodes in the series, using the original film interpositives from the studio's vaults. Then, the D1 master tapes were "cleaned" using special digital filters to reduce the amount of dust and dirt visible. The result, on virtually every episode, is a crisp and vibrant picture, with terrific contrast and lush, accurate colors. The video isn't exactly reference quality. There's a lot of grain that shows on the print, which results in some artifacting and blotchiness after MPEG-2 compression. You'll also still see occasional dust and scratches on the film. And there's been some kind of digital edge enhancement applied to the video, because some of the edges seem unnaturally sharp. But all this aside, the picture looks WAY better than I can ever remember having seen it before. I think if you're a fan of the series, and you've seen these episodes previously, you'll be blown away.

But if you dig the look of these discs, wait until you hear them. Specifically for DVD, Paramount is remixing the audio of all of the episodes in Dolby Digital 5.1, and I can say with assurance that it makes a BIG difference. All of the mechanical tape hiss in the original masters has been eliminated, along with bad music and sound effects edits and the like. And the original mono tracks have been digitally extrapolated to create a three-dimensional sound environment for home theater. The result is wonderful ambience and some nifty panning and surround sound effects. When the opening credits appear, you'll hear the Enterprise woosh over your shoulder. The enhanced surround sound adds just the right amount of gee-whiz to the DVD experience, and helps to make the episodes fresh again for those of us (and I know you're with me on this) who have seen them dozens of times over the years. Very cool.

The only extras provided are preview trailers for the two episodes on the disc, plus two more trailers for the episodes on the next volume. So, for example, you get Volume 1 & 2 trailers on Volume 1, Volume 2 & 3 trailers on Volume 2, etc... You can access the trailers for each episode in that episode's submenu page, or all four trailers on the disc can be accessed by highlighting the "Enterprise arrowhead" symbol on the main menu (it's that shinny thing Kirk wears on his uniform). As for the menus themselves... they're simple, but okay. I might have liked some animation, and maybe some sound effects, but I can understand Paramount wanting to keep it simple - they DO have to crank out a LOT of these discs after all. My only peeve, is that I don't like how you only get to view one scene at a time on the scene selection menu. And since you have to change pages to view the next scene, your player takes a long moment to switch pages. Silly. Why not just have two pages of 3 or 4 scenes each? That would be much easier (and faster) to navigate. One last note: Paramount's included a full checklist on the case insert (which also lists the chapter stops for each episode). It reveals that there will be 40 DVDs in all (released, we assume, in 20 waves of 2 discs each), with each disc containing 2 episodes (except for the 40th disc, which will contain episode 79,Turnabout Intruder, as well as dual versions of The Cage). Got all that? Well there's more - Paramount is already at work on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well, which should begin to appear in the Fall of 2000.

All in all, as something of a recovering Trek fan, I think these discs are nicely done. No, they're not deluxe editions, and I prefer the way Fox is releasing The X-Files - a season at a time with plenty of extras. But these discs give you just what you want - full-on, phasers-firing Trek action. It's just great having the series on DVD. You'll see William Shatner's ham-handed Kirk swagger, and Nimoy's unflappable Spock arch his eyebrows. Scotty will bitch and moan about his engines, McCoy will remind you that he's a doctor (as opposed to something else), and there are plenty of short skirts and funny-looking aliens (who look surprisingly like humans with painted skin and funny ears). Lots of red-shirts will die on away missions, several computers will be logic-looped by Kirk, and hordes of extras flood the Bridge just in time to be tossed around during red alerts. So what are you waiting for? Set your phasers on stun, and get yer Trek DVDs pronto, space cadets!

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

On to Volumes 5-8

Volume 1


Volume 2


Volume 3


Volume 4


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