THE TV SHOW
With that in mind I was overjoyed a few months ago to hear that Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 would be coming to Blu-Ray. It's been a while since I'd seen these original episodes, and knowing that they would be presented in 1080p was a joy. To hear that we would be receiving new visual effects as well was the icing on the cake. But then, to hear that the Blu-Ray set would include both the original as well as the remastered visual effects via seamless branching took this release to a whole new level again.
In terms of the actual episodes Season One is probably the best of the three seasons that were produced with some of the highest rated episodes (you can see what episodes are on each disc in the Extras Section below). The standout episodes for me include "Space Seed" which is where Kirk first encounters Kahn (who would later feature in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn), "Balance of Terror" where the Romulans are first introduced in the series, "The Menagerie, Part I & II" which sees Spock on trial for mutiny, "The City on the Edge of Forever" which sees the crew transport back to the 1930's, "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" where Captain Kirk cloned on Exo III, "The Enemy Within" in which a transporter malfunction splits Kirk into two and creates a "good" Kirk and "evil" Kirk thereby causing chaos on the Enterprise, and finally "Errand of Mercy" which introduces the Klingon race.
All-in-All Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One provides just as much entertainment now as it did when it first aired in the 1960s. Sure the dialogue is amusing in parts - and I don't mean intentionally - but the storylines, and friendships portrayed are timeless. As the strongest season, this is well worth picking up.
The great thing about this show is that it was filmed on 35mm film, meaning that the original negatives have been scanned in for the HD-DVD and this Blu-Ray release. The resultant image is one that is amazingly sharp in places with so much fine detail that you can see the stitching on the clothes, the smallest knobs and dials on the bridge controls, and even the powdery makeup on Spock in the earlier episodes which gave him a more yellow skin tone. Being remastered, the colours and shadow detail on this new release is vastly superior to that in the original release (you can see a screenshot further down demonstrating this).
So is it perfect? Well in a way yes (as we've already discussed), but in other ways no. When the TV series was originally filmed for some strange reason whenever close up shots were made of female actors they were shot with a soft focus, resulting in a distinct lack of detail when compared to the other 1080p visuals on this disc. Unfortunately there is no way to remedy this and, it could be said this is how the filmmakers original shot the footage, and intended it to be viewed - although on a standard definition TV and for the original airing viewers would have struggled to see the difference. There were also episodes where the image quality wasn't as pristine as we expected with the occasional moments of dirt and damage to the negative and some image instability.
Despite these minor flaws we can assure everyone that you have never seen Star Trek look so good. Given that these episodes are now over 40 years old it's remarkable how good the quality is to this day. The new visual effects are integrated well, but purists can in a matter of moments flick over to the original visual effects as well.
Did you see the summary box at the top of this review? DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1! No, that is not a typo. When remastering this release there has been quite a bit of effort going into remasting the audio. So much so that the original opening score was re-recorded to add more liveliness to it - despite being exactly the same in terms of the actual score and music. Newer technologies have allowed for better, and more accurate recording techniques and this really shines through. We must also point out that the Blu-Ray release even ups the HD-DVD release which 'only' had a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track, although to be honest, the extra two channels don't add too much to the mix.
As you are likely well aware these TV shows are very much dialogue driven and despite the age the dialogue is crystal clear for each of the episodes. The music score can be a little muted in places (except the opening music which is re-recorded) but there is nothing here that will make you look at your setup wondering if it's still working as it should. As with the video this is a top-notch release.
If you're not a fan of the remixed audio you will be glad to hear that these discs include an English Original 2.0 mono soundtrack which retains the original audio in mono sound. Beside that we also have German, Spanish, French and Italian 2.0 Mono soundtracks on this disc as well. Subtitles are provided in Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Suomi, Swedish and English for the Hearing Impaired. No issues were noted while sampling the English subtitle track.
The extras are spread across all the discs in the set, and to make it easy for you to find where everything is we've decided to break the set down into the discs, with the episodes on each disc also listed. This really is quite a complete package with only a couple of omissions from the previous DVD sets - the primary ones being the omission of the text commentaries on the episodes 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', 'The Conscience of the King', and 'The Menagerie Part 1 and 2' and 'Beyond the Final Frontier' History Channel documentary which appeared on the HD-DVD set, the latter being quite a big omission. Most of the extras are ported from the original DVD release with the big inclusions being the PIP "Starfleet Access" on several episodes.
Disc One (The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time): The big feature on this first disc is Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century (20:10/HD) which is a fascinating look at how the DVD producers brought the visual effects and audio up to scratch for this Blu-Ray release. The other big extra feature on this disc is Starfleet Access on "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This featurette is a picture-in-picture commentary which includes interviews with the filmmakers (both the original and the people working on the new visual effects for this release) and historians, images from the production, pop-up trivia about production and theories or items in the episodes, and details about the production. Previews (4:12) for the four episodes are also included and while pretty poor in quality are a great way to see how each episode was promoted. Finally we have the 2009 Star Trek Trailer (2:08/HD) which, while promotional, fits in to this release as the new movie also features the original crew.
Disc Three (The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie Part 1, The Menagerie Part 2, The Conscience of the King): There are a couple of impressive extras including Reflections on Spock (12:03) in which Leonard Nimoy discusses playing the role of Spock, the way it has changed his life, and the controversy over his book "I am not Spock". Previews (4.12) for the four episodes are included as well as Starfleet Access PIP tracks on both episodes of "The Menagerie".
Disc Five (Arena, Tomorrow is Yesterday, Court Martial, The Return of Archons): There are a couple of extras on this fifth disc. To Boldly Go... Season One (18:49) looks at making the first season of the franchise with a restricted budget, limited sets and a rather rushed production schedule. The actors talk about some of the more important episodes. Next up is The Birth of a Timeless Legacy (24:05) which looks at the impact of the series and how it has stood the test of time with a retrospective look including a look at the original unaired pilot episode called "The Cage" and the rare opportunity to create a second pilot episode. Finally the disc also contains Previews (4:12) for the four episodes on this disc. If you're keen this disc also contains an Easter Egg with a very amusing Promotional Clip advertising the remastered series.
Disc Seven (Errand of Mercy, The Alternative Factor, The City On The Edge Of Forever, Operation: Annihilate!): The final disc in this set follows a similar pattern to the others, although it does connect to the web for BD-Live if your player is capable. First up is the featurette titled Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories (13:23/HD) which is hosted by one of the actor who played the navigator Lt Hadley during Season One with reminiscing about the filming and his other roles in the season (including the White Rabbit). Next up is the amusing Kiss 'N' Tell: Romance In The 23rd Century (8:24) which looks at Kirk's romantic streak in the TV series - be they human or not! Previews (4:12) are contained for each of the four episodes on this disc and again we have another brilliant Starfleet Access PIP commentary track this time for the episode "Errand of Mercy". Finally BD-Live allows you to connect online to download more videos, images and information about the TV show.
Review By: Dave Warner