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Paramount Studios presents
"They used to say, if man could fly, he'd have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn't reached the moon or that we hadn't gone on to Mars and then to the nearest star? That's like saying you wish you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut, like your great, great, great, great grandfather used to. I'm in command. I could order this. But I'm not... because Dr. McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But, I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk— Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
DVD ReviewStar Trek has a fascinating multi-threaded appeal that crosses many borders. The show appeals to children as well as adults. The casual viewer can enjoy an episode as much as an ardent fan. The shows are often complex and intelligent as much as they are simple and silly. There's thought-provoking speculative fiction and there are alien babes and bug-eyed monsters. Gene Roddenberry's utopian vision of the not-so-distant future survives as one of the most popular television shows ever created.
In season two of The Original Series, the show had hit its stride and in retrospect, many elements combine to make this the best of the three seasons. The first season, although full of riveting episodes, was choppy and inconsistent with varying styles and levels of quality. Season Three suffers from both reduced budgets and a drop-off in writing quality, which led to some less than stellar shows. This sophomore season, however, provides a consistent level of quality throughout. The proper Star Trek style has emerged and this base allows for experiments in action, comedy, and suspense. There are a couple of clinkers, but overall, it is amazing how much quality television was created with work turned in by some noted science fiction authors.
Several were among the best genre shows ever produced. As the character of Spock emerged in the first season to capture the public imagination, the initial episode here, Theodore Sturgeon's Amok Time, presents another side of the cool First Officer as his biological mating clock goes off and Spock must return to his home planet to engage in a marriage ceremony. Nimoy's acting is outstanding as we move from the light comedy beginning to the serious ending with its duel to the death on the mysterious planet Vulcan. In The Changeling, the crew confronts a probe sent out from earth for planetary exploration that has merged with an alien ship to become a super-powered killing machine, which has wiped out a solar system with billions of inhabitants. The only thing keeping the Enterprise crew alive is the mistaken belief by the machine that Captain Kirk is its creator. Somehow they must stop the device that must eventually destroy them. Return to Tomorrow features Diana Muldaur as Dr. Ann Mulhall, and has a most interesting plotline with alien minds from a distant past inhabiting the bodies of Kirk, Spock, and the doctor in order to build robot bodies to house their minds. Horror/sci-fi author Robert Bloch wrote two episodes in this season, including the Halloweenish Catspaw and the murder mystery, Wolf in the Fold.
Parallel universes is the key plot device in Mirror, Mirror. Five members of the crew are transporting up to the ship during an ion storm and are accidentally transposed with their opposite numbers in a universe where the Federation is the Empire and the Enterprise is crewed by a gang of ruthless pirates. William Windom guests stars as Commodore Decker, who loses his starship in a battle with a mindless weapon of unknow origin in The Doomsday Machine, written by sci-fi author Norman Spinrad. We meet Mr. Spock's parents in Journey to Babel, which is one of the densest episodes in the series, with a murder mystery, espionage, diplomacy, and medical emergency all on the same trip. Spock and McCoy compete for the chance to be the hero in The Immunity Syndrome, where the Enterprise encounters one of its most fantastical enemies: an immense one-celled creature that's devouring solar systems. Man and machine lock horns once again in The Ultimate Computer in which a scientist (William Marshall) has created a computer that is "as good as man," or so it seems. On the lighter side is, David Gerrold's Trouble with Tribbles, one of the most beloved episodes in the show's history.
Even some of the shows that don't make this list are darn good and classic Trek for their own reasons. I, Mudd is one of the very good comedic episodes with some wild scenes. Julie Newmar brightens up D.C. Fontana's Friday's Child. The Deadly Years has some very fine acting by the stars as they catch a radiation sickness that ages them in leaps and bounds over the course of the episode. A Private Little War lays it on a little thick as a metaphor for Viet Nam but is still an effective allegory. Patterns of Force has Kirk and Spock posing as Nazis on a planet where an Earth historian has used the politics of fascism to organize a society with disastrous results. The Omega Glory and Bread and Circuses are also both surprising mysteries and allegories of history gone awry.
Star Trek provided a fascinating mix of humor and drama that raised the show above typical science fiction fare that took itself too seriously. Season Two of The Original Series is simply outstanding television, science fiction, and science fiction television.
Disc 1: *Amok Time, Who Mourns for Adonais, The Changeling, Mirror, Mirror
Disc 2: The Apple, The Doomsday Machine, Catspaw, I, Mudd
Disc 3: Metamorphosis, Journey to Babel, Friday's Child, The Deadly Years
Disc 4: Obsession, Wolf in the Fold, *The Trouble with Tribbles, The Gamesters of Triskelion
Disc 5: A Piece of the Action, The Immunity Syndrome, A Private Little War, Return to Tomorrow
Disc 6: Patterns of Force, By Any Other Name, The Omega Glory, The Ultimate Computer
Disc 7: Bread and Circuses, Assignment: Earth, Special Features
* Text commentary by Dennis and Michelle Okuda
Full episode reviews can be found on this site's Star Trek Collection page.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
Image Transfer Review: Although the thrill of seeing the cleaned-up video in the first releases has faded, there are four episodes spread over each dual-layered disc. Colors are still rich and bold, with excellent detail and contrast. The quality is such that it reveals some of the special effects matting, (this has been a problem with Star Trek for years) and there are some flaws evident, but it is still a satisfying experience.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: This release should have three tracks. First, the original monural should be cleaned up and preserved. Second, a processed stereo track to open up the television closeness in the home theater. Then, if necessary, an attempt can be made to add some ambience and put some of the sound effects like wooshes and beeps and blips to the back speakers. This release provides the second two and perhaps those will become the de facto standard for sound from the Original Series—at least until the "historical" release.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 182 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
26 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Box Set
As is also typical of recent Star Trek releases, the extras have really been amped up compared to the initial release of The Original Series, which contained exactly none beyond the trailers. Here, we get material that adds to the enjoyment in various ways from cast members thoughts and memories to description of productions problems and solutions.
To Boldly Go... Season Two (19m:40s): Overview of the second season with cast members, crew, and others. Emphasis on favorite episodes such as The Trouble with Tribbles and Amok Time. George Takei talks about his absence on some episodes due to his appearance in The Green Berets. Walter Koenig talks about his arrival as the "Davy Jones" type on the show to appeal to a younger audience.
Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy (12m:10s)A nice little interview feature with Leonard Nimoy discussing and actually working at his passion, photography. A little technical at times but still quite entertaining and informative.
Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek's Great Trio (7m:19s): William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy talk about the chemistry in the relationship between the three main characters. DeForest Kelley is remembered for his contribution as the ship's crusty doctor. Bjo Trimble, D.C. Fontana and John D. F. Black also appear.
Designing the Final Frontier (22m:27s): Imminently fascinating feature about the creation of the look of Star Trek, from the costumes to the sets to the effect featuring Matt and John Jefferies, Robert Justman and others.
Star Trek's Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols (13m:12s): A collection of the magic moments of Lt. Uhura, portrayed by Nichelle Nichols, who was very influential and groundbreaking as an African-American actress in series television in the 1960s.
Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana (7m:44s): The writer talks about her work as scripter and story editor for the show. Fontana is responsible for some of the most memorable episodes.
Production Art: Forty slides make a nice selection of original concept art from the series, including many recognizable scenes.
Photo Gallery: A rather typical flock of 40 production and publicity photos.
Red Shirt Logs: William Shatner on the "woolly monster" in A Private Little War (1m:39s). Star trek activist Bjo Trimble tells of some of the episodes that received some censorship (1m:53s). Penny Juday, an archivist, discusses the design for the tribbles in The Trouble with Tribbles (1m:46s).
Overall, a great group of supplements for exploration on a rainy day.
Extras Grade: A
Final CommentsThe best season of The Original Series comes into a boxed set with a snazzier menu interface and a pack of extras. If you only want one Star Trek set (or want to give one... hint, hint), this is the one to buy with a great group of classic episodes that run the gamut of what makes Star Trek one of the most popular series of all time.
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