|Star Trek - The Original Series - The Complete Third Season|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 14 December 2004|
The final season of the original Star Trek series is overall weaker in some ways than the first two seasons, most notably in some of the writing, but apart from some artifactual junk, it looks just as good as the first two seasons on DVD. The menus in particular are cool, starting out mostly on the bridge and including some fun animation that makes use of the various controls on the set. Also included are the good ol’ sound effects we’ve all come to know and love.
For those of you who have been living on another planet (perhaps within the Federation) for the past 37 years, “Star Trek” is about the Starship Enterprise of the United Federation of Planets, and its five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man (“no one” in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) has gone before. Originating as less than a ratings success on NBC, moving to ABC for its third and last season, “Star Trek” was born again as a movie series, which then helped to launch four successive television series, the latest of which, “Enterprise” is in its fourth year on UPN. The original series focuses on Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew of half-Vulcan science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), communications officer Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), helmsmen Sulu (George Takei) and Chekhov (Walter Koenig) and Chief Engineer Scott (James Doohan).
In the third and final season of the original Star Trek series, the crew of the Enterprise must battle Klingons in “Day of the Dove,” oversee a class dispute in “The Cloud Minders,” get thrown out of the galaxy thanks to a madman in “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” find a way to get Kirk out of inner space in “The Tholian Web” and are trapped in another planet’s past in “All Our Yesterdays.” These are some of the better episodes of the third season, and all include creator Gene Roddenberry’s knack for using science fiction (as many do) to examine both the ills that plague humanity and the virtues that ennoble it. There are some episodes which are fair, though campy, such as “Spock’s Brain,” and others which are total camp and goofiness, such as “The Way to Eden,” which features the song lyrics, “Coming in to Eden, yeah, brother.” Needless to say, “Star Trek” has always been a series that was far ahead of its time in both stylistic and contextual approach, and while the third season suffers in certain ways that its two predecessors did not, it is still a fantastically successful and enjoyable program.
While the film negatives are not in the greatest shape, for whatever reason, they have been cleaned and spruced up. Color saturation is improved and there is a general crispness to the image, in part because it is not being broadcast through a television signal. As mentioned earlier, there are some artifacts, scratches and dust throughout, but they are by no means distracting or overtly prevalent. Just don’t be surprised to see them now and then. Perhaps the most interesting refurbishment is the breakdown and re-assembly of the sound mixes. The original elements have not only been broken up into a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, they have been sweetened and apparently, in some areas, rerecorded. Familiar sound effects are sweeter, the dialogue is crisper and the music is brighter. However, like any stereo mix that is remastered into multiple channels, there is the unwanted effect of having some of the sound effects sound incredibly canned. Not all, but some. Considering how many times these episodes have been seen in syndication, anyone will recognize the improvements in sound and picture.
There are many bonus features on this collection and it begins with “To Boldly Go…Season Three,” a documentary that includes very recent interviews (within the last year) which tells initially of the fact that the third season came about in part due to a letter-writing campaign by fans. NBC had originally cancelled the show after the second season but sometime near the end of the second season, the series was picked up by ABC. Unfortunately, the programmers put the show on at 10 PM on Fridays, which in the opinion of many of the producers and creators was exactly the time that their core audience would not watch, since most of them would be out on a Friday night. There are in-depth little anecdotes about many of the episodes, most of them by the actors who relate their experiences and memories, including what ended up being the first interracial kiss on American television. While possessing some interesting information, one gets the idea that in order to get the true picture, one has to watch the documentaries from all three seasons.
There are some additional featurettes, beyond the main documentary. “Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig” features a lengthy interview with Koenig, who played Chekhov. He has many comic book collections and also all of the “Star Trek” memorabilia that has to do with Chekhov, as well as a whole bunch of pin back buttons. Though he admits his quirkiness and narcissism, it’s still kind of weird, all 10 minutes of it. “Memoir from Mr. Sulu” does the same type of thing, focusing this time on George Takei, his experiences with “Star Trek” and his involvement with the Japanese American History Museum. “Chief Engineer’s Log” features a bunch of clips of James Doohan and his character of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott. The featurette has some interesting information, like the fact that Doohan fought on D-Day with the Canadian Army. Doohan also did many other voices on the show besides his own, such as computers and various aliens. There is a charming interview with Doohan from December of 2003 that gives us many of these little factoids and presents the man who has begun to suffer from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. “Star Trek’s Impact” is a little interview with “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s son and his reflections on the meaning of the show. This is a slightly tedious featurette with more than a little self-aggrandizement from Roddenberry Jr.
Included within the unique packaging are interesting liner notes having to do with the Enterprise itself, as well as a humorous commentary about the metamorphosis of Klingon physiology. In addition to these, there are also notes that give a brief description of each episode. There are 24 episodes in all, along with two additional versions of the original pilot episode titled “The Cage” that starred famous movie actor Jeffrey Hunter. One is the fully restored episode, and the other is the original version as it was intended; this version includes some black and white footage that was never totally transferred. This original pilot was rejected by NBC, but series creator Gene Roddenberry persisted and with the help of another crew (the only holdover was Nimoy’s Spock), “Star Trek” eventually came into being. Though the original pilot was never initially aired, parts of it were included in the two-part episode titled “The Menagerie.”
While many people consider “Star Trek” to be an acquired taste, Trekkies and other fringe viewers of the show will rejoice now that all three seasons are available on DVD. Handsomely packaged, rendered and presented, Season Three is a worthwhile addition to any DVD collection, or a great way to start one.