|Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 1|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 17 August 1999|
So much has been written about ‘Star Trek’ as a phenomenon that it’s easy for non-Trekkers to misremember the series, particularly the 1966-1969 original that had an impact no one in his or her right mind could possibly have foreseen at the time.
The good news for actual Trekkers is that the assertion on the packaging, "digitally enhanced and remastered," can be believed. The colors are bright, the images sharp and the audio clear and solid. The good news for everyone else is that the show is a lot better than memory and three decades of parodies and pontification might suggest.
‘Star Trek: The Original Series Volume 1’ contains Episodes 2 and 3 of the show’s debut season. (Episode 1, the pilot, is quite different from the rest of the series -- a box insert lists it last on a release schedule for upcoming ‘Star Trek’ DVDs.) The first menu that comes up allows us to select between Episode 2, ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before,’ and Episode 3, ‘The Corbomite Maneuver.’ Once the selection has been made, a second menu gives the option of checking out the episode’s original broadcast trailer, along with the standard choices of languages (here a matter of closed-captioning on/off), scene selection (each episode is divided into seven sections) and straight play.
For those who’ve never seen it (or saw it so long ago that it’s faded from memory), ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ packs a few surprises. There is no Dr. McCoy (series regular DeForest Kelley) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) actually begins the episode with a smile. The plot concerns Enterprise Lt. Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood), an old friend of Capt. Kirk (William Shatner), who acquires telepathic/telekinetic powers and rapidly becomes corrupted by his new abilities. Spock advises Kirk to either maroon or kill the burgeoning megalomaniac, while the ship’s lovely psychiatrist (a young, sexy Sally Kellerman) argues with increasing passion for mercy. The theme of absolute power corrupting absolutely is a staple in the ‘Star Trek’ universe (and science-fiction TV in general), but it gets a reasonably decent workout here. The silvery contact lenses that visually signal the change in Mitchell remain a perfectly good effect today (even though they must have been murder on Lockwood’s eyes). For that matter, the physical effects -- floating cups, self-moving lengths of cable -- are quite decent as well, even though the star fields are a little barren and the production design bespeaks its ‘60s origins in every frame. Then again, this may not be entirely a bad thing for those who enjoy viewing the Enterprise’s shapely female crew members in dresses so short that the hems practically stop at the hips. You don’t see many professional women dressed like that on TV nowadays -- even the hookers on ‘NYPD Blue.’
‘The Corbomite Maneuver’ is closer to the ‘Star Trek’ that most people remember. There’s few nifty plot twists that rely equally on strategy and humor, Mr. Spock is his familiar coolly logical self and Dr. McCoy is introduced, promptly bantering with and gently pushing Kirk around. Even the star fields around the ship are more layered, though the device that traps the Enterprise in space looks amusingly like a PC screen saver (since ‘Star Trek’ predates Windows, it may well be what the screen saver is based on). For viewers who are hoping for the male equivalent of the miniskirted crew women, Kirk also shows up shirtless at the top of the episode. Lessons are learned by all parties concerned and the episode ends on a hopeful note, setting a tone that turned out to have spectacular cultural resonance. For this last aspect alone, ‘Star Trek: The Original Series Volume 1’ is well worth seeing.