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Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1 DVD Review

Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1

February 20, 2005

Director: James Goldstone, Harvey Hart, Marc Daniels, Robert Butler, Lawrence Dobkin, Joseph Sargent,
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Grace Lee Whitney, ,

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DVD Review

In 1966, Sci-Fi was still a developing genre and the world had not yet seen the spectacular imagery of ‘Star Wars’. Drawing on the likes of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Lost In Space and The Twilight Zone, Gene Roddenberry created one of the most successful and influential franchises in history, ‘Star Trek’. The series follows the crew of the USS Enterprise, a starship travelling through the galaxy searching out new life and new civilisations. Aboard the ship we follow the adventures of the young and dashing Captain Kirk and his logic driven, pointy-eared lieutenant, Mr Spock, a half-human, half Vulcan.

The episodes are crafted to a seemingly strict set of conventions, as they all follow the same structure. The rigidness however does not stop ‘Star Trek’ exploring a vast number of now cliché sci-fi stories from androids, killer diseases, evil twins, space criminals and countless more. Surprisingly the writers have managed to keep the plots interesting and action filled, even after sticking to the routine of beaming down to planets that for some reason or another warrant exploration, battling with some stupid looking alien creature or mad man and Captain Kirk kissing beautiful women.

The amazing thing about ‘Star Trek’ is that is was never fully backed by the television networks and therefore never received a high budget, nowhere near enough to produce the special effects and horrific looking aliens that they wanted. The restrictions on the effects and created sets meant that the scripts and characters really had to be good, and they mainly are. Everything about ‘Star Trek’ said ‘cheap little show’ and today some of the supposed marvellous advanced technology is in everyday use – that medical scanner that looks like a cereal box painted grey with a few Christmas lights on it, probably was. As William Shatner says in one of the interviews on the extra features disc, they made an episode of ‘Star Trek’ for the same amount of money that pays the caterers on a TV show today. So before you go hiding behind the sofa when the scary alien comes on the screen, just remember it’s probably the painted head of a manky old puppet.

The box set holds 29 episodes at 45 minutes and each episode has a preview trailer attached. The menu screens are very impressive as we are given a quick tour of a computer-generated version of the Enterprise ‘bridge’ finally resting on the ever so familiar front screen, in which the episode titles appear. The highlight of this first season boxset is the two parter called ‘The Menagerie’ and is another brilliant budget saving technique. It’s effectively two episodes for the price of one. The writers manage to make good use of the unused pilot episode, ‘The Cage’, by using and showing the episode during a starfleet hearing to explain the current uncharacteristic behaviour of Mr. Spock.

Regardless of how silly or camp ‘Star Trek’ looks at times, you can’t argue with its success. Spawning ten movies, four spin-offs, an animated series, and a whole world of merchandise, you really have to see where it all began.

Special Features

The features will really have the die-hard trekkies in a sweat of excitement, as there are numerous featurettes covering many aspects of the ‘Star Trek’ phenomenon. In these features we see interviews with many of the cast and crew looking back almost forty years at the time they spent on ‘Star Trek’. Most notable is a featurette titled ‘Reflections on Spock’ in which actor Leonard Nimoy talks about his time as Mr. Spock and tells an amusing story about creating the pointy ears. He also touches on his reasoning behind writing the book ‘I am not Spock’. There’s also a look beyond ‘Star Trek’ as we see William Shatner on his ranch, riding his horses and also words from his wife, Elizabeth Shatner.

Missing from the set are any vocal commentaries but four of the episodes including both parts of ‘The Menagerie’ have text commentaries that prove to be a vast wealth of information and reveal the secrets in the making of the show.

 

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 72%

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