The impact that Star Trek would have on society would have been hard to imagine when the show premiered in 1966. The show ran for 79 episodes over 3 seasons, a modest run for a series, but it enjoyed great success in syndication. The show became so popular that Paramount decided to create a motion picture based on the series. The original cast reunited for the movie, and was followed by 5 others before passing the torch to The Next Generation cast in Generations (1994). The series started a franchise that has seen books, comics, games, and other TV series spun off from it. The first spinoff was an animated series featuring the crew of the Enterprise (Star Trek - 1973) continuing their voyages, while three other shows take place years after the original series. The first new series was The Next Generation, which was then followed by Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Those three series' take place in the same time period, but the most recent series, Enterprise, is set before the events of the original series. Star Trek has done very well for Paramount, thanks to the fans, the Trekkies.
Star Trek follows the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the flagship of the Federation; an interplanetary alliance. James T. Kirk, the captain of the ship, is a diplomat, lover and fighter, when he needs to be. The Vulcan, Mr. Spock, is Kirk's second-in-command; an intelligent person that is without emotion. McCoy is the ship's doctor, and dishes out advise to the Captain and Mr. Spock. The cast is rounded out by Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and the ship's engineer, Scotty. Together they "seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
I remember sitting in our living as a boy watching an episode of Star Trek on TV. My dad had a friend over, and he asked which episode we were watching. I had no idea, so he watched a minute of so and then said, "Oh, this is _____." He explained that he knew which episode it was because he had seen them all. I was amazed that someone could have seen every episode of a TV series, especially a show like Star Trek. Now, years later I look back on that event and laugh, because not only is it possible to see every episode of a series, thanks to DVD we can now own every episode of a series. My walls are lined with the Trek releases so far: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and by the end of the year Voyager and The Original Series will be complete. This is the beauty of TV-on-DVD.
This is the second time these episodes have been released on DVD. Paramount released the first volume of Star Trek in August, 1999, almost a year before the first season set came out. Thankfully they've decided to release season sets to replaced the 40 volumes they released previously, and this is a very nice set.
This is a unique package! The discs come in a study, hard plastic case that splits in two. Inside is a stack of DVD trays (CD size) in a cardboard sleeve, and a booklet with printed information on the episodes. While it takes awhile to get through the packaging and get to the discs, the case is nicely done.
I've been told that the transfers used for the new sets are the same as the ones used for the volume discs, though I can't confirm this myself. The picture isn't pristine, as one would expect from material this old. There's some dust and dirt, and the occasional flaw pops up in some scenes. Effects shots look the worst, and it's explained in one of the text trivia tracks that this is because the film was processed multiple times to achieve the visual effect, resulting in a degradation of the material. Stock shots of the ship around a planet are also poorer quality. Colors appear slightly muted in certain scenes, but they're usually quite nice and bright. Chapters have been placed after the opening of the episode, but a "play all" option is absent from these discs.
The DVDs also sport the 5.1 mix created for the previously released volumes, as well as a new Dolby Surround mix. The 5.1 mix is good, but can't possibly match a 5.1 mix on a new series. The soundtrack is mostly center-channel based, with a few sound effects panning across the front speakers. A nice example of panning in the series can be found when cars drive by in "The City on the Edge of Forever." The rear speakers are used infrequently, so it's almost jarring when you hear something coming from them, such as the Enterprise zipping past. Paramount has included English subtitles for both the episodes and the special features on the set.
Michael and Denise Okuda provide trivia tidbits that appear on screen during "Where No Man Has Gone Before," "The Menagerie (Parts 1 & 2)" and "The Conscience of the King."
The Birth of a Timeless Legacy (24:14)
This is the definitive telling of how it all began: from the first pilot, "The Cage" to reshooting the pilot with Shatner, to the many challenges leading up to its premiere on NBC in 1966. Included are interviews with cast, network executives and producers. Features new interviews with Shatner, Nimoy and Robert Justman.
Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner (10:27)
In Season One, William Shatner gives viewers an exclusive invitation to his ranch to discuss his love of horses.
To Boldly Go... (Season One) (18:59)
Season one includes discussion of "The Naked Time," "The City on the Edge of Forever," "The Devil in the Dark," and "The Squire of Gothos."
Reflections on Spock (12:13)
Leonard Nimoy discusses his character in depth, and explains why he chose to write two different books on the subject: "I Am Not Spock" and "I Am Spock."
Sci-Fi Visionaires (16:39)
A Look at Star Trek's famous writers - Gene Coon, Harlan Ellison, George Clayton Thomas, Richard Matheson, D.C. Fontana, and Rodenberry - featuring intervies with Trek writers. New interviews with D.C. Fontana, Bob Justman, and John D.F. Black.
Photo Log (40 stills)
Contains 40 photos from the first season.
It's hard to measure how much impact this show has had on society. Casting an African-American woman in a prominent role was unheard of in the 60s, and some of the technology we use today has roots in Star Trek. Were communicators the inspiration behind cell phones? Will we be able to beam from one place to another a few decades from now?
I was excited when these season sets were announced because I know fans held off purchasing the individual volumes because they were costly and took up lots of shelf space. Paramount is making more money off this set, but they're also giving consumers what they want; Star Trek in season sets, with extras.