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HTF REVIEW: Star Trek: The Complete Third Season (Recommended)

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#1 of 64 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted December 06 2004 - 04:04 AM

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Star Trek: The Complete Third Season





Studio: Paramount

Year: 1968 - 1969

Rated: NR

Length: 22 Hours, 29 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitled in English, and Closed Captioned in English

Special Features: Episode trailers, featurettes, text commentaries, galleries, etc

Expected Street Price: $100 USD
Release Date: December 14, 2004





Too much network politics, a last minute change to an undesirable time slot, and a slash in the production budget conspired to cause a shakeup in the production crew of Star Trek in the summer between its second and third seasons. Gene Roddenberry would step back from day-to-day production duties, remaining on as a somewhat detached executive producer.

Fred Freiberger came on as the new producer, and inherited a dozen finished scripts that couldn’t be filmed as written with the new budget constraints. This resulted in a change in the look of the show, as corners needed to be cut. It also resulted in farming out new scripts, in a rush, to writers who were less than intimately familiar with the series.

Cast and crew could see the slide, and there was nothing that could be done. The network brass at NBC never really seemed to take a liking to the series - and when Laugh-In’s George Schlatter balked at a thirty minute change in schedule for his show during the hiatus, NBC moved Laugh-In back to the 8:00 PM Monday slot, and Star Trek got the dreaded 10:00 PM Friday slot. Back in the days before the Tivo or VCR, this meant a certain death for a show whose core audience is anywhere but home on a Friday night.

Truth be told, the show would have died without the schedule change anyway. Though the change of time slots was the last straw that caused Roddenberry’s departure, he likely wouldn’t have lasted another season, regardless. Constant battles with the network were wearing him, and the show, down long before the change to Friday nights.

Star Trek was just a little ahead of its time. The quest for space exploration was beginning to catch on with the American public, which surely would have pulled in a larger audience, given time. And, if the networks had looked at demographics in those days, instead of raw numbers, they would have realized that the show appealed to a sector of the public that had money to spend - an important note for advertisers.

It wasn’t meant to be. This, the third season of Star Trek, would be the last... but it wasn’t long before it was discovered that the idea still had legs. The show was followed by an animated series in the seventies, a hit movie series, and four more television series.

This, the third season of Star Trek, certainly has its problems - most of which were borne out of politics and budget. These issues had a direct and dramatic impact on the quality of the show, allowing for a season of largely forgettable episodes, and some episodes you only wished you could forget. Thankfully, there are a few semi-precious gems, as well.

The episodes that signaled the end of the series include: Spock’s Brain, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, The Lights of Zetar, and The Way to Eden. Certainly, there are more episodes in this season that fans love to hate, but these are the bottom of the barrel for me.

This isn’t to say that Star Trek couldn’t occasionally hit one out of the park... or at least, get to first base. The better episodes of season three include: The Enterprise Incident, Spectre of the Gun, The Tholian Web, Wink of an Eye and All Our Yesterdays.

Included in the third season set are two versions of the series pilot: The Cage. The original, reconstructed version combines footage from Gene Roddenberry’s black and white work print and color footage from season one’s The Menagerie. The “Restored Version” is a “restored full color presentation” that “includes footage long believed to have been destroyed. The result is Star Trek’s series pilot the way it was shot and meant to be seen.” While I consider myself a Trekkie, I would have defer to Paramount’s word on which is the definitive version.

The Transfers
I’m convinced that all three seasons of Star Trek were authored for DVD at the same time. The audio / video quality in this, the third season, is virtually the same as the previous seasons. Not that that is a bad thing.

The transfers are in the original, 1.33:1 aspect ratio. They are sharp and detailed. Grain is variable, as on the original film elements, and shows up with great frequency on optical effects shots. There is no overt evidence of sharpening artifacts.

The colors are variable, ranging from vibrant and deeply saturated, to slightly muted, from one episode to the next. Dust and scratches are present to a minor degree. You’ll notice the dust much more in the multilayered optical effects shots.

The 5.1 remix is well done. Stereo and surround effects are fairly subtle, as they should be. The music sounds excellent with the additional channels. The subwoofer comes alive during key sequences. Dialog is always crisp and clear. There is a occasionally touch of hiss audible at higher volume levels, but it isn’t to the point of distraction.

Unfortunately, the original monaural soundtracks are missing, as in seasons one and two.


Special Features

Text Commentaries on Select Episodes

Michael and Denise Okuda provide text commentaries on:
The Savage Curtain
Turnabout Intruder


These commentaries provide insight into production design, guest casting, visual effects, etc. One of the interesting things about these commentaries is that they point out continuity errors in the episodes, as well. My only wish is that commentaries were provided for fan favorites: The Enterprise Incident and The Tholian Web.

To Boldly Go... Season Three (22:36)
This featurette focuses on the campaign to save Star Trek, the episodes Spectre of the Gun and Plato’s Stepchildren (which included television’s first interracial kiss), and the ultimate demise of the series. Included are comments from Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Bjo Trimble, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and Robert Justman.

Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig (10:58)
Koenig talks about how he got involved with Star Trek, and the unusual way he found out he won the role. He talks about his work after Trek, including the film Moontrap and the series Babylon 5. Koenig talks about his collecting hobby, and shows off his collectibles. His collections include Star Trek memorabilia, “Big Little Books” and comic buttons.

Chief Engineer’s Log (6:11)
I found it quite touching that James Doohan, in obvious ill health, took the time to be interviewed for this featurette. He has such a love and respect for Star Trek, its legacy, and its fans. Here, he reminisces about his character, his favorite episodes, his “other voices,” and what the franchise and its fans mean to him. This may be a short featurette, but it is my favorite. Mr. Doohan is a class act.

Memoir from Mr. Sulu (8:42)
George Takei talks about the opportunities and fame that Star Trek has given him. He talks about his involvement in the Japanese-American Museum, where he serves as Chairman of the Board. He recalls his childhood experience in a Japanese Internment Camp in Arkansas, and speaks of his visit to the camp years later.

Star Trek’s Impact (9:03)
Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry talks about his favorite moments from Star Trek, and what the series and his father’s vision mean to him.

A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True (7:06)
Model maker John Long talks about how his opportunities to make Star Trek prop replicas based on the actual props led to a job in the industry.

Production Art
This gallery has dozens of wonderful Matt Jefferies drawings.

Red Shirt Logs
01: William Shatner talks about “perspective.”
02: George Takei talks about Sulu’s quest for the captain’s chair.
03: George Takei talks about the 25th Anniversary Star Trek Celebration
04: Leonard Nimoy talks about moving on to Mission: Impossible
05: Bjo Trimble talks about “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
06: Bjo Trimble talks about “Elaan of Troyius”

Final Thoughts
This DVD set completes the hat trick, and does so in style. The most interesting featurettes are those of Walter Koenig, George Takei and James Doohan. I appreciate the wonderful Matt Jefferies Production Art Gallery - though it really would have been special for a paper copy of some of this artwork to have been included on the inserts throughout the seasons. I also appreciate the fact that two versions of The Cage were included. As far as the other featurettes go... they really aren’t anything special.

Most importantly, however - we now have all of Star Trek’s original series on DVD, in the best quality possible.

Recommended.

#2 of 64 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted December 06 2004 - 04:20 AM

Did they fix "The Tholian Web" episode? The original DVD release had it badly editted, and thus,was missing some 10 seconds when Uhura is released from sickbay.

#3 of 64 OFFLINE   Paul McElligott

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Posted December 06 2004 - 07:18 AM

I think that some fans might take issue with the idea that "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is among the worst of season 3 and that "Spectre of the Gun" is among the best.

Then again, some probably wouldn't. Posted Image
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#4 of 64 OFFLINE   Tony J Case

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Posted December 06 2004 - 07:51 AM

Great! So wheres the announcment for the Animated series?

#5 of 64 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted December 06 2004 - 08:05 AM

It's not on Paramount's published schedule through March, but non-studio sources indicate a release sometime in 2005 is likely. -Scott

#6 of 64 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted December 06 2004 - 08:23 AM

Oh mercy... TOS S3, Smallville S3, Return of the King EE, Gone With the Wind SCE, VeggieTales Complete Silly Song Collection, the Ultimate Matrix Collection... I need a second mortgage! Waitaminnit, I don't even have a first mortgage! Can all of these sets fit into a nice Christmas stocking? Posted Image
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#7 of 64 OFFLINE   Jason Borchers

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Posted December 06 2004 - 09:13 AM

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#8 of 64 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted December 06 2004 - 09:30 AM

quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Did they fix "The Tholian Web" episode? The original DVD release had it badly editted, and thus,was missing some 10 seconds when Uhura is released from sickbay. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Provide some details and I'll check it out. Hi Scott, There is a scene where Uhura is in Sickbay, along with Nurse Chapel and Bones. Some discusiion goes on and on the old DVD, it just cuts abruptly. On the LD I have, Bones gets a call from the lab over results and Bones dismisses Uhura from sickbay. It's several seconds that were cut. Hope that helps.

#9 of 64 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted December 06 2004 - 10:11 AM

And if you're a Star Trek completist, Voyager S6 and 7 comes out this month too....

#10 of 64 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted December 06 2004 - 10:41 AM

Indeed. That was my thought. Yes, Battlefield is heavy-handed, but coming as it did near the end of the 60s and the Civil Rights movement, it had pretty perfect imagery for the stupidity of racism. I like Spectre though, but I wouldn't put it in the same category with Enterprise Incident, All Our Yesterdays, etc. I think Season 3 has some clunkers, but I still think its a good season -- certainly better, IMO, than all seven years of Voyager.

#11 of 64 OFFLINE   Eric Paddon

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Posted December 06 2004 - 11:08 AM

Season 3 had it's bad episodes, but I think sometimes the stress on Season 3 has led to understating the number of clunkers to be found in Seasons 1 and 2. The other day I saw "Patterns Of Force" for the first time in 20 years and it is every bit as bad as "Spock's Brain".

#12 of 64 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted December 06 2004 - 11:41 AM

Okay... here is what I see: McCoy and Unidentified Nurse (not Chapel) enter sickbay. McCoy walks to Uhura and frees her from the restraints. He says she's fine, and that he saw Kirk, too. [Intercom Sounds] McCoy walks to intercom. Chapel tells him, over the intercom, that the lab results are ready. McCoy exits. Cut to Scotty and Spock in Spock's quarters. They talk for a moment, then McCoy enters with the antidote.

#13 of 64 OFFLINE   Jonny_L

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Posted December 06 2004 - 11:56 AM

Good Job Scott! I've been checking out the set myself for the site I write for. I really found it touching that James Doohan would make the effort to speak too. For anyone whose wondering he's got a tonne of ailments and its obvious by how drawn he looks he's in the twilight of his life. He's a far cry from the fatter, jolly scotty we all remember just a few years ago. Also, for the first time I can remember (and I've been a fan for years) he talks about his Canadian WWII service and shows the camera his 4 finger hand. Class all the way. Oh and for anyone it may help, I think the cuts of the episodes are the ones made in the late 80's when Paramount was owned by Gulf & Western. I don't remember off hand though but its branded on the end of every episode.
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#14 of 64 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted December 07 2004 - 01:20 AM

I agree. The new interview with Jimmy Doohan is very touching, considering his struggles with Alzheimer's. In the feature he looks weak and a little gaunt, but his memory is quite lucid at times as he recalls WWII and his days on Star Trek. I would heartily recommend picking up his autobiography, Beam Me Up, Scotty, which he co-wrote with Peter David, to learn more about his life - it's a must-read.
"I have in my heart what it takes to run with the big dogs in this life, and nobody can say otherwise."

"Attention all personnel. Tonight's movie is a holdover from last week and will be shown right after supper, which is also a holdover from last week."

#15 of 64 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted December 07 2004 - 05:28 AM

Thanks Scott...that sounds right. I think I have to wait on the HD version of these as I have the original DVD released. I am tempted though.

#16 of 64 OFFLINE   Mike Williams

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Posted December 07 2004 - 08:59 AM

I met James Doohan a few years ago at a convention. They had James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and George Takei all at the same convention, with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy on stage together the following year. When I walked into the expo hall, there was a huge line of people getting autographs from James Doohan. I figured I would get an autograph later, but I walked past the line of people up to where he was seated, cause I just wanted to get a look at him. I immediately jumped in line, because he looked to frail and thin, I wasn't entirely sure he would make it through the entire weekend and figured I better get his autograph while I had a chance.

With his farewell tour over, I'm pretty sure that interview on the third season supplements is the last we'll hear from our beloved Scotty. Posted Image

#17 of 64 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted December 08 2004 - 01:37 AM

Here's some thoughts pertaining to "The Cage" and its placement on the S3 set. There are actually three different versions that have been released to home video, all of them with varying episode labels, along with a fourth unreleased variant. Allow me to explain: The first version is the original hybrid version that was released on VHS in 1986 as "Episode 1". This is the same version that has appeared on both Vol. 40 of the single-disc releases in 2001, and on this new DVD set, as "Episode 99", containing as much of the color footage that was used in the 2-parter "The Menagerie", black and white footage from Gene Roddenberry's workprint version of "The Cage", and the wraparound commentary from Roddenberry on the ST movie sets. On the S3 set, this version is presented in a 2.0 mono mix. The second version is actually the first full-color version that appeared to the public on October 4, 1988 as part of the syndicated TV special "The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation to the Next" (with 30 minutes of wrap-around interview segments with the Original Series and TNG casts). This full-color version was later released on VHS and LD in 1989 as "Episode 99". This version has the same mono audio track as the original hybrid version, and some of the restored color sequences were electronically slowed to account for missing gaps of footage that have, unfortunately, been lost forever. This second version remains unreleased on DVD to date. Rumors surfaced during the 90's that the color footage was in fact computer colorized, but the footage is too precise in its color balancing and tinting to be computer coloring. The third version is the recent restored version that first surfaced on the Vol. 40 DVD in 2001 and on the new DVD set. This version is labeled "Episode 1" and has the first broadcast date listed as October 15, 1988 on Disc 7 of the set. The major differences with this "Episode 1" and the 1988-89 version are a more balanced resequencing of the restored color footage, the digitally enhanced 5.1 mix, an additional 2.0 mix (this is only available on the S3 set), the digitally enhanced voices of the Talosians, and a better musical sound mix restoring nearly all of Alexander Courage's original score. In the case of the latter, one piece of music underscoring Pike and Vina on Rigel VII is NOT the original Courage score, but rather a re-scoring from a later date. If you listen carefully to this section of music in both DVD versions, you will notice some substantial differences in its performances, though the music is similar. Also, listen to the digitally enhanced voices of the Talosians in the restored footage. You can make out some very distinct sound hisses in the audio mix. Finally, to account for the restored color footage, some 5-6 seconds of footage has been trimmed from the overall re-edit. Even with all of this restored footage, digital enhancing, and resequencing to the 1988-89 VHS and 2001 DVD versions, there are still approximately 30 seconds of footage that unfortunately have been lost forever. The sad case behind it is, when it was decided to fold "The Cage" into the series' 2-parter "The Menagerie", Gene Roddenberry loaned out his only color master to the film editors, with the belief that they would make a duplicate print for editing purposes and return the original to him. The film editors, however, thought that Roddenberry had given him a duplicate print to begin with and went to work in editing the necessary footage for the 2-parter. Imagine the s--t that hit the fan as a result of this miscommunication! This leads to the fourth version, and that is Roddenberry's black and white workprint version of "The Cage". This one looks and sounds rougher in places, as Roddenberry had taken it to science fiction conventions over the years and showed it to fans. If you look at the 1986 "Episode I" VHS version ("Episode 99" on the DVDs), you'll notice portions of the black and white footage that is present only in that version and not in the other versions. Some die-hard Trek fans had wanted to see this black and white workprint version released in an official capacity, but to this day it remains unreleased. (Of course, there is the case of the unreleased alternate version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before", but that is a story for another day.) In addition, very rare outtakes from "The Cage", showing production occurring as late as December 15-18, 1964, have not been seen by a lot of people - except for those who saw the E! documentary on the life of Jeffrey Hunter. Those outtakes could have been included as part of the S3 set. While the restored 2001 DVD version of "The Cage" is not the original version as Roddenberry had originally filmed, it does remain as close as possible to what Roddenberry had intended and stands to this day as close to the original version that can be achieved.
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#18 of 64 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted December 08 2004 - 02:42 AM

Thank you, Bill, for the rundown on The Cage. I'm sure I had heard that before, but couldn't find any definitive answers when I looked. -Scott

#19 of 64 OFFLINE   paul_austin

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Posted December 08 2004 - 08:01 AM

very nice sumation of "The Cage" and yes its a real shame that these releases saw no 'making of' or on the set footage some of which we know for sure exists. Does anyone know what will be on the Best Buy bonus disk this time?
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#20 of 64 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted December 08 2004 - 08:29 AM

According to Best Buy's web site, the bonus disc contains an extra featurette entitled "Collectible Trek", which takes a look at the world of Star Trek marketing ranging from lunch boxes to Spock ears. Leonard Nimoy is among the people interviewed on the bonus disc.
"I have in my heart what it takes to run with the big dogs in this life, and nobody can say otherwise."

"Attention all personnel. Tonight's movie is a holdover from last week and will be shown right after supper, which is also a holdover from last week."





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