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

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#21 of 64 Jay Pennington

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Posted December 08 2004 - 09:53 AM

Thanks for the rundown, Bill.

However, I'd like to note that the DVD version is not the closest version possible. There is no reason to believe the color print is incomplete. It's just that they've cut in Menagerie footage whenever possible because it looks that much better, and they have consistently done a sloppy job of it since 1988.

An all-color version with accurate soundtrack is quite possible. It would only take an editor with a keen knowledge of the subject matter and a willingness by Paramount to fund yet another cut.
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#22 of 64 paul_austin

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Posted December 08 2004 - 10:34 AM

Hmmm that sounds like the featurette listed in the normal non Best Buy verson like at amazon. Usually Best Buy lists the features of the bonus DVD at the bottom of the page but I didnt see it this time and thats why I asked.

edit: I finally found a review at trekweb.com that mentions the bonus disk, you were right:

As with the previous sets, Paramount has provided an extra featurette found as part of the master set in the Region 2 DVD release yet is released here in Region 1 format as a bonus DVD through Best Buy, Suncoast, and Sam Goody. COLLECTIBLE TREK examines part of the huge world of STAR TREK memorabilia and merchandise, highlighting the value and rarity of collector's items from Spock ears to lunch boxes, and including interviews with Leonard Nimoy, designers, and archive experts. A copy of this bonus disc was not available for review at press time

:sorry for the confusion the names were so close.
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#23 of 64 Lee Jamilkowski

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Posted December 10 2004 - 03:51 PM

I realize Paramount had to get all these releases for Trek out by the end of 2004 Posted Image, but as a Trek completist, this is expensive. Oh well, at least the multiple releases (particularly in one month) is over as of January 1.
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#24 of 64 AndyMcKinney

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Posted December 13 2004 - 01:29 AM

Quote:
However, I'd like to note that the DVD version is not the closest version possible. There is no reason to believe the color print is incomplete. It's just that they've cut in Menagerie footage whenever possible because it looks that much better, and they have consistently done a sloppy job of it since 1988.

An all-color version with accurate soundtrack is quite possible. It would only take an editor with a keen knowledge of the subject matter and a willingness by Paramount to fund yet another cut.

Yes, with all the audio cleanup we've seen on such releases as the BBC's old B/W "Doctor Who" titles, the original sound mix from the B/W version could be cleaned up to where it was useable/listenable, it's just that Paramount are too cheap to do it. They know that many Trek fans will buy the sets no matter what they do with them.

To me, until we get a version with the original sound intact (including all the correct music cues, and, perhaps more importantly, the original human-sounding Keeper voice provided by Malachi Throne), we will never have a truly definitive version of "The Cage".

These sets were the perfect opportunity to fix many of their previous mistakes, not just to "The Cage" but also to edits found in the previous DVD release, etc. but I guess they just assume everyone who likes Trek will rebuy the series anyway.

Well, I didn't (heck, I didn't even buy the first DVD release...).

#25 of 64 Jay Pennington

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Posted December 13 2004 - 02:48 PM

They goofed in some of the edits to the picture as well, alas.
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#26 of 64 JoSAN

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Posted December 15 2004 - 09:50 PM

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#27 of 64 paul_austin

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Posted December 15 2004 - 11:49 PM

I already watched "The Paradise Syndrome" last night. My nitpick about the set is I ready think they picked a lousy picture for the front.
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#28 of 64 Eric Paddon

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Posted December 16 2004 - 04:40 AM

Best season 3 shows for me:

1-All Our Yesterdays (Mariette Hartley wins my award for most beautiful female guest star too!)
2-The Tholian Web
3-The Enterprise Incident
4-The Empath

The rest fall into the so-so to bad category, though I take the view that there are just as many bad episodes in Season 2 that don't get the attention of "Spock's Brain" just because they're not Season 3 ("Patterns Of Force", "The Gamesters Of Triskelion").

#29 of 64 Steven_Kale

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Posted December 16 2004 - 09:02 AM

Quote:
These sets were the perfect opportunity to fix many of their previous mistakes, not just to "The Cage" but also to edits found in the previous DVD release, etc. but I guess they just assume everyone who likes Trek will rebuy the series anyway.


I don't have the new Season box sets yet (too damned expensive!) but I thought I read that the errors from the previous DVD releases had been fixed. These include:

-Missing music cue in "Doomsday Machine"

-Missing Sound effects in "Patterns of Force" (Kirk slapping Gill)

-Screwed up sound effect in "The Menagerie" (when Spock grabs the leaf)

Anyone know for sure if these problems have been fixed?

#30 of 64 Eric Paddon

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Posted December 16 2004 - 09:08 AM

The "Doomsday Machine" goof was fixed. I can't speak with authority on the others.

#31 of 64 Dave Scarpa

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Posted December 17 2004 - 11:13 AM

I finally got my set from Best Buy and Boy I'm a bit dissapointed in them. The sent it in a crappy plastic bag. The set must've got slightly banged around cause the outer cardboard sleeve shows damage. The plastic case was out of skew at the bottom and I had to force it back in. Inside this set does not have the little booklet, it had the inserted extra disk . Did anyone that bought their set at Best Buy get the little booklet. I'd take this back if it was'nt christmas That's why I mail order to begin with. No more from Best Buy.
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#32 of 64 Nelson Au

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Posted December 17 2004 - 12:16 PM

Dave-

I bought mine at a Best Buy store. There were 3 copies left and I noticed 2 of the boxes were slightly ajar, or open a little while still in the shrink wrap plastic. I took the one that was closed and looking good. It's still shrink wrapped, but I'll look at mine when I get home tonight for the booklet. Should be there.

I'm guessing either the company that packed these for Best Buy did them very sloppily, or you got bad one.

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#33 of 64 Nelson Au

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Posted December 18 2004 - 04:53 AM

I checked my third season box from Best buy. I opened the outer shrinkwrap and the booklet is inside within the shrinkwrap around the disc holder. The outer plastc box opens fine and the extra disc was in there too.

#34 of 64 JoSAN

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Posted December 18 2004 - 04:43 PM

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#35 of 64 paul_austin

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Posted December 19 2004 - 12:38 AM

After seeing some third season episodes recently again a few things stand out....I dont think Shatner gained the weight hes moked for in the third year as much and the material on the new (ie: cheaper) costumes were much much more unforgiving. The sets are lit as if they are a television show (cartoon even) as the previous years were lit more like a movie. Whereas before we had grey walls with colored lights on them now it appears we have purple, blue walls....uggg. And the bridge is lit very very bright third season. Dont get me wrong I love the show and always have but now with the clarity of dvd's the differences really stand out...and I havent even mentioned the drop in story quality.
I have been reading "Inside Star Trek" by Robert Justman and Herb Solo again lately and watching these third season episodes and even the second season I have found myself fantasizing about "what if" the quality of the first season was carried through. Roddenberry bailing on the third season didnt help much.....
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#36 of 64 Kevin L McCorry

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Posted December 19 2004 - 02:39 AM

While I freely concede that "Spock's Brain" is a dire effort, and a few other episodes are just as embarrassing, Season 3 is a highly imaginative and provocative season. For too long it has been judged on superficialities. I point to the frequent slating of "The Lights of Zetar" for example. The concept at the heart of it is pulp science fiction with a transcendent, non-corporeal life form taking possession of a crew member in order to again have a bodily existence. Memory Alpha, the library planetoid, is a fabulous concept as well, and the portrayal of Mira Romaine is handled with sensitivity and integrity. The viewer shares her revulsion at what's happening to her. Scotty is likewise sensitive and admirably portrayed in his comforting of her. People I think slam this episode because they are averse to the sequences of Mira and the librarian uttering the garbled thoughts of the lights and the fact that Sheri Lewis wrote the story.

This episode really creeped me out when I first saw it. It's rare for the Star Trek crew to come across such non-humanoid aliens, and the mysterious, beautiful but revolting ether of the lights is presented in quite an unnerving manner, accentuated with the reused music from "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

By the way, I've always noted that later in Season 3, there is quite a bit of early Season 1 music used, in particular quite a few cues from "Where No Man...". A lot of the spatial spookiness of early Season 1 is recaptured as a result. "The Lights of Zetar" is at the crux of this revived spookiness.

The concepts in Season 3 never fail to inspire my imagination. The sci-fi western is a really innovative sub-genre (a mixing of past lenends with futuristic settings and situations). And "Spectre of the Gun" is one of the greatest sci-fi westerns, its visual technique alone deserving praise, to say nothing of its overall set-up. "The Enterprise Incident" deserves the acclaim it tends to receive, as do "The Tholian Web", "Day of the Dove", and "All Our Yesterdays". "For the World is Hollow..." is a precious gem of a character-driven episode in an otherworldly setting, "Whom Gods Destroy" is a compellingly thorough and curiously entertaining study of madness, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" continues to pack a whallop of a message about the possible origins and extent of race hatred (anyone notice that in addition to having different manifestation of skin coloration, Lokai and Bele are mirror images of each other), the causes and dangers of overpopulation are broached in "The Mark of Gideon", which is also an excellent tale of mystery and revelation, planets doomed to destruction ("The Empath" and "All Our Yesterdays") are fascinating places to visit, and I marvel at the boldness behind the story ideas of "Wink of an Eye", "Requiem For Methuselah", and "Turnabout Intruder" even if the technicalities don't always come across convincingly.

I fail to see how more contrasting colors equates with cartoons, or even how cartoons cannot in themselves offer stimulating and profoundly imaginative concepts and effective characterization. I'm not much into comparing cinematography, but I do know when something appeals to the eye, and the juxtaposition of reds and blues with violets and silvers and alien presentations of asteroids and planets in Season 3 do have such appeal.

It was with Season 2 that Star Trek was veering into un-solemn hokem and frequently unimaginative caricature of itself. Stories like "I, Mudd" and "A Piece of the Action" are a case-in-point when it comes to forced comedy. And to this I'd also add the overrated "Trouble With Tribbles". Others are dull runarounds on primitive planets with all-too-obvious Vietnam parables, lacking unfortunately in truly futuristic, pulp-sci fi concept. This is why I find stories like "A Private Little War" and "Friday's Child" to me the most difficult to sit through of all TOS adventures. At least in its all-too-frequently revisited gladiatorial combat storyline, Season 3's "The Savage Curtain" gives us a fascinating planet of molten lava (I love the depictions of it as seen from the Enterprise), rock-like alien intelligences, and realistic replications of history's heroes and villains. Most of the Season 2 gladiator stories are in Earth-like habitats, e.g. the usual primitive planet sets on the Paramount nature lot. And give me Yarnek and Abe Lincoln over the Providers of Triskelion anyday.

Season 1 of Star Trek TOS remains my favorite, followed by Season 3 and then Season 2, for while Season 2 has some excellent stories of its own (e.g. "Mirror, Mirror", "The Doomsday Machine", "Wolf in the Fold", "Obsession", "The Ultimate Computer"), it is also awash in Earth-parallel formulaic stories with our heroes chased by annoyingly primitive peoples, or cavorting amidst space Romans, space Nazis, space gangsters, space Yanks... You get the idea. I want to be out in space, exploring strange, new worlds. Not some era of Earth history transplanted onto another planet.

My least favorite Season 3 stories are all near the start of the season, and, yes, they include "The Paradise Syndrome", another of the primitive planet stories.

#37 of 64 Eric Paddon

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Posted December 19 2004 - 04:42 AM

"By the way, I've always noted that later in Season 3, there is quite a bit of early Season 1 music used"

It's not so much a case of old Season 1 cues being reused as it is the fact that Alexander Courage returned to write some episode scores in Season 3 after not doing any in Season 2 (he was none too pleased by the fact that Roddenberry screwed him out of half the royalty money on the theme music by writing "lyrics" to it just to gain an undeserved co-author status). The general rule was that unless you specifically re-recorded a cue from a previous season, you could not use previous season music in episodes (today the rule is that an original score has to be used in all episodes).

"Lights Of Zetar" I think isn't as bad as its reputation (which indeed probably does stem from the fact that Shari Lewis wrote it, and wanted to play Mira as well) but it does get annoying when Kirk and McCoy keep frequently referring to Mira as "the girl." And "All Our Yesterdays" is a great example of how a good story can overcome budget limitations (no scenes set aboard the Enterprise and Scotty is only heard and not seen).

I can appreciate the humor of a Season 2 story like "A Piece Of The Action" but for once let's be honest about why an episode like that got written. "Hey, do you think you guys could save some money by using all the props and costumes left over from 'The Untouchables'?" (also a Desilu production). Not what I call the results of imaginative producing.

#38 of 64 Nelson Au

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Posted December 19 2004 - 05:20 AM

Nicely said Kevin- That's a point of view that's rarely discussed and noteworthy.

Though season 3 is not my favorite, I agree that it does try and push the envelope. Visually, it has a few episodes that do over light the sets. The departure of cinemotographer Jerry Finnerman is very apparent. But there are shows where they do light the sets with the similar effect of S1. Day of the Dove for example is a pretty fun show and pulled off pretty well by all involved. I just saw The Killing Game on the Voyager S4 DVD set and it occurred to me that it is a sort of off shoot of that story.

Visually, the most striking thing of S3 is the effects work and Enterprise uniform costumes. The asteroid in Paradise Syndrone and reused as Yonada from For the World is Hollow... has an other world effect by the multicolored lighting, as does the Tholian ships and new at that time, Klingon Battle Cruisers used by the Romulans.

Season Three also for me is a very powerful reminder of that era, 1968 and 1969. I lived through that time and I actually was old enough to remember seeing some of those shows first run. Plato's Stepchildren mostly, and that was a weaker show....and I recall S2 shows too, Doomsday Machine and Immunity Syndrone as they were so visually striking shows.

I still remember watching Star Trek in syndication during the 70's and how it struck me then how good the 3rd season looked, how it was holding up very well to comtemporary Sci-Fi on TV.

On another note, I am watching Star Trek through these sets for the first time ever in production order. In all the years I've watched it, and I'm a big fan whose seen it more times that I can imagine, I always saw it in broadcast order or one off viewings of favortite shows. There are things I'm realizing now that I never had before. I've read the books, own the original laserdisc and DVD two episode releases, gone to conventions and I know the show. What is striking me now is more the technical evolution of the series.

In S1, Roddenberry wanted a multiracial crew and he cast the show that way. The bridge is cast as we know it. Of all those characters, I am noticing more now how James Doohan as Scotty more then ever as a temporary character and used when needed. (He never has the pointed sideburns in S1) George Takei as Sulu had a more prominent role, as did Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. In reading Nichelle Nichols book, she tells of the racism that was still so much a part of this country then and how her fan mail was never sent to her by the Paramount mail room. Reading into that, I'm sure that the Network, with pressures from the sponsors of the time put pressure on the show to reduce Nichelle Nichols and George Takei's roles. You can see how midway through S1, they go from commanding situations to more support roles and James Doohan as Scotty takes command of the ship when Kirk is off the ship. Scotty who is the chief engineer. In seeing Metamorphasis and Friday's Child, the second and third shows filmed for S2, that really closes the deal. ( I do know Takei was off filming The Green Berets during the early part of S2, so his lines went to Walter Keonig.)

I am enjoying the growing effort of the writers as they add more to the characterizations of Kirk using psychology on Spock and McCoy, "well if you don't think you can do it...." kind of lines. And the developement of the three main characters and their interplay. Chekov's pride in his Russian heritage started earlier then I recalled too. Look forward to see the rest of S2, I'm only into the 4th episode of S2.

Happy Holidays!

#39 of 64 Jay Pennington

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Posted December 19 2004 - 09:02 AM

Quote:
"Hey, do you think you guys could save some money by using all the props and costumes left over from 'The Untouchables'?" (also a Desilu production). Not what I call the results of imaginative producing.


Actually that's a prime example of imaginative producing. Stretching the budget in every way you can.
-Jay

#40 of 64 Rex Bachmann

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Posted December 19 2004 - 09:12 AM

Kevin L McCorry wrote (post #36):

Quote:
I want to be out in space, exploring strange, new worlds. Not some era of Earth history transplanted onto another planet.

"Space is de place!"

---Sun Ra


While I disagree with your assessments of the merits of some individual episodes, I do think you hit the nail on the head as far as the big difference between seasons 2 and 3.

Despite some of its bad outcomes, season 3 had much more (and many more) interesting science-fiction concepts than season 2, which, as you point out, is too full of admonitory and preachy Earthbound parallel stories ("A Private Little War", "Friday's Child", "Patterns of Force", "Bread and Circuses", et al.) and limp comedy ("I, Mudd" and "A Piece of the Action"), making for many a dull and/or vacuous narrative.

In assessing fantastic fiction, I always give points for subject matter and "The Savage Curtain" (intelligent molten rock beings), "Wink of an Eye" (life in accelerated time), and---guilty pleasure and ultimate failure though it may be---"And the Children Shall Lead" (space ghosts) all have science-fiction concepts that put to shame much of what appeared in season 2 as well as what nowadays passes for "science-fiction" tv shows and movies. (Somehow I think that "Is there No Truth in Beauty?" should go here as well, if it had really adhered to and sufficiently explored the topic of its title: beauty (humans) and ugliness (nonhumans), instead of drifting off into the usual romantic Hollywood nonsense. That flaw also compromises "The Lights of Zetar", in my opinion.)

Others more commonly praised, such as "The Enterprise Incident", "The Day of the Dove", "The Tholian Web", and even "Elaan of Troyius", I like as well, but I draw the line at episodes like "The Empath" (boooooring and unnecessary), "Requiem for Methuselah", or "All our Yesterdays". The latter two, along with many others, were up to their necks in the same Hollywood romanticism that homogenizes and, in my opinion, ruins many a drama to this very day.

Quote:
. . . "Whom Gods Destroy" is a compellingly thorough and curiously entertaining study of madness, . . .

I personally put "Whom Gods Destroy" in the same class as "Plato's Stepchildren" when it comes to Star Trek awfulness. There must be a way of expressing madness without chewing many mouthfuls of scenery at the same time.

Quote:
. . . "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" continues to pack a whallop of a message about the possible origins and extent of race hatred. . .

Sorry, but "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is the "domestic-policy" equivalent of "A Private Little War" or "Friday's Child": heavy-handedly preachy, obvious, and (now) dated.

Quote:
. . . (anyone notice that in addition to having different manifestation of skin coloration, Lokai and Bele are mirror images of each other) . . .?

Yes, many have noticed it. Doesn't Spock even say so explicitly in the episode? That's certainly the point that the writers strove to drive home over and over in the dialog. No subtlety there.


Quote:
The concepts in Season 3 never fail to inspire my imagination.

Mine, too. It's these types of stories that I pine for when I read or hear modern "fans" of shows bearing the Star Trek "brand" calling for more Klingon or Vulcan stories or raving about the pretender sci-fi programs (like [cough!] Firefly [cough! cough!]).

In sum, I think that TOS went from being a show with a genuine "frontier-feel" to it (most of season 1) to one of admonitory social and political "parables", and, thus, reliving the all-too-familiar (much of season 2) to a hodgepodge of Hollywood-style romance episodes and hit-and-miss sci-fi concepts (much of the third season).

"Delenda est . . . . "

 



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