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Star Trek: The Original Series (Season One) - HD DVD Review


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#1 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 14 2007 - 08:13 PM

Star Trek: The Original Series (Season One) - HD DVD

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4 out of 5 stars - The Show Itself (has an average rating of 8.6 on IMDb)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars - Video Quality (1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on 10 discs)
3 out of 5 stars - Audio Quality (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 / Digital Plus 2.0)
4 out of 5 stars - Bonus Materials (include Picture-in-Picture & more)
Rated: - NOT RATED
Year: - 1967
Length: - 24 hours 25 minutes
Studio: - CBS / Paramount


The Show Itself was a science fiction television show created by Gene Roddenberry. The first season of the show (29 episodes) originally aired from 1966 - 1967 on NBC. The show was considered extremely innovative and imaginative for it’s time. “Star Trek” (The Original Series) told the story of a ship (”The Starship Enterprise“), it’s Captain “James T. Kirk” (played by William Shatner), his second officer “Mr. Spock” (played Leonard Nimoy), the rest of his crew of over 400 and their “5 year mission to boldly go where no man has gone before.” At the time of the show’s conception space travel by NASA was really starting to bloom and the was definitely a growing interest in the space program from the general public. This show worked as a great device for doing such and went on to inspire many people to become astronauts or work for NASA. The technical term for a fan of the “Star Trek” series (and/or franchise) is called a “Trekkie.” They’re usually made out to be total nerds but you’d be surprised who actually likes these shows.

The first season of the show (out of the entire three seasons that aired) included 29 episodes as mentioned before but they all really had a decent story to them individually. Almost all of these episodes appear to be well rated over at TV.com as I noticed while doing research for this Review. So this is definitely a great point in the show’s history as far as good episodes (with good stories) goes. This series went on to inspire many “Star Trek” films and other shows. Shatner was in his acting prime back in these days, he had been doing episodes of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” that are classic themselves and then really established himself as “Captain Kirk” which made him pretty much an immortal icon to the sci-fi world.

The original series really was brilliant in it’s original form and this release has some controversial new “visual effects” improvements that some fans claim really alter the viewing experience way too much from it’s original state. Yes this is a new version of this original show that is “like you’ve never seen or experienced it before” but is that a good thing? I’ll begin to explain more about that later below. Overall this is a decent HD DVD release but does have a pretty high price tag to go with that 10 disc HD DVD Combo Format box set. I can only recommend this to fans of the show who aren’t going to complain about the new restoration.

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Video Quality on this release is 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 which comes to you in a ten disc HD DVD Combo Format box set. The opposite side of each disc contains the standard definition DVD counter-part. At the time of writing this Review I’m not sure totally but I believe these are all HD-15’s (15 gigabyte Single-Layered HD DVD’s). This really comes as no surprise if so considering two things, first that the show is only in 1.33:1 (4:3 Fullscreen) aspect ratio and that each disc contains 3 (roughly hour-long) episodes. The video quality to be in the original aspect ratio that it aired on NBC in primarily 1966-1967 (for this season) is now really somewhat cool to behold with it’s amount of detail present in this new High Def transfer. I will say it’s a somewhat decent restoration but not the best, the whole process and video transfer could have been better. But I’ll focus on the positive aspects of the video quality here like, the black levels are very solid and even the flesh tones come across somewhat nice. The color is definitely consistent but does seem a tad bit off to a degree. It doesn’t seem to have the total right tone that shows did with the rich vibrant colors they did back in the late 60’s when color was first being used on television shows.

Yes there is an obvious amount of film grain and noise present throughout but it’s to be expected with dated material such as this. I didn’t find this bothersome, it in fact really helps try to keep the retro feel. That is somewhat despite all the new “visual effects improvements” they’ve added which don’t really make for the best visual blend and I’ll begin to explain why. Like I earlier mentioned, they took the original camera negatives of the show and remastered the video. They also went to a great extent of work with “state-of-the-art technology” to redo the show’s visual effects (namely the show’s intro with the external shots of the “Enterprise” and such) into an odd (but what they did try to make seamless) blend of computer animation and remastered video. The real problem is that the blend doesn’t totally look right as the new computer animated scenes lack the film grain of the restored live-action portions of the show.

I can honestly to a degree understand why “Trekkies” are going to be upset by this release but I think you should remember the phrase, “you can’t please everyone” in a case such as this. I don’t totally feel the blend of the restored original footage and new visual effects blend perfectly (especially in High Definition). I seriously doubt though we’ll EVER see this show come to HD DVD in it’s total original form. Be happy with what you get here, which if you’re a real fan of the show I’m sure you will somewhat be pleased with this purchase (depending on how much you have to pay for it).

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Audio Quality on this release is in Dolby True HD 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 2.0 (two channel Mono). Honestly when you really begin to think about this “logically” as “Mr. Spock” would say, this probably wasn’t the best material to try to put into a 5.1 mix. I’ll now begin to explain why I believe so and why I actually prefer the Dolby Digital Plus 2.0 over the TrueHD 5.1 mix. First off, aside from the show’s intro (with the newly re-recorded theme song) you’re not going to notice any real large amount of dynamic range or rear channel presence hardly at all in the TrueHD 5.1 mix.

However with the Dolby Digital Plus 2.0 track it comes through as really how it was intended to be heard. I just feel the 5.1 was an overkill here and don’t see the need for it. Sure Star Trek’s whole idea is about technology but that doesn’t mean we have get a really only mediocre 5.1 mix as a result. Now perhaps in the future when I’m using a stereo receiver able to fully handle the TrueHD format I might say otherwise but until then I’ll stick with the 2 channel Mono track and give this a “3 Star Rating” for audio quality.

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Bonus Materials

* “Starflet Access” is an on-screen graphical interface (similar to Universal’s “U-Control” in ways) that allows the viewer to access Picture-in-Picture video commentaries that feature comparisons of the original to the newly restored footage as well as interviews, episode specific trivia, an encyclopedia of sorts of “Star Trek” information and more. The only real complaint I have that is that this feature is only available on 7 of the 29 episodes included in Season One. The episodes that include “Starfleet Access” are listed below:

“Where No Man Has Gone Before“
“The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2“
“Balance of Terror“
“The Galileo Seven“
“Space Seed“
“Errand of Mercy“

Located on Disc 10 (Side A - HD DVD) you’ll find the following bonus materials presented in 1080p High Def AVC MPEG-4 video with Dolby Digital Plus sound:
“Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century” (20 minutes) is a pretty decent documentary on the new visual effects used that are so controversial to the fan base of this show. This features interviews with folks like the Senior Vice President of CBS/Paramount (David Lafountaine), members of both the restoration and the visual effects processes. This gives you a nice behind-the-scenes look of how this release (controversial as it may be) came to be. The entire recording session of the newly re-orchestrated theme is included in this documentary. This is really worth checking out if you like the new “visual effects” version.

“Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories” (13 minutes) is pretty self explanatory thanks to the subtitle except I guess it would help that you knew Billy was a regular “extra” on the show who usually ending up playing the navigator. He shares with you his experiences of being on the set and even shows us some of his old home movies he recorded while on the set. This proves to be pretty informative but nothing truly breakthrough. This is though definitely worth watching to fans of the show.

“Interactive Enterprise Tour” is a computer animated 3D simulated model of the “Starship Enterprise” presented in High Def that allows the viewer to explore both the exterior and interior of the ship. Complete details, photos, audio recordings are present for each section of the ship. This is pretty impressive and totally worth checking out to fans of the show.


— Review written by Justin Sluss
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#2 of 51 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted November 14 2007 - 08:42 PM

nice review and summation!

Actually although Paramount/now CBS touts these as "remastered from the original CAMERA negative", the FX guys at CBSDigital confirmed awhile back (and several times) that they didn't have access to the OCN, just the completed and edited show negatives which is why many of the hand phaser shots weren't redone or many dissolves. The OCN are long gone reportedly and this was the best they could do. I agree about the jarringness of the new CGI as it often looks TOO clear and sort of "videogamey" compared to the live action. It's also been a rush job (again confirmed by CBSdigital) and some of the new FX are actually quite poor. Too bad they felt the need to rush them, they already missed the dang 40th anniversary anyways.

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#3 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 14 2007 - 09:21 PM


Dave,

Thanks very much. Hope it helped in your decision to purchase the pricey box set or not.

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#4 of 51 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted November 14 2007 - 09:25 PM

Cheers, Justin!

Nice work!
Honestly I'm a WEE bit on the fence. I would prefer to have non-combos as although I'm format neutral and have both, the only issues I have EVER had with HD discs is with the dreaded combo disc.

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Posted November 14 2007 - 09:28 PM


I hate the Combo Format myself. The decision to put it on combo's here was bad. I didn't really go into a rant on it because I have to refrain from that as studios still tend to use them as you can tell by this and the list of upcoming titles... Combo isn't a good idea for two main reasons, the price that comes with them and the fact the discs cannot have a solid top cover... this leads to so many of my HD DVD Combo's getting scratched or the DVD side scratched as a result. I don't really like the idea of double sided discs at all to be honest. Even if it does remind me of the Laserdisc days, hehe.

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#6 of 51 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted November 14 2007 - 11:07 PM

Just a few minor errors in your review. Star Trek aired for 3 seasons not 4, and it was on NBC, not CBS. CBS didn't come into the picture until Paramount was bought by Viacom. Other wise good review. I look forward to getting this set. Doug
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#7 of 51 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted November 14 2007 - 11:11 PM

I personally love the combo format. It means I get an SD version for just few dollars more, rather than having to go out and pay full price. I'm not sure how they would get scratched if they go right from the case into the player and back again. We will see but I think the use of the combo only here (no seperate SD version) is brilliant and will mean that they will get LOTS of HD versions into homes that wouldn't ordinarily buy them. Doug
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#8 of 51 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted November 15 2007 - 12:09 AM

so Justin, this 3.5 out of 5 that you give the video quality- is this rating based more on the way the new effects blend with the old elements, or is there some aspect of the encoding or compression that causes the downgrade? It is amazing to hear that they apparently never went to the trouble of giving the completed effects another pass with a noise filter to mimic the grain for a better transitions in and out. No amazing probably isn't the right word. Sloppy and careless is probably better. Most professionals and even a lot of amateurs know that anytime you insert newly created material to exisiting footage, matching the grain is one aspect that needs to be paid attention to. WTF. Man, I'm more on the fence now than ever. Looks like I'll be renting the first disc after all and then deciding how to proceed from there.

#9 of 51 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted November 15 2007 - 01:16 AM

My review-copy is also on its way. I´m really interested to see how this type of "half vintage - half HD" TV-show looks like on 1080p.. I have to admit that it´s been literally years since I first saw a proper ST-episode in any format.. Combo-format was a mistake with this set, though (IMO at least). Already quite expensive set is now even more expensive..

#10 of 51 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted November 15 2007 - 05:28 AM

So Bill was right! Posted Image Posted Image

#11 of 51 OFFLINE   ReggieW

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Posted November 15 2007 - 06:15 AM

Bill Hunt says: "I was a little surprised to see what looked like compression artifacting during some of the effects shots." I found nothing about "compression artifacts" during the CG sequences in Justin's review here. He appeared to be most critical of the lack of grain structure in the new shots. Bill Hunt then used these "compression artifacts" to take a swipe at HD-DVD's storage capacity before diving into another BD love-fest. I appreciate Justin's efforts here, but will be reading more reviews as they come in over the days ahead. I would like to see someone far more familair with the overall look of this series to give their opinion on the restoration, etc. I also got the impression that Justin simply didn't like the new effects shots, period. Despite some bumps in the road, I overall like the new shots and much prefer them to the old ones.
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#12 of 51 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 15 2007 - 06:18 AM

Justin- Nice review. I look forward to getting the set and tossing in my comments as a long time fan and owner of all previous TOS video incarnations. I am really looking forward to seeing how the video looks. As far as audio, there never was much surround on the past DVD's either. The only place the surrounds are really used well is in the titles. When the Enterprise swooshes by, you can hear it fly over your left or right shoulder. Just an observation, but the way your review reads, it appears there is unfamiliarity with the subject of Star Trek. That's okay, it makes it more objective. And if I may make one criticism, you might want to get a proof reader, some passages were not reading well. Don't take that as a negative, I understand the effort it takes to do a review. Thanks for making the effort!

#13 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 15 2007 - 08:14 AM

Yes Bill was right and honestly so was Nicholas Sheffo (who posted his review yesterday)... Bill's a really bright guy and I got the chance to meet him for a short bit in L.A. at the Blu-ray Festival. Really respect him and Digital Bits.
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#14 of 51 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 15 2007 - 08:19 AM

Thanks for the review Justin. Can you clarify your video rating? Are you docking points because the live action has grain, or because the CGI effects do not, or that they two don't match? Thanks
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#15 of 51 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 15 2007 - 08:21 AM

How Justin? You did not mention compression artifacts in your review!
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#16 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 15 2007 - 08:52 AM


I had heard what Bill had said from my friend Nicholas Sheffo (who as I said, did his review of it yesterdsay) yesterday during a phone call to Nicholas I made to consult on this Review.

There are some compression problems yes especially on the discs that contain a "Starfleet Access" Picture-in-Picture because they're obviously using more space for that... It's nothing totally distracting but to answer your first question.

The reason with the Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image (3 1/2 Star Rating) is mainly because of the blend not matching up. It's honestly yes really I guess because the new footage lacks any film grain to visually match up with the old footage. It had nothing to do with the fact the release was in 4:3 (1.33:1 aspect ratio) I can assure you.
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#17 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 15 2007 - 08:58 AM

The entire 2nd paragraph of my Video Quality portion of the Review really explains this but doesn't really state it's why I gave the rating... Yes there is an obvious amount of film grain and noise present throughout but it’s to be expected with dated material such as this. I didn’t find this bothersome, it in fact really helps try to keep the retro feel. That is somewhat despite all the new “visual effects improvements” they’ve added which don’t really make for the best visual blend and I’ll begin to explain why. Like I earlier mentioned, they took the original camera negatives of the show and remastered the video. They also went to a great extent of work with “state-of-the-art technology” to redo the show’s visual effects (namely the show’s intro with the external shots of the “Enterprise” and such) into an odd (but what they did try to make seamless) blend of computer animation and remastered video. The real problem is that the blend doesn’t totally look right as the new computer animated scenes lack the film grain of the restored live-action portions of the show.
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#18 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 15 2007 - 09:01 AM

For example as to why I think the new and old don't blend here, look at the 2 screen stills I used in my review and imagine this transition...

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#19 of 51 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 15 2007 - 09:17 AM

Justin: What form do the compression artifacts take?

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#20 of 51 OFFLINE   HighDefDiscNews

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Posted November 15 2007 - 09:28 AM

Mike, I'd honestly have to go back through and watch a couple episodes that have that "Starfleet Access" to get specific on the compression artifacts present here. Like I said it's not totally bothersome, the real blend itself of the material is what's bothersome to me. Bill Hunt does know what he's talking about so consult him, I'm by no means a Bill Hunt. I'll be the first to admit that. We're new to this game. I've been running this site now for only 8 months and I'm about half as old as most of you guys. I'm not a young kid like Eli Roth that thinks his shit doesn't stink. I know I'm not the world's best writer but I like to think I'm improving with each Review I do. Sorry I can't answer your question roughly off the top of my head and that I'm not the smartest person alive.
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