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HTF DVD REVIEW: Star Trek - The Original Series: Season Three Remastered

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#1 of 42 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 18 2008 - 08:12 AM


Star Trek - The Original Series: Season Three Remastered
Directed by Marc Daniels et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1968-1969
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1349 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English; 2.0 mono Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
MSRP: $ 99.99

Release Date: November 18, 2008
Review Date: November 18, 2008


The Series

3.5/5

Because the title and the original actors have been in the limelight for decades, it might come as something of a surprise to the uninitiated that the original run of Star Trek was not a big hit for NBC. It was never a particularly highly ranked show in the ratings, and it was kept on the air by vociferous letter writing campaigns by its hordes of younger fans and by Emmy nominations its first two years for Outstanding Drama Series. The show’s mix of action, humor, and humanity spoke to the young then, and it’s those very same qualities that keep interest in these original episodes alive today. This latest issue of the series completes an elaborate remastering of the original episodes with many of the special effects shots in the show redone to give the episodes more polish and with aspects of the score rerecorded. The show has never looked better, but the up and down nature of its last season of episodes is unmistakable. There are still some excellent stories, but the overall quality of the writing in the last season is variable. The third season of Star Trek would be its last.

The principal cast from the previous season was locked in place for this third go-round. William Shatner plays Captain James T. Kirk, quick-thinking, athletic leader of the Starship Enterprise. Leonard Nimoy is Vulcan first officer Mr. Spock (who did earn an Emmy nomination for his work during this third season). Ship’s doctor “Bones” McCoy (Deforest Kelley), chief navigator Sulu (George Takei), communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan), and assistant navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) complete the cast of regulars. All were pretty much locked into their personas by season three, and while the scripts threw in romantic interests for many of the men during the season (with lots of action for Kirk), there was otherwise little variation from the tried-and-true heroes audiences had become fond of during the previous two seasons.

Among the most memorable of season three’s outings involved parables concerning anger management (“Day of the “Dove”), utopia (“The Paradise Syndrome,” “Plato‘s Stepchildren”), racial hatred (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”), self preservation (“That Which Survives”), and class differences (“The Cloud Minders”).

Never a big guest star magnet, this season did boast a few well known names. Among those glimpsed during this final season of episodes were Diana Muldaur, Michael Ansara, Michael Dunn, France Nuyen, Jay Robinson, Yvonne Craig, Keye Luke, Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio, Sharon Acker, Lee Meriwether, James Daly, Charles Napier, Jeff Corey, Lee Bergere, and Mariette Hartley.

Here are the twenty-four episodes contains on the six discs in this seven-disc set. The seventh disc contains the majority of the bonus features.

1 - Spock’s Brain
2 - The Enterprise Incident
3 - The Paradise Syndrome
4 - And the Children Shall Lead
5 - Is There in Truth No Beauty?
6 - Spectre of the Gun
7 - Day of the Dove
8 - For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
9 - The Tholian Web
10 - Plato’s Stepchildren
11 - Wink of an Eye
12 - The Empath
13 - Elaan of Troyius
14 - Whom Gods Destroy
15 - Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
16 - The Mark of Gideon
17 - That Which Survives
18 - The Lights of Setar
19 - Requiem for Methuselah
20 - The Way to Eden
21 - The Cloud Minders
22 - The Savage Curtain
23 - All Our Yesterdays
24 - Turnabout Intruder


Video Quality

4/5

The 1.33:1 aspect ratios of the original broadcasts are maintained in these new transfers. Impressive clean up has resulted in often stunning looking images. Though there might be a random speck here or there and an occasional shot that looks off-kilter, the overall picture quality is quite beautiful. Wonderful color saturation is the hallmark of these transfers, and sharpness is usually spot-on. Yes, some outdoor photography doesn’t always have the detail of the studio-shot scenes, but it’s rarely a problem. Compared to the original two-episode releases (the only ones I’ve ever owned), these new transfers are much clearer and cleaner and feature better contrast with brightness dialed down just a hair. In fact, black levels aren’t always as deep as they could be, but they’re usually very good. The new special effects shots, of course, often look nothing like the original FX shots, but they blend well with the spiffy looking remastered photography of the original series. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

The only English track is the repurposed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. Though the listener will hear occasional ambient sounds or echoes from other channels in the surrounds, the mix remains primarily monophonic with dialog, music, and sound effects getting by far the most activity through the center channel. When low bass is sent to the subwoofer (which is seldom), it’s often too aggressive for the rest of the sound mix. Nevertheless, there are no age-related artifacts to spoil the audio design for this release.


Special Features

3.5/5

Every episode has a preview trailer which runs for about a minute each.

Two versions of “The Cage,” the original 1964 pilot for Star Trek, are provided. The extended version (71 minutes) contains introductory and concluding comments by creator Gene Roddenberry along with the show in both black and white and color segments. The cleaned up version of “The Cage” (63 minutes) is all in color; those pieces not available in color have been colorized to match as well as possible the color footage.

“Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest” is the third offering of behind-the-scenes home movies and reminiscences by cast member and all-around utility player Billy Blackburn. This entertaining and nostalgic look back runs for 10 ¾ minutes.

“To Boldly Go…Season Three” is a 22 ½ minute documentary on the mail campaign to save the show from cancellation after season two and some memories of making the show’s final season including comments from Nimoy, Shatner, Takei, Koenig, and Nichols, among others.

“A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True” features propman and collector John Long talking about some of the more valuable pieces of Trek memorabilia including a phaser and a communicator. This lasts 7 minutes.

“Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig” is a 10 ¾-minute visit with the actor who shares some memories of working on the show and displays his eclectic collections of many items, not all Star Trek in nature.

“Chief Engineer’s Log” finds a frail James Doohan sharing some thoughts about the show and how much playing Scotty meant to him in this 6-minute interview.

“Memoir from Mr. Sulu” is a tribute to George Takei who spends much of the 8 ¾ minutes of this featurette discussing his role as the chairman of the board of the Japanese-American Museum.

Star Trek Impact” is an interview with Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod where he shares his memories of his favorite episodes and discussions of what the show has meant to him. This lasts 9 minutes.

“Collectible Trek is 14 ½-minutes on the amazing collectible array of goods down through the years connected with Star Trek.

“Captain’s Log: Bob Justman” is a loving tribute to the show’s producer who died in 2008 with thoughts from Leonard Nimoy and others about his expertise as a producer. This is the one featurette in anamorphic widescreen and seems to be new to this set.

A note on the elaborate packaging for this set: it’s housed in a fold out-from-the-bottom plastic case with Star Trek logo attached, and the discs are arranged in a seven-page plastic “book” which then fits inside a cardboard box with inserted laminated cards with episode information on them.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

Season three of Star Trek wasn’t the series’ finest hour, but there are enough entertaining episodes to allow the series to bow out in style. The newly remastered transfers are mostly fantastic looking upgrades to the original release, and the bonuses are worthwhile especially for fans of the show.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 42 OFFLINE   Carabimero

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Posted November 18 2008 - 08:16 AM

Nice review.

I'd like to make one comment, about your point in the open. Actually, the show had respectable ratings; they simply weren't being measured the way we measure ratings today, using demographics. Star Trek was doing very well in the 18-35, but no one knew it.

#3 of 42 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 18 2008 - 08:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carabimero
Nice review.

I'd like to make one comment, about your point in the open. Actually, the show had respectable ratings; they simply weren't being measured the way we measure ratings today, using demographics. Star Trek was doing very well in the 18-35, but no one knew it.

This is very true about the demographics. And in one of the documentaries it was explained that the third season's Friday at 10 timeslot was the absolute worst for its fans who would either have been out or possibly asleep. (They were supposed to be Monday at 8 that last season.)

However, never being able to break into the top fifty shows in any of its three seasons was the reason I claimed the show was never a big hit for NBC.

#4 of 42 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted November 18 2008 - 09:21 AM

Was there some sort of contractual obligation as to why these are not being released on Blu at this time? These were targeted for HD-DVD release prior to the format's demise so why not produce them for Blu Ray giving the remastered episodes the proper presentation they deserve? Having these episodes on Beta, then LD, then DVD (both versions) and now released on DVD again... I cannot bring myself to purchase this knowing that the hi def vesions will eventually surface.

#5 of 42 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 18 2008 - 11:36 AM

Nice review Matt! There's one thing about The Cage, in 1988 or so, a full color version was found and it was released on tape and laser disc. And the past versions on DVD, I assume were also from this full color print. So it's this version that I thought was used for the remastered version that is on thins set.

Some one correct me if I am wrong because I am a big long time fan, but no expert here. From what I thought I knew, there was an all black and white version that Roddenberry had thought to be the only version available. Then a hybrid version where they incorporated the black and white scenes with The Menagerie color footage to create a half and half version The Cage. And then the full color version of The Cage.

I got my copy today and I plan to check out the new version of The Cage.

#6 of 42 OFFLINE   Carabimero

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Posted November 18 2008 - 11:38 AM

Just got my copy too!

#7 of 42 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted November 18 2008 - 12:13 PM

I have a couple more box sets of Trek (ENT) to get before I can say I have everything. When that is done, I may spring for the remastered TOS. As a poster said (perhaps in another Trek thread), TOS is the holy grail for them. I feel the same way. TOS is the only show I would do this for (as another poster also said, I believe). I must admit, seeing those pics posted by Nelson a while back really piqued my curiosity. Posted Image

#8 of 42 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted November 18 2008 - 02:22 PM

I would love to get these remastered versions of the original series.....but I won't be buying them on DVD. I'm waiting for the Blu-ray versions to finally be released. I'm more than a little pissed that Paramount is slow to do this. For now, I'm happy with the non-remastered DVD sets that I currently have.
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#9 of 42 OFFLINE   Daniel Bakken

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Posted November 18 2008 - 08:12 PM

I don't know why they keep releasing the partial B&W version of the Cage, since the all color version is all true color, not colorized.

#10 of 42 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted November 18 2008 - 11:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Bakken
I don't know why they keep releasing the partial B&W version of the Cage, since the all color version is all true color, not colorized.

Well because it was a special program for it's time, I remember when it premiered in syndication on my local trek station in 88, and it's hosted by Roddenberry. Is the new version of the cage with new special effects or just the original found color version? I would understand if they decided not to redo the cage. (Especially since most of it can be found in the remastered The Managerie.

I have the HD0DVD set s1, bought the DVD for S2, but I think I'll hold out for Season 3 on Blu, I wish Netflix stocked the remastered versions but alas they do not.
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#11 of 42 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted November 19 2008 - 01:36 AM

I am also waiting for the series to be released on blu.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#12 of 42 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 19 2008 - 03:50 AM

I had time to watch The Cage last night, the full color version. For an SD disc, the image looked great! On my 1080i screen and upconvert player, I don't think it looks too far off from the HD version, but I should compare it to the HD-DVD of The Menagerie. Colors are great and detail is sharp!

They did a fantastic job! For the new titles, they kept the Star Trek title's font and coloring from the original Cage, but brand new CGI of the ship does some new fly-bys and then the new camera push-in into the bridge. Now that it's full screen, compared to the smaller version on The Menagerie, you can see better that the crew members are all CGI until it blends into live action, but it's really well done and you have to be looking for it!

The Enterprise CGI model is the first model as was built back in 1964, with out the changes that came for the production version, so the bridge dome is larger, engine detailing different, larger deflector dish and graphics on the saucer reflect that version.

Captain Pike's quarters has the porthole with stars streaking by as was done in The Menagerie.

When the Enterprise goes to warp, they did leave it more or less, fades to stars streaking by with double exposure of the bridge, but it then dissolves to an exterior close-up view of the ship passing by the camera. Good compromise I think, the old effect could be considered goofy by today's standards, and I was figuring they'd do something like this.

New shot of the ship approaching Talos IV. The audio is CORRECTED for the singing plants! When Pike and Spock touch the leaves, the music stops per leaf, very cool!

The previous efforts on CGI to subtly sweeten the Rigel fortress matte painting remains I believe, I have to confirm by comparing to The Menagerie, but I'm sure they re-used it.

They left all the animation optical effects of pistol lasers and laser canon alone, which makes sense, the original was very well done.

The new Mojave matte painting remains too and looking good. Amazing effort as they had to also add that into one shot that is the original optical effect of seeing Pike and Vina on the Talosian viewscreen.

It's still amazing to see the new CGI morphing effect of Vina from beautiful to her true appearance.

The final new shot is the ending credits and new ship fly-bys as the Enterprise flies away. What is cool, is they left the music alone in the opening titles and end titles and it all works with the new CGI. Though it is odd to see the old Enteprise without the bussard collectors light up!

The price of the new set is well worth it for The Cage alone! I'll have a look at the Extended black and white/color version later on.

Now onto the Third season episodes!

#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Carabimero

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Posted November 19 2008 - 07:13 AM

Nice review there, Nelson. Looking forward to it.

#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 19 2008 - 11:48 AM

Sure, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

#15 of 42 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted November 19 2008 - 12:11 PM

Nelson,

Seconded. That was a very nice review, and a fun read. Posted Image

I may watch me some Berthold rays tonight. Posted Image

#16 of 42 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 19 2008 - 12:26 PM

Which Berthold rays Scott, The TOS version, or the Enterprise version? I know the answer, but I forget the title of the newer Trek series episode which is why I haven't answered the trivia question yet!

Glad you enjoyed the read!

#17 of 42 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted November 19 2008 - 12:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Au
Which Berthold rays Scott, The TOS version, or the Enterprise version? I know the answer, but I forget the title of the newer Trek series episode which is why I haven't answered the trivia question yet!

Glad you enjoyed the read!
Nelson,

Oh no! I thought it was TOS and ... TNG! Still, I phrased the question in such a way that if you found an example in a series other than TOS (and not necessarily TNG), then you're correct. I didn't know of the example in ENT. Nice! Posted Image

#18 of 42 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted November 21 2008 - 04:33 PM

Quote:
Was there some sort of contractual obligation as to why these are not being released on Blu at this time? These were targeted for HD-DVD release prior to the format's demise so why not produce them for Blu Ray giving the remastered episodes the proper presentation they deserve?

Toshiba paid all the expenses for season 1 to be released on HD DVD and they were planning on paying likewise for Seasons 2 and 3 but the format war ended first. I am sure these will eventually end up on Blu-ray, but I bet it will be a few years.

#19 of 42 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 21 2008 - 10:55 PM

Probably will come out on BluRay next year to take advantage of the awareness generated by the new Trek movie.
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#20 of 42 OFFLINE   GregK

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Posted November 22 2008 - 05:16 AM

Some minor notes on original unaired pilot-

Initially, when Paramount realized the only complete version of the Cage was Roddenberry's b&w personal copy, there was talk of using colorization. But Roddenberry nixed the idea, saying the process looked fake.

Jump ahead a couple a years when a full color version of the Cage is discovered at a storage facility. The print had no audio, which is why when the "deleted scenes" (that were not used in The Menagerie) run, the audio degrades some.. They still had to use the audio from Rodenberry's b&w print for those sections. This is isn't quite as evident on the DVD during the deleted scenes with music, as Paramount has replaced the music with stereo music stems for the 5.1 remix.


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