Star Trek - The Original Series: Season Three Remastered
Directed by Marc Daniels et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1349 minutes
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.