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HTF Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: The Original Series Season One (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

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#1 of 106 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 23 2009 - 12:23 PM

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Star Trek: The Original Series Season One (Blu-ray)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio; English, Spanish, French Mono 2.0.
Subtitles: English SDH; Spanish, French, Brazilian, Portuguese
Time: Approximately 24hrs 20 min.
Disc Format: 7 SS/DL BD 50’s
Case Style: Double sized keep case with inserts.
Original Air Date: 1966-1967
Blu-ray Release Date: April 28, 2009

Note: portions of this review originally appeared in my review of the HD-DVD set.

A couple years ago, Paramount and CBS announced there had been a restoration effort conducted on the original Star Trek series which aired between 1966 and 1969. The restoration included adding in new, updated effects for many of the scenes with the ships and alien worlds. While these scenes were not changed, they were enhanced into digital effects from the original optical elements. Besides these refurbished elements, each episode was being remastered in HD and going through a restoration process to make the episodes look better than even when they aired. Examples of the enhancements included using new space images inspired by the Hubble space telescope and design differences of the Enterprise between some of the initial episodes to account for its size changes. The original theme was re-recorded with a live orchestra and soprano singer to take advantage of the current technology and quality. Paramount is now releasing these 29 remastered season one episodes on Blu-ray.

The discs contain “Starfleet Access” for select episodes which can be enabled in the menus. This feature will grant you, “…security clearance to explore Starfleet Command’s database.” For the HD-DVD’s, as you were watching the episode, various data icons would appear to indicate that there was additional information available. By using the remote, you could then select the icon of your choice and the computer would bring up the video file or data screen available. There were various categories to choose from including science, technology, personnel files as well as the Genesis category that provided further insight into the missions and adventures of. The BD’s have eliminated the option of choosing and they have instead combined all of the features into running audio and visual commentaries from Michael and Denise Okuda, story editor and writer D.C. Fontana, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, David Gerrold, and Harve Bennett. Numerous other producers, writers and actors contribute information as well. This is a great feature and I just wish it was on all of the episodes, especially City on the Edge of Forever, one of my personal favorites.

The “Starfleet Access” feature is available on the following episodes:
Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie, Part I and Part II, Balance of Terror, Space Seed, and Errand of Mercy. The SA for The Galileo Seven has been dropped with no explanation.

The “Communications” option allows you to choose your audio and subtitle options. The Blu-ray’s automatically default to DTS-MA and I doubt you’d want to listen to the Dolby Digital 2.0 or Spanish mono track, the latter of which can be pretty funny if you jump over to it.

Since we are dealing with a seven disc set, I have decided to go through each disc one by one to describe the contents, including listing the episodes on each disc, the bonus features, and any anomalies in the audio or video presentation. If I don’t note any specific differences in a given episode, it should be taken as conforming to the presentation I describe in the audio and video sections of this review. The episodes are presented in airdate order, starting on 09/08/66 and continuing through 04/06/67. The menus denote Stardates, but not the actual air dates or production numbers. Each individual episode comes in at approximately 50 minutes. The HD-DVD set contained “five special collectible data cards” that detailed the information on each disc, but this feature is not on the BD set, unfortunately. You can see what is on each disc on the inside of the packaging label. The BD’s are in a double Amray keep case that has individual pages holding the discs. This is a much better idea than the cumbersome HD-DVD set.

I have chosen to leave out the descriptions of the individual episodes, but this information, and much more, can be found on the official Star Trek site: official Star Trek site. All of the episodes contain a preview trailer of the given episode and they do not appear to have gone through any type of re-mastering.

Most of the bonus features that were on the previous SD-DVD and HD-DVD Season One box sets have been carried over, with many of the interviews dated from 2003. The exceptions I noted were the text commentaries by the Okuda’s (but replaced by the “Starfleet Access” feature) and an Easter Egg of a one minute behind the scenes on The Corbomite Maneuver. These were present on the SD-DVD set, but not the HD-DVD’s or the BD’s. Also missing from the HD-DVD set were the following: Trekker Connections, Star Trek Online Game Preview, Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier (a History Channel documentary from 2006 done in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Trek), the aforementioned Starfleet Access for The Galileo Seven and the ability to bookmark your favorite scenes.

For the BD’s, Paramount has updated the menu screens making them more streamlined and visually more exciting. As you highlight the episodes, it gives you the option of watching the selected episode with the enhanced or the original effects. You can also switch between the two by hitting the angle button or a camera prompt on the pop-up menu. Also, the special features that were on the SD-DVD side of the HD-DVD’s are now here in HD and the original broadcast episodes (without the new effects) are in HD as well.

Let’s see what’s out there!

Disc One contains the following episodes: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Naked Time. It opens with the first trailer for the new movie.
Starfleet Access for Where No Man Has Gone Before.
Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century (20:05) (HD): CBS and Paramount executives and technicians talk about the re-mastering process providing some split screen comparisons to see just how much of an improvement these new episodes are. There is also a discussion of the audio re-mastering and the new computer effects.

Disc Two contains the following episodes: The Enemy Within, Mudd’s Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, Miri, and Dagger of the Mind.

Disc Three contains the following episodes: The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie, Part I and Part II, and The Conscience of the King.
Starfleet Access for The Menagerie, Part I and Part II.
Reflections on Spock (12:05) (SD): Nimoy discusses the character and then he goes into a lengthy discussion about his book, I Am Not Spock and how that title affected him for many years to come.

Disc Four contains the following episodes: Balance of Terror, Shore Leave, The Galileo Seven, and The Squire of Gothos.
Starfleet Access for Balance of Terror.
Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner (10:27) (SD): “There have been times where I become one with a horse while on its back.” Shatner reeeeaaallllyyy likes horses and riding them, and he tells us all about it here. He also talks about how much he loves his wife and they’re shared love of horses. I’m not sure which he loves more.

Disc Five contains the following episodes: Arena, Tomorrow is Yesterday, Court Martial, and The Return of the Archons.
To Boldly Go…Season One (18:58) (SD): this segment is pretty much a continuation of the doc on disc one, with most of the same participants. Also interviewed are Ricardo Montalban and other actors.
The Birth of A Timeless Legacy (24:00) (SD): 2003 interviews of William Shatner kicks off his reminisce of the show, followed by Leonard Nimoy, a 1988 interview with Gene Rodenberry, producer Robert Justman and others. These contributors discuss the challenges of putting a sci-fi show on in the 1960’s as well as making it believable. We learn about the origins of the characters and how they migrated from the original 1964 pilot to the later one. There are discussions about character motivations, influences, Spock’s look, and more, including interviews with the rest of the cast.

Disc Six contains the following episodes: Space Seed, A Taste of Armageddon, This Side of Paradise, and The Devil in the Dark .
Starfleet Access for Space Seed.
Sci-fi Visionaries (16:37) (SD): the previous noted writers, Rodenberry and others discuss the sci-fi aspects of the shows and stories and the challenge to adapt it to TV. This is mainly a discussion how the sci-fi writers of the time were brought on board allowing Star Trek to gain credibility within the sci-fi community.
Interactive Enterprise Inspection: played with a data track. The piece starts out giving us a history of the Enterprise and its mission, then it allows you to use the remote to explore the ship in better detail. There are about a dozen different locations you can explore and once you choose, the image goes to the location and tells you about it. In the phaser bank/ photon torpedo part, you can shoot photon torpedoes. Good times!

Disc Seven contains the following episodes: Errand of Mercy, The Alternative Factor, The City on the Edge of Forever and Operation: Annihilate!
Starfleet Access for Errand of Mercy.
Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories (13:21) (HD): Billy Blackburn, a frequent extra on the show, talks about his memories of the show and presents some of home movies.
Kiss’n’Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century (8:33) (SD): Shatner discusses his aversion to the beauties in the show (with tongue planted in cheek), and the writers discuss romance in the show. Other actors and writers also contribute and there’s links about how these romances came to fruition in the movies (such as Sulu’s daughter and the relationship between Scotty and Uhura).
Credits to the set.
BD Live: the initial menu shows you what’s available for download, and as of now it implies you will be able to download new video clips and pictures. Once I went online, there was a pop-up saying more content would be available after street date. Now, however, there is still a bunch of stuff to get you started. There’s pictures, a databank of characters, actors, writers, creators, aliens, three video clips available for download in HD or SD (“Filming the Galaxy, Saving the Show and Sound of Star Trek), photo galleries, CBS BD-Live Community (which has a question and answer spot), and additional trailers (right now limited to a couple TV box set trailers). To get out of the individual menus and back to the main one, you must hit the “menu” button on your remote. So far I’m impressed with this segment of the disc and I look forward to what will be added in the future.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the 1080p signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

Each of the episodes is presented in their native 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The Blu-ray’s have switched to the VC-1 codec from the HD-DVD’s MPEG4-AVC. Past reviews of the HD-DVD have caused some controversy in regards to the graininess of the original masters. Some noted video noise in addition to the grain, but in my inspection of the episodes, I find there to be more grain than video noise or artifacts. That is not to say there is not some video noise noticed. This grain is also very inconsistent from episode to episode and scene to scene sometimes. It can be very heavy at times, but then much lighter; it never completely goes away, but it lessens. At a proper viewing distance of 1.3 screen lengths away, much of this graininess, again, lessens and it does not detract from the viewing experience. The new effects shots do show a minor amount of video noise which I believe is also contributing to the graininess of the overall picture. In some of the “Starfleet Access” segments there is a comparison of the original effects shot to the new digital shots and it is obvious the new shots are clearer. The new digital opening credits show a minor amount of noise and this may also be on purpose to maintain consistency with the rest of the image.

When I watched some of these episodes broadcast over my local TV affiliate, I was only able to see them over standard definition channel so I didn’t get to appreciate how good these new masters now look. Paramount has done an excellent job in restoring the episodes by going back to the original negatives. I have watched this show in re-runs for many years and I don’t ever remember them looking so bright, clear and colorful. Colors are lush and bold showing excellent variations in the costumes and sets. I noticed the green tinge to Spock’s makeup and the inconsistencies to it that seemed to be an error of the make-up of the time. Black levels are also excellent maintaining good shadow delineation and detail. Detail and sharpness fluctuates but it is overall good. I also noticed some good dimensionality to the new effects images, making the Enterprise seem to hang among the stars.

Now the biggest question: do the Blu-ray’s look better than the HD-DVD’s? YES, without a doubt! The BD’s are 50gb as opposed to the HD-DVD’s 25gb allowing the BD’s to take advantage of the increased space to produce higher bit rates and less compression. The earliest and best example I can refer you to would be to the beginning of The Man Trap about two minutes in when there is a close up on McCoy. The HD-DVD’s show very weak lines around his head: very jagged and undefined; the BD’s smooth those same lines out. Using that same example, the BD’s show crisper detail on McCoy’s face and not as much is lost in compression. Color fidelity remains the same on both.


Audio:
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the Playstation 3 to the Denon 3808CI.

The DTS-HD Master Audio tracks provide a crisp and bold sound while also presenting a good soundstage. While the audio is not on par with more current releases, what is available from the original recordings has never sounded better. The musical cues, which come off as flat and blaring on the SD-DVD Dolby Digital track, sound more musical and natural here. The surround provide a good soundstage that allows the music and environmental effects to place you in the center. LFE’s are minimal but present. I noticed a very minor improvement in fidelity on the BD’s DTS-MA tracks. I do not have a 7.1 set up to evaluate the differences of the addition of two channels.


Conclusions:
Paramount had put a great deal of effort into re-mastering this series and they did the show and the new work proud by showcasing it on these ten HD-DVD’s. The Blu-ray edition brings an upgraded video presentation and makes the episodes look even better than I expected. I wish they would have also been able to put this kind of effort into another TV show from a popular franchise (cough-Young Indy-cough). The transfers are excellent, graininess aside, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen and heard them presented so well. The extras are excellent as well, even if some of them are missing from past incarnations of home video releases.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 106 Nelson Au

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Posted April 23 2009 - 12:45 PM

Thanks for the review! Can't wait to see these!

Regarding your observations of The Man Trap and the sharpness during a close-up of McCoy. What I am going to look for is from Charlie X. There is very fine embroidering or texturing that I never saw before on Charlie's brown wrap around tunic he wears as he starts to take over the Enterprise. On close-up, you see a wavy pattern on the fabric, really cool to see that. So I imagine this is even clearer on the Blu Rays!

Too bad the Starfleet Access was implemented differently here. I will admit I didn't like the way they did it on the HD-DVD, so I'm curious to experience what the BD has done. And it's a shame they left off Galileo Seven's Starfleet Access.

#3 of 106 Douglas Monce

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Posted April 23 2009 - 03:38 PM

I believe that grain was added to the new effects shots so that they would match the original footage more closely.

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#4 of 106 Johnny Angell

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Posted April 23 2009 - 04:09 PM

I've got this set on pre-order from Amazon and reading this review has got me more jazzed up than ever. I'm ready to go where...well you know wherePosted Image
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#5 of 106 Jaxon's Dad

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Posted April 23 2009 - 09:46 PM

Looking forward to this set.

Great review, Pat. One thing - you mention in the video portion: "...it should be noted, on the HD-DVD’s, the original broadcast episodes (sans the enhanced effects) were relegated to the SD-DVD side of the discs." Actually, the SD side of the flippers contained the remastered versions, only in SD. I can't recall an official word on this, but it seems to me that the reason for this was that the pre-scrubbed TOS had already been released to SD-DVD on two separate occasions. The Remastered TOS was exclusive to the flipper and provided a choice to consumers who only had SD-DVD, but who wanted the newly remastered episodes. Toshiba used the release of TOS Remastered to market the upgrade to HD-DVD, by way of a mail-in phaser remote with the purchase of both the HD-DVD/DVD set and a qualifying HD-DVD player. Wow, that was a rabbit trail...

Anyway, great review! I'm really excited to have TOS in as complete a form as possible in BD.
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#6 of 106 Sam Posten

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Posted April 24 2009 - 01:02 AM

That is truly badass, great review! I'll get this only when the whole series is available as a set (that's my new rule!) but I might have to netflix this to check it out in the meantime.

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#7 of 106 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 24 2009 - 02:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaxon's Dad
Looking forward to this set.

Great review, Pat. One thing - you mention in the video portion: "...it should be noted, on the HD-DVD’s, the original broadcast episodes (sans the enhanced effects) were relegated to the SD-DVD side of the discs." Actually, the SD side of the flippers contained the remastered versions, only in SD. I can't recall an official word on this, but it seems to me that the reason for this was that the pre-scrubbed TOS had already been released to SD-DVD on two separate occasions. The Remastered TOS was exclusive to the flipper and provided a choice to consumers who only had SD-DVD, but who wanted the newly remastered episodes. Toshiba used the release of TOS Remastered to market the upgrade to HD-DVD, by way of a mail-in phaser remote with the purchase of both the HD-DVD/DVD set and a qualifying HD-DVD player. Wow, that was a rabbit trail...

Anyway, great review! I'm really excited to have TOS in as complete a form as possible in BD.

Thanks, Doug, I've amended the review.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#8 of 106 Lou Sytsma

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Posted April 24 2009 - 05:10 AM

It will be interesting to see how many stick with the original SFX vs the CGI updates as time passes.
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#9 of 106 Tim Glover

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Posted April 24 2009 - 09:02 AM

Great review....looking forward to next week!

#10 of 106 TonyD

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Posted April 24 2009 - 04:20 PM

Pat you mentioned "At a proper viewing distance of 1.3 screen lengths away,"

I never heard that before isn't it more like 1.5 or even 1.75.
I have even seen some sites recommend 2.0.

1.3 seems really close.

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#11 of 106 member666

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Posted April 24 2009 - 05:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Glover
Great review....looking forward to next week!Posted Image

For sure, same here. Looking forward to this plus my friend is a huge fan and I'll get a b-day for him as well. Hopefully he doesn't order it before I do. Posted Image
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#12 of 106 johnSM

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Posted April 24 2009 - 10:07 PM

Awsome review - thanks very much. Will be picking this up from HMV tomorrow.Posted Image

Just one question, for the new effects shots they often had to shorten the cut to the next shot by a few frames to get rid of all traces of the old 60s photochemical dissolves between an FX shot and following live action scene. When viewing the original FX on the Blu-Ray are the scenes still shortened, or back to their original lengths (ditto the mono sound too)? Granted it's probably hard to tell, but it would be cool to know.

Many thanks Posted Image

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#13 of 106 Hamilton72

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Posted April 24 2009 - 10:57 PM

Am I right in assuming that selecting "original" or "remastered" also includes switching between the original and new opening credits sequence as well as the various effects shots throughout each episode?
Respect and preserve the film-makers' intentions:

1. Original aspect ratio
2. Natural film grain
3. Original theatrical captions/subtitles

#14 of 106 Craig S

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Posted April 25 2009 - 05:49 AM

Another great review, Pat. I honestly was going to skip this release, but this review along with Bill Hunt's review and the Amazon 50% off price changed my mind.

I was wondering about the 1.3 distance thing too. David Boulet always insisted on 1.6 screen lengths.

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#15 of 106 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 25 2009 - 06:01 AM

Viewing distance is subjective, but a lot of what I've read over the years, specifically from Widescreen Review, suggest 1.3 was about the perfect distance. Much closer and you start to see scan lines (at least in the past) or on older DLP's, screen door effect. When I review I usually get right up on the image to look at it closely to identify edge enhancement, DNR, or excessive noise or grain. However, when I move back to my seat, much of this is not visible, nor should it be anymore than viewing it that close. If I go further back I start to lose fine detail. I guess it can also be subject to the clarity of one's own vision too, where a further distance accomplishes what I accomplish at 1.3. In the end, it's up to your viewing environment to dictate what works best for you.

johnSM: if it is there its so minor you'd never notice it.

Hamilton72: yes.

Thanks for the kind words on the review, everyone. This is an excellent release and an incredible bargain from Amazon!

Pat
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#16 of 106 RobertR

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Posted April 25 2009 - 06:34 AM

Quote:
The transfers are excellent, graininess aside
You're displaying a bit too much grainophobia there, Pat. An excellent picture doesn't have to mean "no grain"; in fact, some of the worst transfers are so bad precisely because the grain was smeared away. The detail is in the grain. Also, maybe I missed it, but I don't see where your review makes it clear that the new effects episodes AND the original episodes are in hidef.

#17 of 106 ATimson

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Posted April 25 2009 - 06:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR
Also, maybe I missed it, but I don't see where your review makes it clear that the new effects episodes AND the original episodes are in hidef.
I think that's implicit in the Angle button being able to switch between the two, per the last paragraph before the disc breakdown. Posted Image
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#18 of 106 Hamilton72

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Posted April 25 2009 - 09:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatWahlquist
Hamilton72: yes.

Fantastic! That goes for the alternate audio too I hope - the theme was re-recorded for the remastered episodes but I'd still expect to hear the original theme from 66 attached to the original version of each episode!
Respect and preserve the film-makers' intentions:

1. Original aspect ratio
2. Natural film grain
3. Original theatrical captions/subtitles

#19 of 106 Nelson Au

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Posted April 25 2009 - 10:05 AM

I agree about the original titles and music, while it was a great effort for the remastered episodes to recreate the titles theme music so it was up to hi-def standards, it just was not the same. So it will be great to see and hear that, if it is there.

#20 of 106 Osato

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Posted April 25 2009 - 10:22 AM

I sold my TOS DVD sets when they announced the Remastered series would be airing. 2006 I think??

I ordered Season 1 on blu ray this week. Really looking forward to getting the episodes back on video.

Great price at Amazon right now for $65.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the episodes in remastered form and all of the new extras in this set.


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