DVD Review HTF Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series

PatWahlquist

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Star Trek: The Animated Series

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 2006 (Original episodes aired 1973-1974)
Rated: Not Rated.
Aspect Ratio: 4X3
Audio:English Dolby Digital 5.1, mono; Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portugese
Time: 526 minutes.
Disc Format: 4 DVD-9’ss
Case Style: Plastic hard case


After a three year run on NBC from 1967-1969, Star Trek was axed from the schedule. It wasn’t until 1973 that anyone realized this may be a viable franchise and an animated show was developed. Unfortunately, perhaps, the animated Star Trek was cancelled as well after only twenty two episodes, which paved the way for the beginning of a very successful movie franchise a few years later. The twenty two episodes presented here pick up where the original TV series left off and they continue with leaner stories. Gone is most of the character development and interaction that was and is a hallmark of the franchise, instead, opting for plot driven episodes that deal more in action and effects freed from the budgetary constraints of network TV. ST: TAS appears to be quite mature for its age, not playing so much to the Saturday morning kiddie audience. As David Gerrold says in one of the commentaries, they were trying to make, “…adult level science fiction kids could watch.”

ST: TAS was notable not only for re-launching the franchise but also using most of the original actors for voice work. Shatner, Nimoy, Kelly and most of the others are represented, even allowing James Doohan to do up to six voices in various episodes. Thanks to this, much of the repartee that is prevalent in the TV series is easily conveyed here. ST: TAS also allowed the producers to be freed of live action budget constraints to introduce new alien species and locales and better utilize existing ones. We get to see more Andorians, a three armed creature playing a harp while on the bridge of the Enterprise, and this was the first major appearance of Vulcan and its cities.


I watched several of the episodes in their entirety, and I watched segments of the rest for video and audio quality. The episodes are presented in airdate order, with Stardate’s noted alongside the airdates. The episodes included in this set are:

Disc 1 Episodes : “Beyond the Farthest Star”, “Yesteryear” (with text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda), “One of Our Planets is Missing”, “The Lorelei Signal”, “More Tribbles, More Troubles” (audio commentary by David Gerrold), “The Survivor”.

Disc 2 Episodes: “The Infinite Vulcan” (storyboard gallery), “The Magicks of Megas-Tu”, “Once Upon a Planet”, “Mudd’s Passion”, “The Terratin Incident”, “The Time Trap”.

Disc 3 Episodes: ”The Ambergris Element”, “The Slaver Weapon”, “The Eye of the Beholder” (text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda), “The Jihad”, “The Pirates of Orion”.

Disc 4 Episodes: ”Bem” (audio commentary by David Gerrold), “The Practical Joker”, “Albatross”, “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth” (audio commentary by David Wise), “The Counter Clock Incident” (text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda) .

Video:
The episodes are presented in their original 4x3 format. Paramount seems to continue to do the Star Trek franchise justice by doing a very nice job in restoring this animated show. There is very minor dirt and debris in the picture and detail is good enough to see brush lines and flaws in the original cels. Colors are excellent showing interesting differences between the characters (Spock and Sulu both have different skin tones from, say, Kirk) and they are bold, natural and lush. Saturation levels are excellent, and black levels are suitably deep. Edge enhancement was noticeable but not overbearing. The episodes have never looked quite this good!

Audio:
All of the episodes have been re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it is used to good effect. The voices stay planted in the center channel allowing the rest of the channels to be utilized for the various effects. I was pleased to hear the actors maintained their character voices and inflections without making them too “cartoony” as if they’re playing to a younger audience. The audio is very clear and the voices are accurate. The DD track presents a good surround field with mediocre bass effects.


Bonus Features:
Text commentaries by Star Trek guru’s Michael and Denise Okuda, and audio commentaries by David Wise and David Gerrold. Gerrold tells us the Tribbles became pink due to a color blind cel painter, so we get fun bits like that in these commentaries. Both types of commentaries are informative and interesting and give some good background on the individual episodes. “The Infinite Vulcan” also has a storyboard gallery of some rough photocopies of the original story boards.

Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series (24:19): A good, detailed examination of the series by the writers and producers. As usual, you get the witty asides, but there are some great behind the scenes shots and some historical perspective from some of the current Star Trek writers. Again, the problem of color blindness comes up, as does the real reason Chekov is absent from the bridge.

What’s the Star Trek Connection? This is an cool, fanboy perspective on how the animated series is tied to all the relevant live actions incarnations.

Show History: A very brief text history of the show.

Conclusions:
This set seems to complete the Star Trek series on DVD, and Paramount has done a nice job in these re-mastered episodes. Video and audio quality has been improved making the episodes look and sound better than we’ve ever seen and heard them. There are also a few extras that make the set worthwhile to both hardcore and casual Star Trek fans.
 

RickER

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Glad to finally have this. Or i will be glad, got mine on order from Amazon for under $40. Thanks for the review Pat.
By the way, does it come in a "book" like Enterprise did?
 

Jeff*H

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Deep Discount DVD has their 20% off sale going on thru 11/23. I plan on ordering the set from them on 11/21 (pre-orders can't get the sale price) for ~$34, or 20% off their posted price of $42.35. There are several codewords you can use, including WGN and USATODAY.
 

PatWahlquist

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Thanks!
It's in that bulky, plastic clamshell case like the original TV series set. It flips open, then the discs are in a flipper, book-like case.
 

Sam Favate

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Great review. Looking forward to this, as it was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and being an infant when TOS originally aired, this was my introduction to Star Trek (well, this and the syndication runs of TOS in the early to mid-70s).

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my set, which shipped already.
 

Bill>Moore

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Looking forward to checking these out again. Haven't watched the show in a very long time, but it will be fun to see it after all these years.

I'd seen DDD extended their sale, so that's good news.
 

Paul Arnette

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I've never really had an opportunity to watch any of these, so I am anxious to do so. I've always been a fan of the original crew, the others not so much, so I am looking forward to completing my 'original crew' collection.
 

Jason_V

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I've waffled back and forth on these since they were announced. I always said the only Trek product I would add to my collection were TOS, TNG, DS9 and the movies. Part of me feels *bad* for not finishing the franchise, but another part knows I wouldn't enjoy them as much as I should.

Probably gonna pass only to regret it later. It's good to know Paramount didn't stiff the fans on these.
 

David Norman

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Honestly I think it would be worth it almost just for the one single episode of "Yesteryear" Just an incredibly good story seeing Spock as a child and his beloved pet. So far beyond a typical childhood cartoon story and a very worthy pseudo-sequel to "City on the Edge of Forever."
Yesteryear might easily be in my Top 5 all time favorite single episodes of the entire franchise.
 

Michael Rogers

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I discovered Star Trek as a kid through the animated series. The animated show means a lot to me in that respect. I will be picking it up tomorrow.
 

Jeff*H

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Update: DDD's regular price for the set dropped to $34 today. With the 20% discount, it comes to a measly $27.50. Sold!
 

CoreyII

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I couldn't agree more David. This animated series was ahead of it's time in terms of story content. From what I understand Roddenberry had his hand in the project which is probably why the show didn't come off as your typical episode of the Superfriends. The only other sci-fi cartoon that rivaled Star Trek in terms of mature storytelling back in the day was Starblazers.

I would say Star Trek is one of Filmations boldest and better animated series, even more so than Flash Gordon and Bravestarr.

Pat, a really great review, thank you. I'll definitely be picking this series up. I purchased the homemade verison
earlier this year at a local comic book convention, but some of the discs lock up on my DVD player. It will be nice to have an official copy from Paramount.
 

Blake Siefken

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I'm a big Trek fan, but I've never seen these before. Now that I've watched them, they're pretty good. The story lines are as good as anything in TOS, and they have bigger "production values". How many giant dragons could they have afforded to have in live action?

With the exception of a few of the dates mentioned by characters, there is nothing really in TAS that contradicts the live action shows. I think it should be considered canon.

And I must say, I'm in love with the box! It is by far the best designed packaging that anything Star Trek has come in, so far.
 

TonyD

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the case is great but i hate the accordian inside holder.

somemthings i now remember about the show when watching as a kid.
the opening shots of the ship flying sideways always confused me.

and the shot of the front of the saucwe section coming into the screen from the left, used many times each episode always looked like it was square to
me due to the way the shadow was drawn on the ship.

the other thing that i notice now is how much this is like the old spider-man cartoon.

in animation style and the music.

sounds like some of the music cues are right out of that spider-man cartoon.

animation style due to how many shots are just reused many times overalso the music cues are reused a ton of time each ep.

i dont care though
i'm glad to be able to see this.

it looks terrific.

i would have liked more commentary or text tracks.

 

Joe*A

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I read a great idea in another thread about ST:TAS who suggested that the animated series be re-animated with today's animation techniques - either CGI (which is not my first choice) or classic cartooning. I ordered the series and can't wait to get it. But I do remember how lousy the animation was. The stories are great but the animation is not.
 

Blake Siefken

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Once you get used to the low budget-ness of the animation style it's okay. I thought it was actually kind of charming, like the special effects in TOS. Sort of gives it character.
 

DeathStar1

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Well, keep in mind that Filmation was the last American Studio to produce Cartoons, so I guess they had to keep things as under budget as possible. Imagine them trying to get the original actors now to reprise their roles? It would put the company bankrupt
.

That being said, I've just seen my first ever Animated Trek, and while it took some getting used to, it wasn't that bad at all. Of course, the episode I watched was 'More Tribbles, More Troubles', so who knows if they are all as good as that one. I'm surprised they let the Klingdon (not a typo, they apparently arn't sure how to pronounce that word yet at this point
) commander shoot the cute, furry little tribble even if it did survive the blast..

Also, anyone notice that Cyrano Jones had the voice of He-Mans Ram-Man/Beastman ? You can notice it in the laugh.

I must say, that if they can get the right look for the characters and right Style, Animated Trek might not be such a bad idea for future Series revivals, such as a TNG/DS9/Voy Series Crossover.


*Edit* Why does young Spock sound like Charlie Brown or Linus from the Christmas Specials?
 

Michael Rogers

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The limited animation style of TAS is to me, simply the language of the Saturday morning stuff of my youth. It goes with the territory and if it suddenly had full motion picture quality animation, it would look odd to me.

That being said, TAS's animation is a bit better then a lot of the other Saturday Morning animateds of the time.

Take a look at Return To The Planet Of The Apes, for instance. They take limited animation to the legal limit.
 

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