I still find it hard to believe that such a mammoth franchise spun out of a show that was cancelled after three seasons. Sure, something like that could happen today given the ever-changing landscape of television and movies, but to happen decades ago? Unheard of. And it’s even harder to believe this happened to Star Trek. Since it’s no secret that this three-season show erupted into a major franchise, which received a breathe of new life with this year’s amazing Star Trek reboot, let’s just dive into what everyone wants to know. And what’s that? Well, just how does this new Blu-ray release stack up?
Space. The Final Frontier. The U.S.S. Enterprise embarks on a five year mission to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise is under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. The First Officer is Mr. Spock, from the planet Vulcan. The Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy. With a determined crew, the Enterprise encounters Klingons, Romulans, time paradoxes, tribbles and genetic supermen lead by Khan Noonian Singh. Their mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. Watch the adventure continue in Star Trek – The Original Series: Season Three.
Comparing the third season to the previous two, well, one could call this season a bit formulaic. Now, the third season is still entertaining and fun, no question, but it’s also obvious the show had settled into a system by this time. Now, I’m not the biggest Star Trek fans and, in all honesty, viewing this show (Including the previous two seasons) on Blu-ray is really the first time I’ve watched the show in ages, since my youth when I used to watch old reruns with my father. So, in essence, the episodes here are pretty new to me. Not every episode sticks to the same formula, though. There are more than a couple times when the show tries to breaks free, which usually results in some pretty goofy stories.
But, even in the goofiest of episodes, the cast and crew are plainly giving their all.
The likes of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and the rest of the crew put their best foot forward and generally help sell whatever the premise may be. Sure, it may get a bit tired when the crew responds to yet another distress call and the same events unfurl, but given the nature of the show, it’s to be expected. And, in all honesty, I always end up curious to see just what the threat is and how they’re presented in the show. What will the creatures look like? Will they put a spin on it? All of that. Even the most formulaic episode tends to peak my attention, admittedly.
The entire third season of Star Trek is spread out over the first five discs in this collection. The first disc includes “Spock’s Brain,” “The Enterprise Incident,” “The Paradise Syndrome,” “And the Children Shall Lead” and “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” The second disc features “Spectre of the Gun,” “Day of the Dove,” “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” “The Tholian Web” and “Plato’s Stepchildren.” The third disc includes “Wink Of An Eye,” “The Empath,” “Elaan of Troyius,” “Whom Gods Destroy” and “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” Disc four features “”The Mark of Gideon,” “That Which Survives,” “The Lights of Zetar,” “Requiem for Methuselah” and “The Way to Eden” Finally, disc five includes “The Cloud Minders,” “The Savage Curtain,” “All Our Yesterdays” and “Turnabout Intruder.”
We get some real classics in here, such as “The Enterprise Incident,” “All Our Yesterdays” and bizarrely awesome “The Spectre of the Gun.” However, we’re stuck with some real clunkers, like “The Way of Eden,” featuring space-hippies. In fact, I’d rate “Eden” as likely the worst episode in this collection, but it should be watched at least once to marvel at how something like this came about. In fact, every episode deserves a watch, especially how every cast member really strives in earnest to make each episode a solid entry, no matter how goofy or flat the script may be. Just watch Nimoy try to pull off uneven but still somewhat interesting“Spock’s Brain,” for example.
If you picked up the first two Blu-ray season collections for Star Trek, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t do the same here. While the episodes may not match the quality of the two previous seasons, it’s still a season that deserves to be added to anyone’s collection. There’s a fair share of truly classic episodes mixed in with the formulaic and disappointing. But, as with every episode, the show follows the same themes and directive, the directive being to explore “strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” And hey, much like every vacation or errand, not every trip can be memorable, right? We’re bound to have a few stinkers along the way, right?
What captivates viewers to this series, more than any other, is the sense of wonder. This how may be decades old, but you can’t help but get trapped up in it here. Maybe it’s the sense of nostalgia or given the show a little more lee-way then we would current shows, but Star Trek, especially this original series, really does tap into the sense of wonder that we all have inside. And you can’t knock that the cast and crew sell their journey, no matter how weak one may be. Sure, some episodes just aren’t as rewatchable as others, but the entertainment value in this third season is there, which is why I’ll still mark this collection as Highly Recommended even though it doesn’t match the high caliber of the seasons that came before. Star Trek, even in its weakest moments, taps into a sense of imagination that hard to resist, resulting in a fun journey that every fan, new or old, should really experience.
The big draw with these new Blu-ray collections is the remastering work that CBS/Paramount has done to the show. Not only does Star Trek feature revamped audio and video, but also special effects. Reactions for the previous two seasons done in this fashion have been generally positive, and I see no reason for the reaction to be any different here for the third. And, for those who may cry foul over this, Paramount also has you covered there. These new Blu-ray sets also include the original unaltered episodes alongside these revamped ones, so you can watch your preferred version. A great move on Paramount’s part to make sure all Star Trek fans are covered with this new release.
In terms of video and audio quality, Paramount Home Video does a bang-up job. Thanks to Paramount’s 1080p VC-1 encoding, each episode looks pretty excellent. Every little aspect of the episode shines through, including every little charming fault of the actual show. There are no artifact or compression problems to be found, though some grain is expectedly noticeable. Both the remastered and original versions of each episodes look quite stunning for their age. In short, blacks are deep and colors are vibrant. The audio is also just as impressive, especially the surprisingly solid DTS-HD 7.1 mix. Everything is spread out nice and evenly, resulting in a robust and full sounding release. Everything comes out crystal clear and the original mono sound is definitely treated well with the new mix. There are no gawdy new sound effects or audio tweaks done. It’s simply a robust 7.1 mix that closely follows the original mix.
Moving on to the bonus materials, Paramount offers a staggering amount of bonus content on top of the additional remastered content. While the first four discs feature only standard definition episode previews, the fifth disc is where things really blast off. So what do we get? Well, disc five begins with “Life Beyond ‘Trek:’ Walter Koenig”, a ten-minute piece featuring the actor who portrayed “Chekov” discussing what the show did for his life and career. Next is the 2003 featurette “Chief Engineer’s Log” focusing on the late James Doohan. “Memoir From Mr. Sulu is an eight-minute interview with George Takei, recorded in 2004. “Captain’s Log: Bob Justman” is a nine-minute featurette focusing on a host of Star Trek” actors and crew members recalling the work of series producer Justman. Disc five rounds off with trailers and BD-Live functionality.
Over to the sixth disc, the big extra here, without a doubt, is the inclusion of the “The Cage” (both the regular and extended version) and the unaired altered version of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which features a text introduction explaining the history of this episode. While I may only be a casual Star Trek fan, it’s pretty obvious to see why these two episodes are big in Star Trek lore, especially with the differences in “The Cage” and “Where No Man…” and how they are different than they show we eventually got with Star Trek. Great historical bits. After that is the 20-minute “David Gerrold Hosts ‘2009 Convention Coverage” features the Star Trek writer in attendance at a convention interviewing cast and fans, among other activities. “The Anthropology of Star Trek Comic-Con Panel 2009” is a four minute featurette taking a educational stab at Star Trek’s impact on society. David Gerrold returns with “’The World of Rod Roddenberry’ Comic-Con 2009, a short featurette focusing on the Roddenberrys and exploring the show’s (and the creator’s) legacy. “Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories” is a ten-minute collection of rare behind-the-scene footage from the series, a great catch for any fan.
Continuing on the sixth disc, “To Boldly Go…: Season Three” is a nice twenty-minute retrospective featuring the cast discussing the ins and outs of the third season, along with highlights and favorite moments. is a retrospective piece featuring the primary cast that looks back at the third season, from the rough and uncertain future of a potential third season to some of the highlight episodes and memorable moments. “Collectible ‘Trek’” looks at the work of Star Trek collectibles, including the impressive value of some of the earlier memorabilia and props from the show. Rounding up the featurettes, ”Star Trek’s Impact” features Rod Roddenberry discussing the impact of this series on his life. Finally, Mobile-Blu and BD-Live technology is included on this disc. BD-Live functionality is available to access additional content online.
That’s an impressive list of bonus features, definitely on pas with the previous season releases of Star Trek on Blu-ray. This is definitely an impressive collection, considering this set includes two versions of each episodes plus this all bonus content. Paramount has once again created a Blu-ray collection that die-hard Star Trek fans need to check out, and one that casual Trek views should definitely consider adding to their collection this holiday season.
While Star Trek – The Original Series: Season Three may not be as strong as the first two seasons in terms of episode content, it’s hard to discount this overall solid Blu-ray release. This third and final batch of episodes is fine, no question, and Paramount has done the show justice bringing it to home video. The audio and video for this release is incredible and the bonus features will give fans hours of interesting content to watch. It’s definitely a no-brainer for the hardcore crowd and something of interest for the casual viewers. Those new to the franchise thanks to the recent Star Trek revamp may want to consider checking out this wondrous original series, including the two previous season releases, for a new Star Trek fix. It has a definite charm that will suck you in, and these season release of definitely worthy of any Blu-ray collection. No question about it, Star Trek – The Original Series: Season Three comes Highly Recommended.
Star Trek – The Original Series: Season Three hits Blu-ray on December 15th, 2009.