After the first season of the remastered Star Trek was released on a dual HD-DVD/DVD format, fans eagerly awaited future releases. Unfortunately the Blu-ray/HD-DVD war eventually claimed a life and with the fall of HD-DVD, so fell the plans to release Star Trek in high definition. Although the series will likely never see a Blu-ray release due to its high cost (the first season HD-DVD/DVD combo still retails for over $100), Paramount has continued on with the release of the series on the DVD format. The latest season arrives in an eight disc set, complete in the same collectible packaging that made the first season stand out so much on store shelves.
Twenty four episodes are collected to comprise the complete third season of Star Trek. This third season doesn’t contain as many all-time classics as the previous set, but it’s certainly no slouch either. Although the majority of the twenty four episodes are of wavering quality, some to the point where you feel you should just skip them altogether; there are a few stand outs such as “The Enterprise Incident” and “All Our Yesterdays,” but for the majority of Star Trek fans, you may be surprised by just how lackluster this third season is. Of course, unlike me, if you’re a die-hard fan you’ve already re-watched all of these episodes multiple times so you know what to expect…I, on the other hand, was a newbie for the majority of the episodes contained here.
As a kid I never watched too much Star Trek. Ok, that’s a flat out lie. I watched all of the films, all of The Next Generation and Voyager (I, for some reason, skipped DS9 which to this day I want to watch), yet I never went towards the original Shater and Nimoy series. I grew up with Captain Picard and to watch another Starfleet Captain seemed silly to me. In addition to that I never enjoyed the camp of the series, even as a kid. Now, however, I not only appreciate the absurdity of the show but absolutely revel in it. Star Trek is such a fantastic show and the remastered DVD edition only furthers to make the show accessible to new audiences.
Aside from the set design, the only thing that truly dated the show was its special effects. With this new “Lucas-ing” of the episodes, everything feels much more natural with the original series in that it can now blend in better with its future brethren. The best part about the new special effects is the don’t feel out of place in the least; perhaps it’s because I don’t remember much of the original series and how their effects looked, but to me, this is nothing short of a massive improvement over the original cuts.
The episodes this time around were decidedly less familiar to me than the previous set. This didn’t really surprise me at first, but as I progressed through the set I began to realize just how little of this series I’d actually seen. Although there was a high level of “mediocre” episodes this time around, I still enjoyed watching the set. On top of the two episodes mentioned above, “The Tholian Web” is another highly regarded fan favorite of this season, but quite honestly the high-caliber episodes stop with those three. The remaining twenty one aren’t anything to laugh at (well…actually they are, but that’s another topic), but it just seems to me the third season was riding a mechanical bull a lot of the time, causing the writing and quality of the stories to vary wildly from episode to episode. This is clearly not a shining example of the original series, but at the same time there are so many episodes in here that you don’t hear about often, it sometimes feels like you’re watching some long “lost” episodes of the series. Then again, I hadn’t seen a lot of these before so I may be alone in that sentiment.
Overall I loved discovering new episodes along the way and being completely wrapped up in the universe. At times I sat down with the intention of only watching an episode or two and instead ended up watching an entire disc (no small feat—with the episodes running over fifty minutes in length, I quickly spent a whole day on one disc) in one go. It’s an easy show to say “oh…maybe one more” to, purely because of how fun it is to watch. It may not have the same appeal as the more serious series and films to come after this original series, but that just makes the original that much more unique. Recommended.
The set arrives in the same fantastic casing that the previous seasons arrived, and even though my set arrived in a plain bubbled envelope, oddly none of it was shattered or broken (the previous season arrived in a cardboard box and had some shattered plastic). The rest of the packaging is a simple cardboard slipcase for the digi-pak trays and a four “coaster” set of disc contents. Menus are nicely done and in the same style as the previous sets, so if you’ve mastered that menu format then you should be good to go from there.
As with the last season set, I was blown away by the video quality here. With each episode in full re-mastered glory, every element of the show comes to life on the screen. Colors are vibrant and bright and while there’s a bit of a “haze” over the image at all times (as you see with all old shows), the quality of the transfers here are absolutely immaculate in more ways than one. On top of the surprising video quality we have another round of impressive English DD5.1 tracks that again are a step up from the standard audio that this series received previously. Brand new sound effects fill the channels, dialogue is clean and clear and in the end I’m willing to bet a series from 1968 never sounded so good.
Moving onto the extras for the set, we get a full array of goodies to choose from…almost all of which come from the original 2004 Season Three DVD release of the non-remastered editions. First up we have a bonus with the inclusion of the original pilot episode “as aired in 1988” as well as the extended version. One version contains an upgrade in the visual effects area as the rest of the season did, as well as a black and white version of the pilot.
Next we have “Bill Blackburn’s Treasure Chest” (10:52), the third installment of the series, that once again takes us through the memories of Blackburn’s time on the series, while “To Boldly Go… Season Three” (22:37) brings together cast and crew and is a repeat from the 2004 release as are the “A Star Trek Collector’s Dream Come True” (7:05), which actually stems from a bonus-disc that was packed in with the 2004 set at Best Buy, “Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig” (10:58), “Chief Engineer’s Log” (6:11), “Memoirs from Mr. Sulu” (8:42), and “Star Trek’s Impact” (9:03) featurettes. If you own the previous sets then these aren’t new, but still worth a look as they offer in some great insight into the history of the show. “Captain’s Log: Bob Justman” (9:34) is, as far as I can tell, an all-new featurette for this set that interviews the late Justman talking about his time on the show.
Overall this is another fantastic set from Paramount and the remastering done on the series is nothing short of brilliant. As with the previous sets, however, whether you purchase it will depend on if you own the 2004 set already and just how much of a die-hard fan you are. Although with a current going price of $39.99 on Amazon, this isn’t too hard of a decision to make for twenty-four remastered episodes of a classic sci-fi like Star Trek.
Previous Owners: Recommended if you really love Star Trek.
Newcomers: Highly Recommended.
Star Trek – The Original Series: Season Two (Remastered) is now available on DVD.
Portions of this review were duplicated from the Season Two DVD review.