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 six episodes are collected to comprise the complete second season of Star Trek. Fans will no doubt remember that the second season housed some of the most famous episodes of the series including “Amok Time,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “The Doomsday Machine,” and the most popular Trek episode in all of existence, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” “Tribbles” popularity is evident on this second season set as it receives a whole disc to itself and extras surrounding it and while that may be the star of the set, there isn’t a real stinker in the whole bunch. While I’m sure Star Trek fans would disagree, I really just found the whole set a real joy to watch that contained some great examples of what made Star Trek such a fun show to watch.
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.
As for the episodes themselves, there is plenty of camp to be had and within moments of “Who Mourns For Adonais?” (the first episode of the set I watched, by accident—chose the wrong option) starting, I was already laughing at the banter between Bones and Kirk. It’s a really fantastic show that, while it shows its age in the aforementioned set design, is almost timeless in a way. Sure you wouldn’t find something quite so absurd on television today, unless it was completely intentional, but the original Star Trek is, plain and simple, just incredibly fun to watch. I doubt you’ll find anyone who disagrees, as while fans may have deciphered and cataloged every second of the series long ago, there’s still so much for the average viewer to see and pick up on. I was never into Star Trek as much as I was into Star Wars, but I never considered Star Trek to be a less worthy show, I just didn’t get into it as much as a kid as I did with Luke Skywalker and crew. This can partially be blamed on the fact that Star Trek is a more “mature” show—at least the later ones were. These Shatner shows were absolutely ridiculous at times…not to mention he was quite the ladies man.
While there may be only a few episodes that stood out to me from the packaging description alone, I still found the series to be incredibly enjoyable. 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 remastered first season arrived in, only this time Paramount’s taken more care in how they ship out review copies. Mine came with only minor shell damage and minimal stray plastic parts, although the inner disc trays were a bit cracked. Thankfully all of the discs were in working order. In a curious turn of events they seem to have wanted to mimic the first seasons release with double sided discs…only this time, they aren’t double sided. Rather they simply have no disc art. Completely bewildering to me—I think this is the first instance of such a thing that I’ve seen. The rest of the packaging is a simple cardboard slipcase for the digi-pak trays and a four “coaster” set of disc contents. Not entirely sure what these individual cards are supposed to represent…but they’re nothing I’ve ever seen before, at least. Menus are nicely done, although a bit confusing at first, especially since the first disc houses only two episodes. I originally questioned this and it wasn’t until I looked at the “coasters” did I realize that is actually how many episodes were on the first disc and that I should probably stop trying to randomly click the many buttons on the menu with my mouse.
For the video and audio area of the set…man, where do I begin. I’ve never seen such an old show look so beautiful. Vibrant colors that pop, especially when you have multiple shirts on the deck of the Enterprise. Red, yellow, blue…it all jumps off the screen. I’ve seen some fantastic DVD transfers in my time but never of one from a 1960s sci-fi show that could give more modern transfers a run for its money. The accompanying English 5.1 audio is fantastic and is a much deeper and richer experience than I had originally figured I was in for. You can say Paramount is milking the Star Trek franchise is all its worth, but they certainly make it worth it for these pricey sets.
Moving onto the extras for the set, we get a full array of goodies to choose from…all of which come from the original 2004 Season Two DVD release of the non-remastered editions. First up on the first disc is “Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memoires Part 2” (12:03), a collection of images and clips from Blackburn’s memories from his time on the Trek set. “To Boldy Go…” Season Two (19:18) is our retrospective for the second season and “Designing the Final Frontier” (22:13) delves into the designs of the original sets for the series and “Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana” (7:22) focuses on Fontana talking about her role as a writer on the show. “Star Trek’s Favorite Moments” (16:57) closes up the first disc with cast and crew commentary on their feelings about the season and this one actually isn’t carried over from the retail version of the original Season Two release, but rather from the Best Buy bonus disc that accompanied the set for a short time. This is definitely a nice bonus for those upgrading to this set who didn’t buy the Best Buy edition previously.
Discs two through four feature no extras aside from the “Preview Trailers” for each episode that are present on every disc. Disc five is a full on “Tribble” party, however, with the entire disc devoted to the episode with extras surrounding it. The first extra is “More Tribbles, More Troubles” Animated Episode with commentary by David Gerrold (24:11), brought over from the animated Star Trek release. Also brought over from another release is the DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” (45:27) which is as much fun to watch now as it was when it originally aired (it was one of the few episodes of DS9 that I did watch). Also included are extras that talk about that particular episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends” (17:01) and “Trials and Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor” (16:40).
Discs six and seven again feature nothing but the previews, while disc eight wraps up not only the episodes on the set but the extras as well. “Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy” (11:49) profiles what Nimoy got into after the series (photography!), while “Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek’s Greatest Trio” (6:56) pays tribute to the trio who made the original series so enjoyable to watch. Finally we have “Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols” (12:51), who reminisces about her time on the series.
Overall an absolutely packed DVD release. It’s hard to say if this one will be worth upgrading for, however, as it replicates nearly the same extras from the original 2004 release, with the only upgrade worth going for is the remastered episodes themselves. With this set more reasonably priced than the first seasons HD-DVD/DVD combo effort (this second season is currently going for a little under $60 on Amazon as of this writing), it’s a bit easier to swallow this effort the second time around. Although with the Blu-ray format in full swing now, fans may want to wait to see if Paramount decides to give the series the Blu-treatment or if they’ll simply stick to releasing it on DVD only. The transfers given here certainly look amazing and I’m sure they’re even moreso in 1080p, so there could definitely be a market for the sets. Once they’re able to get the price down a bit, at least.
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.