The tension is mounting for the J.J. Abrams Star Trek film. With stellar reviews so far, the film promises to be a heck of a time in the theaters—but that doesn’t mean fans have to wait to get their Trek fix. Paramount has unofficially dubbed May Trek month with a ton of catalog releases, some necessary (TOS on Blu-ray, as well as the first six films), some not (these “Best Of” releases). Still, no matter how superfluous the Blu-ray or DVD, one thing’s for sure: this will be the year that Star Trek once again enters the public conscious and a small flood of DVDs to help urge the masses into the theaters will no doubt prove beneficial in the long run.
Synopsis – The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series
“Space…The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!” The series is set in the 23rd century where Earth has survived World War III then moved on to explore the stars. Continue the excitement of the Star Trek experience with four of the very best episodes of the series that started it all! You’ve met Kirk and Spock as young men on the big screen, now join them on their later journeys to the planet Vulcan, travel with them through time, and take witness as they face off in a battle to save their friendship and their very lives.
Will fans take issue with the synopsis above? Sure. For one thing the new film in theaters supposedly has jack-all to do with the original series (although the appearance of Nimoy is suspect…) and for another…after watching the glitter and action fest that is the Abrams film, the original series will be decidedly…lackluster in appearance. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less entertaining (actually it does, but for arguments sake, we’ll say it doesn’t) as these four episodes were hand selected by…well, someone, who I assume was a big fan, to represent the very best of the original William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy series.
Packaged here are “The City on the Edge of Forever,” “The Trouble with Tribbles,” “Balance of Terror,” and “Amok Time.” Even if the plots don’t immediately spring to mind, the titles alone have become classic in of themselves, referenced in countless other series that drew inspiration from it or simply loved it, the original Star Trek series is more about the fond memories of it rather than the actual quality of the show itself. Without a doubt the episodes presented here are some of the cream of the crop, especially the “Tribbles” episode which may just be the single most popular Star Trek episode of all time (later followed up within the Trek universe in Deep Space Nine).
While it seems a bit ridiculous to purchase more Star Trek releases with the original series having previously been released twice on DVD (and partially on HD-DVD and now on Blu-ray), these are really just nice primer sets for those coming out of the new film to see what the original series was like, if they somehow have never seen it previously. Not the best way to spend your money, but the releases are so cheap it doesn’t matter.
Synopsis – Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Set in the 24th century and decades after the adventures of the original crew of the starship Enterprise, this new series is the long-awaited successor to the original “Star Trek” (1966). Under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the all new Enterprise NCC 1701-D travels out to distant planets to seek out new life and to boldly go where no one has gone before. The excitement of Star Trek continues with the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Join the action with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Cmdr. Will Riker and the crew of the Enterprise-D as they explore the outer reaches of the galaxy and get swept away by the incredible stories that made Star Trek a phenomenon.
I grew up with TNG and as a result it is my favorite of the series. Kirk vs. Picard? Please, no debate there for me. I will say though that time hasn’t been kind to this series, as I recently saw a few episode of it on Sci-Fi channel and was amazed by how…well, bored I was with it. Granted there were bound to be some stinkers, but man…that whole episode with the healing dude who goes supernova and floats out into space had me yawning. Thankfully the four episodes chosen here, “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I and II,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and “The Measure of a Man” are solid representations…then again, watching Picard get Borgi-fied is always a great way to kill some time. The only one I question is “The Measure of a Man,” which deviates from the Picard-focused episodes and profiles Data. Arguably, he’s the second or third most popular character from the series, so it’s not a real surprise…but it is still a bit strange to toss it in here.
Both releases arrive in a single disc amaray case with no frills or fancy slipcovers. In fact, there’s a bit of an issue with the TNG release as the dark grey font on the black background makes it kind of difficult to read…but other than that, not a huge deal, I guess. The two discs come with the standard 4:3 transfers for the episodes from both series, as well as English 5.1 tracks, along with Spanish and Portuguese Mono tracks and English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
As previously stated, these are solid releases for the episodes they contain…but when you can get complete series, going to best-of just seems…backwards. But, again, Trek fans are not the ones these releases are aimed at, so if you come out of the theater all riled from the hot Kirk/Green Girl action, then fuel your desire with some…Tribbles and Borg’s. Yeah, on second thought…not the greatest idea, but hey—these are solid series and if you didn’t grow up watching it, then there’s still plenty to enjoy now as an adult. Recommended for newcomers based solely on their cheapness, but previous owners can safely Skip them without worry.
The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series and Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation are now available on DVD.
DVD In Brief: Star Trek: The Original Series – Season One (Blu-ray), The Best of – Star Trek: The Original Series (DVD), and The Best of – Star Trek: The Next Generation (DVD)
Having viewed all three of these releases, it almost seems unfair to do this comparison. Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1 against The Best of – Star Trek: The Original Series and The Best of – Star Trek: The Next Generation, but, in all actuality, this comparison also brings about a very simple conclusion. Given the bargain retail price for both The Best of – Star Trek: The Original Series and The Best of – Star Trek: The Next Generation, I’d recommend picking up these two releases before deciding whether or not to continue any further with the season collections of both of these series. While Star Trek: The Next Generation may currently be available on just DVD, Paramount has just released a very attractive Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1 Blu-ray collection, and this collection I highly recommend to Trek fans, but, for casual fans, I’d recommend testing the waters with The Best of – Star Trek: The Original Series before going any further. Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1 is an amazing collection full of great bonus features and a solid video and audio transfer for the beloved Sci-Fi series. I have no doubt that Star Trek: The Original has never looked better and, for the diehard fans out there, this Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1 Blu-ray collection comes Highly Recommended. As for the The Best of – Star Trek: The Original Series and The Best of – Star Trek: The Next Generation releases, I would recommend these strictly to new fans to the franchise looking to test the waters with these series. Much like the recent Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy Collection, these two DVD “Best of” collection serves as a good stepping stone into the immense world of Star Trek. Diehard fans can skip these releases, but I do recommend that new Star Trek fans (likely hot off the new Star Trek (2009) movie, pick up these two bargain-priced DVD releases before jumping deeper into the Star Trek mythology. — James Harvey