DVD Review: Star Trek Season 2
Star Trek: The Original Series
(CBS) (8 DVDs)Being of that generation of Trekkers who actually begged his parents to let me stay up late enough to watch Trek’s original run on NBC at 9:00 p.m., I’ll gladly testify that this was one of my favorite shows of all time. Yes, I grew to like the ensuing Next Generation and Deep Space 9 better, but way back in 1967, there really was nothing like the original adventures of the Enterprise and her crew in those days. I’ll also say that if I needed to prove just how great this series was, I would more than likely pull most of my examples from this season. Episodes such as “Trouble With Tribbles, Who Mourns for Adonais?, Amok Time” and “Assignment: Earth” weren’t just great science fiction, they were incredible television, period. Yes, there were a few clunkers that season, but I’ll leave you to quibble over those. That said, the 24 episodes collected here all contain spectacular acting (even from William Shatner), truly original and daring plots for the day, superlative sets and a resourcefulness regarding special effects that is still to be matched. This week CBS/Paramount has re-released this bellwether season again in a totally remastered boxed set. That means the big question therefore is it worth it? As far as I’m concerned, the answer is a hands down yes. But let’s back up a little bit. A little perspective never hurts. Star Trek ducked a bullet after its first season. Ratings weren’t the greatest. In a move that was unusual for the day, it’s original producer, Desilu, managed to sell the property to Paramount, a very rare occurrence in the television world. From there, Paramount budgeted for 26 episodes, which was only three less than the previous year and still a good number for a prime time weekday series. There were also some integral cast changes. Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) was gone, with Nurse Chappel (Majel Roddenberry) now firmly in place as the long, leggy blonde. More important was the addition of Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig). As the ton of extra content included throughout this set would explain, he was brought in for multiple reasons. First of all, George Takei (Sulu) was a late arrival when shooting began because he was trapped in the production of the John Wayne atrocity The Green Berets. As Koenig himself would jokingly say in his interview, he was also hired to add the “Davy Jones” factor, a youthful face amongst the rest of the cast who were all over 30 (oddly enough, including himself). Finally, there was a letter series creator Gene Roddenberry received saying that if the Enterprise was a truly integrated crew, it should include a Russian amongst the primarily Western Euro/American cast. Whatever reason you accept, he fit in smoothly, adding a brashness and a bit of humor and arrogance that made this already incredible mix of talent even better. There were also some wonderful new writing talent added to the mix; particularly the legendary science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (“Amok Time”) and David Gerrold (“Tribbles”). They provided key episodes to complement the already sterling work provided by bulwarks DC Fontana and Gene L. Coon. Yes, the shows began to focus more and more on the holy trinity of Kirk, Spock and, to a slightly lesser extent, McCoy. The extra content quietly points out that seemed to be an order as much from either NBC or Paramount as anyone else. The days of true ensemble casting were still over a decade away. The bigs wanted their stars. So, couple this fresh blood with the already existing chemistry among the actors and you wind up with a true and undeniable TV classic. Something much worth fighting one’s parents to stay up for (and thank god my father was also a science fiction nut). Still, this set has been released before. Why do it again? Is it worth it? The answer is yes. Every episode has been digitally remastered for maximum crispness. It reminds you just how truly colorful the series was, especially considering this show was in one of the most color-oriented decades of the 20th Century. The original theme song, also remastered, has never sounded more lush or pleasing. It’s also wonderful to see complete episodes again considering how this show got chopped and diced during its syndication years. For those who love EC, you might overdose. “Trouble With Tribbles,” is the sole episode on the fifth disk. You not only get the original episode, but also the Filmation animated sequel (with commentary from writer David Gerrold) as well as the later DS9 episode that took the subject even further. Can it get to be a little bit of overkill? You’ll have to be the judge of that. As an admitted Trek geek, I personally didn’t mind at all. The point is while I usually frown upon such overly commercial repackaging, I felt I got my money’s worth with this box. If you are a true hardcore Trekker yourself, or never had this season in your collection to begin with, this is truly worth having. Personally, I was glad to get back on the Enterprise and go where no one, all right “man,” had gone before one more time. A true keeper by anyone’s standards. Related: SDCC 08 - Star Trek: Without Blueprints Panel SDCC 08 - More Star Trek from John Byrne at IDW Newsarama Note: The review orginally referred to Aton Chekov, not Pavel Chekov. While we're sure our English teacher is proud of us, we apologize for naming the wrong Chekov.
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