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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > TV > Adventure > Space Opera > Star Trek - The Original Series sets

Star Trek – The Original Series (3 DVD sets)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B+



The original Star Trek series started roughly in 1965, but officially debuted in 1966 to ratings that were never strong, but to interest that kept growing long after the NBC network gave up.  Many know the story of how the pilot was the rough basis for the show, then the legendary changes were made and the classic line up arrived.  What many do not know is that the reason the show really got picked up was because the owner of its production company backed it so strongly.  The production company was Desilu and the head of the company was co-founder Lucille Ball.  Yes, Lucy made the series possible as much as creator Gene Roddenberry, who she knew was talented and lobbied for all the way.


Each year, CBS had to do a brand new contract with Lucy to keep her show going, as she would only sign per-season contracts.  There was always money in each for her to develop new pilot projects.  If CBS passed, she could take them anywhere she wanted.  NBC wanted to work with Lucy like anyone and took on the pilot.  As with other shows from her company, she wanted them smart and with low budgets that made them possible.  Roddenberry originally developed the idea of the transporter room so money did not have to be spent for the characters to travel from place to place, plus, it made the story go faster, especially in the hour-long timeslot.  Add teleplays by Roddenberry and some of the most talented writers of the day and the smartest Science Fiction/Fantasy show since Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone was on its way.


Paramount has issued the entire series in three DVD sets, one per season, and each in a different color snap-together case to look like a piece from the show’s production design.  They open down the middle as a matter of fact and is one of the best DVD case designs to date.  Television’s first truly multi-cultural crew spend five years aboard The Enterprise on a mission of scientific discovery, humanity, and contact with new parts of space, even if the show’s three seasons fell one year short.  It has had dozens of imitators, several belated spin-off series and is endlessly referenced from its well-earned place as Pop Culture icons, but it has never been equaled or outclassed.  This is because Roddenberry had a great vision of the future and even today is still ahead of his time, as evidenced by how all the spin-off Trek’s have lost their way, to the point that the visually dark Enterprise is kept on life support by being shot on digital High Definition and the Nemesis film that questioned the soul of the franchise now went over the heads of fans.  These originals could not have been reissued at a better time.  The episodes are as follows, listed as simply as possible for easy reference, as this is a show that has been chronicled to death.  This is in the order they appear on each set:




Episodes – Season One:


The Man Trap – The great salt monster episode; the creature takes the substance out of humans and has to be stopped.


Charlie X – The great brilliant lost boy (Robert Walker, Jr.) with powers show is an early classic.  Abraham Soafer guest stars.


Where No Man Has Gone Before – Great personal story adventure that made this show a classic.  Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman guest star, and that is Hal Needham as Lockwood’s stunt double.


The Naked Time – Funny, smart show as disease makes crew lose inhibitions.


The Enemy Within – Bold installment in which Kirk’s split considers man’s duality.


Mudd's Women – The first of two great shows with Harry C. Carmel as comic nemesis Harry Mudd, a space pirate.


What Are Little Girls Made Of? – Terrific android tale focusing on Nurse Chappel.  Michael Strong and Ted Cassidy guest stars.


Miri – An interesting parallel earth tale with empowered children.  Kim Darby is the title character.


Dagger Of The Mind – Medical quackery show with a twist.  James Gregory guest stars.


The Corbomite Maneuver – Great military strategy show.  Clint Howard guest stars.


The Menagerie Part I and II – The classic about Kirk’s predecessor, Christopher Pike.  Malachi Throne guest stars, using footage from The Cage.  Two versions are in set three.


The Conscience Of The King – Shakespeare show with murder plot.  Barbara Anderson guest stars.


Balance Of Terror – The Romulans arrive for battle in this classic.  Mark Lenard, who later plays Spock’s father, is the head of the Romulans here.


Shore Leave – A simple break turns into a deadly game on a rigged planet.  Perry Lopez guest stars.


The Galileo Seven – The famous title shuttlecraft is used when Enterprise has trouble.


The Squire Of Gothos – The powerful Trelane wants the crew to stay… forever.


Arena – Kirk must rough-it and be creative to fight a giant alligator man The Gorn by hand.  Vic Perrin guest stars.


Tomorrow Is Yesterday – The Enterprise makes its first trip to the 20th Century.


Court Martial – Kirk is up for trial, but someone has tampered with digital evidence.  Elisha Cook Jr. guest stars.


The Return Of The Archons – The USS Archon is discovered and it is not pretty.  Sid Haig guest stars.


Space Seed – The classic original show with Ricardo Montalban as Khan.  Madlyn Rhue also stars.


A Taste Of Armageddon – A computer kidnaps and kills people in cyberwar to save city buildings.  Barbara Babcock guest stars.


This Side Of Paradise – Spores have a bizarre effect on all that is happy… at first.  Jill Ireland guest stars.


The Devil In The Dark – Creatures that go through solid rock threaten others.  Ken Lynch guest stars.


Errand Of Mercy – The Klingons cause potentially deadly interference with a new Federation inductee.


The Alternative Factor – A two-in-one man, one is form the anti-matter world.  Richard Derr guest stars.


The City On The Edge Of Forever – Pretty much the greatest show ever, as Kirk falls in love with Sister Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) when they go back in time, only to find out she must die or the Nazis will win World War II!


Operation: Annihilate! – Flying parasites attack Kirk’s family back home, then go after Spock.




Season Two:


Amok Time – Complications ensue during Spock’s mating season.


Who Mourns For Adonais? – The Greek Gods intercept Enterprise in alternate world.  Leslie Parrish guest stars.


The Changeling – Robot Nomad thinks Kirk created it, so it will destroy earth.


Mirror Mirror – A parallel Enterprise with crazy copies of crew surfaces.  Barbara Luna guest stars.


The Apple – Evil force with children control elements of planet; Enterprise must die.  David Soul guest stars.


The Doomsday Machine – Planet-eater has angry Commander take over Enterprise to stop it.  William Windom guest stars.


Catspaw – The crew encounters a planet with voodoo and zombies.


I Mudd – Harry Mudd returns as the “god” of a planet.


Metamorphosis – Warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane (Glenn Corbett) is found alone on a cloud planet.


Journey To Babel – Spock’s parents (Jane Wyatt, Mark Lenard) board the ship for diplomatic mission, but it will not be so simple a journey.


Friday's Child – Klingons try to convert planet of natives ‘til Enterprise shows up.  Julie Newmar guest stars.


The Deadly Years – Romulans and aging disease are an unexpected one-two punch.


Obsession – A deadly vampire cloud returns and Kirk wants revenge.


Wolf In The Fold – Scotty is framed for murder, so Spock becomes detective.  John Fiedler guest stars.


The Trouble With Tribbles – All time, one of a kind, comedy classic with furry invaders.


The Gamesters Of Triskelion – Kirk, Uhura & Chekov caught on death game planet.


A Piece Of The Action – A planet based on 1920s gangsters is visited by Kirk and Spock.  Vic Tayback guest stars.


The Immunity Syndrome – A gigantic single-cell monster is on the kill for Enterprise.


A Private Little War – Planet Kirk returns to goes from peaceful to killer.


Return To Tomorrow – Bodyless creatures want android bodies, so they take over some Enterprise crew with permission, but that turns out to be a mistake.  Diana Muldaur guest stars.


Patterns Of Force – Aliens take up the ways of Nazi Germany and have the atom bomb.


By Any Other Name – Kelvans form Andromeda plan to turn humans into salt blocks.  Barbara Bouchet guest stars.


The Omega Glory – Deadly dehydration virus turning people to dust must be stopped.


The Ultimate Computer – War games computer goes bonkers in good show.


Bread & Circuses – Arena battles on planet of angry savages.


Assignment: Earth – Potential spin-off show with Gary Seven (Robert Lansing) on mission to save human race is not bad, but series never materialized.  Terri Garr plays his assistant.




Season Three:


Spock's Brain – An evil force steals it and Kirk wants it back.  Not bad.


The Enterprise Incident – The Enterprise tangles with Romulans again, with Spock’s loyalty questioned when he denounces Kirk and company.


The Paradise Syndrome – Kirk’s memory is erased as an asteroid heads for earth.


And the Children Shall Lead – An evil force (played by famous attorney Melvin Belli) controls children to take over Enterprise.  Brian Tochi, Caesar Belli and Pamelyn Ferdin are among the child actors.


Is There In Truth No Beauty? – The ambassador “what’s in the box?” show.  Diana Muldaur guest stars.


Spectre Of The Gun – A trip back to the Old West spells High Noon for Kirk & Co., but especially Chekov.


Day Of The Dove – Alien force causes Enterprise to clash with Klingons.  Michael Ansara and Susan Howard guest star.


For The World Is Hollow & I Have Touched the Sky – McCoy gets a fatal disease and the crew race to save him, while an asteroid heads for The Enterprise.  Kate (Katherine) Woodville and Byron Morrow guest star, later to be reunited in the Primal Scream episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker five years later.


The Tholian Web – Two Federation ships, including Enterprise, are trapped by enemy plot as sister ship USS Defiant is dissolving into nothingness.


Plato's Stepchildren – Powerful psychokinetic beings take on Enterprise in classic that features TV’s first interracial kiss and the crew being forced to sing and dance.


Wink Of An Eye – Something is in the water from another planet and it is making The Enterprise crew disappear one by one.  Kathie Browne (the late Mrs. Darren McGavin) stars as the alien female interest.


The Empath – Classic show in which two powerful beings capture Kirk, McCoy and Spock with severe experimentation in mind.  Kathryn Hays and Jason Wingreen (the voice of Boba Fett) guest star.


Elaan Of Troyius – The Enterprise escort a royal bride for a marriage that is supposed to bring peace between two rival civilizations, but there will be those who do not want the wedding to happen, and will kill to stop it.  Then The Klingons show up!


Whom Gods Destroy – Kirk and crew go to a prison colony to deliver a wonder drug, but the real wonder is a former Starfleet Captain, who has taken over the colony and has the ability to change form at will.  Yvonne Craig and Keye Luke guest star.


Let That Be Your Last Battlefield – Classic episode dealing with racism and genocide that boldly went where no TV show had gone before.  Frank Gorshin guest stars.


The Mark Of Gideon – Kirk beams to The Enterprise, only to find it deserted, while the version of the ship that retains the crew hunts for him.  Richard Deer guest stars.


That Which Survives – Enterprise malfunctions and the energy surge resulting sends the ship flying an insane distance away.  Only one mysterious woman might be able to correct it, but she may have other plans.  Lee Meriwether, so great here, guest stars.


The Lights Of Zetar – A female Starfleet officer goes to an empty planet, only to have her body taken over by the spirit of one in a ghost population of a long dead race.  The Enterprise crew is next.


Requiem For Methuselah – The crew’s quest for a cure to a deadly fever brings them to a planet that has the resources for the cure, but there are strings attached when Kirk goes romancin’ where he should not.


The Way To Eden – Members of the U.S.S. Aurora hunt for the mythical planet of the title, when their ship explodes.  Fortunately, Enterprise was in pursuit and beams them aboard.  Too bad they have gone crazy and want to continue the search.  Skip Homeier and Charles Napier guest star.


The Cloud Minders – Enterprise searches for materials for another disease cure, only to find a society divided by clouds, where the rich and powerful live.  Can Kirk and company overcome this division to get the cure?  Jeff Corey and Fred Williamson guest star.


The Savage Curtain – Abraham Lincoln shows up out of nowhere and is beamed aboard The Enterprise.  An evil alien genius follows them and wants to put Lincoln up against other evil geniuses.  He must beat them all or the ship will be annihilated.   Barry Atwater and Lee Bergere guest star.


All Our Yesterdays – A planet about to be consumed by its sun becoming a supernova will be evacuated by The Enterprise, but everyone is gone, except its librarian.  The reason is a time machine, which takes Spock back to early Vulcan and threatens to keep him there infantalized and complacent.   Mariette Hartley and Ian Wolfe guest star.


Turnabout Intruder – The final original show is one of the boldest, when an evil female scientist changes bodies with Kirk, then tries to take over the ship.  Though not totally consistent, it is still very daring even today.


plus two versions of The Cage, the original pilot of the show recycled to some extent for The Menagerie.  One is the “restored” version, the other, the original cut with introduction by Roddenberry himself.  The latter print is partly in black and white in parts throughout, indicating the footage not used in The Menagerie.




Though producers changed over the seasons and Roddenberry started to distance himself from the show by the third season, it remained remarkably consistent and there was much more the series had to offer had NBC been more supportive.  Too bad another network did not pick it up.  Douglas S. Cramer, later responsible for the hilarious Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, is likely another reason.  Best of all, Desilu was such an incredible production company that a creative, innovative gem like this could thrive without too much trouble.  Some great writers (including names like Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, plus regulars like Jerome Bixby, Gene L. Coon, D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold) and underrated directors (Herb Wallerstein, Joseph Sargent, Joseph Pevney, Leo Penn, John Meredyth Lucas, Vincent McEveety, Don McDougall, James Goldstone, Mark Daniels and then-unknown James Komack) were a rare combination and gathering of talent few shows have been lucky enough to pull from.  Today, this would be practically impossible on network TV and slightly possible with cable.  Otherwise, the flight of talent is to feature films, but network TV was king then and the number of solid journeymen directors was at a peak.



The full frame 1.33 X 1 images were originally produced in a richer color than is often here, something that is slightly dulled or slightly faded in many cases when looking at some of these newer prints that sacrificed richness for detail.  The schemes that are color consistent and the 1960s style is a bit off in those cases, but many will not notice.  Turning your TV color up a bit to compensate for this might help.  Wink Of An Eye is one of the exceptions in looking like the shows all should.  The two main cinematographers on the show were Al Francis (a TV veteran who debuted as a cameraman with this show and another Desilu classic, the original Mission: Impossible) and the legendary Gerald Penny Finnerman.  Finnerman also lensed original M:I shows, as well as many episodes of Kojak, the underrated TV version of Planet Of The Apes, Quincy, Night Gallery, Salvage 1 and Moonlighting.  He even directed episodes of those last three shows and knew how to push the visual limits to make a show work, especially with TV in mind.  Together, they created a look and world for the show that had never been seen before and continues to be one of the most visually unique TV series ever made.  The sound, as was the case on all previous versions of the episodes issued on home video, are here monophonically, realized in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound in this case.  The shows also debut here with Dolby 5.1 mixes that are mixed.  Part of the problem that some of the older monophonic audio is placed so dead center in the center channel that it defeats the purpose of the remix.  Some of this is also at lower volumes than it should be and is more compressed than the original sound was.  Kirk’s famous opening words are too flat, though some would prefer not to have him in the front three speakers.  For High Definition release, these mixes will have to be upgraded and made more seamless, but they are still better than the original mono.  The combination is still the best the episodes have been presented to date, though fans will argue than the PCM 2.0 Mono sound off of the old 12” LaserDiscs have moments of fuller and clearer sound and they are right.


Extras are available on all three sets.  The first Yellow set offers subtitled text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda on Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie Part I, The Menagerie Part II, The Conscience of the King, plus you get the featurettes The Birth of a Timeless Legacy; Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner; To Boldly Go... Season One; Reflections on Spock and Sci-Fi Visionaries.  From the second Blue set there is To Boldly Go... Season Two; Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy; Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek's Great Trio; Designing the Final Frontier; Star Trek's Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols; Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana; Production Art; and a Photo Gallery.  The third Red set has To Boldly Go... Season Three; Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig; Chief Engineer's Log; Memoir from Mr. Sulu; Star Trek's Impact and A Star Collector's Dream Come True (by a fan and now professional maker of Trek props who is cool enough to discuss Mego Trek toys, for which a whole section could have appeared on one of these DVDs and another for the early Remco toys to boot).  All episodes come with preview trailers on all three sets.  That Paramount came up with a way to make new supplements after all that had been said and done on this show is amazing, but here it is.  DeForest Kelly is already gone.  For others, this may be their last testimony on the show.


The show is criticized for its dated visual effects, but even the poorest ones are charming and never as obnoxious as most of the bad digital effects we see today.  Even the spin-off series stuck with model work until very recently.  Besides the archetypes of the characters, there is the overacting, the TV violence fight scenes, Shatner’s patterned speech and his sleeping around the universe.  Sometimes, the endings, resolutions and personal moments can even get corny, but what remains is amazing if you catch it.  Besides the classic production design, great color schemes, great gadgets, classic costumes, groundbreaking creatures and underappreciated sound design and music, at the heart of the shows are very smart, deep pontifications of existential existence that people dismissed at the time too often as comic book double talk.  In real life, Having Spock as the unemotional voice of reason, McCoy as the one who grasps science but puts humanity first and Kirk as the somewhat dysfunctional leader who needs both to guide him to survive is one of the greatest triads in all of television history.  They are the moral center of the show, surrounded by other good, moral people trying to do the right thing; a vision of a better future considered light years away during The Cold War, The Space Race, Vietnam and vital social movements.  The series remains way ahead of its time and it is this vital core all imitators miss.  Like the other great, ambitious, underrated and simply fun shows that followed in its place, like U.F.O., Space: 1999, Ark II, Jason Of Star Command, Space Academy, and TV version of Logan’s Run among others, this first Star Trek was launched as the big screen saw Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965), Francois Truffaut’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).  In this way, these works launched a grand cycle of intelligent Science Fiction like nothing we had ever seen before, and when the first Star Wars arrived, Trek came to the big screen to complete its original mission.


Before those films, Paramount and Filmation did an animated version of Star Trek, while the live action show hit syndication and was an unprecedented commercial success.  It has been ever since.  The animated series DVD set up next, marking the last little-seen chapter of the classics’ TV reign when we return.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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