Star Trek appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though I felt reasonably pleased with the original transfers, these remastered shows demonstrated definite improvements.
Some of the upgrades related to sharpness. The remastered episodes still suffered from a little softness in their wider shots, but those instances remained modest. The programs usually boasted crisp, accurate visuals. Jagged edges and moiré effects were minor at worst, and no edge enhancement marred the presentation.
Source flaws created the main weakness in the old transfers, as they could be somewhat messy. The remastered episodes came across as notably cleaner. The shows still tended to be a bit grainy, but I chalked that up to the source material, so I didn’t mind the grain. Otherwise, the occasional speck or spot popped up, but the programs appeared pretty clean.
Colors always looked fine in the old transfers, and the hues continued to impress here. The show always used a bright, vivid palette, and the colors came across as quite winning. Blacks were full and rich, and low-light shots showed good clarity and delineation. I thought we found a little too much softness and a few too many print defects to bump this one to “A”-level, but the shows looked excellent given their age.
While the visuals have improved since the original “TOS” DVDs, the remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks of the episodes have remained the same. I have no objection to that since they sounded very good. Because I grade audio on an age-related curve, don't confuse the "B+" of these shows with a "B+" for a more recent production; the two don't compare. However, for material the age of Trek, these mixes really did sound strong.
The audio came from the monaural tracks of the original. The soundfield remained pretty heavily oriented toward the center, but it opened up quite a bit. Many sounds came from the front right and left channels, and we also heard occasional activity from the rears. The surrounds often gave off some good ambient information - like the hum of the Enterprise - and split surround usage occurred on occasion, such as when the ship flies by or when a phaser blast heads to one side. No one will mistake these tracks for recent efforts, but the effects worked quite well.
Even more pleasantly surprising was the good quality of the sound. Dialogue appeared very clear and reasonably warm and natural, with absolutely no intelligibility problems. Music seemed a bit flat but generally nice, and effects came across quite well for the most part. Although some distortion could interfere with effects, they're usually very clean and they even boasted some good bass at times. Whoever remixed these suckers deserves a serious pat on the back; the results were very positive.
To summarize in terms of comparisons with the old DVDs, I thought that the audio remained essentially the same; they re-recorded the theme song, but the rest seemed identical. The new package did present considerably improved visuals. The new discs looked sharper, brighter, cleaner and better defined. I felt pretty impressed with these updated transfers.
When it came to extras, the remastered Season Two of Trek mixed old and new materials. I’ll mark new components with an asterisk. If you fail to see a star, then the supplement appeared in the old S2 package.
To Boldly Go… Season Two presents a 19-minute and 18-second featurette. We find information from actors William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and George Takei, producer Robert Justman, story editor/writer DC Fontana, and Star Trek activist/author Bjo Trimble. They chat about the “Tribbles” episode, problems between Koenig and Takei, Koenig’s appeal and the Chekov character, the themes and topics of “Journey to Babel”, Vulcan development in “Amok Time”, the alternate world of “Mirror, Mirror”, and the topicality some shows. Not a lot of depth shows up here, but the program gives us some interesting tidbits. The anecdotes prove entertaining and the information becomes generally useful in this decent little piece.
Next we get Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy. In this 11-minute and 48-second piece, we hear from the actor as he discusses his photographic work. He talks about his passions in that domain, a subject that even connects to the origins of the Vulcan salute. I didn’t expect much from this piece - the Season One featurette about Shatner’s love of horses proved dull - but Nimoy offers insight into his hobby and provides a satisfying discussion of his efforts.
For Kirk, Spock and Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio, we take six minutes and 56 seconds to get a look at that classic combo. We find remarks from Shatner, Nimoy, Fontana, Takei, Trimble and associate producer John DF Black. They talk a little about the mixture of the three characters but don’t give us much of use. We hear a lot about what a great mix the three made but don’t find a lot of introspection or detail. In addition, too many show clips appear, so this ends up as a bland featurette.
As one might expect, Designing the Final Frontier concentrates on the show’s production design. It fills 22 minutes and 13 seconds with information from Justman, Fontana, archivist Penny Juday, set designer John Jefferies, set decorator John Dwyer, and art director Matt Jefferies. The latter dominates the piece, and he tells us how he arrived on the series. We also hear about delegating various duties and creating the material, monetary issues and creativity, balancing schedules, various influences and the design of particular elements, and executing the sets, backgrounds and other pieces. We get a good look at the appropriate topics in this concise and informative discussion. It’s especially fun to learn of all the ingenious low-budget methods used to bring the Trek universe to life.
Another actor-centered piece, Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols runs 12 minutes and 50 seconds. In this the actress talks about how her career started, how she got onto Trek, the origins of the character’s name and her audition, creating a backstory for Uhura, her singing on the show, her infamous fan-dance in Star Trek V, and her work outside of Trek. Nichols proves informative and engaging as we get a good look at her career and her character.
Writer’s Notebook: DC Fontana fills seven minutes, 22 seconds. It gives us comments from Fontana as she discusses her job description, working with the actors to develop the characters, and the specifics of some story modifications. She chats about “By Any Other Name”, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and Amok Time. Fontana tosses out good insight into the production and lets us know useful notes about the story issues confronted by the series.
For something new, we find *Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Part 2. This 12-minute and three-second collection provides comments from actor Billy Blackburn along with his reminiscences about working on the series as tertiary character Lt. Hadley and other parts; Blackburn also played roles like the White Rabbit from “Shore Leave” and the Gorn from “Arena”. We also get to see some of the silent 8mm film Blackburn shot on the set. The actor provides some interesting notes about his time on the series, and the footage proves fun to see.
Next comes the 16-minute and 57-second *Star Trek’s Favorite Moments. It includes remarks from visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore, science consultant Andre Bormanis, co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore, fans Mark Steele, Russ Noel and Matt Kirk, author Bjo Trimble, writer Jimmy Diggs, production illustrator Andrew Probert, executive producer Jeri Taylor, astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, and actors Michael Dorn, Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, John Billingsley, Jeffrey Combs, Vaughn Armstrong, and Robert O’Reilly. They discuss their affection for The Original Series and chat about some favorite episodes. A few of the comments provide some interesting thoughts about the programs, but too much of the featurette devolves into generic praise.
DVD Five throws out some materials not found on the prior S2 release, though they appeared in other packages. A cartoon episode called *More Tribbles, More Trials comes from Star Trek: The Animated Series. Animated revisits the original series’ most popular moment in this adventure. Rather than simply reiterate the story from the prior episode, this one goes onto some fun tangents. It doesn’t totally reinvent the Tribble wheel, but it creates a good side story and offers a lot of fun.
We can watch “Trials” with or without commentary from writer David Gerrold. He tells us about the story’s origins and development. He tells us how it was initially planned for the Original Series and offers other notes related to its creation and execution. We even get an interesting tale about how a fan claimed to have come up with the story. It’s a pretty terrific little chat.
More TV fun comes from *Trials and Tribble-Ations, an episode from Season Five of Deep Space Nine. During a routine mission on board the Defiant, Captain Sisko and crew get sent back in time where they encounter the original Enterprise as they went through a plot executed by a Klingon. Changed to look like a human, that baddie was foiled back in the day, so his long-disgraced DS9-era version tries to change history. The DS9 crew need to make sure that doesn’t happen, and along the way, they encounter that furry plague known as the tribbles.
“Trials” feels rather gimmicky at times, but it still comes across as a reasonably enjoyable show. The program melds shots from the old program neatly and does so to amusing effect. It lacks much of a plot to flesh out the comedy, but it’s nonetheless a fun program.
Two featurettes connect to “Tribble-Ations”. *”Trials and Tribble-Ations”: Uniting Two Legends runs 17 minutes and one second as it mixes show clips, a few behind the scenes images, and interviews. We hear from executive producers Ira Steven Behr and Rick Berman, writers Rene Echevarria and Ronald D. Moore, and actors Alexander Siddig, Michael Dorn, Rene Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, and Charlie Brill. We get some notes on the genesis of the episode and various aspects of the production, but mostly the participants just wax about how cool the whole enterprise is. That makes it a somewhat unsatisfying overview.
For more info on the topic, we go to the 16-minute and 39-second *”Trials and Tribble-ations”: An Historic Endeavor. It uses the same format and includes comments from Berman, Behr, Moore, Farrell, production designer Herman Zimmerman, visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel, illustrator Doug Drexler, and scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda. They discuss the technical challenges of the project, as we learn about melding old footage with new and recreating sets and ships. It also turns fluffy at times, but it includes a reasonable amount of good information about creation of the show.
Across all eight discs, you’ll find original preview trailers. These are the ads that ran to advertise upcoming episodes of Trek. They’ve appeared on all prior TOS releases, and they remain a lot of fun to see.
Does this remastered S2 set drop anything from the prior package? Unfortunately, yes. It loses some still galleries, Easter eggs, and text commentaries for “Amok Time” and “The Trouble With Tribbles”. Why does this edition omit those components? I don’t know, but their absence creates a disappointment, especially since those text commentaries were very good.
Although The Original Series would decline during its third and final season, few such problems materialized in Season Two of Star Trek. That year had some relative clunkers but offered a lot of smart and entertaining shows. The DVDs present very good picture and audio along with a mix of interesting supplements. Season Two helped Star Trek build its legend, and the programs hold up well after four decades.
The Original Series remains my favorite of the Trek programs, and I definitely recommend this Season Two package of the show. If you still have the old two-episode DVDs, it’s probably worth the money to get the improved visuals, the extras, and the space you’ll save; this set takes up much less room than all those separate discs.
I can’t make much of a recommendation for fans who already shelled out the bucks for the prior Season Two package that put all the shows in one place. This new release does offer superior picture quality, but I’m not sure it warrants enough of an upgrade given this set’s nearly $85 list price. This one also includes some new extras, but it drops quality components from the prior release. Unless you just can’t live without the updated visuals, stick with the old Season Two set. The remastered S2 release is definitely the one for fans who own none of the prior packages. It gives us the highest quality reproduction of Trek.
To rate this film visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - SEASON TWO