Star Trek appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Without a doubt, the Blu-rays offered the best-looking “TOS” ever.
While not flawless, sharpness looked very good. Occasional shots displayed some softness, but that wasn’t a real distraction, and it often was simply an artifact of the original photography. Most of the time the episodes offered good clarity and definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent.
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 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 solid given their age.
While all the prior releases of “The Original Series” came only with remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, the Blu-Ray of Star Trek provided two English options. Finally, the suits at Paramount gave us the original monaural audio, and we also got newly created DTS-HD 7.1 remixes. I’m exceedingly happy to find the mono tracks here – it’s about time!
I’ll probably go with the 7.1 mixes as my Trek audio of choice, though, since they sound very good. The tracks opened up matters but didn’t go crazy. The audio stayed focused on the center but it used the side speakers to create a nice sense of atmosphere. Movement was satisfying and allowed the shows to become a bit more involving. As for the surrounds, they were less active, but they helped contribute to the environment, and some unique elements such as ship fly-bys gave us good information from the rear speakers.
Audio quality remained positive. A little edginess occasionally occurred, but speech normally seemed concise and natural. Music was reasonably full and dynamic, and effects sounded pretty lively and vivid. Occasional examples of distortion occurred, but not often, and bass response was surprisingly good. I’ve always liked the remixed audio of Trek, and the 7.1 tracks continued to impress.
This Blu-ray set offered the fourth S2 release over the last decade. First we got two-episode DVDs, then we received a full season set with the same transfers. A remastered S2 package followed, and now we get S2 in high-res for the first time. As I mentioned earlier, the Blu-ray provides the best-looking version of S2. The shows have a few too many weaknesses to jump above the “B+” I gave to the remastered S2 set, but that doesn’t mean the Blu-ray doesn’t look noticeably better; a “B+” for a DVD doesn’t mean the same as a “B+” for a Blu-ray. You’ll definitely find improved visuals here.
The same goes for the audio. All three DVD releases of S2 included the same DD 5.1 mixes, and the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD 7.1 tracks don’t radically reinvent those particular wheels. However, they do work a bit better. I think the 7.1 audio seems a bit smoother and better integrated. The improvements weren’t huge, but they were enough to merit a jump from the “B+” of the DD tracks to an “A-“ here.
When it came to extras, the Blu-ray Season Two of Trek mixed old and new materials. Blu-ray exclusives will be marked with special blue print.
Here we find Starfleet Access for two episodes: “Amok Time” (Disc One) and “The Trouble With Tribbles” (Disc Four). As you watch the episodes, a few elements will appear via pop-up windows. We get text boxes that provide notes about various topics related to the shows; these include Trek details, character biographies, facts about species and equipment, and similar material to expand our understanding of the programs.
We also find video clips with comments from a mix of folks. We get remarks from story editor/writer DC Fontana, VFX line producer Michael Okuda, VFX associate producer Denise Okuda, authors/Trek expert Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, writer David Gerrold, comic book writer Scott Tipton, comic book artist Alex Ross, ST:TNG assistant director Charles Washburn, VFX line producer David Rossi, VFS supervisor Niel Wray, comic book writer David Tischman, and actor William Schallert. They discuss topics like the scripts and stories, changes for Season Two, cast, characters and performances, effects and sets, the work of the crew, and other tidbits.
I liked the “Starfleet Access” extras with S1, and they continue to succeed here. They include quite a few good details and they provide the information in a pretty efficient manner. It’s too bad only two episodes get “Access” components, as they’re enjoyable.
On Disc One, 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.
Disc One also opens with a promo for various forms of Trek on Blu-ray and DVD.
Disc Four comes with a plethora of materials. 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.
Disc Four finishes with Star Trek: TOS On Blu-ray. Hosted by ST:TNG writer Marc Zicree, it lasts 10 minutes, four seconds and includes notes from Michael and Denise Okuda, Gerrold, Rossi and Wray. They discuss the work done for the Blu-ray sets. A few decent notes emerge, but the piece usually feels like an ad – and an odd one, since viewers already own the S2 package!
Over on Disc Five, 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.
As one might expect, Disc Six’s 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.
Disc Seven presents a good batch of components. The 16-minute and 57-second Star Trek’s Favorite Moments 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.
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.
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.
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.
Across all seven 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.
Although the Original Series would decline during its third and final season, few such problems materialize in Season Two of Star Trek. That year had some relative clunkers but offered a lot of smart and entertaining shows. The Blu-rays 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. Since this Blu-ray set represents S2’s fourth home video release over the last 10 years, the question becomes whether or not it’s worth the upgrade for fans who own any of its predecessors.
That’s a tough call, primarily due to the expense. With a list price of $130, the Blu-ray set isn’t cheap, but I think it’ll be worth the money for big fans of the series. It must be frustrating for Trek fans to have to shell out for upgrades every few years, but I think this will be the last S2 set they’ll need for a long time. It’s going to be hard for Paramount to improve on it.
To rate this film visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - SEASON TWO