year when Fox released a special "Best
Of" DVD to coincide with the release of the big screen
X-Files - I Want to Believe movie, they
brought out a double-disc set containing eight episodes in all.
it's a case of the recession getting to everything - or Paramount being
world-renowned skints - but this Best of the Original Star Trek series DVD
is a skimpy one-disc affair with a mere four episodes. A pity - since
there are a lot of great episodes of the iconic 'Sixties TV show that can
easily bear the "best of" moniker.
Be that as it may, the four episodes found on this DVD can
definitely be counted as the original series' best episodes although some trekkies may complain about this or that episode being excluded.
First off we have The Trouble with Tribbles, the
famously comic episode in which the Starship Enterprise is overrun by cute
alien fur balls called tribbles. Even though William Shatner as Kirk comes
across as pompous and smug at times, it is justifiably regarded as one of
the best Trek episodes of all time.
If die-hard trekkies were put off by
Zachary Quinto's overemotional Spock in J.J. Abrams' new
reboot, then they should check out Amok Time. In this episode Kirk
and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is pitched in a fistfight to the death because . .
. it's Vulcan mating time! Yup, you read that right.
The highly-regarded time travel tale City on the Edge
of Forever is penned by grumpy science fiction luminary Harlan Ellison
and set in Depression-era New York. In this episode Kirk falls in love with
a young pre-The Bitch Joan Collins.
It however comes to light that
unless Collins' character dies in a traffic accident that America will not
enter WWII and Nazis will overrun the planet - how's that for a conundrum
for the young starship captain! In Balance of Terror audiences are
introduced for the first time to the Romulans - evil Vulcan look-alikes.
THE DISCS: In the spirit of things it should come
as no surprise that these episodes are culled from the 2007 "remastered" HD
reissue in which Paramount has added new effects to replace some of the old
ones in the original series. They mainly entail shots of the Enterprise and
similar outer space images, though a few new landscape shots appear as well.
took steps to keep them as close to the original shots as possible - same
angle, same duration and so forth - but the "improved" CGI imagery looks as
clunky and fake as the original effects did.
They'll probably age just as
poorly - much like the CGI imagery in E.T. and
similar endeavors - while simultaneously costing the shows a measure of
their nostalgic charm. (The full-season Blu-Rays offer the option of seeing
either the new effects or the original . . . a far more preferable policy
which would have been very welcome here.)
WORTH IT? Re-watching these episodes one realizes
why this show engendered such a cultish following. Unlike many TV shows it
actually has an acute understanding of the science fiction genre. The show
boasted some good writers and at times even bothered hiring some bona fide
science fiction writers such as Harland Ellison for scripting duties. (It is
telling that all four episodes on this DVD are taken from the first two
seasons of the show and not from the poor third - and final - season.)
One alas also realizes why this DVD - which is aimed at
luring curious newbies on a budget to this cult, er, franchise - has its job cut out
for it. There is a reason why Paramount decided to give
Star Trek a youthful reboot: unless you
grew up watching these episodes as a kid it is unlikely that you will be won
over to the trekkie cause by this handful of episodes.
Star Trek has
dated badly. Not just the fashions, clothing and special effects (which were
pretty cheap to begin with), but also the show's innocent 1960s sensibility,
in particular its ?gee shucks? brand of humor.
RECOMMENDATION: Recent on-line polls have shown
that many self-confessed trekkies now prefer newer Trek incarnations
such as Next Generation and
Voyager (!) to the original Enterprise crew of Spock, Kirk, Scotty,
Sulu, et al. It's a sad indication of how important modern audiences
consider slick production values (special effects, sets, etc.) to be
Needless to say this DVD is not for them, but for more
open-minded hard sci-fi fans of a certain bent. And of course for ageing
Trek fans on a budget nostalgic for these old episodes. Hardcore fans
probably already own the complete season box sets.