Original Series DVD Volume 1By Christian Höhne Sparborth
Posted at April 13, 2000 - 9:44 PM GMT
Back in December, three things had a prominent place on my Christmas list. A DVD player, the 'Free Enterprise' DVD and the first Original Series DVD. I knew the DVD player was wishful thinking, but I'd put it on the list anyway as a mental reminder to myself to buy one in the next few weeks. 'Free Enterprise' apparently also wasn't very attractive to the potential Santa Clauses, but I did receive the Original Series DVD from my parents. Unfortunately, in January, the Trek Nation's migration to a dedicated server caused me to shelve the DVD player plans for a while. This meant that for nearly four months I was the proud owner of both 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' and 'The Corbomite Maneuver', but without any means to watch it.
Yesterday, however, all that changed, when I started hiring a friend's computer to replace my own laptop, which is currently in repair. While installing all my software, I noticed the computer also had a DVD drive, and I quickly dusted off the Original Series DVD. Three minutes later, I was reliving the excitement of 'The Corbomite Maneuver', the first Original Series episode I've ever seen. Eight minutes later, I was cursing at the computer when I discovered I had downloaded a five-minute trial version of PowerDVD.
An hour later, I'd finally managed to install the DVD player that came bundled with the computer, invited over a friend, and sat down for two hours of nostalgic joy. Or at least, that is what I expected when I got out the disc, because what I got was almost a totally new experience! When BBC Two first aired the episodes here, the colours were already a bit washed-out, and the picture's sharpness certainly wasn't anything to write home about. However, with the DVD version, the colours are as vibrant as they perhaps not even were when the episodes first aired, and the picture is so sharp that even when sitting right in front of the monitor the image didn't appear fuzzy at all. Of course, as this is the first DVD I've ever seen I can't really say if the video quality compares favourably to other DVDs, but I do know that the picture quality is so good you're never going to want to see the Original Series in another version again.
Though the picture quality was absolutely fantastic, I was a bit less impressed by some of the other aspects of the DVD. In the first place, with the enourmous amounts of storage space DVDs offer, couldn't Paramount have included a few more extras with them? The only real extras the discs contain are broadcast trailers of the episodes, as originally aired in 1966. These showed quite nicely that not just UPN uses false advertising in trailers, as the 'Corbomite Maneuver' trailer has the bridge exploding after the ten-minute countdown ends, completely unlike what happened in the actual episode. However, these trailers do not make up for the lack of other things Paramount could have included, such as for instance the episode introductions the principal actors filmed for the Sci-Fi Channel's Special Edition of Star Trek. Surely if Paramount had spent an extra bit of money they would have been able to secure the rights to these introductions?
Unfortunately I can't really comment on the sound quality of the discs, as I just used my computer boxes to listen to the episodes. According to the cover text, the episodes have been digitally remixed for Dolby Surround, but I'm not sure if I'd really want to hear the episodes that way. Somehow hearing the Enterprise fly by from behind doesn't really seem fitting for an Original Series episode. One thing I did notice, though perhaps that was just because I had already read the Vidiot report, was the change in the episode's theme music. I really did miss the distinct singing voice from the opening theme. For the rest, I certainly have nothing bad to say about the general sound quality, as the soundtrack sounded very crisp.
But of course the most important part of the disc are the actual episodes, as even Phantom Menace-like effects can't turn a Spock's Brain into a City on the Edge of Forever. As could be expected from a disc containing two first-season episodes, they are still incredibly captivating. As I somehow always managed to miss the first few episodes of a new string of Original Series episodes, this was actually the first time I saw 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', so it was nice to fill up this major gap in my Trek knowledge. Gary Mitchell wasn't entirely how I pictured him from the James Blish adaptation and the various novels (I thought he should have appeared a bit younger), but the episode managed to surprise me for a pilot which was supposed to have been shot as cheaply as possible. Especially Mitchell's paradise on Delta Vega, which was really only seen for a minute or so, was a nice touch. And of course 'The Corbomite Maneuver' again took me back to that excited evening years ago, when I could finally see the heroes I'd been reading about for so long come to life. Interesting tidbit the friend I was watching with commented on - does the First Federation buoy conjure up images of a Technicolor Borg Cube for anyone else?
Having seen this disc, I've definitely caught the DVD bug. I already ordered the 'Star Trek III: The Search For Spock' DVD from Amazon, and will perhaps buy one or two more in the four weeks that I'll be using this computer. After that I think I'm now really going to buy a DVD player. I was a bit uncertain if it would be worth the price, but after seeing this DVD I'm definitely convinced. DVD is the technology of the future, and what better way to use it than to see a series depicting the future?
Star Trek: The Original Series DVD Volume 1
'Where No Man Has Gone Before' & 'The Corbomite Maneuver'
1966/Color/100 Min./Not Rated/Region 1
Recommended Retail Price: $19.95
Back Cover Descriptions:
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Airdate: September 22, 1966
The flight recorder of the 200-year old U.S.S. Valiant relays a tale of terror - a magnetic storm at the edge of the galaxy. As the Enterprise nears the same barrier, Kirk elects to probe beyond its depths with disastrous results. Kirk's closest friend Lt. Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood) is affected. When Mitchell's mutating ESP abilities threaten the safety of his ship, Kirk must maake an agonising decision: maroon Mitchell on a desolate planet or kill him while he still can. However, as one friendship dies, another is just beginning...
The Corbomite Maneuver
Airdate: November 10, 1966
While on a star charting mission, the Enterprise encounters a luminescent, radioactive cube. When Kirk is forced to destory it, an enourmous ship of pulsating lights appears, commanded by the ominous Balok (Clint Howard). Balok condemns the Enterprise crew to death, and seeing no escape, Kirk chances a desperate bludd. Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy debuts in this episode and the beloved triad of Kirk's leadership, Spock's logic and McCoy's humanity is now complete.
Christian Höhne Sparborth is webmaster of the Trek Nation.