Created by Gene Roddenberry
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig
- “To Boldly Go” season recap
- “Kirk, Spock, & Bones: The Great Trio” character featurette
- “Star Trek‘s Divine Diva” featurette
- “Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana”
- “Life After Trek: Leonard Nimoy” featurette
- “Designing the Final Frontier” featurette
- Photo and production art galleries
- Easter eggs: designing tribbles, censoring Star Trek abroad, Trek’s influence on real science, and playing the monster
Released by: Paramount
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Own it.
[ad#longpost]It’s hard to find much new to say about Star Trek. The original series is far and away the single biggest influence on American sci-fi movies and television of the past four decades, and created some of the most quickly recognizable pop-culture touchstones for two (three?) generations of geeks. Most anybody who grew up as a member of suburbanus dorkimus spent substantial hours watching grainy, color-faded prints of the show in syndication and can probably hum the entire opening theme. So what do you say about the series that essentially started it all? In short, you say there’s a host of damned good reasons the show has enjoyed the success and popularity it has.
One of the most notable features of Season 2 is the introduction of Ensign Pavel Chekov (Koenig) to the crew, completing the pantheon of the Enterprise bridge. With this final piece of the puzzle, the crew’s chemistry really starts to come together. In the first season, Sulu (Takei) was often little more than window dressing, as he didn’t have a consistent foil or partner for interaction sitting at the helm, but the addition of Chekov adds a new layer of interaction and dialogue to the bridge sequences. This is especially useful for any sort of ship-side storytelling when Kirk and Spock (Shatner and Nimoy) are planetside on an away team. Season 2 also sees the fleshing out of the planet Vulcan and its inhabitants, with the first appearance of Spock’s father Sarek (portrayed brilliantly by Mark Lenard) in “Journey to Babel” and Spock’s trip home to deal with the Vulcan pon farr mating urge in “Amok Time” (penned by legendary sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon).
Beyond firming up the crew roster and providing some more backstory for the crew’s only alien flight officer, Season 2 explores a wider variety of story themes than the first season. This season also presents one of the most legendary episodes in the history of the franchise, “The Trouble With Tribbles.” The deliberate comedic styling of that episode, along with “I, Mudd,” demonstrate the potential range of storytelling possible within the franchise’s boundaries. The other major landmark episode in this season is “Mirror, Mirror,” which permanently established the pop-culture maxim that goatees = evil for all time. Season 2 also features a good bit of time-travel (or pseudo time-travel), with the crew returning to 1960s Earth in the season finale/backdoor spin-off pilot “Assignment: Earth,” as well as in confrontations with an alien claiming to be the Greek god Apollo, and a couple of primitive cultures (including 1920s gangster Earth and Roman gladiators). These episodes are some of the weakest of the season, unfortunately, and come across as flimsy excuses to raid the prop department for cheap costumes to save budget. Also, thank whatever gods you hold dear that somebody at NBC took the “Assignment: Earth” spin-off concept out behind the lot and put a bullet in its head. While Lansing had promise and the base concept was interesting, the shapeshifting cat and an under-utilized Teri Garr made it a tragedy waiting to happen. These missteps aside, the rest of the season’s episodes are classic Trek stories, with the requisite number of newly discovered alien menaces, two-fisted Kirkian diplomacy, and red-shirt bodycount.
The features are not as robust as the Season 1 set, but still excellent and far in excess of what we get out of most television DVD releases. The “Life After Trek” profile on Leonard Nimoy provides a nice look at his other major artistic passion, photography. If only he had published more books of photos and spent less time recording terrifying renditions of filk songs about hobbits, my brain would not be carrying as many scars. The profile of D.C. (Dorothy) Fontana is also excellent. She served as script editor for nearly every episode in the series, as well as penning several scripts herself, in a time when she had to use her initials to avoid the stigma against women in science fiction, and for that she gets huge props. We also get a profile of Nichelle Nichols/Uhura, which I think could have said a bit more about her influence on real-life space explorers and space science advocacy, but that may be a bit heavier than the average fan wants to see. There’s also a decent feature on the series’ “three amigos,” detailing the rising importance of the interplay between Kirk, Spock, and Bones in the scripts.
As with all Paramount’s Trek releases, this is an excellent set with great transfers, crisp sound, and good features. The show has never looked better, and fans of the old-school, ripped-shirt brawls and phasers blasting of the original series would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t pick this set up and add it to the permanent collection.