“To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before! “
There were many science fiction shows I was a fan of when I was a kid. Two of the top ones were Space: 1999 (1975-1977) and Star Trek (1966-1969). I started out a Trek fan then when 1999 came around I became a bigger fan of that show. To this day I rank 1999 over Trek, but still have a fondness for the original Trek series.
Back when my brother and me were kids we constantly played them, like we did with anything we saw on television that excited us and that went for movies too. Thanks God 1999 and Trek were such hits that toys were made, otherwise, I think, our childhood would have been that much bleaker. Best Trek toys to own as a kid was the phaser and the communicator. And I remember at one point they put out these model kits of them. Unfortunately being little kids the snap-together ones were more child friendly, the ones that required glue required a parent to put them together, which is why we never had a lot of model kits when we were kids. My parents hated them because they hated to sit down and glue them. At any rate we got a hold of this phaser and communicator glue-together model set. Two of them even. One for me and one for my brother and my father glued them together the night before. He did a lousy job on one of the communicators as a I recall and glued the hinge so it was stuck in the open position. I had to break the hinge to close it, and because of this my brother and me had to share the good one he didn’t glue the hinges open on.
I can’t remember if we ever got a tricorder model. We might have, and it might have been part of that phaser, communicator kit, because I have this slight memory of having it and trying to figure out how to attach a strap to it like the ones on the show have. My brother even had Trek pajamas, because we loved the uniforms. We so wanted to get models of the Enterprise and the shuttlecraft, but never could, probably because they were glue-together kits. I also have a memory of trying to figure out how Kirk and the others attached their devices to their belts. Back then I had no knowledge of what Velcro was, and I think I used scotch tape, but abandoned that real quick. After I grew up I learned it appeared to be velcro they used.
There are moments when I wish I were a kid now, because toys have gotten so much better, and in the intervening years with all the new Star Trek shows and movies that were spawned from Gene Roddenberry’s original concept the toys based on their weapons are so much more authentic looking.
My favorite episodes (back then and now) are still the horror/monster-related ones: Man-Trap, The Galileo Seven, Arena, The Devil In The Dark, Operation—Annihilate!, The Doomsday Machine, Catspaw, Obsession, Wolf In The Fold, Is There In Truth No Beauty?, but it’s the Wolf In The Fold episode that managed to frighten me. And what frightened me the most was what it didn’t show, reminding all of us that sometimes the horrors that are offscreen and only hinted at are the most terrifying. It’s also an ingenious episode, written by Robert Bloch (he also wrote the Catspaw episode), who was a horror/science fiction/fantasy author who also delved into movie and TV writing.
In Wolf In The Fold Bloch posits that Jack The Ripper was actually a body-hopping entity that followed mankind as he ventured into space and has continued it’s killing spree on various worlds. The crew of the enterprise encounters this thing during shore leave and as it continues to murder women it cleverly tries to place the blame on one of the Enterprise’s crew members, Scotty. But the creepiness of this episode lies in what Scotty tries to describe when each woman around him is murdered, and near the end when the entity is plaguing the enterprise by hopping into the computer. It plays out like a well-thought out possession/ghost tale where the phenomena presented is what creeps you out the most. To this day it still gives me a primal start when I watch it.
For sheer monster fun, “The Man-Trap” is my favorite. I like tales about creatures that shape-shift, and Man-Trap focuses on a last-of-its-kind alien that can shape-shift, or at least mentally shape-shift, into someone dear to the victim, and it needs salt to survive. The human body has salt in it and the creature sucks it out of the crew members it encounters. Check out what it looks like in it’s natural form below. It sucks the salt from your body through the suction-cupped fingers.
I can’t believe this year is the 50th anniversary of the show! I find that just astounding because if the show is that old, I’m up there too. Naturally we’ve lost some of the cast over the decades—DeForest Kelley (Died June 1999), James Doohan (Died July 2005), Majel Barret (Died December 2008), and just last February Leonard Nimoy—but so far William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig are still alive and kicking!
Any of you Millenials reading this might be somewhat familiar with this series through your parents, or even directly if you’re an innate genre lover, but for Generation-Z (I actually had to Google that to find out what the kids of our kids are being labeled these days), if you’re reading this, then you probably have no previous knowledge of this show at all, so I’ll break down the basics for you.
Captain of the Enterprise and the show’s hero is James T. Kirk (William Shatner), the T stands for Tiberius, his First/Science Officer (and best friend) is Spock (Leonard Nimoy), an alien known as a Vulcan. The Medical Officer is Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley). These are the three main characters the show mostly centered on, but there were others we viewers came to love that the show, and the subsequent six movies, fleshed out wonderfully: Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) is the ship’s Communications Officer, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) and Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) are the helmsman and navigator respectively. They’re simply known as Sulu and Chekov. The ship’s Chief Engineer is Montgomery Scott, simply known as Scotty (James Doohan), and at times, he too can be seen on deck in the command center. He also has a post there in certain episodes, but otherwise is shown most frequently in engineering.
There were some supporting characters, but the only two I vividly remember were Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), a nurse, and an Ensign by the name of Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney). Rand and Chapel were hot. Rand was hotter, which is why I probably only remember them.
During the opening credits you get a voice over by Shatner outlining their mission: “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before,” –cue iconic Trek music!
Star Trek: The Original Series only lasted three years, but it spawned six movies (The Motion Picture, The Wrath Of Khan, The Search For Spock, The Voyage Home, The Final Frontier, and The Undiscovered Country), and four spin-off shows (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise), and the first spin-off show (Star Trek: The Next Generation), a sequel series really, was so popular it spawned four movies. Of the Original Series movies I’m only a fan of the first three, of the Next Generation movies, I’m a fan of all of them. I can’t comment on those new Trek remakes, because they don’t interest me in the least. For my generation getting modern day actors to play the iconic crew of the original series just doesn’t fly. For you Millennials and Generation Y it’s probably more acceptable since you’ve never grown up with the original series, it wasn’t a part of your childhood.
There are three major alien races the crew bumps up against from time-to-time: Vulcans (a given since their Science Officer is one), Klingons and Romulans. The latter of which are the bad guys of Trek, for the most part. When the movies started the Klingons got “remade” into beings that are typically larger than an average human and have a weird forehead-thing going on. I think it was explained to some degree on The Next Generation as to how they went from the original series look to the look we know them as now, though I can’t remember how they explained it away.
This show has tech that predates tech we have nowadays. If you look at the hand held communications devices (communicators they’re referred as) they’re basically a cell phone! To date though we still have no real world counterpart to their phasers.
Plots of Star Trek can get pretty out there, ranging from horror, pure science fiction, and/or science fantasy. Most of the good ones reflect the ills or the greatness of our own society using scifi tropes.
As far I can trace back The Original Series made it’s way to disc right around the time DVD was first being introduced and since then as the technology evolved Paramount has released and re-released it ever since. The most significant release came during the blu-ray era when the studio decided to give the series a very light George Lucas-like polish in that landscapes, planetary bodies, and effects were “improved.” Not the kind of extensive renovation Lucas did with Chapters 4, 5 & 6 of his Star Wars movies, but it was still a noticeable one and one that I liked! The reptilian Gorn from “Arena” now has eyes that blink a few times in the episode! If you’re a purist, don’t get your panties in a bunch, when this new version hit blu-ray in 2009 the un-retouched episodes were included via seamless branching, so if you didn’t care for the new look you could switch over and watch the originally aired ones.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.33:1 high definition full frame—7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.o English Dolby Digital Mono, 2.o French Dolby Digital Mono, 2.o Spanish Dolby Digital Mono—English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
This is the first time I’ve seen Star Trek: The Original Series on blu-ray, up to know I’ve only seen the remastered show on ME-TV, but seeing them on blu-ray is a whole new experience. Basically it looks like it could have been shot yesterday! It looks that good!
Extras included (these features are spread out over all 20 discs):
- Spacelift: Transporting Trek Into The 21st Century
- Starfleet Access Episode: Where No Man Has Gone Before
- Reflections On Spock
- Starfleet Access Episode: The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2
- Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner
- Starfleet Access Episode: Balance Of Terror
- “To Boldly Go…” Season One
- The Birth Of A Timeless Legacy
- Interactive Enterprise Inspection
- Sci-Fi Visionaries
- Starfleet Access Episode: Space Seed
- Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies & Special Memories
- Kiss ‘N’ Tell: Romance In The 23rd Century
- Starfleet Access Episode: Errand Of Mercy
- Preview Trailiers
- Starfleet Access Episode: Amok Time
- Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies & Special Memories Part 2
- Starfleet Access Episode: The Trouble With Tribbles
- Audio Commentaries By David Gerrold On Select Episodes
- Star Trek: TOS On Blu-ray
- “To Boldly Go…” Season Two
- Designing The Final Frontier
- Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana
- Star Trek’s Favorite Moments
- More Tribbles, More Troubles (Star Trek Animated Ep. #1)
- Trails And Tribble-ations (Star Trek Deep Space Nine Ep. #503)
- Trials And Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends
- Trials And Tribble-ations: A Historic Endeavor
- Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy
- Kirk, Spock And Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio
- Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols
- Enhanced Visual Effects Credits
- Preview Trailers
- “Where No Man Has Gone Before” The Restored Unaired Alternate Pilot Episode
- David Gerrold Hosts 2009 Convention Coverage
- “The Anthropology Of Star Trek” Comic-Con Panel 2009
- “The World Of Roddenberry” Comic-Con Pane 2009
- Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies & Special Memories Part 3
- “To Boldly Go…” Season Three
- Life Beyond trek: Walter Koenig
- Chief Engineer’s Log
- Memoir From Mr. Sulu
- Star Trek’s Impact
- Collectible Trek
- Captain’s Log: Bob Justman
- Preview Trailers
This re-release I’m reviewing here has nothing new in it, it’s simply a 50th anniversary repackage that makes the entire series more affordable. It now comes in a single, large case with a removable “album” that houses all three seasons on 20 discs you can take out and thumb through. It also comes with a slipcase. CBS/Paramount re-released the set this past June 14th! You can buy it here on Amazon.