Created by Gene Roddenberry
USA 1973

 

2006 is the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek. Initially, it looked like Paramount and CBS were interested in releasing only themed “fan collections” DVD sets of select episodes during this year, but we are also getting Star Trek: The Animated Series. To the best of my knowledge, TAS had haphazard VHS tape releases and also saw light of day as a laserdisc box set. However, unless you were a Trekkie during the mid-1970s, chances are, you’ve never seen Star Trek in cartoon form. In its 40th year, Star Trek can finally be seen in its entirety in narrative chronological order--Enterprise, The Original Series, The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Next Generation, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Star Trek: Nemesis.

After TOS--the one with Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Bones (DeForest Kelley), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), Scotty (James Doohan), and Chekov (Walter Koenig)--left the air, Star Trek became a phenomenon in syndication. Interest in the property led to the creation of conventions, so Paramount and NBC decided to resurrect Star Trek in some way. Live-action Trek was a money-losing endeavor during its original run, so everyone decided to go the animated route. Technically, there were two seasons, though with Season 1 lasting only sixteen half-hour episodes and with Season 2 lasting only six half-hour episodes, there is usually little need to divide the series into two parts. TAS won an Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment Children’s Series, though its handlers and fans think of the show as one for adults.

For a variety of reasons, Walter Koenig was not used as a voice actor, so Chekov was absent from TAS. However, Koenig contributed a script. In Chekov’s place you’ll find an orange-colored alien named Arex, and a female cat-like alien joined the crew. Nurse Chapel (voiced by Majel Barrett) pops up from time to time, though Yeoman Rand is absent.

I was surprised by the high quality of The Animated Series. The writing is superb, with intelligent plots and snappy dialogue. The acting is as forceful and witty as when the actors appeared in the flesh. Perhaps due to the compressed time frame (thirty minutes versus sixty minutes for the live-action TOS), I felt that a higher percentage of TAS episodes were tense, thrilling, and exciting than the percentage of TOS adventures. I didn’t like the music, which was repetitious and cheesy, but I can’t really fault the series for being made on the cheap and during the 1970s. On the other hand, I have to state my displeasure with some of the sexist attitudes on display. Female characters are mostly sexual predators or bimbos; while this is in keeping with established patterns in TOS, it is nevertheless degrading and wrong. In the Star Trek franchise, such sexist attitudes towards women persisted until as late as the early-1990s during The Next Generation, but thankfully, Deep Space Nine and Voyager did much to rectify past mistakes.

Disc 1: “Beyond the Farthest Star”, “Yesteryear”, “One of Our Planets Is Missing”, “The Lorelei Signal”, “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, “The Survivor”.

Disc 2: “The Infinite Vulcan”, “The Magicks of Megas-Tu”, “Once Upon a Planet”, “Mudd’s Passion”, “The Terratin Incident”, “The Time Trap”.

Disc 3: “The Ambergris Element”, “The Slaver Weapon”, “The Eye of the Beholder”, “The Jihad”, “The Pirates of Orion”.

Disc 4: “Bem”, “The Practical Joker”, “Albatross”, “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”, “The Counter-Clock Incident”.

Yunda Eddie Feng

Television Premiere: September 8th, 1973

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DVD Review: Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Yunda Eddie Feng for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Paramount

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 526 min
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono Spanish
Subtitles Optional English, Spanish, and Portuguese
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• audio and text commentaries for selected episodes
• Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series
• What’s the Star Trek Connection?
• Show History

DVD Release Date: 21 November 2006
custom DigiPak and plastic case

Chapters 110

 

 

Comments:

Video:
The 1.33:1 picture image is rather breathtaking. Given the quasi-orphan status of The Animated Series and using the video quality of The Original Series as a point of reference, I was expecting the cartoon to look beat up and aged. Instead, it looks like the show was given a careful restoration. This is an exceptionally clean and sharp video transfer. A few specks of dust are noticeable, but the only real indication of the passage of time (more than thirty years) is the animation style itself.

Audio:
As with The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, The Animated Series got an audio re-vamp for its DVD release. (I think Enterprise had 5.1 channels from the start.) The Dolby Digital 5.1 English mixes are re-configured upgrades from the mono mixes that were created for TV broadcast. Though the frequency band is somewhat restricted due to the technological limitations of the 1970s, the audio is of commendably high quality--no hisses, pops, or drop-outs. The actors’ voices are clear and intelligible, as is the music. The mixes are still front-heavy despite being the given 5.1 space to breathe.

You can also watch the episodes with their original mono audio (in DD 2.0 mono English guise) or with DD 2.0 mono Spanish dubs.

Optional English, Spanish, and Portuguese as well as optional English closed captions support the audio.

Extras:
--Disc 1--
text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “Yesteryear”

audio commentary by David Gerrold for “More Tribbles, More Troubles”

previews for other Paramount and CBS DVDs

--Disc 2--
storyboard gallery for “The Infinite Vulcan”

--Disc 3--
text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “The Eye of the Beholder”

--Disc 4--
audio commentary by David Gerrold for “Bem”

audio commentary by David Wise for “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”

text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “The Counter-Clock Incident”

“Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series” is a fairly comprehensive look at the production’s history as well as its place in Star Trek lore, though it doesn’t really address why the show was canceled after twenty-two episodes.

“What’s the Star Trek Connection?” is a collection of short video vignettes that compares and contrasts TAS to other Star Trek shows and movies.

“Show History” is a brief introduction to the show.

--Miscellaneous--
A fold-out insert provides general information about the series as well as episode synopses. The DVDs are held by DigiPak trays bound together like a book, and everything is housed inside a custom plastic case.

A word of caution--make sure that the DigiPak trays are placed correctly inside the custom plastic case. Otherwise, you might smash the trays when closing the case.

 - Yunda Eddie Feng



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text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda

 

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Paramount

Region 1 - NTSC




 

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