The discs present a fullscreen 1.33:1 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec. What is immediately apparent is the amount of restoration work that has gone into making these episodes look the best they have ever done, better even, I'll wager, than their first broadcast; considering the time it was made and the technology available a 1080 hi def transfer was scarcely considered. First up, there is detail like you have never seen and whilst this is amazing it also has the shortfall of showing up all the rough edges to the props, costumes and makeup (you can even see the line on Spock's ears!) Naysayers will no doubt have a field day with such nitpicks, for my own part this detail reveals a never before seen amount of depth to the frame. Check out the clothing weaves, the intricate detail to the communicators and tricorders, the skin detail of close ups; each polystyrene bolder is crisp and defined, each new matt shot absolute. This level of detail does have one other slight drawback, that is the soft focus given to every female close up; whilst their eyes might be well defined and 'liquid' the shot as a whole looks somewhat out of place in the crispness of the surrounding material, but then, it always did.
Colours are bold and striking, as they were meant to be; shot in colour and making full use of the format, everything was given a colour to stand out; reds, blues, greens, yellows all have a solidity and depth hitherto unseen. The studio bound colours are good, but check out the filmed material which looks as good as if it had been produced today!
Brightness is set to give decent blacks, check out Devil in the Dark for the best interior examples because the blackness of space, in all its new CGI glory is as deep and impenetrable as ever. Shadow detail is also remarkably good. It has had a contrast boost to enhance the depth and bring out the colours - not so much as it is intrusive, there are no instances of blooming, but it is clear what has been done (even if the featurettes didn't tell you), there are, however, a few times when it fluctuates, showing just how old this material really is; it's not too disctracting, but shows up due to the excellent resoration work.
Even with all the extensive work, there is still the odd occasion of print damage, the odd speck here and there, and there is a slight sheen of film grain apparent in various scenes; this is not distracting since the series was filmed, but it should be noted on occasion the grain hasn't coded that well, and does crawl a little. If, however, you choose to watch the original effects you will see in what state the episodes were, as damage and film grain become extremely apparent and now look very out of place next to the pristine film either side of it!
I must say, though, that the episodes look amazing, they have been lovingly restored by people who care very much for the show and that love is clearly seen as they simply have never looked better.
The discs contain four sound tracks for the episodes and an all new English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround, the cleaned up original English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono dubs. Like the picture many fans may baulk at the idea of a surround field given to these original episodes, two more channels even than the HD DVD! But when you listen to it, as much care and attention has gone into restoring and separating it out as has been lavished on the picture. So there are no artificially sounding rear effects, but rather a subtle ambience when called upon and the occasional effect be it phaser/disruptor fire, explosions or thunder. Most of the action is contained within the frontal array where the stereo effects are a joy. Take, for example, the newly recorded opening score, which takes over the front and is given able support from the surrounds, now when the Enterprise whooshes past its flight noise matches the visual path, now that's a head turner!
Dialogue is pretty much consistently from the centre channel, though there was the odd moment of directionality, is natural sounding and always audible. The range is very good, though, but being a series of its time, there is little in the LF department, bass itself is not lacking though, check out any hits to the Enterprise hull for a deep resounding boom. One thing, I felt Shatner's delivery of “Space, the final frontier ...” speech during the opening was a little tinny for my liking, apparently taken from the original recording, it sounds like it.
On the whole the new 7.1 mix is not something to blow you away with its effects and bass, but, rather like the visual enhancements, is meant to bring out and enrich the sound field, and it does that in spades. If, however, you really must have the original, then you can, since a cleaned up version is available as an option. Sounds horribly thin compared to the new mix though .....
- Starfleet Access
Is a PiP feature that features pops ups of trivia text and interviews with writers, fans, historians and those responsible for the new effects revealing insights and information about the episode. Each segment is given its own window that can pop up individually or both together. Information is light hearted but informative if a little sporadic at times. The episodes with Starfleet Access are: Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie, Part I and Part II, Balance of Terror, Space Seed and Errand of Mercy.
- Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century - 0:20:05 HD
Interviews with the technicians responsible for bringing these newly remastered episodes to us; we're taken through the digitisation process, the restoration process, the rerecording of the main score and the making of the all new CGI effects. It's pretty in depth for its short runtime and goes to show exactly how much work has been put in, but how restrained they were in trying to keep in with the look and feel of the show.
- Reflections on Spock - 0:12:05 SD
Nimoy reflects on this most iconic of characters, discussing, thoughtfully, his interpretation, mood and direction of him. His first autobiography (I am not Spock) also comes up as does his directorial debut with Search for Spock.
- Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner - 0:10:27 SD
Very little to do with Trek since its suppose to be life after it, talks more about horses than anything else ....
- To Boldly Go...Season One - 0:18:58 SD
Time spent looking at (in the creator's eyes) the key episodes from the first season utilising interviews from most of the actors involved including Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Ricardo Montalban, William Campbell, William Shatner and (one of) the show's producers Bob Justman.
- The Birth of A Timeless Legacy - 0:24:00 SD
A semi period piece discussing the original pilot episode The Cage, the trials to bring it to the screen and the changes necessary to enable the second pilot to be made. Plenty of material from the show and includes interviews with all the key cast and crew including Roddenberry himself. Pretty good as an introduction if you don't already know the story.
- Sci-fi Visionaries - 0:16:37 SD
A round up of the usual interviewees and a discussion of how Star Trek was Wagon Train of the stars, or cowboys and indians in space and how more experienced writers were brought in to give a truth to the science in their fiction and give the show the credibility it so craved.
- Interactive Enterprise Inspection
This is cool for all those that want to get up close and personal with the Enterprise - a feature that enables you to explore the Enterprise in all its Hi Def glory, appeals to the fan in me this one!
- Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories - 0:13:21 HD
Extra and monster character Billy regales us with memories of his time on set during the filming of the series accompanied by home movies that show some candid behind the scenes of the show.
- Kiss'n'Tell: Romance in the 23rd Century - 0:8:33 SD
A sly look at Kirk's liberal interpretation of the 'Prime Directive' with contributions from most of the cast and crew; not to be left out other brief encounters are mentioned including Spock's, Sulu's daughter and Scott and Uhura's fling.
- Previews SD
Each disc contains the TV previews for each episode, woeful state
A pretty neat looking menu leads you to discover a number of downloadable featurettes - entitled Filming the Galaxy (about original effects), Saving the Show (the letter writing campaign) and Sound of Star Trek (sound design) - as well as three downloadable videos of a recent convention - a further three downloadable featurettes under the 'Red Shirt Logo' title which are short soundbite about small scenes in The Naked Time and The Corbomite Manouver parts 1 and 2 along with pictures, character boigraphies, text info on writers, actors, aliens, ships and much more including the BDLive community, the Trekker Connections game and trailers. Finally something worth logging on for!
- Easter Eggs
Disc 2 highlight and select the unnamed menu option to view a montage of the new CGI effects to some funky boom boom music
Disc 5 highlight and select the unnamed menu option to view a commercial for the remastered episodes
As you can see a pretty worthwhile set of extras, unfortunately and peculiarly the set has lost the excellent Beyond the Final Frontier History Channel documentary, the PiP for The Galileo Seven, and one or two other little bits and pieces that were on the HD DVD set but gained the BDLive, which is very much worth logging on for; whether or not you think this is a decent trade off is up to you, personally I don't think it is - there has been so much made about Star Trek that another BD could have been filled, but, I guess what we do have is pretty well worthy of your time, if you've not seen it before.
There's not much that I can say about Star Trek that has not already been said before. The series is iconic, ground breaking, formative, exciting, enlightening and seems to want to go on forever and ever. Just around the corner is the all new movie showing the prequel to this series and this set is worthy to stand up against it.
The remastered episodes are a joy to watch, they are bright clean and look better now than they have ever done before - the all new CGI effects add much to the episodes creating a grander scale to the already full show. Seeking not to alienate anyone, Paramount have included the original effects and sound so you can see the episodes as they were originally aired, never before in Hi Def. The extras are comprehensive enough, even if there is still more that could have been added, and no original pilot either.
So is this set worth upgrading? Absolutely. A hugely recommended set that will sit proudly along the very best the format has to offer.
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- Starfleet Access