Combustible Celluloid

Star Trek The Original Series - Season One (1966-67)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Beam Me Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One on DVD

As a kid I loved to catch reruns of the old "Star Trek" series on television. I was especially mesmerized by the transporter and wished I had one of my own. In college I learned to make fun of the show's campiness, such as the disposable "red shirt" crew members, the limited music score and William Shatner's hesitating performances.

Those reruns were often shown in a haphazard cluster, totally out of order, the good mixed in with the bad. Now that Paramount has put together the definitive "Season One" box set, it's much easier to see just what a high quality show this was -- at first.

Writers such as Harlan Ellison and Robert Bloch (not to mention creator Gene Roddenberry) contributed to these early scripts, and strange and interesting ideas floated around from episode to episode. They worked to establish just who the main characters would be, and so Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Scotty (James Doohan), Sulu (George Takai) and Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), shared the spotlight with lesser and one-shot characters. (I never realized that Walter Koenig's Chekhov didn't appear until the second season.) Shatner even gives a more measured and intense performance in these early episodes.

Directors on these episodes included the "B" movie master Gerd Oswald (A Kiss Before Dying) and Joseph Sargent, who would go on to make the 1970s crime classic The Taking of Pelham, One, Two, Three.

Season One is rife with classics. We have arguably the all-time greatest episode, the Harlan Ellison-scripted The City on the Edge of Forever, in which Bones -- having accidentally taken an overdose of a strange drug -- leaps through a time portal and disrupts Earth's past. Joan Collins co-stars.

We also have Balance of Terror, starring Mark Lenard -- later to return as Sarek, Spock's father -- as the first Romulan, attempting to start a war with the Earthlings.

Season One also includes the two-part The Menagerie, which incorporated footage of the show's unaired pilot episode (The Cage) into a flashback structure.

Other episodes include the comic Mudd's Women, Where No Man Has Gone Before, co-starring a young and beautiful Sally Kellerman, the very odd Shore Leave, the first appearance of Kahn (Ricardo Montalbon) in Space Seed and the spooky This Side of Paradise, in which the Enterprise crew members lose their inhibitions to a strange, spraying plant spore.

Paramount's handsome new DVD box set comes in a gold plastic box, more or less shaped like a Tricorder. The 29 episodes are included on eight discs. Each episode comes with its original trailer. The eighth disc comes with five featurettes and a photo gallery. I only wish that the infamous "Star Trek" bloopers (which I remember seeing once as a child) were included.

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takai, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig
Written by: Gene Roddenberry, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, etc.
Directed by: Gerd Oswald, Joseph Sargent, etc.
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 50 mins. each
Date: September 24, 2004

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