We are living in a glorious time for Star Trek. First was the recent trip into space for William Shatner. For all the years he talked about “Space… the final frontier,” the man who played Captain Kirk was only pretending he understood the enormity of the universe. Then at 90 years old, the actor was launched upward for a 10 minute ride that took him high enough to see the dark vastness that surrounds our fragile blue planet. Making it even more special for fans; this is also the 55th anniversary of Star Trek being beamed to televisions from coast to coast. To celebrate this monumental occasion, all the original episodes and the pilot episodes have been released in Star Trek: 55th Anniversary Original Series Steelbook Collection. There’s something so proper about seeing the series with metal covering the Blu-rays instead of mere plastic.
Star Trek defined cult television on so many levels. First was after a debut season with non-spectacular ratings; fans across the country reached out to NBC to plead that the series return. Even after the show was canceled after three seasons, fans held onto the show. Books were written to continue the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Fans flocked to conventions so they could meet other Trekkies and hope for a glimpse of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The cast reunited for a Saturday morning cartoon that captured the atmosphere of the show without turning it into animated schlock. When home video hit the marketplace, fans were able to get all the episodes on various formats including laserdisc and RCA SelectaVision. Sun Coast Video stores used to have entire wall of VHS tapes because fans were willing to pay for individual episodes. This was replaced by the DVDs that feature 2 episodes. Fans rejoiced when season sets were released on DVD. The boxsets saved shelf space. The ultimate treat arrived with the new high definition transfers on Blu-ray that allowed fans to see so much more detail. Their eyes had gone somewhere that fans used to old transfers on standard definition television had never seen. Now the Blu-ray has been upgraded with the Steelbook that make the collection look more prestigious on your shelves. The new boxset has each season in its own Steelbook with images from the episodes on the exterior.
The first season of Star Trek was a rush. “The Man Trap” starts off with a simple tale of Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Mr.Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) beaming down on a planet to check on a researcher and his wife. Turns out Bones was friends with the wife. But before there’s any reuniting, a red shirted crew member turns up dead with weird sucker marks on his face and no salt in his system. “Mudd’s Women” has Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) bringing ladies across the galaxy. But he’s not an ordinary pimp transporting human cargo. The lady have a secret that make this episode more than a PSA on the evils of prostitution. “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” introduces us to a suspicious man who has Ted Cassidy (Lurch on The Addams Family) as his muscle and a cute woman (Sherry Jackson). He has a plan to take over the Enterprise. “The Menagerie” is the only two parter in the series. Why? Because it allowed the series to use the pilot episode without confusing fans as to why Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) is in charge of the Enterprise bridge. The original cuts of the first pilot are included as “The Cage.” “The City on the Edge of Forever” is Harlan Ellison’s masterpiece about time travel. Spock goes through a time portal to a pre-World War II America. He gets cared for by Joan Collins. Shatner has to come after his man since something happens to allow Hitler to win. It’s a heartbreaking ending.
Season two gives us “The Trouble with Tribbles.” A space station gets overwhelmed by cute furry creatures that eat everything. At the same time Kirk has to deal with those darn Klingons. The big bonus is an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series that features the return of the Tribbles. “Amok Time” brings Spock back the planet Vulcan in order to marry his promised bride. Turns out the bachelor party is a bit out of control and involves a battle to the death between Spock and Kirk. “Catspaw” is a nightmare episode as Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down on a planet that looks like an episode of Dark Shadows hosted by Anton LaVey. “Bread and Circuses” has a culture that has embraced a modern Roman life. The gladiator fights are now televised for the masses.
The third and final season is often maligned since cast and crew had a sense they wouldn’t get a third reprieve from the network when they got moved to Friday at 10 p.m. But the show didn’t completely give up. “Spock’s Brain” has an alien swipe his noddle. The crew has to find the logic center before Spock’s body dies. “And the Children Shall Lead” has a colony destroyed with only the children remaining. What happened? The big thing that matters is the brilliant Pamelyn Ferdin is one of the kids. “The Way to Eden” brings on the space hippies. Among those rocking their way across the galaxy with a message of love is Charles Napier (Silence of the Lambs & Squidbillies). The final original episode is a strange one in “Turnabout Intruder.” A woman swaps bodies with Kirk in order to commit havoc. It’s not the best way of ending the five year voyage in mid-flight. Does seem hard for a science fiction series to have a good final episode as witnessed by Battlestar Galactica. Thankfully this episode was not the end of the Star Trek universe. On the third season boxset, you get the two cuts of the original pilot “The Cage” that was recut into the two part “The Menagerie” from season one.
Star Trek: The Original Series holds up so well after 50 years on the air. Not only are the character iconic, but so are the actors. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan and Walter Koenig might as well be considered for a new Mount Rushmore. And they look so much better in high definition. It’s so nice to get all 74 episodes in beyond pristine quality along with “The Cage” pilots. Star Trek: The Original Series remains the standard to which all other science fiction TV series are measured against in both content, fandom and legacy. The series might be a bit of a shock for recent fans of the J.J. Abrams reboot movies that focus on over the top action. The series was a bit more cerebral in its approach to dealing with alien worlds. This more about high tension negotiations than massive special effects and stunt spectaculars. Star Trek: The Original Series will always be considered the pinnacle of science fiction on TV. Star Trek: 55th Anniversary Original Series Steelbook Collection is the perfect way to pass the passion onto a new generation who can appreciate how Kirk and Spock explored brave new worlds. This is how you allow a cult to endure after half a century and five years with new fans who enjoy repeatedly viewing the series.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The good news is that you can choose between the updated HD CGI special effects or transfers of the old special effects. There’s nothing too wrong with the old SFX although you see the limitations of making spaceship shots on a TV budget. The 1080p resolution brings out the vivid colors on the screen. If you have an older relative that introduced your to Star Trek, get them this collection so they can see more. The audio is DTS-HD MA 7.1 to make the Enterprise computer noises wrap around you. There’s also a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix along with French and Spanish dubs. The subtitles are in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
Reflections on Spock Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner To Boldy Go…Season 1 The Birth of a Timeless Legacy Sci Fi Visionaries Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Kiss ‘N tell: Romance in the 23rd Century Interactive Enterprise Inspection Starfleet Access Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Part 2 (HD) Starfleet Access episode – Amok Time Creating Chekov Listening to the Actors The Trouble With Tribbles Audio Commentary by David Gerrold The Trouble With Tribbles preview trailer More Tribbles, More Troubles Episode From Star Trek: The Animated Series (HD) Audio Commentary by David Gerrold Trials And Tribble-ations From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (HD) Trials And Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends Trials And Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor Star Trek: The Original Series On Blu-ray Starfleet Access episode – The Trouble With Tribbles Spock’s Mother “To Boldly Go…” Season Two Designing the Final Frontier BD Live and Mobile Blu enabled Preview trailers for each episode Star Trek’s Favorite Moments Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols Enhanced Visual Effects Credits Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig Chief Engineer’s Log Memoir From Mr. Sulu Captain’s Log: Bob Justman Reflections on Spock Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner To Boldy Go…Season 1 The Birth of a Timeless Legacy Sci Fi Visionaries Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Kiss ‘N tell: Romance in the 23rd Century Interactive Enterprise Inspection Starfleet Access Where No Man Has Gone Before (The Unaired Alternate Version of the Pilot) David Gerrold Hosts “2009 Convention Coverage” “The Anthropology of Star Trek” Comic-Con Panel 2009 “The World of Rod Roddenberry” Comic-Con 2009 Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Part 3 “To Boldly Go…” Season Three Collectible Trek Star Trek’s Impact
CBS Blu-Ray presents Star Trek: 55th Anniversary Original Series Steelbook Collection. Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan and Walter Koenig. Boxset Contents: 79 episodes on 20 Blu-ray discs. Released: October 26, 2021.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.