Star Trek: The Original Series

LaserDisc - US Release
Coming at a very busy period in Pioneer's sole reign over the domestic LaserDisc market, Paramount began releasing episodes on LaserDisc in groups of 5 discs (10 episodes) in 1985. By the time "Turnabout Intruder" was release in 1989, Paramount and Pioneer had changed policies with regards to aspects of disc production several times. As a result, thirteen episodes and the original Color/Black & White edition of "The Cage" are CX encoded.

Each episode is complete and unedited in this series, with the exception of "The City on the Edge of Forever" which required some minor music scoring changes due to rights issues. The only episode which was not issued in the series was "The Menagerie". Paramount had issued it as part of a "Television Classics" series on LaserDisc in 1984 and felt that re-mastering the title was unnecessary. This caused the disc releases to lead the VHS releases by one episode, giving "Space Seed" to the LaserDisc market months before the VHS edition.

Each episode includes a "Next Voyage" trailer, designed to give a sneak preview of next week's episode. For the first five discs, the "Next Voyage" trailer is from the next episode in production sequence. Beginning with disc #6, the "Next Voyage" would generally be the next episode to air. However, the trailers would not venture outside the block of 10 episodes released in each set.

There are some inconsistencies in the pattern, which produced duplicate trailers in some cases - and as a natural result, completely omits others. For example; Episode 31-"Metamorphosis", which didn't air until well into the 2nd season, is at he end of "The Conscience of the King" on disc 6 and again at the end of #41-"I, Mudd" on disc 18. "This Side of Paradise" also got double duty, being released on Disc 10 and 11. Episodes which were not given any trailer presence are Episode 2 - "Where no Man Has Gone Before", Episode 10 - "What are Little Girls Made Of?", Episode 16 - "The Menagerie" and Episode 73 - "The Lights of Zetar".

LaserDisc - Japanese Release
Always much more popular in Japan than in the US, LaserDisc and Star Trek lovers got a huge shot in the arm in October 1992 when Pioneer and CIC Video (the Japanese releasing studio for Paramount titles) began issuing "The Original Series" episodes. In a rather bold move, they released each season in box sets. One Box - One Season. The result was three mammoth boxes with price tags of ¥68,000, ¥60,000 and ¥55,000 respectively. The first box includes a whopping 16 discs, with 14 in the second and 13 in the third. Each episode is Bilingual, Japanese on 1/L and English on 2/R on both Digital and analog tracks.

Each episode is complete and unedited in this series, with two exceptions. The first is "The City on the Edge of Forever" which, as with the US LaserDisc release, has some minor scoring changes. The second is "Arena". For some reason, this episode was edited down down by 3:50. This may be a 'cut' version for the syndication package. All episodes across all three sets include the "Season Three" opening credits sequence which include DeForest Kelley's name. A minor episode numbering variation exists with the first 16 episodes, starting with "Where No Man Has Gone Before" as #1 and assigns two episode numbers to "The Menagerie" - Episodes 15 & 16.

These releases incorporated the now standard release pattern of issuing episodes in "production order" which means that episode pairing is quite different between the US and Japanese versions. Box 1 also includes "The Cage" presented as part of a television program which aired in October 1988 called "The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation to the Next". It is not given an episode number, and is the "full-color" version of the episode.

Each episode includes a "Next Voyage" trailer, designed to give a sneak preview of next week's episode - in this case, the trailer is for the "Next Voyage" in production order. The one exception is Episode #2 - "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which has it's trailer at the beginning of the episode, and another trailer for Episode #3 - "The Corbomite Maneuver" at the end. Each box includes an extra side which includes the original US Season Opening Credits for that season (all episodes include Season three openings), as well as all of the "Next Voyage" trailers that appear on the individual discs in the box - with chapter stops!

In 1999, Paramount decided to revisit the Original Series. Having provided new digital transfers to the Sci-Fi channel for re-airing of the series in 1998, the new remastered episodes began being released on DVD in August 1999. As Paramount did with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine episodes on LaserDisc in the US and all Star Trek episodes on LaserDisc in Japan, the DVD editions are presented issued in Episode Production order.

Each disc includes two episodes, complete with a 5.1 channel remastered soundtrack as well as the original "Next Voyage" trailers for each episode, and also the next two episodes in the release schedule. The exception is Volume 40, which includes "Turnabout Intruder" and two versions of the series pilot "The Cage".

In September 2004, Paramount began releasing The Original Series episodes in Season box sets. The first season was 8 discs housing 29 episode (but not the pilot episode) and included newly produced featurettes. The remaining seasons followed in similar packaging. The pilot episode is included on the last discs of the third season.

In November 2007, the format war between the High-Def video formats was raging in full swing. Paramount elected to back the now defunct HD-DVD format. With very strong financial support from the Toshiba, Paramount issued a massive 10-disc HD-DVD/DVD hybrid set of the first season. These discs included newly restored audio, and more importantly they included the episodes in their "remastered" format, where all of the optical effects had been re-rendered in CG. This includes all space shots, all shots of the view screen, and all new opening credits. Alas, the format war between HD-DVD and BD was decided in early 2008 and all plans for the balance of the series were cancelled.

Blu-ray Disc
With the High-Def format war firmly over, and the BD format matured to offer the same level of interactivity that the defunct HD-DVD format offered. Paramount embraced the new HD format and issued the remastered Season One episodes in a 7-disc set. Most of the features of the HD-DVD set were carried over, but instead of a dual format set, these discs were strictly BD. But Paramount didn't just turn out the same programming. The audio was remastered yet again, and offered to us this time in 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio. The original mono audio is also included - and the discs offer not only the remastered episodes with the new CG effects, but the original broadcast versions - also digitally remastered.

Season One
September 8, 1966 was a watershed for sci-fi fans. It was on this day that NBC aired the first episode of a strange and wonderful new series called Star Trek. And it had a prime time slot, competing against such popular series as Bewitched on ABC, plus My Three Sons and the Friday-night movie on CBS.

Star Trek's survival in the inaugural season was not immediately guaranteed. Less than three months after its debut, NBC hinted that it might pull the plug because of low ratings. Fans - spurred into action by a group of science-fiction writers - flooded NBC offices with thousands and thousands of letters, and saved the show.

Star Trek writers chartered a slightly different course in science-fiction TV, giving birth to stories that would focus on the human drama of the crews' lives as much as the new worlds and alien creatures they encountered. In retrospect, the first season's plots were unlike anything seen before on TV, ranging from frivolous ("Shore Leave") and frightening ("The Corbomite Maneuver") to touching ("Miri") and philosophical ("A Taste of Armageddon"). Creator Gene Roddenberry had thus established the Star Trek trademark: In space, anything can and often does happen.

Season Two
NBC uprooted Star Trek from its Thursday night berth to Friday in year two, placing it opposite ABC's newcomer western series Hondo, and CBS's Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and the Friday-night movie. Even though Star Trek garnered five Emmy nominations in its first season, the show still wasn't close to a hit in the ratings.

There were also several personnel changes in the second season: Producer Gene L. Coon left the series and was replaced by John Meredyth Lucas (although Coon would continue to write scripts); script consultant Steven W. Carabatsos departed, leaving that spot open for D.C. Fontana; and Paramount took over full production of the show, which had previously been produced by Desilu Studios. The biggest change, though, was the addition to the cast of Walter Koenig as Ensign Pavel Chekov. This was a deliberate attempt by Star Trek producers to skew the show to a younger audience. The creative team, capitalizing on The Monkees popularity of the '60s, give birth the mop-topped Chekov.

It was also the year that Star Trek scripts came of age. Several of the second-season shows were issue- oriented, such as "A Private Little War" and "Patterns of Force." Others were just plain fun, like "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "I, Mudd." The cumulative effect was a second season of outstanding stories that recaptured viewers from the first year and attracted new ones.

Season Three
The third and final season of Star Trek saw the show move to a later time slot on Friday nights at 10pm, pitting it against ABC's legal series Judd for the Defense and CBS's Friday-night movie. The move infuriated Gene Roddenberry, who saw Star Trek as a show for younger fans, most of whom couldn't watch the show during the later time slot.

Other significant changes that season: The departure of Star Trek cinematographer Gerald P. Finnerman, who was replaced by Al Francis: and the addition of Fred Freiberger (directly from the western series The Wild, Wild West) as line producer. The third season is most notable for Spock's shift to the forefront. Unlike the first two years, Spock is by now considered an equal to Capt. James T. Kirk, and is a pivotal character in virtually every third-season episode.

All good things must come to an end, however, The final episode of Star Trek, "Turnabout Intruder," aired on June 3, 1969. Yet, despite the ups and downs during the final season, the series had attracted millions of fans in the three-year period. Gene Roddenberry's vision had started to catch on.

Season overview material from Star Trek: Thirty Years - Special Collectors Edition ©1996 Paramount Pictures Corporation.

Updated: May 4, 2009
©2009 Blam Entertainment Group