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Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection (Blu-ray Review)

2 Sep, 2016 By: John Latchem



Street 9/6/16
Paramount/CBS
Sci-Fi
$208.99 Blu-ray 30-Disc Set
Not rated
Stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett.

Numerous collections of “Star Trek” episodes and movies have been released over the years on whatever home video formats have been available. From season sets to complete series, best-of compilations to movie collections, these releases served as ideal ways for long-time fans to revisit their favorite show while also offering samplers to bring newer viewers into the fold.

But looking over this new boxed set collecting every adventure featuring the cast of the original “Star Trek” series, one would be hard-pressed not to call it the ultimate collection of material from the franchise ever released.

Previous boxed sets have offered exclusive bonus materials or swag for fans (I still have an early 1990s VHS collector’s set of the first six movies that came with a watch). But what makes this new collection unique is that it’s the first that offers “Star Trek” TV episodes and movies both in one sitting.

Setting aside any discussion of the wisdom of letting the film and TV versions of the same shared universe be controlled by different legal entities, at least they were able to work through the corporate politics at play in order to allow this collection to happen.

The vast majority of the content in this set is previously released material. The original series and movie discs are the same as the previously released Blu-rays, though adorned with gorgeous new artwork customized for each disc. This even includes the recent director’s cut Blu-ray of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (fortunately, the set includes the corrected version).

The biggest selling point of this set, in terms of the content, is the fact that the 1973-74 animated series is available on Blu-ray for the first time, 10 years after receiving a DVD release.

The cartoon version of “Star Trek” looks amazing in high-definition, barely betraying the fact that it was produced on a budget more than 40 years ago. The show was always known for its animation gaffes (For instance, aliens being painted with weird colors, characters appearing in two places at once, or Scotty showing up without legs), but the HD transfer here is so crisp that you can see dust on the cel plates as they were moved past the camera to create the illusion of movement (especially in the starship shots). The bonus material is the same as the earlier DVD.

Inside the main box, the collection is divided into two Blu-ray collections. One combines the original and animated series into one boxed set. The other is a new version of the movie boxed set, with a new bonus disc containing “Star Trek: The Journey to the Silver Screen,” a two-and-a-half-hour multi-part documentary that uses new interviews from the filmmakers and “Trek” experts to recount the experience of bringing the original cast to the big screen for six films.

The retrospective is insightful and altogether excellent, though it’s a bit repetitive in one aspect since the chapter on Star Trek II is the same retrospective documentary about that film that’s also included on the Star Trek II disc (and differs slightly in style from the rest of the featurettes).

Unfortunately, the new movie collection does not include the featurette “The Captains Summit” which was included on a bonus disc with an earlier version of the Original Motion Picture Collection Blu-ray boxed set. It would have been nice to have had that carried over to this new bonus disc, so any fans hoping to upgrade their collection might want to hold onto that disc from the earlier set.

In terms of shelf space, the original series/animated series hybrid is the same size as the recently released Blu-ray complete series of just the original series; there was plenty of room to another tray for the three discs of the animated series (22 half-hour episodes don’t take up much Blu-ray space).

And just to give the fans a little something more to play with, the mega-set comes with a magnetic button of the 50th anniversary logo shaped like the Star Trek insignia, and six mini-posters of new artwork based on each movie (these are a bit bizarre for my tastes, but the poster for Star Trek IV has a nice elegance to it).

Best Buy will offer an exclusive version of the set containing a special original series mini-poster.

The set is perfectly timed to hit shelves the same week as the show’s official 50th anniversary, which falls on Sept. 8, the date of the first airing of “The Man Trap.”

Since these are the same discs as before for the original series, the episodes are still organized according to airdate, which is something of a pet peeve of mine when it comes to TV boxed sets in general. Just for the sake of binge viewing, which wasn’t much of a concern 50 years ago, I wish the episodes were better aligned with what has become the established timeline of the “Star Trek” universe (as detailed in various “Star Trek” reference materials), rather than just religiously sticking to the airdate order. For example, the “Where No Man Has Gone Before” pilot episode aired third, and many other episodes are out of order as well. And the original unaired pilot with Jeffrey Hunter as the captain, which takes place about 10 years before the rest of the show, is included with the third season (but at least it’s on its own disc, if fans want to do a little rearranging).

Given the hefty price tag, fans who already own the original series and movies on Blu-ray, and who don’t think the new documentary is worth the cost of the upgrade, might choose to wait for the separate Blu-ray release of the animated series and hope the new bonus disc is included with a re-release of the films. Even so, the new configurations are a nice upgrade from previous releases, and anyone looking to start a “Star Trek” home video physical-copy collection would be well served to start here.

 


About the Author: John Latchem


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