STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - ORIGINS (Blu-ray)
Paramount / 1966 / 265 mins / NR
So you've just finished watching Star Trek: Into Darkness and you're a little confused about all the references. You don't know that much about Klingons, Tribbles and you've somehow never heard of Khan before. If so, Paramount has produced a quick cash-in Blu-ray made specifically for you detailing a series of 'firsts' for the franchise.
Included on the disc are five episodes of the original Star Trek TV series.
"The Cage" (first appearance of Captain Pike): The unaired pilot that started it all with Jeffrey Hunter starring as the Enterprise captain. The episode involves Pike and a landing party on a rescue mission for the survivors of a science vessel that crash landed on a planet. However, it turns out to be an illusion as Pike is captured by Talosians, being with giant craniums and telekinetic powers. They try to convince Pike to fall for the lovely Vina, one of the survivors, but there is more to their plans than meets the eye. The episode has a very human quality to it that helped establish the correct tone and story structure for the series (even if this episode never made it to broadcast). Worth noting is the cast inclusion of Majel Barrett (Gene Roddenberry's wife) and that parts of this episode were later used in the two part episode, "The Menagerie".
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" (first appearance of Captain Kirk): Unfortunately, "The Cage" wasn't enough to convince the network to pick up the series. So they went back to the drawing board with "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which features William Shatner in the role of the iconic Captain Kirk. The crew discovers a lost vessel, but hit some sort of barrier while attempting to make contact with the ship at the edge of the universe. The effects of the barrier end up giving crewman Mitchell psionic powers. Arrogant with his new powers, Mitchell poses a dangerous threat to both the Enterprise and the entire galaxy with his boundless capabilities to make him a god. It's a pretty darn good episode with a lot of action and a great showcase for William Shatner's character. It's just a shame this wasn't the first episode to air.
"Space Seed" (first appearance of Khan): The Enterprise happens upon Botany Boy, a prison ship carrying test-tube soldiers in suspended animation from the eugenics wars of Earth's past. The first to be resurrected is the ruthless Khan Noonien Singh. Khan is taken in at first, but soon revives his comrades in an attempt to take over the Enterprise. Ricardo Montalban does a fantastic job as one of the best villains of the series with his war-bred nature and devilish charm. It makes for one of the best episodes of the series that was good enough to continue the character's arc into Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Interesting to note that while Star Trek: Into Darkness liberally borrows scenes from Wrath of Khan, the plot is far more similar to Space Seed.
"Errand of Mercy" (first appearance of the Klingons): Fearing that the Klingons will attempt take over the neutral planet of Organia, Kirk and Spock attempt to persuade the inhabitants to align with the Federation. Refusing their help, the Organians wish there to be no conflict and put up no fight against the arriving Klingons. When they arrive, the Klingons begin capturing and torturing locals as well as Kirk and Spock. While the two attempt to save Organians, there seems to be more to the peaceful inhabitants than the Klingons or the Federation realize. Though these early Klingons bare almost no resemblance to the ridge-faced aliens most viewers recognize since the movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation, they to establish their war-hungry strength. It's an okay episode, but not one of the highlights of the series outside of the Klingon introduction.
"The Trouble with Tribbles" (first appearance of the Tribbles): One of the most recognizable episodes from the series for its light-hearted tone, the Enterprise becomes invested with the furry little being known as Tribbles. While on a mission at a space station, trader Cyrano Jones sells the cuddly lifeforms to Uhura and before she knows it the one Tribble has multiplied several offspring. The Enterprise can't hold all the little buggers and matters are made worse by the arrival of Klingons. This episode has probably been on at least a dozen best-of discs, but for good reason. It's a refreshing break from the usually serious nature of other episodes. Despite maybe being a little too goofy in some spots, this episode never fails to crack a smile.
The episodes have the same transfers as the fairly recent Star Trek: The Original Series Blu-ray sets. They have the same incredible 1080p quality for a 4:3 presentation along with the beautifully mixed 7.1 Master audio track. It's the best the original series has ever looked and maybe ever will.
Surprisingly, there actually is one extra that isn't mentioned on the back of the cover and only selectable from the Episodes menu. If you select individual episodes, you can watch episode introductions by Rod Roddenberry, Gene Roddenberry's son. He mostly mentioned a few tidbits about the production and how certain episodes became important firsts for the franchise.
This is a decent collection of episodes from the original Star Trek series that bodes well enough as an introduction for newcomers. If you loved the new Star Trek movies and you're thinking about getting into the original series, this is a solid disc to start with. Though I highly recommend playing the episodes with introductions by Rod Roddenberry, less you end up confused why Jeffery Hunter is in command of the Enterprise.