Original “Star Trek’ leads latest titles to Blu-ray frontier

[27 April 2009]

By Doug Nye

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

An absolute knockout edition of “Star Trek - The Original Series: Season One” (Paramount, 1966-67, $118.00) tops the latest list of titles arriving on Blu-ray this week.

CBS and Paramount have done a magnificent job of bringing the legendary sci-fi television show to the DVD high-definition format. The late Gene Roddenberry, who created the series, would be amazed at the richness of the colors and the sharpness of the details.

In addition, the sound has been converted to 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Purists need not worry; the original mono is also included, although it’s difficult to imagine anyone preferring that over the new stirring sound quality. Fans also have a choice of watching each episode with the new enhanced special effects or seeing them with original effects. The new effects sequences have been excellently woven into the episodes and perfectly match the texture of the older footage.

Those who want to compare the old and new effects will be able to toggle back and forth between the two. After a couple of toggles, the suspicion here is that most will stick with new. Season one comes packaged in a standard size Blu-ray case, although a bit deeper to hold the seven discs that make up the set.

All 29 first-season episodes are included as well as a universe of extras. Each episode is presented the way it was meant it be seen in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Among the many notable episodes are “Space Seed” with Ricardo Montalban as the revived 20th century warlord Kahn; “The Menagerie,” a two-parter edited from the original pilot that starred Jeffrey Hunter; “The City on the Edge of Forever” with Joan Collins; and “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot episode for the series.

For those who might have been stranded in another galaxy for the past 40-plus years, “Star Trek” premiered on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966. It stars William Shatner as Captain James Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as first officer Spock who, along with their varied crew, sail the universe in their starship the USS Enterprise. Their mission is to explore other worlds and seek out new life.

Among the other memorable characters aboard are Dr. “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Scott (James Doohan) and Sulu (George Takei).

Although the show lasted only three seasons, it was the beginning of a phenomenon that continues to this day as witnessed by the new “Star Trek” movie scheduled to be released theatrically May 8.

The new Blu-ray collection spectacularly showcases the series that started it all and, in high definition, it is better than ever. Very highly recommended.

Other Blu-ray titles:

“The Reader” (Genius Products, 2008, $34.99): Ralph Finnes stars as Michael Berg who, as a teenager in post-World War II Germany, had an affair with a woman twice his age named Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). One day she suddenly disappeared and eight years pass before he sees her again. He is shocked to discover that Hanna is on trial for Nazi war crimes. Michael has a secret that could help free Hanna but wonders if he should reveal it. Micheal Kross plays the young Michael Berg. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including best picture and best actress (Winslet won). Highly recommended.

“The Da Vinci Code” (Sony, 2006, $38.96): When a Museum Louvre curator is murdered, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) starts an investigation that leads him on a trail that could uncover a long-hidden secret that would shake the foundation of all Christianity. Assisting him is the curator’s granddaughter Sophie Neveu (Audrwey Tatou). This thriller is based on the controversial novel by Dan Brown. Directed by Ron Howard. Recommended.

“The Uninvited” (Paramount, 2009, $39.99): Emily Browning plays Anna, who after being released from a mental hospital, is convinced that she has been urged by her mother’s ghost to investigate her death. Anna is disturbed to learn that her fatther (David Straitharn) has a new girlfriend, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). It turns out that Rachel was the at-home nurse who cared for Anna’s mother before she died.

“Hotel for Dogs” (Paramount, 2009, $39.99): Andi (Emma Roberts) and her little brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) turn an old abandoned hotel into a place where their dog Friday can live along with numerous strays. The number of canine guests begins to grow and their barking alerts the neighbors. Will Andi and Bruce be able to save the place? Fun film for the family.

“What Doesn’t Kill You” (Sony, 2008, $34.95): Longtime buddies Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) got involved in street crime in their South Boston area during their youth. Now they’re becoming involved in organized crime. Brian’s life is also becoming a wreck thanks to an addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol while neglecting his wife and two sons. Good performances by Ruffalo and Hawke.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/73730-original-star-trek-leads-latest-titles-to-blu-ray-frontier/