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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #39 (1969)

"There's no intelligent life here."
- Dr. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: December 12, 2001

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Other Stars: James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Mariette Hartley
Director: Herschel Daugherty, Marvin Chomsky

Manufacturer: MUMS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (moderate violence, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:41m:02s
Release Date: December 11, 2001
UPC: 097366003943
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- D+B-B+ D

DVD Review

"The U.S.S. Enterprise is honored to have you aboard, Mr. President."Captain Kirk

Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #39, Episode #77

The Savage Curtain
Stardate: 5906.4
Airdate: March 7, 1969
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty

Sent to investigate a mysterious planet, the U.S.S. Enterprise encounters a startling apparition—President Abraham Lincoln of historical Earth (portrayed by Lee Bergere). The convincing facsimile of Kirk's longtime hero lures the Captain and Mr. Spock to the planet's surface despite the crew's counsel against the trip. They arrive stripped of weapons and unable to communicate with the Enterprise; they also encounter Surak (Barry Atwater), a great leader from Vulcan history. Kirk, Spock, Lincoln and Surak are pitted against four great villains from history (including Genghis Khan) in a fight to the death, forced to participate by an alien race interested in an objective analysis of good versus evil.

Star Trek was nearing the end of its run when this episode aired, and there's a certain paucity of imagination on display here—while the script's basic idea has some potential, its freewheeling use of figures from history tends to call lesser fantasy series to mind (not to mention the perennial if-Abraham-Lincoln-and-Genghis-Khan-got-in-a-fight... wargame scenario). The xeno-scientist is nicely realized as an unsettling, metamorphic charnel creature, looking less like a person in a suit than most of the series' aliens, but that's about the only bright spot here. This is a very talky episode, though the combatants' awkward wrestling and clumsy battle tactics aren't very entertaining either, and the story's only point seems to be that "good" people fight for commendable reasons, while "evil" people seek only their own glorification. This could hardly have been a daring or challenging revelation in 1969, and it's even less interesting today.

Random Notes and Amusements: This episode features one of the worst bits of acting by a "red-shirt" character I've ever seen... Lincoln's makeup is highly unconvincing in closeups, with broadly painted highlights and drawn-on wrinkles... Scotty apparently insists on wearing a kilt when in "full dress uniform"... the sideburns and bell-bottom pants worn by most of the Enterprise crew look particularly sixties-esque when seen next to Abraham Lincoln... Scotty utters a phrase at one point that could be mistaken for "Arturian dog turd"...

This episode rates 2 out of 5 Enterprises:

"Make your escape before it's too late!"—Mr. Atoz

Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #39, Episode #78

All Our Yesterdays
Stardate: 5943.7
Airdate: March 14, 1969
Directed by: Marvin Chomsky

While verifying the successful evacuation of the planet Sarpeidon, due to "go nova" in a few hours, Kirk, Spock and McCoy discover an unusual library. The librarian, Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe), makes use of creepy "replicas" of himself to handle the workload as he prepares to "evacuate" the new visitors by sending them into the planet's past. Jumping through the portal prematurely, Kirk ends up in Musketeer-era France and is thrown into prison as a cutpurse and witch, while Spock and McCoy find themselves in an arctic wasteland, populated only by the comely young cave-dwelling woman named Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley). While McCoy recovers from a bad case of frostbite, Spock finds himself entangled in unfamiliar emotions of lust and jealousy. The separated crew members must find their way back to the library and the Enterprise before the planet explodes.

Here again we find Paramount's considerable set and costume resources dragged into service to keep an aging series afloat. Sarpeidon's history is apparently made parallel to that of Earth in order to make use of French-and-wench period outfits and environments, while Mariette Hartley's brief "cavegirl" costume exploits more, er, fundamental entertainment assets. There's not a lot of action involved, though Kirk gets to engage in some unconvincing fencing; the characters spend a lot of time trapped before figuring out a possible solution, and the episode tries to build suspense with a "ticking clock" but never quite manages to do it. The concept of exploration-by-time-travel has its merits, but there's not much science here, and precious little fiction.

Random Notes and Amusements: Spock abandons his usual wisdom and tries to resolve an ethical dilemma logically, mapping moral pros and cons into an equation of sorts... After Kirk knocks his jailer unconscious, he briefly appears to intend to have his way with the man before he is interrupted... Spock's romantic lines and "passionate" kissing during his infatuation with Zarabeth make it painfully clear why emotions are restrained on Vulcan...

This episode rates 1 out of 5 Enterprises:

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Star Trek again makes a successful transition to the digital format. The series was shot and edited on film, and Paramount's DVD takes full advantage of the fact, presenting these episodes in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratios with clarity surely unseen when they were originally broadcast. Optical effects composite shots are visibly grainy and dirty, but color is strong and detail is solid, to the point that it sometimes reveals the relatively low-budget nature of the sets and costumes. The source print for Episode #77, The Savage Curtain, exhibits some damage here and there, as well as excessive grain in two shots, but the digital transfer is solid enough. Episode #78, All Our Yesterdays, is drawn from a clean source print but suffers from noisy background reds in Zarabeth's cave. This disc doesn't look quite as good as some of its predecessors in Paramount's Star Trek series, but the studio continues to treat one of their most valuable television assets with respect on DVD.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Paramount supplies Star Trek: TOS—Volume 39 with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. It's dignified as such remixes go, adding some directional "whooshes" to the opening credits and some atmospheric background sounds to a few scenes. Dialogue is centered, with music spread subtly around the soundstage, and the digital master sounds fine, crisp and clear with little hiss or distortion, though frequency and dynamic range are naturally limited by the age of the material. Purists may object, but the 5.1 remix is in keeping with the flavor of the show and not too gimmicky for my tastes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Star Trek Volume 39 features few on-disc extras, though the keepcase insert provides a few trivia notes. The disc features optional English subtitles, 14 chapter stops (7 picture-menu stops for each of the two episodes), and one-minute "Star Trek Next Voyage" previews for each of the episodes at hand. The preview clips tend to be fairly dirty and just slightly faded, but they're interesting historical artifacts. Given the series' stature, it's a pity more supplemental information was not included.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

If you're bothering to read this review, you probably haven't sampled Paramount's solid Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD. The series has never looked better, and while two episodes per disc might seem a bit stingy, the price is reasonable for two fifty-minute episodes. These tail-end Volume 39 episodes suggest that the series' creativity and ingenuity were beginning to run seriously dry as cancellation loomed. But hardcore Trek fans will want a complete collection, and even casual fans may want to check out the digitally-remastered presentation.


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