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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #15 (1967)

"Tell me about power, Captain. How does it feel?"
- Sylvia (Antoinette Bower)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: September 17, 2000

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Other Stars: Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei
Director: Herschel Daugherty, Joseph Pevney

Manufacturer: MUMS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:40m:42s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 097366001543
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-AA- D+

DVD Review



"The overall pattern of mass insanity destroying civilizations follows an almost straight line through this section of the galaxy." - Spock

Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #15, Episode #29

Operation—Annihilate!
Stardate: 3287.2
Airdate: April 13, 1967
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty

I didn't realize until I sat down with Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 15 just how few episodes of the TV series I'd actually seen. I've seen most of the films and quite a few episodes of The Next Generation during my college years, but most of my knowledge of the original Star Trek seems to have been gleaned from toys, books, Starlog, MAD Magazine - heck, Cracked magazine for that matter. So it was with mixed anticipation and apprehension that I cracked the shrinkwrap on this disc -

The aggressively-titled Operation—Annihilate! concerns a mysterious madness spreading across the galaxy, which the Enterprise crew traces to a population of flying organisms capable of subsuming humans to their will. When Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is attacked, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) must find a way to save the First Officer as well as Captain Kirk's nephew, orphaned by the creatures' invasion of the planet Deneva. Spock, having regained some measure of free will by blocking the creature-induced pain out of his mind, returns to the planet to collect a specimen. Experiments aboard the Enterprise reveal that the creatures are vulnerable to intense light, though an experimental therapy blinds Spock before Dr. McCoy realizes it's only necessary to use a certain portion of the spectrum. The creatures are wiped out, the "inhabited" are freed and all ends well.

I was pleased to discover that this material holds up pretty well. Granted, there's a visible degree of cheesiness in the set, creature and prop designs which isn't helped by the enhanced clarity of DVD. Lighting is generally flat, with conspicuous shadows on the bridge sometimes. But the writing is solid, with a serious science-fiction flavor that survives today, and the cast and production staff take the material seriously enough to make it work without becoming deadly dry. And the creature concept is intriguing from a speculative biology standpoint.

Random Notes and Amusements: Kirk's libidinous nature seems to be in full bloom here; when he discovers his brother has died, his first thought appears to be that his attractive sister-in-law is now available (though she passes away shortly after delivering some critical information) - the rubbery-looking creatures resemble Johnson Smith Company fake vomit dressed up with Mattel's Thingmaker set, and fly like rubber creatures on fishing line - I couldn't get The Brain from Planet Arous out of my mind - the mass killing of an alien species is blithely carried out despite the Prime Directive - Kirk's risky, take-charge management style leads him to bring infected humans onboard without benefit of quarantine -

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Enterprises:




"Captain Kirk - can you hear me? There is a curse on your ship. Leave this place - or you will all die!" - Expendable Crewman

Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #15, Episode #30

Catspaw
Stardate: 3018.2
Airdate: October 26, 1967
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

This appropriately Halloween-themed episode was scripted by the great Robert Bloch and has a certain degree of macabre humor about it. The story sends Kirk (William Shatner), Spock, McCoy, Sulu (George Takei) and Scotty (James Doohan) planetside to investigate the mysterious death of a crewman, where they encounter a wizard (Theo Marcuse) inhabiting a creepy old castle in a world where witches, black cats and skeletons abound. Kirk makes nice with the wizard's feline familiar, Sylvia (Antoinette Bower when she assumes human form) and helps save the Enterprise from a black magic trap. Eventually it is revealed that all is illusion (except for the death of a crewmember) calculated to unnerve humans by an alien race craving our experience and imagination.

While a bit outside the traditional Star Trek style, this episode is thoroughly entertaining and raises thought-provoking ideas about the nature of reality. Good stuff.

Random Notes and Amusements: The alien creatures revealed at the end of the episode are manipulated with black strings, easily visible on the DVD - Sylvia's various feminine forms all smack vaguely of Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie - the voice issuing from the dead crewmember's open mouth has got to be one of the creepiest things ever broadcast in 60's primetime - is there some sort of homoerotic subtext implied in the scene of Kirk and Spock chained up in a dungeon?

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Enterprises:



Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Hold on to your hats, because you've NEVER seen Star Trek looking like this. The series was shot and edited on film, and Paramount's DVD takes full advantage of the fact, presenting the shows 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 sometimes dirty, but color is strong, detail is solid (down to the flyaway hairs in just about everyone's "do") and the source prints are clean and damage-free. Paramount preserves one of their most valuable entertainment assets with style and quality; excellent work.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Paramount supplies Star Trek TOS—Volume 15 with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The remix of the original mono soundtrack is genteel, adding some directional "whooshes" to the opening credits and some atmospheric sounds to a few key scenes. Dialogue is centered, with music spread subtly around the soundstage, and the digital master sounds terrific, crisp and clear with no hiss or distortion, though the frequency range is 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: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues
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 TOS—Volume 15 features few on-disc extras, though a brief keepcase insert provides a few trivia notes. The disc features English subtitles, 14 chapter stops (7 picture-menu stops for each of the two episodes), and Star Trek Next Voyage episode previews. The preview clips tend to be dirty and just slightly faded, but they're interesting historical artifacts; the Catspaw preview is especially interesting, as it was apparently rushed out before the optical effects had been finished. Given the stature of the series, it's a pity more information on the episodes at hand was not included.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

If you're reading this review, you probably haven't sampled Paramount's solid Star Trek—The Original Series on DVD. The series has never looked this good, and while two episodes per disc might seem a bit stingy, the price is reasonable for two fifty-minute episodes. Hardcore Trek fans probably own this one already, but even casual fans will want to check out the presentation. Recommended.

 


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