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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #19 (1967)

"Garden of Eden... with land mines."
- Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Other Stars: DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig
Director: Marc Daniels, Joseph Pevney

Manufacturer: PDSC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (moderate violence, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:40m:42s
Release Date: February 13, 2001
UPC: 097366001949
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-B+B+ D

DVD Review

" Captain, this message is a sort of binary... extremely sophisticated, compressed, carrying several channels at once." - Mr. Spock

Star Trek: The Original Series - Volume #19, Episode #37

The Changeling
Stardate: 3451.9
Airdate: September 29, 1967
Directed by: Marc Daniels
Red-Shirt Body Count: 4

The classic episode The Changeling concerns the Enterprise's journey to investigate the mysterious destruction of the inhabitants of the Malurian System. Here, the crew encounters Nomad, an interstellar probe launched from Earth in the distant past, which has acquired sentience through a chance encounter with an alien soil analysis craft. After an initial series of attacks on the Enterprise, Nomad beams aboard peacefully after concluding Captain James T. Kirk must be its similarly-named "Creator." It soon becomes apparent that Nomad's mission programming has been corrupted - its quest to "sterilize" any life form it deems imperfect threatens the safety of the crew, and the entire population of Earth.

This episode holds up as a genuine piece of science fiction - its speculation about machine intelligence versus biological diversity remains valid and interesting over three decades later, and the story served as one of the primary inspirations for the ill-fated Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The plot ultimately turns on Kirk's ability to talk any creature into anything, a device that eventually became ripe for parody, but in this case the man/machine conversation generates some real drama and tension. Nomad's hovering movement on set is well-executed; silent and smooth enough to communicate the cold, unnerving nature of the machine, and the stakes are raised nicely by the "death" of Scotty and erasure of Uhura's memory.

Random Notes and Amusements: Lieutenant Uhura sings, quite nicely... the red-robed Lieutenant Singh is introduced, left in charge of Nomad, and allowed to survive... poor William Shatner works so hard during the climax that he apparently runs plumb out of facial expressions, leaving him with a flat, subtly bewildered look during the standard closing round of good-natured ribbing... Mr. Spock's voice takes on an even flatter tone during a Vulcan mind meld with Nomad... and—is Spock's quote above an incredibly prescient plug for Dolby Digital and DTS audio formats?

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Enterprises:

"You'll like it a lot. And you'll learn something about men and women." - Captain Kirk

Star Trek: The Original Series - Volume #19, Episode #38

The Apple
Stardate: 3715.0
Airdate: October 13, 1967
Directed by: Joseph Pevney
Red-Shirt Body Count: 4

Sent to explore the lush, green "paradise planet", Gamma Trianguli VI, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, Mr. Chekov and several disposable crewmembers meet the People of Vaal, a peaceful tribe held in an eternal state of youthfulness by the god-machine Vaal. Meanwhile, the Enterprise finds itself in a decaying orbit, unable to escape a tractor beam emitted from the planet's surface. When Vaal orders its People to murder the visitors from Starfleet, their innocence is lost and they begin to take tentative steps towards an independent future, complete with sex, violence and freedom.

The Eden metaphors are a bit obvious here—Vaal operates from a cave shaped like a snake's head, and Kirk asks,"Are you casting me in the role of Satan?" Still, this episode is one of the few that questions the mission of the Enterprise, recognizing that its very arrival may violate the Prime Directive of non-interference in alien cultures. A graphic head-smashing lesson given by the tribe's leader (Keith Andes) using a melon and a claw-like branch retains its shock value, and a philosophical discussion amongst the crew concerning what's "best" for this childlike culture hints at potential danger. It's rare to see the "good guys" of Star Trek in a morally compromising situation, and the episode benefits from this take on the concept, despite a general heavy-handedness in the execution.

Random Notes and Amusements: The People of Vaal are uniformly buff, blonde and tan, like mutant Los Angelenos... and if anyone wants to indulge a bawdy Star Trek fantasy, there are several suggestive lines here for your listening pleasure:

"Good cleavage. An analysis should prove interesting" (Spock)

"Let's see how long he can do it." (Kirk)

"Jim!" "Spock! Spock..."

"Would you mind being careful where you throw your rocks, Mr. Spock?" (Kirk)

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Enterprises:

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Star Trek continues to impress in the digital format. 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 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 #37, The Changeling, is clean and almost completely damage-free, though Episode #38, The Apple, does not fare as well, with more print scratches and flecking than has been the standard for this series. Still, Paramount continues to preserve one of their most valuable entertainment assets with style and quality; excellent work.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Paramount supplies Star Trek: TOS, Volume #19 with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. It's dignified as remixes go, adding some directional "whooshes" to the opening credits and some atmospheric background sounds to a few scenes aboard the Enterprise. 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 the frequency range is naturally limited by the age of the material and there are a few audio dropouts this time around. 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: TOS Volume #19 features few on-disc extras, though the 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 fairly dirty and just slightly faded, but they're interesting historical artifacts. 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 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. Hardcore Trek fans will want a complete collection, and even casual fans will want to check out the presentation. Recommended.


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