Review – Star Trek: The Original Series Season One HD DVD Box Set [UPDATED]

Last September CBS commemorated the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek by going back to the original 35mm films and digitally remastering them for the HD era. The project not only cleaned up the images, but also added brand new CGI to replace the original shots that wouldn’t hold up well to the microscope of 1080p HD. This ‘Star Trek Remastered’ has been seen in syndication, but only in standard definition. Now finally with the release of Star Trek The Original Series on DVD/HD DVD Combo disk you can finally see the remastered show in full HDTV resolution, as it was intended to be seen. Plus the set comes complete with many new special features, many of which take advantage of the interactive features of HD DVD.

The Box Set
Season one comes on a set of 10 disks which are in a jewel case magazine. Because this release is in DVD/HD DVD combination format, both sides of the disc are used; one side standard DVD, the other HD DVD. Because the disks are double sided the set comes with small plastic inserts that look a bit like flash cards which list what episodes and what features are available and for what version (HD side or standard side). The disk magazine and plastic inserts are stored in a space saving paper sleeve, which fits into larger decorative plastic box (see below). The paper sleeve is the same gold color of the 2004 DVD set, so it is likely that seasons two and three will be blue and red respectively. Strangely neither the plastic box nor the paper sleeve have anything written on the spines, making identifying the set later once stored on a DVD shelf a bit of a challenge. Like the previous season boxed sets the episodes are in airdate order rather then the production date order.


Box set contents

HD DVD

Interactivity/Menus
You start off in the turbolift and hear Kirk’s voice order it to deliver you to the Transporter room. As you choose the episode, the transporter controls activate and characters from the episode you chose beam in. A TOS-style electronic tablet interface is used to enable features such as Starfleet Access (if available), subtitles, and what version of the soundtrack you want to use. The menus aren’t the friendliest, but as you get used to the way they are set up it isn’t too bad.


Transporter room serves as main menu system

Video
The original filmed content is incredible — the vibrancy of the colors, the detail that can be seen in the fabrics, sets, and faces. On the flip side little issues are much easier to spot now, the zippers on the velour shirts are really obvious, especially on Shatner since he is in front of the camera so much. You can see film grain! (a sign the film has been properly preserved). CBS Digital also did the right thing and in most shots appears to have properly sampled film grain on to the new CG effects so it doesn’t look totally out of place. For most of the episodes the Enterprise CG model looks incredible, but sadly the handful of episodes produced first in the project used a different model which has the same problems in HD that it did when broadcast in SD. If you think you have seen Remastered, you ain’t seen nothin’ till you see it in HD. Lastly, here are the HD DVD tech specs for the curious: the video is in 1080p, compressed with MPEG4-AVC (H.264), in the original 4:3 aspect ratio.


TOS-R “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” HD-DVD vs. SD Syndication (click for full size)

Audio
Audio is presented in 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD which is a lossless format, meaning that it is like a ZIP file, you get the same data out as was put in; nothing is thrown away, unlike normal Dolby Digital. A fallback Dolby Digital Plus 2-channel soundtrack is also available. Just like the video, the CBS team remastered the sound mix for the Star Trek Remastered effort, so these are not the same Dolby 5.1 mixes from the older DVDs. The new TrueHD track sounds great, the dialogue is normally very clear and the sound effects are generally well prioritized with respect to the dialogue.

Extras
The HD box set has lots of great extra features, many of which are totally new and utilize the functionality only available on HD players.

The Interactive Enterprise Tour is fun, but is only about 10 minutes worth of content; it consists of pre-rendered paths with a navigational control that pops up to pick locations along with an optional voice tour track. You are shown footage of a shuttlecraft leaving the hanger bay, you are then swung around the new CG Enterprise to view key features such as the Impulse Engines, Warp Engines, a view of the Bridge Dome, Phaser and Photon Torpedo area with a fun little ‘launch torpedo’ button that looks the button on the bridge controls, and the Main Sensor/Navigational Deflector.


Take a tour of the Enterprise (click for HD image)

Seven episodes offer the Starfleet Access option. As the episode plays small icons appear off to the right in the pillar boxing (the black bars on either side of the 4:3 image) a few minutes before the information is due to come up. If you select the icon the episode will shrink to a smaller window and a secondary window with either video commentary from various cast, crew or experts or Star Trek Encyclopedia-type trivia. The interviews discuss both the original show as well as the remastering, including offering some side by side comparisons of some effects shots. This feature is available on “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, “The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2”, “Balance of Terror”, “The Galileo Seven”, “Space Seed”, and “Errand of Mercy”.


William Campbell talks about Klingons in “Errand of Mercy”

Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century – This is a documentary that we’ve seen much of in STARTREK.COM video clips when TOS-R first was brought to syndication. The crew of CBS and CBS-Digital wax poetic about TOS and their project. It is in widescreen so you can see a few seconds of the widescreen CGI shots. (This documentary was also shown at the recent “The Menagerie” screenings.)

Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories – Thirteen feature with clips of the show combined with never-before-seen behind-the-scenes video shot by TOS background actor Billy Blackburn. Blackburn’s footage has no sound, but he provides an entertaining running commentary. This is one of the features that really makes this new box set worth it.


See Spock smile in Billy Blackburn’s home movies

 

Standard DVD

As mentioned before, the new Star Trek Season One box set comes on hybrid disks. So flip over any HD disk and you have the same episodes on Standard DVD. Although this is the ‘triple dip’ for Trek on DVD, the show has never looked better and you can certainly tell that it comes from a newly remastered high definition source. The menus are of course not really interactive, and many of the fun special features are just not possible to recreate on the Standard Def side. However, the must-see Billy’s Treasure Chest is included as well as interviews seen on the 2004 box set (including content only available on the exclusive ‘Best Buy Bonus Disk’). In addition there is a preview of the new Star Trek Online game as well as the entire History Channel documentary “Beyond the Final Frontier.” As with the 2004 DVDs, each episode also has the original NBC trailer. Unfortunately the ‘Red Shirt Diaries’ Easter eggs are not in the new box set, in fact there don’t appear to be any Easter eggs.


Even in SD it looks better than the previous DVD release

Bottom Line

If you haven’t bought any of the previous boxed sets of TOS on DVD, this is the set to get whether you have HDTV and HD DVD player or not. Even if you have the previous box sets and own an HDTV (and HD DVD player), this set is tough to resist. The remastered series was meant to be seen in HD and looks it. Plus the special features make the $130 street price a bit easier to stomach. For those who are on the fence for the format war it is a tougher call, but Toshiba’s aggressive pricing plus free movie (and free mail-in offer for a Phaser remote) promotions may make that decision easier. For those with previous box sets and no HDTV the high price is really hard to justify even with the improved quality and new features.


See new details from “Dagger of the Mind” and “The Corbomite Maneuver”
(click for HD image)

Need help with HD DVD players?
See the TrekMovie.com HD DVD Player Buying Guide

Pre-order the TOS-R Season One Box from Amazon for $132.95…ships 11/20


Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete First Season [HD DVD] — $132.95

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i’ll still get it regardless of any review

a lot of reviews say it costs too much, but this is the best review for this that i’ve seen so far

I went out a month ago and bought the new Pioneer Elite 60″ Plasma T.V., Monster cables, Energy speakers, 7.1 Surroundsound and the whole ball of wax for JUST such a turn of events!!!

Am I getting it?? Well, duhh!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA………………..

The only thing I hate about the old DVD sets is that the colors are muted, even the old VHS versions had better color.

‘Red Shirt Diaries’ Easter eggs? Are these on the previous release? How do you access them? This is (obviously) news to me.

Not really a gripe about this set in general, but is it too hard to release the episodes in chronological order? I realize that the show doesn’t have much of any continuity as to what order you air the episodes in and I could easily re-order the stories myself when viewing them, but it’d be nice to actually see “Where No Man Has Gone Before” actually show up first on the DVD sets at some point.

I guess that’s for the quadruple-dip.

I don’t see a link in the article
to this additional Tour image:
comment image

There was a 2004 box set? They really know how to milk it don’t they.
I don’t own an HD TV, my current TV still works and hopefully will for many years to come. If they broadcast them over here I’ll watch them, otherwise, I’ll miss them. $266 for a TV series? You’d have to be really gullible.

KevinA Melbourne Australia

It’s amazing the detail in the enterprise shots HD versus SD. I just zoomed in at 400% using IE7s zoom control and you can see the ribbing and defined edges that are just a blur in in the SD comparison. You can see where they have added grain to to picture to blend with the original stock. All very special.

Can’t wait for the HD DVD packs arrival, my new HD DVD player and comfirmation that Toshiba in Australia may yet have access to the phaser remote offer for us Aussies. Will let everyone know when I’ve contacted Toshiba again tomorrow.

Wow. Keep those HD images coming, they make great wallpaper.

#7 Alternate Factor Chris – “Not really a gripe about this set in general, but is it too hard to release the episodes in chronological order?”

Many of the Affiliate Stations I viewed in the 1970s presented the series in ‘Chronological’ or ‘Production’ Order. It is how I learned to watch the series and is also how I too prefer it – – as it makes more sense naturally with Uniform appearance and Character development.

I’m really on the fence with this set. It seems to me that there will very likely be a round two on these releases, once the project is done, and it will be in time for the new movie, or some other event.

While I think that CBS-Digital’s work has improved over time, I still have to say it’s not worth it. Having just seen the Menagerie on the big screen and another round of goofball Ent movements in The deadly years, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Let me explain on the Menagerie. As far as The Enterprise is concerned. You almost exclusively through two hours (roughly) of footage, have one shot of the Enterprise speeding towards Talos IV. Some angles on the ship would have been nice. While the effects looked fine, it just doesn’t add enough to bother with.

Deadly years shows me that they really don’t understand how to make the Enterprise move in situations that call for anything out of the norm (like orbiting a planet).

I want to want this set, as the extras look like fun, but I don’t want to be really pissed off when 3 or 4 years from now, they come up with the definitive remaster. I’ve got to wait this one out…

Doug L.

Thanks Matt – really looking forward to sitting down and watching these uncut HD episodes.

I’m a little concerned about the sound. I REALLY love the 5.1 remixed of the first DVD release. The base is punched up and the room shakes when things expode. Music is all aound with dialoge firmly planted in the center. Effects are effectively mixed and its just plain kick ass when Kirk goes on ship wide and the echo is all around you. It’s very imerisive and I’m more than a little concerned that this 2 channel mix is going to lose all that.
Eye candy is fine, but a little ear candy goes a long way as well.

6- I’m with you. Anyone, help please?

“This ‘Star Trek Remastered’ has been seen in syndication, but only in standard definition.”

So – even though CBS broadcasts in HD, it didn’t present Trek Remastered in HD? If true, wow. Feeling slightly robbed, but the show looked great regardless on the CBS HD channel!

#3

Harry – you’ll have to post your opinion when you get it. I’m on the fence heavily leaning on the BUY IT, DAMMIT side..

It is a MUST that CBS-D be allowed to fix the earlier episodes with the old model for future HD-DVD releases. That lack of care expressed by CBS-Paramount is one reason I hve no plans to buy this particular set.

What are the 8 episodes like that haven’t been aired yet?

17 – CBS the network may broadcast in HD, but CBS the syndicator business does not provide HD remastered episodes at the moment. Most TV stations do not have the terrabytes of storage required to store hugh HD files for re-broadacast. Most stations are only in position to current manage live HD events such as news or sports shows.

The HD episodes are there, most local HD stations are not ready to run them. Not the fault of CBS Distribution.

#18 This is my MAIN gripe. They addmited the screwup of using that model. They fixed it largely BECAUSE of fans, yet now they want us to buy into that inferior version. Pretty arrogant. Sound like typical Paramount? Yep!

Hey Matt Wright – nice review! I’m the webmaster at TrekCore.com and we’re trying to work on getting HD screenshots… I was wondering if you could email me and let me know what method you used to get them? I’d email you but I don’t see an address anywhere…

Lord Garth Formerly of Izar

Please for the love of Christ!!! What’s up with the HD-DVD version of TMP

Daren???? Anyone??????

The grainstock on the standard dvd blown up on an 1080p HD monitor is so heavy it makes many scenes unwatchable. Will this be addressed in the HD release. Saw Daren’s name in the credits when I watched it the other day

Any chance you could put up some links to image spoilers on the as yet unaired episodes for season one?

Ditto.

Well Blue-ray is winning the format war, I’ll just wait and buy this on Blue-ray.

What about the syndication edits? Are they actually the full episodes, or could they not manage that now that they’ve been retooled?

#22, You have to buy the xbox360 HD-DVD add-on, plug it into your computer and run it using powerDVD version 7.3, from there you can get the hd screenshots

13. Doug L.

I definitely agree about the Menagerie, although I really enjoyed seeing TOS cleaned up and on the big screen. But I felt just using the same shot of the Enterprise over and over speeding towards Talos was a wasted chance to show off the Enterprise.

I took my nephew to see it in the cinema and he was disappointed he didn’t get to see more of the Enterprise. The angle they kept using doesn’t show off the ship very well. I know it’s meant to show it speeding through space I just think they could have used a few different angles and been a bit more creative I their thinking, making the most of those brief shots of the ship.

I wouldn’t mind owning this set despite its flaws the highlights have been great, but I already own the originals and I don’t feel enough has been changed to buy these over again and currently don’t own a HD TV. Plus like yourself Doug I think I’ll wait a few years because I reckon there will be another more definitive remastering done some where down the line, and if there isn’t there should be. I really hope there is because there have been a lot of missed opportunities this time around.

I’m with #26….I’ll wait for the Blu Ray.

yo (#8),

Nice close-up of the main deflector dish. There is detail there I hadn’t imagined. Close ups like that are wonderful, but you can also see some of the polygon lines that make up some of the shapes of the ship. Look at the warp nacelle and the plating just behind it to see what I mean.

It just goes to show that, like physical models, these CGI models aren’t always meant to see scrutinized so closely.

Re: post 22, I m curious too how the screen captures could be done, given that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs won’t let you do that!

And what was the equiptment used for the review Matt? Display, player, etc. Nice review!

I’ll wait for Blu-Ray

This is so damn expensive, but it won’t stop me from buying it.

Nice review. It’s interesting that you can see grain in the new CGI scenes, because another review that I’d read complained there was no grain, making it a harsh contrast to the live action. Anyway, I recall CBS-D acknowledging that they’d added simulated grain, so it makes sense that at least SOME grain would appear in the SFX scenes. On the other hand, I’m hoping that the live action isn’t TOO grainy; I’ll do a Netflix rental to find out.

Some of the HD stills in this article are much higher resolution than ANY of the stills we’ve seen thus far, and as I expected, they show the true work that CBS-D have done.

Like some other folks, I’m in a holding pattern over the HD format war. Even if Blu-ray eventually wins, which it may not, I don’t think we’d see a Blu-ray version of ST remastered for quite some time. Then there’s also the matter of a slightly wider aspect ratio version (yeah I know OAR lovers, you don’t like it)…

All in all, it’s going to be a rental for me right now.

regarding the format war and waiting for bluray. There is no guarantee this and future Trek sets will come out on bluray. By early/mid 2009 all three seasons of TOS, plus the new Star Trek movie and likely some or all of the previous Trek films will be out on HD-DVD. If Trek is an important part of your collection, then Paramount has kind of made the decision for you. You can get a toshiba player for 300 bucks and you get 7 movies and a free phaser. Worst case scenario is that in 5 years you may have to buy some kind of ‘hybrid’ player that can play both formats.

Oh, by the way, HIDEOUS packaging, which seems to be a Star Trek tradition.

Nice review and HD screen captures!! The cost of this set is the hold-up for me. I saw it for pre-sale on Best Buy.com for $170.00!!! I am hoping when it hits store on Tuesday it will be cheaper.

I am buying this set. The prospect of seeing Classic Trek in HD is too much for me to pass up.

#23

I watched TMP the other day and I agree. I can’t believe how grainy and dirty that poor film is. It looks TERRIBLE! Why wasn’t it cleaned up back in 2001?? Does anyone know when we can expect TMP and the other Trek films in HD??

Anthony — that’s true. But there’s also no guarantee at this point that HD-DVD will be supported by exclusive or hybrid hardware in 3-5 years time. I hope so, for the sake of folks who are buying the disks now. Of course, Blu-ray is in an uncertain position too.

#29 “I know it’s meant to show it speeding through space I just think they could have used a few different angles and been a bit more creative I their thinking, making the most of those brief shots of the ship.”

I have to agree. Replacing stock shots with cgi stock shots that are used over and over again isn’t spicing things up much I’m afraid. I don’t know how many times I saw the SAME red star streaking by as the Enterprise flew towards Talos 4.

I also agree that a stereo sound presentation, on HD video of all things, SUCKS. The surrounded mix on the TOS DVD’s I have now is superb, I hate to see them step backwards on sound, especially for a remastered set.

Your Tomorrow Is Yesterday screencap made me go to Amazon and buy the 360 HD DVD add on. I hope you’re happy :p
Does anyone know when this is out in the UK?

The set is out in the UK tomorrow, Amazon despatched mine on Saturday.

Both formats will be around for a long time.

I also don’t know where people are seeing these high prices on the Toshiba’s. $300 is the retail price for the A3, but who spends retail for anything these days? You can find an A2 or A3 at online vendors & at Sears for $169- $179 with 5-7 free movies. The Trek set can be acquired at Deepdiscountdvd.com for $106 with the 20% off coupon. $170 at Bestbuy.com is quite high for this set when even amazon has it for $132.

I would not hold my breath for a BD release. Paramount recently dropped them, so there will not be a BD release of this title anytime soon. The reality is that Blu-ray has just as much a chance of failing as HD-DVD. No one is “winning” here. Neither format has caught on with the public on a mass level, and there will be NO winner if/until this happens. I do not think people realize how long it took for the production house I worked at took to crank out this set just for HD-DVD. If HD-DVD were suddenly to drop off the Earth tomorrow, I can almost guarantee you that you still wouldn’t likely see this set for years.

For the time being, If you are interested in Trek in HD, this set is the only way to go.

Unless HD-DVD starts to see some serious growth in software sales soon folks would be ill-advised in purchasing one. When people have asked me about the HD wars I’ve told them to wait until after Christmas to make a decision. I think this Christmas will make or break the format. Toshiba is selling the players at huge losses and if there isn’t a serious uptick in software it’s only a matter of time before they bail. The fact that they are the ONLY company selling HD_DVD players while Blu Ray has 5 manufacturers says alot about how bad Toshiba’s business plan is.

Paramount is only backing HD, and not blu-ray

Are any players being made that support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray?

I’d like to know how Matt was able to screen-capture these 1920×1080 images. Isn’t it supposed to be impossible to hack HD-DVDs?

Gene Coon was the Better Gene

I’d like to officially join the TMP HD petition. What is the deal? When can we see a clean copy?

Here’s an idea; release TMP on HD DVD in November 2008, and schedule some theater screenings of TMP (ala The Menagerie) just before Thanksgiving 2008 to build hype for the new ST for Christmas.

Great idea #49!

But come on guys!! Where are the new shots of the unseen episodes?

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