REVIEW – Star Trek: The Animated Series on Blu-ray

Holodecks, Klingon cloaking devices, de-aged crew members, old crew members restored by the transporter, a Native American officer — all things from Star Trek of the 80’s forward right? Nope. All of these things and more (50ft. Spock!) can be found in Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS) which arrives in a stand-alone Blu-ray set this week in North America.

Editor’s note: We’re very pleased to have Aaron Harvey, friend of TrekMovie, huge TAS fan, and TAS expert, write our review of the new Blu-ray set. Aaron hosts an excellent podcast dedicated to TAS (and Trek in the 70s) for Trek.fm called Saturday Morning Trek.

The Blu-ray set features all 22 episodes, presented in 1080p HD, spread across three discs, with audio and text commentaries, storyboard galleries and a 24 minute documentary that includes interviews with TAS creators, as well as 22 poster-style cards, one for each episode, created by artist Juan Ortiz.

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Star Trek: The Animated Series originally known simply as Star Trek but also known by the palindromic mouthful of Star Trek: The Animated Series — The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek is the 1973 animated Star Trek that is the defacto fourth season of the Enterprise’s original five year mission.

The series was critically acclaimed, it was the first Star Trek series to win an Emmy Award, and the stories still hold up today. Writers from Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) penned many of the episodes so it has that original series feel even though it was made for Saturday morning television.

And speaking of Saturday morning television, let’s address the animated pink elephant in the room so we can move on. I spend a large majority of my time when I talk about TAS defending Filmation, the animation studio that created the show. People wish someone else had animated it because it would have been “so much better”. Have you seen other cartoons from the early 70s? ANY Saturday morning cartoons from ANY other animation company? None of them hold up to our current standards of animation. Batman The Animated Series, Justice League, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, those were all decades away. TAS is of its time, but if you really pay attention you notice very few repeating backgrounds, unlike The Flintstones where they run and pass the same building over and over and over again, and the backgrounds are gorgeous. The characters are dead on including getting certain facial expressions down pat and Kirk even balls up his right hand when he rests it on the arm of the captain’s chair, just like in TOS. So I hope people will be able to project themselves back to a time when this was the new Star Trek on TV and have fun!

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I own the DVD should I get the Blu-ray?

Unless you just got the DVD on a lark, if you purposefully sought out The Animated Series and intend to watch it again, that’s an emphatic yes!

Video Quality

The video, presented in the original TV 4:3 ratio, is glorious! If you have watched TAS on Netflix you’ve had a preview of the what the Blu-ray is like, but even I was unprepared for the clarity and vibrancy. The colors pop and you can see line and background detail that is mushy on the DVD.

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Audio Quality

The audio has a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track in 5.1 surround, and for the purist there’s an option for a mono Dolby Digital sound track. It sounds extremely clear, no scratches or pops. The clarity of the music and voices given the technological limits of the recordings of the 1970s, and the inconsistency of the recording devices as from time to time the actors would record while on the road, is quite good!

It’s so clean and clear, in fact at times the sound effects feel a bit more overwhelming, but this may just be a TOS/TAS preference of those behind the scenes.

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Bonus Content

Disc 1

  • Text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “Yesteryear”
  • Audio commentary by David Gerrold for “More Tribbles, More Troubles”
  • Storyboard gallery for “The Infinite Vulcan”

Disc 2

  • Text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “The Eye of the Beholder”

Disc 3

  • Audio commentary by David Gerrold for “BEM”
  • Audio commentary by David Wise for “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”
  • Text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda for “The Counter-Clock Incident”
  • “Show History” – a brief introduction to the show.
  • “Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series” – a look at the production’s history as well as its place in Star Trek history.
  • “What’s the Star Trek Connection?” – shows how TAS ties into other Star Trek series

 

Here’s where the Blu-ray falls down. OK, let me walk that back. If you don’t own the DVD, these extras are fine. They were shot and created in 2006 and nothing has been done to them to upgrade them. The short “Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series” is a good overview of the series. The text commentaries were created by Mike and Denise Okuda who love the animated series as much as anyone, and even incorporated parts of TAS into the TOS Remastered project.

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The “connections” vignettes are nice and the storyboard galleries are interesting to compare to the final version, but there is a lot more they could have done.

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A look at the Alan Dean Foster’s “Log” series adaptations of the episodes into novels, new episode commentaries, early script drafts, even a ‘remaster’ of the 1970s “Keep America Beautiful” PSA staring the animated cast and a trip to the “Rhombian Pollution Belt”. I started working on cleaning it up a few months back but without a good source copy it’s kind of fruitless. But there was a lot of low budget extras that could have been added. Much to my delight there is no dearth of people who want to talk about their time working on TAS.

New to the set are 22 colorful poster-style cards, one for each episode, created by Juan Ortiz. I really like Ortiz’s style, but he didn’t really nail the concepts like he did for TOS. For example “One of Our Planets is Missing” a quintessential original Star Trek story about a living cloud that devours planets. All the crew works together, everyone gets a chance to shine and after Spock does a “Vulcan mind-touch” with the cloud they convince it not to eat the planet. So the poster is a Andy Warhol-esque picture set of Lt. Arex? Don’t get me wrong, they look great, but I don’t feel they capture the episodes as well as his TOS sets did.

Packaging

I have to say this is where the DVD has an advantage. The DVD comes in a hard shell with a translucent Trek delta and all of the extras are clearly spelled out on the included booklet. It’s really nicely built.

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The Blu-ray comes in a cardboard box, the Ortiz cards come in a very nice, slick black cardboard pouch, but the discs are in that standard thin blue plastic case that every Blu-ray comes in and you have to look through each episode on the menu to find the extras (we’ve noted what each disc holds in the Bonus Content section, to make things easier to find). Granted, it’s a bit thinner and will disappear on a bookshelf easier, but I really liked the attention to design put into the DVD case. I may get a used DVD set and put the Blu-ray in there.

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So, should you get it? Yes! If you are a fan of the animated series or even just a completist and want to have all the Trek media on your shelf it’s a great addition. Is it disappointing we didn’t get new extras? sure, but the quality of the audio and video is pretty good compensation! Besides, you know you want to see Kirk, Spock and the devil have a pint of ale!

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My kids have recently become quite interested in TAS. I didn’t even have to push them that way, it just happened naturally. They saw the Animated series picture on Netflix and wanted to know what it was. The episodes might sometimes be a little more scary than Paw Patrol but I actually feel a lot better about them watching a cartoon like TAS than all the other drivel out there.

Would be great if CBS / Paramount were on top of things like this and got an animated Kelvin Universe series going with the movie cast. I could see an animation style like the one used in Archer working splendidly. It would harken back to TAS a bit, but look spectacular.

There was a Kelvin universe cartoon pitched (we are going to talk about it on the podcast) but it didn’t pan out sadly.

If you’re going to do an animated show in today’s market I wouldn’t suggest going the Archer route. Archer works because, well it’s Archer. The same way that Family Guy works because it’s Family Guy and South Park as well. For Trek and the multiple audiences it could reach, you do want it to visually look great if it’s animated. I look at Star Wars and their animated series. Clone Wars and Rebels both got it right and the visuals look great. Their shows are able to cross pollinate between age groups and really appeal to all of them. The same goes for the DC animated series and animated movies.

Well, I didn’t mean a direct copy of how Archer looks but rather the bold lines and likenesses. It would feel like there was a bit of a lineage between the original animated series, with the added benefit of actually looking spectacular. It could look like an animated comic book.

I personally dislike the style of the Star Wars cartoons.

I don’t think I am the only one who would love to see some of these re-worked into more contemporary pieces with the same audio tracks, but state-of-the-art animation.

agreed,as long as ,you don’t do a lucas

How true! Others may not dare to hope. And some will disparage changing things. But me, as a besotted fan of TOS (TAS), I can think of no better money spent, nothing I’d dig more than a reimagining of TAS with new state-of-the-art animation.

The hard shell DVD package has not aged well. Originally white, mine is now a yellowish cream color.

Odd, mine is brilliant white still. The cardboard part may be a bit more yellow however.

mine to,the case was not in direct sunlight

Mine was well looked after and kept out of sunlight, but is now yellow. The packaging was rubbish anyway! It looked nice, but was utterly impractical. The same with the TOS earlier release. Loads of plastic with the discs dumped in some taped-together inlay trays in a bit of card.

Mine did okay, but the plastic DVD locking mechanisms for the individual discs did not fare so well in the move.

Aaron Harvey,

After reading the disastrous things Hallmark did with its Filmation archives in general, I am curious as to exactly what source materials Paramount retained of it in their personal STAR TREK archives and how it was cleaned up for this set of blu-rays?

The story has long been that the original music could never be released as a CD box set because the audio masters simply no longer exist. If true, how was a “lossless” 5.1 surround audio mastered for this set?

Just because it is presented in 5.1 “lossless” doesn’t mean it started that way. Lossless just means the compression doesn’t lose anything from the source, whatever the source may be. And I’m pretty sure it’s from the broadcast medium, but I am doing some research to see if I can answer the question. I know it’s the same source that they worked from for the DVD in 2006, whatever that was.

This is the same scan of the film they did in 2006 for the DVD set, they did the scan at HD resolution. That’s how Netflix has been able to offer HD streaming versions of TAS for a few years now. CBS has never really talked about where the 35mm film that they scanned came from, that I can find.

The audio wasn’t remastered from original elements, because as you said the isolated elements don’t seem to exist any more. However there are no claims of the audio being remastered. You seem to be conflating how the audio data is stored on disc with the idea of remastering the source audio.

The term “lossless” is about data compression. It has nothing to do with the source audio in-and-of-itself. It simply means whatever the source was, it is stored on disc with a lossless algorithm, so the data (bits) end up coming out bit-for-bit the same as it was when the master digital audio track was fed into the disc authoring software at the studio.

Aaron & Matt Wright,

Re: I am doing some research to see if I can answer the question

Tanks. Your efforts are much appreciated.

Re: The audio has a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track in 5.1 surround, and for the purist there’s an option for a mono Dolby Digital sound track.

That statement implies that somehow there’s a difference between the two, mono Dolby Digital and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 surround, sound tracks.

If I heard correctly, and Matt says I did, then there’s no difference between the two audio options as the only surviving source for both was the original mono mixed track. I was merely trying to ascertain why there was an implication that the “purist” option was somehow different and why the lossless edition differed noticeably from it somehow?

Given the sparsity of extras, I’m surprised CBS didn’t find the making of the set itself worthy of documenting and including as such?

No you’re still missing something.

As mentioned, the mono verson is there for purists, as that’s how TAS was broadcast originally. There is also a 5.1 surround mix, this is something CBS Home Entertainment created in 2006.

Mentioning the lossless part is two fold:
1. It’s a marketing thing, pretty much all Blu-rays have a lossless track, since they have plenty of storage space.
2. The DVD version of the 5.1 track is compressed into lossy standard Dolby Digital, so it is technically an upgrade in the data storage technology of the audio.

The “losssless” jargon isn’t the part the focus on.

The important difference between the two soundtracks is mono versus 5.1 surround.

Matt Wright,

Re: No you’re still missing something.

Ah, I think I get it. You are saying even though both still had only the mono mix to work from, the DVD audio techs were able to trick up a 5.1 surround mix out of it. But other than an added creative speaker placement positioning of some of the sounds and dialogue, there’s no qualitative audio difference between the two of the 1970s’ final audio mix source?

Ah, I think I get it. You are saying even though both still had only the mono mix to work from, the DVD audio techs were able to trick up a 5.1 surround mix out of it.

Right.

But other than an added creative speaker placement positioning of some of the sounds and dialogue, there’s no qualitative audio difference between the two of the 1970s’ final audio mix source?

Not sure I’d say they’re the same. They’re similar. The 5.1 track sounds a bit better simply because of it being mixed to try to sweeten things up a little and add a little bit of bass to things, plus add some surround activity, mix the music into surrounds, etc. The mono is of course, just mono.

Paramount, as the rights holder had sets of master elements on STAR TREK and THE BRADY KIDS and those were never in the filmation archives, but safe in the hands of Paramount. Similar situation with Warner Brothers and The DC Superhero Cartoons filmation produced in the 1960’s and MGM/UA/Turner and the Gilligan animated series. (Now also held by Warners)

Herb, thank you! My regular contacts are either out of town or otherwise occupied so I hadn’t heard back. I suspected as much, but didn’t want to say without some more solid information. I know all the raw cells have been scattered to the wind (and with random backgrounds which makes collecting a pain), but figured there had to be a master somewhere.

What about He-Man?

If you like TAS, I guess that’s a good thing for you. When we were watching Star Trek in chronological order*, with the exception of 2 TAS episodes (“Yesteryear” and “More Tribbles, More Troubles”), we really didn’t like the series. The sound effects were later destined for the video arcade coin-op game “Asteroids” and the episode that paints Lucifer as a good, but just a misunderstood guy, really didn’t sit right in a Christian family. By that time, we’d pretty much cemented our low opinion of that particular series and were just wanting to get it done asap and move on to TMP.

* We followed a chronology I found on the internet and watched all of Star Trek from “Enterprise Season 1” to “Voyager Season 7” (with “The Cage,” TOS and all the movies and series in order as they would have occurred, in the middle). We got done only about a month before “ST09” hit the theaters. We’re now doing it again, and so far we’ve gotten through TOS-R Season 1 and are waiting for our TOS-R Season 2 to arrive. The new FX in S1 were really hit and miss. We’re hoping S2 to be a bit more established as to what they’re doing with them.

Piss on the christians, even that idiot that wrote the Narnia books!
The base image of Lucien/Lucifer was taken from Greek mythology, Satyrs, {with Centaurs},
that were even in the Narnia books. The visual representations were also in error, as Lucifer was a fallen angel, the first son of god, and the one who led a rebellion. So should be depicted to be every bit as beautiful as an angel, which again was derived from Greek mythology creatures called Cherubs, {aka Cupid}. Indeed there is nothing original at all in christianity or the other two Abrahamist religions. Mere creations of the mealy-mouths to set up patriarchal systems.

I get what you’re saying but there is much more respectful ways to say what you’re saying. It may not be your belief (or mine) but let’s keep it civil. Thanks!

@GRumpy

Ignore Mr. Browncoat. Some people love to attack any and all mentions of religion, even if it was simply a passing reference. The tolerant left tolerates all things except those that counter their beliefs, or lack thereof. Good luck with the chronological order!

And painting the left or right with one sweeping brush is not any better.

Respectfully, just how tolerant was it of you to proudly state that your christian views made it impossible for you to accept a simple plot-device within a Saturday-morning cartoon from 1973? Since I have many friends, who practice various religious faiths, I prefer to refrain from talking down another person’s beliefs. However, once anyone asserts those beliefs as the primary reason to arbitrarily condemn other people’s art, beliefs, morals or sexuality, then haven’t they invited the criticism upon themselves?

Just FYI the special effects for the remastered weren’t done season by season, but all at once on the same project timeline. And episodes like “The Trouble With Tribbles” were done first and the very last episode they worked on was “The Cage” so they effects were not done sequentially from first to last episode.

I was amazed they got the Lucian/Lucifer thing on the air, but absolutely loved they managed to do so. Wish it had been in a better episode, but man, it got folks in jr high talking that next week, and I was eating it up!

Larry Brody originally wanted it to be god but the networks said no, they switched it to the devil and it was ok’d. They also got no calls of complaints as far as he or Dorothy Fontana heard.

Glad its been released but Hate the cover, hard to tell what it is from a distance & the Art on the back looks like a photocopy of a photocopy.
The art cards are ok but I’d rather have a portfolio of cards with art from the series or production. Paramount cheaped-out using Fan Art.

I still want STAR TREK: REANIMATED…. ditch the terrible 70’s animation and just lay the old soundtrack over new CGI work. I do like the background art and use of bright colors, but can’t stand the constant recycling of the same shots, and all the static scenes were only mouths move.

I wouldn’t mind seeing new animation in ADDITION to the “terrible 70’s animation” (which my friends who worked at Filmation and I would argue about your description) but not ditching the original all together. The ‘constant recycling’ was actually innovative in the industry. They manually created the equivalent of computer macros that allowed them to put pieces together to create animation that would be prohibitively time intensive if re-drawn every time–remember the majority of the money was going to the voice actors making it the most expensive cartoon on TV at the time. And Filmation’s feature length films like Flash Gordon The Greatest Adventure of All (1979) are on par with the other non-Disney features of the time.

Not to say that Filmation was doing any worse than HB, but this time period was really the nadir of the art. Budgets were tiny, the market shrinking, feature animation was dead, the star animators and voice artists were getting elderly, the whole xerography-inking work looked terrible, lots of youngsters without classical training, no CGI assists yet, etc. Thank God Trek had the best writers available and not the Evanier-level drek of the era.

Despite my other criticisms, I definitely applaud the character designer who captured the actors’ likenesses extremely well.

Of course, they could always do STAR TREK: RE-ANIMATOR, with Jeffrey Combs in the lead… [gdr]

UGH, not CGI. The Archer style of animation would work nicely and kind of echo the original animated series. comment image?itok=ZYWwgjHk

I don’t see Capt. Archer in that cel, but I do see ’09 Uhura and a whole lot of Trump supporters!

I was wondering…. Is there a reason they did not/could not use the original music in TAS? Anyone?

It probably would have cost more more money than they wanted to spend, especially with Roddenberry taking his unjust 50% cut from Courage.

Why ‘unjust”? Roddenberry created and produced the show. Without him, Courage wouldn’t have earned a thin dime.

Anthony Thompson,

Re: Why ‘unjust”?

Good question, since Courage himself has said in several interviews that it was just business and didn’t bother him in the least. In fact, the only dig he consistently makes about it is he wished Roddenberry was a better lyricist so that they’d have both made more money from them by having a hit song.

Well if you consider the company GR keeps in taking co-credit on themes from composers, the name that comes to mind is Glen ‘Larceny’ Larson (ALIAS SMITH AND JONES from BUTCH CASSIDY, MCCLOUD from COOGAN’S BLUFF and if you do any research, you can find plenty more), who did this with Stu Phillips’ GALACTICA music. So whether it is business as usual, it still doesn’t demonstrate ethical behavior. Then again this country doesn’t seem to appreciate ethics unless it is in some digestible form like Peck in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or not eating the talking pig because he is so cute in BABE.

Anthony Thompson,

Re: Why ‘unjust”?

As I said and verified by STAR TREK FACT CHECK:

http://trekmovie.com/2016/11/17/forgotten-roddenberry-genesis-ii/#comment-5329642

Even a semi-slime like James Cameron didn’t take credit away from Horner on TITANIC, though from your stance I guess he’d’ve been entitled, since he spearheaded the project. Maybe there’s some way GR could have stiffed the cast for some of their meager residuals that would also fall under your, ‘without me you wouldn’t have earned a dime on this show’ notion?

Cameron did take money and time away from Horner’s score on Aliens to put it into special effects.

The publishing would have been owned by Paramount and had to be licensed, and the original score recordings would have had to have been licensed, as well as AFM Union payments made to the musicians to re-use them in another series. Much less expensive to create new original compositions and recordings — which were possibly performed non-Union. It is still impressive “orchestral” music for a Saturday morning cartoon, something Rodenberry likely insisted on. It’s actually a nice change of pace over what had become all to familiar during most of the first three seasons.

I figured it was something like that. It was just HUGELY disappointing NOT to hear the traditional 9 note fanfare at the beginning. Instead, we got that slightly different version that just reeked of “this is as close as we can legally get to the original”.

I will be getting this. It would have been nice to get a reanimated version of TAS. Add the computer game episodes from the 1990s and presto, we get the final two years of the five year mission. I also am a fan of the animation of TAS. I have always liked how well they got the characters to look like their real like counterparts. I wouldn’t mind seeing the computer game episodes end up look like the original TAS animation. If it was cheaper to do; do it.

Apart from the pilots, TOS begins about a year into the mission. So TAS would be year five.

By the way, official chronology for a while had the second pilot a year into the mission and the next episode a year after that. Some claimed that was deliberately to remove the possibility of TAS fitting in. Now the more logical chronology- the second pilot six months in, the next episode six months later- gives us a year for TAS at the end.

In my mind, The second pilot is very early in the five year mission. The Corbomite Manuever is just a couple of months later. Maybe 1-2 months or maybe 3-4 months later. Enough time to get a change in the uniforms and bring in Dr. McCoy, Uhura and Rand as the new crew members. Also, I do not think that the five year mission ended right at 5 years. It probably lasted longer than that. Five years and six months or so. Plenty of time to consider TAS as around the 4th year and the Computer Games as the 5th year. It does not really matter. TOS lasted 3 years(79-80 episodes), TAS lasted the equivalent of one year(22 episodes). The games, if we include 25th Anniversary (7episodes) Judgment Rites(8 episodes) and Secret of Vulcan Fury(5 episodes according to Dorothy Fontana),equal about 20 episodes which would be the 5th year.

It’s interesting when you think about the correct chronology. It was the first real series episode but was the tenth to air. And one of the main plot points was really a continuing thread from the second pilot. In his attempt to replace Gary Mitchell, Kirk was overzealously pushing Lt. Bailey toward a nervous breakdown. This gets lost in the shuffle, especially since we regularly see various crewmembers at the helm or navigation station without any comment.

I remember watching the “Keep America Beautiful” TAS public information ‘film’ and the “Rhombian Pollution Belt” on TV when I was a kid in the States and wondered if it would be in the DVD, but was disappointed when I found that it was not. Now, again, it seems it was forgotten in this attempt; shame as it was a nice vignette. Is it available on the web? The theme reminded me of Nimoy’s song “A Visit to a Sad Planet”, but in that case it was the population of Earth that had wiped itself out, not through pollution, but nuclear war.

It’s right in this post.

Pollution moves at warp 6?

A subspace eddy? It moved a Bajoran light ship to warp should be able to do the same to garbage I suppose!

Is there any discussion to have TAS available on ITunes?

CORRECTION needed on the “first Star Trek series to win an Emmy award” line. See Marc Cushman’s “These Are the Voyages”, Vol. 3. “The Tholian Web” received the original series’ one and only Emmy award, in recognition for the visual effects in that episode.

Sorry, I should have scrolled down, you beat me to it.

Don’t rely on Cushman to get you FACTS, dude. THOLIAN was nominated, it didn’t win. There are plenty of sources that claim otherwise, but since he gets his history second and third hand and often distorts what is first-generation, he is not the go-to for any of this kind of stuff.

You are wrong, Kev. Cushman never definitively wrote that the effects had won an Emmy. But you wouldn’t know that. Because you have never read the book. You get all your info second and third hand and often distort what is first generation.

That’s right, I won’t read the book, for all the reasons I’ve cited, usually while disputing your own (mis)history of events.

But I’m QUITE interested in your ‘never definitively wrote’ line. So does he hint it won an emmy, or just say there is rumor to that effect? Either would suggest no scholarship at all, since all anybody – not just me – has to do is type in emmys.com and spend 30 seconds finding what happened in the 60s awardwise.

As for your 2nd/3rd crack … I’d love to see you point to something that I got from the great folks at startrekfactcheck — who are genuine scholars, not fastbuck artists — that I distorted in ANY way shape or form. In fact, I’d like you to try to find any distortions in the 300 or so published articles I’ve done in the last 26 years – you’ll find a few errors, a few omissions, and some crazy goofs introduced by a lame editor or two in the 1990s — but one thing I do NOT do is print the legend, ANY legend, unless I am reporting it AS such.

However, distorting 1st gen sources does seem to be Cushman’s thing, given he had access to documents that others have also now checked, and found don’t mesh with his accounting/reporting. So the invention and spin seems to be that ‘author’s’ — what’s the explanation for that, if not incompetence mixed with an intent to deceive?

Very good! Guess this is a good time as ever to review this dear old cartoon series.

I have such affection for this show. It takes me back to Saturday mornings when it stood out like a star against everything else. (Has anyone binge-watched “Scooby’s Laff-a-lympics” anytime recently? I mean anyone on earth. I think the answer is no.)

I wonder if they managed to extract the soundtrack from the original audio. The musical cues — that they used over and over again — have etched themselves indelibly into my brain.

In research for our “Supercrew” episode I think I watched any 70s cartoon I could find including that!

I don’t know for certain but the music has been used so much over the course of the shows that there has to be the ability to stitch together ever moment where someone isn’t speaking over the music to create a clean(er) soundtrack. There’s also the ability to remove dialog with audio editing so combine those 2 ideas and maybe that’s how? That’s on my list of questions to ask the team who did the blu-ray.

Glad that they’ve created ‘archive’ HD versions of these old shows. I watched a lot of the old Filmation shows when I was very young, in the late 1970s, but I don’t remember seeing TAS. I remember Space Sentinels and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle very well, with that rotating Sutherland-Scheimer (I think) rotating name credit. So sad to hear Hallmark trashed so many of the original materials from these shows. It was a bad enough thing to do in the pre-home video era, but by the mid-1990s, there’s no excuse. It’s no dismissal of the work of the original animation artists when I say that I’d like to see new animation created to go along with the soundtracks of the shows. There are some cracking stories and, given the amount of visual reference material for the original actors in character, there’s a chance to add a range of facial expression and body language that can lift what can seem otherwise somewhat stilted vocal performances. Along with that, some of the obvious multiple uses of James Doohan and Majel Barrett for other characters’ voices can be reduced with some additional voice actors. On top of that, if there are 22 episodes that can be rebuilt with modern animation, why not hire a new production team and voice actors to make more episodes after these have been done? You can probably find someone who can do an imitation of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty in every pub in the the English… Read more »

The biggest problem is TAS isn’t the animation or the scripts (though those could be really bad) but the acting. Everyone is very obviously just reading the dialogue off the page in a take or two. It almost seems like it’s the first time they’re seeing it. Shatner, especial, has no intonation or any of his usual rhythm. That’s why it would be pointless to take the audio and attempt a reanimation in cel or CG. The low energy of the visuals at least matches the audio as is. I can’t imagine these mellow performances on something action packed.

I think, perhaps, this is a problem across the board with animation: just because someone is a good screen actor, doesn’t mean he is necessarily a good radio or animation voice actor. It’s a very specific skill. We see cartoons being churned out left, right and centre with celebrity actors lending their voices when there are likely much better voice actors out who aren’t known faces.

However, a lot can be done in a sound mix to lift aspects of the performances. I bet Shatner would love to return to revoice Kirk, anyway – I hear he’s playing Two-Face in the next Batman ’66 movie with Adam West and Burt Ward.

The same problem is, to a lesser extent, on the two Star Trek computer games of the 90’s – 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites. The games are enjoyable especially with the voice acting but there’s something about it and I think you hit the nail on the head – they are reading from a script into a mic in a sound booth with no real context of what’s going on. Not the actors fault per se but a result of the disconnection from the actors to the material. Doesn’t seem to be an issue with a lot of modern animation but it seems apparent here.

I remember seeing a couple of episodes when I was a kid in the 70’s and I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up on Netflix. . . then I started watching some episodes. Oh dear God this cartoon is horrrrrrrrrrrible. It was so bad I actually watched Nemesis and Insurrection to clean my palate. To spend good hard earned money on blurays or dvd’s of this kids cartoon is. . . not logical.

To each his own. “Yesteryear” consistently shows up on “Best Trek Episodes” lists so many people do like it.

I tried to watch it and got half way through. Just wasn’t interesting. I did see what appeared to be the basis for Spock’s childhood teasing and bullying about his being half human which made it into the 09 Trek.

I really wanted to love the Blu-ray version, but the sharpness and clarity of the Blu-ray is TAS’s undoing, imo. This is the review I wrote on Amazon.com:

“The video quality and audio in this brand new Blu-ray edition of “Star Trek: The Animated Series” is exceptional. The picture is rendered in a clarity that could only have been dreamed of back in the ’70s when this show was produced. Therein lies the problem. Filmation tended to use and reuse their animation cells a LOT, and they would eventually get dirty, scratched, etc. On broadcast TV of the day, these flaws would never have been noticed. With the sharpness of modern HD televisions and media, these flaws become glaring. Each scratch and grain of dirt just “pops” out and, at least for me, makes for an unpleasant viewing experience! You’d think that, for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, CBS would’ve cleaned the video up for an AMAZING HD presentation but, sadly, that isn’t the case. The DVDs have these same flaws, but they’re not as noticeable. My advice is what I put in the headline: Save your money and buy the DVD set!”

I’ve really been enjoying MeTV’s new 14:9 aspect ration presentation of Trek, and other 4:3 SD series.

By the way, has this ever been covered on this forum? It’s an amazing poster for the 50th Anniversary.

http://www.dustyabell.com/products/poster

Curious Cadet,

I find their compromise oddly acceptable. I think it’s because I was an a/v guy that repaired and adjusted monitors and sets where I discovered the vast majority of them left the factory set to overscan because it created the impression the screen was larger than it actually was. This is sort of the MeTV’s version and I’m fairly sure most shows were produced back then fully aware that most sets overscanned cutting off some of the top and botton, so as a presentation this compromise doesn’t annoy me as much as their other attempts.

Yes, TVs in the 1960s did not allow for display of the overscan area, in fact many cut into the TV-safe area, if not by adjustment, by the frame bezel around the screen. I have long argued that the current framing we see in the DVD and BluRay scans already destroys the picture composition we were meant to see. When the original shots were framed in the camera viewfinder, they viewed them through a ground glass plate that marked the area that would end up on TV. In the example I’ve attached of an original 35mm film frame from TOS, the red outlined area is the Academy Aperture. The yellow outline is the TV scan area, and the green out-line indicates the only part of the shot guaranteed to end up on TV. The red-shaded area is therefore a protection, in case someone’s TV was adjusted inappropriately. Often, this area was not even kept clear of foreign elements to the shot, such as microphones, further confirming this idea.

What the 14:9 aspect ratio does is essentially crop the shot from the top and bottom, down to the TV Action Safe area — the only area guaranteed to be seen on a TV in the 1960s. If you compare the full frame shot to the crop, it’s obvious how much wasted vertical space there is in the shot, while at the same time, there’s much more horizontal information. While this is going to vary from shot to shot, with the exception of close-ups, I’d say there’s almost always too much wasted vertical space in TOS. It’s particularly painful when they try to capture several characters spread out horizontally, especially when two widely spaced characters are barely in frame, with tons of wasted vertical space where nothing interesting is being framed. So, again, the cropped-out vertical overscan area was never meant to be seen in the first place. So yes, it’s an arbitrary decision to show only the horizontal overscan area to the sides, but arguably there’s much more interesting imagery there, which gives the TV safe imagery some much needed breathing space, while simultaneously eliminating wasted, uninteresting vertical imagery, and helping tighten the viewer’s focus. And it helps fill modern TV screens, without cropping any original framing. And it can’t go unnoticed that there’s even more information available in the area outside the TV scan area, which is pretty consistent in Academy Aperture frames — note the top and bottom are the areas to avoid due to variances aperture… Read more »

Often, of course, US shows were shot wide enough to be cropped to 1.66:1 for European cinema screenings. The scanning for HD has long been an issue for me: all too often, boom microphones and the types of cycloramas slip into shots where, naturally, they shouldn’t be visible. I spotted a mic watching Encounter at Farpoint and it’s very common watching the 1960s Avengers shows.

It’s so silly and only requires a bit of commonsense either during telecine or during mastering.

Actually, TNG was especially sloppy, and one of the reasons that they couldn’t do a wider screen crop of the film, which used a wider frame than TOS per the example below:

And this shows how messy the frames often were …

Lou Scheimer worked hard to keep animation by Filmation in the United States. He did an amazing job with this show and many many others!

Well they could have at least painted the eyes their own color. TAS is such an interesting anomaly and unlikely detour in Trek history that it’s hard not to have an affection for it. And as many have observed the scripts are often good, if abbreviated, Trek. There’s just something… dead about it. The animation usually takes the brunt of the criticism but the show’s problems are more all-encompassing. The sound is just somehow off. Seemingly endless pauses between lines, scant ambiance, discordant, arbitrary music, a lifeless mix… And those performances. As with most animation the actors were recorded separately, which might account for a certain listlessness. The fact that most were not voice actors can’t have helped either — in animation you have to exaggerate a bit and if anything this cast went the other way. All I know is it all adds up to a show that reeks of nobody involved with it having any fun. Watching it, both back in the day and now, it always just kind of bounces off my eyeballs. Some have suggested the whole thing could be re-animated using CG and made much more exciting. There would still be the blah sound to overcome but maybe that can be helped too if the original elements survive. A quick footnote about the novelizations: Alan Dean Foster did a perfectly fine job with his “Star Trek Log” books, but when the show was canceled late into his book series he seems to have realized he… Read more »

On the fence. Amazon has so few actual reviews of this series on BD! But the few that exist are hardly kind. The episodes are re-mastered, but NO form of restoration was performed on the prints. 1 reviewer claimed the video playback reveals aged images with same flaws from frequently used cels, it glaring revealing marks, scratches, etc. When I pop my DVD set in my Blu-ray player viewing on my 46″ HDTV……it looks ok, but it’s obvious flaws are evident in the prints to me. Grainy painted cels, matting is charming to these 58yo eyes…..but this series was NEVER meant to perform on anything other than dated old school analog tv screens. I can appreciate the BD may make the colors pop, but also the flaws in the less than stellar animation( barely adequate cel painting…especially background plates) process utilized. The static character/planets/Enterprise cels when compelled to simulate movement against a back ground cel definitely reveals slight variations in filmation quality. I personally find that my dvd’s are quite serviceable, and is a blessing in that it is more forgiving on a HD tv in relation to a Blu-ray upgrade……..and not necessarily a better aspect to view a dated cartoon circa 1973-74.

Yes, this set fails somewhat in terms of extras; some more new content would have been nice. But the main disappointment for me is no effort made to clean up the image. I couldn’t say I expected them to go frame-by-frame and remove all the little light specks. The traveling specks that are part of the moving animation cells would, I assume, have to be removed laboriously. And that may be too much to ask of an old cartoon made for TV. But such a clean up would have been a welcome surprise and a substantive way that the Bluray edition could have added value for those buying the series a second time. I don’t think a review of the Bluray release is complete without informing the potential buyer that those pesky specks remain flittering about the screen in abundance. Also, isn’t the sound a bit out of sync, especially during the first episode?

That said, as a besotted fan (especially of TOS Trek), TAS looking sharper than ever is well worth the price. Next phase, a totally redone state-of-the-art reanimation effort? Well . . . I can dream can’t I?

I’m shocked that the audio is noticeably out of sync in most episodes. This is surprising since the audio was matched up very well on the DVD set. WTF happened?

I found that on a blu-ray player it’s not out of synch, on Playstation a little out of synch and on an external drive connected to a computer running the disc through an app, the most out of synch. It seems like more of a hardware issue than software. I’ve noticed the same thing on other blu-ray discs on ocasion.

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