Ok, I got this box set and I've been loving it. The image quality is variable, but that's due to the show's low budget. On one episode there were a few instances of dirt on the film, but it generally looks brand new. (I've only watched about two disks worth so far, and it's a seven disk set.) According to the documentary on the first disk about the making of this set, they used tools like Photoshop to sharpen and improve the contrast, and fix scratches and other defects on the old footage to make it look new - and to a very great extent they succeeded. I've done restoration of old photographs in Photoshop, so I know what they went through to make it look this good. Fixing scratches and other blemishes required working on it frame by frame.
Color rendition is perfect. When it's sharp - which is most of the time - it is as good as any Blue-ray movie based on a film master. The show's style called for soft focus on faces of women, unless the shot also included a male lead. Exterior "beauty shots" of the Enterprise are sometimes soft due to the old optical printing technique used to combine images, except in the updated effects shots. The CGI version of the original TV Starship Enterprise is beautiful, with detailed hull plating that makes it look real.
The main effects that were updated were outer space images, either full-frame or on the bridge viewscreen, and more-realistic looking painted backgrounds (often outside windows). Effects that involve actors and real sets have been left alone, so hand-phaser bolts and transporter beam-outs and materializations look (and sound) the same as always. (However, according to the documentary, the shots in The Naked Time
where Scotty used a hand phaser to cut through a bulkhead was actually missing a visible phaser beam - a mistake due to the pressures of producing a show a weak - so they supplied one.)
The story I've heard is that when Leonard Nimoy heard that they were updating the special effects, he called it a sacrilege, so they brought him in and showed him what they had done. He was delighted! (And so am I.) To use a familiar phrase here, the show has never looked this good before.
I first saw these episodes in syndication in the mid 1970s during the long diaspora between the show's cancellation and the release of the first film, so for me this is a case of revisiting old friends. (I use the word "diaspora" advisedly, since Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy were all Jewish.)
Here's my BD50 compatibility report (more on the episodes in this set after this):
Yes, Starfleet Access does work, if you've enabled Secondary Audio as I explained a few posts back (at http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post16582333
). Given the ancient soundtrack for most of an episode, there's no real loss of quality in doing so.
That's not to say there's been no updating of the soundtrack - for example, in Miri
(one of my favorites), when Spock is leading a pair of Security officers down an alley towards the camera, looking for the reclusive Onlies (the wild children), the offscreen jeer of "Nya Nya, Nya Nya Nya" that precedes the things thrown at them from the rooftops comes from the right rear of the listening room.
Season One contains many of the show's best episodes, including:The Naked Time
, which had Spock's soliloquy in an empty briefing room as he tried to fight off his own descent into madness,The Enemy Within
, with the very scary scene in which the "Id Kirk" tries to rape Yeoman Rand in her quarters - which communicates better than any lecture the violent nature of rape - and Spock's diagnosis of the situation to the "Superego Kirk," concluding with the sentence "If I sound unfeeling, Captain, please understand - it's the way I
am."Balance of Terror
, with Mark Lenard (who was later cast as Spock's father) on the viewscreen as the Romulan Captain, telling Kirk "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend" right before he destroys his own ship.Dagger of the Mind
, involving what looks suspiciously like electro-shock therapy in a mental institution.
The Conscience of The King
, a very Shakespearean episode.
The Galileo Seven,
in which Spock saves the day by reasoning that what is called for is an irrational act of desperation.
, in which Kirk is defended by Samuel T. Cogley, a cantankerous lawyer who, when Kirk enters his quarters and, finding it full of lawbooks, asks, "Couldn't you just use the computer?" tells Kirk "The law is in books!" (The implication being that online legal reporters can too easily be doctored. Talk about Trek
being ahead of its time - online legal research didn't even exist back then!)
, the two-parter that was built using most of the original pilot for the series that had been rejected as "too cerebral" - "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" Indeed.
starring Ricardo Montalban as Khan, which became the back-story for one of the best-loved Trek
films, The Wrath of Khan.
"But Chekhov wasn't even in the crew yet!" "Shhh!"
The Devil in the Dark
, hard-core classic sci-fi, a first-contact with an alien race - the Horta - that turns enmity to friendship and includes one of the earliest - and definitely the most poetic - of the Vulcan mind-melds: "Go, out into the passage. Enter the Vault of Tomorrow. Mourn for the murdered thousands. The thing you seek for is there." (dialog approximate.) Plus, of course, Doc McCoy's "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer" turning into "Jim, I'm beginning to think I could cure a rainy day!"
and, of course, the highly-controversial The City on the Edge of Forever
- beautiful and thought-provoking even in the version that was made out of Harlan Ellison's even more thought-provoking original script that had a villainous character being punished for all eternity for his one good deed
(to read Ellison's script, which won a sci-fi award on its own, and about his side of the controversy between Ellison and Roddenberry, see Ellison's book of the same title - and the marvelous set of comments about the book at Amazon). This is the episode that ends with Kirk saying, "Let's get the hell out of here."
As good as the other series were - and I liked them all - only this one will ever be referred to simply as Trek
As to the toggling between the old and new effects shots:
A) The BD50's remote does not have an Angle button, which is the fast and easy way to toggle.
B) Fortunately, however, the discs' programmers provided an alternative way to toggle between the two versions:
1) Tap the remote's POP-UP MENU button (above the arrow buttons)
2) When the menu interface appears, use the left arrow button to get to the left side of the control area, and the up arrow button to get to the top row of icons. This will light up a silhouette of a movie camera.
3) While the camera icon is lit up, press the OK button on the remote. That will toggle to the other version of the effects shot once you exit by pressing the POP-UP MENU button again.
4) If you want to confirm which version is selected, move right again to bring up the right-hand area, which will highlight the version of the episode you'll see - Enhanced or Original.
NOTE: Don't press OK here - that will restart the episode!
5) Once you exit the POP-UP MENU by tapping the key of the same name, you'll see the other version.
6) Unfortunately, you can't do this while playback is paused - it has to be running!
I haven't had any problems doing this. It's annoyingly slow to deal with, but it works. Once you've satisfied yourself that the new effects really are better, you won't bother with the toggle except to show it to friends who haven't seen this set before.
Haven't tested out the BD-Live functions because my player is in my basement theater and I haven't yet bought a WiFi print-server (with ethernet jacks) to connect the player to my home network, since I don't trust automatic firmware updates anyway. I suppose that if anything is going to make me hook the player into my network, it will be Trek
("The android at the bar said you can show me my ship, the Enterprise
- and no bloody B, C, or D!" - Scotty, in his guest shot on TNG) - which was
the reason I bought my first color TV 35 years ago!