Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek
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Boldly continuing where Star Trek: The Original Series left off, these animated adventures chart the progress of Captain Kirk and his crew in a universe unconstrained by "real-life" cinematography! With all characters voiced by their original actors, join Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew for 22 new adventures: to boldly go where no animation has gone before!
Star Trek: The Animated Series is often referred to as Star Trek's "fourth season" because it was created in 1973, four years after the third and final season of the original series, and because most of the original cast provided the voices. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett reprised their characters, and some contributed other voices as well. The only major omission was Walter Koenig's Chekov, who was replaced at the navigation console by Lieutenant Arex, the three-armed alien who most prominently represented the series' freedom to create non-humanoid characters. (Koenig did write an episode.) And while the animation is crude at best, the stories are solid sci-fi (penned by some of Star Trek's veteran writers including DC Fontana and David Gerrold, all of whom received prominent opening credits), explored the Star Trek mythos, and elevated the series above typical Saturday-morning fare. For example, "Yesteryear" goes back to Spock's early years on Vulcan, continuing some explorations from the original series' "Journey to Babel," and offers the familiar voice of Mark Lenard as Sarek. "One of Our Planets Is Missing" raises some interesting philosophical questions about the value of life, and "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Mudd's Passion" revisit favorite characters. Star Trek: The Animated Series lasted just barely over one season, but it won the franchise's only Emmy (for Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series in 1975) and some of its ideas were embraced by future series. Trekkers who know it only by reputation will find it a valuable part of the Star Trek canon. In addition to the series' 22 half-hour episodes, the DVD set includes "Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series," a 24-minute featurette including interviews with the producers and writers (but not actors) on how the series was created and why it still holds up; "What's the Star Trek Connection?", a glossary of characters and themes common to the animated series and other series; a storyboard gallery; and a brief text history. Writer David Gerrold and producer David Wise contribute audio commentaries on three and one episode, respectively, and the ever-reliable Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda provide text commentary on three other episodes. --David Horiuchi
- All 22 episodes on four discs
- Commentary on select episodes
- Text commentary on select episodes
- Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series
- What's the Star Trek Connection?
- Storyboard Gallery
- Show History
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Top customer reviews
As for the DVDs themselves, the video quality is outstanding. I've played them on large screen TVs (40" and 64") using inexpensive Panasonic upconverting Blu-ray players, and the video looks excellent. I had been a bit concerned with these being DVD vs. Blu-ray, but after watching them, I can see that all my concerns were groundless.
One note about the packaging. The container is perhaps the strangest that I've ever seen, consisting of a plastic clam-shell holding a separate box that contains the disks inside. None of the surfaces of the outer clam-shell are flat or straight, and the box doesn't really stand upright, at least not when free standing. I would have prefered standard, DVD packaging, but at the end of the day, I'm not all that bothered by the strange packaging.
The writing is arguably the best thing about this series. "Yesteryear" is arguably the standout, a time travel adventure in which Spock saves himself as a child; several elements of this episode have become canon through later reuse whether anyone cares to admit it or not. Other great episodes are "More Tribbles, More Troubles", a sequel to "The Trouble with Tribbles" written by the same author; "The Slaver Weapon" adapted by Larry Niven from his own short story; and the first Star Trek episode of any series to win an Emmy, "How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth".
The Bad? Well, the animation is just plain awful, not poorly drawn or anything like that (some of the alien designs and background matte paintings are astonishing) but EXTREMELY limited, even for 70's era TV. As more than one commentator notes, the animation is almost as difficult to watch today as are the special effects on the original series (Ouch!). Second, like so many American children's broadcast TV shows then and since, violence has been almost completely eliminated. With the single exception of some bad guys who blow themselves up in "The Slaver Weapon", nobody dies, not humans, not aliens, not monsters, not even Redshirts!
Trekkers who haven't seen it (or haven't seen it in decades) owe themselves a second look at the series that attracted new fans and kept the Star Trek universe alive between the end of the original series and the first movie.
Note: The packaging for this set is an example of too much attempted on too small a displacement: beautiful but, oh, so fragile. Buyers would be wise to open and examine the set upon purchase (or just return it unopened for replacement if you can hear broken plastic rattling around inside).
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