Star Trek: The Original Series - The Roddenberry Vault [Blu-ray]
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From the Cutting Room Floor to Your Living Room! During the production of Star Trek: The Original Series, bits and pieces of footage were left on the cutting room floor, then stored away in film cans for decades by the Gene Roddenberry Estate. Now, in celebration of the show’s 50th Anniversary, The Roddenberry Vault has finally been opened. Along with 12 of their favorite episodes, fans can see and own behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the series as well as alternate takes, deleted scenes, omitted dialogue, outtakes, and original visual FX elements.
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Unfortunately, what we got was a very long documentary about the making of the original series, with a small series of clips as a separate special feature.
We love Star Trek documentaries, and this is an entertaining one. However, we agree with other reviewers that the concept they came up with of making most of these clips only able to be seen within the documentary itself is frustrating to say the least.
Most anyone who is geek enough to want to see trims of film of a TV show really doesn't need an explanation of how these all fit into Star Trek. We know these shows inside and out, so it was a hulk of unnecessity to present these clips the way they did. What was disappointing was that we are forced to watch these long-lost clips with some writer or producer yapping over them, making it both difficult to hear what they are saying and difficult to focus on the details of what we are watching.
They really should have taken a lesson from how BBC & 2Entertain did the "Doctor Who: Lost in Time" DVD set (or any classic Doctor Who releases).
With those, not only do you get the interesting documentary, you ALSO get the entire library of clips and trims, regardless of how dull some of it might be.
They have been doing releases like this for over 10 years and very successfully.
Why the producers thought they had to "do something new" to present old material like this is beyond us.
Secondly, this cannot be ALL that was in the vault.
There was no gag reel! We all know it exists because Gene would take it to conventions and show it! Yet it was missing from the vault?
And where were the bloopers?
There was too much missing from this set to justify the price (and including episodes which most would already have... why? For new commentaries? Really?)
Lastly, the first half of the first part of the documentary was weird. It was this sales-pitch build-up of how AMAZING these clips would be to see and how it would change the life of Star Trek fans.
Sadly, the entire experience was underwhelming, and too bad, too, since we are big Trek fans.
The best part of the whole thing to us was the raw footage of the visual effects shots. To see the Enterprise in its original glory was beautiful. It is what saved this review from being two-star. We only wish that they had this footage when they were doing the remastering project of TOS.
To experience the clips by themselves is great, because we get to study the moment at hand and are able to enjoy them as they are and make of them what we want.
To have someone telling us what we should be appreciating about them (without giving us any other choice) is simply weird. It would be like watching a brand new movie, but you can only watch it with the commentary track. You would never be able to appreciate the movie on its own.
It is worth the watch, and after viewing the cut scenes and clips, it really makes it quite evident how excellent and sharp the editing choices were for the original series when it aired.
However, because the layout is poorly-conceived, it will likely bother other long-time fans as much as it did us.
Maybe a revised release is in order? One with each episode's clips individually able to be seen would be fantastic.
Yet, sadly, we do not see this happening, and in the end, this set feels like a big let down.
I'm going to guess they plan to trickle these out with lots of padding for maximum profit, so my advice to those interested in the outtakes only is to wait 'til the disks are really cheap.
The set contains 12 episodes we all already own many times over, some with new commentaries. 11 of the 12 have isolated scores, which is great. However one of the most popular, City on the Edge of Forever, does not, for no apparent reason.
The real attraction is the rare outtakes and deleted footage. It is presented in three 30 minute documentaries and a 20 minute collection of footage spread across 3 discs. The first documentary shows us rows of shelving with hundreds of film cans full of rare, unseen footage. This really serves to whet your appetite. You would think that in 90 minutes of documentary we would get to see a LOT of this footage. But unfortunately the majority of time is spent on people talking about the episodes. In 90 minutes there are MAYBE 10 minutes total of the rare footage that we really want to see. Most of this is shown in short clips, often with people talking over it. It is very, very frustrating. There is no way to just watch the footage without slogging through the documentaries. Add to that the 20 minutes of additional clips on disc 3 (mercifully with no talking heads) and we probably get to see 30 minutes of vault footage in total. On a 3 disc, expensive release, that just doesn't cut it. You can get the entire 3 seasons of the original series in HD for the same price.
The footage itself is a treat. However, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, it is all presented in low quality, standard definition. NONE of the documentaries are in HD, they are all standard definition, even on the blu-ray! This is just plain bizarre. Why would they transfer this rare, valuable footage in standard definition? It makes no sense at all. It's not even much of a cost savings these days. Even though color has faded, the high resolution of the 35mm film is still there and a good HD transfer and very basic color correction would have looked 1000% better than what we get. I'm just mystified as to why it was done this way. And severely disappointed.
Paramount has done a pretty terrible, disappointing job with the 50th anniversary. This was the one release which promised to be really exciting. But they botched it. It could have been so much better, and without much additional effort or expense. Use HD transfers, include far more footage and less talking heads. Save the cost of filming the documentaries and invest in HD transfers of the vault footage. Hard core fans would be happy to sit through hours of raw takes, we don't need talking heads to keep us interested. And casual fans aren't going to be interested no matter how it's presented. So cater to your audience.
I think we can expect to see several more of these Vault releases in the future (this one only covers 12 episodes). I can only hope they do better if they want my money again.