With the release of the new Star Trek film, there was bound to be a rash of releases of the stuff that went before. And, well, why not? With over four decades of material to choose from, all of those who hadn't gone before will likely want to catch up.
The Best Of Star Trek: The Original Series brings four of what the producers say are the best episodes of the original series. For those who are not familiar with much more than the new movie, from a timeline point of view these take place at a point after the movie you saw. From our timeline, these were created over 40 years ago, so the special effects are not as bold as the new ones, but where effects were lacking, the stories were not.
The DVD comes with four episodes from the original series, but they are newer versions with enhanced visual effects. The episodes do not follow in their original release order so I have made note of both the air date and their sequential order.
"City on the Edge of Forever" first aired during Star Trek's first season on April 6, 1967 and is episode # 28. It is considered one of the most critically acclaimed episodes and was awarded the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was written by noted science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, but subsequently edited and revised by the show's writers.
It is a time travel story that takes the crew back to 1930s earth to try and restore the natural timeline that McCoy has inadvertently broken. Because of his travel back, the Enterprise no longer exists and Kirk and Spock must travel back to rescue McCoy and prevent him from changing the natural sequence of events. It guest stars Joan Collins, who does an amazing job with her role. While it is a great episode, it was never one of my favorites because of the darkness surrounding it.
"The Trouble With Tribbles" aired during the second season on December 29, 1967 and it is episode #44. It was written by science fiction author David Gerrold. This episode is considered a fan favorite because of its lightness and humor.
After being called to a space station to protect some valuable grain from Klingon treachery, the crew of the Enterprise is given shore leave to monitor the Klingon activities. These little furry critters called tribbles are all the rage on the station, but when it is found that these tribbles breed faster than rabbits, they become more trouble than they are worth. When they begin to die, they become more than trouble to the Klingons. There is a lot of humor in this episode, especially like one scene when Kirk finds out that Scotty is okay with letting the Klingons insult Kirk, but when they insult the Enterprise, well, that’s a different thing.
"Balance of Terror" is a first season show that aired on December 15, 1966 and is the fourteenth episode. It is a science fiction version of a submarine film and introduces the Romulan Bird of Prey, which is like a submarine in that it can run cloaked — much like being underwater.
Finding that outposts have been being destroyed by an unknown assailant, the Enterprise discovers a cloaked Romulan ship in the area. A cat-and-mouse game ensues where each captain discovers the other's strengths and weaknesses. This episode is a simple but very effective one that not only gives good background on the Romulans and their history, but highlights what made the original series so good.
"Amok Time" first aired on September 15, 1967 and as episode 30, was also the first episode of season two. This is the only episode that features the Vulcan home of Spock and in it we learn much about the Vulcan race.
In this episode, Spock begins to lose control over his emotions. After diverting to planet Vulcan against Starfleet's orders, we learn that every seven years a Vulcan male must return to his home planet to mate or die trying, much like the salmon on Earth do. This episode pits Spock and Kirk in a fight to the death. I liked this episode in that it brought out a completely different Spock and gave us a look at the Vulcan culture.
There are no extras or special features on this DVD. There are previews, but inasmuch as that is just sales potential, I do not consider them extras. The quality of the DVD is well done. They use the same masters that were created for the Blu-ray set and as such it's probably the best it can look in standard definition.
With only four selections out of a total of 79 episodes, one could argue whether these really are the best. I would bet that if you asked 100 fans what the best episodes were, these four would probably show up quite a bit and so I will say that these are four of the best episodes.
While on one hand I wish that this were a multi-disk compilation of the best, from the standpoint of someone who is wanting to see if they would like more, this does its job at a reasonable price. If you own the first or second season, there is really no point in getting this. Just go ahead and complete your collection. If you want a taste of what the original series was like, I'd recommend it.