Star Trek
The Original Series - Season 1

Starring: William Shatner
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 69.99
Certificate: U
Available 30 August 2004

"Space, the final frontier." words etched onto the heart of every science fiction fan around the globe. And finally, after years of waiting, we're to get the series that brought us the split infinitive voice-over intro on DVD. About time too...

The first season of Star Trek is generally regarded as the best and this collection of episodes is therefore unlikely to disappoint either fans or more casual viewers. Scripts are generally intelligent, the directing is solid and reliable and the acting is generally short of ham. In fact, you can't really go far wrong, whichever disc you first drop into your player.

And now the bad news. The transfer to DVD is bright, colourful and sharp - but peppered with dust, scratches and sparkle. Worse still, every optical shot is crawling with hairs and printed-in muck. The reason this debris is there in the first place is well known - rushed optical houses back in the 60s working against impossible deadlines - but in an age when technology exists to automatically remove the worst of these problems there really is no excuse. It's not as if this DVD set won't make back the investment.

Watching the Enterprise orbit a planet in a swarm of fly-like dust and scratches is distracting enough but when great scars of film emulsion slash across the picture it becomes very hard indeed to watch. Shoddy hardly starts to explain how bad some of this looks.

Although I've not had time to check in depth, the transfers used on this set look to be the same ones used on the original region 1 discs - the transfers the BBC said weren't broadcast standard. And frankly you can see the corporation's point.

A similarly lousy set of productions stills are used to illustrate the interviews on the extras disc which are unfortunately as second-rate as their illustrative material. Yawn. Still, nice menus and a good clean soundtrack.

In the end, whatever the faults, you need to own this box set. It may be compromised but it's still essential. Maybe if we complain enough something will be done about future releases. Who am I kidding? Go get it anyway.

Anthony Clark

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