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"Star Trek: The Original Series: The Complete 3rd Season" {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: CBS/Paramount
Release Date:
Special Features:



If the first season of "Star Trek" was stellar and the second shining the third season was a black hole sucking all of the good intentions and well written episodes of the first two. By the third season "Star Trek" was adrift without it's leader; Gene Roddenberry although still credited as "Executive Producer" had given control of the series to new producer Fred Frieberger when NBC moved the series to the black hole of Friday night at 10pm. The fan base for the series was either in bed or doing other things. That doesn't detract from the fact that the first two seasons are exceptional and that a couple of exceptional episodes slipped through the cracks. ***

The "Enterprise Incident" and those few episodes during the third season that had the budget (few during the thrid season)for more involved visual effects (and better scripts)benefit the most. "The Tholian Web" another outstanding episode from the third season also benefits from the new and improved visual effects and digital clean up without, again, detracting from the episodes. Other episodes such as the Gene L. Coon penned (under the name Lee Cronin) "Spectre of the Gun" actually benefit to some extent due to the limited budget with imaginative, surral sets that add to the "dream" like quality of the episode. These episodes were the trade off for truly awful episodes like "Spock's Brain" and "Turnabout Intruder" (which had a decent idea at its core but Shatner overplays his part and the writing is...weak). Some of the worst episodes would be candidates for Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies. ---

Image & Sound:

A bright, robust looking transfer for the transition to Blu-ray, CBS/Parramount has done the right thing here making sure that the show has been meticulously restored from the original film elements digitally enhancing color, cleaning up the negative as part of the transfer to the digital realm. The original visual effects look better but to be honest there's no way that any amount of digital clean up could improve the original visual effects. ***

Audio sounds extremely good with a nice 5.1 mix. ---

Special Features:

The extras from the previous three season releases on DVD are included here (at least I didn't notice any missing). There are Billy Blackburn's home movies giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the production on location. For the third season set we get an unaired alternate version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which is kind of interesting.

We also get the original featurettes for the show which I previously reviewed here-

Final Words:

Although the quality of the writing, production, direction and even the acting (at times) fell during the third season without the guidence of Roddenberry, the final season found the crew of the Enterprise soldiering on and doing the best with what they had. ***

The third and final season lost much of the risk-taking of the first two seasons and the show reacted like a chicken with it's head cut off--running wildly around without purpose. While the third season was largely static looking with less involving camera movement, scripts and performances there was still enough imagination in the presentation (including in production design) that made it essential for fans of the series. I wouldn't lay the fall in completely on Fred Frieberger's and Arthur Singer's (the story editor for season three) doorstep but neither had the vision of Roddenberry, the budget of the first two seasons (the budget was cut for season three)nor the understanding of Roddenberry's universe to do the show justice.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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