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The SmarK DVD Rant for Star Trek The Original Series: Origins (Blu Ray)

The SmarK DVD Rant for Star Trek The Original Series: Origins

Pretty simple compilation disc here, as we get the “origins” of the major players in Star Trek Into Darkness in case new viewers want to know where they came from. Which means 5 episodes of the original series, four of which were in the first season. So basically a few episodes of the first season repackaged into a new single disc. But they’re all good ones, at least.

Note: Although the season sets allow you to switch between the new-fangled computer graphics and the original pie plates on strings, this disc only gives the fancy new versions.

“The Cage” (First appearance of Spock and the Enterprise and Christopher Pike.) So this was the very first, unaired pilot episode, originally presented in black & white but shown in color here. Not to be confused with The Menagerie, which was the two-part episode cut together from this one later on. So instead of Kirk, we have Jeffrey Hunter as super-angsty Captain Christopher Pike, weary of these years of travelling in space with his Martian science officer Spock and female First Officer. Sadly, his moping is interrupted by a distress signal (delivered by intergalactic teletype), and off they go. The top-flight CGI shots intercut with the zero-budget sixties bridge set is jarring to say the least. The bulk of the episode takes place on Talos IV, as Pike and his crew find a group of crash survivors and one hot chick, who once again proves that dames ain’t nothing but trouble by luring Pike into a kidnapping via big-headed aliens. Spock is much more emotional and hotheaded here, literally shooting first and asking questions later. The Talosians screw with Pike’s mind while the bridge crew sits and talks and talks and talks and then decide “Maybe we should go with an EVEN BIGGER CANNON” as their solution to the problem. Finest minds in the galaxy, these guys. The talking continues as Pike debates with the aliens, and then talks with dream girl Vina in a variety of scenarios created by the Talosians and holy shit does this episode start dragging badly. No wonder NBC rejected it as a pilot. Majel Barrett as Number One is basically Spock as a woman, it should be noted. After some “everything was an illusion” double-crossing back on itself, Pike escapes and flies off into space again. At 63 minutes, this was WAY too long and talky and it’s no wonder that it went nowhere. Sadly, Jeffrey Hunter died in 1969 and wasn’t able to cash in once the show exploded.

"Where No Man Has Gone Before". (First appearance of JAMES FUCKING T. KIRK) Third episode aired, but the first one shot (not counting "The Cage" of course) and stuff is drastically different here. The uniforms are all different, most notably, and there are cosmetic differences in the ship. Plus there's no McCoy, only Dr. Piper. So the plot sees the Enterprise voyaging to the edge of the galaxy, where a giant barrier awaits to put the cosmic smackdown on anything that comes near. And in this case, Lt. Gary Mitchell suffers that fate which so many Trek characters would suffer after him: Godlike powers without the godlike instruction book. You can tell he's godlike because he has silver contact lenses after his exposure to the barrier. Kirk, it should be noted, is 100% fully formed as a character here, as Shatner nails the thing in one episode and doesn't look back. Spock, on the other hand, shows emotion (despite his claims to the contrary) and is frankly kind of a dick at times. Speaking of being a dick, once Gary Mitchell starts showing superpowers, the crew switches from supporting his lifestyle choice of godhood to "let's take him down to the planet and blow the shit out of him". Can you blame him for going crazy and trying to kill everyone? Things get a bit silly as Gary Mitchell and his silver-eyed bride-to-be Dr. Hot Lips try to craft a paradise, and Kirk is having none of that. Dig the overacting on Kirk as he's tortured by Mitchell! There's just no "off" switch with Shatner, is there? Luckily, they needed an action show to sell this version of the pilot, so instead of philosophical debate we get the first ass-whooping delivered by Kirk to settle things, as it should be. Remember kids: For all the talk about Roddenberry's visions of peace, more often than not the solution was Kirk beating the hell out of someone and then dropping a rock on them. Usually metaphorically speaking, but in this case literally.

"SPACE SEED" (First appearance of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!) Yes, this will do. The caps are mine. The Enterprise finds a dead ship in space, apparently the USS Botany Bay, which is filled with leftovers from the Eugenics Wars who have been frozen and left to drift as punishment for, you know, trying to conquer the world and all. Thus we meet Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh, a combination of Hitler and Alexander the Great. So you know this is gonna lead somewhere bad. He immediately tries to shank McCoy after miraculously recovering from being mostly dead, and has an electric conversation with Kirk where you can just feel the alpha male posturing bleeding from the screen. This carries over into a supposedly-civil dinner where Spock is needling Khan like a swordsman while Kirk watches for weakness, and Khan even points that out to gain the upper hand again. Meanwhile, hottie crew-woman Marla falls in love with the ultimate bad-boy and agrees to help him in his quest to re-establish his empire of cloned super-soldiers. And Khan comes THAT close to taking over the ship and killing everyone, only losing out because of a dramatic stunt double battle. And Kirk banishes him and his crew to Ceti Alpha V, noting that it might be interesting to return later and see what's become of him. Awesome, awesome stuff.

"Errand of Mercy". (First appearance of the Klingons) After a quick battle with them (off-screen to save money) to save the planet Organia from invasion, Spock and Kirk beam down to check on them and make sure no one's been slaughtered. Oh, and to offer protection from the big bad Klingons. The Organians are stubbornly against any help from either side. One really cool bit of new CGI here sees the awesome nerds inserting an entire Klingon fleet into what was previously just a one second shot of the Enterprise taking a hit. Michael Okuda has the best job in the whole world. So back to the episode, as the Klingons declare themselves the new rulers of the most peaceful planet in the universe and Kirk has to hold his tongue under the guise of being an Organian, and this is clearly a US v. Russia allegory. The Klingons here are more of a general evil menace rather than the specifically honourable warlike race they became later on. But while the Organians have no interest in fighting back, undercover Kirk and Spock are all too willing to blow some shit up to make their point. Kirk readily admits that he's a soldier and not a diplomat, and that's a key difference between him and Picard. Kirk and Kor actually start bonding over how annoying these pacifistic Organians are because they just want to wage some WAR, baby, whether their Organian friends want to help them or not. Everything is a just a little too weird, as the Organian leader calmly leads Kirk out of any predicament set up by Kor, with little regard for any potential consequences. Finally Kirk has just had enough and launches a two-man war on the Klingons (complete with another great little bit of dialogue with Spock about their odds of survival...approximately 7824.7 to 1) and finally the Organians step in and declare that shall be no violence on or around their planet, and that's that. And then the big twist: The Organians are not even human beings, they're energy beings who are supremely powerful and morally superior and even correctly foretell the future alliance between the Klingons & Federation. Spock again notes that it's life, but not as we know it. This one kind of loses something without the Vietnam war as context (The lesson is that you shouldn't interfere unless asked, you see) but it's the KLINGONS!

“The Trouble With Tribbles” (First appearance of…do I really have to tell you?) This is of course one of the best Trek episodes of all-time and one of the funniest as well. You know the story and love it already: The Klingons and Federation are arguing about who can develop a planet most efficiently, and Kirk ends up answering a distress call on a space station. The emergency: Guarding 2 tonnes of wheat. So Kirk, who with barely-concealed hatred of bureaucracy, gives everyone shore leave, wherein they meet scuzzy trader Cyrano Jones, who sells Uhura a Tribble. And then the Klingons take shore leave on the station and things go downhill for Kirk rapidly from there. The most famous scene of course sees Scotty getting into a barfight with the Klingons over harsh words said about the Enterprise. This marks the first time someone calls Kirk a “swaggering, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood.” Although he would be far from the last. Kirk’s followup chat with Scotty (“…and THAT’S when you hit him?”) and the visual gag of the multiplying Tribbles are classic understated Trek comedy. And of course, the only creatures in the universe who despise Klingons more than James T. Kirk does are the Tribbles, so everyone ends up getting what they deserve. This one became even more famous when DS9 did a time travel episode that saw Worf participate “behind the scenes” and act as a meta-commentary on the episode.

The Pulse

Five great (or in the case of the Cage, historic if nothing else) episodes of the Original Series for cheap! Not exactly essential, but hardcore Trekkies already have the seasons sets anyway, so this is aimed squarely at casual fans and it’s a fine selection of Kirk goodness.


  1. Here are my five favorite redone classic Star Trek episodes:

    1. The Menagerie - the new effects are outstanding and yet don't call attention to themselves.
    2. The Trouble with Tribbles - a great episode that originally lacked great effect shots, since the budget was spent on interior sets.
    3. The Doomsday Machine - the original effects are great, but they spent a lot of time to reinvent them for the blu ray.
    4. The Galileo Seven - this could have been in the "origins" because of the new shuttle. This gives the blu ray a chance to improve the shuttle's launch and exterior shots in space, but what's really improved is the phenomenon they're checking. There are actually references in the script to things the crew is seeing in space that you can't see in the original, but with the new effects, now you can.
    5. Balance of Terror - the cat and mouse game is never better than the new version.

    Great reviews, Scott!

  2. Yeah the restoration on Cage / Menagerie is nothing short of spectacular, especially since everyone thought the original prints were lost for decades.

  3. I'm not one to deride all remakes and reboots, but I think the JJ Abrams New Trek stuff, while competently made from a movie standpoint, is utterly balls for Star Trek.

    Shatner was Kirk, Nimoy was Spock. Recasting characters that were basically created by other people is like rebooting Hulk Hogan without Terry Bollea.

  4. I doubt that "The Trouble With Tribbles" became "even more famous" when DS9 revisited it. It was already pretty damn famous.

  5. If it was already famous, and then a few more people learned about it from the DS9 episode, then it became even more famous. Not sure where your objection lies, exactly.

  6. Half of the original cast is dead.

  7. Did I say otherwise?

    They shouldn't have recast them at all. Make new characters for a new cast. When they did TNG, they didn't bring back Kirk, because Shatner is Kirk and Kirk is Shatner.

    These characters aren't Richard the Third and James Bond, immortal icons that will be played by a variety of actors since their inception until the end of time. They're very personal characters that only really worked because of the chemistry between Shatner, Nimoy and Kelly.

    I'm all for continuing the franchise. I have disagreements about Abrams' take on the series (I prefer Star Trek ponderous and philosophical, not sleek and action-y) but those are personal. But continue the franchise, don't do endless rehashes of previous stories and previous characters.

  8. Yeah, I also thought they should have just jumped another 50 years in the future and did something new. I've long advocated something like Captain Alexander Worf with Molly O'Brien as first officer and then a whole new cast of characters from there.
    That being said, I thought Into Darkness was great for what it was. But they really don't need to keep telling the same stories over and over.

  9. Curious, how much did the blu ray run you? Do they have this on DVD or is that antiquated at this point?

  10. Some post-Dominion War shit would be straight up awesome.

    And Abrams has always been a perfectly competent director. He's never really made a bad movie (or a great one, but whatever). I don't like him doing Star Wars and Star Trek...but I'm not a producer, so there's not much I can do about that.

    And the endless reboots is starting to remind me of comic companies. New Trek reminds me of Ultimates...a lot.

  11. According to Amazon it's only on Blu Ray, and it will be $16.99 when it's released next week. I don't pay for these, I just review what I'm sent by the studios.

  12. I've always enjoyed your TV set rants. You should do some more.

  13. This makes be wonder, did you ever do a review for season 7 of DS9? I remember you doing through season 6 and then nothing more, unless I am mistaken. Which has been known to happen. From time to time.

  14. Like Scotty, I like your TV rants. Any chance you'll rant on the Buffy seasons or Angel seasons?

  15. I was right on the same page as you before the first movie came out but after watching it I realized with the time travel bit changing history that it was essentially a Star Trek story where everything doesn't get righted at the end. It's also helping some of the younger crowd get into the series and they have plenty of philosophical episodes to watch on that front. And while I do agree no one will play Kirk and Spock better, I don't think they could have chosen better characters to revitalize interest in the "franchise" (not Shane Douglas).

  16. We got halfway into Buffy season 4 on Netflix and then kind of lost interest and haven't had a chance to get into it again for a while. Sadly, I'm older and don't have the opportunity to binge-watch and rant on stuff like I did in the old days.

  17. I can always check it out on Hulu now, but no, I never did the 7th season.

  18. I dunno, I think the success of TNG and DS9 prove that new material can draw. With remakes you'll always be compared to the older works. Plus from a creative/story-telling standpoint you can add new canon.

    If you want name value. Have Stewart show up and give his approval to the new crew (just like how the original cast gave their approval to TNG).

    Pass the torch, don't relight it.

  19. Christopher Pike was the Peter Weller character in the new movies, right?

  20. I'm playing devil's advocate in the form of the studio. They look at Voyager and Enterprise and say "We'll that wasn't a huge success. We couldn't even keep the old fans on those, so how do we bring in new fans and hopefully the old ones back as well? What are the major complaints of non fans? Slow, too much talking, too much history with so many shows and characters etc. Who are our best characters? Kirk and Spock." Add in some fights and explosions, bring in Nimoy and give a connection, albeit tenuous to the original canon and you got new Trek! I'm with you in wishing we had another quality series in the vein of TNG and DS9, I'm just saying I "get" the reason new Trek exists and am enjoying it for what it is! It's a replay of a great universe of stories through the lens of the Transformer generation of movie goers. And atleast they aren't made by Michael Bay!

  21. I guess...from that vein it made sense. (Though I'd like to argue that Voyager wasn't that bad)

    But I dunno...I wish artistic integrity had monetary worth. And it really does seem like they're going to burn out on all this nostalgia shit.

    P.S. And if they're really going through with this reboot shit. They better add New!Picard in the next Trek movie.

  22. Yes the time travel fuck up of Nero will somehow cause Picard to not lose his hair in the reboot universe I guarantee it!

  23. It's a quantum causality paradox.


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