Although I consider myself to be a fan of Star Trek, one could argue that I'm not that big of a fan, since I only have one season of the original series and one season of Deep Space Nine on DVD, and the only film I have is Wrath of Khan. I guess that makes me something of a half-ass fan at best, because even though I really like Star Trek, I don't like every episode of every season of every series. There are enough weak episodes in every season that I've been hesitant to invest any more money than I already have (and to be honest, the season of TOS and DS9 were both gifts). But when The Best of Star Trek arrived for me to review, I was a bit excited because...well...it's the best of Star Trek. At least that's what the packaging claims.
Star Trek originally ran three seasons for a total of 80 episodes, and if you were to ask any fan of the show to list the top four episodes, the end result would be a pretty eclectic list. As it stands, I'm not fully convinced that this single disc collection of four episodes actually features the best of Star Trek--at least not as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, the four episodes are good, but the problem is that I don't think the collection quite lives up to its assertion.
"The City on the Edge of Forever" - Of the four episodes in this collection, this is the one that truly deserves to be here. When Dr. McCoy goes crazy and leaps through a time portal, he disrupts the past and sets of a chain reaction that wipes out the future. Kirk and Spock go after McCoy, and find themselves back on Earth during the Great Depression, were Kirk falls in love with a social worker (Joan Collins), whose fate is tied into the future. Hands down this is one of the best episodes of the original series.
"The Trouble with Tribbles" - A popular episode to be sure, I'm not sure if I would consider this to be one of the best. The crew of the Enterprise are called to a space station where the threat of Klingons is very real, but what they find are seemingly harmless animals called Tribbles that actually prove to be not as harmless as they seem. This episode is loved by many, in part because of its playful sense of humor, but there are some problems with the pace and the fight sequence is not that well executed. I would have opted for "A Piece of the Action" over this episode, as it has a similar sense of humor, but a tighter pace and better action.
"Balance of Terror"-While patrolling the Neutral Zone, the Enterprise comes across several destroyed Federation outposts, and soon discovers that the nefarious Romulans are back. Because no one has ever seen a Romulan, the crew is shocked to discover they look just like Vulcans, forcing some crew members to face their prejudices. I'm not sure how I feel about this episode being in this collection. At first I thought it was a total mistake, but when I watched this one for the first time in many years, I realized that it is one of the better episodes of the original series. Still, I don't think I would have included it. Instead, I would have chosen "Mirror, Mirror."
"Amok Time" - This episode stands out because it deals heavily with the Vulcan culture, and features an incredible fight sequence between Spock and Kirk, where the captain is "killed." When Spock must return to his native Vulcan to take a mate, he is caught up in the twisted game of a conniving tramp, who forces him to fight to the death with his best friend. This one belongs in the collection as well, as it really is one of the best episodes of the series.
The biggest problem with Best of Star Trek is not the episodes that made the cut so much as the episodes that did not. Clearly, this collection is something of a throwaway that was put out to time with the release of the new Star Trek film. To that end, perhaps this collection might work as a decent introductory sampling to anyone unfamiliar with the original series. But for fans with a real working knowledge of the show, there are easily ten other episodes that deserve to be included in this collection. Still, these are all good episodes, and if you don't have entire seasons on disc for whatever reason, this single disc will make for a nice addition to your collection.
Best of Star Trek is presented in 1.33:1 full frame format. The picture quality is very good, with clean transfers and vibrant colors. Please note that these episodes feature the special effects sequences that were redone for DVD several years back. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the new effects shots.
Best of Star Trek is presented in English in 5.1 Dolby Digital, with optional dubbed language tracks in Spanish and Portuguese (Mono), and optional subtitles in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The sound quality is very good, but it would be nice to have the option of having the original mono audio tracks.
There is no bonus material.
Provided you don't already have all of these episodes on DVD, you really can't go wrong with the price. The only drawback for some people might be the redone special effects.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]