SRP $194.99 1.33:1 DOLBY TrueHD 5.1 PARAMOUNT

PARAMOUNT has released the long-awaited HD-DVD/DVD combo of "STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES: SEASON ONE."  For those who, like this reviewer, who've not seen the show in some time, and have never been "trekkies," there's a terrific sense of nostalgia when just glancing at the actors appearing in "Season one." There's Joan Collins in arguably one of the best written episodes, as well as Ricardo Montalban, Jeffrey Hunter and more!  While the previous "Dvd" boxed sets of Seasons 1-3 were all terrific, there have been some important changes made for this hd-dvd release, pertaining to more than the hi-def format alone!  To begin with,  the special effects sequences have been enhanced!  With great care and respect for the series, things aren't overblown. These upgrades have been handled in a way that actually improves the series, while still retaining the magic of certain limitations, eg. the cardboard-looking set designs.  The planets now look real, and there's a significant impact upon viewing the Enterprise passing by them in the background.  The spaceships themselves have been upgraded as well, without actually changing their design. They just look more believable now, instead of looking like well made miniatures. 

PARAMOUNT has provided both "dvd" and "hd-dvd" formats of the entire first season in this combo format. So for those awaiting their first hd-dvd players for the holidays, they can still enjoy the dvd version in the meanwhile! 

PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 1.33:1 aspect ratio for this presentation.  While both formats look impressive, and even great at times, the hd-dvd offers notably improved color levels over the standard dvd.  The dvd also suffers from some artifacting at various times. Originally shot on film, the image has carried over exceptionally well to hd-dvd.  For some reason, the series utilized unusual lighting, and this tends to give the image a surprisingly soft appearance. Still, detail is outstanding, and the overall image, especially on the hd-dvd, is excellent, with often impressive contrast in darker(albeit, these are few and far between)scenes.

PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for the hd-dvd and Dolby Digital 5.1 for the dvd.  While not an aggressive mix, the Dolby TrueHD mix provides an energetic atmosphere whenever surrounds kick in to enhance the score or intensify the impact of the Enterprise as it careens by!  While uncertain if the recent firmware update for high bit-rate capability to the HD-XA2, is the cause, there have been some stability problems when engaging the TrueHD 5.1 option, causing it to go mute when reverting to play after scanning, at times.

Unfortunately, the packaging for this release could've been better thought out. The Digipak housing the ten discs, doesn't allow for easy handling without potential smudging of discs.  Opening a thin wrapping, provides 5 semi-transparencies, with info on episodes and more.    

PARAMOUNT has loaded this boxed set with extras!  The HD-DVD sides offer "Starfleet Access" options, providing picture commentaries after the viewer selects an option appearing on-screen.  This option is available for 7 terrific episodes, and the only disappointment is that it's not available on more!  The tenth disc offers some terrific featurettes and documentaries, all in high def!   Unfortunately, the rest of the extras are only available on the standard dvd side. These included featurettes carried over from the previously available "SEASON ONE" dvd boxed set. 

For fans of the series and those who've not had the benefit of ever seeing "STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES," this is well worth getting! Upon viewing it, one will be eagerly awaiting the release of SEASON 2, already scheduled for March 25, 2008!