Space…the final frontier.
With basic plotlines becoming increasingly familiar to loyal Trek lovers, Volume 34 includes an "Earth culture in space with an alien twist" show ("Plato's Stepchildren") and an "Aliens try to capture the Enterprise" show ("Wink of an Eye").
Facts of the Case
"Wink of an Eye"
If you were interested in showcasing the best of the original Star Trek to an untutored friend, this would probably not be the volume to use. There are worse individual episodes ("The Omega Glory" and "Spectre of the Gun" come to mind), but on the other hand there is not a lot that stands out from this pair of episodes.
The Greek philosopher-king twist of "Plato's Stepchildren" does draw you in, but not for long. How a dwarf Platonian, Alexander, provides the sole support for a dozen or more layabouts is a gaping plot hole too big to ignore, but that's not the worst of it. Kirk and Spock's humiliations at the hands of Parmen (including TV's first interracial kiss, involving Kirk and Uhura) are well chosen, but particularly on Kirk's side seem more a chance for Shatnerian over-acting than well played dramatic scenes. "Wink of an Eye" lacks the novelty of "Plato's Stepchildren," with a tired plot we have seen executed with more finesse in other episodes, like "Day of the Dove," "Space Seed," and particularly "By Any Other Name." Borrowing from other episodes, "Wink of an Eye" lets Captain Horny sleep his way into the matriarch's good graces, causing jealousy in the Scalosian ranks, while Spock and McCoy solve in a few hours a problem the dimwitted Scalosians haven't solved in years. Ho hum.
Since these TOS discs are virtually identical in quality to each other, I will liberally recycle comments I have previously made about the technical presentation and extra content.
The "digitally enhanced and remastered" video transfer is certainly an improvement over the VHS tapes and broadcast quality of the original episodes that I have seen. Resolution is much improved, though the increased sharpness often lapses into a strongly soft, almost muddy picture. Colors are quite richly saturated, giving the show a much brighter look than I had known. As a side effect, the flesh tones look a few shades too ruddy. Film grain as well as blips and flecks show up from time to time, betraying the limitations of the original source material. True Star Trek fanatics will be disappointed that Paramount did not see fit to do a more comprehensive restoration and polish the original gems of this storied franchise.
The remixed 5.1 audio is about what you would expect from a late 1960s show. Rear surrounds are hardly used at all, excepting the flyby in the opening credits. Otherwise, this is a typical former mono/center channel focused mix. Clear dialogue and cheesy music are understood in all their analog glory.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Nothing is really wrong with this disc that a real season-by-season box set with real extras wouldn't cure. On the other hand, then Paramount would soak the fans twice for the same shows, which isn't a thrilling prospect. As it is, we get a "preview trailer" spot (ooh aah) and one (count 'em, one!) trivia tidbit for each episode. With only two episodes per disc, this is not exactly value for the dollar like with the X-Files box sets. To their credit, Paramount has admitted that given the success of TV box sets, had they to make the TOS decision over, it might too have shown up in space and money saving box sets.
Probably of interest primarily to completist fans of the series ($20 list), I would still recommend a rental to the casual fan so that everyone can enjoy the stellar example of over-the-top Shatnerian acting in "Plato's Stepchildren."
Even bad Trek has its moments, so this Court finds that the defendant disc deserves mercy and only imposes a modest fine. Defendant Paramount is strongly urged only to release full-featured series box sets in the future.
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