Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek

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At long last it has arrived: the very first stand-alone release of Star Trek: The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. Yes, the complete title is a bit unwieldy, but the content is vital for fans of Trek. The series was recently made available on Blu-ray as part of the lavish Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection box set. This three-disc set from CBS Paramount is a more cost-effective way to acquire the Emmy Award-winning animated series if it's all you need for your Blu-ray collection.

After a home video release history that began in the '80s with VHS, moved onto laserdisc in the '90s, and more recently standard DVD in 2006, longtime dedicated Trekkers may feel a bit weary plunking down even more cash for the new BD. Especially since there are no new bonus features. And since the primitive animation never looked like much to begin with. That said, the episodes do look excellent in their high definition upgrade, with considerably enhanced clarity and more vivid color reproduction. Now every flaw in the dated Filmation animation (the series originally aired 1973-74, basically still the dark ages compared to today's TV animation) can be appreciated more fully than ever before. Each episode is also accompanied by lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio.
star-trek-animated-blu-ray-cover (294x380).jpg The packaging itself includes a very classy touch. There are 22 "collectible postcards" (one for each episode) featuring original artwork by Juan Ortiz. Ortiz did the same for each of the Original Series episodes in his book Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz (2013). The cards are fun to look through and certainly suitable for display (though your mileage will vary greatly depending on how much you care about inserts—and how often you expect to pull them out and look at 'em).

The series itself is pretty retro-cool, with some excellent storytelling among the 22 episodes. Most of the magnificent seven from the Original Series are present, voicing their signature characters. Yes, years before the big screen movies William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and James Doohan came together to further the previously-aborted five-year mission. Apparently for budgetary reasons, poor Walter Koenig was left out in the cold (though he did, as a consolation prize script one episode, "The Infinite Vulcan").

As for those ported-over features, the following episodes have some form of commentary (be it audio or text): "More Tribbles, More Troubles", "Yesteryear", "The Eye of the Beholder", "Bem", ""How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth", and "The Counter-Clock Incident." The primary video-based supplement is the 25 minute featurette "Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series." There's also a shorter, less substantial piece called "What's the Star Trek Connection?" (seven minutes).

Bottom line: Trekkers will absolutely want this Blu-ray edition of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Especially anyone who has thus far failed to pull the trigger on previous editions. Adjust to the primitive animation, get over any silliness you might feel for watching such a cheaply-produced cartoon, and enjoy the stories (which are better appreciated by older viewers anyway) and the authenticity added by the original cast providing voices.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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