1966-67; Creator: Gene Roddenberry; Producer: Gene L. Coon
With William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols
Paramount Home Video
Available Nov. 30, List Price $194.99
"Space the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
Were those golden cliches ever new? Yes, once upon a time: Sept. 8, 1966, when Star Trek hit the air. Commercial exigencies wrapped up the U.S.S. Enterprise's five-year mission in three seasons, but Cmdr. James R. Kirk (Shatner), Science Officer Spock (Nimoy), Bones McCoy, M.D. (Kelley), Engineer Scott (Doohan), Sulu (Takei) and Communications Officer Uhura (Nichols) continued to boldly split atoms, hairs and infinitives in six feature films stretching from 1979 to 1991. Roddenberry's Ô60s series spawned three others: The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space Nine. But the original is worth looking at, especially by someone (me) who'd never seen a Star Trek episode. Now, with the release of the first season on a 10-disc set issued in regular and HD DVD, is my time to go where everyone else has been before.
In the rearview mirror of cultural history, we usually see that movies and TV shows that seemed advanced for their time now look utterly a part of it. Star Trek, an entertainment that predicts the future, is acutely susceptible to nostalgia, particularly when it flashes back from the 23rd century to the 20th. In "Space Seed," the warrior Khan (hunky Ricardo Montalban, who would return, wrath intact, in the second Star Trek movie) emerges from the 1990s, the decade of "the Eugenics War," when a genetically engineered breed of supermen seized power in 40 countries. Hmmm. That would be Bill Clinon, Tony Blair and... who else?
There are a few gadgets that youngsters of today would recognize Kirk uses a snap-lid cell phone but the overall aura is defiantly mid-'60s. Inside the Enterprise, which has a traditional flying-saucer shape with cigar-tube wings, the decor gives viewers a pre-Vietnam vibe, from the Lego knobs on the Command Center consoles and Kirk's gray NaugaHyde throne to the phaser guns looking like toys that could be twisted apart by a strong man (as Khan would do).