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Star Trek on DVD
by Rick Norwood

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Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Star Trek is out on DVD, an ideal way for those too young to have seen the original to watch it, and for those of us so old we haven't watched it in years to relive it. There are two disks so far, with two more coming in October and two more in November. The contents of the first six are:

Vol. 1:
Where No Man Has Gone Before (****), by Samuel A. Peeples
The Carbomite Maneuver (***), by Jerry Sohl

Vol. 2:
The Enemy Within (****), by Richard Matheson
Mudd's Women (***), by Steven Kandel and Gene Roddenberry

Vol 3:
The Man Trap (**), by George Clayton Johnson
The Naked Time (****), by John D. F. Black

Vol 4:
Charlie X (***), by D. C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry
Balance of Terror (***), by Paul Schneider

Vol 5:
What Are Little Girls Made Of (**), by Robert Bloch
Dagger of the Mind (**), By S. Bar-David (aka Shimon Wincelberg)

Vol 6:
Miri (**), by Adrien Spies
The Conscience of the King (**), by Barry Trivers

Richard Matheson, Jerry Sohl, and Robert Bloch were well known science fiction writers when Star Trek first appeared. Except for the kid's show Captain Video, which Jack Vance wrote for among others, Star Trek was the first tv series to use real SF writers. Shimon Wincelberg, Samuel A. Peeples, and Richard Matheson had worked with Roddenberry on Have Gun - Will Travel. And D. C. Fontana worked with Roddenberry on his previous series, The Lieutenant.

Even the "two star" episodes have their points of interest. Miri, for example, has performances by Kim Darby (True Grit ****) and Michael J. Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde ***). The Conscience of the King has one of the two appearances of Lt. Kevin Riley, the original Trek's counterpart of Lt. Reg Barclay.

And the price is right. For example, has 3 and 4 for $11.95 and the rest for $13.95. Considering that I paid Columbia House about $35 (including postage and handling) for the inferior video versions, all praise to the DVD.

I know of one person who is upset that they use the second season version of the main title music. A hit, a palpable hit. But not so deep as a well nor as wide as a church door.

This new release of the original Star Trek brings up the interesting question of the correct order of the original Trek episodes. Those of us who watched it in 1966 will forever remember the broadcast order as correct: Man Trap, Charlie X, Gone Before, Naked Time, etc. The Sci-Fi Channel Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction lists the episodes in broadcast order. It makes more sense, however, to watch the episodes in the order they were filmed: The Cage, Gone Before, Carbomite, Enemy Within, ... . This seems to be what the DVD's are doing, except that The Cage has not yet been released. Columbia House used the order of the Star Dates, which would make sense except that the writers sometimes goofed when putting Star Dates into their scripts. For example, Catspaw, a second season episode, was accidentally given a Star Date, 3018.2, which puts it smack dab in the middle of the first season. And so Columbia House puts it on the same tape with first season classic Shore Leave.

There is something to be said for treating this Star Date goof as accurate information -- after all, it is right there in the episode as filmed -- because it provides an explanation for what would otherwise be inexplicable, the fact that in the film The Wrath of Khan, Khan recognizes Chekhov. Khan visited the Enterprise in the first season episode Space Seed and Chekhov didn't appear on the show until second season. Of course, Walter Koenig wasn't about to give up the chance for a bigger part in the movie, so he kept his mouth shut. But here we have a Star Date that solidly places Chekhov on the Enterprise before Khan. Just because we didn't see him in the first season doesn't mean he wasn't there.

This brings up another point. The stars of the original Trek were the three actors who had their names in the title credits. There was no canonical list of co-stars. Many names appeared in the end credits, with no special distinction given to any of them. The movies have enshrined Chekhov, Sulu, Uhura, Chapel, and Scotty as filling out the top eight, with Janice Rand, who left the show midway through the first season, as number nine. But when the show was aired, Leslie and Kyle were almost as important. Kyle, in particular, appeared in at least nine episodes, plus one animated episode and one movie, which means he was in more original Treks than Yeoman Rand. Here are the rankings:

#1: Spock -- 79 episodes, 22 animated, 6 movies, and 1 Next Generation.
#2: Kirk -- 78 episodes, 21 animated, 7 movies
#3: McCoy -- 74 episodes, 18 animated, 6 movies, 1 Next Generation
#4: Scott -- 61 episodes, 20 animated, 7 movies, 1 Next Generation
#5: Uhura -- 53 episodes, 14 animated, 6 movies
#6: Sulu -- 47 episodes, 14 animated, 6 movies, 1 Voyager
#7: Chekhov -- 31 episodes, 20 animated, 7 movies
#8: Chapel -- 18 episodes, 5 animated, 1 movie
#9: Kyle -- 9 episodes, 1 animated, 1 movie
#10: Rand -- 7 episodes, 3 movies, 2 Voyager
#11: Leslie -- 7 episodes

Other crewmen who appeared in three or more episodes include Galloway, Kelowitz, Lemli, Farrell, Martine, and De Salle. Arex appeared in 13 animated episodes, M'Ress in 5. Harry Mudd appeared in 2 episodes plus 1 animated episode. Khan appeared in one episode and one movie. Captain Pike appeared in the original pilot and one (two part) episode (played by a different actor). Kevin Riley appeared in two episodes. Even though he only appeared in only one episode of the original Trek, Sarek went on to appear in 1 animated, 2 movies, and 2 Next Generation. And the Klingons Kor, Kang, and Koloth, who only appeared in one original Trek each, went on to appear in Deep Space Nine.

Copyright © 1999 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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