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    STAR TREK - The Animated Series: LASERDISC REVIEW

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    STAR TREK - The Animated Series: LASERDISC REVIEW

    Post  DGTWoodward on Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:59 pm

    STAR TREK - The Animated Series (A.K.A.) The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s STAR TREK) 1973/4: LASERDISC REVIEW

    Format: Laserdisc
    Studio: Paramount Studios
    Year of Release: 1990 then re-released 1997
    TV Standard: NTSC
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (4:3)
    Sound: Analogue, mono
    Running Time: 520+mins (approx.)
    Discs/Sides: 6 Disc, 11 Sides, CLV

    Replay Equipment:

    PIONEER CLD-D925 Laserdisc Player, connected via AV amp
    Samsung 46” 1080p LCD HDTV (calibrated using a Video Essentials Laserdisc calibration tool)
    PIONEER SR-609K A/V Receiver
    Ixos Gold Tos-Link audio cable, AV-GOLD composite leads.
    Eltax Speakers/sub

    Movie Genre: SF space adventure.


    People wonder why Star Trek has gained its legendary status, a show which barely lasted through three seasons in its initial run. Yet it is still very much alive. Indeed it is now re-launching on a second set of brand new, cinematic adventures with a whole new cast in all the familiar roles.

    Star Trek has a long and rich history across multiple media, from TV to books, comics and models, to clothing, movies and VHS…and, of course, on Laserdisc.

    In fact, the animated STAR TREK adventures are listed (according to as the first ever TV show to be released as a complete boxed set on the format.

    In 1973, FILMATION studios produced 22 episodes with each one lasting a nominal 30 minutes (in actuality, about 24 minutes, with the remaining 6 minutes filled with advertising).

    Unusual, though not unique, was that the entire principle cast returned to voice their characters, with the exception of Walter ‘Chekov’ Koenig. But then he did in fact get a full writing credit as he contributed a written episode to the series (the only other show, that I can recall, where the leads reprised their original roles was in Filmation’s second run at BATMAN). So thorough were the attempts to make the animated TREK as ‘real’ as possible that even the voices of slightly more peripheral characters sounded like the originals, so Sarek still sounds like Sarek and Harcourt Fenton Mudd still sounds like Leo Walsh (sorry…Trekker’s in-joke there!)

    Sadly for Gene Roddenberry and his crew, and in spite of trying their hardest to keep a sense of continuity, two things worked against them.

    1) The 25 minute running time, which was just not long enough to build the kinds of stories they were trying to tell.

    2) Filmation Studios themselves. As a studio, they had the industry-wide reputation for doing things ‘on the cheap’. This was usually achieved by using lots and lots of recycled ‘stock’ shots. Also, the fact that the actual level and overall quality of the animation was not very high, all lead to a associated faults, like a terrible lack of continuity within the episodes.

    And yet, for all its faults, it is not without a certain amount of charm. Even though Roddenberry himself eventually disowned the show later on, you can see what the makers were trying to do, even through the cheapness. So in many ways, it is true bona fide TREK.


    The Picture.

    This NTSC only set, is encoded in the CLV format, allowing four episodes per disc at two per side. Rather than the cover-all name of LASERDISC, this set is identified as a LASERVISION set.

    Video quality is actually rather good, considering the material being stored was cheap from start-to-finish. It is framed at 1.33:1 (4:3 Academy ratio) and the series has been transferred rather well, all things considered, with no bleed and good sharp edges. Colour does seem a little diluted and a little weak. However, I compared it to my PAL Region 2 DVD set and there is a difference (of course) but the LD holds up very well by comparison.

    Even with what I suspect is a fair amount of tinkering having been done to the DVD set before release, the two are actually a lot closer than some people might feel comfortable admitting.

    The Sound.

    With the video being pretty good, the audio was not too far behind. Sadly it only comes in a mono and analogue flavour, but it is still pretty good. It would have been good to have the sound in at least stereo. I know that in 1973 (when we got the series in the UK) stereo TV was a looooooong way away, but for the LD release, would a stereo mix have been too much to ask..? I guess so.


    Presented over 6 discs, this is actually a rather nice set to have. It marks a point in history for STAR TREK, as well as making one for Laserdisc as a format. So content aside, it is of historical significance in the life of the big silver platters.

    That said, it is sadly let down by its cover art, which does everything in its power to claw back the “kiddie” element that the TREK production crew (not the Filmation crew) tried studiously to get away from. The words ‘garish’ and simplistic’ would not be out of place as descriptives. The lower box face has the titles of the 22 episodes shown in order, with a thumbnail snapshot of each episode.

    As a STAR TREK fan who is more than old enough, I remember this airing originally on the BBC, so the series holds some emotional connection for me. I am glad to have it in my collection and that it is presented here as well as it has been.

    Not all the stories make sense, and some of them are just plain daft…but some, they hold that spark of classic TREK originality and brilliance, and have truly benefitted from the fact that they were made in animation. Otherwise the costs involved in producing such episodes in ‘live-action’ would have deemed it un-filmable.

    STAR TREK really will live forever, 46 years later I am writing a Laserdisc review of it as proof.




      Current date/time is Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:42 pm