Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures Of Gene Roddenberrys Star Trek from Paramount
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Star Trek: The Animated Series is often referred to as Star Trek's "fourth season" because it was created in 1973, four years after the third and final season of the original series, and because most of the original cast provided the voices. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett reprised their characters, and some contributed other voices as well. The only major omission was Walter Koenig's Chekov, who was replaced at the navigation console by Lieutenant Arex, the three-armed alien who most prominently represented the series' freedom to create non-humanoid characters. (Koenig did write an episode.) And while the animation is crude at best, the stories are solid sci-fi (penned by some of Star Trek's veteran writers including DC Fontana and David Gerrold, all of whom received prominent opening credits), explored the Star Trek mythos, and elevated the series above typical Saturday-morning fare. For example, "Yesteryear" goes back to Spock's early years on Vulcan, continuing some explorations from the original series' "Journey to Babel," and offers the familiar voice of Mark Lenard as Sarek. "One of Our Planets Is Missing" raises some interesting philosophical questions about the value of life, and "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Mudd's Passion" revisit favorite characters. Star Trek: The Animated Series lasted just barely over one season, but it won the franchise's only Emmy (for Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series in 1975) and some of its ideas were embraced by future series. Trekkers who know it only by reputation will find it a valuable part of the Star Trek canon. In addition to the series' 22 half-hour episodes, the DVD set includes "Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series," a 24-minute featurette including interviews with the producers and writers (but not actors) on how the series was created and why it still holds up; "What's the Star Trek Connection?", a glossary of characters and themes common to the animated series and other series; a storyboard gallery; and a brief text history. Writer David Gerrold and producer David Wise contribute audio commentaries on three and one episode, respectively, and the ever-reliable Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda provide text commentary on three other episodes. --David Horiuchi