DVD review: ‘Star Trek: Season 3 Remastered’ shows where ‘Boston Legal’ bent began

And so, Paramount’s splendid refitting of Classic Trek comes to a close with this week’s release of Star Trek: The Original Series — Season 3 Remastered from Paramount. Again, the new effects and enhanced picture and sound are a fan’s dream, provided you’re not the kind of purist who balked at similar spiffing up of Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the original Star Wars trilogy.

Me? I love progress, and if you can improve a show without losing its basic integrity, I’m there. Bottom line: If they’d had the resources to produce this level of effects when making this show in the 1960s, they’d have loved to do so. Now Paramount can — and it does a fantastic job. ‘Nuff said.

Sure, Trek‘s third and final original season was nowhere near as good as the first two, but it still had some worthy winners, including the going-native-while-an-asteroid-looms love story of The Paradise Syndrome. (I’m a sucker for idyllic-looking shore leave shows — and that asteroiod gets a great makeover.) The DVD extras here also are welcome, from the original pilot version of The Cage to a tribute to Trek producer Bob Justman, a man I’ve admired dating back to his pre-Trek time on The Outer Limits.

In fact, there are so many elements of The Outer Limits in Star Trek that you almost could argue the first spawned the second, from Trek‘s direct steal of its Arena episode (which makes a cameo in Tropic Thunder, BTW) via OL‘s Fun and Games episode to the fact that some big Trek actors appeared first on the sci-fi anthology show (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, etc.). And Harlan Ellison, author of Trek‘s beloved City on the Edge of Forever episode, first wrote two of the best Outer Limits episodes in Soldier and Demon With a Glass Hand.

But back to The Paradise Syndrome. In it, as in so many Classic Trek episodes, we see the seeds of Shatner’s late-career renaissance. No, we’re not talking his amusingly in-your-face guy on TV commercials, but Shatner’s Denny Crane on Boston Legal, a role which won him an Emmy, which Kirk never did. In short, in Kirk we see a man who, like Denny Crane these days, can’t keep his hands off women — even when he’s in a mind-zapped daze (The Paradise Syndrome) or suffering from “mad cow” (Boston Legal).

Are James Kirk and Denny Crane truly cut from the same cloth? To answer one rhetorical question with another, in an astronomical context: Is there a constant far side (as opposed to “dark side”) of the moon? Yes and yes, of course.

Each character is an alpha male who’s king of his castle, whether it’s a spaceship or a law firm. Each is drawn to women like a meteoroid pulled into a giant planet’s gravitational hold. And each gives good speeches, whether it’s Kirk’s moralistic rallying-the-troops sermonettes or Crane’s sly, shrewd strategies offered to BFF Alan Shore (James Spader) in their balcony chats.

And there, of course, lies the biggest link between Kirk and Crane: Both celebrate male-bonding to the Nth degree. Kirk had Spock, and to a slightly lesser extent McCoy. And Crane has Shore. And those relationships are the thread, the theme, the backbone and the heart of their respective series.

Classic Trek never would have been classic without the intense brotherhood of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and Boston Legal is basically a platonic love story about political opposites but similarly rebellious legal eagles who end each episode with a drink, a cigar, a heart-to-heart talk and another declaration of their “bromance” love.

I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Kirk and Crane — separated at birth? Again, it’s a rhetorical question.

In fact, I rest my case.

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