The result of a nearly decade-long collaboration between the Roddenberry family, CBS and Trek gurus Mike and Denise Okuda, the project painstakingly went through every surviving bit of footage from the series. Much of this was in the form of low-quality dailies made for Gene Roddenberry and kept by his family since his death in 1991.
Now it’s been examined, restored and presented here for the first time ever; what little behind the scenes footage of the series we’ve seen before has been in the form of blooper reels or home movies. What’s special about the Roddenberry Vault, however, is that we get actual unused footage from the series.
Chief amongst these are several deleted scenes. Unlike today, where every second of a series’ production is catalogued for posterity, in the ‘60s it was very different. In many cases, fans didn’t know if extra scenes that appeared in novelizations or scripts ever existed. Many of those legendary scenes are here. We won’t spoil which ones, as half the joy of the set is discovering for yourself, but expect more from characters such as Khan, Edith Keeler, and possibly Sulu’s biggest dialogue scene of the entire series.
There’s also a number of alternate takes of existing scenes, as well as altered or omitted dialogue, occasional snippets from before or after scenes, raw effects footage and yes, even the occasional blooper. Much of this is pure gold. It’s amazing watching the relaxed, smiling Leonard Nimoy change into Spock as the cameras start rolling, or to hear additional lines from one of Kirk’s most famous speeches.
A small note of caution, however: all the footage here is from low-quality prints, not the original negative, so don’t expect a pristine restoration. The picture quality isn’t always great, there’s missing dialogue, and one famous deleted scene only exists from Spock’s reaction shot, with McCoy’s lines read off-camera by the script supervisor.
There are approximately 45 minutes of recovered footage here, expanded to near three hours through fairly standard making-of material, featuring an impressive collection of interviewees. All the surviving main cast members feature, as do behind the scenes personnel and guest stars including Leslie Parrish and Clint Howard.
Rounding off the set is 12 episodes, including The Corbomite Maneuver, Devil in the Dark and Return to Tomorrow. There’s a few new commentaries and, for the first time, isolated music tracks. If you’re not overly familiar with the Original Series, the episodes here are amongst the finest.
For most, though, it’s the newly-discovered footage that’s the main selling point. We’ve been kept waiting half a century for it, and for many, this is the Holy Grail.
STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - THE RODDENBERRY VAULT / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / STARRING: WILLIAM SHATNER, LEONARD NIMOY, DEFOREST KELLEY / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 5TH