Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Star Trek: The Original Series has been released on VHS in multiple countries since the technology was developed.

US releases

In early 1980, directly pursuant the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Paramount Home Entertainment (then known as Paramount Home Video) released ten selected episodes on the new VHS and Betamax home media formats in the United States, in five volumes of two episodes each as part of their "Television Classics" collection: "The Menagerie, Part I"/"The Menagerie, Part II", "Amok Time"/"Journey to Babel", "Mirror, Mirror"/"The Tholian Web", "The Trouble with Tribbles"/"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", and "Balance of Terror"/"The City on the Edge of Forever". [1] [2] A limited release priced at US$79.99 each, it was intended as an appetizer for the in October later released The Motion Picture videotape formats, and together they are as such the earliest known official (thereby discounting any and all possible previous and illegal so-called "bootleg recordings", the Original Series "blooper reels" being a prime example, and including the prior Super 8 releases) Star Trek releases in either format, or in any home media format for that matter. A bit puzzling was, that unlike its Motion Picture releases, Paramount did not endow the Original Series releases with catalog numbers or rating indicators. [3]

Typical Fotomat rental/sell-through videotape casing

It were these tapes that very shortly thereafter turned up as the first Star Trek productions in the VHS/Betamax rental circuit. In mid-1979, Paramount Home Video hammered out a deal with photo developer/video rental outlet Fotomat Video to release 36 titles of their backlog catalog on the new home media formats for the rental circuit, who started to do so from December 1979 onward, thereby becoming one of the very first such rental companies. [4] From March 1980 onward, Paramount gradually expanded the original agreement to 131 titles, and it was only after that occasion that all six available Star Trek videotape titles were added to Fotomat's rental catalog. Fotomat had the Paramount introductory logos, disclaimers and credits on the rental tapes, the ones habitually seen prior to the feature presentation, replaced with their own. [5] The tapes were additionally packaged in simple die-cut silver softboard slipcases with black markings and the Fotomat logo on the case. The labels were black with white text. At the time a tape could be either be rented for US$12, or, at a later point in time – for those customers who had missed out on the initial chance to acquire the Paramount tapes – bought for a price in the US$40-$70 range, both rather steep for that era. [6] Ever since, Star Trek has been a staple in the rental circuit, until VHS tapes were phased out of existence in the early-to-mid 2000s, preceded previously by their Betamax counterparts over a decade earlier.

A special one-off release of "Space Seed" (Paramount Gateway Video VHS 60040) occurred in 1982 to tie in with the premiere of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Starting in February 1985, the complete series was finally released in groups of ten over the course of the second half of the 1980s. Both tape formats were released in near simultaneous conjuncture with the US LaserDisc format, sharing similarly designed "transporter platform" cover art, though it should be noted that the tapes were one episode per tape releases as opposed to the two episodes per disc LaserDiscs, they therefore released in groups of five. [7] Included were both versions of "The Cage", first with a hybrid of Gene Roddenberry's work print version and footage from "The Menagerie", along with an introduction by Roddenberry produced especially for the VHS release in 1986, and the "All-Color Collector's Edition" of the episode in 1991. The workprint version, complete with Roddenberry intro is available on Volume 40 of the original DVD releases and the TOS Season 3 DVD set. The full color version was also released in 1995 on a tape by Paramount with "Where No Man Has Gone Before", as part of a four-tape boxed set featuring the pilots for the first four series.

Paramount reissued the VHS tapes in February 1991 with new packaging and collectible SkyBox International trading cards for each episode.

Indicated as such on the box spines but otherwise featuring the Paramount logo and copyright (it was not until 1994 that CBS Broadcasting owner Viacom acquired Paramount Pictures), CBS Video Library/Columbia House also issued tapes of the series in 1986 as "The Collector's Edition" library, each tape featuring two episodes with "The Menagerie, Part I" and "The Menagerie, Part II" becoming the introductory volume. This release constituted a rare treat for American collectors who up until then, and unlike their elsewhere located counterparts, had to do with one episode per tape releases, which became commonplace after the first five 1980 releases. The tapes came packaged in a hardboard fold-out casing, instead of the standard plastic snap-case or softboard slipcase.

Paramount fully phased out releases of the series on VHS by the end of the 1990s-early 2000s.

Volume Cover Episodes Certificate Release Date Catalogue Number
Television Classics collection
1 Cover of volume 1
"The Menagerie, Part I"
"The Menagerie, Part II"[1]
n/a 1980 n/a
2 Cover of volume 2
"Amok Time"
"Journey to Babel"
n/a
3 Cover of volume 3
"Mirror, Mirror"
"The Tholian Web"
n/a
4 Cover of volume 4
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
n/a
0397 (Fotomat)
5 Cover of volume 5
"Balance of Terror"
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
n/a
Paramount Gateway Video
n/a Cover of volume 1
"Space Seed"[2]
NR July 1982 VHS 60040

UK releases

Specific episodes of The Original Series were first released by CIC-Arena Video in the early 1980s. The series in its entirety was released twice in the UK by CIC Video - a two-episode-per-tape release from 1988-1991, and a three-episode-per-tape release from 1996-1998. With the exception of a handful early tape releases by Mountain Video and EVC, typically for the rental outlet market, the UK, as had indeed the rest of Western Europe, adhered to the (at least) two episodes per tape format, as opposed to the US where the one episode per tape format was adhered to for all Star Trek television series for the better part of two decades. For American customers this became a source of chagrin when they became aware of the market discrimination, courtesy the advent of the internet in the early to mid-1990s, especially since American tape prices were at the time on par with their European counterparts.

The predominantly one episode per tape releases from Mountain Video and EVC were the earliest known VHS/Betamax releases outside the US. However, lack of any mention of the legal owner of Star Trek, Paramount Pictures (the aforementioned Fotomat, when it started to disseminate the Star Trek tapes, had Paramount emphatically stated as legal owner on its casings and tapes), as well as the fact that the cover art had all the appearances of being "fan-produced", the ones from EVC in particular, seemed to indicate that legalities surrounding copyright and licensing issues were not quite hammered out according to the rule book. This impression is further reinforced by the fact that there were titles included, Paramount itself had not selected for official release in the US, but there was a large overlap with titles as released the previous decade by Canterbury Films on Super 8, which were unlicensed. Canterbury Films had made use of a contemporary loophole in the then-applicable copyright laws when it discovered that some episodes of the Star Trek television show did not contain a copyright in the credits and released duplicates to collectors, and a similar scenario is conceivable for the earliest British releases. CIC Video, on the other hand, was co-owned by Paramount.

Earliest UK Releases
Vol./Set Cover Episodes Certificate[3] Release Date Catalogue Number
Mountain Video
Shore Leave
Cover of Mountain's release of "Shore Leave"
"Shore Leave"
N/A 1980 VCF 1/025
EVC
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Cover of EVC's release of "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
N/A 1981 EVC039
EVC
The Menagerie
Cover of EVC's release of "The Menagerie"
"The Menagerie, Part I"
"The Menagerie, Part II"
N/A 1981 EVC199
Mountain Video
Trouble with Tribbles
Cover of Mountain's release of "The Trouble with Tribbles"
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
N/A May 1982 VCF 1/081
Mountain Video
Amok Time
Cover of Mountain's release of "Amok Time"
"Amok Time"
N/A June 1982 VCF 1/080
Mountain Video
Dagger of the Mind
Cover of Mountain's release of "Dagger of the Mind"
"Dagger of the Mind"
N/A June 1982 VCF 1/082
Videon
Trouble with Tribbles
Cover of Videon's release of "The Trouble with Tribbles"
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
N/A Unknown N2
CIC-Arena Video releases Cover of CIC-Arena release of "Space Seed" and "The Changeling"
"Space Seed"
"The Changeling"[4]
PG[5] April 1983 VHL 2057
Cover of CIC-Arena release of "Miri" and "The Empath"
"Miri"
"The Empath"[6]
PG[5] December 1983 VHL 2075
CIC Video
Star Trek Double Bill!
CIC Video release of "Whom Gods Destroy" and "Plato's Stepchildren"
"Whom Gods Destroy"[7]
"Plato's Stepchildren"[8]
PG[5] October 1984 VHR 2084

Original complete release

Release dates for the first original twenty-one releases are not known. But since these releases are based on the 1985 one episode per tape US release, as is indicated by the similar cover art, it is fair to assume that releases started sometimes thereafter, considering that foreign dissemination of American produced home media formats habitually lagged behind US distribution at the time for legal as well as practical reasons, translation being the most obvious reason in the latter case. Dates in italics are approximations based on release frequency, where no exact date is available. UK products were normally released on a Monday.

These CIC Video UK releases served from 1988 onward as the basis for not only the Original Series, but all subsequent Star Trek tape releases for the rest of Europe, with local branches of CIC Video responsible for either subtitling or dubbing in the language of the target market, as well as optionally adapting cover art to local tastes. The video casing cover art for the Netherlands and Flanders for example, were nearly indistinguishable from their UK counterparts, save for the text imprint language of the episode summaries and disclaimers on the back cover art, whereas German or Italian releases featured radically redesigned cover art.

The original CIC Video release was continuous, and did not separate out seasons. Consequently, the volume containing the final episode of a season will also have the first episode of the next season. The original releases were deleted on 29 March 1996.

Season 1Season 2Season 3
Volume Cover Episodes Certificate Release Date Catalog Number
1 Cover of volume 1
"The Cage"[9]
U unknown VHR 2207
Season 1
2 Cover of volume 2
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
U unknown VHR 2210
3 Cover of volume 3
"Mudd's Women"
"The Enemy Within"
U/PG[10] unknown VHR 2244
4 Cover of volume 4
"The Man Trap"
"The Naked Time"
PG/U[10] unknown VHR 2247
5 Cover of volume 5
"Charlie X"
"Balance of Terror"
U unknown VHR 2250
6 Cover of volume 6
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
"Dagger of the Mind"
U/PG[10] unknown VHR 2253
7 Cover of volume 7
"Miri"
"The Conscience of the King"
PG unknown VHR 2256
8 Cover of volume 8
"The Galileo Seven"
"Court Martial"
PG unknown VHR 2258
9 Cover of volume 9
"The Menagerie, Part I"
"The Menagerie, Part II"
PG unknown VHR 2274
10 Cover of volume 10
"Shore Leave"
"The Squire of Gothos"
PG unknown VHR 2275
11 Cover of volume 11
"Arena"
"The Alternative Factor"
PG unknown VHR 2295
12 Cover of volume 12
"Tomorrow is Yesterday"
"The Return of the Archons"
PG unknown VHR 2305
13 Cover of volume 13
"A Taste of Armageddon"
"Space Seed"
PG unknown VHR 2306
14 Cover of volume 14
"This Side of Paradise"
"The Devil in the Dark"
PG unknown VHR 2307
15 Cover of volume 15
"Errand of Mercy"
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
U unknown VHR 2311
Season 2
16 Cover of volume 16
"Operation -- Annihilate!"
"Catspaw"
U unknown VHR 2328
17 Cover of volume 17
"Metamorphosis"
"Friday's Child"
PG unknown VHR 2329
18 Cover of volume 18
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
"Amok Time"
PG unknown VHR 2343
19 Cover of volume 19
"The Doomsday Machine"
"Wolf in the Fold"
PG unknown VHR 2352
20 Cover of volume 20
"The Changeling"
"The Apple"
U unknown VHR 2353
21 Cover of volume 21
"Mirror, Mirror"
"The Deadly Years"
U unknown VHR 2356
22 Cover of volume 22
"I, Mudd"
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
U 2 April 1990 VHR 2357
23 Cover of volume 23
"Bread and Circuses"
"Journey to Babel"
PG 2 April 1990 VHR 2358
24 Cover of volume 24
"A Private Little War"
"The Gamesters of Triskelion"
PG 2 April 1990 VHR 2359
25 Cover of volume 25
"Obsession"
"The Immunity Syndrome"
U 7 May 1990 VHR 2360
26 Cover of volume 26
"A Piece of the Action"
"By Any Other Name"
U 4 June 1990 VHR 2361
27 Cover of volume 27
"Return to Tomorrow"
"Patterns of Force"
U 2 July 1990 VHR 2379
28 Cover of volume 28
"The Ultimate Computer"
"The Omega Glory"
U 6 August 1990 VHR 2380
Season 3
29 Cover of volume 29
"Assignment: Earth"
"Spectre of the Gun"
U 3 September 1990 VHR 2381
30 Cover of volume 30
"Elaan of Troyius"
"The Paradise Syndrome"
PG 3 September 1990 VHR 2382
31 Cover of volume 31
"The Enterprise Incident"
"And the Children Shall Lead"
PG 3 September 1990 VHR 2383
32 Cover of volume 32
"Spock's Brain"
"Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
PG 1 October 1990 VHR 2384
33 Cover of volume 33
"The Empath"
"The Tholian Web"
PG 5 November 1990 VHR 2385
34 Cover of volume 34
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"
"Day of the Dove"
PG 7 January 1991 VHR 2430
35 Cover of volume 35
"Plato's Stepchildren"
"Wink of an Eye"
PG 7 January 1991 VHR 2431
36 Cover of volume 36
"That Which Survives"
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
U 7 January 1991 VHR 2432
37 Cover of volume 37
"Whom Gods Destroy"
"The Mark of Gideon"
PG 4 February 1991 VHR 2433
38 Cover of volume 38
"The Lights of Zetar"
"The Cloud Minders"
PG 4 February 1991 VHR 2434
39 Cover of volume 39
"The Way to Eden"
"Requiem for Methuselah"
PG 18 March 1991 VHR 2435
40[11] Cover of volume 40
"The Savage Curtain"
"All Our Yesterdays"
"Turnabout Intruder"
PG 18 March 1991 VHR 2436

Re-release

Each episode in the series features an introduction by either James Doohan, George Takei, or Walter Koenig. With the exception of the below-mentioned DVD/magazine partwork publication, these specially-produced introductions have not been included in any of the later home media formats and are therefore exclusive for this edition. This 1996 three episodes per tape edition – a format hitherto unheard of for the American home market – made use of new transfers of color corrected and cleaned-up footage, at the time called "digitally mastering", originally done four years earlier for the Japanese LaserDisc editions Star Trek: Log 1 - Log 3. Released at the beginning of the DVD age this edition only saw a limited production run, in anticipation of the first DVD release of the Original Series. Picture quality wise, it has been the best edition of the Original Series ever to be released on VHS, actually even outperforming the initial DVD releases of the Original Series, as explained below.

Dutch season 2 box set with lid

A relatively uncommon one, this particular release has seen at least one international variant. In the Netherlands and Flanders the (sub-titled) series was offered through the now defunct Free Record Shop retail chain store as a "retailer exclusive" for a limited time in 1997 as three, complete season collector's box set editions. This entailed that the tapes were packaged in carton slipcases with otherwise unaltered cover art, they themselves collected in a box on a per season basis. The season two box set incorporated as an extra, a copy of William Shatner's Star Trek Memories, whereas the season three box contained copies of Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond and From Here to Infinity: The Ultimate Voyage – the 1994 space documentary presented by Patrick Stewart – as extra bonus. The UK tapes were packaged in the standard plastic VHS snap cases.

In the US, this version has never seen the light of day, neither in format nor in its use of the Japanese "remastered" transfers. US customers had to wait until the 2007 TOS-R Season 1 HD DVD release to enjoy for themselves improved picture quality, previous DVD releases – for all territories – having only made use of the worn-out original masters (including the 1999-2001 US "digitally enhanced and remastered" release, which was in picture quality still inferior to the Japanese transfer due to the infancy of digital scanning techniques), the same ones they had already used for their VHS releases.

In the UK itself the re-release edition served as the basis for the 2007-2008 Star Trek: The Original Series - The Collector's Edition DVD/magazine partwork publication of GE Fabbri.

Season 1Season 2Season 3
Vol. Cover Episodes Certificate Release Date Catalog Number
Season 1
1.1 Cover of volume 1.1
"The Cage"
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
U 24 June 1996 VHR 4301
1.2 Cover of volume 1.2
"Mudd's Women"
"The Enemy Within"
"The Man Trap"
PG 8 July 1996 VHR 4302
1.3 Cover of volume 1.3
"The Naked Time"
"Charlie X"
"Balance of Terror"
U 8 July 1996 VHR 4303
1.4 Cover of volume 1.4
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
"Dagger of the Mind"
"Miri"
PG 5 August 1996 VHR 4304
1.5 Cover of volume 1.5
"The Conscience of the King"
"The Galileo Seven"
"Court Martial"
PG 9 September 1996 VHR 4305
1.6 Cover of volume 1.6
"The Menagerie, Part I"
"The Menagerie, Part II"
"Shore Leave"
PG 7 October 1997 VHR 4306
1.7 Cover of volume 1.7
"The Squire of Gothos"
"Arena"
"The Alternative Factor"
PG 4 November 1996 VHR 4307
1.8 Cover of volume 1.8
"Tomorrow is Yesterday"
"The Return of the Archons"
"A Taste of Armageddon"
PG 2 December 1996 VHR 4308
1.9 Cover of volume 1.9
"Space Seed"
"This Side of Paradise"
"The Devil in the Dark"
PG 30 December 1996 VHR 4309
1.10 Cover of volume 1.10
"Errand of Mercy"
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
"Operation -- Annihilate!"
U 13 January 1997 VHR 4310
Season 2
2.1 Cover of volume 2.1
"Catspaw"
"Metamorphosis"
"Friday's Child"
PG 3 February 1997 VHR 4311
2.2 Cover of volume 2.2
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
"Amok Time"
"The Doomsday Machine"
PG 24 February 1997 VHR 4312
2.3 Cover of volume 2.3
"Wolf in the Fold"
"The Changeling"
"The Apple"
PG 10 March 1997 VHR 4313
2.4 Cover of volume 2.4
"Mirror, Mirror"
"The Deadly Years"
"I, Mudd"
U 7 April 1997 VHR 4314
2.5 Cover of volume 2.5
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
"Bread and Circuses"
"Journey to Babel"
PG 5 May 1997 VHR 4315
2.6 Cover of volume 2.7
"A Private Little War"
"The Gamesters of Triskelion"
"Obsession"
PG 2 June 1997 VHR 4316
2.7 Cover of volume 2.7
"The Immunity Syndrome"
"A Piece of the Action"
"By Any Other Name"
U 23 June 1997 VHR 4317
2.8 Cover of volume 2.8
"Return to Tomorrow"
"Patterns of Force"
"The Ultimate Computer"
U 21 July 1997 VHR 4318
2.9[12] Cover of volume 2.9
"The Omega Glory"
"Assignment: Earth"
PG 22 August 1997 VHR 4319
Season 3
3.1 Cover of volume 3.1
"Spectre of the Gun"
"Elaan of Troyius"
"The Paradise Syndrome"
PG 1 September 1997 VHR 4320
3.2 Cover of volume 3.2
"The Enterprise Incident"
"And the Children Shall Lead"
"Spock's Brain"
PG 29 September 1997 VHR 4321
3.3 Cover of volume 3.3
"Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
"The Empath"
"The Tholian Web"
PG 6 October 1997 VHR 4322
3.4 Cover of volume 3.4
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"
"Day of the Dove"
"Plato's Stepchildren"
PG 20 October 1997 VHR 4323
3.5 Cover of volume 3.5
"Wink of an Eye"
"That Which Survives"
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
U 24 November 1997 VHR 4324
3.6 Cover of volume 3.6
"Whom Gods Destroy"
"The Mark of Gideon"
"The Lights of Zetar"
PG 5 January 1998 VHR 4325
3.7 Cover of volume 3.7
"The Cloud Minders"
"The Way to Eden"
"Requiem for Methuselah"
PG 2 February 1998 VHR 4326
3.8 Cover of volume 3.8
"The Savage Curtain"
"All Our Yesterdays"
"Turnabout Intruder"
PG 2 March 1998 VHR 4327

Box sets, collections, and other releases

Vol./Set Cover Episodes Certificate[13] Release Date Catalog Number
The Cage All Colour Collectors Edition[14] Cover of "The Cage" All Colour Edition
"The Cage"
U 2 July 1990 VHR 2374
Star Trek - The Three Beginnings Cover of the Three Beginnings collection
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
PG 31 January 1994 VHR 2827
Star Trek - The Four Beginnings Boxart of The Four Beginnings collection
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
PG 1995  
Star Trek - 30th Anniversary Trial Pack No image yet.
"The Cage"
15[15] 2 January 1996  
Star Trek: The Original Series - Tricorder Pack TOS Tricorder pack.jpg
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
PG 3 June 1996 VHR 4373
Star Trek - Greatest Battles Greatest Battles exterior packaging
"Balance of Terror"
"The Doomsday Machine"
12 16 November 1998 VHR 4732

Footnotes

  1. This release is slightly edited to present the episode in one part, rather than two parts. The credits at the end of the episode and the closing credits are removed from Part I and the opening teaser recounting the events from Part I and the regular opening sequence are removed, instead doing a quick fade-out and cut into the first act of Part II.
  2. One-off tie-in with the concurrently released Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan VHS, featuring the theatrical trailer at the beginning of the tape. The tape features the same transfer as utilized for its CED counterpart.
  3. Prior to 1985, the UK did not utilize rating certification, as legislation was only introduced in 1984. Tapes released before 1985, the so-called "pre-certification videos", that do sport ratings, were only given these after the legislation went into effect in 1985.
  4. This release also included a trailer for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Originally released unrated, the volume received a rating after 1985.
  6. This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 5 January 1994).
  7. This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 19 January 1994).
  8. This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 22 December 1993).
  9. Mixed colour/black & white picture.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Curiously, the cover for this volume displays a double certificate, indicating that episodes were rated for releases separately, instead of as a single volume.
  11. A three episode tape to end the series. This was likely more profitable to produce and market than a single episode release.
  12. Two episode tape.
  13. In the case of sets, the certificate is over the set as a whole (unless stated otherwise).
  14. Released after an all-color print of the episode was uncovered.
  15. This rating (provided by Amazon.co.uk) appears anomalous - all four pilot episodes individually are rated no higher than PG.


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