Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Packaging For The Fans

"Avidly materialistic and possessive," you say? Guilty as charged. I'm a sucker for a deal, particularly if the item in question is something I've had my eye on for some time. The most recent example of this is the DVD set of Star Trek: The Original Series. I balked at the price when the boxed set came out five years ago: it hovered around the $300 (Canadian) mark, and even though I'd passed on Paramount's earlier "Star Trek DVD subscription program" ($25 got you two episodes per DVD; multiply that by 40 DVDs and it looks like someone at Paramount bought themselves a new ivory backscratcher) I decided to hold onto my money until the day came when the set sold for less than 50% of that.

That day was Saturday. It's a groovy set, to be sure: great picture and sound (a huge improvement on my original B&W exposure to the show). But the packaging is ... well ... a little mystifying:

I'm guessing these primary-colored hard plastic boxes are supposed to remind me of a tricorder...

...but after watching my daughter spend a minute or two wrestling with it to get to the discs inside...

...I'd say they bear a closer resemblance to an enormous Kinder Egg. Then there's the compact accordion case for the discs, which makes me realize just how glaring and ungainly these large, bright, plastic boxes will look if I shelve them alongside my other DVDs, so ... off to the basement they go. Waste of money, waste of plastic, waste of space. That's future thinking!

Now contrast this with the Get Smart! boxed set. It's cardboard, it doesn't take up any extra space, and it works like this:

Now that's clever packaging! (If you're scratching your head, watch this.)


ジョエル said...

I've been watching the original Star Trek reruns on TV land recently. It's amazing how that show never ages.
Or, I take that back. Some parts are very dated, but dated in a funny way.

DarkoV said...


While not even slightly interested in the Star Trek original series (sorry, WP!), which, if I recall correctly, looked like it was filmed in a public school back stage auditorium, those pictures of the GEtr Smart set has me salivating.
Get Smart, which I'm sure was filmed in a public high school's guidance office, is, as you well know, an act of comic genius twisting its nose at the pomposity of all of the main players in the '60's. Government, Hippies, Suit-wearing bombastic trilobytes. Yeah, just about the whole lot.
What, pray tell, was the price you paid to get your hands on that series?

Yahmdallah said...

I popped for some of the 2 episodes per DVD setwhen Best Buy had a sale on them, 'cause I just had to have them. I just chose a subset of the eppys I wanted. I still paid too much though, and swore a blue streak when they boxed them all up cheaper.

I still love the show. My eldest daughter loves them, too. They still contain some of the best story-telling ever in a series. (And it's cool seeing all the little moments restored that used to be cut out to fit in more commercials.)

Jim said...

Star Trek was filmed in a public school's backstage ared. Hadn't you heard?

I watched that YouTube clip just for the theme song.

"Awesome," he says in a semi-whispering, tremulous voice. "Simply awesome!"

Whisky Prajer said...

ジョエル - "dated in a funny way" is a large part of the show's charm. I've had an ongoing discussion with Scott, which started when I asserted that the new Battlestar Galactica is unlikely to be remembered with much fondness, simply because it hasn't allowed itself the opportunity to be goofy.

DV - re: satiric targets of Get Smart you forgot "deluded chauvinists". "You've got a lot to learn about male superiority," scolds Max after 99 bests him yet again. Both my daughters love the show - the older one will be celebrating her 10th birthday on Friday, and will be holding a "Spy Party" for her classmates. The series is only available on-line at Time-Life. I paid the asking price, and don't regret a single penny of it.

yahmdallah - those father-daughter moments are pretty special, aren't they? I'm hoping by next year there will be at least one Star Trek-themed birthday party (that isn't my own, of course).

jim - kinda makes you feel like stopping the car, and making a run for it, doesn't it?

Jim said...

The running guitar line is killer. Gosh I love that theme.

DarkoV said...

I wonder if Jimi Hendrix did the guitar work. Seriously. Remember all that urban legend stuff about how he did some of the guitar playing on some of the early "The Monkees Show"?

You never know...The '60's were a strange time.

Whisky Prajer said...

Hendrix? I dunno ... those chromatic scales would have been awfully restricting. Is it easier imagining him standing at the back of the orchestra, methodically moving up and down the scale for Get Smart, or standing at the mic and attempting the Theramin-like warblings of the Star Trek theme? Those were, as you say, strange times.

Yahmdallah said...

Yeah, Hendrix is pretty distinctive. He did some guitar for the Isley Bros and you can sure tell. His first US tour was as the opening act for the Monkees, and he was rumored to be pulled on stage by them during their show. Maybe that's where it comes from.