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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season One Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Featuring one of the most endearing ensemble casts in television history, Star Trek: The Next Generation took fans on the remarkable continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Star Trek: The Next Generation – The First Season has been retransferred from original film elements to produce stunning high-definition images, including amazing visual effects that have been painstakingly recreated from the source material, creating before/after results that fans will love.  The six-disc Blu-ray set also features 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and a wealth of exclusive bonus material, such as archival footage, a gag reel, and an inside look at taking The Next Generation to the next level of high-definition.  Featuring numerous behind-the-scenes interviews, the new material also features Star Trek experts Mike and Denise Okuda, consultants throughout this ongoing project, who offer special insights into the countless man-hours dedicated to the upgrade of The Next Generation.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

One of my earliest childhood memories is watching Star Trek: The Original Series which I loved. That love continued with all of the motion pictures that featured Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the gallant crew of the Enterprise. When I first heard that there would be a new Star Trek show set a hundred years after the original series, I was excited but concerned at the same time.  How could another Star Trek show without Kirk and the rest of the crew possibly be as good as the show that set the standard?  When Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered, I along with a lot of other people weren’t sure what to make of it.  In many ways the new show seemed determined to be the polar opposite of the original one – instead of the virile Kirk as the Captain, there was now an older balding captain who seemed to be more inclined towards sedate diplomacy instead of of leading away teams into the heart of danger.  Then there was an android, a Klingon, a Betazoid, a blind guy, and a kid as part of the command crew. Even the ship itself was different despite being called Enterprise, as it seemed to be more like a luxurious cruise ship than a star-ship of exploration.
As time went on however and the show worked out its kinks, it started to feel more and more like Star Trek I loved and it eventually found its own identity and well-deserved acclaim.  Revisiting this first season after such a long time was enlightening to me as I found that I liked it a lot more now than I did back in 1987.  I know part of that is because my love for the show grew with each season and the subsequent movies, so now when I look back, I am a lot more forgiving than I originally was.  A lot of my initial disappointment was due to the fact that it wasn’t like the original series, but that feeling was pretty much dispelled by the time the show’s second season started. Like most first seasons, this show had some winners and some losers as the show found its legs. Some episodes like “The Big Goodbye” (which also won a Peabody award) showed what the show was capable of, while others like “The Naked Now” and “Code of Honor” represented the low points of the first season.  Even the worst of the Next Generation episodes had some good elements to them even during this first season and a large part of that was because of the cast.
While Patrick Stewart may not have been the the most obvious choice for the captain of the Enterprise, he was an inspired one.  His extensive theatrical training with the Royal Shakespeare Company gave him a gravitas and presence that elevated the show to new heights.  Jonathan Frakes’ Riker was an obvious throwback to Kirk initially, but over time his character deepened and changed.  Riker was a man who chose to pass up a command of his own to serve on the Enterprise and later realized that he wasn’t complete without his “Imzadi,” who happened to be Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), the ship’s telepathic counselor.  Brent Spiner’s Data served as a echo of Spock, as he was a machine of logic who was able to observe and comment on humanity. Thanks to the events that occurred in Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country decades earlier, relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire had grown close enough that a Klingon named Worf (Michael Dorn) was allowed to serve on the Enterprise.  We also saw some other firsts including the first female security officer named Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) and a teenager named Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) who was able to join the crew along with his mother Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden).
While there is no doubt that the show became stronger with each season, this first season still managed to set up recurring themes, characters, and adversaries that would enrich the show from that point forward.  The God-like “Q” (John DeLancie) would become a constant threat/annoyance and would serve as the first and last foil for the Enterprise to deal with during their television run. The weaselly Ferengi made their first appearance in this season’s “The Last Outpost,” as did Data’s evil brother “Lore” in “Datalore”.  We also finally see the return of one of the Federation’s worst enemies – the Romulans – in “The Neutral Zone”.  This season we also learn more about the Klingon culture, including their rituals for death and we actually see one of the main characters on the show die. Speaking of deaths, I wouldn’t recommend letting small children watch “The Conspiracy” as it features the most graphic death of all of the Star Trek canon and I still can’t believe that it was allowed into a Star Trek show.  If this had been a network produced show instead of being syndicated, there is no way it would have made it on the air. Fortunately for me, my son (who had been watching this set with me) went to bed before the aforementioned death scene so I got lucky.
 Here are the episodes for season one:
  1. Encounter at Far Point Parts 1 & 2 - The new U.S.S. Enterprise-D and its crew set out “to boldly go where no one has gone before.”  Their first mission of the Galaxy-class starship U.S.S. Enterprise-D is to explore the mystery surrounding the creation of the Farpoint  station located on planet Deneb IV. While trying to negotiate a friendly agreement for Starfleet to use this energy-powered base, Captain Picard and his crew also attempt to discover how the Bandi inhabitants of Deneb IV built the station.  En route to Farpoint, Captain Picard and his crew first meet “Q.” The mysterious and powerful being denounces the human race as barbarians and challenges the crew of the Enterprise to disprove his belief. If Picard and his crew are not persuasive in their arguments, they will be sentenced to death.
  2. The Naked Now – The U.S.S. Enterprise and crew are summoned to investigate strange occurrences aboard the starship U.S.S. Tsiolkovsky, which has been monitoring the collapse of a red-orange star.  Once aboard the troubled research vessel, the away team finds a ship littered with food, wine, discarded clothes, several frozen bodies and no survivors. Unknowingly, Geordi energizes back aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise carrying a contagious, deadly contaminant that begins to infect the entire Starfleet crew, making them feel and act as if they were intoxicated and mentally unstable.  While Dr. Crusher searches for an antidote, chaos erupts when Wesley takes control of the ship.
  3. Code of Honor - The U.S.S. Enterprise and crew travel to the planet Ligon II to negotiate a treaty for the use of a rare vaccine needed on Stryris IV.  The Ligonians board the starship appearing friendly, but startle the crew by ruthlessly kidnapping Tasha Yar. To get Tasha back, Captain Picard must adhere to a strict Ligonian code of honor, which results in Tasha fighting for her life at the hands of her jealous kidnapper’s wife.  When diplomacy fails, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew combine wits to peacefully turn the tables on the Ligonians, winning back Tasha and obtaining the rare vaccine needed to help the federation planet of Stryris IV.
  4. The Last Outpost - The U.S.S. Enterprise is rendered powerless above an unknown and mysterious planet during a mission to repossess a stolen T-9 energy converter from Ferengi culprits. As the chase passes Gamma Tauri IV, both ships suffer from power drains causing them to come to a halt.  Captain Picard, believing the Ferengi bandits initiated this withdrawal of energy, announces the U.S.S. Enterprise’s willingness to resolve the situation.  However, the Ferengi vessel reports that it faces the same predicament.  In an effort to discover who or what has tampered with their energy supplies, away teams from both the Ferengi and U.S.S. Enterprise starships beam down to investigate the desolate planet.
  5. Where No One Has Gone Before - The U.S.S. Enterprise and crew travel to uncharted territory when a test on the ship’s propulsion system backfires and blasts the starship more than a billion light years from their own galaxy.  The blame for the mishap is originally placed on Kosinski, an arrogant Starfleet propulsion expert. However, it is eventually discovered that the mental powers of the Traveler, a meek, humanoid alien (acting as the propulsion expert’s assistant), was the true catalyst for this potential catastrophe. Complicating the dilemma of being lost in space, the physical and mental world are integrated in this galaxy – what the crew thinks becomes real.
  6. Lonely Among Us - While transporting two adversary civilizations to the conference planet of Parliament, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise pass through a mysterious “cloud” containing combinations of complex energy patterns.  Immediately, strange things begin to happen on the U.S.S. Enterprise. It seems that both Lt. Worf and Dr. Crusher have become afflicted with confusing behavior, while the ship malfunctions and repairs itself with no available explanation.  Soon after entering the strange “cloud,” Assistant Chief Engineer Singh is killed while investigating the ship’s mechanical malfunctions. At once the Starfleet crew begins investigating the circumstances surrounding Singh’s death.
  7. Justice - After delivering a party of Earth colonists to the Strnad Solar System, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise anxiously awaits a pending shore leave on the pastoral planet of Rubicun III.  The civilization, whose inhabitants are known as the Edo, is less advanced than those on Earth but is brimming with love, health and sensual pleasure.  Vacation plans are suddenly thwarted when Wesley Crusher, playing with the Edo children, innocently violates a planet law and is sentenced to death. At the same time, the crew is confronted by a mysterious vessel that appears to be existing in two dimensions simultaneously.
  8. The Battle - The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise discovers an old style starship heading towards them shortly after a conference with a Ferengi vessel.  Much to Captain Picard’s amazement, it is soon learned that the old ship, the U.S.S. Stargazer, is the vessel he abandoned nine years earlier in the famous battle of Maxia. The Ferengi Captain, Bok, having since taken control of the U.S.S. Stargazer, informs Captain Picard that he is returning the vessel to Starfleet. Unknown to the Captain, a mind-altering device is also aboard the ship in his old belongings.  As it turns out, Bok is seeking revenge for the death of his son during the battle of Maxia, and the mysterious device he holds is used to inflict great pain on Picard. The Captain, his mind altered in terrifying ways, is forced to think about the horror of the Maxia battle. In an attempt to tarnish Picard’s reputation, Bok also tampers with the Stargazer‘s records to make it appear as if the Captain fired on an innocent Ferengi vessel in the Maxia skirmish.
  9. Hide and Q - While rushing to aid the survivors on a planet rocked by a lethal explosion, the U.S.S. Enterprise is stopped by the dangerous “Q” entity who had interfered with their Farpoint mission several months earlier.  The powerful Q demands the Enterprise and crew abandon their rescue mission and partake in a deadly game which, according to Q, could result in either “the greatest possible future” for the crew … or death!
  10. Haven - Counselor Troi’s mother pays an unexpected visit to the U.S.S. Enterprise, informing her daughter of the marriage plans her late father had arranged on Deanna’s behalf. Honoring the traditional Betazoid customs, Deanna Troi dutifully, yet halfheartedly, prepares to marry Wyatt Miller, the son of her father’s best friend.  Wedding preparations between the two families create humorous bickering and banter, not to mention confusion and mixed feelings for Troi’s former lover, Commander William Riker.
  11. The Big Goodbye - The U.S.S. Enterprise must pass through the quadrant Korona IV, which is inhabited by the Jarada, an insect-like race that demands a precise greeting from the Captain of any ship wishing to enter their territory.  Taking a break from the difficult greeting preparations with the Jarada, Captain Picard visits 1941 San Francisco in the fabricated environment of the holodeck. He is soon joined by Data, Dr. Crusher and Whalen, the ship’s historian. But when the holodeck malfunctions, the four crew members are trapped in a 20th century murder adventure in which Whalen is killed and Picard, Data and Crusher are held at gunpoint by gangsters.
  12. Datalore - The U.S.S. Enterprise crew investigates the mystery surrounding the disappearance of an earth colony in the Omicron Theta star system 26 years earlier, which coincidentally happens to the exact same time when Lieutenant Commander Data was discovered.  While visiting Data’s home planet, the away team discovers a laboratory containing android body parts. When Dr. Crusher and Chief Engineer Argyle assemble the parts, they bring to life a duplicate of Data! The real Data learns that the look-alike, named Lore, was once “alive,” but was disassembled by the colonists on the planet who were jealous of Lore’s perfection.
  13. Angel One - The U.S.S. Enterprise crew travels to Angel One, a planet run by women, to search for survivors from a Federation freighter disabled by an asteroid collision seven years earlier.  The away team soon discovers that the survivors, all men, are fugitives on the planet because they refuse to embrace the female-dominated government. Despite their oppressed status, the fugitives turn down the away team’s offer to return with them to the Enterprise. The reason? The men have taken wives on Angel One.
  14. One One Zero Zero One Zero Zero One - The U.S.S. Enterprise docks at Starbase 74 where the Bynars, a species interdependent on computers, are scheduled to upgrade the ship’s computer system.  Instead of enhancing the starship’s facilities, however, the Bynars program the ship’s computer to read that the magnetic containment field is deteriorating and that the entire U.S.S. Enterprise will shortly be destroyed. Unable to locate Captain Picard and Commander Riker, Data evacuates the ship and launches the U.S.S. Enterprise back into space to avoid damaging Starbase 74.
  15. Too Short a Season - The U.S.S. Enterprise transports a famous negotiator, Admiral Mark Jameson, to Mordan IV, where several Federation officials have been taken hostage by the planet’s governor, Karnas.  Although the crew is excited about having the legendary officer on board, Picard and Dr. Crusher are perplexed by Jameson. When Jameson beams onto the ship it turns out he is a terminally ill man in his eighties. As the voyage progresses, however, Jameson inexplicably begins to look not only healthier, but younger as well! When confronted by Picard, Jameson admits that he has taken an enormous dose of an experimental alien drug to treat his disease, which has resulted in a rapid de-aging process.
  16. When the Bough Breaks - The U.S.S. Enterprise accidentally discovers Aldea, a planet with advanced technology that provides every need or want a person could have.  Although Aldea has hidden itself from the universe behind a sophisticated shield, it’s soon apparent that the discovery was no accident. Having lost the ability to reproduce, the Aldeans kidnap several children from the U.S.S. Enterprise, including Wesley Crusher, to perpetuate their race.  When hostage negotiations fail, Picard struggles to find a method of penetrating the planet’s shield while Dr. Crusher studies the cause of the Aldean sterility problem. Meanwhile, Wesley uncovers the key to the planet’s sophistication-a computer known as the Custodian, whose power source is unknown even to the Aldeans.
  17. Home Soil - At the Federation’s request, a U.S.S. Enterprise away team visits Velara III where a group of terra-formers are working to transform the seemingly desolate planet into one capable of supporting life.  Tragically, a terra-former engineer is killed during their visit in a bizarre hydraulic room accident.  While investigating the mishap, Data is inexplicably attacked by the laser drilling system. He escapes injury, but upon further exploration, Data and La Forge find a microscopic inorganic life form that seems to be trying to communicate with them. They take the life form, or “microbrain” as they refer to it, back to the U.S.S. Enterprise where it begins to reproduce and project an energy force that compels Dr. Crusher to activate a quarantine seal around the medical lab.
  18. Coming of Age - While the U.S.S. Enterprise orbits Relva VII, Wesley beams down to take the grueling Starfleet Academy entrance exam.  Back on board the ship, Picard and his crew are quizzed by Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick, a Federation officer who is investigating Picard’s competence on the orders of the captain’s old friend, Admiral Gregory Quinn. Although neither Picard nor his crew understands the reason for the inquiry, they give Remmick their full cooperation.  In the midst of the investigation a young man named Jake Kurland, distraught over not qualifying for the Academy entrance exam, steals a shuttle-craft and heads into space.
  19. Heart of Glory - Lt. Worf must choose between his loyalty to Starfleet and his Klingon heritage when two Klingon fugitives take over the U.S.S. Enterprise.  The fugitives, yearning to recapture the Klingon fighting days of the past, hijack a Talarian vessel and destroy a Klingon ship sent to capture them. Then, just as their disabled ship is about to blow up, the Klingons are rescued by the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Unaware of the Klingons’ true intentions, Captain Picard instructs Lt. Worf to show his Klingon comrades around the ship. During their tour, the fugitives attempt to enlist Worf in their cause.
  20. The Arsenal of Freedom - While investigating the disappearance of the U.S.S. Drake on the planet Minos, the crew battles aggressive energy spheres, swallowing sinkholes and invisible attackers.  Arriving at Minos, the crew is met by a prerecorded sales pitch for highly-advanced weaponry. This is not surprising, however, since the Minos people were renowned arms dealers during the Erselrope wars.
  21. Symbiosis - While studying magnetic changes in the Delossystem’s sun, the U.S.S. Enterprise receives a distress signal from a disabled freighter ship.  The starship beams four of the passengers on board, along with the ship’s cargo. Two of the guests are from the technically advanced planet of Ornara, and the other two are from its neighboring planet of Brekka. The crew is puzzled when the two groups immediately begin to argue over the cargo.  Picard learns that the precious cargo is in fact a remedy for a plague which has gripped Ornara for two centuries.  This episode is also noteworthy as it stars Judson Scott and Merritt Butrick who had played the sons of Khan and Kirk respectively in Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan.
  22. Skin of Evil - While the U.S.S. Enterprise is en route to rendezvous with Troi’s shuttlecraft, a bizarre malfunction causes the transport vehicle to crash on Vagra II.  The only life form on the planet is Armus, a sinister entity that derives pleasure from the suffering of others.  Picard orders Commander Riker, Dr. Crusher, Lieutenant Commander Data and Lieutenant Yar to the planet to rescue Troi. Upon arrival, they discover that a strange entity has surrounded the crash site with a force-field, preventing the away team from helping her.
  23. We’ll Always Have Paris - While traveling to Sarona VIII for shore leave, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew experiences a bizarre phenomenon in which a moment in time mysteriously repeats itself. Shortly thereafter, the ship receives a distress signal from Vandor IV, where Dr. Paul Manheim has been conducting experiments in non-linear time.  After rescuing Dr. Manheim and his wife Jenice, who turns out to be Picard’s first love, the crew learns that Manheim’s experiment not only caused the time distortion they experienced, but cracked a window into a new dimension. As a result, Manheim’s days are numbered, since his neurochemistry has been damaged from floating between two dimensions.  To save Manheim’s life and prevent the aborted experiment from ripping into the fabric of the galaxy and confusing everyone’s perception of reality, Picard must devise a plan to seal the hole into the other dimension.
  24. Conspiracy - While journeying to Pacifica, the U.S.S. Enterprise receives an emergency message for Captain Picard from Starfleet Captain Walker Keel, who requests a secret meeting.  At a rendezvous on an uninhabited planet, Captain Keel and two other Starfleet officers tell Picard that they suspect a growing conspiracy in the upper ranks of Starfleet.
  25. The Neutral Zone - Waiting for Captain Picard’s return from a Federation conference, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew discovers a disabled 20th century Earth satellite containing three perfectly preserved bodies, frozen for over 300 years by cryogenics.  Upon his return to the Enterprise, Picard informs the crew that they are being sent to the outskirts of the Neutral Zone, where two Federation outposts have been destroyed. The ship has been chosen to investigate the potentially volatile incident, which may or may not have been executed by hostile Romulans as a prelude to war.
Although I liked this season a lot more now than when the episodes originally aired, there are still things that annoy me to this day.  I still hate seeing Wesley save the day just about every other episode.  I’m lucky that my eyes didn’t get stuck with all of the eye-rolling those episodes induced. I did love seeing both Picard and Beverly tell Wesley to “shut up” probably more than I should have.  There’s also some episodes that are too preachy like “Symbiosis” which is essentially an after-school special focused on saying no to drugs, or “The Arsenal of Freedom” that’s about a civilization that killed themselves in a misguided quest to build the most effective killing machine. Despite these minor flaws, the show had everything it needed to become the classic it would later become, it just needed to fine-tune itself a bit more which would happen with each subsequent episode.  Considering the pressure everyone involved must have felt under the shadow of the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation ended up being the equal to its forbear and one of the best shows to ever air on television.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

After seeing the amazing work that Paramount did for Star Trek: The Original Series, I was excited to see how they would redo the special effects and clean up the picture for The Next Generation.  The wait was worth it since the effects look simply beautiful (especially on episodes like “Where No One Has Gone Before”) and added a ton of fine detail that I had never seen before now.  If you really want to see just how good of a restoration job Paramount did on this release, just take a look at the extras that have some clips of the show before it was remastered that look atrocious on the high definition televisions of today.  This 1080p (1:33.1) transfer looks fantastic and although it has a few minor issues like some heavy grain and an occasional flicker on the edges, it still look better than it has any right to.  Let me just say that all of the effects look pristine and gorgeous off the bat.
The care that Paramount took to reproduce the original effects with these new ones is very impressive.  I never even noticed that the Enterprise-D had several colors before I saw this set.  It always looked completely gray to me but now I can marvel at its many different colors.  The live action footage has also been sharpened quite a bit and is very noticeable during close-ups where you can see every wrinkle and line on the actors’ faces and every texture of their uniform.  Colors are a lot more vibrant and defined now too and the black levels are suitably deep and dark as well. Of course, with all of this extra detail on display you will notice a lot more flaws than you used to but that’s ok with me as I loved the new enhanced visuals provided by this set.  The decision to keep the aspect ratio 1:33.1 was due to how the show was filmed.  As demonstrated in the extras, if they had decided to lost the full frame ratio, it would have included lights and other things on the sides of the frame that were ignored since they knew it wouldn’t be included for broadcast television which is understandable.  In any case, this transfer is reason enough for fans to upgrade for this Blu-ray set!

Audio (5 out of 5 stars) 

Before I get into my review of the audio, let me get one thing clear first.  This set has some audio issues that Paramount is fixing through a replacement program.  Here is the message from the studio concerning these discs:
“Dear Star Trek Fans,
We have discovered an anomaly in the English 7.1 DTS Master Audio track in our Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One Blu-ray Box set. There are some episodes that inadvertently had their front channel designations incorrectly mapped, resulting in an undesired playback experience when listening to them in a 7.1 or 5.1 Surround Sound environment.
We are quickly working to remedy the situation. Replacement discs (Disc 1, 3 and 4) will be made available free of charge. Please email phe.stng@bydeluxe.com for details regarding the replacement program. You may also call 877-DELUXE6 (877-335-8936) between 8am to 6pm Pacific, Monday-Friday.
We strive to provide our fans the best Blu-ray experience possible and sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.”
While it’s too bad that these early sets have problems, at least Paramount is being pro-active and quickly moving forward to fix the problem.  I’ve already emailed them and got a quick response back so you don’t have to worry too much about getting your discs replaced.  With that being said, once you remove that manufacturing issue, this set offers a winning DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that sounds incredible.  This lossless mix brings the show to life in a way that I didn’t think was possible.  Just hearing the show’s main title blew my son away who had never heard it before and was captivated by it’s sonic perfection.  Now when it comes on for every episode, he jumps up and dances/marches to the beat.  Every channel is used to its full potential and I can’t get over how much more immersive the show feels with this new mix.  The LFE channel is a constant presence along with the ships engine’s rumble, the front channels deliver crystal clear dialogue, and the rear channels offers some excellent directional effects as well as the show’s crisp music. As someone who religiously watched this show, I still can’t get over how much ambiance and life this mix offers.  Between this lossless mix and the new visual effects, it’s almost like watching a brand new show!  Just wait until you hear the Enterprise go to warp now!

Extras (5 out of 5 stars) 

As if the amazing video and audio quality weren’t enough of a reason to buy this set, these extras provide an additional incentive.  The set offers s0me excellent content from the previous DVD release as well as new material that is new to this Blu-ray set.  The extras are found on disc one and six, but every disc offers episode previews which weren’t included on the previous release.
New Extras (in High Definition)
Disc One:
  • Energized! Taking the Next Generation to the Next Level - Newly created for this set, this almost twenty-four minutes look into the process it took to bring The Next Generation to Blu-ray.   We hear from Producer Rick Berman, Eugene Roddenberry (Gene’s son), Michael and Denise Okuda, Visual Effects Coordinator Sarah Paul, and tons of others cover exactly what steps were taken to restore this series.  We get to see where the original film is stored in all of its massive glory and then shown how the pieces are reassembled before the new visual effects are added.  In this extra we learn why the show remains its original 4×3 frame and how the effects were recreated.  We also see how they created a new 7.1 lossless mix for the show as well.  All of this was very interesting and it offers a lot of good tidbits such as showing the difficulty in finding some film elements because some shots might have been reused in a later episode, which makes assembling the shows like a scavenger hunt.  
Disc Six:
This three part series lasts about thirty minutes per segment and it covers pretty much everything you need to know about this show up to the end of season one.  If you want to see what happens after season one, then you will need to buy each set to continue this awesome series.
  • Stardate Revisited: The Origin of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Part 1: Inception - This segment starts as it should, with the genesis of the show and how it came to be.  Once again we get to hear from just about everyone possible that was involved in the show and even from those people who are no longer with us thanks to archival footage.  Rick Berman David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, Andrew Probert, John Dwyer, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Herman Zimmerman all share their thoughts on how TNG was created, from designing the new Enterprise and props, to casting the characters (which includes comments from actor Stephen Macht who almost got the role of Picard).  We also learn how Gene Roddenberry was forced by Paramount to make the pilot run two hours instead of the one he planned on.  The upside to that decision was that Roddenberry introduced the fan favorite villain “Q” to fill up the remaining time.
  • Stardate Revisited: The Origin of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Part 2: Launch - This second  extra focuses more on the actors of the show after they’d been cast.  Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Marina Sirtis, and Wil Wheaton talk about getting cast and the lengthy audition process.  Denise Crosby and Marina Sirtis also talk about how their original roles were swapped because it seemed like a better fit.  Spiner also talks about Data’s look evolved over time from skin-tone of bubblegum pink to the whitish gold he ended up with as well as how he perceived the character to be more human like than machine.  Burton discusses the many version of the visor they went through before settling on a cheap barrette as the model and Sirtis also talks about her various hair styles in which only the pilot episode contained her real hair.  One nice surprise in this segment for longtime Star Trek fans like me, is the appearance of DeForest Kelley preparing for his cameo appearance on the show.  We see just how much they aged McCoy for his appearance since in his first makeup test he looked much closer to his real age.  Just seeing him again was a highlight of these extras for me.
  • Stardate Revisited: The Origin of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Part 3: The Continuing Mission – In part three we learn about all of the work that went into creating the set, the models, and the look of the show. We also hear about the difficulty in writing for the show because of Roddenberry’s belief that by the 24th century there would be no greed, poverty, or any other base desire which pretty much eliminates the components to bring some drama to the show.  If everyone gets along perfectly, the writers had little room to create conflict.  We also hear from the actors and from Crosby who talks about leaving the show.  This series will continue on the season two set and presumably throughout the entire span of the show.
Previously Released Material (in Standard Definition)
  • Introduction to the Series (1987)  – A short introduction to the show.
  • Promo 1
  • Promo 2
  • Promo 3
  • Season One Promo - Another promo piece that contains clips from the first season of shows.
  • Gag Reel – While this is great to see, this contains the worst looking footage in the set.  See this and be grateful that Paramount took the time and the money to make sure the show wasn’t released like this!
  • The Beginning  – This is another fantastic look at the creation of the show that serves as a nice complement to the newly created one.  Between the two featurettes, you’ve got it covered pretty well.
  • Selected Crew Analysis - A look at the individual crew members and the actors cast in the roles.
  • The Making of a Legend – A short featurette that covers various areas of the show’s production including makeup, music, and more.
  • Memorable Missions – The cast and crew talk about some of their favorite episodes and why the loved them. 

Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

If you’ve seen the awesome Blu-ray sets for the original series, then you know just how good this set is.  This show has never looked or sounded better and I can’t recommend it enough.  The show’s remastered video and audio are incredible and well worth the cost of the set alone, but if you still need convincing, take a look at the extra features which should convince you.  This may be the weakest season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it has plenty of good episodes and to be honest, it looks so amazing that I found myself transfixed even during the weaker episodes.  This season started off The Next Generation’s epic run that not only went on longer than its predecessor, but it also forged its own path to greatness.  This set is a must buy!
Order your copy today!


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