“Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Four is another fantastic chapter in the “Trek” franchise. In the third season, there were signs of greatness in many episodes and this season offers even more amazing chapters in the saga where even the “worst” episodes sometimes rivaled the first and second season’s best. The Blu-ray has an incredible amount of features, delving deep into nearly every aspect of developing the fourth season and once again, the audio/video transfers are incredible.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Paramount | NR – 1181 min. – $129.99 | July 30, 2013
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Gene Roddenberry (created by)
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden
Features: Episode Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Episodic Promos
Number of Discs: 6
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), German (Dolby Digital 1.0), Castilian (Dolby Digital 1.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0), Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Video: 1080p/Full Frame 1.33
Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Castilian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish
Disc Size: Various
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.75/5
Early on in the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, it became obvious what the theme would be for the season: family and relationships. You can look no further than the second episode entitled, well, ‘Family’ where the Enterprise, after being damaged in its encounter with the Borg, goes on shore leave. This allows Captain Picard (PATRICK STEWART), still experiencing the traumatic side effects at the hands of the Borg, goes back to his home village in France to stay with his estranged brother Robert, Robert’s wife and son. There, the brothers argue and come to blows, but Picard also faces the cruel atrocities committed while the Borg controlled him including the deaths of 11,000 souls.
And in the following episode (4×03), ‘Brothers’, finds Data (BRENT SPINER) being hijacked and leaving the Enterprise and rendezvousing with his maker, Dr. Noonien Song (also played by Spiner), who was thought dead three years earlier in an attack. Song has summoned Data there as he is dying and has created the ultimate gift: an emotions chip tailored for Data. However, the homing beacon that sent for Data also brought Song’s original creation, and Data’s brother, Lore who was created with the emotions chip but malfunctioned leading to Song disassembling Lore and in turn, making Data. It’s quite the episode and if not for ‘Best of Both Worlds, Part 2’, ‘Remember Me’, ‘Final Mission’ and ‘Redemption’, amongst others, this would be a stand out episode especially because of Brent Spiner’s performance playing three distinct roles, one of which in thick, old man, make-up.
Outside of the episodes mentioned above, the rest of season four are mostly standalone stories and although there are a couple of missteps, ‘Clues’ for one was great… until the cop-out ending, but they’re all quite entertaining and each attempts to give the main cast members, and in the instance of the wonderful ‘Data’s Day’, Chief O’Brien (COLM MEANEY) gets some meat to his usually limited role. Another highlight amongst the second tier episodes is ‘Devil’s Due’ where Picard must prove a woman is a fraud; the mysterious ‘Night Terrors’ is a lot of fun as the Enterprise crew must figure out why they can no longer dream which in turn leads to hallucinations; ‘Identity Crisis’ has a fine performance from LeVar Burton and some impressive make-up designs; and ‘Half a Life’ has plenty of emotion and interesting dilemma where a colony’s resolution says that populace who hit the age of 60 must commit suicide. What stood out in that episode is that its emotional base lays with two guest stars in Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett in a recurring role that began in season one’s ‘Haven’) and Timicin (David Ogden Stiers).
The season isn’t without its problems or ho-hum storylines and, of course, the always dispensable Wesley Crusher (WIL WHEATON) rears his head. In ‘Remember Me’, one of his experiments goes awry (of course!) sending his mother into an alternate reality of sorts in which those around her, including Picard and Wesley, begin vanishing and she must try to uncover the how and why while on the other end, Wesley with the help of the Traveler, attempts to get her out. The episode on the whole is quite good but the fact it was partially Wesley’s fault and he receives no crap for it, is another example of why I find him annoying. However, with ‘Last Mission’, an excellent episode in fairness to actor Wheaton, Wesley leaves the show only to return a handful of times until the series end.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Four concludes with part 1 of ‘Redemption’ as Warf (MICHAEL DORN) comes face to face with his family as he attempts to regain honor lost. Meanwhile, Klingon Civil War grows closer as the Romulans try to install their own puppet while Picard was chosen to oversee the installation of the new head of the Klingon High Council. Although not as suspenseful as ‘Best of Both Worlds, Part 1’, ‘and Redemption’ is another brilliant chapter in “Star Trek” lore.
Episodes (favorites marked with an asterisk):
1. The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2*
4. Suddenly Human
5. Remember Me*
8. Future Imperfect
9. Final Mission*
10. The Loss
11. Data’s Day*
12. The Wounded
13. Devil’s Due
15. First Contact
16. Galaxy’s Child*
17. Night Terrors*
18. Identity Crisis
19. The Nth Degree
21. The Drumhead
22. Half a Life
23. The Host
24. The Mind’s Eye*
25. In Theory
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5.0/5
As with seasons one, two and three, this release comes with a matted slip cover. The 6-disc set is housed in an HD Keep Case (wider than a standard Blu-ray case).
‘Brothers’ – Director Rob Bowman and Mike & Denise Okuda
‘Reunion’ – Writers Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga and Mike & Denise Okuda
Episodic Promos – Each episode comes with a cheesy preview of the upcoming story.
Mission Overview: Year Four (16:41; SD) is an old featurette, probably made for the DVD release, looking at highlights from the fourth season and the challenges producers and writers faced, particularly with concluding the second part of ‘Best of Both Worlds’.
Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four (17:04; SD) features more sound bites with various members of the cast and crew. Included is Wil Wheaton talking about his final appearance as a regular cast member, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and others chatting up some of the more memorable moments of the season.
New Life and New Civilizations (13:45; SD) looks at the various locations introduced in the fourth season and provides some cool behind-the-scenes footage and photos.
Chronicles from the Final Frontier (18:12; SD) – This archive featurette takes a look at the transition from the third season into season four in its storytelling and focus on characters.
Departmental Briefing Year Four: Production (16:46; SD) has some more archival interviews with different members of the cast and crew. One aspect is the actors’ (Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart) experiences directing “The Next Generation” episodes.
Select Historical Data (10:25; SD) is some cool gallery images of production designs, behind-the-scenes footage, and more interwoven around crew interviews speaking about specific episodes.
Inside the Star Trek Archives (11:14; SD) – This is more of an odds and ends kind of featurette with more old cast/crew interviews speaking to some of the story aspects, even hiding the pregnancy of Gates McFadden, in different episodes.
In Conversation: The Star Trek Art Department (1:07:29; HD) is a newly produced, and extensive, featurette where those in the department (including Mike & Denise Okuda) reunite to reminisce about their time working on “Star Trek”. It’s an informal gathering but like the new features on seasons 1-3, it’s just as fascinating.
Relativity: The Family Saga of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (56:50; HD) is a two-part featurette, Homecoming (29:05) and Posterity (27:45), recounting the series and how it came into its own in the fourth season. It features new interviews with members of the cast and crew including Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton and others.
Wrapping the features up are a selection of Deleted Scenes (TRT 23:30; HD) and an amusing Gag Reel (3:34; HD).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Paramount once again releases “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Four on Blu-ray presented in brilliant 1080p high-definition. The restoration work done here is simply impressive. As with seasons 1-3, the picture shows no signs of specs or artifacting, the color array is nicely balanced, especially noticeable on the uniforms, and the detail work on the Enterprise exteriors is remarkable. Compared with seasons one and two, this one is markedly better and most certainly leaps and bounds better than the DVD versions. Having recently watched the third season, this one is pretty much on par in terms of quality.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
Each episode once again receives a robust 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which comes through with excellent clarity from one episode to the next. As with the third season, the audio here comes through quite well between the computer noises, the blaring score to the action scenes where phasers often get used. Also neat, is the subtle tremor of the ship which can be heard. The dialogue levels are crisp and clear throughout being able to understand everything to be heard.
OVERALL – 4.75/5
Overall, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Four is another fantastic chapter in the “Trek” franchise. In the third season, there were signs of greatness in many episodes and this season offers even more amazing chapters in the saga where even the “worst” episodes sometimes rivaled the first and second season’s best. The Blu-ray has an incredible amount of features, delving deep into nearly every aspect of developing the fourth season and once again, the audio/video transfers are incredible.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.