“Star Trek: The Next Generation” continues to find its footing and one can see its progression from season one to season five. While there are a few iffy episodes this year, the greats easily outweigh them. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, Paramount has once again released an amazing set with incredible audio/video transfers and a wide selection of bonus features.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Paramount | NR – 1182 min. – $129.99 | November 19, 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 – 4.5/5
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Five hums along gaining more momentum following a stellar fourth season but faces additional challenges, first and foremost, the passing of creator Gene Roddenberry who had incredible influence on the show and its direction, albeit his involvement had devolved due to illness for the last couple years. So with Roddenberry gone (passed 5 episodes into the season), the weight fell onto Rick Berman and others.
Season Five offers many highlights from the conclusion in ‘Redemption II’ to perhaps the biggest moment Trekkies were looking forward to, the two part episode ‘Unification’ (which is available seamlessly on Blu-ray) where we get old meets new as Captain Picard (PATRICK STEWART) comes face to face with Spock (LEONARD NIMOY) whom the Federation believed to have defected to the Romulans. ‘Unification’ might not have been the best episode of the season, but it’s still pretty darn good in its own right even if it served as promotion for the, at the time, soon to be released Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (on a side note, #6 is one of my favorite of the feature films).
Another couple of highlights were ‘Cause and Effect’ which was a simple episode where the Enterprise gets caught in a time loop that ended with its destruction. It’s masterfully directed by Jonathan Frakes keeping the suspense up through the full 40-minutes even with the repetition. ‘I, Borg’ is another amazing episode, as any would be involving anything Borg-related, providing Patrick Stewart to unleash his dramatic Shakespearean side he no doubt had bottled up ‘til this point. And, of course, there is ‘The Inner Light’, not only the best of season five but easily tops for the entire “Star Trek: The Next Generation’ if not the franchise overall. Heartfelt and emotional, it’s an amazing episode. As good of an episode as the season finale, and cliffhanger, ‘Time’s Arrow’ was, it’s easily overshadowed…
As with previous seasons, season five does have a couple silly episodes, intentional and unintentional alike. You have your lighthearted episodes the latter of which in the episode ‘Hero Worship” in which Data (BRENT SPINER) rescues the sole survivor, a young boy, of a research ship which suffered catastrophic failures. Dealing with the trauma the boy decides to act more like an android and while this might’ve been sweet on paper, it came across a bit ridiculous in motion, though Spiner’s performance was pretty good. This was probably my least favorite episode of the season.
Episodes (Favorites Marked with an Asterisk):
1. Redemption Part II
3. Ensign Ro*
4. Silicon Avatar
6. The Game
7. Unification Part I*
8. Unification Part II*
9. A Matter of Time
10. New Ground
11. Hero Worship
13. The Masterpiece Society
15. Power Play
17. The Outcast*
18. Cause and Effect*
19. The First Duty
20. Cost of Living
21. The Perfect Mate
22. Imaginary Friend
23. I, Borg*
24. The Next Phase
25. The Inner Light*
26. Time’s Arrow, Part I*
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5.0/5
As with the previous four seasons, 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).
Each episode comes with an Episodic Promo.
Mission Overview: Year Five (17:54; SD) – This is an older featurette which looks at some of the highlights from season five with interviews by the cast and crew.
Departmental Briefing Year Five: Production (15:17; SD) focuses on the episode ‘The Inner Light’ and the make-up and sets for it. Again have archive interviews with those involved.
Deleted Scene (1:30; HD) on the episode ‘New Ground’
Departmental Briefing Year Five: Visual Effects (17:17; SD) covers the VFX used throughout the series with some cool behind the scenes footage on how some of them were accomplished.
Episode Commentaries – ‘Cause and Effect’ with Brannon Braga (Episode Writer) and Seth MacFarlane and ‘The First Duty’ with Ronald D. Moore (Producer) and Naren Shankar (Episode Writer)
Memorable Missions (18:03; SD) is another vintage featurette this one with more comments explaining their favorite moments in season five.
Deleted Scenes (10:44; HD) for episodes ‘Ethics’, ‘The Outcast’, ‘The First Duty’ and ‘Cost of Living’
Episode Commentary – ‘I, Borg’ with Rene Echevarria (Episode Writer) and Mike & Denise Okuda
A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry (28:23; SD) is a look back at the “Star Trek” creator who had passed away earlier in the fifth season. It’s a poignant featurette well worth watching if you haven’t already.
Intergalactic Guest Stars (15:50; SD) chronicles the various guest appearances throughout the series such as Famke Janssen, Kirsten Dunst and, of course, Ashley Judd. Michelle Forbes also gets profiled as Ensign Ro.
Alien Speak (12:49; SD) examines the different languages featured.
Deleted Scene (1:56; HD) for ‘The Perfect Mate’
Episode Commentary on ‘The Inner Light’ by Morgan Gendel (STORY WRITER) and Mike & Denise Okuda
In Conversation: The Music of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1:14:21; HD) –This (VERY) in-depth featurette/documentary examines the impact the score had, via roundtable discussion, on the series. Not for everybody though fans of the show and of music in general might find it to be interesting.
Under Requiem: A Remembrance of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” we get a two-part documentary: The Needs of the Many (29:58; HD) and The Needs of the Few (28:59; HD). Both of these are excellent looks back at the series and the stories and debate it brought and the legacy Gene Roddenberry left behind. It contains new interviews with the cast and crew recounting their thoughts on Roddenberry before delving into some of the stories and characters in the season.
Gag Reel (7:33; HD) offers some flubbed lines and giggles from the cast.
Deleted Scenes (7:00; HD) for ‘The Inner Light’
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Arriving on Blu-ray, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season Five, like its predecessors, looks fantastic in every way. The show, presented in their original 1.33 full frame, and in 1080p high-definition, is tremendous with great detail levels and colors are absolutely vibrant without appearing blown out or pumped up by the restoration company. There is a bit of large grain in places but it’s nothing major.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel lossless track is remarkable showing everything off from the music/score where the opening theme blares with incredible depth, crisp and clear dialogue levels making up the center speaker and, most of all, ambient noises either with the action-heavy scenes to the gentle humming of the Enterprise.
French, German, Castilian, Italian and Japanese Dolby Digital Mono tracks also available and a wide selection of subtitles also are included.
OVERALL – 4.75/5
Overall, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” continues to find its footing and one can see its progression from season one to season five. While there are a few iffy episodes this year, the greats easily outweigh them. Speaking as somebody who isn’t as entrenched into the “Star Trek” mythos, I look at this series with the same eye as, say, “Castle”, I’ve grown entrenched and cannot wait to watch the final two seasons of this epic series. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, Paramount has once again released an amazing set with incredible audio/video transfers and a wide selection of bonus features.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.