The sixth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is one heck of a ride and provides a wide variety from intense drama (‘Chain of Command’), nostalgia (‘Relics’), psychological thriller (‘Frame of Mind’), romance (‘Lessons’) and even comedy (‘Rascals’). It’s not a perfect season as there are a couple episodes I didn’t care for, but on the whole the writing is sharp and the acting top notch.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation”
— Season Six —
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Paramount | NR – 1175 min. – $129.99 | June 24, 2014
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” has had one heck of a journey from the humdrum of the first season through its growing pains thereafter but to most fans the sixth season is considered one of the best with some amazing episodes and even better performances with each main cast member getting his or her episode-centric storyline.
Season Six opens with a conclusion to the fifth season finale, ‘Time’s Arrow’ in which the crew of the Enterprise – including Captain Picard (PATRICK STEWART), Commander Riker (JONATHAN FRAKES), Lt. Commander La Forge (LAVAR BURTON) and others – follow Data (BRENT SPINER) back to 1893 where they encounter an inquisitive Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain and Guinan (WHOOPI GOLDBERG) who, at this point in time, had never met Picard. It’s a bit of a confusing episode, as most time traveling ones tend to be, and the second part doesn’t exactly match the oddity of the last season finale, but it’s an enjoyable episode in any case.
The following episode, ‘Realm of Fear’, manages to mix sci-fi drama with quirky comedy centered on Lt. Barclay (DWIGHT SCHULTZ) who was originally introduced toward the end of the third season and made another appearance in season four. This episode explores the idea of transporter psychosis and, as a “Star Trek” novice, gets a better idea of how the transporter works from the inside. It’s a solid episode with mystery and paranoia.
What I especially enjoy about “Star Trek”, even in the bumpy first season, was the balance between light-hearted episodes with those heavy on character and drama. For both extremes, we get one where, on the holodek Worf (MICHAEL DORN) and his son Alexander partake in some fun in the Old West but when, during an experiment gone wrong, face off against numerous evil Data’s and they must complete the game in order to get off the holodek; on that front, it’s proven just in this season the safeguards are in much need of adjustment/repair! On the dramatic side, there is the two-part ‘Chain of Command’ which is considered one of the best episodes in the series’ history and although the circumstances surrounding the events are a bit forced, it does feature Emmy-worthy performances by Patrick Stewart (THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!) and his Cardassian, not to be mixed with the Kardashians who are just as evil, interrogator Gul Madred played by the indispensable David Warner.
Episodes (favorites denoted with an asterisk):
1. Time’s Arrow, Part 2
2. Realm of Fear*
3. Man of the People
6. True Q
8. A Fistful of Datas
9. The Quality of Life
10. Chain of Command, Part 1
11. Chain of Command, Part 2*
12. Ship in a Bottle*
14. Face of the Enemy
16. Birthright, Part 1*
17. Birthright, Part 2*
18. Starship Mine*
20. The Chase*
21. Frame of Mind*
23. Rightful Heir
24. Second Chances*
26. Descent, Part 1*
As you can see above, my favorite episodes tended to come in the latter half of the season with the worst one, ‘Aquuel’, coming in the middle (lost opportunity that started off like a Hitchcock film before turning into something ludicrous). One that stood out that doesn’t seem to get its due respect is ‘Frame of Mind’ which really showcases Jonathan Frakes acting ability as well as giving us a psychological thriller/mystery plotline and does a great job playing with the viewer’s mind right along with Riker.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation”: Season Six is one solid and oft great season featuring some wonderful, well written, storylines and excellent performances. Although ‘Chain of Command’ is considered the best not only of the season but the entire series, however I kind of prefer others like ‘Second Chances’, ‘Tapestry’ and ‘Frame of Mind’.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
The six-disc set is contained in an HD Keep Case with a slip cover, matching the other five season sets.
Episode Commentaries are available on ‘Relics’ and ‘Tapestry’ with Ronald D. Moore and Mike & Denise Okuda; ‘Frame of Mind’ with James L. Conway and Jonathan West
Episodic Promos – Each episode comes with the original promo.
Mission Overview: Year Six (17:55; SD) is an old, but still informative, featurette looking at “ST: TNG” sixth season.
Deleted Scenes (6:49; HD) – ‘Time’s Arrow Part 2’ and ‘Relics’
Bold New Directions (17:57; SD) – Featuring archival interviews, from 2001, this featurette is about the episodes ‘A Fistful of Datas’ and ‘Second Chances’ directed by Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton respectively.
Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production (15:33; SD) looks at some of the highlights of the season from set design, visual effects, make-up, electronics and other elements including the episode ‘Relics’ and rebuilding the bridge of the original Enterprise and the make-up design in ‘Birthright’ on James Cromwell (who appears in a 2001 interview).
Departmental Briefing Profile: Dan Curry (19:56; SD) is about the Visual Effects Producer with an interview, recorded in 2002, about Curry and his work on “TNG”.
Deleted Scene (2:08; HD) – ‘True Q’
Special Crew Profile: Lt. Comdr. Data (19:00; SD) is a basic profile on the iconic character and offers perspectives from Brent Spiner and others.
Deleted Scenes (3:45; HD) – ‘Ship in a Bottle’ and ‘Face of the Enemy’
Select Historical Data (18:14; SD) contains a variety of old interviews, profiles, score and other parts for the sixth season and even prior to that.
Deleted Scenes (20:18; HD) – ‘Tapestry’ and ‘Birthright Part 2’
Inside Starfleet: Sets and Props (13:10; SD) – We get a closer look at the different set work and props used on the series.
Deleted Scenes (13:57; HD) – ‘The Chase’ and “Rightful Heir’
Beyond the Five Year Mission: The Evolution of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1:24:23; HD) is a 3-part documentary broken down as ‘The Lithosphere’, ‘The Biosphere’ and ‘The Noosphere’. It’s a feature with new, including the main cast members, and archival interviews as they chat about the plotlines, art direction, ethical issues, and some of the challenges brought forth as well as other facets.
Gag Reel (5:21; HD)
VIDEO – 4.5/5
“Star Trek: The Next Generation”: Season Six once again shows the incredible restoration work done. Presented with a 1.33 full frame aspect ratio, the picture has solid detail level, colors are bright especially when comparing side by side with the colored uniforms from the reds to the mustard yellows and the LED buttons on the display councils around the Enterprise. Black levels are deep and stark and saw no signs of artifacts or pixilation. The only drawback might be a fair bit of noise in some scenes but its not overpowering and doesn’t detract from the overall transfer and compared with the original airing or, as I checked out, the episodes shown on the Internet and BBC America, it’s a huge upgrade.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The season once again includes a fantastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 track which helps showcases various elements from the crisp and clear dialogue levels, the numerous action/battle sequences and even the apparent ambient noises which includes the harmonious humming of the Enterprise to go along with the beeps and boops of the computers. It’s a dynamic track.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, the sixth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is one heck of a ride and provides a wide variety from intense drama (‘Chain of Command’), nostalgia (‘Relics’), psychological thriller (‘Frame of Mind’), romance (‘Lessons’) and even comedy (‘Rascals’). It’s not a perfect season as there are a couple episodes I didn’t care for, but on the whole the writing is sharp and the acting top notch. The Blu-ray released by Paramount, not surprisingly, is once again fantastic between the plethora of features to the excellent audio and video transfers.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.