Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray discs. Though not flawless, the episodes looked quite good.
Sharpness was usually solid. Some shots could be a little on the soft side, but those didn’t dominate. Instead, the majority of the series offered nice delineation; while not razor-sharp, the shows appeared well-defined. I witnessed no concerns with moiré effects or jagged edges, and I noticed no concerns with edge haloes. As for print flaws, I saw occasional small specks but nothing more serious; the episodes came across as clean 99 percent of the time.
In terms of colors, TNG tended toward a somewhat earthy palette. This leaned toward reds, browns and greens, all of which looked nice. At times the hues threatened to become too heavy, but that never occurred; even all the red lighting remained clear and appropriately rendered. Blacks showed nice depth and darkness, while low-light shots offered good smoothness and clarity. I felt consistently pleased with the visual presentation of the series.
One final transfer note relates to “We’ll Always Have Paris”. According to the packaging, “two seconds of the original film elements for this episode have not been located, and thus have been upconverted from Standard Definition videotape”. This creates only a minor blip that goes past quickly.
As for the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtracks of TNG, they opened up the material in a satisfying way. Season One wasn’t exactly action-packed, so we didn’t get a ton of showy auditory sequences. Nonetheless, the mixes showed nice stereo music and broadened effects well. The tracks always delivered a solid sense of place and environment, and when necessary, they delivered some pizzazz. For instance, ships zoomed around the room in a convincing way, and explosions filled the room. I’d be hard-pressed to find anything dazzling here, but the audio worked well.
Audio quality held up nicely over the last 25 years. Speech was natural and distinctive, without notable edginess or other issues. Music sounded full and rich, while effects demonstrated good clarity; those elements weren’t exceptionally dynamic, but they added nice punch. All in all, I thought the soundtracks of Season One delivered useful material and fit the shows.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 DVDs of TNG? The audio appeared better integrated and more natural, with a bit more oomph and clarity. Visuals demonstrated even greater improvements, as the Blu-ray was radically better defined, cleaner and more natural. This was a night and day step up, as the series literally never looked better; the Blu-ray blew away the ugly old DVDs.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. Across all six discs, we find Episode Promos. These offer the original TV ads to promote upcoming shows. We also get three that are general or there to tout “Farpoint”. In addition, Disc One opens with an ad for TNG Season Two on Blu-ray and it provides a four-minute, seven-second Season One Promo from 1987.
On Disc One, we get a new program entitled Energized! Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level. It runs 23 minutes, 46 seconds and includes comments from scenic art supervisor Michael Okuda, CBS Digital director of visual effects Craig Weiss, executive producer Rick Berman, CBS Digital head of mastering and restoration Wendy Ruiz, Roddenberry Productions’ Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, CBS Television Distribution Multimedia VP David S. Grant, CBS Digital VFX coordinator Sarah Paul, CBS Television Distribution Multimedia Director Ryan Adams, CBS Digital 3D supervisor Niel Wray, scenic artist Denise Okuda, CBS Digital film transfer Wade Felker, CBS Digital lead compositor Eric Bruno, CBS Digital matte artist Max Gabl, Chase Audio re-recording mixer Greg Faust and CBS Digital compositor/editor Nicki Kreitzman.
“Energized” offers a look at all the work that went into bringing TNG to Blu-ray. Some of this seems a bit self-congratulatory, but it’s still informative; this wasn’t a simple process, so it’s interesting to find out what it took to make the series HD. (I was also happy to see some discussion of a possible change to a 16X9 ratio; before the Next Level hit, there were rumors the TNG Blu-rays would only appear in that modified ratio.)
For a vintage featurette, we encounter Introduction to the Series. This goes for two minutes, 44 seconds as it provides a general overview of the characters and situations. It’s not too different from the Season One promos, so don’t expect anything special from it.
On Disc Six, we locate another new piece called Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This one splits into three parts: “Inception” (28:09), “Launch” (32:13) and “The Continuing Mission” (32:42). Across these, we hear from Berman, Michael and Denise Okuda, Rod Roddenberry, Official Star Trek Fan Club president/publisher Dan Madsen, visual effects supervisors Gary Hutzel and Dan Curry, visual effects coordinator Ronald B.Moore, model maker Gregory Jein, director James L. Conway, program consultant David Gerrold, series creator Gene Roddenberry (from 1987), supervising producer Robert H. Justman (1987), associate producer DC Fontana, consulting senior illustrator Andrew Probert, set decorator John Dwyer, illustrator Rick Sternbach, production designer Herman Zimmerman, producer David Livingston, CBS Television Distribution Communications Executive VP John A. Wentworth, makeup supervisor Michael Westmore, special makeup effects Doug Drexler, and actors Patrick Stewart, Stephen Macht, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, and Marina Sirtis. We get notes about the series’ origins and development, design choices related to vehicles, sets and props, casting and characters, makeup, visual effects, and aspects of shooting the first season.
Expect a pretty good overview of S1 across “Revisited”. It’s nice to get updated comments from cast and crew, and we find a fair amount of archival footage to show us the circumstances back in the late 1980s. While not a totally thorough undertaking, “Revisited” covers its territory well.
A Gag Reel lasts eight minutes, 10 seconds. Should you expect anything other than the standard goofs and giggles? Not really. A few amusing moments result, but this is usually the same old, same old – and the quality of the tape used is awful.
Also on Disc Six, we find “Mission Logs” that duplicate featurettes found on the 2002 DVDs. The Beginning offers a pretty general look at the series’ early days. During this 18-minute, one-second program, we get interviews with Gene Roddenberry, Justman, Berman, Zimmerman, Sirtis, Stewart, Frakes, McFadden, Wheaton, Spiner, Dorn, Burton, Industrial Light and Magic’s Pat Sweeney and David Carson, and actor John de Lancie. Most of the interviews seem to be from 2001/2002 sources, though some clearly come from the early days of the show.
“The Beginning” offers a pretty superficial discussion. It covers some effects material, a little casting, the origins of the series and some of the challenges it presented. However, don’t expect much from it, for it remains cursory at best. Some interesting moments emerge, but as a whole, it seems a bit scattershot.
The other documentaries improved, however. All of them featured the same format and many of the same participants. Selected Crew Analysis runs 15 minutes, 18 seconds and includes comments from Berman, Stewart, Sirtis, McFadden, Frakes, Wheaton, Dorn, Burton, Spiner, Crosby, and de Lancie. While “The Beginning” offered mainly new clips, “Analysis” provides more of a mix; many of the pieces come from the Eighties. The compilation nicely looks at character development, and it offers a fun and entertaining little discussion.
The Making of a Legend goes for 15 minutes, 27 seconds, and it focuses more strongly on technical elements. We hear from supervising producers Berman and Justman, actors Stewart, Frakes, Dorn, Burton, and Spiner, production designer Zimmerman, associate producer Peter Lauritson, special effects supervisor Dan Curry, scenic art consultant Mike Okuda, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, makeup designer Michael Westmore, and composer Jay Chattaway. The cover all the visual elements behind the show - including special effects, production design, makeup and art design - as well as music. We find cool moments like the breakdown of the transporter effects and also get good information about how Spiner and Dorn go through makeup and how LaForge’s visor was created. It’s a nice piece that offers a lot of information within its short running time.
For the last DVD documentary, we discover Memorable Missions. This 17-minute, four-second program concentrates on anecdotes that relate to specific episodes. It goes over nine of the 25 S1 shows and includes interviews with Berman, Frakes, Burton, Stewart, Curry, Westmore, Lauritson, actor Armin Shimerman, Roddenberry, and Crosby. We hear a lot of entertaining notes here, as we get details about a variety of elements. Obviously it lacks great coherence since it jumps from episode to episode, but it gives a reasonable amount of worthwhile and fun facts.
While not the best batch of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, Season One still acts as a satisfying launch for the series. The shows are consistently interesting, and they improve as he year progresses. The Blu-ray delivers very nice picture and audio along with a good collection of supplements. With a list price of nearly $130, TNG Season One doesn’t come cheap, but it offers by far the best representation of the series ever seen.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - SEASON ONE