Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. This was another appealing presentation.
Overall sharpness seemed good. A little softness occasionally occurred, but not to a substantial degree, as the shows usually looked acceptably defined and detailed. No issues with shimmering or jagged edges occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws were minor; the occasional speck popped up but that was it.
Colors looked positive. The series tended toward warm, earthy tones, and these displayed nice clarity and reproduction. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows showed solid delineation. Without question, these shows have never looked better.
I also felt pleased with the remixed DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio of TNG, as the soundfields of the various shows seemed pretty engaging. The forward spectrum dominated, and it offered fine stereo imaging for the music as well as a strong sense of atmosphere. The front speakers provided a clear and vivid environment, and various elements like ships and phaser fire panned cleanly across the channels. Planet environments often came across nicely, as they offered lively and engaging audio.
For the most part, the surrounds offered general support of the front speakers. Actually, the rear speakers seemed a little less active this year than in the past, as I didn’t detect as much evidence of split-surround usage. The surrounds mostly gave us a good sense of environment, and they also added musical support. In any case, the remixes didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they opened up the shows nicely.
Audio quality seemed quite good for its age. Throughout the shows, the lines remained distinct and natural, and I heard no significant problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was nicely vivid and bright, as the quality of the music remained consistently clear and bold.
Effects showed good clarity and accuracy, and they displayed very few signs of distortion. All elements provided fairly solid nice bass response, as low-end seemed deep and rich throughout the shows. All in all, I was very pleased with the audio of Season Four.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2002 DVDs ? Sound seemed fuller and more dynamic, while visuals were radically tighter, cleaner and smoother. The Blu-ray completely trounced the old DVDs.
The package mixes old and new extras. . We find audio commentaries for two episodes. Here’s what we find:
“Brothers”: director Rob Bowman and scenic artists/Trek archivists Michael and Denise Okuda. We hear about story/characters, Bowman’s tenure on the series and other aspects of his career, cast and performances, sets and production design, props and effects, and other areas.
The commentary delivers a likable general chat but it never becomes especially involving. Indeed, it loses some energy as it goes, whish seems to be why the Okudas eventually spend more time on Bowman’s non-Trek life than anything else. Still, the piece has enough charms to make it worth a listen.
“Reunion”: Michael and Denise Okuda and writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. They discuss script/story/characters, cast and performances, sets and design, effects and similar issues. With the writers in tow, script/narrative subjects dominate, and those give us a good perspective. We learn a mix of insights and find a strong look at the episode.
Disc One’s Mission Overview offers a pretty general look at the year. During this 16-minute and 41-second program, we get show clips, shots from the set, and new interviews with executive producers Michael Piller and actors Patrick Stewart, John de Lancie, Jonathan Frakes, Jennifer Hetrick, Marina Sirtis, and Wil Wheaton. Mostly the gang offers some general comments about the year as well as focus on a few particularly important episodes. Overall, “Overview” seems interesting but not particularly revealing or deep.
Disc One opens with ads for ST:TNG Seasons Three and Five, ST:TNG - The Best of Both Worlds and Star Trek: Enterprise Season Two. All of the package’s shows come with Episodic Previews as well.
On Disc Two, Selected Crew Analysis runs 17 minutes, four seconds and includes comments from actors Stewart, Wheaton, Frakes, Sirtis, and Hetrick. This show gives us a decent little look at the performers’ thoughts about their work from this year. The working relationship between Stewart and Wheaton receives a lot of attention, and we also get information from Sirtis about her role on the show, Hetrick’s discussion of her character, and Frakes’ attitude toward doing his own stunts. It’s a nice little program that provides some decent insight into the cast viewpoints.
Disc Three leads us to New Life and New Civilizations, which lasts 13 minutes, 45 seconds and offers comments from producer David Livingston, associate producer Peter Lauritson, actor Wil Wheaton, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda and visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel. They focus on issues related to sets, locations, and effects. The last topic provides some good information about specific challenges on “Best of Both Worlds”, while the others tell us about a few of the otherworldly locations found for the show. Overall, “Life” includes a reasonable amount of useful material.
When we shift to Disc Four, we locate Chronicles from the Final Frontier, which runs 18 minutes, 12 seconds as it discusses the writers from Season Four. We hear from executive producer Michael Piller and actor Denise Crosby as well as writers Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga, and Jeri Taylor. We learn about some of their backgrounds and get notes about what it’s like to work on the series. Of particular interest are the episode-specific anecdotes that toss in some nice trivia. It’s a good look at that side of the project.
Three components show up on Disc Five. Departmental Briefing Year Four: Production gives us a good take on a number of technical issues. During the 16-minute, 46-second piece, we hear from director Michael Livingston, makeup designer Michael Westmore, guest actors Los Angeles DJs Mark and Brian, actor Brent Spiner, and actor/directors Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes. Issues related to the latter pair and makeup fill most of this piece I like the insights into the dual challenges of acting and directing, and the makeup sections include some fun quips from Spiner in the chair. The program offers a brief but engaging examination of these areas.
Select Historical Data goes for 10 minutes, 25 seconds and includes Lauritson, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, and model maker Greg Jein. The show looks at creature design for “Galaxy’s Child” as well as the creation of a new Klingon ship and a space dock. The piece moves well and delivers a fun look at some effects areas.
Disc Five ends with the 11-minute, 14-second Inside the Star Trek Archives. It presents notes from Livingston, Frakes, Stewart, Hetrick, music editor Gerry Sackman, supervising sound editor Bill Wistrom, and actor Gates McFadden. We get some notes about specific episodes as well as info about music/sound design. “Archives” lacks a coherent through-line, but it contributes some interesting stories.
When we shift to Disc Six, where we launch with In Conversation: The Star Trek Art Department. This show runs one hour, seven minutes, 29 seconds and provides comments from Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, Dan Curry, Rick Sternbach, special makeup effects artist Doug Drexler, and production designer Herman Zimmerman. They tell us how they came to the Trek universe and discuss various sets, ships and other design elements as well as aspects of their experiences on various series.
“In Conversation” lives up to its title, as it places the six participants together in a room to chat. I like that aspect of it, as it adds life to the proceedings. The material can be a little dry at times, but we get a good mix of fun observations in this enjoyable piece.
The two-part Relativity: The Family Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation lasts a total of 56 minutes, 50 seconds and features Moore, Wheaton, Dorn, Spiner, Braga, Stewart, Bowman, Frakes, Sirtis, McFadden, de Lancie, Westmore, Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion author Larry Nemecek, pre-production assistant Lolita Fatjo, executive story editor Rene Echevarria, and executive producer Rick Berman. “Relativity” looks at general areas related to S4 as well as specifics connected to characters, stories, effects, makeup and other elements.
I can’t say it takes a particularly logical path, but it throws out a lot of useful notes. We hear from a strong mix of participants and get some unusually frank comments at times. Expect to learn a lot about S4 in this informative documentary.
A Gag Reel fills three minutes, 34 seconds. It shows the standard array of goofs and giggles. None of these do a lot for me, though I admit it’s semi-fun to see them given the fairly humorless world of ST:TNG.
Finally, we get Deleted Scenes for eight episodes. These cover “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II” (one scene, 3:06), “Family” (one, 1:44), “Brothers” (one, 3:48), “Final Mission” (two, 3:11), “The Wounded” (six, 6:35), “Galaxy’s Child” (one, 0:50), “Qpid” (one, 1:40) and “The Host” (one, 2:36). These tend toward moments that expand characters, and they’re often pretty interesting. Of the bunch, the segment from “Worlds” works best, as it shows the ramifications of Ryker’s actions.
From Seasons One through Three of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the series needed time to find itself, so distinct changes occurred from year to year. Those didn’t happen when we transitioned from Season Three to Season Four, but don’t regard that as a complaint; the program reached a high level of quality in Season Three, and it largely maintained that during its fourth year. The S4 Blu-rays offer good picture and audio along with a satisfying set of supplements. Fans will be pleased with this solid release.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - SEASON FOUR