Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Like prior seasons, this one looked pretty positive.
Overall definition was good. An occasional soft-ish shot materialized, usually during dimly-lit interiors. Otherwise, the image showed nice clarity and definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and I also saw no edge haloes or obvious signs of egregious noise reduction. As for print flaws, a few small specks appeared but nothing substantial marred the presentation.
As with prior seasons, this one opted for fairly earthy colors, and they came across well. The hues seemed accurately and full throughout the episodes. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows showed fairly nice delineation. Everything looked pleasing in this package.
In addition, the DTS-HD MA 7/1 audio of S5 continued to impress – for material from 20-plus-year-old TV episodes, at least. The soundfields showed nice scope and immersiveness. They used the various channels mostly for environmental material and gave us a nice feeling of place, especially on board the Enterprise.
Never the most action-packed series, the soundfields didn’t get a ton of chances to dazzle, but they still came to life on occasion. Ships zoomed around the room in a convincing manner, and the occasional battle elements used the various channels in a positive way. The soundscapes fleshed out the material in a satisfying manner.
Audio quality was strong. Speech remained natural and concise, without substantial edginess or other issues. Music sounded full and robust, while effects demonstrated good accuracy and heft. Low-end was deep and added some impact to the presentation. I’ve liked prior TNG soundtracks and that trend continued here.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVDs from 2002? Audio sounded more dynamic and full, and picture simply blew away the DVDs. Those tended to be murky, flat and messy, so the Blu-ray offered substantial improvements in clarity and definition. It’s a huge upgrade.
The package mixes old and new extras. . We find audio commentaries for four episodes. Here’s what we find:
“Cause and Effect”: writer Brannon Braga and fan/Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Braga usually provides frank, useful insights, but this track rarely goes anywhere. He and MacFarlane joke, snark and praise the show and series but tell us precious little about the episode. That makes it listenable but not informative.
“The First Duty”: writers Ronald D. Moore and Naren Shankar. A bounceback from the “Effect” track, this one stumbles at times but still proves to be reasonably informative. We get a good overview of character/story issues and learn some changes the writers needed to make to satisfy the series’ producers. Like Braga and MacFarlane, Moore and Shankar joke about the show, but they make sure they throw out some good details as well.
“I, Borg”: writer René Echevarria, scenic art supervisor Michael Okuda and scenic artist Denise Okuda. With Echevarria in tow, story/character areas dominate, but we also get notes about sets, production design, effects and other technical topics. A nice overview of the episode, this becomes a satifying chat.
“The Inner Light”: Michael and Denise Okuda and writer Morgan Gendel. Since it again combines the Okudas and a writer, this track comes with a framework similar for the discussion of “I, Borg”, but that doesn’t make it redundant. Instead, we get a fine glimpse at the relevant aspects of the production – and an interesting view of the life of a freelance writer on TNG. Expect another solid conversation here.
Deleted Scenes appear for six episodes: “New Ground” (one scene, one minute, 30 seconds), “The Outcast” (1, 1:58), “The First Duty” (2, 3:16), “Cost of Living” (2, 3:45), “The Perfect Mate” (1, 1:56), and “The Inner Light” (5, 7:00). Most of these tend toward extensions and minor exposition. Some interesting moments result, but I can’t clam we get anything fascinating.
Although prior Mission Overview segments took general looks at those seasons, the piece of Disc One focuses on four different episodes. During this 17-minute, 54-second program, we get show clips, stills from the set, and circa 2001/2002 interviews with actors Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Denise Crosby, Brent Spiner, and Jonathan Del Arco, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, supervising producer/writer Jeri Taylor, executive producer Michael Piller, and producer David Livingston.
In “Mission Overview”, we hear about “Unification” and what it was like to work with Leonard Nimoy, “Darmok” and its language, Stewart’s acting challenges on “The Inner Light”, and the philosophical nature of “I, Borg”. The remarks tend to stay superficial; the participants tell us what fun it was to have Spock on the set but they rarely go beyond that. As with past “Mission Overview” pieces, this one seems moderately entertaining but it lacks much substance.
Disc One opens with ads for ST:TNG “Redemption” as well as Seasons Three and Four, and Enterprise Season 2. Episodic Promos also accompany each of the package’s shows.
On Disc Two, Departmental Briefing: Production gives us a good take on a number of behind the scenes issues. During the 15-minute and 17-second piece, we hear from supervising producer Peter Lauritson, actor Patrick Stewart, actor/director Jonathan Frakes, makeup designer Michael Westmore, writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, executive producer Michael Piller, and music composer Jay Chattaway.
They cover the presence of Stewart’s son as an actor on “The Inner Light” plus insights into that show’s makeup and use of its flute. In addition, we get notes about writing for episodes like “The First Duty” and “Cause and Effect”. As with “Mission Overview”, the program concentrates mainly on a few different episodes. It doesn’t deliver a lot of depth, but it tosses out a smattering of decent notes.
Over on Disc Three, Departmental Briefing: Visual Effects offers a similar show that focuses on the more technical side of things. The 17-minute and 47-second program includes remarks from visual effects supervisors Robert Legato and Dan Curry, supervising producer Peter Lauritson, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel, and motion control technician Dennis Hoerter.
Though we get some information about Season Five episodes, mostly this program examines the series’ visual effects as a whole. That makes it quite entertaining, as we learn how the effects dudes worked to overcome the series’ relatively low budget and high demand for material. They cover some general topics and reveal the nuts and bolts behind quite a few sequences. “Departmental Briefing: Visual Effects” provides the most informative and entertaining of the Season Five featurettes.
On the 18-minute and three-second Memorable Missions, we get notes about six episodes: “The Game”, “Hero Worship”, “The First Duty”, “Power Play”, “The Perfect Mate”, and “Disaster”. We find remarks from actors Marina Sirtis and Robert Duncan McNeill, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, producer David Livingston, stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone, music composer Jay Chattaway, and writer Ronald D. Moore.
“Memorable Missions” exists largely as a repository for show trivia, and it offers some cool tidbits. Sirtis discusses her aversion to milk chocolate and how that helped her achieve one scene, and she also tells us of her unfortunate desire to do her own stunts. A few other interesting moments appear, but Sirtis’ material makes the show most worthwhile. Though not a deep program, “Memorable Missions” merits a look.
Since the series’ creator died during Season Five, we find A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry. This program lasts 28 minutes, 23 seconds and features research consultant Guy Vardaman, executive producer Rick Berman, production designer Herman Zimmerman, visual effects supervisor Robert Legato, actors John de Lancie, Marina Sirtis, Majel Barrett, Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, and Whoopi Goldberg, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, writer Ronald D. Moore, and supervising producer/writer Jeri Taylor. We also find 1988 interview footage with Roddenberry himself as well as footage from the 1991 dedication of the Gene Roddenberry Building on the Paramount lot.
Unsurprisingly, much of “Tribute” consists of fairly general praise for the man, but some more compelling moments emerge. Sirtis and Barrett provide nice personal recollections, and the shots from the 1991 dedication seem interesting. The piece ends with a most unusual tribute as well. Overall, the program doesn’t shed a lot of light on the life and career of Gene Roddenberry, but it manages to toss out enough useful material to warrant a viewing.
Intergalactic Guest Stars spans 15 minutes, 50 seconds and includes notes from Spiner, Frakes, Braga, Wheaton, Piller, Livingston, Burton, Moore, and Crosby. In addition to quick mentions of early roles from folks like Kirsten Dunst and Famke Janssen, we get more substantial thoughts about the characters played by Ashley Judd, Michelle Forbes, Denise Crosby, Jonathan Del Arco, and Kelsey Grammer as well as a visit from President Reagan. We get a few decent thoughts here but the show lacks a ton of meat.
Also on Disc Five, Alien Speak goes for 12 minutes, 49 seconds and offers comments from Mike Okuda, Michael Dorn and linguist Marc Okrand. They talk about the series’ use of its made-up languages: Vulcan, Romulan, Klingon and Borg. The most developed of the languages, Klingon receives most of the attention here, but we get some nice notes about the others as well. This becomes a fun piece.
Disc Six presents some new materials. A Gag Reel occupies seven minutes, 33 seconds and presents mostly the standard mix of goofs and giggles. The sober nature of TNG makes these more entertaining than otherwise might be the case, but don’t expect a ton of hilarity. At least Geordi explains what happened to his beard!
Next comes the one-hour, 14-minute, 21-second In Conversation: The Music of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hosted by The Music of Star Trek author Jeff Bond, it includes notes from TNG composers Dennis McCarthy, Ron Jones and Jay Chattaway. They discuss their careers as well as their work on TNG and other thoughts about TV/movie composing.
“Conversation” tends toward the dry side of the street. That’s not the fault of the participants, as they’re fairly likable and charming. However, the show can feel a little technical and doesn’t leap off the screen. Still, it offers a nice overview of the series’ music.
Finally, the two-part Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation lasts 58 minutes, 57 seconds and features Moore, Echevarria, Braga, Berman, Shankar, Gendel, Sirtis, Frakes, Mike and Denise Okuda, McFadden, Burton, Spiner, Dorn, Stewart, Lauritson, and freelance writer Marc Cushman. We also get archival footage of Gene Roddenberry. “Requiem” covers the relationships among the writers and others, various story ideas and their development, Roddenberry’s death and its impact on the series, cast and performances, and some episode specifics.
While the title makes “Requiem” sound like an overview of the whole series, it really does just focus on Season Five. Which is fine, as that seems appropriate for this package. Like its predecessors, the documentary covers appropriate territory and does so in an effective manner, so it becomes a quality piece.
While Season Five of Star Trek: The Next Generation seems less positive than the prior two years, it still manages to offer a lot of good entertainment. A few stinkers intrude on the set, but most of the shows appear good or better. The Blu-rays deliver strong picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. TNG fans will be delighted with this set and it makes a strong upgrade over the old DVDs.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - SEASON FIVE