Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. A continuation of the high quality seen in prior years, Season Six looked solid.
Overall sharpness came across well. A little softness cropped up along the way, but I thought those instances remained modest. The series usually came across as pretty well-defined and distinctive. I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws were a non-factor in these clean shows.
Unlike the bright and peppy original series, TNG tended toward a more subdued palette. These colors didn’t dazzle but they came across with good reproduction and clarity. Blacks seemed dark and firm, while shadows offered appropriate smoothness. The shows presented appealing visuals.
Season Six demonstrated DTS-HD MA 7.1 sound that appeared similar to what I heard during the first five years. I regarded that as a good thing, since those earlier episodes offered solid audio. These shows were originally mastered with Dolby Surround mixes, and the modern 7.1 mixes helped broaden those nicely.
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. The surrounds mostly gave us a good sense of environment, and they also added musical support. When compared to many of the earlier years, I noticed slightly increased usage of the surrounds, and some split surround material became more apparent. In any case, the 7.1 remixes didn't reinvent the wheel, but they opened up the tracks 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 pleased with the audio of Season Six.
The package mixes old and new extras, and we get fresh audio commentaries for three episodes. Here’s what we find:
“Relics”: writer Ronald D. Moore and scenic artists Mike and Denise Okuda. They cover story/character areas as well as visual design, effects, cast/performances and integrating the “Original Series” and TNG universes. A lot of great info appears here, especially in terms of issues connected to guest star James Doohan and reflections of “TOS”. This becomes a terrific chat.
“Tapestry”: Ronald D. Moore, Mike Okuda and Denise Okuda. Expect an emphasis on story/script similar to what we got in the “Relics” chat, though we learn more about alternate scenes/themes. For instance, Moore tells us that the show originally intended to follow a more obvious Christmas Carol plot. He also lets us know about autobiographical elements, and the Okudas throw in their usual useful notes about technical areas and connections to Trek history. I find a lot to like about this informative piece.
“Frame of Mind”: director James L. Conway and director of photography Jonathan West. While Conway and West tell us a little about episode specifics, they mostly cover their career experiences and general thoughts about their work. That may frustrate anyone who wants nuts and bolts about “Frame”, but I don’t mind because Conway and West offer so many fascinating thoughts about their jobs. We get fun overviews of their trials and tribulations on TV and learn quite a lot along the way.
Deleted Scenes appear for nine episodes. We find clips for “Time’s Arrow, Part II” (one scene, 2:37), “Relics” (1, 4:09), “True Q” (1, 2:08), “Ship in a Bottle” (two scenes, 2:35), “Face of the Enemy” (1, 1:10), “Tapestry” (3, 6:27), “Birthright, Part II” (8, 13:41), “The Chase” (1, 1:46), and “Rightful Heir” (6, 12:11). Obviously “Birthright” and “Heir” get the majority of the cut footage, which seems interesting since both focus on Worf. Despite the quantity of material for those two shows, the scenes don’t feel all that compelling.
The same goes for most of the deleted footage, though some minor gems emerge. I’m happy to see more of Scotty from “Relics”, and his interaction with Troi entertains. I also like the additional glimpses of semi-wimpy “Lt. Picard” from “Tapestry”. Nothing here seems all that impressive, but I’m glad we can check out the footage anyway.
All 26 Season Six shows come with Episodic Promos. These come attached to the specific programs, so they span all six discs.
Disc One opens with ads for Next Generation: Chain of Command, Next Generation Season Five, Next Generation: Unification and Enterprise Season Four.
Although most prior Mission Overview segments took general looks at those seasons, this one follows a similar piece found with Season Five as it focuses on a few different episodes. During this 17-minute and 55-second program on Disc One, we get show clips, stills from the set, and a mix of 2002 and 1993 interviews with actors Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Whoopi Goldberg, LeVar Burton and James Doohan, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, executive producers Michael Piller and Rick Berman, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, Professor Stephen Hawking, and producer David Livingston.
In “Mission Overview”, we hear about the plot complexities of “Time’s Arrow”, the interaction with an original series legend in “Relics”, the creation of Deep Space Nine and its intersection with Next Generation, Stewart’s work with David Warner on “Chain of Command” and some other aspects of that show, and the guest cameo in “Descent”. The notes about DS9 seem most interesting, but they might be most appropriate on the set for that series. The other comments offer some generally informative notes but as with prior “Overview” featurettes, they don’t get into much detail.
For a look at two Trek actors who moved behind the camera, we go to Disc Two’s Bold New Directions. The 17-minute and 57-second program includes comments from actor/directors Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton, actors Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Brent Spiner, writer Brannon Braga, producer David Livingston, and visual effects supervisor Dan Curry. The program concentrates wholly on Stewart’s “Fistful of Datas” and on Burton’s “Second Chances”. That means we actually find some decent depth in this program, as we learn a lot of elements behind the production of those programs. As usual, Sirtis proves to be a very entertaining interview subject, but all the others contribute positive notes as well in this nice little piece.
Also on Disc Two, Departmental Briefing: Production gives us a good take on a number of behind the scenes issues. During the 15-minute and 33-second piece, we hear from supervising producer Peter Lauritson, actor James Cromwell, actor/director Jonathan Frakes, makeup designer Michael Westmore, writer Ronald D. Moore, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, and scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda. They cover the re-creation of the original Enterprise bridge for “Relics”, the make-up for Shrek and some other characters, writing issues behind some shows, and a few other topics. As with “Mission Overview”, the program concentrates mainly on a few different episodes. It moves through the programs briskly and seems generally useful. Moore’s notes add the most to our knowledge, especially when he describes the frustration behind the creation of “Frame of Mind”.
Another Disc Two piece, Departmental Briefing Profile: Dan Curry offers a glimpse of his work on Next Generation. The 19-minute and 56-second program takes to his home, which he also uses as his studio. Curry walks us through the place and shows us many props and other materials used on Next Generation. He elaborates on their appearances, development and history in this informative program.
On Disc Three, we find Special Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data. The 19-minute featurette includes comments from actors Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis, research consultant and Data photo double Guy Vardaman, producer David Livingston, executive producer Rick Berman, and writer Ronald D. Moore. It covers Spiner’s initial reaction to the part, various points in Data’s growth, and other reflections on the character. Overall, “Data” gives us a fair overview of the role and the actor behind the part.
Disc Four features a section called Select Historical Data. This fills 18 minutes, 14 seconds with comments from LeVar Burton, composer Jay Chattaway, research consultant Guy Vardaman, VFX coordinator Ronald B. Moore, supervising sound editor Bill Wistrom, supervising editor JP Farrell, and actor Robert O’Reilly. We get notes about O’Reilly’s audition and take on Gowron, the series’ use of music, Geordi’s visor and Burton’s performance, Brent Spiner’s double, visual and sound effects, and editing. “Data” lacks coherence, as it flits from one topic to another, but it provides enough good info to succeed anyway.
Going to Disc Five, we find Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props. In this 13-minute, 10-second piece, we hear from set decorator James Mees and prop master Alan Sims as they discuss… sets and props. They give us a good overview of their work and the various elements used on the series.
Disc Six provides materials new to Blu-ray. Beyond the Five-Year Mission lasts one hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds and offers notes from Michael Piller, Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, Dan Curry, Jonathan West, Brent Spiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, story editor Naren Shankar, supervising producer Frank Abatemarco, production associate Dave Rossi, writer Morgan Gendel, executive story editor Rene Echevarria, production designer Richard D. James, co-producer Wendy Neuss, and actors Colm Meaney, Steven Hawking, and John De Lancie.
“Mission” covers story/character areas and the expansion of the Trek universe with the start of Deep Space Nine, some S6 episode specifics, production design, music and photography, cast and performances. I’ve enjoyed prior documentaries of this sort, and “Mission” comes with some good material. However, it seems less involving than its predecessors and doesn’t deliver the usual level of quality information. “Mission” deserves your attention but I don’t think it excels.
We finish with a Gag Reel. It goes for five minutes, 21 seconds and includes pretty standard silliness. If that works for you, have fun!
Season Six of Star Trek: The Next Generation gave us another solid year of entertainment. The show didn’t quite equal the highs seen in the series’ best times, but the programs remained consistently intriguing and thoughtful, and at least we didn’t find any of the clunkers that marred Seasons One and Two. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with an informative selection of supplements. Season Six continues to work well and will please TNG fans.
To rate this film, visit the original review of NEXT GENERATION: SEASON SIX