Plot: What’s it about?
The sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was the last great season of the show. That’s not to say that the seventh (and final) season was bad, but it was widely-known that the seventh season was to be the last, they were going onto feature films and the same spark just wasn’t there. But that’s another season and this is the review of the sixth season, which contained some of my favorite episodes. The two part “Chain of Command” has already been covered, but those were just two episodes of what turned out to be a season chock full of great episodes. It’s clear that the cast and crew were very comfortable with their roles and the storytelling was just brimming with creative ideas. Picard gets a chance to undo some of his mistakes in “Tapestry”, we meet not one but two (very different) William Riker’s in “Second Chances” and we see the crew of the Enterprise as children (though in physical form only) in “Rascals.”
What really sets this season apart from the others is the strong story lines. Many of these episodes aren’t just stand alone episodes that have nothing in common with another. No, it seems that the writers went a bit deeper here. Consider “Ship in a Bottle” in which Data (Brent Spiner) and Geordi (LeVar Burton) are reprising their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson only to once again encounter Professor Moriarty (Daniel Davis) who has been trapped inside the ship’s computer since season two – and he’s aware of it! The aforementioned “Second Chances” examines the possibility of two William Riker’s as one has become trapped on a planet and duplicated while the other has continued to progress with his life. Trek fans will know of the previous relationship between Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) as this is examined. Of course these are only samples of what to expect in this, the last great season of the show.
Video: How’s it look?
Ever since “Encounter at Farpoint”, I’ve been blown away by the visual clarity present in these season sets. Paramount’s commitment to the Star Trek franchise and The Next Generation in particular is a tip of the hat to the show’s fans. The restoration is simply beautiful exposing new levels of detail and color and the new special effects, though discrete, do give the episodes a more modern look and feel. There’s really nothing new I can say here that didn’t apply to the first five seasons – they’ve done a fine job with these and I eagerly anticipate the final seasons to round out my collection.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are a few episodes that showcase a bit more than others, but by and large these seasons are concurrent with the previous five. Although each episode has been given a new DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack simply sounds amazing. Vocals are strong and well-centered with the constant hum of the Enterprise heard in nearly every scene. I’m sounding like a broken record here, but these really do exhibit a richness and depth that literally wasn’t possible when these aired. The LFE are active, phasers sound like they’re in the same room as you and Jerry Goldsmith’s score simply resonates. What more can a Trekkie ask for?
Supplements: What are the extras?
Paramount continues to offer up the goods when it comes to supplements. As mentioned in our “Chain of Command” review, the supplements on that disc are exclusive to that set and are not a part of this season’s extras.
- Audio Commentaries – Three episodes contain audio commentaries (four if you count “Chain of Command”) and the first two feature Ronald D. Moore as well as Mike and Denise Okuda (those essentially responsible for getting this season on Blu-ray) on “Relics” and “Tapestry.” “Tapestry” is one of my favorite episodes of the series, so I was intrigued by this track as it’s full of little nuances here and there that I’d never realized. Likewise “Relics” is just as interesting. The third is for “Frame of Mind” which focuses on the acting of Jonathan Frakes and is more technical in nature as Moore and the Okuda’s aren’t present, rather it’s the Director James Conway and Director of Photography Jonathan West.
- Deleted Scenes – Many of the episodes feature deleted scenes and what I like about the way they’re structured is that they’re set up with a brief text-based statement telling us what’s going on. Some are deleted all together while many are just extended scenes. The episodes that feature them are as follows: “Time’s Arrow: Part II”, “Relics”, “Q Who”, “Ship in a Bottle”, “Face of the Enemy”, “Tapestry”, “Birthright: Part II”, “The Chase” and “Rightful Heir.”
- Archival Mission Logs
- Mission Overview: Year Six – Certain key episodes are looked at here, mainly those that have been mentioned earlier in this review. Also of note is the appearance of Stephen Hawking as well as the set up for the first spin-off of the show: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Bold New Directions – Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton both directed an episode in this season and their respective episodes are looked at.
Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production – The re-creation of the original Enterprise is looked at as well as the creation of the Dyson Sphere.
Departmental Briefing Year Six Profile: Dan Curry – The visual effects master himself is profiled and we get a tour of his home (circa 1993) and some of the relics he’s kept over his time on the show.
Special Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data – More than just an android, Brent Spiner the actor is profiled as is his “emotionless” character that he plays.
Select Historical Data – This is kind of all over the place focusing on props, actors and everything in between.
Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props – James Mees, the set decorator, gives us a tour of a day in his life and what it takes to do his job.