Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One (Blu-ray)

July 16, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it All About?

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now been a quarter of a century since we were first introduced to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I remember when the series launched and though I wasn’t really a “Trekkie” myself, I didn’t think it had a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving. Ok, I was wrong. What the series did was re-ignite the Star Trek franchise and gave birth to three more series’: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and the aptly-titled Enterprise. I’m sure that every person out there has their favorite and no doubt there are die-hard fans who think that the original was and still is the only thing in the Star Trek universe. Still, it can’t be denied that creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision has made quite the cultural impact in the fifty years since its inception.

For the uninitiated, this new series (the next generation, I guess we could say) really has nothing to do with the original series. Yes, it’s the same basic principle…”to boldy go where no one has gone before…” but the cast is different and more diverse and it’s also been 88 years since Capt. James T. Kirk and the gang explored the galaxy. With higher production values than its predecessor, Star Trek: The Next Generation was different from the onset. We spend the first season getting to know the new cast and crew led by the charismatic Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his right-hand man, Cmdr. William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). As mentioned, the cast is a bit more diverse. While there are no Vulcan’s to be found, we do have a Klingon in Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), an android with Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), a female head of security – Lt. Yar (Denise Crosby, granddaughter of Hollywood icon Bing Crosby) and a “spiritual” advisor with Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis).

The first season takes us pretty much everywhere, from their first encounter in the first episode with “Q” (John De Lancie, a recurring character in the series until the bitter end) who puts the crew on trial for the crimes against humanity to “Where No One Has Gone Before” which takes the crew a billion miles away from home (this was the central theme in Star Trek: Voyager). After watching all 25 episodes, I now remember why I enjoyed the series so much. It’s well-acted, well-written and seeing it on Blu-ray, it’s never looked better. There are “Kirk” men and there are “Picard” men and I’m one of the latter. No offense to Capt. Kirk, but he was just too corny for me. Star Trek: The Next Generation remains my favorite of the Star Trek Universe, and with good reason – it’s entertaining and paved the way for so many more science-fiction series’ to come.

Video: How does it look?

I remember when this series came out on regular DVD about a decade ago and it was nice to have the show I loved on a home video format. Ten years have passed, the show is now 25 years old and the folks at Paramount wanted to do something special. Right off the bat, I noticed how simply amazing this looked. And, after watching the included featurette “Energized! Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level”, I saw why. First of all the 1.33:1 AVD HD transfer is simply stunning. The team literally went back to the archives and manually scanned in each and every episode from the original camera negatives. Special effects were re-created and though I’m sure the purists out there might disagree, I’m all for it. The featurette shows several before and after shots and the difference is literally night and say. Planets look more lively, special effects were given a taste of 2012 effects while still remaining faithful to those of 1987 and even little things like shadows were added to give it a more realistic effect. As the filmmakers said, “there are now lights where there were supposed to be lights…” The series is presented in full-fame as was the way it was originally shown at the time. We’ve become spoiled to our television shows being presented in widescreen, but truthfully this has never looked better. I’ve seen a disc at Best Buy which teases how this will look in high definition and they’ve delivered. This looks downright amazing.

Audio: How does it sound?

The video quality isn’t the only thing that looks great as the audio was also re-mastered in DTS HD Master Audio in a 7.1 mix. The first thing I noticed was Jerry Goldsmith’s amazing score, the TNG introduction is amazing and one of the most-recognized television themes out there and it sounds great in 7.1 sound. Vocals sound very rich and full and the surround are surprisingly robust in several of the episodes. Phasers seem to have a bit more “oomph” than they did in the past, the sound the transporter makes seems to sparkle with discrete effects and the overall tone is on par with some of today’s shows. A lot of the attention might be paid to how great this looks, but make no mistake that it sounds every bit as good as it looks visually.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While not brimming with supplements, the ones included are pretty interesting.  I did enjoy the aforementioned “Energized! Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level”, as it showed the great lengths that they went to give us, the fans, the definitive edition of this show.  Re-creating scenery, lights, shadows and special effects all paid off and I’m sure that die-hard fans will appreciate the effort that went into this restoration process.  The first disc also houses “Star Trek: The Next Generation Archives: The Launch” which gives us an overview of the series along with a few promotional shots (to see how far the video quality has come, check these out.  You’ll think you’re watching with Vaseline on your eyes).  Each episode does also have promos, though the next series of featurettes is on the sixth disc which contains “Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  This is shown in HD and has interviews with the cast and crew as they reflect upon the series as a whole, its inception and reception.  There are some archival mission logs as well “The Beginning”, “Selected Crew Analysis”, “The Making of a Legend” and “Memorable Missions.”  If this season is any indication of those to come (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be) then I’m pumped about the remaining six seasons.

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