Blu-ray Review Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Five Blu-Ray Review

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Middlemiss, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    XenForo Template Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Five Blu-Ray Review

    At the peak of its popularity, Star Trek: The Next Generation was never more confident or assured than its fifth season. Garnering weekly viewers higher than most primetime shows, even beating Monday Night Football, The Next Generation had firmly deepened its earned place among the greatest science fiction television shows of all time (even one of the best shows of all time, period), and with good reason. High quality writing, production values, visual effects, and performances week to week, engendered devoted fans as fervent as those glued to Kirk and company before. The torch had long been passed between the Trek generations and TNG was rising from strength to strength. Season after season classic episodes were produced whose power and fun would grant them longevity that would echo even beyond the core fandom.Season Five is perhaps the last, great season of this crew, brimming with solid episodes and several true standouts. As I’ve written before, Season Three was the absolute best of TNGs run, but Season Five, like Season Four, is still standout.

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    Studio: Paramount

    Distributed By: CBS

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

    Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, French 1.0 DD (Mono), Other

    Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Dutch, Other

    Rating: Not Rated

    Run Time: 19 Hr. 42 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    Multi-disc with slipcover

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 11/19/2013

    MSRP: $129.99




    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    Earth was once a violent planet, too. At times, the chaos threatened the very fabric of life, but, like you, we evolved; we found better ways to handle our conflicts. But I think no one can deny that the seed of violence remains within each of us. We must recognize that. Because that violence is capable of consuming each of us…

    The Show

    4.5/ 5

    Star Trek: The Next Generation is the most successful of the now five Star Trek series, and for good reason. It was serious minded, exciting, and bolstered by wonderful visual effects for a Television show (thanks to ILM’s terrific stock effects and other talented folk) and an earnest dedication to the evolved sensibilities of our possible future created by Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. The cast ranged from superb actors to moderately skilled, but each added a flavor and distinctness that are every bit an integral element in the fabric of the show. Patrick Stewart stars as the English accented, French born Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as the handsome first officer, William T Riker, Brent Spiner as a unique and beloved android Commander Data, LeVar Burton, with his special visor as a mechanically gifted Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Marina Sirtis as a half-betazoid, half human ship counselor Deanna Troi, Michael Dorn as the interesting and impressive Chief of Security Worf (the lone Klingon aboard), Beverly Crusher portrayed by Gates McFadden, and joining the cast as a spoil and dramatic stir, Michelle Forbes as Ensign Ro Laren.The crew, captained by Jean-Luc Picard, explores space in the Enterprise D, a Galaxy Class starship, housing over 1000 crew and their families. They encounter evolved beings, mysterious anomalies, aggressive and amenable species and other assorted magnificent wonders out in the great unknown. The stories from the seven seasons for which this show ran feature impressive, intelligent and exciting tales that deliver allegorical thought-provokers and good old fashion science fiction fun. It is a show that has grown and prospered from the success of what the original series (in syndication and in feature films) provided. The Next Generation was different from the days of Kirk, Spock and McCoy in tone, technology and tenor – but fundamentally born of the same spirit of exploration, tolerance, social stories and intellect.

    Season Five

    4/5

    A mature, sure-footed and accomplished science fiction television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s fifth season is most poised. It was, however, marked by the sadness of the passing of the Great Bird, Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry, who died early into the season’s airing. Despite that cloud, the fifth year of the syndicated smash would be noted for several magnificent episodes (“Cause and Effect”, “The Inner Light”), and for the introduction of a new species and crew member, the Bajoran Ensign Ro (her planet referred to as Bajora instead of Bajor as it would be known on the spinoff, Deep Space Nine). Conceived as a way to ruffle the feathers of the familiar and conflict free crew, her introduction was superbly handled thanks the excellent Michelle Forbes cast in the role (following her excellent guest appearance in the fourth seasons “Half-a-Life”), and the balancing act played by the writers in bringing in a brash but not bratty character and easing her into the shows storylines rather than focusing on her too much too, soon.Too often new characters added to smooth running television shows become the focal point, perhaps the result of a second wind for writers who’ve found a fresh person for whom to write, or of producers attempting to shake things up on their show for the sake of ratings or quality. Since Star Trek: The Next Generation had experienced no great lull in quality and had seen its ratings stride higher than ever, becoming a Top 10 show (if it had been on a network), the choice to bring in Forbes had been for creative reasons, thus no need or proclivity to centralize the show around her introduction. Very wise.Overall, this fifth season is decidedly even, with considerable consistency in the quality of the storytelling. That in the 26 episodes there are fewer revelatory stand outs as found in the peak of season three is of small matter when included are magnificent hours of television such as “Darmok”, “Redemption Part II”, “Cause and Effect”, the extraordinary “The Inner Light”, and the landmark “Unification” Parts I and II, which features Leonard Nimoy reprising his Spock character. The visual effects continued to improve with evermore computer generated imagery (notably the visual representation of the addictive game in “The Game”, and the life destroying Chrystalline Entity – which sees a beautiful and faithful upgrade in this set), yet even the traditional effects appear grander and more accomplished, including the ship graveyard in “Unification Part I” and the dusty wasteland left in the wake of the Entity in “Silicon Avatar.”The show continued to show its strength of allegory, with treatments of the reunification of East and West Germany, intolerance towards gays, the morality (and toll) of vengeance, gaming addiction, parenting troubled children, rape, and the ethics of assisted suicide. Heavy subjects indeed, but through the prism of science fiction, and with the outside perspective of a future time, place, and issue, these issues could be examined with great perspective and reflection. Sometimes more heavy handed than necessary, or not as deeply examined as we would have liked to see (“The Outcast” and “The Game” spring to mind as episodes that begin the examination, but are too thin given the possibilities of their subjects), The Next Generation should be applauded for not losing sight of the power and importance of shining a mirror to humanity in between the technobabble and phaser fights.The highlights of season five are:Redemption Part IIThe Klingon Civil War, begun over the divided loyalties of the Klingon High Council between the true successor to the throne, Gowron, and the deceitful challenger, Duras, is in full swing. Worf has chosen to step away from Starfleet to join his brother’s ship and help defend Gowron, the rightful heir to become leader.Part II of “Redemption” brings serious Worf related storylines, as the political machinations of the Duras family – instigated by the mischievous Lursa and B’Etor – and with the conniving hand of the Romulans as revealed at the end of Part I, play out against eth backdrop of the Klingon Civil War.The two-part “Redemption” is a marvelous example of how the evolved sensibilities of humanity in the 23rd century could be tested and fraught with conflict and pressures that threaten that progressed state. Michael Dorn’s portrayal of Worf is something that became stronger and more impressive over time and he absolutely steals the show in this exciting hour and a half. He is surrounded by fine performances by others, many of whom are also adorned with the Klingon façade. Robert O’Reilly as Gowron in particular continues to stand out as a smaller framed Klingon but a warrior with wit and grit.No other non-human species has been more explored than the Klingons in the history of Star Trek, and with good reason. The warrior race is immensely interesting, bound by honor and duty, the fighting-oriented race becomes ever more complex the more time we spend with them. “Redemption Part II”, added an intriguing Romulan element that would continue in the two-part “Unification”, and a strong start to season five.DarmokThe meeting of the federation and a species for whom communication (and by extension, relations) have been near impossible, becomes an unusual standoff as Captain Picard and Dathon, the captain of the Children of Tama species vessel, are beamed to a planet’s surface with nothing more than daggers. Commanding the enterprise, Riker patiently attempts diplomatic avenues with the fellow orbiting ship, but with an undecipherable language and a dangerous life form on the surface stalking the two captains, Riker must take more direct action as time runs out.Rather than a chest-beating contest where two captains dual for dominance or respect, Darmok superbly dissects the majesty of learning about foreign peoples and cultures despite incredible odds. The Children of Tama’s language is based on abstract descriptions of folklore stories, and knowledge of people, places, times, and events is critical to determining what is being said. A fantastic premise against which Captain Picard and Captain Dathon, played by Paul Winfield (Terrell of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), perform superbly. Scenes between Patrick Stewart and Paul Winfield are entertaining as two seasoned captains (and veteran actors) turn an uneasy lack of understanding (and trust) into mutual respect and partnership as they face off against a strange magnetic, near invisible creature.Unification Parts I & IIAmbassador Spock, spotted on the Romulan home world, is feared to have defected. Captain Picard is tasked with determining Spock’s intentions. A visit with Sarek, Spock’s estranged and dying father, yields little answers. With no other recourse, and the possibility of Spock divulging a lifetime of secrets to a longtime foe of the Federation, Picard must travel to Romulus and track down the legendary former member of the USS Enterprise. Securing passage on a cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey, Picard and Lt. Commander Data make their way to find Spock, donning Romulan facial prosthetics as subterfuge, they must avoid detection for fear of death, and solve the mystery of Spock’s disappearance.The second of three Star Trek: The Original Series actors to appear in The Next Generation, following DeForest Kelley’s appearance in the Pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint”, and preceding James Doohan’s entertaining re-materialization in Season Six’ “Relics”, Leonard Nimoy’s guest starring role on the successor Star Trek series was much anticipated. Appearing less than a month before the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the two-part episode and the final Star Trek film featuring the full Original Series cast shared interesting thematic similarities; the potential for a thawing of tense relations between species and the courage and trust exhibited by once skeptical members of the United Federation of Planets (and those of the associated species).The strength and longevity of “Unification” comes largely from the maturity of the storytelling and the potency of its core idea. Drawing from the reunification of the German Democratic Republic (East) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West) that began, rather peacefully, at the end of the 1980’s, and was symbolized by the fall (the tearing down piece by piece by jubilant and dedicated protestors) of the Berlin Wall, this two-part episode wades into compelling political territory. An examination of two cousin species (like the kindred lives of the East and West Germans), and the politics, propaganda, and cultural separation that had erected barriers between them, is an absorbing subject ripe for exploration. This is most effectively raised in the discussions on Romulus between Spock and the members of the underground movement he has come to foster, and between Spock and Picard and Data as they discuss the opportunity Spock is bravely exploring.“Unification Parts I & II” succeed as quality Star Trek and entertaining television in general. More subdued and dramatic compared to other two-part episodes, which until this point had been the Pilot and the season three and four finales, it finds energy in its drama. The B-plot of Commander Riker taking the Enterprise on the hunt for related clues to Spock’s appearance on Romulus is lighter in tone, serving as a nice balance. The conclusion may not be wholly satisfying in and of itself, but the experience of Spock, Picard and Data sharing scenes is historic.Cause and EffectThe Enterprise, destroyed by a collision with another starship, finds itself and her crew trapped in a loop of time, repeating the survey of Typhon Expanse. As several crew members become increasingly aware of the time loop, through déjà vu, they must find a way to break the pattern without knowing what or how they have become locked in the loop.“Cause and Effect” is immensely entertaining science fiction. Brannon Braga wrote the teleplay, with Jonathan Frakes directing, and it has proven to be one of the most popular of the entire seven season run. Incorporation of the poker game played by the senior staff into the main plot is something special here, and although the conceit is a marvelous draw of curiosity, it is the dialogue between Work, Riker, Data and Dr. Crusher at the card table that equally elevates the joy of this outing. Performances are all strong and the direction by Jonathan Frakes, who with every directorial effort more capably demonstrated his grasp of Trek and the actors portraying the crew, positively shines behind the camera. Frakes adroitly treats the brilliant material, approaching the repeated scenes with a firm understanding of how to keep the same material fresh as the crew begins to understand the loop they are stuck within. It’s a real pleasure to watch this episode unfold.Excellence in almost every facet of television production graces this episode. Watching and re-watching this episode is easy, and the cameo appearance by Cheers actor Kelsey Grammer (the third in Star Trek following Bebe Neuwirth and Kirstie Alley), is icing on the cake.The Next PhaseThe Enterprise has arrived at the wreckage of a Romulan ship to render aid. Tragedy strikes when Lt. Commander La Forge and Ensign Ro are killed in a transporter accident. The two rematerialize aboard the enterprise but quickly realize than none of the crew can see or hear them. Ro believes they are dead and in the afterlife, La Forge believes something else is at play. As the crew mourns the death of their colleagues, Data tries to track down the source of strange readings that have popped up throughout the ship.What a great showcase episode for relative newcomer Ensign Ro. Intended as a bottle show, a contained episode that would help balance the budgets compared to more expensive episodes in the season, “The Next Phase” became one of the more costly, thanks in no small way to the time-consuming visual effects work depicting La Forge and Ro passing through walls and objects, even engaging in an ethereal phaser battle with another unexpected ‘victim’ of Ro and La Forge’s fate.“The Next Phase” isn’t the strongest TNG episode, by far, but certainly one of the more fun episodes and a personal favorite since its airing. Another likeable element of this episode is the focus on Geordi La Forge that doesn’t revolve around his being unlucky in love.The Inner LightPerhaps the most beloved of the 178 episodes, The Inner Light is the intimate story of Captain Picard, struck by an alien probe and debilitated, who wakes up having lived a different life, with a wife, in his home, in a drought-impacted village, on a strange world. Back on the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher attends to the fallen Captain on the floor of the bridge as he is connected to the alien artifact. Unable to disconnect the beam affected him; Picard lives out the years of this other life.There is a haunting quality to this episode which continues to resonate with audiences. A simple story lovingly shot and very well acted by Patrick Stewart and the guest actors, and complimented with composer Jay Chattaway’s sweet and dramatic score, including the memorable theme played by Picard on the flute, The Inner Light is a triumph of superb science-fiction storytelling. The Next Generation achieved a great balance of drama, action and science (not always convincingly, but…) and this episode, aired between the concept-heavy The Next Phase and the first part of the time travel adventure Times Arrow, became a silent gem emanating a bitter-sweet science fiction conceit nestled amidst character-centric storytelling. A real favorite!Other episodes of note (and personal favorites) include:“The Game” where the crew slowly falls under the spell of an addictive game and features some of the best writing for a visiting Wesley Crusher (and the last appearance of a very young Ashley Judd); “Disaster”, the ultimate bottle episode that plays a little like The Poseidon Adventure when the Enterprise is incapacitated and left adrift. The crew, in pockets, must deal with unique challenges, and has Deanna Troi on the bridge burdened with the weight of serious command decisions, and “I, Borg”, featuring wonderful ethical dilemmas and discussions among the Enterprise’s senior staff. Dehumanization of a mortal enemy is not an uncommon practice amongst opposing sides in battles or wars, and so this revisit of the fan favorite Borg species is surprisingly complex. Shattering presumptions and prejudices at their core, even within the evolved sensibilities of Captain Picard, Guinan, and others, is the stuff of great art and for The Next Generation to boldly peel back the curtains on how the crew, and by extension us the audience, view the hive-minded enemy of the Federation, is powerful.

    The Episodes

    Disc One:Redemption Part IIDarmokEnsign RoSilicon AvatarDisasterDisc Two:The GameUnification Part IUnification Part IIA Matter of TimeNew GroundDisc Three:Hero WorshipViolationsThe Masterpiece SocietyConundrumPower PlayDisc Four:EthicsThe OutcastCause and EffectThe First DutyCost of LivingDisc Five:The Perfect MateImaginary FriendI, BorgThe Next PhaseDisc Six:The Inner LightTime’s Arrow Part I


    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    As a reminder, transferring this series to high-definition is a mammoth undertaking. The show’s visual effects were shot on film requiring every visual effects element to be re-compositioned (rather than suffer an upconversion from videotape). This requires re-cutting over 25,000 film reels, meticulously rebuilding the episodes and preserving the original episodes in lush detail transferred to high-definition detailCBS-Digital again handles the conversion efforts and the results are stellar. The season is filled with examples of beautiful and strong colors, rich black levels, fine detail, and reproduced visual effects work that improves without betraying the original work and the continued excellence in providing planets and moons with high quality textures and cloud effects in no small way to updating the feel of the show. The Chrystalline Entity rebuild is perhaps the most accomplished of the visual effects, with superb detail, but other key effects work throughout the season are pleasing (the reflection on the shuttlepod window at the beginning of “Power Play” is a nice touch). The appearance of the new title in Season Five (the series title with the streaming blue background) has never looked better.Only a few scenes, some of the hostage scenes in Ten Forward from the episode “Power Play” and brief moments in “The First Duty” could not have their original camera negatives found, and so have been upconverted from standard definition.The conversion work for The Next Generation continues to be the high bar of quality. With just two season’s left to complete and release, fans of Star Trek can begin hoping for Deep Space Nine and even Voyager to follow suit.



    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    Season Five continues the welcome trend of terrific audio with a delicious 7.1 DTS-HD track available for each episode.I continue to be impressed with the audio quality with these sets. The hum of the bridge, engineering, and other key spaces aboard the enterprise is cleanly handled in the low end of the spectrum. Separation of audio in the surrounds and across the front channels is well-balanced, and phaser fire, photon torpedo launches, and various sundry sound effects throughout are crisp and high quality.The Next Generation isn’t known for its unique musical identity (somewhat unfairly), but within this season are several standout scores, most notably Jay Chattaway’s memorable music for “The Inner Light”. One of the special features explores more deeply the music of this series that helps highlight the fine work by the small assembly of composers.Also included is a DTS-HD 2.0 track that more closely resembles the stereo presentation of its original airing.


    Special Features Rating: 5/5

    Once again, respect for fans and collectors have been paid by CBS. The special features previously produced and available on the former DVD sets have been made available here, along with new and fascinating extras that are almost worth the price themselves. The new features are in High Definition and are noted below (HD). The new audio commentaries are particularly reflective and valuable, as are the Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation in two parts, which provide a wonderful view and perspective on TNG, Gene Roddenberry and his vision, the process of crafting the shows, and a focus on several cast members.The absolute best special feature however is In Conversation: The Music of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with Jeff Bond (author of The Music of Star Trek) discussing the scores and the industry with composers Ron Jones, Jay Chattaway and Dennis McCarthy. A unique and entirely engaging special feature running an hour and a quarter.It should be noted that the separate release of “Unification” (Parts I and II), edited together as a single ‘movie’ contains special features exclusive to that release.Disc One:- Mission Overview Year FiveDisc Two:- Deleted Scene (HD)- Departmental Briefing Year Five: ProductionDisc Three:- Departmental Briefing Year Five: Visual EffectsDisc Four:- Deleted Scenes (HD)- Audio Commentaries: "Cause and Effect" and "The First Duty."- Memorable MissionsDisc Five:- Deleted Scene (HD)- Audio Commentary: "I, Borg."- A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry- Intergalactic Guest Stars - Alien Speak Disc Six:- Audio Commentary: "The Inner Light."- Deleted Scenes (HD) - Gag Reel (HD)- In Conversation: The Music of Star Trek: The Next Generation(HD)- Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation Part One: The Needs of the Many (HD)- Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation Part Two: The Needs of the Few (HD)


    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    Revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation through these superbly produced Blu-ray sets has affirmed my belief that this show is one of the best ever produced. The level of quality, creativity, allegorical reflection, and technological prescience exhibited over the seven seasons resonates highly even after all these years. Season Five continues the show’s excellence and is an absolute must-own for fans and even newcomers to the Trek universe. Highly Recommended!


    Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss


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  2. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Thanks Neil! I could write an essay on every single TNG episode, but I'll keep this all brief.

    Because I was relatively young when TNG was running, a lot of the "more adult" episodes went over my head and I don't necessarily have good memories of them. ("Darmok" and "Inner Light" from this season, as an example.) I know everyone loves them, but I found them kind of tedious back in the day. I'm finding my appreciation for all the episodes rising with my rewatches (even Enterprise). I can usually find something good in each of them that I didn't know about before. I'm expecting S5 to be in the same boat when I dive in next week.

    I'm glad you called out "Disaster." It's just a fun show that gives the entire crew something to do...with lots of action. The Ro/Troi dynamic is excellent and it's one of our first times seeing Troi in command. There are also some unique pairings: LaForge and Crusher, Picard and the kids, Worf and Keiko (a joke that continues in DS9).

    There are two episodes that I really...dislike...from S5. One is "The Outcast." It's not a bad episode; rather, I object to the producers thinking they "wiped their hands clean" of ever mentioning anything to do with homosexuality after this episode. TNG could do not wrong, yet they played it safe in this arena. Trek should have been a leader, not a follower. (My gripe is this: Soren bowed to political and societial pressure to change something ingrained in her--forgive my androgynous pronoun challenges...) I get where our crew stood on the issue at the end of the episode and the Prime Directive, but this was the wrong message.

    The other episode is "Ethics." Ironically, homosexuality and suicide are issues very close to me. It cheats the ending, making Worf a wuss and allowing both Riker and Troi to get on their high horses. That's S1 TNG at its worst. There isn't that much discussion about Worf and Kurn doing basically the same thing in DS9's "Sons of Mogh."

    The absolute worst episode of the season? I think I'd hand that to "New Ground." That's just a soap opera in space and a lot of stuff I don't need to see ever again. Close runner up is "The Masterpiece Society." This season, at times, felt like the production was getting complacent. But then they'd pick themselves back up again. Like you said, this is the last truly great season. S6 and S7 would have their moments, but you can see the boredom in about half of each of those seasons.
     
  3. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Excellent review, and I couldn't agree more on your assessment of the seasons' strengths.
     
  4. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    My friends and I were recently talking about "The Perfect Mate." It started out as joking about how Famke Janssen's role was to be attractive (and Riker's line "I'll be on holodeck if anyone needs me), but then I reminded them about how poignant the ending was. I haven't watched it many years, but that wound up being one of my favorite episodes in the series.
     
  5. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    Very nice review Neil. Good stuff.

    I remember the 5th season very well from the time of its airing in 1991-1992. That was the year I had just graduated college, so it's still quite vivid in my mind.

    I remember several very good episodes, some of them being great ones: "Darmok", "Cause and Effect", "The First Duty", "The Inner Light". I remember several others that were good but didn't quite get all the way there for me: "Ensign Ro", "Unification pt 1", "I, Borg". But there were also a BUNCH that seemed to have the "cute kid of the week" A story and a "ship in danger" B story: "New Ground", "Hero Worship", "Imaginary Friend", "Cost of Living" - heck, even "Disaster" partly falls into this trap. The writers referred to Season 5 at other times as "The Year of the Child" and made a point of rededicating themselves to higher concept ideas for the 6th year. I don't know that they were completely successful then.

    I agree that the 5th season was the last one of TNG to have a consistent level of quality to it. After this point, they really got into the development of DS9, and after that, of Voyager and the feature films. Season 5 was the last time for a decade that they were all focused on just doing one show and trying to do it well. They would get back to something like this on Enterprise, but by that point, it was a little late.

    I should note that "Cause and Effect" echoes the earlier "Time Squared" in some ways - but the latter episode is much stronger in all areas.

    Having listened to the commentaries, I have to say that I wasn't that taken with the Braga/MacFarlane commentary on "Cause and Effect". Way too much in-joke humor, and not very much discussion about the episode. There are multiple stories that could have been told about this show that they avoided. Braga said at the time that he came up with the basic idea while eating sugary breakfast, and that when he pitched the teaser, Joe Menosky said to him "You're in BIG trouble!", since there really is no way to top that moment. One of the fanbooks about TNG notes that the VFX and floor effects guys had a great time blowing up Enterprise models for a day for this. (To be fair, a little footage is shown of this on the featurette.) On the other hand, the Moore/Shankar commentary on "The First Duty" is great stuff. A bunch of gems come out of that one, including Moore reminding Shankar that they did an all-nighter to completely rewrite the script before it was shot. They also describe their alternate ending for the episode, which is frankly just as interesting as the one that was picked, but would likely have ended their ability to have Wesley appear on the show. They cite Michael Piller's reaction to that ending as "So Nick Locarno is the hero of the story?" But the best moment comes late, when they discuss the character of Tom Paris on "Voyager" and how that relates to this episode. Possibly one of the funniest moments I've heard in any commentary ever.

    Neil, are you doing a review of the "Unification" Blu as well?
     
  6. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Hi Kevin - great thoughts (I remember disliking some of the 'kid' episodes like Hero Worship and New Ground, but found more appreciation for them this go around. Not great, but still good).

    As soon as I can finish the special features on the Unification special release, I will get my review of this up. Hopefully tomorrow.
     
  7. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    Watch out for a wild gaffe in the middle of the commentary...
     
  8. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Jason - I can't say I disagree with your thoughts on "Ethics" and "The Outcast", though I found "New Ground" to be far better than I recalled. I was never a fan of "The Masterpiece Society" but found Deanna Troi to be really quite good in the episode.

    As for "Ethics" and "The Outcast", I find that I understand what these episodes were trying to do, but given how well subjects could be explored by this show ("The Measure of a Man", "The Drumhead"), I am disappointed that they were not braver or loftier in their aims.
     
  9. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    My better half is infatuated with Troi and he looks forward to her every appearance. Seriously, if she has two lines in an episode, it's kind of a let down for him. He's going to LOVE "The Masterpiece Society."

    (Why does he love her so much? No idea...)
     
  10. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Because she's awesome, and played by an English actress, of course!
     
  11. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Definitely a matured and assured season by all involved! If anyone is interested, and I know this is not the bargains thread, I got my copy at Fry's and it was a better deal then Amazon by $9! Making it $49.00.
     
  12. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    I think this is my favorite season of TNG.

    My ratings season by season go something like this:

    S1: C+
    S2: B-
    S3: B+
    S4: B+
    S5: A-

    Aside from a few episodes, I don't remember S6 and S7 very well, but from some comments around here it seems like they go back to the middle B range overall. I'm getting very antsy about DS9 and Voyager, which are both shows I like just as much if not better than Next Gen. Hope we get to see them in HD too...
     
  13. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    I've been binge watching this season over the last few days...I'm about to finish Unification II. I did skip ahead to the new VAM on the last disc and, I gotta say, I'm disappointed in the two 30 minute docs.

    I underatand and appreciate Roddenberry's passing was a big blow to the show and franchise. But almost 45 minute across the two docs are devoted to that. The one new interview I really appreciated was Marina Sirtis. I read many times that Gene and Majel were like a second family to her and his passing destroyed her. But even after all these years, she still gets very emotional over talking about him. And then when she talks about Majel...I wanted to cry right along with her.

    There's a wealth of stuff they don't even bother to cover or mention in this docs. A lot of time is spent on "Inner Light" (duh); the season finale, "Time's Arrow," is not mentioned at all. Evidently, the producers never intended S5 to end with a cliffhanger, but that changed when DS9 started getting a lot of attention. Then there's the title card change (the "flying" title) that has never been referenced as far as I'm aware (the why, for example). "Darmok" is glossed over; Joe Menosky, perhaps at his request, doesn't provide any interview even though the rest of the writing staff is there. Michelle Forbes is absent, as is any conversation about Bajor/Barjorans. "The Outcast" and "Ethics" are mentioned in passing.

    I just don't feel like these two docs are up to the level of anything we've seen before.

    Now, the composer doc I really liked. The biggest take away for me was more than a little bitterness on the part of Jones, McCarthy and Chattaway. Bitterness that people who knew nothing about composing would tell them how to do their jobs. How their ideas kept getting diluted. How they all clashed with senior production personnel. It's veiled bitterness, not out and out aggression. Very interesting watch.

    One thing Timothy Bond does mention is he knows for a fact more soundtracks are coming. Presuming this was recorded over the summer, I assume there's something coming down the pike early next year that hasn't been announced yet. "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been at least announced when this was recorded...so I wonder what might be next on the list.
     
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  14. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I haven't watched the Composer reunion, but I'm not surprised that the guys were frustrated. Ron Jones in particular was vocal about how he felt, particularly after they dropped him at the end of the 4th season for being too noticeable with his music.

    And you can hear the music quality start to tail off after that. With the exceptions of "The Inner Light" and some sections of "All Good Things", a lot of the scoring for seasons 5-7 is increasingly bland - as per the wishes of Rick Berman. In a similar vein, the scoring for all the subsequent series tended toward the bland as well, which is frankly just a shame. I happen to love the "Chain of Command" two-parter, but the musical score for it is just awful. And that's not the fault of the composer - it's specifically the producer telling the composer not to do anything that would be particularly creative. The reason the scores for TOS are so memorable is because there's a heck of a lot of personality going into those pieces. One thing that Berman did, which I believe was to the detriment of the whole franchise, was that he really sapped the personality out of the music and reduced it to extremely generic riffs to indicate mystery or intensity or what have you. Granted, the theme music to "Voyager" was a very nice piece by Jerry Goldsmith, but much of the scoring of the series was once again the same generic stuff.
     
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  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Neil,

    Hope you are reading this...

    I am 2/3 of the way through Season Five.

    Just finished watching Cause and Effect. Wow! To date, my favorite
    Next Generation episode. Truly a masterpiece of writing and science fiction.

    Another rather fun episode that I really liked was The Game.

    I only have 8 episodes left of this season and I know I am heading towards
    the fan favorite, The Inner Light, which I saw many years ago but hardly remember.

    This season has been hit or miss so far, but after watching Cause and Effect
    I had to come on here and say how much I really loved it.
     
  16. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    I found it more hit than miss, but you've called out some episodes that I absolutly love. The Inner Light (like DS9's incredible The Visitor) never fails to move me. So glad you are rediscovering these great episodes, Ron!
     
  17. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Cause and Effect is just fun as long as you buy into the concept and understand it. I know it can be confusing and/or very repetitive for some people.

    We're right behind you, Ron, in Jim's first "trek" through the season. There's a complacency here early in the year. It's like they knew where their wheelhouse was and didn't want to stretch too much. I'm thinking of Hero Worship, New Ground and A Matter of Time. They're kind of bland episodes for me.

    The season does some wonderful stuff, but this feels like a victory lap of some kind...two years too early.

    (It amazed me Jim liked The Game-a lot. I've always thought it was just okay.)
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Finished Season Five this past weekend.

    First time I found myself emotionally affected by a Star Trek episode.
    I had tears in my eyes near the end of The Inner Light. Awesome episode.

    Another interesting episode was The Perfect Mate. Was not expecting
    much from it until the end, where you realize Picard's attraction for the
    Metamorph and the fact that she is destined to do her duty for another
    man who will never appreciate her for who she is.

    Finally, the Wesley-driven episode, The First Duty, was pretty damn good.
    Wonder if this will be the last episode we see Wesley appear in.

    Started the Season 6 Blu-ray yesterday. Didn't think too much of Time's Arrow,
    but happy to see Barclay back in Realm of Fear, though it was a mediocre episode.
     
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  19. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    That's funny, Ron. Jim just finished his first watch of S5. After every episode, I'd tell him what the Geos rating for the episode was, where it landed (ranking wise) in the season and then for the series.

    After Inner Light, I told him it was #2 of the series. He looked at me kinda oddly and said something to the effect of "it was fine, but not that good." I actually agree with him. I never understood the connection a lot of people have to the episode. I chalk it up to age and I don't doubt it will mean more to me as I get older. Some episodes are like that...kinda meh when you first watch them and they grow on you over time with more life experience.

    Time's Arrow Part I is a good episode. Part II is just boring and meanders way too much. That's the general problem with all TNG Part 2's: all the build up is great and then the resolution is a let down. The writers try to do too much and end up overstuffing the concluding segment badly.

    (Plus, my big pet peeve about TA I is the end. You have your second officer who has disappeared and you send only your security chief back to the ship. Every other senior officer goes through this portal to who knows where...?? Really? If this entire away team doesn't come back, not only are you without a captain, you're without a first officer, a second officer, chief medical officer, chief engineer and ship's psychologist. In all actuality, is there anyone on the ship above Lieutenant rank?)
     
  20. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I love 'The Inner Light' also. It's weird I showed the episode to two people(my brother who likes TNG, but the OT is his absolute favorite, and a friend) both thought it pretty boring, and didn't have much impact. I promptly told them it was the best episode of the entire series, and they looked at me like I was crazy.
     

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