It’s finally here, the fully restored and pristine arrival of Star Trek: The Next Generation in High Definition. Often shrugged off for its clear growing pains as it sought to gel the interaction between the entirely new cast of characters, season one is a far better first season than many might remember. A number of highlight episodes stand out – such as The Big Goodbye, Where No-one Has Gone Before, Datalore, Skin of Evil and Conspiracy. And this season established a number of elements that would play a role in each of the subsequent seasons, including the Q character, Riker and Troi’s love interest, the deeper relationship between Picard and Dr. Beverly Crusher, Picard’s penchant for cultural and educational impartation, and the genius and destiny of the young (and frequently grinning) Wesley Crusher.
Paramount Pictures and CBS Home Entertainment undertook a restoration and clean-up of arguably one of the most influential television series of all time with Star Trek: The Original Series. Cleaning up the film and recreating the many visual effects, it sought to present that groundbreaking series to a faithful fan base and many more who would discover – or rediscover – the wonder that gave birth to the Star Trek phenomenon, in high definition. It was a marvelous success. The faithful preservation of the three seasons and presentment of both the newly realized visual effects (and stunning 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) and the original versions earned my deserved praise. Now it is the turn of the Next Generation and its terrific seven season run. And the results are wonderful.
Studio: Paramount Pictures/CBS
Year: 1987- 88
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 19hrs. 45mins.
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English/French/Spanish/German/Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Release Date: July 22, 2012
Review Date: July 24, 2012
“Space – The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no-one has gone before.”
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. It featured a rich cast of characters which included a strong first officer, a Klingon security officer, an android commander, an empathic counselor and a gifted ship’s doctor with her even more gifted son. 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 Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as the handsome first officer, William T Riker, Brent Spiner is unique and beloved as the android Commander Data, LeVar Burton, with his special visor is solid as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Marina Sirtis mostly good as the half-betazoid, half human ships counselor Deanna Troi, Michael Dorn interesting and impressive as Worf, the lone Klingon aboard, Gates McFadden limited and under-written as the ship’s doctor Beverly Crusher and Wil Wheaton as the often ill-placed Wesley.
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 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.
The rebirth of Star Trek on television arrived with an impressive and expansive Pilot, Encounter at Farpoint where we are introduced to the new crew of the Starship Enterprise. Dispatched to investigate Farpoint Station (on Denib IV), the new Captain Picard is accosted by a powerful and omniscient being known as Q who seeks to try, judge and administer punishment upon his crew as representatives of the entire human race. The savvy Picard petitions the court of Q’s construction that humanity has evolved beyond its brutal infancy and that he and his crew should be allowed to demonstrate how much humans have grown. Relenting, the U.S.S. Enterprise continues its mission to uncover the mission of Farpoint station and demonstrate that the human race is far more than the sum of its history.
Though absent the polish of later seasons, Encounter at Farpoint accomplishes a great many things. It successfully introduced a diverse new crew helming the grand, impressive new Galaxy Class vessel, with all her improved capabilities (a separating saucer, family-friendly quarters, holodecks, and food replicators). This two-episode series starter, once the stiffness of the actors stretching into their characters is overlooked, remains solid entertainment, with a little wit, solid visual effects (even more impressive now), and Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of our possible future firmly on display.
The enjoyable pilot was followed by two of the inaugural seasons weaker episodes, the unfortunate Naked Now – which revisits a plot line from the original series and features most of the cast (and the rest of the ship) experiencing the intoxicating effects of a pathogen transferred by touch. As the first episode of the regular season, witnessing the characters acting uncharacteristic seems like an odd and unearned play. The second regular season episode is Code of Honor, a bit of a throwback to the Original Series but here it all seems sleight and exploitative. Fortunately the season picks up episodes featuring solid science-fiction ideas, great character moments (Data discovering Sherlock Holmes, Picard enjoying P.I. Dixon Hill), and a generous exercising of visual effects muscle for a television show. There are ups and downs throughout this season though it is a far more cohesive set of episodes than memory had served.
Encounter at Farpoint (Parts 1 and 2)
The Naked Now
Code of Honor
The Last Outpost
Where No one Has Gone Before
Lonely Among Us
Hide and Q
The Big Goodbye
Too Short a Season
When the Bough Breaks
Coming of Age
Heart of Glory
The Arsenal of Freedom
Skin of Evil
We’ll Always Have Paris
The Neutral Zone
As the sampler disc released in January 2012 foretold, Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One of a glorious triumph in High Definition. Transferring this series to high-definition is a mammoth undertaking. The show’s visual effects were shot on film requiring every sing visual effects element to be re-compositioned (rather than suffer an unconversion 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 detail. This effort will show off details from the episodes that none of us have seen before (from the original broadcast, the mediocre and soft DVD release or in reruns over the last 20 plus years).
Each episode holds a visual treasure previously not experienced. The Enterprise is beautifully detailed, planets appear than more than simply generic worlds but a rich with defined continents, cloud cover and many other touches that were not seen before. Many planets to have been updated entirely and, as explained in the special features, have been created using notes from Michael Okuda and with the intent of ‘bringing into focus the original matte images’- with stunning effect. All of the soft, pixelated and sometimes blurred look of the episodes have been updated and each episode pops with detail, vivid colors, and crisp clean lines (especially around the renewed onscreen credits). All that is old is new again!
There are a few moments to note, particularly a shimmering effect during the episode Haven when Riker and Troi discuss her impending marriage in the desert of a holodeck creation. Some other moments of softness show up infrequently and one shot – also in Haven – when the transporter engineer readies to transport Troi’s mother and other guests aboard appeared too dark, but a check of the original DVD’s shows that to be a native lighting issue. Comparisons to the original DVD’s reveal just how stunning this HD conversion is.
As I stated in my review of the sampler disc, the details are beyond words, colors are bold and fresh, flesh tones incredibly natural and visual effects shots revealing of the painstaking artistry (by ILM and others) that went into this bold television series.
As with the sampler disc, the 7.1 DTS-HD track available here is an absolute winner. The whoosh of the enterprise in the opening credits (whooshing towards and past the camera) fills the surrounds completely and Jerry Goldsmith's reconfigured theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture fanfares gloriously during the opening credit sequence of each episode. The hum of the ship (and the beeps and other electronic noises that abound on the bridge) has never been clearer and present and other sounds such as phaser fire, the echo of the Klingon halls and the roaring crowd of a faux-court (courtesy of Q) are all superbly presented on this Blu-ray disc.
UPDATE: An issue with episodes on discs 1, 3 and 4 has been discovered. Please see the note from CBS below. We will keep this thread updated with the latest updates and with the details of the new sets on store shelves.
Dear Star Trek Fans,
We have discovered an anomaly in the English 7.1 DTS Master Audio track in our Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Blu-ray Box set. There are some episodes that inadvertently had their front channel designations incorrectly mapped, resulting in an undesired playback experience when listening to them in a 7.1 or 5.1 Surround Sound environment.
We are quickly working to remedy the situation. Replacement discs (Disc 1, 3 and 4) will be made available free of charge. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details regarding the replacement program. You may also call 877-DELUXE6 (877-335-8936) between 8am to 6pm Pacific, Monday-Friday.
We strive to provide our fans the best Blu-ray experience possible and sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.
4 / 5
Energized! Taking the Next Generation to the Next Level – HD (23:46): An in-depth and engrossing explanation of all the detailed work poured into readying ST: TNG for High Definition. Rescanning all the original negatives, faithfully preserving the original aspect ratio (explained perfectly with examples of how framing for 16X9 would betray the information outside of the original composition – including negative scratches, light stands and more) and creating via CGI certain effects – phasers and transporters – that could not have been done otherwise. The love from all those involved and the level of skill and attention to detail shows a remarkable loyalty to this show and to the fans who clamor for its preservation and proper appearance in HD. I should also note that the 13 seconds that were upconverted in Sins of the Father (appearing on the sampler disc) have now been found and will be included for the final release of that season.
Introduction to the Series (2:45): An archival extra feature presenting the new show
Promos: Three archival promos from the episodes on disc one is available (the standard ‘next week on Star Trek: The Next Generation teasers’)
Season One Promo (4:07): Another archival special feature advertising the excitement of season one.
Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation Part 1: Inception - HD (28:09): Featuring cast and crew (including creator Gene Roddenberry and former Executive Producer Rick Berman), this look back at the birth of The Next Generation. Recalling the anticipation, pressure and excitement of the new series, bringing in many of the individuals who contributed to the Original Series, and the chance to create a series free from many of the network weight from the 60’s, through interviews here we get a real sense of what opportunity and pitfalls faced this new iteration of Star Trek.
Stardate Revisited: The Origin of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Part 2: Launch - HD (32:13): Beginning with Patrick Stewart’s recollection of his meeting with Gene Roddenberry following his reading of the pilot – and the heavy trepidation the future Captain Picard was feeling – this special feature celebrates the origins the TNG and the casting of the actors who would so magnificently fill the shoes of the crew of the Enterprise 1701-D.
Stardate Revisited: The Origin of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Part 3: The Continuing Mission - HD (32:42): Getting the look and feel of the show right is the concentration of this 3rd chapter of the newly created featurette. Interviews with Rick Sternbach (Art Department), David Livingston (Director) and others provide interesting insight into the hard work that went into building the 24th century just right.
Gag Reel (8:10): An incredibly grainy (and not at all in HD) but fun gag reel as the crew cut up, let off steam, and have a lot of fun.
Archival Special Features (Mission Logs)
The Beginning (18:01): This and the other archival special features come from the original DVD release. The Beginning takes a look at the launch of the show on September 28tyh, 1987 with footage of the soundstage as the various sets were under construction and interviews with the principle creators and other crew, discussing the advantages of airing in syndication (no network interference) and the possibilities ripe with a new cast and set of characters.
Selected Crew Analysis (15:18): A look at the cast working to find themselves characters (as well as the writers working to find the right tone for them).
The Making of a Legend (15:27): The ships design and the internal sets and props are featured in this special feature.
Memorable Missions (17:04): A look at several memorable episodes as described by several cast and crew.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One on Blu-ray is an auspicious treat for Star Trek fans and an even those who might yet discover what this brilliant television show (and franchise) has to offer. With a remarkable looking, terrific sounding and thoroughly enjoyable first season, Paramount and CBS have delivered a resounding success of a down payment for what is to come. I can’t recommend this set highly enough – and as the price has already come down (to just $59.99 as of this review), I say snap it up and help ensure that the future seasons and companion shows get the HD treatment as well.
Overall (Not an average)