The Best of Both Worlds in many ways represents the best of what Star Trek: The Next Generation gave to television. Fans of the series will remember with great clarity the moment when the words ‘To Be Continued’ came up shortly after Commander Riker gave the order to fire on the Picard-led Borg cube. Those three words let it be known that eager fans would have to wait the entire summer to find out what would happen next. Great cliffhangers will spark discussion around the table with friends or the water cooler at work, and The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 sparked an enormous response from the fan community. Lauded by fans and critics, The Best of Both Worlds earned an Emmy "Outstanding Art Direction for a Series" and "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series" and has been ranked among TV Guide’s 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time. Worthy praise and plaudits indeed for the episodes which solidified the Borg as one of the greatest nemesis of all time and cemented the excellence of The Next Generation not only as a science-fiction television series, but as an excellent dramatic series in its own right.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD, Other
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Dutch, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletAmaray Case with foldout slipcase
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 04/30/2013
Responding to a distress call from a Federation colony, the crew of the Starship Enterprise discovers a decimated landscape where the colony used to be. Preliminary evidence points to the hive-minded threat of the Borg, a formidable species encountered by Starfleet’s flagship when the omnipotent Q thrust the ship to the edges of explored space a few years earlier. Arriving on the Enterprise under the omen of ill-tidings for the Federation is Admiral Hanson (George Murdock) who will oversee the response, accompanied by Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy), a relative expert on the Borg who has been temporarily assigned to the Enterprise. Shelby is a sprightly officer with designs on assuming Riker’s role as Picard’s right-hand having heard that Riker had been offered the captainship of the U.S.S Melbourne.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Once confirmed that it was the Borg responsible for the destroyed outpost, Picard and crew make haste in tracking down the Borg. A lone cube is found but when engaged by the Enterprise, they demand that Picard beam over. An unusual move for the assimilation-driven species and when the Enterprise is attacked, the Enterprise warps away. But the Cube is in close pursuit. A brief game of hide-and-seek only delays the Borg assault, one in which Captain Picard is abducted and soon transformed into Locutus, voice of the Borg and a new enemy that, as Riker acknowledges, knows the crew of the Enterprise better than they know themselves. The altered Picard is forced to lead the Borg cube’s in an assault against the federation, leaving a wake of starship carnage on its way to Earth and threatening the very existence of humanity.
Though assembled here as a mini-movie, editing parts one and two of The Best of Both Worlds together, the moment that represented the jaw-dropping cliffhanger, as Commander Riker orders Picard on the Borg Cube fired upon, still conjures a terrific sense of thrill and tension. The rest of the story that follows may not completely live up to the excellence of the first half, though it still stands a solid closeout to a high point in history of The Next Generation. Where the first half bubbles with tension and drama, the second half is turned more inward and thus, feels a little smaller – but Patrick Stewart delivers the acting goods and the action certainly satisfied the millions of fans who eagerly waited over that summer to see what would happen to their beloved Captain Picard.
Beyond the big and bold scope of the show and the simmering threat marking the lead up to the episodes first encounter with the hive minded foe, the real treasure of this two part episode – edited together as a seamless feature – is the focus on character. Aside from the emotional focus of the crew’s response to their captain’s abduction, Commander Riker wrestles with career choices and an eager replacement-wannabe, Lt. Cmdr. Shelby, nipping at his heels. Prior to his abduction, Picard ponders the danger his crew will face and, as he does from time to time, ponders the possibilities with Guinan in Ten-Forward after hours. These are the moments that elevate these episodes from merely action oriented entertainment. The Best of Both Worlds represents a bravely balanced approach to what in aggregate is an action-packed story. There is a seriousness about the first half; a brilliantly written sense of foreboding, aided by a superb score from Ron Jones which features a lightly militaristic drum line with a high-register violin accompanying the mystery that pivots to synth voices and energetic brass when the nemesis appears. Patrick Stewart is uncannily good commanding his talented crew as they engage the enemy. His diplomatically inclined character rises to the challenge of battle with Stewart’s thespian skills gripping to witness. The rest of the cast each play an important part of the character tapestry against which the larger plot plays out. For fans of the series, The Best of Both Worlds is among the very best this series has to offer; enthralling storytelling wrapped up in visual effects splendor, thrills aplenty and intelligent drama at the core of it all.
Paramount and CBS continue to impress with the quality of their extraordinary remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a reminder, 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 detail.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Colors are outstanding in this newly edited together ‘feature’. The new uniforms (introduced at the beginning of the third season) are bright, black levels are strong and aside from 3-seconds of upconverted standard definition footage (the original footage was missing and therefore unavailable for the proper remastering), looks crisp and superb. The re-compositioned (and refreshed) visual effects are excellent with the details on planets faithful to the original intent.
The level of detail in these remastered episodes – as evidenced by the superb first three seasons now available – is a sight to behold. Perhaps we are able to see more detail than we need to (seams in clothing, the secrets of the make-up effects and so on) but my goodness; I continue to marvel at how marvelous The Next Generation looks on Blu-ray.
I’ve said this of all of The Next Generation episodes on Blu-ray, but the 7.1 DTS-HD track is a winner. The whoosh of the enterprise in the opening credits (whooshing towards and past the camera) fills the surrounds completely and Jerry Goldsmiths reconfigured theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture fanfares gloriously. The hum of the ship (and the beeps and other electronic noises that abound on the bridge) is clear and present and other sounds such as phaser fire, the thousands of Borg voices speaking in unison, the crackle of the Borg cutting the side of the Enterprise and so on are all terrifically represented hear. Ron Jones outstanding score is also gloriously presented.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Also included is a DTS-HD 2.0 track that more closely resembles the stereo presentation of its original airing.
A relatively light but meaningful set of extra features accompany this release including a lively audio commentary featuring Cliff Bole, director of both parts. The Gag reel, also restored, has some good moments and the featurette, at 30 minutes, is able to cover a number of elements that make these episodes stand out, including the cast, visual effects and music.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Audio Commentary by Cliff Bole, Mike & Denise Okuda and Elizabeth Dennehy (Lt. Cmdr. Shelby)
New Featurette – Regeneration: Engaging the Borg
Episodic Promos: Part 1 and Part 2
In the canon of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the events at Wolf 359 are legendary. Starfleet’s first line of defense against an approaching lone Borg cube suffering catastrophic losses of life and vessels; a captured Jean-Luc Picard, ‘altered’ by the Borg, helping lay waste to the Federation assault fleet (a fact that will haunt Picard for the rest of his life), and a crew of the Enterprise devastated by the loss of their captain, stand as defining moments for the series. This is what great television can do; stay with you and entertain and fulfill you regardless of how many times you have seen it. Heck, I still get goose bumps as the camera pans around Commander Riker during the closing moments of the first episode as he has no choice but to order the Enterprise fire upon the Borg cube where Picard is unwillingly held. And in High Definition with impressive DTS-HD 7.1 audio that moment has never been better.
Overall Rating: 4/5
The Best of Both Worlds is highly entertaining television though presented as a single ‘mini-movie’, I do feel that something is lost without the words ‘To be continued’ not flashing onscreen following Riker’s order to fire. Timed with the release of Season Three on Blu-ray, which contains just the first part, this standalone release offers the chance to see the second part without waiting several months for the release of Season Four.
I imagine most will simply wait for the release of the next season to see Best of Both Worlds Part 2, but there is something unique about this release. For Season Four it appears the two-part Klingon focused episodes of Redemption Parts 1 and 2 will get the same re-edited treatment, which I welcome, but the season sets are the real treasure.
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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