The advent of CBS’s investment in remastering Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons for release in the Blu-ray high definition format has brought with it an interesting opportunity to own popular two-part episodes edited together into a single ‘movie’ event. Perhaps just another chance at generating revenue from an always eager fan base, these special releases give fans three things. First, the chance to own a unique presentation of popular episodes; second, these releases come with a couple of special features each that can only be owned through the purchase of these releases; and third, it gives fans like myself another way to support these releases, demonstrate that the massive effort and investment in remastering the entire series in High Definition was a wise one for CBS, and increase the hopes that at least Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gets the same opportunity.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 26 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayAmaray Case with foldout slipcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/30/2013
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
“Captain's log, stardate 44995.3 - We're en route to the Klingon homeworld, where I will participate in the installation ceremony of Gowron, the next designated leader of the High Council. This visit should also provide an opportunity for one of my officers to correct a grave injustice.”Captain Picard, chosen some time before by K’mpec, the late Emperor of the Klingon people, to serve as the Arbiter of Succession following the leader’s murder by slow poisoning, is returning with Worf to the Klingon home world to complete his duties mediating the change of power. The visit will finalize the installation of Gowron as the new leader and should bring to a close the long period of dishonor suffered by Worf (from the discommendation Worf agreed to in order to protect the Empire). During the ceremony, a challenger – the illegitimate son of the late scheming Duras - steps from the shadows to challenge Gowron’s claim on the throne. The challenge divides loyalties and the factions that form anchor the two sides of a new deadly Klingon Civil War. Worf chooses to step away from Starfleet to join his brother’s ship and help defend Gowron, the rightful heir to become leader.
Worf’s discommendation from “Sins of the Father”, and the murder of his mate in “Reunion” come to a head in “Redemption”, a bold two part episode featuring a deep-dive into the Klingon world as the warrior race are drawn into a bloody civil war. With further political machinations from the Duras family – instigated by the mischievous Lursa and B’Etor – and with the conniving hand of the Romulans at play, the concert of the Klingon Civil War seems born of broader territorial desires than merely of who will become the Emperor of the Klingon people. Worf’s resignation as a member of the Enterprise crew to join his brother, Captain Kurn (Tony Todd), in defending the empire, adds another level to the excitement.
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, adding in the Romulan element, proves to be an experience with a sharper edge than would otherwise have been felt and served as a highly entertaining end to season four and start to season five.
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
The first two-parter combined into a single ‘movie’ for release in high definition, the exciting “Best of Both Worlds” episodes, stood out for its strong colors and black levels (among other highlights). For Redemption, the fourth season finale and fifths season opener, is remarkable for its sets and lighting which, taking place heavily on Klingon birds or preys and cruisers as well as the Klingon home world, have never looked so good. A much more brooding experience, the lower lighting, murkier atmosphere is presented with wonderful detail thanks to the high definition upgrade.
The second half of Redemption shifts to a more even balance of scenes between Klingon and Federation ship settings as Picard and the Enterprise lead a 20-ship mission to the edge of the Neutral zone. Picard believes the Romulans are attempting to unfairly influence the conflict through supplies to the Duras forces and so he attempts to catch cloaked them in the act by detecting the cloaked ships crossing from the Neutral zone. Throughout the entire hour and a half, the quality is excellent with details on the bulky Klingon uniforms revealing of their construction and the make-up effects holding up better than in earlier episodes from Season Four, where the HD image is revealing of how heavy it was applied.
I will note that the transition between the end of one episode and the beginning of the other is a little more awkward here than for the previous “Best of Both Worlds” release. The music is the key give away, though the action onscreen is relatively evenly paced.
Again, the consistency of quality in the 7.1 DTS-HD track is impressive. There are a few minor skirmishes seen throughout, most notable the clever maneuverer employed by Captain Kurn to save his ship from two attacking Birds of Prey (using a sun), and the sound effects in the surrounds and fronts are strong and enveloping nicely. Dialogue – coming from several great moments – is clean and perfectly clear in the center channel. No complaints here at all.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Also included is a DTS-HD 2.0 track that more closely resembles the stereo presentation of its original airing.
Audio Commentary by Ronald D. Moore and Mike & Denise Okuda: The participants discuss the episode and its placement in TNG history fondly.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Survive and Succeed: An Empire at War – HD (30:00): Featuring interviews with Robert O’Reilly (Gowron), Denise Crosby (Sela) and Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh who played Lursa and B’Etor, as well as writers/producers from the show, this is an interesting recollection of the Redemption episodes and the benefit of delving deeper into the Klingon culture.
Episodic Promos (SD)
Containing the shows milestone 100th episode, “Redemption” was a great choice to get the ‘special release’ treatment. Besides the deeper dive into the Klingon culture, the return of Denise Crosby once again (she appeared in the popular “Yesterday’s Enterprise” the year before), was a nifty piece of special casting and gave the final moments of Season Four quite the revelation.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
These special releases won’t be for everyone. Those purchasing the full-season sets will see little reason to pick these up. But with something unique about the edits and the inclusion of special features unique to these releases, there is at least some compelling reasons to snap them up. But again this kind of release is not for everyone.
Excitingly, the 2-part mid fifth season episodes “Unification” and “Unification II” will be next to get the treatment. Featuring Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the “Unification” two-parter is excellent entertainment and we should have high hopes of some great special feature material.
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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