- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
The final season of The Next Generation is solid Trek, though clearly isn’t the height of glory for the series, as the creative and imaginative quality showed the strain of many years producing highly engaging, thoughtful, and entertaining television. Still, the seventh season remains good television and, at times, enlightened Star Trek, with a few genuinely stand out episodes and a finale worthy of the very best Star Trek ever had to offer.
Distributed By: CBS
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Other
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1,172 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray6-Disc Case with Sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 12/02/2014
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
“For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence…”
About the ShowStar 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 the brief return of 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.
3.5/5Loyal fans of The Next Generation often speak disappointingly of this final season. The creative energy, the spark of science-fiction genius that burst through during the third, fourth and fifth seasons, had clearly waned by this point in its run, and the routine of episodic television – a routine exacerbated by the rigors of such a grand production, with a tight visual effects and production design timetable – had certainly taken its toll.Make no mistake, the seventh season of the most successful Star Trek series remains a venerable entity, profound in its production design and accomplished in its science fiction ideals, but the wear of seven years driving an ambitious exploration of science fiction concepts, displayed itself in episodes that wound up being ‘almost, but not quite’ in its execution. In earlier seasons, from the third year on, a higher number of exceptional episodes punctuated the collection of stories. Year seven, outside of the magnificent series ender, is missing that frequency of memorable gems. And ambition is largely the stimulus that has waned here. While there are more genuine drops in quality (the much maligned Sub Rosa, Liaisons, the divisive Masks, and Dark Page, (though I have a fondness now for the brooding, emotionally rich nature of this story,)) and markedly less standouts, the year is still painted by the essence of good ideas, and the pursuit of higher levels of drama and performances. The trouble is that so few of the attempts this year rise to the exceptional levels of quality from previous years. The wind was easing from the sails.Revisiting season seven, many will find the quality of drama and science fiction exploration to be stronger than their initial experiences. Welcomingly, there is a darker tone throughout many episodes; a meditative ambience shoring up the drama and enriching performances from the principle cast even while there is a lessening of innovation in the plots. In many ways, the seventh season sets aside the outward pursuit of exploring the final frontier and chooses to concern itself more directly with smaller stories focused on characters and lives. A purer sense of adventure is hard to find, though the “Gambit” two-part episode enjoys perhaps the most unabashedly adventurous spirit of the year, and gave provided Commander Data one last opportunity to demonstrate his prowess as Captain of the Enterprise (and, once again, contend with the vocal doubts of one of his senior staff.)Overall the series favored smaller ideas, exploring a more brooding, dramatic, internally-focused approach with decidedly mixed results.The highlights of season seven are:PhantasmsCommander Data begins to experience what he classifies as nightmares, unsettling images that confound and disturb him. Meanwhile the Enterprise experiences issues with its new warp core. As LaForge and Data work to get the warp core back online, Data’s nighttime images bleed into his waking state, deepening the mystery, and putting his fellow crewmembers at risk.Picking up from the exploration of Data’s dream that made up the B story from the first part of Season Six’ “Birthright” two-parter (a sub-plot many were disappointed not to see continued into “Birthright Part II,”) “Phantasms” delights in its moody camera work and lighting. With dark, interesting imagery, bizarre concoctions making up the visual mystery Data must solve, “Phantasm” enjoys a wonderful sense of atmosphere. Brent Spiner’s display of an unsettled sense without betraying his emotionless character, is the epitome of his grasp of the Data character that he mastered. Through seven years Spiner perfectly portrayed the android without the benefit of expressing human emotion, yet was able to emote and produce emotional responses in us, the audience, with great skill. “Phantasms” is dark and intriguing, managing to remain deeply interesting, and at the denouement, satisfying.Force of NatureInvestigating the disappearance of the Medical ship, U.S.S Fleming, the Enterprise is approached by scientists sounding the alarm over the effects of warp fields on the fabric of space. Claiming that warp capable ships have been tearing at the fabric of space, they demand to be heard and that the technology that the Federation and countless other species rely upon, be dropped.Another environmental allegory, this episode explores the conflict between the embedded structures of human transport traditions (trading warp fields for automobile exhaust,) and rather than saddling itself with a preachy approach that would all-too-easily turns off segments of the viewing audience, the episode finds balance in the conversation, understanding the difficulty of moving beyond something so entrenched in the world we have constructed. Achieved in large part through a meaningful script and Patrick Stewart’s imbuement of calm and reason into Captain Picard, “Force of Nature” is more a serious examination of having an open mind and faith in process (that must be urged) than a stumbling commentary on the challenges we (still) face in how we as a species affect our environment. It makes for a solid, if imperfect allegory about our impact on our surroundings.ParallelsUpon his return to the Enterprise following attendance at a Bat’leth competition, Worf begins experiencing spells, dizziness and disorientation, as small details of his surrounding change from moment to moment; a painting appears on one wall, then another; Captain Picard is unable to attend Worf’s surprise party, then a moment later is in attendance. Worf, it turns out, is shifting through parallel universes where he is the only element that remains constant.Michael Dorn shines in a rare Worf-focused episode that does not lean on the fascinating Klingon culture. It is also one of the rare purely science-fiction escapades of the season, leveraging the parallel universe ingredient as rich material to play out playful ‘what-if’ scenarios, including the fan-pleasing relationship between Worf and Counselor Troy.In a season light on lightness, “Parallels” succeeds in finding the fun in the concept and, aside from a bleak moment where a severely damaged Enterprise from a Borg ravaged universe acts with deadly desperation, carries that lightness through the plot with Worf contending with more than a few awkward moments in the different universes. A classic example of a focused, small episode that feels grand through its idea alone, “Parallels” is simple, slick, and fun.Lower DecksFour friends working in various areas of the ship work hard, commiserate their struggles aboard ship, and celebrate their successes. Often out of the loop, far from the command decisions, the four members of Starfleet at the beginnings of their careers, work hard to make their way on board. When one is tapped for a secret mission, the stress and strain of being out of ‘the know’ begins to show.A rare step away from the successful formula of the show (and every show, frankly,) this focus on four characters from the lower decks that we’ve not seen or heard from before on the Enterprise is bold and refreshing. That the story carries emotional weight and what amounts to very strong supporting performances from the normally main cast, are bonuses for this surprisingly memorable standout.Seeing the senior staff through the eyes of the Enterprise rank and file also gives us another view of the characters we’ve loved through six seasons before. Michael Dorn’s caring Worf, advocating for an ensign in which he has faith, Patrick Stewart’s Picard harshly dressing down that same ensign to see what she’s made of, offer a peek at the characters in ways we don’t see as they interact with fellow members of the senior staff. “Lower Decks” is a superb story idea crafted and performed expertly. A genuine standout.Journey’s EndCaptain Picard is assigned by Admiral Nechayev to relocate a colony of Native Americans who journey two centuries to find a planet where they could settle and live their lives in accordance with their beliefs. The planet they call home will fall under Cardassian rule as part of a long and contentiously negotiated peace treaty between the Federation and Cardassia. During this mission, Wesley Crusher is visiting his mother on break from Starfleet Academy, and is not the same person who left the ship several years before. Angry, dismissive, and actively isolated from his friends in the crew.This mature, serious examination of the forced relocation of Native Americans is unusually direct in its exploration of how peoples and cultures are affected by decisions made by those in power (Star Trek’s common approach of exploring such subjects through allegory is sidelined.) The episode weaves a curious wrap-up of Wesley Crusher’s storyline for the series with the seemingly untenable position in which Picard and crew are placed to serve ‘the greater good’ of Starfleet and peace, and does so with patient pacing.The A and B storylines, are woven tightly in and out of each other’s movement until the final moments, where Wesley is given a perhaps surprising send-off and the situation on the planet is resolved with perhaps more optimism than the weight of the subject being explored would likely produce. Still, that’s where Star Trek succeeds in offering us a more hopeful path than we tend to find for ourselves today. .All Good ThingsCaptain Picard finds himself shifting through time, to a point in the future as an old, retired tender of his father’s vineyards, and to the past to just before he took command of the U.S.S. Enterprise and lead his new crew to an encounter at Farpoint. The disorienting time shift is related to a rip in space inside the Neutral Zone, and Picard must discover what’s happening to him against a crew in the past yet to trust their new captain, and his long-time friends in the future willing to go to great lengths to help him, but strongly believe he may be suffering from an advanced illness and imagining the whole thing.Writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, with the unenviable task of bringing to a close the still wildly popular series after seven years of science fiction adventures and dramatic allegorical explorations of serious subjects, hit all the right notes, sending off the series in the best possible way, with a cast in the full embrace of characters we would come to know and love.The story follows Captain Picard’s foxing shifts between the future, present and past with an original concept that offers each cast member welcome moments of focus. It also offers the return of John de Lancie’s Q, bookending the series with a return to the place where humanity was placed on trial by the omnipotent species of Q (seen in the Pilot episode, “Encounter at Farpoint.”) The sense of closure is rewarding, but the truest success of this final is the delightful merging of science-fiction concepts with dramatic, human examination, enabled through the collection of characters we’d come to know and love over 170+ episodes. It’s a balancing act to close out a series and still serve the story being told, and in that “All Good Things” is the perfect closing to a magnificent and legendary series.In all of the Star Trek television series, no series finale embodied so aptly all that was enduring and endearing about the series that preceded it as “All Good Things” did for The Next Generation. Deep Space Nine’s exciting finale, “What You Leave Behind” is a close second as it carried emotional resonance, explosive action, and dramatic gravity, but The Next Generation’s closer pulled together every single high point and earned character moment in strands of wonder that elevated the series beyond standard science-fiction fare over its seven years. Many fans lament this “All Good Things” is the stuff that should have been found in the crew of the NCC 1701-D’s first big screen adventure (instead of the disappointing fare we found in Generations,) and they are probably right. But sitting down to watch all seven seasons of The Next Generation remastered in glorious high definition, “All Good Things” is exactly the way I would choose to bring this experience to a close.The EpisodesDisc One:Descent, Part IILiaisonsInterfaceGambit, Part IGambit, Part IIDisc Two:PhantasmsDark PageAttachedForce of NatureDisc Three: InheritanceParallelsThe PegasusHomewardSub RosaDisc Four:Lower DecksThine Own SelfMasksEye of the BeholderGenesisDisc Five:Journey’s EndFirstbornBloodlinesEmergencePreemptive StrikeDisc Six:All Good Things…
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 handles the conversion efforts on this final season and the results are unsurprisingly excellent. Several shots in the early season episode appear very dark, particularly in lower-lit scenes (where typically enough ambient light still provides a clean look at what’s going on.) This could be an artistic choice. You’ll notice several episodes where the ambience is broodier, moodier. Reduced lighting in the typically bright hallways, heavy shadows in the places where warmth and brightness bath everything. The quality of the visual effects is high again, with the recreated planet surfaces with finer details, clouds and even swirling storms are a vast improvement over what came before.Over seven seasons we’ve seen each frame carefully preserved, each scene carefully reassembled, each credit recreated, and each visual effect revisited using the original as guide – and the end result is extraordinary, a benchmark for what is possible, and just how remarkable classic television can look with the right circumstances and respect by the owners.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
Season Seven continues the welcome trend of terrific audio with a delicious 7.1 DTS-HD track available for each episode. Throughout the seven seasons, the 7.1 DTS-HD tracks have breathed the ambiance of the Enterprise throughout, with pulsing, humming sounds spread to the surrounds along with likeable scores (that were, by demand, mostly unremarkable,) and a myriad beeps, weapons fire, and more. Another outstanding audio.Also included is a DTS-HD 2.0 track that more closely resembles the stereo presentation of its original airing.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Disc One:Archival Mission Log: Mission Overview Year Seven (SD)Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW!- Descent, Part II- Liaisons- Gambit, Part I- Gambit, Part IIEpisodic Promos (SD)Disc Two:In Conversation: Lensing Star Trek: The Next Generation (HD) – NEW!Gag Reel (HD) – NEW! Archival Mission Log: A Captain’s Tribute (SD)Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year Seven: Production (SD)Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW!- Dark PageEpisodic Promos (SD)Disc Three: Audio Commentary by Brannon Braga (2008)- ParallelsArchival Mission Log: Starfleet Moments and Memories (SD)Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW!- Inheritance- Parallels- Sub RosaEpisodic Promos (SD)Disc Four:Audio Commentary by René Echevarria and Mike & Denise Okuda – NEW!- Lower DecksArchival Mission Log: Special Profiles (SD)Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW!- Thine Own Self- Masks- GenesisEpisodic Promos (SD)Disc Five:Audio Commentary by René Echevarria, Naren Shankar, and Mike & Denise Okuda -NEW!- Preemptive StrikeClosed Set: A Tour of the Real Enterprise (SD)Archival Mission Log: Inside Starfleet Archives: Dressing The Future (SD)Deleted Scenes (HD) – NEW!- Journey’s End- Firstborn- Bloodlines- Preemptive StrikeEpisodic Promos (SD)Disc Six:The Sky’s The Limit: The Eclipse of Star Trek: The Next Generation (HD) – NEW!- Part One: Umbra- Part Two: Penumbra- Part Three: AntumbraJourney’s End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation (SD)Archival Mission Log: The Making of “All Good Things…” (SD)Episodic Promos (SD)
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
A largely uneven season, even the weaker episodes from this final year have more a little more potency than I suspect many will recall (“Dark Page” in particular,) still, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s final year is certainly not the strongest. Over 26 episodes (if you consider “All Good Things” two episodes,) the cast portrayed their characters with a well-earned natural ease, in stories that seem more inward and personal on balance.The close of the final season, with the fantastic two-part “All Good Things”, would be followed quickly by the production of the crew’s first outing on the bug screen in Star Trek Generations. By the end of their run – after seven seasons and four films, it would be clear that their greatest successes came from their years on the small screen as the cinematic outings were mostly disappointing (with Star Trek: First Contact being the most successful and engaging.) As a fan of Star Trek, I highly recommend this release and suggest that you go buy this set. Go buy the previous six seasons, and the three remastered seasons of The Original Series, and the four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. By doing so you will have in your collection an extraordinary batch of television and would give so that CBS the encouragement they need to start working on an HD facelift of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for us loyal fans. Until then, enjoy this final season of TNG in HD!
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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