[Note: there have been some reports of problems with the 7.1 mix, but I have to report that some episodes, Haven in particularly, sounded obviously flawed. Haven’s beginning sounds like Picard is listening to his log on his iPhone and it drops down to that once more during some dialogue. Paramount has instituted a replacement program.]
The series sequel to the original visions of Gene Roddenberry makes the warp speed leap to high definition. Instead of going with what was available, Starfleet... I mean Paramount has gone back to the 35mm original elements and the results are stunning. Though some problems arise.
Starfleet’s newest ship has a familiar name, the Enterprise. It is captained by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his second-in-command is Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes).
His crew consists of the empathic counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), the Klingon Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), and her son Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton).
Creator Gene Roddenberry imagined the voyages of a stalwart crew and starship called Enterprise from 1966-1969 and a group of admirers sprang up. He would never really give up trying to revive the series and 1987 would find an appreciative studio, Paramount, using a revival of the show to spearhead their own network as well as syndicating the new show.
Perhaps controversially, this new show wouldn’t follow the old crew but present a new set of faces to pilot an even more futuristic ship (taking place 75 years after the future time of the original series). Although some of the characters would seem pretty familiar.
The android Data bore some resemblance to a pointy eared fellow and Commander Riker wasn’t averse to going after the gals in the best fashion of a captain called Kirk. Yet the actual captain of this new Enterprise would be very serious in his leadership if not downright stern.
Many fans wouldn’t know what to think of these continuing adventures, especially of a wunderkind called Wesley. However, they would soon grow to love and accept these new adventurers and their interstellar adventures. Their complete series would make it out in a set some years about, but Paramount recently whet fans’ appetites with a sampler Blu-ray.
The results are stunning (visually) since the producers of this season set went back to the 35mm elements. Things you’ve never noticed before suddenly jump off of the screen. Much detail is put back into the model work and they’ve even made some (minor) changes to some effects that they couldn’t find the elements for.
Audibly there have been some boo-boos though. The aforementioned 7.1 mix that is so bad on one episode in particular (Haven) that it is painfully obvious. Happily, they sprang up quickly with a fix. Even more happily, they’ve actually produced some new special features.
Season one episodes (1987-1988): Encounter at Farpoint, Naked Now, Code of Honor, Last Outpost, Where no one has gone before, Lonely Among Us, Justice, Battle, Hide and Q, Haven, Big Goodbye, Datalore, Angel One, 11001001, Too Short a Season, When the Bough Breaks, Home Soil, Coming of Age, Heart of Glory, Arsenal of Freedom, Symbiosis, Skin of Evil, We’ll Always have Paris, Conspiracy, and the Neutral Zone.
The Next Generation is presented in fullscreen as it was intended. There was thought on trying to bring it up to 1.78:1. However, to save money originally some effects were only matted to 4:3 so they kept it at fullscreen. It still looks magnificent in my humble opinion.
Special features include that every episode has the option to see the episode preview (which don’t appear to have been remastered so you can do a compare and contrast with how visually they’ve been improved). High-def special features designated with HD, the rest are standard defintion.
Disc one has the new 23 minute, HD “Energized” about bringing the show to Blu-ray and the following vintage items: a 3 minute introduction to the show from 1987, three promos (about 2 minutes total), and a 4 minute season one promo.
Disc six has the new, HD “Stardate Revisited” about reviving/continuing Star Trek (Pt.1: Inception – 28 minutes, Pt.2: Launch – 32 minutes, and Pt.3: The Continuing Mission – 32 minutes) and the vintage 8 minute gag reel, the 18 minute “The Beginning” overview, 15 minutes of “Selected Crew Analysis” about how the actors approached their characters, the 15 minute “Making of a Legend” about set design (or redesign) and ships, and the 17 minute “Memorable Missions” with the cast and crew recounting favorite episodes.
The Next Generation is a mixture of both the old and the new, in both the show and the Blu-ray. Both come out better for it and are eminently watchable. Those audio issues are gnawing at me but I can’t help but rate the disc highly at how good it looks. I just hope more care is given to catch such errors before the next set leaves space-dock. Make it so.
Visit the DVD database for more information.