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Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season One)

Paramount // Unrated // March 26, 2002
List Price: $139.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 25, 2002 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

I am not what is considered a "Trekkie", but I can certainly appreciate the love of the series that is contained within the hearts of its most devoted fanbase. While network television has offered few major successes over the past several years, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" had the perfect formula for a breakout. Certainly, the following of "Star Trek" was still heavy, so another show would gain at least mild interest. Not content to merely throw something together, creator Gene Roddenberry and crew came up with a terrific cast, lead by Patrick Stewart as Picard, the new captain of the Enterprise, along with Brent Spiner as Data, Michael Dorn as Worf, and Jonathan Frakes (who has gone on to direct) as Lt. Riker all providing solid support.

There will always be the arguement over who was a better captain - Kirk or Picard; personally, I think they both had their merits. Shatner played against the campy surroundings in the original series well, but had the chance to be a bit more dramatic in the feature films. Stewart is a captain for, literally, the "next generation" - he is a more commanding presence and has created a more complex character.

Although I've only seen an episode here and there from the seasons since, "The NExt Generation" really seems to have gotten a running start in this first season. While some of the special effects and other touches of these early episodes are a little bit "corny", the cast clearly overcomes these shortcomings, selling the well-written material for all its worth to keep the audience compelled and able to forgive a bad effect or two. This cast clearly proved themselves on the small screen and have since proved themselves on the big screen, as another feature-film adventure with the "Next Generation" crew is planned. While the characters in "The Next Generation" are not as clasically memorable as those in the original series, the creators have obviously realized that the supporting members of the crew need to be well-defined; while Stewart's performance is outstanding, one great character/performance alone can not carry the series. The result: several successful seasons and feature films, along with bigger careers for those involved. Even though I wasn't a fan while this series aired, I enjoyed these episodes - they're good, solid Sci-Fi - and look forward to the opportunity to see additional seasons when they are released on DVD.

Episodes: Encounter At Farpoint (parts 1 & 2), The Naked Now, Code Of Honor, The Last Outpost, Where No One Has Gone Before, Lonely Among Us Justice, The Battle, Hide And Q, Haven, The Big Good-bye, Datalore, Angel One, 11001001, Too Short A Season, When The Bough Breaks, Home Soil, Coming Of Age, Heart Of Glory, The Arsenal Of Freedom, Symbiosis, Skin Of Evil, We'll Always Have Paris, Conspiracy, and The Neutral Zone.


VIDEO: The shows are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio, as seen on TV. These are not stunning visually, but they are certainly about as good as these shows can look. Sharpness and detail throughout the shows can vary, with some moments looking a bit soft or dark in comparison, but I believe this wasn't intentional and more of a budget issue or the series attempting to find a look early on.

Some minor flaws are apparent here and there, although I didn't find them irritating. Slight traces of pixelation are very infrequently seen, as are some instances of minor grain. Colors are often well-rendered, although there are some occasions when they can look a little bit smeared. Still, while these episodes (now 15-years-old) are not flawless visually, they do look very good and I think fans will be pleased.

SOUND: I was a bit skeptical of how much could be done with a stereo soundtrack, but Paramount has clearly proven just how terrific a television show can sound when remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1. These new 5.1 presentations are certainly not as agressive as the most recent feature films from the series, but the occasional ship fly-overs are impressively smooth and entertaining. Surrounds are not frequently employed, but they are appropriately used for the occasional sound effects and slight reinforcement of the music. The front speakers provide a nice, full sound for the action and dialogue is very clearly reproduced by the center. The stereo soundtracks certainly aren't bad, either - they just lack the immersive quality of the 5.1 audio.

MENUS: The menus are wonderfully animated and nicely designed, looking like the controls of the ship. On the topic of presentation though, the actual packaging is the one element where some may be a bit let down. The discs themselves are contained in a very nice fold-out package similar to what Fox has offered for "The X-Files". The box that the fold-out is contained in, while very visually appealing, is made out of heavy cardboard that may not be entirely sturdy. While I'm sure fans will treat their sets with the utmost care, the sets need to ship securely so corners will not be dented. My best suggestion for future sets would be to do what Disney did with the "Walt Disney Treasures" sets: have the fold-outs be in a tin of some sort.

EXTRAS: Disc Seven contains the set's supplements.

The Begining: This is an 18-minute documentary which contains interviews with creator Gene Roddenberry as well as many of the cast and crew members about the creation of the series. This is certainly not a promotional documentary that focuses on the characters and stories that happen in the first season. Instead, it is a very enjoyable discussion of the creation of something that a lot of people didn't think would last long - "how can you create a new 'Star Trek'?". Roddenberry and the other participants discuss building characters, discussions over the budget and feel of the show as well as other, more technical details. I found this to be a good, general overview, although some Trekkies may be a bit too familiar with the material.

Mission Profiles: This is an 15-minute documentary that purely focuses on the casting of the series, talking about the process of working out characters and trying to find the right actors for the roles. There's also a bit of discussion about trying to build characters during the first season. A nice amount of information here and I enjoyed hearing about how the cast has gotten along so well.

Making Of A Legend: This is a 15-minute documentary that provides a look at the technical "making of" on this first season of the series, showing how the effects and sets were made and how the general "look" of the show was achieved.

Memorable Missions: This 17-minute documentary has the cast and crew of the series discussing their favorite momements.

Notes: Series promos have not been included, although there is a book included that does provide a nice amount of general information (character bios, air-dates and a note from the show's producer. Still - as I mention below in the "Final Thoughts" section - I think the fans of the show know all the details of this series, so, in the future, a commentary from the producers/actors or other members of the crew might provide information that might be new to even the most die-hard fans of the show. That's not to say that the included documentaries aren't good - they are - and I found them informative and well-produced. But, keep in mind, I didn't know that much about the show to begin with.

Final Thoughts: Paramount has done a superb job with this release of the first season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". There is room for expansion with the DVD editions of future seasons (maybe a commentary from the directors on certain episodes), but this first offering is more than satisfactory. Hopefully, other Paramount television properties ("Frasier", "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch") can recieve similarly strong DVD treatment. This box set is definitely recommended for "Trek" fans.

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