Monday, July 7, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Six & Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain Of Command Combined Blu-ray Disc Review

Well by season six there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had more than earned it’s place in the history of “Star Trek” and television alike. So with season six came more thought provoking scripts, better effects, and more location shooting. During this time the third live action “Star Trek” TV series would launch in early 1993 entitled “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Arguably the darkest of any “Star Trek” TV series to have appeared yet, the seeds of support and growth that led to that series individual identity can be seen in some of the episodes presented here in this 6-disc set.

Among some of the darker and creepier episodes in season six are “Schisms,” where beings from another plane of existence are abducting crewmembers in their sleep and performing gross experiments, “Chain Of Command, Parts 1 & 2” where we see Picard undergo terrible physical and mental torture by the Cardassians, and “Second Chances” where Commander Riker discovers a duplicate Riker exists who apparently was created eight years earlier during a transporter malfunction. This other Riker would also appear in an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

Notable episodes featuring recurring characters include “Realm Of Fear” with Dwight Schultz back again as Reginald Barclay and "Relics” with James Doohan reprising his signature role of Montgomery Scott from “Star Trek: The Original Series.” That episode was noted as being one of the top rated installments of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” by TV Guide. “Ship In A Bottle” features the return of Moriarty and delved in themes regarding sentient holographic life forms that would be explored with much greater detail over the course of “Star Trek: Voyager.” “Birthright, Parts 1 and 2,” which not only gives viewers a “Deep Space Nine” crossover adventure, but also presents Dr. Noonien Soong as a young man as played by Brent Spiner in a dream like sequence. The reason for humanoid life being a regular occurrence in the “Star Trek” Universe is addressed in “The Chase” and Brent Spiner returns as “Lore” in “Descent, Part 1.” Q and the Romulans also figure prominently in season six too.

One of the interesting aspects of the “Descent” storyline is not only does it feature the return of the Borg, but that it deals with the consequences of Picard’s decision not to infect the collective with a Trojan Horse like virus through the character of “Hugh” in Season Five’s “I’ Borg.” It shows that sometimes the best intentions have their unforeseen results that are not necessarily positive. It also explores the “Emotion Chip” that played a role in the feature films and it introduces how the Borg are able to travel great distances in short time spans using transwarp conduits. Transwarp drive was first introduced as a concept in “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” with the Excelsior and ultimately both the virus and the use of the Borg’s transwarp conduits would enable an older Admiral Janeway to defeat and destroy the Borg Collective while enabling Captain Janeway and the crew of the starship Voyager to get back to Earth in the “Star Trek: Voyager” series finale “Endgame.”
Like the previous sets, all of the season six episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” are presented in their original broadcast aspect ratio of (1.33:1) and as expected this batch looks better than the old DVD counterparts because of the extensive restoration and care as well where necessary, effects upgrades intended for 1080p HDTVs. The new English DTS HD MA 7.1 soundtrack is well mixed and English, French and German Dolby Stereo Surround Soundtrack options are also encoded along with Castilian Spanish, Italian, and Japanese Mono Soundtracks with English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and French, German, Castilian Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish Norwegian and Swedish Subtitles encoded on to all six discs as options too.

The extra features are spread out to include both archival and new features prepared exclusively for this Blu-ray Disc release and “Mission Overview” (17:54), which features cast and crew interviews discussing season 6 episodes that include “Ship In A Bottle,” “Time’s Arrow,” “Rascals,” “A Fistful Of Datas,” “Birth Right,” Chain Of Command,” and the launching of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” “Bold New Directions” (17:55) covers Patrick Stewart’s directing of “A Fistful Of Datas” as well as that episode’s writer Brannon Braga’s distaste for westerns. What the hell does he think in part Sci-Fi and “Star Trek” owe some debt to as a genre and series? Levar Burton discusses his directorial debut with “Second Chances” and there are even some discussions from various points of view about the shadow effects needed to be correctly choreographed for the two “Rikers” interacting in the episode, which would be composited for the final airing.

Departmental Briefings on “Production” (15:32), which in part reveals how the partial bridge set of the Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Original Series” was built and then with effects made to create the illusion of the complete bridge for the characters of “Scotty” and “Picard” to interact in for “Relics.” “Trials and Tribble-ations” on “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” would take this effect a few steps further incorporating technology used in “Forrest Gump” to place the characters of “Deep Space Nine” into scenes from the classic “Star Trek The Original Series” episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” 

There is a very interesting profile on Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry (19:56) complete with a tour of his home office and a profile of the character of “Data” (18:59) as played by Brent Spiner. 

New to Blu-ray features include audio commentaries for select episodes throughout the 6-Disc set that feature Ronald D. Moore and Mike and Denise Okuda on "Relics" as well as "Tapestry." James L. Conway and Jonathan West participate in an audio commentary track for "Frame Of Mind." New deleted scenes in HD are also provided for the episodes "Times Arrow, Part II", "Relics", "True Q", "Ship In A Bottle", "Face Of The Enemy", "Tapestry", "Birthright, Part II", "The Chase", "Rightful Heir", "Timescape", and "Descent, Part I." Promos for all of the season six episodes in standard definition are also included along with a new three-part feature length documentary entitled "Beyond The Five Year Mission: The Evolution Of Star Trek: The Next Generation" and a gag reel.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain Of Command Blu-ray Disc gives fans a chance to own this acclaimed two-part episode included within the season six Blu-ray set as a feature length story with a restored 1080p HD (1.33:1) presentation and the new English DTS HD MA 7.1 Soundtrack and English, French and German Dolby Stereo Surround Soundtrack options along with English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and French and German Subtitles. A documentary on the making of "Chain Of Command" as well as a feature length audio commentary track with Ronny Cox, Jonathan West, and Mike and Denise Okuda are also provided along with a deleted scene in HD and the episode promos for both parts.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Six and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain Of Command are both available now at retailers on and offline courtesy of CBS Paramount Home Entertainment.

© Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera 
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