STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, , Michael Dorn, Marina
Sirtis, Brett Spiner, Gates McFadden
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Features: Five Featurettes
Length: 1183 Minutes
Release Date: November 5, 2002
NOTE: Complete episode listing is available at the end of this review.
is so precious as now.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation rolled
into its fifth season, it found itself in uncharted territory once again.
Year four had meant that this series had officially surpassed the
original in longevity, which seemed to inspire a new and better confidence in
the cast, crew and writers. But year five would be recalled as a more somber chapter in
the ST history. It was the
year the show’s beloved creator passed away.
Roddenberry was the true pioneering spirit of Star Trek.
His imagination colored its worlds, and his determination and work
ethic kept it alive and thriving even through early frustrations and seeming
failures. The shows, both past and
present, reflected his humanity and his optimism for mankind.
His vision of the future gave fans hope, even in the darkest of our
present times, that as a race, we could and would prevail over the worse angels
of our nature. The starship
Enterprise would continue to boldly go where no one had gone before, but
from 1991 on, it would do so without its remarkable leader and most stalwart
the shows in Season Five were already starting to air at the time of his death,
one can’t help but feel the loss as something so great that it seemed to leave
a shadow on the show in retrospect. The
episodes continued on in a manner first fashioned in the previous year:
singularly, but with a self-awareness of its own history, but for many of
the shows, the sense of adventure and wonder was often replaced by a bleakness.
As fans would mourn the loss of Roddenberry, so would the show in its own
way…a grieving period was needed for all.
is probably not so apparent as in the two part episode “Unification”, which
brought two of the franchise’s most beloved characters back into the fray, but
one of them only to die. Mark
Lenard, who made his mark on Star Trek nearly a quarter of a century
earlier as Sarek, finalized his work here as the great Vulcan ambassador passed
away. Part of his spirit, though,
as we remember, belonged to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart), as part of his
flesh continued to live on in his son Spock (Leonard Nimoy).
Each grieves as he sees fit, but ultimately, the situation (and story at
hand) must proceed. One would feel
that Roddenberry, as Sarek, would have philosophically approved.
episodes have a slightly more morbid feel than others.
“Violations” introduces a new kind of rape into the world of the
Enterprise, while “Hero Worship” and “New Ground” both explore, in
different ways, the subject of loss from a child’s point of view.
“Silicon Avatar”, in a way only Star Trek could, shows the
tragic outcome of a lifetime of bitterness.
But propping up the more pessimistic (if that’s the right word)
episodes is a thorough exploration of the beauty of a lifetime in “The Inner
Light”, a moving and thoughtful entry in which Picard lives out an entire
alternate life without the Federation. It’s
one of Patrick Stewart’s tour-de-force performances as well.
I don’t want to make the entire season seem heavy handed.
Episodes like “The Game” employ the series’ frequent sense of
scientific mystery, and for added fun, even brought back young Wesley Crusher (Wil
Wheaton) to help save the day as he always did in the earlier years!
And Season Five also boasted one of my all time favorite Next
Generation episodes, “Disaster”, which tested the mettle of the
Enterprise crew beyond just about anything they had ever had to face, and forced
our beloved Picard into a helpless babysitting role despite his admitted
discomfort with children!
of my favorite episodes aired in this year:
the return of Wesley one additional time to learn some powerful and
costly lessons about truth and honor in “The First Duty”, the potent but
ultimately futile attempt to humanize the Federation’s most feared enemy in
“I, Borg”, and the Jonathan Frakes directed foray into repeating time,
“Cause and Effect”, which possibly boasts the most attention-getting opening
sequence of any Star Trek episode!
of this leads to the finale, another season cliffhanger, in “Time’s Arrow,
Part I”. The time-space continuum
had been a favorite target of the show’s writers for some time, and this
intriguing look at the future’s past was another in a long string of
intelligent screenplays about traveling through time.
It’s only appropriate in the year that saw the loss of its creator that
Star Trek ended with an eye to the future and one to the past as well.
Five was indeed a median year for The Next Generation.
Gene Roddenberry continues to be missed, but his excellent cast, crew
and creative team insured that the vision he gave to us would never die.
some reason, I felt this season marked a slight drop in overall quality compared
to previous sets. I don’t know if
less cleaning up was offered as the show entered the 90s or not, but there are
noticeable instances here and there where the picture is a little less textured
than others. Overall, the
presentation continues to be good, with probably just as many outstanding
moments if not more than troublesome ones, so fans have nothing to really
concern themselves with. Just
something worth noting, that’s all.
new 5.1 mixes continue to be good, with select action sequences really opened up
because of the multi channel capabilities, and the subwoofer continuing to bring
the low frequencies of the Enterprise to life. High marks again.
are five production featurettes included on Disc Seven…as with previous sets,
they include a year-specific “Mission Overview” with cast and crew
interviews, pieces on the production and visual effects, and recollections by
the team members of their memorable moments from the season. Each of these are about 15 minutes or so.
The fifth featurette is a half hour tribute to Gene
Roddenberry…tasteful and fitting, it includes the dedication of a building to
him at Paramount (which occurred not too long before his passing).
another nice extra, the disc includes a small CD ROM promo for the upcoming film
die, but dreams live on. Star
Trek: The Next Generation Season
Five may have born witness to the passing of the irreplaceable Gene
Roddenberry, but the strength of his initial vision and imagination was more
than strong enough to carry it through. I
believe I will always think of him every time I watch “The Inner Light”.
COMPLETE SEASON FIVE EPISODE LOG:
|Redemption, Part II||Conundrum|
|Silicon Avatar||The Outcast|
|Disaster||Cause and Effect|
|The Game||The First Duty|
|Unification, Part I||Cost of Living|
|Unification, Part II||The Perfect Mate|
|A Matter of Time||Imaginary Friend|
|New Ground||I, Borg|
|Hero Worship||The Next Phase|
|Violations||The Inner Light|
|The Masterpiece Society||Time's Arrow, Part I|