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, Two Bonus Trailers
Length: 1177 Minutes
Release Date: December 3, 2002
you remember the first time you and I met?”
be so sure…”
fans consider year six to be the apex of Star Trek:
The Next Generation. It's
hard to argue against that. From
the death of the show's creator the year before, the series marched forward
with a seemingly more intent exploration of the nature of life and time, and
added considerable more drama to the science and the fiction.
episode epitomizes this better than the stunning two part “Chain of
Command”. In it, Captain Jean-Luc
Picard (Stewart) temporarily relinquishes command of the Enterprise to lead an
important covert operation into Cardassian territory, only to find it a waiting
trap, leaving him helpless and at the whim of a cruel torturer.
This may be the harshest territory that Star Trek ever boldly
ventured into, yet for all its disparity, there is a sense of the unflinching
spirit of humanity, personified by one of Patrick Stewart's most astonishing
performances in the series.
nature of life is contemplated over and over again as the year progresses,
whether it is the question of what makes a being alive when Data (Spiner)
discovers a possible new artificial being in “Quality of Life”, or the way
our choices weave indelibly into the fabric of our being as Captain Picard is
awarded a chance to avoid a life-altering mistake in “Tapestry”, or asking
if there is still dignity in growing old, as James Doohan makes a welcome guest
appearance as Scottie in “Relics”.
aspect of humanity is explored, from faith, as Lt. Worf (Dorn) questions those
who would manipulate Klingon mythology in “Rightful Heir”, to fear, as
engineer Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) faces his terrors and makes an
amazing discovery in “Realm of Fear”, to the nature of childhood in one of
my personal favorites, the amusing “Rascals”.
In it, Captain Picard, his friend Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and two of his
officers inadvertently become reduced to children in a transporter malfunction,
and ironically, the key to preventing a catastrophe at the same time!
members of the crew get their moment in the spotlight as well.
Dr. Beverly Crusher (McFadden) makes a surprising announcement at the
beginning of “Suspicions” before telling the tale of how it came to be.
Lt. Geordi LaForge (Burton) finds himself trying to prove the innocence
of a suspicious but attractive officer in “Aquiel”.
Counselor Deanna Troi (Sirtis) becomes an unwilling but necessary pawn in
the Romulan underground effort to reunite with Vulcan in “Face of the
Enemy”. And for the year's most
unforgettable performance apart from Stewart, you have to see the undoing of
Commander William Riker (Frakes) in “Frame of Mind”…an episode that pushes
the question of real and unreal into the realm of sane and insane.
Six is a remarkable year from start to finish, with scarcely a weak episode
amongst the 26, though not all of them are as heavy handed as I've made them
sound. One fan favorite involves a
holodeck malfunction that leads Worf into the Old West to battle “A Fistful of
Datas”. The popular nemesis Q
(John De Lancie) makes two appearances in the year, from the holder of
Picard's destiny in “Tapestry” to the potential guardian of a new similar
life form in “True Q”. “Ship
in a Bottle” returns the self-aware holodeck character of Moriarty to battle
wits with Picard in an ingeniously unfolding episode.
And another favorite of mine, “Starship Mine”, has Picard alone on
the Enterprise battling an invading team of would-be terrorists Die Hard style…great
season also marked LeVar Burton's first turn in the director's chair, and he
offers a solid entry to the series in “Second Chances”, in which the
Enterprise discovers another Will Riker…how and why, I'll leave for you to
discover. The series ends with
another famed cliffhanger, “Descent”, in which a strangely behaving but
still deadly Borg leaves the Captain and crew, especially Data, in a serious
bind. It would be the last of the
series' season ending cliffhangers, as the following year would be the final
run of The Next Generation's crew on television.
Season Six the best year? Very
possibly…for me, it was always a toss up between the sixth and seventh years.
I look forward to reviewing the last year with a fresh take, and maybe
deciding once and for all.
still quite good, the latter seasons of Next Generation don't seem to
come across as well as earlier years…perhaps the shows from the late 80s
received more attention in terms of restoration and presentation.
Though Season Six offers good coloring and generally sharp imagery in
both light and dark settings, there is a bit more texture noticeable in terms of
light dustings of grain and other artifacts here and there…nothing
distracting, but sometimes noticeable, as when certain scenes fade to black.
It's certainly nothing to turn Trekkies away, but worth noting.
5.1 mixes continue to be welcome and pleasing, with the .1 channel keeping the
machinery of the ship and outer space humming along, and occasional tasteful
discreet uses of the rear stage for episodes with more action and battle
sequences. High marks.
before, the features are all on the seventh disc, and they begin with a
“Mission Overview” of the year. Some
fresh cast and crew interviews shed light on what made Season Six so special,
with close looks at some of the year's individual offerings.
“Bold New Directions” highlights two cast members turned director, as
Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton discuss the making of the episodes “A Fistful
of Datas” and “Second Chances” respectively.
A “Crew Profile” examines the evolution of Data as a character, along
with the man who brought him to life, Brent Spiner.
Finally, two production featurettes detail the writing, visual effects,
and inspirations that went into the sixth season.
COMPLETE SEASON SIX EPISODE LOG:
|Time's Arrow, Part II||Face of the Enemy|
|Realm of Fear||Tapestry|
|Man of the People||Birthright, Part I|
|Relics||Birthright, Part II|
|A Fistful of Datas||Frame of Mind|
|The Quality of Life||Suspicions|
|Chain of Command, Part I||Rightful Heir|
|Chain of Command, Part II||Second Chances|
|Ship in a Bottle||Timescape|
|Aquiel||Descent, Part I|