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: 1174 Minutes
Release Date: December 31, 2002
NOTE: Complete episode listing is available at the end of this review.
know what this crew is capable of…even if they don't.”
phrase that gets used a lot in sports these days is “going out on top”.
It conjures images of those stars of their games who would forever be
remembered as being at the top of their form and at the peak of their glory when
they bowed out…stars like Barry Sanders or Michael Jordan his first two times.
There is a mysticism and awe about them that we lose a little of when
once great stars try to perform far past their prime, such as Andre Dawson.
Or Michael Jordan's third incarnation.
Trek: The Next Generation went
out in peak form after seven glorious seasons, each arguably better than the one
before. Year Seven was my favorite
year…it boasted some of the cast and crew's best work, including some of the
series' greatest examples of writing. It
ended with an episode I still consider to be an apex of science fiction writing.
And it left us in admiration and wanting more.
At least, until the Next Gen crew started making their own movies.
crew of the Enterprise had spent six full years in our living rooms, at first
building upon but later breaking away from the foundation set by the original
series, which had become something of a cult phenomenon over the years.
During that time, we Trekkies went from casually measuring them, to
accepting them, to loving them, almost growing to a point where we couldn't
imagine our weekly routine without them! Yet
that was what we were faced with…knowing that in year seven, the voyages of
this Galaxy Class Enterprise would end up where many shows had gone before…out
could see the confidence building in both cast and creators over the years.
By the final year, there was no doubt that the Star Trek universe
was comfortably theirs, and it was in good hands.
They had become like a family to each other and to the fans, and family
became a running theme of their last year on the air.
it was Lt. Geordi La Forge's (Burton) mother and father (Ben Vereen) in
“Interface”, Lt. Worf's (Dorn) half-brother (played by Paul Sorvino) in
“Homeward”, Captain Jean-Luc Picard's (Stewart) possible long lost son in
“Bloodlines”, Counselor Deanna Troi's (Sirtis) mother (the elegant Majel
Barrett) in “Dark Page”, Lt. Commander Data's (Spiner) reunion with his
“mother” in “Inheritance”, or even the return of Dr. Beverly Crusher's
(McFadden) son Wesley (Wil Wheaton) for a final goodbye in “Journey's
End”, the joys, heartaches, triumphs and problems of family were intimately
addressed. In each case, they added
more strength and depth to already well rounded characters.
show's final cliffhanger “Descent” was resolved in Part II, in which the
simple difference between right and wrong frees Data once and for all from his
“brother” Lore (also Spiner) and his wayward influence.
Another terrific two-part episode was “Gambit”, in which Picard and
Commander William Riker (Frakes) are separated from the Enterprise and stumble
across an amazing Romulan scheme.
character has at least one high point during the year, be it Data's dreamscape
in “Phantasms”, Dr. Crusher's battle with an old family curse in “Sub
Rosa” (arguably Gates McFadden's strongest performance of the series), Troi
having to face a bleak incident from her mother's past in “Dark Page”,
Geordi's moral test in “Interface”, or Worf settling the future of his
young son in “Firstborn”.
several episodes deserve singular mention, starting with “Attached”.
I challenge anyone who would dismiss Star Trek as a lightweight
populist sci-fi show to come up with a better example of a teleplay anywhere.
It's filled with humor, honesty, and beautifully played out drama when
a diplomatic situation gone awry forces Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher into an
unusually close-knit situation. It's
offers one of Star Trek's most mind boggling puzzles, exploring the
possibilities of an infinite number of alternate realities, each one grown out
of the choices we make constantly, and what it would be like to travel between
them. The finale is an eye-popper.
cast really cuts loose on Gates McFadden's directorial debut, “Genesis”, a
dark and often frightening episode in which almost all of the Enterprise's
crew de-evolves into lower order animals with base instincts.
It's a triumph of style, make-up, raw performances, and a sense of
experimentation that really stands out.
nothing comes close to the two hour finale, appropriately entitled “All Good
Things…”. Everyone wanted the
show to go out on the best note possible, and together, they did it.
This is one of the most imaginative and awe-inspiring pieces of fiction
to ever emerge from the Star Trek universe; an episode that really
explores the endless possibilities of time and space, and even brings back the
popular nemesis Q (John De Lancie) in the process.
The Next Generation saved the best for last, and it earned every
moment of its grand finale.
there would be other shows, and more movies (which were always welcome in my
book), but somehow, there was such a perfection to the last episode that it
still seems to close this chapter of the franchise. I enjoyed Generations, First Contact and Insurrection,
which were all entertaining enough in their way, but I still tend to think
of the Captain and his officers around that poker table for all eternity, with
Picard's words “the sky's the limit” echoing a superb sense of closure.
After nearly a decade, I still miss this show…and now, I will certainly
miss the time I've spend re-visiting and re-hashing my memories of it with the
conclusion of this DVD collection.
farewell to you all…Worf, Geordi, Deanna, Beverly, Will, Data, Jean-Luc…even
to Guinan, Tasha, and Wesley. And
farewell once again to you, Gene Roddenberry…thank you for sharing with us
your hopeful vision of the future and making it a part of our present.
TRIVIA: The aforementioned
“Attached” was written by none other than Nick Sagan…Carl Sagan's son.
Also, Season Seven marked the first and only time The Next Generation was
honored with an Emmy nomination for Best Dramatic Series.
my eyes, it seems like the second and third years were the best in the video
department. Season Seven looks
fine, but maybe a tad less impressive than earlier years, possibly owing to less
work being done as far as preservation goes for being the most recent season.
Colors and images are generally well rendered, with only a bit of
murkiness here and there, and a touch of softness in the margins.
Space scenes and low lit settings come across rather well…overall,
it's still a good effort.
we ever be able to go back and watch these shows on TV in reruns without our 5.1
sound? These remixed soundtracks
continue to be a welcome addition to the DVD releases.
The Enterprises engines have been alive in my subwoofer all year, and
it's nice to know they always will be. Actual
surround sequences are limited but tasteful, as the rear stage is mostly used
for ambience instead of action. Still
a commendable effort to a commendable year's worth of releases.
features are similar to ones offered on the previous box sets, but they seem a
little better and a little more special this time around for being the last
season. The Mission Overview offers
cast and crew memories of year seven, while Starfleet Moments and Memories puts
the entire run of the series into perspective.
Patrick Stewart offers a warm Captain's Tribute to each of his fellow
actors, while a segment on Production highlights directors McFadden and Frakes
on “Genesis” and “Attached”, respectively, and the roles of strong women
in the Star Trek universe. Finally,
one whole segment is dedicated to the making of “All Good Things…”.
A nice promo for the DVD releases of Deep Space Nine rounds it
COMPLETE SEASON SEVEN EPISODE LOG:
|Descent, Part II||Sub Rosa|
|Interface||Thine Own Self|
|Gambit, Part I||Masks|
|Gambit, Part II||Eye of the Beholder|
|Dark Page||Journey's End|
|Force of Nature||Bloodlines|
|The Pegasus||All Good Things...|