STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON ONE Blu-ray Review

     August 22, 2012

star-trek-the-next-generation-season-one-blu-ray-slice

Star Trek: The Next Generation finally comes to Blu-ray, and if you don’t think that’s cause for rejoicing, you don’t have many Trekkies in your life. The series grappled with significant problems in making the leap to an HD format, thanks to its copious effects shots created in an era when high definition simply didn’t exist. They’ve finally cracked the code and the new Season One Blu-ray reaps handsome rewards as a result…. with a few notable hiccups. Hit the jump for my full review.

star-trek-the-next-generation-season-one-blu-ray-castIt’s hard to remember just what a chance Paramount took in resurrecting a Star Trek TV series with an entirely different cast. How could they show us this universe without Kirk, Spock and the gang as our guides? Even series creator Gene Roddenberry was reluctant to embark upon what seemed like sheer folly. Luckily, they had a plan. Paramount’s canny decision to syndicate the show helped them hedge their bets financially, while allowing Roddenberry and his staff to work without network restrictions. That gave the series a much-needed foundation upon which it could build… though for the first season, at least, its growing pains really showed.

It started with the characters, who dripped with potential but remained stuck as one-note gimmicks for the bulk of the initial run. Most of them could be summed up in two words or less – The Android, The Klingon, The Blind Engineer, The Mary Sue – and the scripts did little with them beyond marveling at their “neat-o” qualities. The game cast worked hard to overcome those flaws, but only Patrick Stewart really shone as stalwart captain Jean-Luc Picard.

star-trek the next generation blu rayThose flaws don’t necessarily make for frustrating viewing, however. Like a lot of Part Ones, this first season did a lot of unglamorous grunt work for the benefit of later entries. Watching the episodes here thus becomes an exercise in nostalgia, as well as a way of seeing the roots from which the rest of the series flourished. These episodes shook loose the most obvious story ideas for TNG’s beloved figures, laying bare the rich possibilities that subsequent seasons could properly exploit. They updated Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of the future – retailored to fit a 1980s outlook – and perhaps most importantly, they proved that you can, in fact, tell new Trek stories with different characters while still keeping the fan base happy. Credit a big chunk of that to Stewart, whose Picard came across as a thoughtful Renaissance man in stark contrast to William Shatner’s go-for-broke cowboy.  Both characters found their own path to tread, yet both remained compulsively watchable… and Stewart ensured that we would keep watching long enough for the rest of the cast to get their due.

Furthermore, the 25 episodes in this collection don’t consist entirely of duds. John de Lancie livened things up in his first two appearances as the mayhem-inducing Q, while Brent Spiner made a meal out of an otherwise trite evil-twin scenario in “Datalore.” Shows like “11001001” and “Home Soil” delivered good notions with surprising effectiveness, and the unquestioned high point of the season – “Conspiracy” – demonstrated how dark Roddenberry’s bright and shining future could get. It posited a Body-Snatchers scenario featuring a race of parasites slowly taking over key members of Starfleet, and its chilling undertones opened the door for later sci-fi terrors like the Borg.

star-trek-the-next-generation-blu-ray-before-and-afterHigh points like that come less frequently here than they did in later seasons, but still paint a vivid picture of the first-rate sci-fi to come. And the Blu-ray’s gorgeous technical qualities constitute a selling point all on their own. CBS Entertainment knows that it can’t hustle the show’s smarter-than-the-average-bear fans, who would spot a bad upgrade a mile away. The producers went all-out to render the show in full HD and their herculean efforts pay off. The show looks gorgeous, and the sound quality is impeccable, rendering the TNG’s early digital effects a retro-joy rather than a painful embarrassment. To it, the producers added a fine set of behind-the-scenes documentaries – including two new ones that detail the genesis of the show and the steps taken to deliver it to Blu-ray.  Each disc also includes early promotional material, commercials and other goodies to make the completionist’s heart swoon.

In light of its meaty technical specifications and the modestly cool array of extra features, it comes as a disappointment, then, that the set offers no digital copies. In this day and age, with mobile devices playing an increasingly large role in our entertainment, the oversight feels like a company drastically behind the times. Thankfully it doesn’t diminish the set’s generally strong qualities, nor make it anything less than a must-own for hard-core Trekkies and comparative newbies alike.  A start this strong bodes well for the future… and with six more seasons to come, there’s a lot of future to look forward to.

star trek the next generation blu ray cover

Around The Web

Latest News

Comic-Con 2015: Survival Guide for First-Time Attendees

Comic-Con is a madhouse; Matt explains how to make your way through the asylum.

HUNGER GAMES Cast Dons War Paint in New MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 Posters

The final battle approaches.

New SOUTHPAW Clip: Rachel McAdams Fights for Family over Boxing

Antoine Fuqua's latest is due in theaters on July 24th.

GHOSTBUSTERS Reboot Adds Michael K. Williams and Andy Garcia

Williams is also in talks for a major role in 'Assassin's Creed'.

SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM Images Reveal Pixar’s Next Short Film

The Hindu-influenced story and animation could pull Pixar out of its short film funk.

Tyler Posey on TEEN WOLF’s Goriest Season Yet, His Desire to Direct, and More

The actor teases what's to come in Season 5 of the MTV series.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Will Be “The True Birth of the X-Men”

Bryan Singer says the next ‘X-Men’ movie will be a “kind of conclusion” for the long-running franchise.

AMC Movie Talk Is Now Collider Movie Talk

John Campea and his AMC Movie Talk video team are joining Collider.

Exclusive: CRIMSON PEAK Poster Has Tom Hiddleston Giving a Dead Sexy Stare

Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming gothic horror film also stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam.

DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW Concept Art Reveals Superheroes Galore

It's 'The Avengers' on The CW, basically.

Page 1 of 4,02912345...102030...Last »