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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Patrick Stewart
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
A compilation of seven of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes featuring Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. This set also features "From Here To Infinity", a documentary of space exploration, hosted by Patrick Stewart, available exclusively on DVD with this collection.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 318 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 8/3/2004

Bonus:
• “From Here to Eternity: The Ultimate Voyage” Documentary


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 28, 2004)

While series like Friends and South Park started out with “greatest hits” DVDs and then eventually came out with full season sets, Star Trek: The Next Generation follows the opposite approach. We received all seven seasons of the series back in 2002, and the folks at Paramount waited two years to indulge in a general compilation.

The Enterprise captain becomes the focus of this package. Simply called Jean-Luc Picard Collection, this two-disc set includes seven programs that prominently feature the ship’s chief. We see them in broadcast order as they span the series’ first season up through its sixth.

DVD ONE:

The Big Goodbye (Season One) offers the first serious exploration of the Holodeck. The Enterprise needs to perform a diplomatic mission to visit the insect-like Jarada; Picard (Patrick Stewart) must deliver a message, but the Jarada are exceptionally picky about how their language is articulated, so he’s under a lot of stress to perfect his text. To relax, Picard engages in a Dixon Hill detective story in the Holodeck, but inevitably, things go wrong, and problems ensue.

This was pretty mediocre episode. The Dixon Hill stuff got too cutesy, especially when Data embraced the concept. It also became rather predictable when the Holodeck began to malfunction and the Jarada got impatient. The show had some decent moments, and I liked the culturally unique aspects of the Jarada, but this remained a lackluster show.

Although “Encounter at Farpoint”, the first-ever episode of ST:TNG, featured a character from the original series, none occurred again until Sarek (Season Three), which brought back Spock’s father (Mark Lenard). Nearing retirement, Sarek comes aboard the Enterprise to go on a mission in which he’ll act as ambassador to meet a new culture for the first time. Oddly, not long after the ambassador’s party arrives, crewmembers start to behave antagonistically and angrily toward each other. The thoroughly unemotional Sarek also shows irritability and even cries during a musical recital. Dr. Crusher believes he has a syndrome that affects elderly Vulcans and that his innate telepathic abilities affect the crew. Picard needs to deal with the issues without insulting Sarek and also ensuring the success of the fragile mission.

I never liked the appearance of Dr. McCoy during “Farpoint”; it seemed gratuitous and pointless. Happily, ST:TNG didn’t pile on similar references to the original show, which made ones such as this more effective. Sarek’s presence appeared sensible and intriguing, and “Sarek” provided a good episode that expanded our understanding of the Vulcans and created a rich program.

Family (Season Four) examines the kin of both Picard and Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn). While the Enterprise goes through rehab after the Borg encounter, Worf’s Russian parents (Theodore Bikel and Georgia Brown) come to visit him on the ship. In the meantime, Picard takes some R&R in France, where he goes to his hometown and reconnects with his brother Robert (Jeremy Kemp). He also spends time with nephew Rene (David Tristen Birkin) and Robert’s wife Marie (Samantha Eggar). Both Starfleet officers encounter friction with their relatives. Worf seems embarrassed by his doting parents, while Jean-Luc and Robert suffer from age-old interpersonal conflicts.

“Family” provides some solid character exposition. Next Generation often delves into personalities, but usually only female crewmembers Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) receive attention in the family way; Troi’s mother pops up on the show occasionally, while the interaction of Crusher and her teen son Wesley (Wil Wheaton) filled many programs. “Family” seems a little sappy and forced at times, but I value opportunities to see the characters in different situations and circumstances. Despite some horrendous overacting from Georgia Brown as Worf’s adoptive mother, this show comes across as a reasonably useful episode.

Note that this program formally introduces Picard’s family. Though they don’t appear in the theatrical film Generations, they still play a significant role there.

In The Drumhead (Season Four), the Enterprise hosts J’Dan (Henry Woronicz), a Klingon scientist who comes on board as part of an exchange program. They suspect him of espionage and sabotage as part of a plot that involves the Romulans. Retired Admiral Satie (Jean Simmons) comes back to action to investigate, and she launches a panel that includes Picard and her Betazoid assistant Sabin Genestra (Bruce French) to find out about the conspiracy she feels exists. Problems arise when Picard opposes the heavy-handed tactics Satie uses for the investigation, as these seem to go against Starfleet philosophies.

Hello, “Afterschool Special”! While “Drum Head” bandies about some valuable ideas that relate to the protection of freedoms – topics even more relevant in today’s climate – it does so in a fairly ham-fisted manner. It’s great to see still-lovely Jean Simmons again, and the show offers a reasonably engaging mystery, but it seems a bit too pushy to really succeed.

DVD TWO:

At the start of Darmok (Season Five), the Federation receives a signal from the planet El-Adrel IV, home of the “Children of Tama”. When Captain Picard extends an olive branch, Tamarian leader Dathon (Paul Winfield) has both of them beamed to the planet surface. Dathon speaks in nonsense phrases of partial English as he appears to challenge Picard to a fight. Our captain refuses, and Dathon walks away as he mutters more gibberish. Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the crew of the Enterprise try to rescue Picard as the captain attempts to get by on the planet.

Though a little sappy at times, “Darmok” seems generally intriguing and enjoyable. The Tamarians provide a genuinely unusual species due to their language, and these moments appear clever and interesting. In addition, we see some nice bonding moments between Picard and Dathon. Overall, “Darmok” offers an above-average episode of Trek.

Early glimpse of a star alert! Watch closely and you’ll see a young Ashley Judd as an Enterprise crewmember.

A mysterious probe approaches the Enterprise at the start of The Inner Light (Season Five). It sends a beam inside the ship that apparently only affects Picard. He passes out, and when he awakes, he finds himself on a strange planet in the hands of a woman who refers to him as “Kamin”. Her name’s Eline (Margot Rose), and she’s supposedly his wife. Picard/Kamin roams that landscape as he tries to discover where he resides and how he can get back to the Enterprise, even as the years seemingly pass. Meanwhile back on the ranch, we see that Picard remains unconscious, and the crew try to figure out how to disconnect him from the probe and bring him back to reality.

When we see episodes that deal with Picard and an alternate reality, they usually find him in a domestic situation that forces him to examine the life he could have lived. “Light” offers a watchable but somewhat bland example of that genre. I do enjoy this kind of “alternate reality” material, and this show seems different from the others as it displays many years of Picard’s second life. Unfortunately, the probe’s purpose becomes obvious too early, which renders the show a little toothless. Overall, “Light” appears decent but unspectacular.

For Tapestry (Season Six), some crewmembers come under attack during a conference, and Picard apparently gets killed due to an energy surge in his artificial heart. As he goes into the light, he meets none other than Q (John de Lancie) as his guide to the afterworld. Q gives him a chance to rewrite wrongs he made as a 21-year-old, impetuous errors that led to the acquisition of the aforementioned fake ticker, and this sends Picard back into his personal past to alter his fate.

Although I worried that Q had become overexposed over the years, “Tapestry” changed my mind. The show doesn’t really focus on that character, and it helps expand our understanding of Picard in a vivid manner. The episode also features an insightful philosophical bent that makes us all wonder how our lives would differ if we changed our past behavior. “Tapestry” seems like a rich and involving piece of Trek.

By my reckoning, two of the seven shows are very good, while the others range from pretty solid to fairly mediocre. The programs offer a decent overview of Picard’s character, but I’m not sure I’d qualify them as the best related to him. Granted, the package doesn’t tout itself as the Captain’s “greatest hits”; unlike the Best of Friends sets, it makes no discussion of the episodes’ quality.

Nonetheless, one assumes that they’d pick the best shows connected to the character, which remains up for debate. Notably absent are any Borg shows, which I figure may later appear in a separate package. In any case, the seven shows in The Picard Collection give us a decent synopsis of the character but fail to provide consistently strong programs.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While TNG episodes demonstrated consistency within their various seasons, the visual quality improved over time. I gave Season One a “C-“, but that had jumped to a “B-“ by Season Seven. (Actually, it got to that grade by Season Five and it remained there for the subsequent two years.) Since this set spanned Seasons One to Six, it became tough to look at them as a whole, but some general trends emerged that ended up the set with an overall “C+”.

Sharpness came across as somewhat erratic. Most of the time, the picture looked fairly distinct and detailed, but that varied during many occasions. Not surprisingly, wide shots seemed the most problematic, but even close-ups remained inconsistent and could appear moderately soft. Shimmering and jagged edges showed up periodically, while edge enhancement also created concerns. I noticed haloes at times, and these caused some distractions. They also appeared to contribute to the softness, as they helped render a few wide shots as less distinct than I’d expect.

Occasional examples of source flaws popped up, but these lessened with each successive season. I noticed some light grain and speckles, marks and streaks. These were a bit more intense in the earlier programs and decreased noticeably as the series progressed. Usually the programs looked fairly clean.

Colors appeared somewhat erratic. At times, the colors looked nicely rich and distinct, but they also came across as dull and murky for parts of the shows, and some red light was somewhat runny. In general, the hues were acceptable but unspectacular.

Similar elements marked the black levels, which seemed reasonably deep much of the time, but they also could be a bit muddy on occasion. Shadow detail tended to be somewhat murky. Shots could come across as heavy and flat at times, though the images stayed fairly solid. Ultimately, I felt Star Trek: The Next Generation offered a bland but decent visual experience.

Although picture quality varied, throughout the series, we got consistently solid Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. These shows were originally mastered with Dolby Surround mixes, and the new mixes helped broaden those nicely. The soundfields of the various shows seemed pretty engaging. The forward spectrum dominated, and it offered fine stereo imaging for the music as well as a strong sense of atmosphere. The front speakers provided a clear and vivid environment, and various elements like ships and phaser fire panned cleanly across the channels. Planet environments often came across nicely, as they offered lively and engaging audio.

For the most part, the surrounds offered general support of the front speakers. The surrounds mostly gave us a good sense of environment, and they also added musical support. Occasional split-surround usage occurred, mainly due to zoom-bys from the Enterprise. The 5.1 remixes didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they opened up the tracks nicely.

Audio quality seemed quite good for its age. Throughout the shows, the lines remained distinct and natural, and I heard no significant problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was nicely vivid and bright, as the quality of the music remained consistently clear and bold. Effects showed good clarity and accuracy, and they displayed very few signs of distortion. All elements provided fairly solid nice bass response, as low-end seemed deep and rich throughout the shows. All in all, I was very pleased with the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

For this Picard Collection, only one extra appears. We find a documentary called From Here to Infinity: The Ultimate Experience. Hosted by Patrick Stewart, this 42-minute and 16-second program takes a look at the “macro universe”. It travels a line outwards that starts with some of the planets in our solar system and then moves through the Oort Cloud, the Centauri system, Geminga, the Betelgeuse Supernova, the Orion Star Nursery, the edges of the Milky Way, Andromeda, and beyond. It also goes into the concepts of extraterrestrial life, voids, and more distant phenomena as well as unanswered questions and the origins of our neck of the woods. Stewart’s narration adds facts and theories as we watch computer imagery of the material as well as some photos and other renderings. Obviously, since “Infinity” covers all of space in two-thirds of an hour, it stays with the basics. However, it gives us a pretty nice overview and manages to remain entertaining and informative. It’s a good little primer.

The same goes for Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection. The seven episodes vary from mediocre to very good, and despite this inconsistency, we get a nice feel for the character. The DVDs present adequate picture quality along with strong audio. One supplement appears via a basic but interesting examination of space. Fans who already own the Next Generation season sets should skip this package; “From Here to Eternity” is the only new component, and it’s not worth a purchase on its own. If you’re new to Next Generation, though, Picard acts like a pretty useful overview of its main character.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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