Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Like the prior six seasons, this one looked good.
Sharpness seemed strong. Occasional softness appeared, but that appeared related to the source, particularly in effects shots; those could be a little “off”. However, that was unavoidable, and the majority of the material looked tight and concise. No issues with shimmering or jagged edges occurred, and I noticed only mild edge haloes. Print flaws weren’t a factor, as the shows looked clean.
TNG favored a warm, earthy palette, and those colors looked nice here. The hues came across as full and rich. Blacks appeared tight and firm, and low-light shots offered fine clarity. Even with some minor complaints, the visuals seemed solid and easily gave us the best-looking Season Seven ever seen.
I’ve always enjoyed the series’ DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtracks, and Season Seven continued that positive trend. Actually, the mixes might get better as the years progress, as I thought this one was a bit better than what I heard for the first two sets.
The soundscape opened up matters nicely. Ships flew accurately around the room, and the track created a good sense of general atmosphere. While never an action-oriented series, TNG managed occasional fights/battles, and those came across as involving and convincing. The various speakers delivered a solid feeling for those elements and brought us into the action.
Audio quality held up well after more than 20 years. Speech rarely betrayed any edginess or problems, as the lines remained pretty natural and distinctive. Music was lively and full, while effects seemed accurate and full; no real distortion marred the proceedings. I felt pleased with the audio heard here.
As usual, the Blu-rays mix old and new extras, and we locate audio commentaries for three episodes. Here’s what we find:
“Parallels”: producer/writer Brannon Braga. This track looks at aspects of Braga’s Trek career, the genesis of the story and elements of the script, various character/plot challenges, influences, and a few production elements. Braga provides a consistently engaging chat. He digs into some nice episode specifics and also gives a good overview of his Trek experiences. Heck, he even makes fun of the series’ technobabble in this fun and informative discussion.
“Lower Decks”: writer Rene Echevarria and scenic artists/historians Michael and Denise Okuda. The commentary looks at story/character areas, guest cast and performances, aspects of the series’ final season, effects and visual design, and general domains. While not as thorough as Braga’s chat, we get a good overview here and learn a nice mix of details.
“Preemptive Strike”: Echevarria, Michael and Denise Okuda, and writer Naren Shankar. As expected, this commentary touches on many of the subjects discussed during “Decks”, though the impish Shankar ensures that it’s a livelier piece. Actually, “Strike” focuses on story specifics less well than “Decks” does; instead, it spends more time with visual areas and the work done to make TNG appealing for Blu-ray. It’s probably the weakest of the three chats but it still delivers more than enough info to make it worthwhile.
Deleted Scenes accompany 16 episodes. We find them for “Descent, Part II” (two sequences, 2:08), “Liasons” (1, 1:40), “Gambit, Part I” (4, 7:11), “Gambit, Part II” (2, 3:22), “Dark Page” (2, 3:05), “Inheritance’ (4, 6:23), “Parallels” (1, 1:04), “Sub Rosa” (3, 4:00), “Thine Own Self” (1, 0:57), “Masks” (3, 3:49), “Genesis” (1, 1:09), “Journey’s End” (1, 2:28), “Firstborn” (2, 4:12), “Bloodlines” (1, 1:50), and “Preemptive Strike” (2, 4:06). That’s a bigger collection than usual, and we find some interesting pieces. None of these seem especially memorable, but they’re fun to see.
On Disc One, we find a piece from the 2002 DVDs: Mission Overview: Year Seven, a show that examines a few general issues. During this 14-minute, 47-second program, we hear from actors Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton and Marina Sirtis, executive producers Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor and Rick Berman, and writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore.
In “Mission Overview”, we hear about the season’s emphasis on family and get a lot of information about Wesley’s finale in “Journey’s End”. We also learn about some intersections with Deep Space Nine as well as issues related to the end of the Next Generation series. Too much of the data remains rather general, but the “Overview” still includes some decent material.
Disc One opens with ads for Chain of Command, All Good Things, Enterprise Season Four, and Next Generation Season Five and Season Six
When we get to Disc Two, we locate a new component. Lensing Star Trek: The Next Generation runs 42 minutes, 13 seconds and provides comments from supervising producer David Livingston, director James L. Conway, Season 6/7 director of photography Jonathan West, and camera operator Kris Krosskove. All four men chat together about their work on the series as well as elements of directing and cinematography and related experiences. Livingston takes the lead here and helps make this a brisk, informative talk.
Disc Two also includes a Gag Reel. It goes for four minutes, 53 seconds and offers the standard allotment of goofiness and giggles. Much of this seems blah, but it can be fun to see the cast joke with each other; we often hear how loose they tended to be on the set, so it’s nice to observe this.
The other two shows on Disc Two appeared on the 2002 DVDs. The 16-minute, 31-second A Captain’s Tribute features interviews with no one other than actor Patrick Stewart, and it intercuts his comments with show clips. Stewart reminisces about his main costars and gives us a few thoughts about each of them. This makes the featurette rather gushy at times, as Stewart’s statements invariably tend toward the glowing side of things, but he provides some good stories, and those help make the piece entertaining.
Like past entries in the series, Departmental Briefing Year Seven: Production offers some nice notes on technical issues. During the 15-minute, 46-second piece, we hear from supervising producer Peter Lauritson, actors Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Patrick Stewart, and Marina Sirtis, make-up designer Michael Westmore, writer Brannon Braga, visual effects coordinator Ronald B. Moore, and scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda.
As with “Mission Overview”, the program concentrates mainly on a few different episodes. In particular, they discuss the monster make-ups and other challenges of “Genesis” plus the multiple Enterprises of “Parallels”. In addition, we get some notes about attempts to move Picard from the captain’s chair and efforts to develop stronger female characters. It moves through the programs briskly and seems generally useful.
Disc Three presents another DVD retread: the unfulfilling Starfleet Moments and Memories This one goes for 30 minutes, two seconds and includes comments from actors Frakes, Stewart, Burton, Denise Crosby, Spiner, Michael Dorn, Sirtis, Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg and McFadden, producer David Livingston, writer Moore, executive producers Piller and Berman, author Larry Nemecek, production designer Herman Zimmerman, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, scenic artist supervisor Okuda, make-up designer Michael Westmore, composer Dennis McCarthy, and sound mixer Alan Bernard.
Despite that breadth of talent, the program includes virtually no concrete information. Instead, it simply relates how much fun everyone had on Next Generation and how close they all are. “Memories” seems bland and unrevealing
In Disc Four’s Special Profiles, we get a 15-minute, 18-second piece with Piller, Sirtis and actor John de Lancie and Majel Barrett Roddenberry. The show looks at the Q and Lwaxana Troi characters as well as portrayals of them. I like this focus on the actors and think we get a good take on the supporting roles.
A new piece, Disc Five’s Closed Set: A Tour of the Real Enterprise occupies 11 minutes, 23 seconds. Hosted by Michael and Denise Okuda, we see video of the Enterprise set that Mike shot back in the 1990s. This gives us a nice behind the scenes view, and the Okudas bring us fun thoughts about what we see.
Shot in 1994, Dressing the Future goes for 10 minutes, 27 seconds and gives us a tour of the wardrobe warehouse with Marina Sirtis. Recorded in both 1994 and 2002, costume designer Robert Blackman also provides some notes about his work on the show. The two elements combine well, though the spirited Sirtis does the most to make “Future” fun.
New to the Blu-ray, Disc Six’s The Sky’s the Limit: The Eclipse of Star Trek: The Next Generation uses three parts to fill a total of one hour, 28 minutes and 40 seconds. We find notes from Rick Berman, Rene Echevarria, Naren Shankar, Larry Nemecek, Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore, James L. Conway, David Livingston, Jonathan West, Michael Westmore, Dan Curry, Herman Zimmerman, Brent Spiner, Patrick Stewart, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, John de Lancie, Whoopi Goldberg, science consultant Andre Bormanis, special makeup effects artist Doug Drexler, consulting senior illustrator Andrew Probert, visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel, stunts coordinator Dennis Madalone, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, production associate Dave Rossi, program consultant David Gerrold, co-producer Wendy Neuss, script supervisor Cosmo Genovese, writer DC Fontana, Free Enterprise director Mark Altman, Cosmos executive producer Seth MacFarlane, and actor Natalija Nogulich.
The documentary covers elements related to the end of TNG as well as specific stories/episodes, spin-off series, and different aspects of TNG experiences over the years. “Limit” takes on a distinctly valedictory feel, as it largely offers a friendly look back on TNG.
That means it lacks a lot of meat. We get a smattering of good notes, and I enjoy the occasional criticisms, such as when Sirtis bemoans the way Worf’s relationship with Troi turned the Klingon into a “pussy”. The vintage 1987 promo meant for TV channels also delights. Otherwise, this is a spotty piece that needs more substance.
Journey’s End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation lasts 45 minutes, 23 seconds and brings us a vintage piece from 1994. Hosted by Jonathan Frakes, it features Stewart, Crosby, Burton, Berman, Spiner, Dorn, Sirtis, Taylor, McFadden, Sternbach, Mike Okuda, de Lancie, Meaney, West, Blackman, Westmore, Piller, director Winrich Kolbe, actor Armin Shimerman and production designer Richard D. James. Intended to promote the series’ final episode, it takes a look back at TNG with a mix of thoughts and clips. Nothing revelatory emerges, but it’s enjoyable enough as an archival piece.
Finally, the 17-minute, 44-second The Making of “All Good Things...” provides remarks from executive producers Taylor, Berman and Piller, writers Braga and Moore, make-up designer Westmore, make-up artist Deborah Zoller, scenic artist supervisor Okuda, visual effects supervisor Curry, director Winrich Kolbe, director of photography Jonathan West, and actors Sirtis, Crosby, Burton and Colm Meaney. The featurette covers “Things” from the origins of its story through many aspects of the production. It offers a surprisingly rich and complete look at the show, and it gives us some solid information about its creation.
After almost 180 episodes, Star Trek: The Next Generation came to a close. Though Season Seven wasn’t consistently solid, it offered enough good material to make it another enjoyable experience. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio as well as an informative collection of bonus materials. Fans will be delighted to add this quality release to their collections.
To rate this film, visit the original review of NEXT GENERATION: SEASON SEVEN