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review by Zach B.
Running Time: 1181 Minutes
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Wil Wheton, LeVar Burton
Retail Price: $139.95
Features: Mission Logs: Year Three, Selected Crew Analysis, Production, Memorable Missions, Collectible Booklet
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, Chapter Index (Approx. 8 Chapters per episode), 7-Disc Set
Released: July 2nd, 2002
It's only been fifteen years since "Star Trek: The Next Generation" debuted in syndication and after airing for seven seasons, it still carries a loyal fanbase. But let's be honest here, "Star Trek" will always forever be part of popular culture and every different series that bears the "Star Trek" name will always have a loyal fanbase. "Star Trek" is just something that many people recognize (and is stereotyped with science fiction lovers and nerds) and just really enjoy. Even if you're not a fan, surely you've heard of the captains, the technology and other more "mainstream" things the franchise brings (Phasers, Klingons, etc.)
Too bad for me is that I've never been a giant "Star Trek" fan. I've never really gotten into this moneymaking franchise that has spawned theatrical films and different series. I've seen parts of episodes here and there, but that's about it. However, with the release of this first season, it was my chance to get into it. While "Star Trek" is still not my thing, after viewing some episodes I have to say I'm more of a fan that I originally was. So after season one, it was time to go into season two and start my road to get further into the series.
Season one and season two was the birth of a new series in the franchise, and it was the show mainly getting its feet wet. In season three, it's where things begin to kick in. The show became a bit more fun and much stronger, and there's a lot of good episodes here. I enjoyed the episodes "The Offspring," "Yesterday's Enterprise," "Transfigurations," "Sarek" and the season finale cliffhanger, "The Best Of Both Worlds" (Part 1) very much so. A lot here is classic enjoyable Trek for diehard fans and newbies (like myself) alike. This is by far my favorite season so far, as I have loosened up to what the show does offer. And it does offer a lot quality wise.
The directing and writing is really strong and pretty top-notch in this season. The flow is much smoother this time around, and a lot of the stories here are pretty entertaining, original and rather compelling. The characters are becoming more complex, intriguing and more well rounded. The acting is also very good in this season, as I think the cast had started to get comfortable in their roles, the series itself and what everything held. The acting here is a bit more natural, intense and quite good.
Arguably, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is the most successful and most popular series from "Star Trek." Yes, it has the feature films (a new one is due out in December 2002), the merchandising and everything else with it. But perhaps why this series is the most popular with fans is that the late creator of "Star Trek," Gene Roddenberry, did help greatly to create this show. "The Next Generation" branches off into new areas of the "Star Trek" universe with new technology and characters, but keeps the spirit of the original show. Perhaps that's why it works.
Season three is my favorite season so far of what I seen, since key points have been established in the other episodes and things really start to develop and cook up, and I suppose everything just gets even stronger as each season goes by, though I've heard things that the prime seasons are three, four and five. Either way, you get (in alphabetical order): "Allegiance," "The Best of Both Worlds Part 1," "Bonding," "Booby Trap," "Captain's Holiday," "Defector," "Deja Q," "Enemy," "Ensigns of Command," "Evolution," "High Ground," "Hollow Pursuits," "Hunted," "Matter of Perspective," "Menage a Troi,' "Most Toys," "The Offspring," "Price," "Sarek," "Sins of the Father," "Survivors," "Tin Man," "Transfigurations," "Vengeance Factor," "Who Watches the Watchers?" and "Yesterday's Enterprise."
Presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios as made for television, it's interesting to note that season three looks pretty impressive, and truly blows seasons one and two away. Flaws on the transfer can still be seen like lots of noise and shimmering, and the ocassional print mark here and there. Grain is not as bad either, while fleshtones look pretty amazing. Color saturation is very good, and there Colors are bit more bold and more saturated this time around, giving off further depth and a much sharper look. I can't wait for future seasons actually... I'm just sure it'll get better and better.
Yep, this season gets the full 5.1 Dolby Digital treatment in addition to the English stereo tracks. I was pretty surprised actually, as much of the surrounds are mixed better than the first two boxed sets, let alone they're more aggressive and give off more ambiance. And like times before, most come from the hums of the ship, action scenes and assorted battles. There is still some artificial-ness to some of the effects, but it's an overall pleasant experience, complete with some booming .1 LFE effects. Fidelity is rather high, dialogue is clear and the music boasts well through the channels for a pretty balanced time. And if you need them, there are English subtitles and English closed captions.
Your decent little booklet inside the case and your few new/old mixed featurettes. First up is Mission Logs: Year Three. This little piece lasts about eighteen minutes, has clips from the show and interviews with the cast and crew, such as associate producer Peter Lauritson, executive producer Michael Piller, executive producer Rick Berman, Patrick Stewart, Johnthan Frakes and a host of others. I found this quite an interesting featurette and most enjoyable, talking about the key episodes of the seasons and the hard work that went into season three such as the new writing staff, writing episodes as they went along and whatnot. It sounds like a tough, though ultimatley rewarding season.
Like usual, you have your Selected Crew Analysis. Once again running nearly fourteen minutes and in full frame, and the actors talk about their work. Stewart compares the set to a theatrical stage even. Using clips from the season, the featurette focuses on the developments of the different characters of these episodes, not to mention the actors' own thoughts on them. Strong stuff here that is really good overall.
The twenty minute Production featurette has clips from episodes and interviews with writer/executive producer Michael Piller, production associate Eric Stillwell and a few more. Like the "Missions Log," it talks about season three episodes and the rough time they had creating episodes. It talks about production script, the show's open script policy and whatnot. Overall, very interesting stuff here, if only a tad bit repetitive from what's in the first featurette.
Memorable Missions, again, has the crew and cast reflecting on their own favorite episodes of season three. Clips from the episodes are shown, what each person liked and whatnot. Solid stuff here, like usual. It lasts thirteen minutes and twenty-four seconds. And judging from these featurettes, these are the best I've seen yet for the show, perhaps because the third season was a bit rocky.
Well "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fans, you've been waiting for this one... I'm assuming it only gets better and better after this season. There are some very nice episodes in season three, and of course, now you can watch them over and over again on DVD. With great 5.1 mixes as with seasons past, and slightly improved video and your usual "Next Generation" extras... if you're collecting them, you won't be able to resist this one either.