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review by Zach B.
Running Time: 1177 Minutes
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton
Retail Price: $139.95
Features: Mission Overview: Year Six, Bold New Directions, Production, Profile Dan Curry, Special Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data, Collectible Booklet, Star Trek: Nemesis Trailer, Star Trek Deep Space Nine Collector's Edition Trailer
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, Chapter Index (8 Chapters per episode), 7-Disc Set
Released: December 3rd, 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.
"Star Trek: The Next Generation" is arguably 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.
The second to last season of the series, I think the sixth season is the far most interesting because it goes in many different directions. No, the sixth isn't my favorite season, but I give a lot of credit to the talent behind the show for not being afraid to try new things, still trying to see if some things fit rather than other things. The sixth season does a lot of time travel kind of deals, which I did enjoy in the past, but I think it might be a bit overdone in the sixth season. Some of the episodes are just plain corny and weird for my tastes.
Still, there are some very nice episodes which I really enjoyed. "True-Q" might be my absolute favorite of the season, but I do enjoy "Realm of Fear," "Ship in a Bottle," "Quality Of Life," "Relics," "Frame of Mind" and "Face Of The Enemy as well." Yes, these episodes expand more on the franchise, more on the characters and give the fans what they really love. In all, I think season six is a strong mix of the strong and the mediocre. It can be puzzling, but in all, it makes for an entertaining and overall fine season.
You get all your favorite sixth season episodes here (listed now in alphabetical order): "Aquiel," "Birthright (Part I)," "Birthright (Part II)," "Chain of Command (Part I)" "Chain of Command (Part II)," "The Chase," "Descent Part I," "Face of the Enemy," "Fistful of Datas," "Frame of Mind," "Lessons," "Man of the People," "Quality of Life," "Rascals, Realm of Fear," "Relics," "Rightful Heir," "Schisms," "Second Chances," "Ship in a Bottle," "Starship Mine," "Suspicions," "Tapestry," "Time's Arrow (Part II)," "Timescape" and "True-Q."
Yep, all twenty-six episodes from the season are in 1.33:1 full screen, and each season just looks better and better. Season six features by far the sharpest and smoothest transfers yet. Fleshtones are very fitting, detail is very nice throughout the episodes (be it the ship's interior or exterior locations), black levels are solid and color saturation is particuarly strong, be it portions of the set in the foreground or the costumes on the characters. These transfers are the most vibrant ones yet too, and it's nice to see that noise and halo edges have been cut down. This is as close as perfection I see for the series, so I'm wondering if Paramount will surpass themselves for the last season.
Once again, we get full English 5.1 Dolby Digital remixes for all the episodes. I think the mixers have gotten a hang of it all now, as these sound mixes sound the most natural out of the six seasons. Fidelity is pretty good, while I think subwoofer use has improved a considerable deal (those sound pretty nice). The dynamics of the mixes hold up really well and hit all the right targets, while the surrounds, be it the ship's computer, background music or those action packed fights help bring you into the Trek experience as usual. Dialogue is clear and crisp, and in all, no sound gets lost in the mixes. Very, very nice... like usual. English Dolby Surround tracks, English closed captions and English subtitles are also here if you need them.
Another season, another round of supplements! Mission Overview: Year Six is your usual lookback on the season, lasting a pretty good eighteen minutes. Clips from the key season's episodes are included, as much of the cast and crew reflect on the season in general, many thinking it's where the ultimate stride was hit and it was the best of all the seasons (I'm sure a lot of you disagree). Brent Spiner, writer Ronald D. Moore, executive producer Michael Piller, producer David Livingston, Whoopi Goldberg, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, LeVar Burton, executive producer Rick Berman, scenic artist supervisor Mike Okuda, Patrick Stewart and even Scotty himself James Doohan in old archival footage. The main episodes that are focused on are "Chain Of Command," "Time's Arrow Part II," "Relics" and that episode with Stephen Hawkings... "Descent Part I." Nice stuff overall.
Bold New Directions lasts eighteen minutes as well, focusing on Patrick Stewart directing again and LeVar Burton stepping behind the camera for the episodes "A Fistful Of Datas" and "Second Chances." The two talk about their respective episodes that they directed, the challenges they faced and the like, plus there are clips from the episodes as well as some nifty behind-the-scenes footage and stills of the directors at work. It's definitely worth a watch, and it's nice to see that the men were quite passionate about their directing outings. Interviews with other cast and crew members such as Marina Sirtis, Spiner, Livingston, Jonathan Frakes and a few others.
Production lasts about fifteen and a half minutes. There's some interesting makeup stuff with makeup artist Michael Westmore and actor James Cromwell (woo!) which fans are sure to enjoy (gotta love the eyewear portions, while writer Roland D. Moore talks about the writing of the season six episodes. There are also clips from some of the episodes and interviews with Mike Okuda, Frakes, visual effects supervisor Dany Curry (who discusses creating the Bridge of the Enterprise for "Relics"). Nice.
Profile Dan Curry is a twenty minute piece focusing on visual effects supervisor Dan Curry. He introduces himself slightly and then we basically get a tour of his house... which is probably any Trek lover's dream. Of course, he shows off his GIANT (and that's probably an understatement) collection of art (which isn't limited to Trek), props and whatever you can think of. The man is quite passionate about the franchise, as he shows what was used for what (that also includes his work on some of the Trek films and other series). It's very nice overall, and the clips to go with what he's talking about is also nice (he has decent production stories), but unless you're a really die-hard fan, you might not find all of this interesting.
The most interesting supplement on this set in my opinion is Special Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data. Come on and show your love for everyone's favorite Trek robot! So yes, you get a focus on the character with various behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the show and interviews. Spiner talks aboiut his famous role, as do Moore, Livingston, Berman, Burton, research consultant Guy Vardaman, Sirtis and Frakes. Everyone praises Spiner's, what they like about Data, offer production stories and Spiner talks about getting into the role. It's actually pretty interesting, lasting a solid nineteen minutes.
On the smaller scale, we also get two trailers (Paramount might as well keep hyping the franchise). There is a Star Trek: Nemesis Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and English Dolby Surround sound, as well as a somewhat fluffy Star Trek Deep Space Nine Collector's Edition Trailer. The collecting begins again in 2003! Also, we have a somewhat expanded Collectible Booklet inside the package, with some decent paragraphs on season six itself and an episode listing, somewhat in the vein of last season's booklet with the focus on the passing of Gene Roddenberry.
You've come this far Trekkies, you can't turn back now! Featuring the usual strong supplements, fine 5.1 remixes and nice video transfers, this sixth season is a must to any fan of the series collection. Now just one more season to go and all will be complete in the universe...