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Jean-Luc Picard Collection
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton
Retail Price: $19.99
Features: From Here To Infinity: The Ultimate Voyage Documentary
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), 2-Disc Set
Released: August 3rd, 2004
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, 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.
Nonetheless, just as the title of this set says, this new DVD release highlights the best of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (as played brilliantly by actor Patrick Stewart). Picard is certainly a fan favorite captain (I'm sure many of you will argue that he is the absolute best), so why not have a DVD set in honor of him that shows him off at his finest? Either that, or have another way for Paramount to cash in on the show given that the last ST:TNG set was released almost two years ago. Given how expensive "The Next Generation" sets do run (or all the "Trek" sets in general), having a "best-of" release isn't a bad idea at all. Not everyone is a fan of these type of releases, but they do give more casual viewers a chance to sample a show at a more affordable price (as opposed to plunking down a ton of money for the season sets). The price for this collection is more than fair, and I bet if it sells well, more "best of" releases for "The Next Generation" or other "Trek" shows won't be far behind.
The episodes included on this release are "The Big Goodbye," "Sarek," "Family," "The Drumhead," "Darmok," "The Inner Light" and "Tapestry" (I believe these episodes are beloved by fans for the most part, but I think they also get to show off Picard in action as well as Stewart's great portrayal of the character in varying situations). So whether you are a casual watcher of the show or a die-hard fan, I think it's pretty safe to say that this set has something for everybody. Enjoy!
Since these episodes are from different seasons, the transfer quality does vary from episode to episode usually. Overall though, these transfers do look pretty fantastic (just as they did on the season sets). Detail is very good, fleshtones are incredibly well-drawn out and the black levels are dead-on. The prints of the transfers look good too and the color saturation is pretty fitting, bold and with no faults. These is some noise and edge halos on the episodes, but not too much. Still, the transfers look pretty sharp and have a great depth to them, which makes viewing these episodes most pleasing.
All the episodes are remixed in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and they're definitely great (especially for a television show). Dialogue is very clear and easy to hear, the music fills up the speakers well (got to love that opening theme) and there is a lot of strong surround use. The computer noises of the enterprise deck always play in the background nicely, and surrounds get pushed up a notch when it comes to the protagonists and antagonists battling with their weaponry. Use of the subwoofer is pretty good, while fidelity and dynamic range are excellent. If you are familiar with the sets then you know what to expect here, otherwise, you'll be more than happy with these tracks. English Dolby Surround tracks are also included for each episode, as well as English subtitles and English closed captions.
The only bonus feature here (and exclusive to this set) is the documentary From Here To Infinity: The Ultimate Voyage. Running a little over forty-two minutes, this feature doesn't have much to do with "Star Trek" other than involving space and Patrick Stewart narrating and hosting it. Whether you will enjoy this documentary or not more or less relies on how much you are interested in space exploration and the actual outer space (sorry, nothing really science-fictiony here). Topped with a classical score and a bit of computer animation, the focus turns on some planets and constellations. There is a bit to learn here overall, and while I found the documentary to be decent, it is a bit dense. (On a different note, this extra feature is given the usual Paramount touch of being chapter encoded and having optional subtitles.)
And for what it's worth, the packaging of the set features information about the dear captain via a constructed timeline and a profile. Not too shabby.
This is a perfect best-of release for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fans who don't want to throw down a lot of cash on the season sets. The transfers of the episodes look nice, the 5.1 mixes are more than fine and while the single supplement doesn't really have anything to do with the series, it's quite satisfying. I've seen this set go for 15 dollars at retail, so if you're a fan and don't own all or any of the boxed set of the show, this is well-recommended.