When writing reviews for the Comic Book Collectors Club, I know that I am writing to informed and interested (and interesting) people. I realize that this should not be a review of the show; people interested in buying the discs already know that they like it.
So I am more of a reporter, discussing what is on the disc and, if you have the DVD, is there anything special here to make you invest another $60. Of course, if you don’t have the DVD is this something you’d want to buy? The Blu Ray contains all the special features of the DVD, including coming attractions.
First, for me, the Next Generation, along with the Original Series (already out on Blu Ray) are the two highlights of the Star Trek Universe. Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise and more for the hard core fan of sci-fi. The Next Generation was enjoyed by girlfriends who were not usually interested in sci-fi.
Both with Next Gen and the Original series on Blu-Ray, let’s explain what Blu Ray does to these episodes. It not only upgrades the sound, the picture and the special effects, it redoes the special effects to look better.
The Complicated Part
If you had looked closely at your old TV picture, which we now call “SD” or Standard Definition, you would have seen 240 lines that delivered the image. Now, on Blu-Ray we get an “HD” or High Definition picture of 1080 lines.
All movie film even something old such as Casablanca was shot in HD. All Video Tape recording for TV were made in SD before the year 2000. Most of the Next Gen, the actor’s and the special effects models, all are on film. Sadly, most of the special effects were recorded on tape, which was SD. The two elements, film and tape were combined onto SD video tape for the finished product.
The Complicated Part Is Over
In a 25 minute documentary, we are shown how CBS digital went back to the original film and remastered that onto HD Tape. Since the original effects were SD they had to be redone to look good in HD. Today, we have computers that do that, back then, it was a lot more expensive and time consuming. So not only are the “normal” shoots more colorful and more detailed, so are the special effects. It just looks damn good! Also the two channel sound has been remastered for 7.1 Dolby Digital. Unlike the Blu Ray sets for the Original Series, the original episodes as they were originally shown are not included. This is one of the two new documentaries in the set.
So how are the special effects? Well, I have not yet seen every single episode on the 6 discs, but they are very well done, more colorful and sharper. In “Encounter at Farpoint”, the pilot episode, the creatures at the end are sharper, but NOT THAT MUCH sharper, top keep it in line with the series original intent. They weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, just make it rounder.
The first season of STTNG showed that the program was a work in progress. In the first few episodes, the characters are a bit stiff with little chemistry. Actually, there were too many characters, mostly on the bridge without their roles defined. The first few episodes here were not my favorites. “The Naked Now” was an unimaginative update of a Star Trek episode. However, when they got to the 15th episode entitled “11001001” the characters, the writing and the chemistry began to take shape.
The writers realized their problems and they discuss their problems on a 90 new documentary on the sixth disc. So when the second season started there were lots of changes. Denise Crosby leaves the show and Gates McFadden (Dr. Chrusher) was replaced with Diana Muldaur. While the change of doctors was not helpful, the writers realized that the actors needed a clearer purpose for their characters to develop, so everyone was assigned new posts on the Enterprise. Of course, Whoopi Goldberg begins her role as Guinan in the second season and the series goes into warp speed.
There was an important part of the pilot episode that began the close relationship of the two male leads, Capt. Picard and his second in command, William Ryker. In a scene that starts out dead serious and ends on a light note, Ryker explains his role of protecting the captain and preventing him from beaming into dangerous situations. This meant that the creators knew exactly where the flaws in the original Star Trek were and they could fix them. Well, why didn’t they fix them on the original show? Simply because they were working for NBC and they dictated everything. They wanted a “Wagon Train” to the stars, an action adventure series with a lot of chasing and fighting. But STTNG was not made for a network, it was syndicated, meaning, they did what they wanted and then attracted buyers. This was a great risk for Paramount, but it paid off. This is a major part of the presentation in the new documentary. Also shown are the actors talking about reading and auditioning for the part. Patrick Stewart discusses not only his hesitation but the other actor competing for the part. He says he doesn’t even want to know who he was. But you’ll find out because Stephen Mach is interviewed here.
One other interesting part: For the Season Two Blu-Ray set, the original cast gets together, in current times, to discuss the series. They give us about two or three very enjoyable minutes of this meeting.
So should you go out and get the Blu-Ray. If you are a fan and often watch the discs on your 50 inch or bigger screen? Yes. But if you still have a small set, you’d might want to think about it, but I have been enjoying this.
And the Adventure Continues. . .