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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six (Blu-ray Review)

Star-Trek-TNG-Season-6Wow, we’re almost nearing the end of getting all the Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons out on Blu-ray.  Quite an incredible journey its been through the three seasons of the original crew and now six with TNG.  Nine seasons of television with a tenth on the horizon.  This sixth season faced a brief delay as it was originally scheduled to come out earlier in the month, but no bother, a couple weeks isn’t much to wait.  As per usual, this season is accompanied by a separate, more “sampler”-esque or collector’s item Blu-ray that only contains the in-season two parter, Chain Of Command parts I and II.  This penultimate season might be known a bit more for the guest appearance of original series cast member James Doohan reprising his role of Montgomery Scott for an episode.

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Season 

Season 6 picks following the Season 5 cliffhanger, rescuing Data from the 19th century.  The season finds the crew straying from Roddenberry conventions of his Utopias future vision.  We also see Picard assigned away from the Enterprise on a dangerous espionage mission early on.  Picard goes through a great personal arc and he “engages” in a troubling relationship with Nella Daren in the season.  The season is equally tough on Riker, who struggles with a battle against his own sanity.  Its an eventful season and one with great personal arcs and stakes for the characters of the Enterprise.

Behind the scenes this was kind of a transitional season.  Show runners and writing time was being split between Next Generation and the brand new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Deep Space Nine would begin airing at the same time as TNG in January of 1993, halfway through TNG’s season.  This was sort of a crazy time as there were not one but two Treks running simultaneously during the same television season.

This sixth season was sort of the peak of TNG’s run.  Starting with season 3, the show really found itself and hit the ground running.  It took the Trek lore and sort of found its home within and started carving its own identity and really becoming a courageously and brilliantly written shows.  One of the best ever at that.  Season six isn’t without its share of bad episodes.  Trek always has them, and any show running 26 episodes long is bound to run into some really dry patches here and there.  But it does succeed and carry a wallop of great material which outweighs the poor significantly.  It marks the end of the stride, but a remarkable 4 season run is usually what all the best shows have.  And it only dipped following this one time, and its not that big of a dip.

Accolades came for Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Six in the form of some Emmys.  Three episodes were nominated and that sparked two wins.  Both “Time’s Arrow, Part II” (2 wins out of 3 nominations) and “A Fistful Of Datas” (1 win) won Emmys in technical categories and costuming/hair styling categories.  The episode “The Inner Light” was nominated but went home empty handed.

Season Six continues the hot streak The Next Generation had been on for three years.  Its an exciting season, but if you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you that.  There are plenty of fans who have this as their personal favorite season, and its really not hard to see why or understand their argument.

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Episodes Included

Time’s Arrow, Part II

Realm Of Fear

Man Of The People

Relics

Schisms

True Q

Rascals

A Fistful Of Datas

The Quality Of Life

Chain Of Command, Part I

Chain Of Command, Part II

Ship In A Bottle

Aquiel

Face of The Enemy

Tapestry

Birthright, Part I

Birthright, Part II

Starship Mine

Lessons

The Chase

Frame Of Mind

Suspicions

Rightful Heir

Second Chances

Timescape

Decent, Part I

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:33.1

Clarity/Detail: All these Star Trek television sets get some of the best care when being transferred to Blu-ray and it absolutely shows.  Season six is no different.  You can make out everything on every screen and monitor.  Clothing texture is outstanding to the point you know what it feels like.  Also surface texture of objects and sets looks amazingly detailed.

Depth: There’s a grand sense of space, especially in a busy working area like the bridge.  Many exterior scenes also bode well from some dimensional differentiation between character in the foreground and background.  Its as impressive as you can get from a 1990s television show.

Black Levels: Rich black levels that enhance the lifelike appearance of the image.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very striking and bold.  The uniform colors stand out the best.  There is a vast palette that manages to find a good separation and transition of one color to another.

Flesh Tones: Consistent and lifelike.  Facial details run very high.  Every wrinkle or piece of stubble is accounted for.

Noise/Artifacts: There is some minor noise and slightly occasional blocking present.  Also there is a beautiful layer of grain present that enhances this from looking like television to looking more cinematic.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, German Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: This 7.1 track is quite awesome.  It doesn’t just sit idly by.  It relishes in proudly displaying the theme song and phaser fire.  There is a life-like feel to it and it features a great balance between effects, dialogue and score. Volume is varied and balance creating a wonderful sense of distance and space.  Everything is neatly and cleanly defined.  This 7.1 track is an adventure within itself.

Low Frequency Extension: As the ships moves, you get to feel its power.  Also the sub woofer adds an additional kick to gunshots, crashes and explosions.

Surround Sound Presentation: Talk about feeling like you’re a part of the bridge.  This is ambiance and sound effects done right and not lazily.  Beeps, clicks and bloops come from all over.  Your living room becomes its own bridge in this track.  You probably already know this as these tracks have been phenomenal all the way through.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clean and very center focused.

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Extras 

Season Six is a 6 disc set and contains a vast array of extras.  It also has a sweet slip cover that is a little more pronounced that just that cover art insert (which does contain imaging on the reverse side).  As per usual, it features a  lot of ported over material from the DVD sets which should make fans happy.

Disc1 

Audio Commentary For “Relics” – Featuring writer Ronald D. Moore and Trek experts Mike and Denise Okuda.

Deleted Scenes

  • Time’s Arrow, Part II (HD, 2:37)
  • Relics (HD, 4:09)

Archival Mission Log: Mission Overview Year Six (SD, 17:55) – A look back at the season, focusing on some key episodes and events.  It touches upon the start of Deep Space Nine, and hits points about story structure and guest spots like Stephen Hawking.

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

Disc 2

Deleted Scene

  • “Q Who?” (HD, 2:08)

Bold New Directions (SD, 17:57) – A look at some of the cast members’ directorial efforts on episodes.

Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production (SD, 15:33) – A look at set design/building and make-up for some specific episodes of the season.

Departmental Briefing Year Six: Dan Curry (SD, 19:56) – A look back at the visual effects producer and his work on the series as well as his collection of memorabilia in his home.

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

Disc 3

Deleted Scenes

  • Ship In A Bottle (HD, 2:35)
  • Face Of The Enemy (HD, 1:10)

Special Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data (SD, 19:00) – A complete look at Brent Spiner’s work on the show and everything Data.

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

Disc 4

Audio Commentary For “Tapestry” – Featuring writer Ronald D. Moore and Trek experts Mike and Denise Okuda.

Deleted Scenes

  • “Tapestry” (HD, 6:37)
  • “Birthright, Part II” (HD, 13:41)

Archival Mission Log: Select Historical Data (SD, 18:14) – A look back at some performance, props, composing work, visual effects, sound, editing and a lot of other technical things in the production of the episodes.

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

Disc 5

Audio Commentary For “Frame Of Mind” – Featuring director James L. Conway and director of photography Jonathan West.

Deleted Scenes

  • “The Chase” (HD, 1:46)
  • “Rightful Heir” (HD, 12:11)

Archival Mission Logs: Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets And Props (SD, 13:10) – A guide through the set design and decoration of the show.  Set decorator James Mees also shows off a lot of series artifacts as well.

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

Disc 6

Beyond the Five Year Mission: The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation 

  • Part One: The Lithosphere (HD, 24:52) – A look back at the triumphant sixth season, as well as the start of Deep Space Nine.  They also discuss the underwhelming response of “Aquiel” and what they’d hoped it to be.
  • Part Two: The Biosphere (HD, 29:32) – This one kind of cover some of things touched upon in Mission Log Overview Year Six, but also discusses the differences in the tone and thematics between TNG and the Original Series.
  • Part Three: The Noosphere (HD, 29:59) – This kind of fills out the rest of things not covered in these newer pieces.  There are a lot of anecdotes on episodes and ideas here.  Many stories shared and discussions on big themes.

Gag Reel (HD, 5:21)

Episodic Promos (SD, :30 each) – The original tv ads for each episode.

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Summary 

We’re at Season Six of The Next Generation here.  At this point, you have seasons 1-5 or want to have them.  So, this is really a no brainer that you’re going to get it with or without my recommendation.  You knew such before this season was even announcement.  It gets my highest recommendation as it is once again a triumph in video and audio and will bury you in extras.  These Star Trek television releases are top of the line and a golden standard by which to judge vintage television on Blu-ray.  Its sad The Next Generation sets come to an end with the next one, and there are apparently no plans to begin Deep Space Nine next.  We’ll see though.  But for now, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six on Blu-ray is one (if not the) best television releases of the year.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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