STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION SEASON 3 & THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Patrick Stewart as JEAN-LUC PICARD
Jonathan Frakes as WILLIAM RIKER
LeVar Burton as GEORDI LA FORGE
Michael Dorn as WORF
Gates McFadden as BEVERLY CRUSHER
Marina Sirtis as DEANNA TROI
Brent Spiner as DATA
Wil Wheaton as WESLEY CRUSHER
Created by: Gene Roddenberry
BY KEVIN CARR
As Paramount did when the last “Star Trek” film came out in 2009, they have released a bevy of “Star Trek” discs onto the market. This time, all the films have single-discs releases on Blu-ray, but the real gem of the set is the newly remastered Season Three of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
As the people involved in the production of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will tell you, it was season three where the show really found its footing. Most people will trace this back to the episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” which saw a resurrected Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) when the timeline changes. This was a real tipping point of the series.
True Trekkers love all the seasons of all “Star Trek” series, but I’ve been skeptical about plenty in its run. I never thought the first season of “The Next Generation” was all that great, and while things solidify better in season two, it has its fair share of stinker episodes.
The first half of the episodes of season three aren’t bad, but they do tend toward the lesson-learning and walk-and-talk moments. Around the time that “Yesterday’s Enterprise” aired, the writers started taking some real risks with the show. They were no longer trying to teach lessons, per se. They weren’t just sending away teams down to planets to deal with an aspect of alien culture that emulates our own. After “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “The Next Generation” started to play with real speculative fiction ideas… ideas that go beyond simple thinly-veiled fables.
This season’s episodes also let the characters have some fun. Captain Picard gets to go on a vacation that turns into an adventure. Riker and Troi continue to flirt with each other. Q shows up to mix things up a here and there. And even Troi’s mother gets a chance to manipulate Picard into defending her honor.
Of course, one of the best elements of “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three” on Blu-ray is that this is the season in which two of the greatest Picard memes come from: the WTF meme and the Facepalm meme. Me and my sons got a real kick out of finding these moments in the middle of the show.
Still, with “The Next Generation” being so widely available, currently on both the Netflix streaming service and Amazon Prime, there’s an even better reason to spend the money on these discs. Quite simply put, this is the best looking any of these episodes will ever get. Each one is remastered brilliantly. The colors really pop, and there’s true contrast in the image. So many TV reruns and DVD episodes are washed out with maroon uniforms and dingy gray ship interiors.
Along with the remastered images, as was done with previous seasons and all of the original series, the special effects have been recreated in high definition. They look quite good, but not so good that they clash with the time of the production. It still feels wholly “The Next Generation,” just with better effects and a better look.
One of the biggest disappointments one might come by while watching this season on Blu-ray is that it famously ends with a cliffhanger episode. While the Blu-ray set will leave you hanging, Paramount has also released a stand-alone Blu-ray of “The Best of Both Worlds” two-part episode. The season three finale is edited seamlessly with the season four premiere to make a 90-minute movie.
It’s nice to watch that story in that manner, allowing the viewer to find a sense of closure on one of the greatest cliffhangers in television history.
The season three Blu-ray set comes with multiple features imported from previous releases, including archival mission logs, episodic promos and audio commentaries on select episodes. Other material includes the feature-length “Star Trek: The Next Generation, Inside the Writer’s Room” showing a reunion of the writing staff, “Resistance is Futile – Assimilating Star Trek: The Next Generation” which documents the making of key episodes and “A Tribute to Michael Piller,” taking a look at one of the driving forces behind the success of the series.
Additional features include an In Memoriam spot for David Rappaport as well as a short gag reel.
The stand-alone Blu-ray of “The Best of Both Worlds” features episodic promos, a gag reel, a new featurette called “Regeneration: Engaging the Borg” as well as an audio commentary with director Cliff Bole, actress Elizabeth Dennehy and consultants Mike & Denise Okuda.