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Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Blu-ray Review

Star Trek- The Next Generation Season 4 Blu-ray

Season 4 elevates “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to new heights.

Coming off of the fantastic season 3, the 26 episode season 4 raised the bar even further by focus more on the entire cast of characters. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight here as we learn more about the characters and their families. In fact, family is a major theme of this season as viewers see stories about Picard’s family (his brother) and former flame (Vash), Lt. Worf’s parents, son (Alexander), ex-lover (K’Ehelyr) and brother (Kurn), Beverly’s husband (Wesley’s father) and a new love interest (Odan), Data’s creator (Noonien Soong), brother (Lore) and a romantic interest (Officer Jenna D’Sora), Miles O’Brien and his now wife Keiko O’Brien, Deanna Troi and her mother Lwaxana, and even Tasha Yar’s sister (Ishara) and daughter Sela (although that reveal is in season 5 technically). Of course, the entire season isn’t just about family as we see plots about a warp-field experiment gone awry, wormhole traveling gone awry, a future Riker, Wesley departing the Enterprise to attend Starfleet Academy, a first contact mission, bad dreams, an alien baby, Geordi falling for a Doctor, Barclay becoming uber intelligent, Q stirring up trouble (again), Romulans, the introduction of both Gowron and the Cardassians, and of course, the conclusion to “The Best of Both Worlds.”

Season 3 may have been the time period where “Star Trek: The Next Generation” found its footing, but season 4 is the season where character came first. Sure, there is still plenty of action involving alien threats and Starfleet, but this is very much a character centric season. In the past 3 seasons, characters like Worf, Geordi, and Troi were treated more as secondary characters as Picard, Riker, and Data dominated the screentime. Thankfully, season 4 changes all of that as Worf, Geordi, Troi and even other fan favorite characters like Barclay and Miles O’Brien get key character arcs. It was refreshing to see stories that explored Worf’s family as well as Data’s origins. It helped audiences connect with the characters even more and it also strengthened the series overall. It showed Trek fans that TNG was now its own show and that it was doing things that TOS never did.

Another huge component of season 4 was the development and introduction of alien species that would later become key elements to the Trek universe such as the Klingons, Cardassians (in the episode “The Wounded”) and Romulans. In particular, season 4 really established the Klingons as we have come to know them thanks to episodes like “Reunion” and “Redemption Part 1” where we learn about Klingon politics and traditions. The Romulans also get center stage in the episodes “Data’s Day,” “The Mind’s Eye,” and, as we later learn, “Redemption”.

Character and alien elements aside, there’s just a starshipload of great writing in this season as well. “Reunion” and “Redemption Part 1” are 2 of the best Klingon centric episodes, “Qpid” is a fun “Robin Hood” and Q themed romp, Riker shines in the smart “First Contact,” “Family” and “Brothers” offers up tons of fascinating character development, and there’s even a creepy (and highly underrated) episode with “Identity Crisis.”

Video/Audio:

New and improved f/x, beautiful new transfers, a striking amount of clarity- I don’t know how anyone can be disappointed by the restoration job.  Note: The episodes are presented in 4:3 1080p.

Trek fans are absolutely spoiled by the 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track (with multiple language options). The show has simply never sounded so good. All you have to do is listen to the opening credit theme song to realize that.

Extras:
* Episodic promos for all 26 episodes.
* “Archival Mission Logs: Mission Overview Year 4”- As the title suggests, this featurette covers the season’s stand-out episodes such as “The Best of Both Worlds” part 2 and “Qpid.”
* Commentary on “Brothers” by director Rob Bowman and Mike and Denise Okuda. Some interesting insight into Bowman’s views and experiences here.
* “Archival Mission Log: Selected Crew Analysis Year 4”- A featurette that covers character dynamics and characters such as Wesley Crusher, Vash, Picard, and Troi.
* Commentary on “Reunion” by Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga and Mike and Denise Okuda. Braga talks about his first foray in writing a Trek episode and both he and Moore discuss the various stages of the script. Worth a listen.
* “Archival Mission Log: New Life And New Civilizations”- A featurette about creating new worlds via locations, paintings, cinematography and F/X.
* “Archival Mission Logs: Chronicles from the Final Frontier”- A featurette about the writers (such as Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga) talking about the focus on characters in season 4.
* “Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year 4: Production”- A look at Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart’s directorial jobs and makeup work.
* “Archival Mission Log: Select Historical Data”- A piece that covers alien and starship designs/models/f/x.
* “Archival Mission Log: Inside The Star Trek Archives”- A sort of misc. extra that covers everything from Emmy awards to Bebe Neuwirth’s guest appearance.
* Another amusing gag reel.
* Deleted scenes from “The Best Of Both Worlds Part 2,” “Family,” “Brothers,” “Final Mission,” “The Wounded,” “Galaxy’s Child,” “Qpid,” and “The Host.”
* “In Conversation: The Star Trek Art Department”- In this loving tribute to the art/production department crew members, Mike and Denise Okuda, Doug Drexler, Herman Zimmerman, Dan Curry, and Rick Sternbach chat about their friendships, CGI, models used in the series, technology, etc.
* “Relativity: The Family Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generations: Parts 1 and 2”- This comprehensive 2 part extra covers the show’s growing success, Gene Roddenberry, the characters, Wesley Crusher, the writing staff, character dynamics, and much more.
* Trailers for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” seasons 3 and 5, “The Best of Both Worlds,” and “Enterprise” season 2.”

Summary: If you love Trek, you cannot pass up this season 4 Blu-ray set. Buy it now.

August 11, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , ,

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