Discover new visual depths and enhanced special effects in unforgettable episodes that take the crew to strange new worlds. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) endures a Cardassian torturer, Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) uncovers a life-changing secret aboard the Starfleet station Deep Space Nine, and Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) rescues Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (guest star James Doohan) from a 75-year transporter limbo. Experience all this and more, plus a trove of special features that unlock previously unrevealed secrets of the Star Trek universe.
'Star Trek: The Next Generation' isn't all that different from 'The Twilight Zone.' The way each episode is structured has always produced the same sense of dread and unknown as Rod Serling's seminal television series. It's immensely enjoyable, and frighteningly easy to binge-watch, because it's such a cerebral show. It's more concerned with ideas, notions, hypotheses, and mysteries, than it is with action or holy-crap plot twists. Many of the episodes in season six leave you wanting just a little more, because it seems that they barely start to scratch the surface of some great mystery before the credits role.
Like 'The Twilight Zone,' 'The Next Generation' spends time building suspense. It provides enough time for its characters to contemplate the consequences of their actions. Sure, it helps to have an android on board that can spout out probabilities lightning fast, but the way the show is constructed is where most of the satisfaction lies. The serie's willingness to explore themes and questions that largely go unanswered wouldn't fly in today's watch-first-blog-later television environment. There are numerous episodes where the crew of the Enterprise learn just enough about something or someone to save the ship, but the bigger mystery is left un- or under-solved. At times it's maddening (why did lost crew members appear as floating maggots within the transporter beams in "Realm of Fear"?) however, most of the time it provides challenging thought exercises.
Season six has some great episodes, some corny ones. Usually the cornier ones are the all-holodeck episodes. For me those episodes have never been ones that I've been able to really get into. Though, if you're into them then "Ship in a Bottle," where Data (Brent Spiner) takes on the role of famous fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes, is certainly for you.
I'm partial to "Relics," where the Enterprise crew members Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Geordi (LeVar Burton), and Worf (Michael Dorn) beam aboard a seemingly abandoned Federation shuttle, only to find Captain Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) stuck inside the transporter. The episode provides a connecting point to the old Enterprise and the new. Even going so far as showing the bridge of Captain Kirk's Enterprise when Scotty requests to see it in the holodeck. Scotty's inability to deal with being gone for 75 years shows as he tries to help Geordi with outdated knowledge. Also, Scotty's reaction to Synthehol (synthetic alcohol) is absolutely priceless.
Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) continues on as the rock of the show, though the first few episodes he almost feels like a side character only showing up to make the big decisions. There are some great Picard-centric episodes later on in the season though, including "Chase," "Lessons," and "Tapestry," where Picard is killed in an accident and is then confronted by that ever-mischievous Q (John de Lancie). It's really one of the best episodes 'The Next Generation' has to offer. The banter between Picard and Q has always been a highlight of the series as a whole.
Season six contains a wealth of great episodes. Obviously, if you've come this far you're planning on purchasing the entire collection. Not too many shows today, in our new Golden Age of Television, can boast to being at the top of their game six seasons in. Even if they are, they're usually shows with limited episode-per-season runs. 'The Next Generation,' shows that even six years in it's still finding new stories to tell, new characteristics to add to existing beloved characters, and new mysteries to solve.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
It would seem that CBS has really streamlined this process now, making owning 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' in high-def an easy sell. There were some bumps along the way with the first few releases, but this time around those wrinkles seem to have been ironed out.
The six discs for season six are packaged in a keepcase that stays consistent in size to the previous releases. Individual hubs are included for each disc. The discs are all 50GBs. The 26 episodes are spread out evenly. Discs 1, 3, 4, and 5 contain five episodes apiece. Disc 2, contains four. Disc 6 holds the last two. An episode list is printed on the inside cover. Inserts for list episodes may have been a better option, but oh well. The episode list states the titles and Stardates of each episode. It also lists all the special features and what discs they're contained on. A snazzy slipcover is included which matches the look and feel of previous season releases.
Framed in its correct 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the 1080p presentation of season six of 'The Next Generation' is often quite stunning to look at. As we've come to expect from these releases, the newly enhanced computer graphics give the show a bit of a facelift, but rarely do they appear out of place. Instead the effects blend quite nicely into the look of the show as a whole. Many of the exterior shots of the Enterprise flying by planets, stars, and other ships, are downright amazing to watch.
Detail in the mid-range is this season's greatest strength. It's almost funny how much detail is revealed in some cases. In "Man of the People," Deanna wears a couple dresses that, in HD reveal quite a lot. Much more than would've gotten past the censors in the early 90s, except the small revealing details weren't noticeable in standard definition. I did notice a couple close-ups that are so clear that it's possible to peer through Geordi's visor and see that magically his eyes aren't milky white when his visor is on. The clarity of the show's visuals carries over into the newly rendered effects that are free from any sort of artifacting.
From time to time conversational shots take on a gauzy, soft appearance, which quickly switches back to crystalline clearness as soon as an edit moves the focus elsewhere in the scene. Those instances, where the show switches from soft to near perfection are quite obvious, which is why the presentation doesn't reach the tip-top of the score chart. That said, it's extremely solid on every front.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 for season six is free from any sort of audio snafus that infamously plagued the first season's Blu-ray release. I guess there's always that apprehension that something terribly wrong will happen because it happened before. When the audio is right with these 'Next Generation' releases, it's some of the best out there.
The show's sound effects, especially on the bridge and in the sick bay, have been spread out to create a lifelike atmosphere. The beeping, whirring, and clicking of a starship sounds like its everywhere. The extra channels on the side offer some engaging ambient sound, making you feel like you're standing front and center as Picard calmly dispenses orders. There are plenty of attacks and suspenseful moments, which give the low end frequencies room to play. Photon torpedoes explode, and deep, humming rumbles emanate from the sub.
Up front, the dialogue sounds great. It's clear, directionally sound, with pitch-perfect frequencies. I didn't notice any moments where the sound was audibly muffled or distorted in any way. As with most of the previous releases, season six sounds superb, and its 7.1 lossless mix is something special.
Bold New Directions (SD, 18 min.) – Cast and crew talk about their favorite episodes of the season. "Second Chances," and "A Fistful of Datas" are discussed here.
Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production (SD, 16 min.) – Here we cover much of the production value that went into the season. The sets and effects that were constructed for certain episodes, the most interesting being the construction of the original Enterprise bridge when Scotty visits it in the holodeck in "Relics."
Departmental Briefing Year Six: Dan Curry (SD, 20 min.) – A fascinating look at visual effects producer Dan Curry. We get to tour his home, gaze longingly at his memorabilia collection, and figure out what it's like to work on the show.
Special Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data (SD, 19 min.) – Brent Spiner's work as everyone's favorite android is covered in this in-depth look at the character and the acting chops it took to play him.
Archival Mission Log: Selection Historical Data (SD, 18 min.) – A whole wealth of information is covered here. It seems pretty scattershot, everything from the composing on "A Fistful of Datas" to the show's editing, to LeVar Burton's work with the iconic visor are covered in some form or another here.
Archival Mission Logs: Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props (SD, 13 min.) – We get up close and personal with set decorator James Mees as he discusses what it's like dressing sets both inside the Enterpirse and on extraterrestrial planets.
Probably one of 'The Next Generation's best seasons. It really is amazing when you think about it. Many shows have difficulty maintaining brilliance over a couple seasons. In season six, the writers were hitting their stride. The show was really able to hit on important themes, complicated questions, and adventurous star hopping, without compromising the integrity of the show. The audio and video are exceptionally rendered. The special features are overflowing with extraordinary stuff. Season six is very highly recommended.