New 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Blu-rays are a revelation
It's strange to see the way that "Star Trek:
The Next Generation" evolved over the course of its seven-year run as
opposed to the original series during its three years on the air. Back in the
'60s, the original "Star Trek" offered its best episodes in its first season,
with the writers, producers, directors and casts all working off the exciting
energy of being involved in something fresh and creative. Sure, that first
season had its share of clunkers -- "The Alternative Factor," anyone? -- but
those first 26 shows also included classics like "Charlie X," "The Menagerie,"
"Arena," "The Corbomite Maneuver," "The Galileo Seven," "The Devil in the Dark"
and of course "City on the Edge of Forever." Seasons two and three never came
But in the case of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," it took a good two or
three years for the show to hit its stride, reaching a stunning peak with "The
Best of Both Worlds," season three's classic cliffhanger finale. While "ST: TNG"
eventually began a gradual decline in its last two years, seasons three, four
and five were pretty powerful runs for the program (an arc oddly followed by
"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" as well) that established the show's legacy for
decades to come.
With all this in mind, the premiere season of "Star Trek: The Next
Generation" arrived on Blu-ray this week as the first part of a massive
restoration project for the series, and the results from an audio/visual point
of view are nothing less than breath-taking. We remember the original broadcasts
of "ST: TNG" in syndication, long before hi-def TV came around, as dull-looking;
the show never matched the crazy pop-art colors of its predecessor. Home video
releases were taken from the tapes used for broadcast -- transfers which
featured that same loss of quality.
For the Blu-ray editions -- of which two will be released per year -- CBS
Home Video has gone back to the original film negatives of each episode and
painstakingly restored and re-transferred each, also enhancing and in some cases
changing special effects. The results bring "ST: TNG" to life like never before,
with so much detail and color in each episode that it is a joy to watch the
series all over again. The DTS audio mix is terrific as well, if more limited by
the original materials, but there are still lots of new touches to immerse you
in the world of the show.
A 24-minute documentary on the first of the set's six discs details the work
that was done and provides side-by-side comparisons to "ST: TNG" before and
after, while a far more extensive documentary on the last disc chronicles the
birth of the show itself, from the original conception to the casting to
production, with both archival footage and brand new interviews with many of the
principal production people and all the stars.
MSN Movies is on the scene at the Warner bros studio with the cast of the film as they discuss the importance of costume design, the power behind the Superman suit, and staying true to the original roots.