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Case Number 27513

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

Paramount // 1993 // 1175 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // June 25th, 2014

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All Rise...

Data has a positronic brain, and Judge Patrick Bromley has a positronic [CENSORED].

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Best Of Star Trek: The Next Generation (published May 12th, 2009), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season One (Blu-ray) (published July 24th, 2012), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Two (Blu-ray) (published December 17th, 2012), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three (Blu-ray) (published May 15th, 2013), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Four (Blu-ray) (published July 30th, 2013), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Five (Blu-ray) (published November 19th, 2013), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain of Command (Blu-ray) (published July 15th, 2014), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Redemption (Blu-ray) (published July 30th, 2013), Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Next Level (Blu-ray) (published January 29th, 2012), Star Trek: The Next Generation: Unification (Blu-ray) (published November 19th, 2013), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season One (published April 24th, 2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Two (published May 23rd, 2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Three (published July 18th, 2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Four (published September 16th, 2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Five (published February 4th, 2003), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Six (published December 16th, 2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Seven (published February 10th, 2003), and Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Jean-Luc Picard Collection (published August 23rd, 2004) are also available.

The Charge

"I am not dead. Because I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you. The universe is not so badly designed!"
Captain Jean-Luc Picard to Q, "Tapestry"

Opening Statement

The penultimate season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is once again brought to beautiful, brilliant HD life thanks to another stellar Blu-ray release.

Facts of the Case

Here are the 26 episodes included in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Six, spread out over six discs:

• "Time's Arrow"
The conclusion to Season Five's cliffhanger finale finds a landing party traveling back in time to search for Data (Brett Spiner, Independence Day) in 1890s San Francisco while Mark Twain (guest star Jerry Hardin) is beamed aboard the Enterprise.

• "Realm of Fear"
After a transporter malfunction, Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz, Alone in the Dark) becomes afraid to use it but must overcome that fear to find out what is changing in his body.

• "Man of the People"
A Lumerian ambassador (Chip Lucia) preys upon Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis, Death Wish 3) and dumps all of his negative emotions onto her, causing her to age at an accelerated rate.

• "Relics"
When Enterprise investigates a ship that has been missing for 75 years, they find Montgomery Scott (James Doohan of Star Trek: The Original Series) trapped in the transporter beam. He and Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton, Ali) must rescue Enterprise when it becomes sucked into the Dyson sphere.

• "Schisms"
When members of the Enterprise crew began experiencing difficulty sleeping and suffer strange side effects, Counselor Troi and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden, Dirty) investigate and discover that they are being abducted and experimented on in their sleep.

• "True Q"
Omnipotent being Q (John de Lancie, Arcade) returns, claiming that an intern (Olivia d'Abo, Live Nude Girls) aboard the ship is actually a fellow member of the Q continuum.

• "Rascals"
A transporter malfunction turns several crew members—including Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart, Lifeforce) and Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes of Kalifornia in her only appearance of the season)—into children.

• "A Fistful of Datas"
An energy surge during an Old West holodeck recreation with Worf (Michael Dorn, The Santa Clause 2) and his son causes a kind of mind swap between Data and the ship's computer.

• "The Quality of Life"
While visiting an off world mining colony, Data discovers that the small machines being used in the mines have become self-aware and begins to advocate on their behalf.

• "Chain of Command Part I"
Captain Picard, Worf and Dr. Crusher are sent on a secret mission to destroy a Cardassian weapons supply, leaving the Captain's chair open for replacement Captain Jellico (Ronny Cox, Total Recall), who clashes with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes, Camp Nowhere).

• "Chain of Command Part II"
Having been lured into a trap, Picard is taken captive by the Cardassians and brutally interrogated by Gul Madred (David Warner, Time Bandits). Captain Jellico continues to negotiate with the Cardassians but refuses to admit that Starfleet was involved on any covert mission.

• "Ship in a Bottle"
During a Sherlock Holmes-themed holodeck simulation, Lt. Barclay accidentally releases the villainous Professor Moriarty (Daniel Davis, The Nanny), who immediately begins plotting to escape the holodeck and live in the outside world.

• "Aquiel"
While investigating the murder of a Starfleet officer on a space station, Commander La Forge falls in love with Lt. Uhnari, the main suspect (Renee Jones, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives).

• "Face of the Enemy"
The Enterprise receives a message from Ambassador Spock regarding secret cargo being delivered by Romulans; Counselor Troi undergoes cosmetic surgery to go undercover as a Romulan and assist in a defection.

• "Tapestry"
When Picard is shot and slips into a coma, he is visited by Q, who explains that he is actually dead. With Q's help, Picard is able to relive past events in an attempt to change the outcome.

• "Birthright Part I"
In a crossover episode with Deep Space Nine, where Worf is told by the alien Jaglom Shrek (James Cromwell, L.A. Confidential) that he is actually Worf's father; Data is knocked unconscious and experiences his first dream, during which he has a vision of his creator Noonien Song (also played by Brent Spiner). Guest starring Alexander Siddig (Doomsday) as his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character Dr. Julian Bashir.

• "Birthright Part II"
Worf is sentenced to death inside the Romulan prison compound, where he discovers secrets about a group of Romulan/Klingon hybrids and encourages them to learn more about their heritage.

• "Starship Mine"
The Enterprise is evacuated for decontamination, but when Picard returns to the ship to retrieve something he discovers thieves on board; the de-boarded crew is taken hostage and must plot to escape their captors.

• "Lessons"
Picard becomes romantically involved with Lt. Nella Darren, the ship's chief cartographer (Wendy Hughes, Happy New Year), but it complicates their professional relationship and creates further problems when Darren is sent off ship to a Federation outpost under attack by firestorms.

• "The Chase"
Picard picks up the research of his mentor Professor Galen (Norman Lloyd, Dead Poets Society) after Galen is killed, leading to the discovery of a genetic similarity between humans, Klingons, Romulans and Cardassian.

• "Frame of Mind"
Commander Riker is locked away in an alien asylum, where his mind switches back and forth between the reality of the asylum and the rehearsals for a play in which he is acting (called "Frame of Mind") for Dr. Crusher.

• "Suspicions"
Dr. Crusher is relieved of duty and faces a court martial when she disobeys a direct order to validate the theories of a dismissed Ferengi scientist.

• "Rightful Heir"
Lt. Worf experiences a crisis of faith when his traditional spiritual Klingon beliefs are challenged by the appearance of the Klingon prophet Kahless (Kevin Conway, The Funhouse).

• "Second Chances"
Riker must compete with a duplicate version of himself (created by a transporter malfunction) for the affections of Counselor Troi.

• "Timescape"
The Enterprise and a Romulan Warbird are trapped in time, requiring Picard, La Forge, Data and Counselor Troi to step in and avert a great disaster.

• "Descent Part I"
Several crew members respond to a distress call at a Starfleet outpost and discover a collective of Borg acting differently than any Borg have in the past; Data experiences new emotions; Stephen Hawking guest stars as himself.

The Evidence

As I've said before (probably in one of these reviews), I'm still fairly new to most episodes of Star Trek. I saw a handful in syndication here and there, but it wasn't until about five years ago that I finally fell in love with the franchise and began seeking out every single episode. That means that I was seeing the majority of Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Six for the first time on this new Blu-ray release, and while the amazing high def upgrade makes for the ideal way to see the episodes, I was nervous at first. TNG has been steadily improving in quality from season to season, but appears to have tapered off. Watching the first few episodes of Season Six, I grew concerned that the drop off in quality was even more severe than I originally feared.

The conclusion of Season Five's time traveling cliffhanger that opens the season is not very good; having Mark Twain run around the bridge of Enterprise and using time travel as such a huge plot device is problematic (once you're able to travel in time, how do you ever go back to not traveling in time?). The second episode focuses heavily on recurring guest star Dwight Schultz's Lt. Barclay. It's not a bad episode, but it's also really early in the season to spend so much time with a tertiary character and not one of the main cast. An episode in which Deanna Troi is seduced and manipulated by a visiting diplomat (and sexualized to an uncomfortable degree) feels uninspired at best, overly familiar at worst—the show has already done story lines just like this one. Even "Relics," another episode that bridges The Original Series with TNG by bringing back James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, feels like a miscalculated attempt to recreate the coolness factor of past guest spots from Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley (but maybe that's just because Mr. Scott is no Spock/McCoy). It improves as the episode goes on, though, both because of a sequence in which Scotty uses the holodeck to recreate the classic bridge and because Doohan's presence is used to tell a thematically resonant story.

My concerns were alleviated just a few shows in, however, and Season Six proved to be another great season of a great show. Things continue to gradually improve with episodes that are either strong character showcases ("The Quality of Life," "Aquiel," the two-part "Chain of Command," one of the high points of the season) or fun one-off adventures ("A Fistful of Datas" and even "Rascals," silly as it may be). By the time we get to "Tapestry" halfway through the season, the show has hit its stride and finishes out the rest of the season with a pretty consistently high level of quality. There's the occasional bummer—"Birthright" comes to a disappointing conclusion and I'm not crazy about "Rightful Heir" (which just leads me to suspect that I'm not a huge fan of Worf-centric episodes)—but Season Six contains a lot of really good episodes overall. Picard, in particular, is well-served by the season, with a handful of showcase episodes that examine new aspects of the character, like his temptation to cave to torture in "Chain of Command Part II" or his lapse in professionalism in "Lessons" (another of the season's highlights). It doesn't hurt that Patrick Stewart is a brilliant actor, able to breathe depth and life into almost any script. When given some of the excellent material he's got this season, there's no stopping him.

Even though I'm not sure if any of the episodes found in Season Six achieve "great" status, I don't think they need to at this point. With roughly 150 episodes already produced, TNG has already offered plenty of great television. I'll settle for very good at this point, and Season Six is very, very good.

Once again, CBS has done a first-rate job restoring these episodes in 1080p HD. After years of seeing TNG in VHS-quality syndication broadcasts, I really can't express just how clear and beautiful these transfers are. With the exception of some hairstyles and a few effects, the Blu-ray release of Season Six makes it look like it was shot in 2014. Colors pop, fine detail is evident and, above all, the clarity of the image is brilliant. Same goes for the audio upgrade, which offers lossless 7.1 surround mixes for every episode that explode with energy and ambience; hearing every "beep" and "whoosh" in the surround channels made me feel like I was right there on the Enterprise bridge. The original 2.0 stereo mixes are also available for purists, though I can't imagine why anyone would opt for a lesser experience when the DTS mixes are so spectacular. I can't think of a catalogue TV series that's been treated better than Star Trek: The Next Generation.

My favorite part of every new season-length release of Star Trek on Blu-ray (including all four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise) are the retrospective documentaries that are included in the supplemental section. Season Six's documentary, the three-art "Beyond the Five Year Mission: The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is no exception. Running a combined total of 90 minutes, the doc includes interviews with most of the principal cast members and many behind-the-scenes personnel (including Ronald D. Moore, who wrote many of the season's episodes and would eventually reboot Battlestar Galactica quite successfully) and discusses some of the changes seen this season and how they work within the larger context of the Star Trek universe. There's also a good deal of time spent devoted to DS9, which hit the airwaves just a few months before Season Six premiered.

A collection of deleted scenes and a gag reel, both restored in high definition, are also included, as are three new commentaries on "Relics," "Tapestry" and "Frame of Mind." All of the bonus features from the DVD release are also included as "archival mission logs," containing behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews devoted to different aspects of the show. Each episode is also playable with its original promo.

Closing Statement

I don't think Season Six is Star Trek: The Next Generation's finest hour, but it's still a damn good season of science fiction television and, even better, terrific drama regardless of its genre. Even the episodes that don't work as well as some others are enjoyable because of Paramount and CBS's incredible HD restoration, which make the season feel just as vibrant and relevant as it did when it first aired over 20 years ago. I can't wait to wrap up the series with Season Seven and start crossing my fingers the studio begins releasing DS9 on Blu-ray next.

The Verdict

I love these Blu-rays. I love this show.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 97
Audio: 94
Extras: 80
Acting: 90
Story: 81
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 7.1 Stereo (Swedish)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Danish)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Dutch)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Italian)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
• Danish
• Dutch
• French
• German
• Italian
• Japanese
• Norwegian
• Spanish
• Swedish
Running Time: 1175 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Action
• Adventure
• Blu-ray
• Science Fiction
• Star Trek
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Interviews
• Gag Reel
• Promos

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site
• Memory Alpha: Star Trek Wiki








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