Data has a positronic brain, and Judge Patrick Bromley has a positronic [CENSORED].
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.
"I am not dead. Because I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by
you. The universe is not so badly designed!"
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"
• "Realm of Fear"
• "Man of the People"
• "True Q"
• "A Fistful of Datas"
• "The Quality of Life"
• "Chain of Command Part I"
• "Chain of Command Part II"
• "Ship in a Bottle"
• "Face of the Enemy"
• "Birthright Part I"
• "Birthright Part II"
• "Starship Mine"
• "The Chase"
• "Frame of Mind"
• "Rightful Heir"
• "Second Chances"
• "Descent Part I"
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.
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.
I love these Blu-rays. I love this show.
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