Year: 1987 | Rating: N/A | Runtime: 19 HR 45 MIN
Aspect Ratio: 1:33.1 | Video Resolution: 1080P
Audio: Eng 7.1 DTS-HD MA, 2.0 English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese| Subtitles: English SDH, assorted foreign subtitles
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathon Frakes, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, and Wil Wheaton
I don’t think at this point I have to tell anybody how deep my love for Star Trek The Next Generation goes. It was favorite TV show growing up, and remains my favorite TV show of all time to this day. When Paramount and CBS Films announced that TNG would be coming to Blu-ray I was understandably excited that the TV series that played such an important part of my childhood would be remastered not only for lifetime fans to enjoy but also future generations.
TNG was shot on film, but all the editing and special effects were done on video. That process locked the video resolution at 480P which back in the 80s and 90s was the industry standard. Fast forward to 2012 and what looked passable on broadcast TV and later of DVD all the sudden looks unwatchable by current standards. To bring TNG into the 21st century Paramount and CBS Films went back to the original film elements and remastered everything from the regular footage, the special effects, and the audio tracks. It was a monumental task involving going through tens of thousands of reels of film bring these twenty-five year old episodes back to life. Simply put, the Star Trek Then Next Generation has never, ever looked or sounded better.
The show may look and sound better than it ever has before, but that doesn’t solve all of TNG’s earlier problems. TNG suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, it had a revolving door of writers, and was often far to campy. Performances range from wooden to laughable and aren’t helped by the writing at all. Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner offer up the most Season One highlights, but even they are not immune to some serious early series missteps. Encounter at Farpoint, the series premiere is not a strong entry for the series and the rest of the first season had more downs than ups.
Season One highlights include: Where No One Has Gone Before, Datalore, 11001001, Coming of Age, Heart of Glory, and Conspiracy
Season One low points include (but are not limited to): The Naked Now, Code of Honor (aka “The Brothers in Space” episode), Justice, and Angel One
Fans familiar with TNG will right off the bat notice the improved the improved video quality. The special effects like all the live action footage have been re-scanned from the original negatives. ”Revelation” is the first word to come to mind when talking about how TNG looks now versus how it looked before. Colors are vibrant; the red in the Starfleet uniforms now looks how it was always intended. Uniform colors aren’t the only improvements; corridors, the sound stages, and ships are all improved. There’s a nice (if inconsistent) level of grain that gives TNG a film like appearance that was always missing from the TV/DVD video. The improvement in clarity is also staggering to the point where it can at times show the limits of an 80s TV series.
TNG’s audio has been remastered in 7.1 DTS-HD MA while the original Dolby Surround track is also supplied. Viewers might not initially hear the improvements to the audio, but that certainly doesn’t mean the improvements aren’t there. Everything from the hum of the warp drive to the opening of the turbolift doors will immerse the audience in the sounds of the Enterprise. Phasers and photon torpedos rip through the soundstage but never in an overly gimmicky way. Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme sounds as eloquent as ever and is indistinguishable from its use in the Star Trek feature films.
Season One of TNG has a number of great new special features. One of my favorite features is a simple one that was omitted from the DVD release, episode promos. Before each episode you’re able to watch the episode promo, they’re great for comparison purposes providing a great look at how bad original broadcasts looked versus how they look now in HD. The 90 minute long ‘The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation’ is split into three thirty minute segments: Inception, Launch, and The Continuing Mission. ’The Origin’ documentary is in depth, informative, and even the life long fans will learn something new about TNG. Other special features include a gag reel and four short archival featurettes.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One isn’t any where near the series best, it’s actually damn near the bottom. There are some good episodes scattered throughout the season but most of it is merely passable. Where Season One really excels is with the remastered video/audio and the new complement of special features which actually live up to their name. For obvious reasons I won’t recommend Season One of TNG to non-Trek fans but if you find yourself sitting down to watch reruns on TV or already own the DVD sets I can’t recommend the upgrade to Blu-ray any more highly.