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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Complete Fifth Season (1991-1992)

Riker: You just can't stay away from the big chair, can you ?
Troi: I don't think I am cut out to be captain. First officer maybe, I understand there aren't many qualifications.

- Jonathan Frakes, Mirina Sirtis

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: December 15, 2002

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner
Other Stars: Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, John de Lancie, Michael Dorn, Whoopie Goldberg, Mirina Sirtis, Michelle Forbes
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sci-fi violence)
Run Time: Approx. 1200 min.
Release Date: November 05, 2002
UPC: 097360813449
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B+A- B+

DVD Review

The fact that the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is the most uneven since the first one says less about the quality of the fifth year than the strength of the three seasons produced inbetween them. But Season Five is particularly problematic, feeling caught between the semi-arc of Season Three and the (eventual) episodic high concept episodes of Season Six.

All of the actors are certainly in fine form. Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner continue to admirably lead one of the strongest ensemble casts in television history. Though no one would confuse every actor on this series for an award-worthy thespian, their combined chemistry and well-defined characters make up for any weaknesses in the acting department. We even get a permanent replacement for the absent Wesley Crusher in Ro Laran, and Michelle Forbes is so much more than just eye candy, projecting a fiery independence into an often tertiary character.

If anything, this season of the series tries to do too much. Returning to the earlier formula of conceiving futuristic metaphors to address 20th century issues, the writers frequently falter while handling very difficult material. The result is an uneven season with as many episodes that work as those that don't. But I find I'm much harder on it than other fans (plus, my favorite season, the sixth, is widely regarded as one of the lesser ones by hard-core Trekkers), and it does wrap up with the powerful episode, The Inner Light, truly one of the best hours of television produced in the last decade or so.

This set includes all 26 episodes of Season Five on seven DVDs.

Disc One:

Episode 1: Redemption Part II
Stardate: 45020.4

"Tasha?" - Picard

The season premiere picks up where part one—the cliffhanger for Season Four—left off. The Klingon Empire has dissolved into civil war, and behind it from the start is a Romulan commander who bears a striking resemblance to a former Enterprise security officer. As Worf tries to stop the two factions seeking to control the Klingon Senate, Picard has a nice chat with the Romulan, Commander Sela, who informs him that she's the daughter of Tasha Yar, captured after the events of Yesterday's Enterprise. Honestly, this isn't that bad of a show, and it packs in all the action you'd ask for in a season opener. But the entire concept of Sela is ludicrous—she's of far too advanced a rank for the daughter of a prisoner of war. And truthfully, after all last season, I'm a little sick of the Klingon drama.

If the producers love Denise Crosby so much to write her into the series any illogical way they can, why'd they kill her off in the first place? 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 2: Darmok
Stardate: 45047.2

"Darmok, and Jilad, at Tanagra." - Dathon (Paul Winfield)

This is, perhaps, the best known episode of TNG, if only because it is shown in nearly every college communications course. Picard is stranded on a planet with an alien who speaks in a language that the Enterprise's universal translator can't make sense of, and Picard has to suss out what's up before the two are killed by a mysterious predator. This is a talky episode with only a bit of action, but the ideas behind it are rock solid—finally, a realistic portrayal of what it would be like to communication across such vast cultural waters.

Joel, at his computer, needing a nap. 4.5 comm badges.




Episode 3: Ensign Ro
Stardate: 45076.3

"Don't you understand? These are desperate people ready to murder themselves, they don't want to talk." - Ensign Ro

Ensign Ro is assigned to the Enterprise, our first encounter with the Bajoran race (setting the stage for DS9 a year later). The Bajoran people are accused of bombing an outpost settlement; the Cardassians had imprisoned the people for generations, and they have only recently become independant. Ro's presence on the ship makes the crew uncomfortable, and Picard doesn't want her around—she has a history of past misdeeds and a huge chip on her shoulder. Once the Cardassians become involved, things get a bit more complicated, as politics and subterfuge come into play (as they are wont to do on TNG). An interesting episode, and a nice introduction for Ro, but the episode starts slow and suffers from a predictable conclusion.

I hope they shampooed the "Wesleyness" out of that chair before giving it over permanently to Ro. 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 4: Silicon Avatar
Stardate: 45122.3

"It's already killed thousands. It will undoubtedly continue to kill, unless we stop it." - Riker

While Riker, Data, and Dr. Crusher are visiting the Melona Four colony, the Crystalline Entity (that which attacked the colony where Data was built, referenced in Datalore and a few other episodes) appears and utterly destroys it, and several colonists die. Kayla Marr, a xenobiologist, helps the crew track it down, but she has no love for Data, since she was around when his brother Lore was in cahoots with the lifeform. Marr is bent on revenge, as her son was killed in an Entity attack, but Picard wants to preserve the alien creature's life, if possible. A fairly strong episode with a really depressing ending, this features a few good twists and turns, some nicely morally ambiguous characters, and a touching performance in the final moments from Brent Spiner.

I wonder if evil little Whos live inside the evil big Crystal snowflake. 4 comm badges.




Disc Two:

Episode 5: Disaster
Stardate: 45156.1

"Congratulations. You are fully dilated to ten centimeters. You may now give birth." - Worf

An extremely derivative "action" episode, this is the first real clunker of the season. The Enterprise is struck by a "quantum figment" (not, however, the purple dragon figment, which would have been cool), knocking out the ship's power and communications, and trapping the crew in different sections of the Enterprise. Picard is trapped in a turbolift with three children (wackiness ensues, because we know how Picard hates kids! Ha! Or not). Ro, Troi, and O'Brien are on the bridge, which puts the inept, yet ranking officer Counselor Troi in the captain's chair. Worf is in sickbay, where Keiko O'Brien is going into labor, and Riker has some boring subplot about fruiting around with Data's head. It's the TNG equivalent of an Irwin Allen disaster movie, and that ain't a compliment—each segment is marred by goofiness, leaps of logic, and contrived plotting. Picard's kiddies are especially annoying (kids and TNG so don't mix), and the only real humor comes from Worf's worrying over delivering a baby.

Next time on TNG the Enterprise is invaded... by DEADLY BEES! 1.5 comm badges.




Episode 6: The Game
Stardate: 45208.2

"Law 91: Always watch your back." - Robin (Ashley Judd)

Well, this is one of those episodes that always receives a sound lashing from the fans, and while I agree that it's ultra-cheesy, it's also pretty darn entertaining (mostly because of how cheesy it is). Wesley visits the Enterprise around the same time Riker returns from the planet Risa with this new game that hooks up to the optic nerve and, when played, directly affects the "pleasure center" of the brain. Everyone who plays it gets addicted, and they start shirking their duties, obviously under some sort of mind control. Oh, except Wesley, who is way too stalwart and true to try this mysterious game without first testing it out on the computer to see if it is safe. Really, all complaints about Wesley saving the day in the first few seasons are validated by this episode, in which he single-handedly saves the ENTIRE FEDERATION. Come on, writers. Saint Wesley? This lazy excuse for a drug metaphor doesn't work for so many reasons, the least of which being that Picard would never, ever "get addicted" like that. So, not a "good" episode, but still fairly entertaining, especially when you factor in the presence of Wesley's sidekick and fellow Nancy Regan devotee Robin, played by the lovely, talented, not-yet-famous Ashley Judd (they even smooch!).

On the other hand, they even smooch. Remember what I said in my Season Two review about Wesley getting his mack on? 2 comm badges.




Episode 7: Unification: Part I
Stardate: 45236.4

Beverly: They are not removable, are they, Data?
Data: Removable?
Beverly: Your ears.
Data: No, doctor. They are fully integrated components.

TNG makes the mistake of making too big a deal out of a visit from an Original Series cast member (Leonard Nimoy as Spock), and the result is the most boring two-part "event" in the show's entire seven season run. Part One is particularly dull. Ambassador Spock has disappeared and is reported to be on Romulus; fearing he has defected, the Federation sends the Enterprise to investigate. After paying a visit to Spock's dying father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), and securing the assistance of the Klingons (who aren't entirely willing to help following the events of Redemption: Part II), Picard and Co. are disguised as Romulans and beamed down to find Spock on Romulus. Then they find him. Then the episode ends. So, aside from some nice character moments with Sarek, nothing really happens for 45 minutes. The idea that the Vulcans and the Romulans were once the same race is intriguing, and the metaphor of racial healing is a worthy one, so why isn't this episode more interesting?

Me during this episode: "Zzzzzzzzz.... Hey, look! Spock! Zzzzzzzzz." 2.5 comm badges.




Episode 8: Unification: Part II
Stardate: 45245.8

"I hate Vulcans! I hate the logic! I hate the arrogance!" - Sela

A marked improvement over Part One, this episode still doesn't live up to its potential. Picard and Spock powwow, and Picard learns of the underground reunification movement that has sprung up on Romulus. But it appears that there may be traitors within the movement bent on sabotage. Lots and lots of talk this time around, which I suppose would be interesting to some (I'm not one to eschew good dialogue for action, that's for sure), but despite an appearance from everyone's favorite plot device, Sela, Part Two is nearly as boring as its predecessor. I'm sorry to trash one of the signature episodes of the season, but an appearance by Leonard Nimoy does not a good Trek story ensure.

After all, Nimoy was in Star Trek V, right? 3 comm badges.




Disc Three:

Episode 9: A Matter of Time
Stardate: 45349.1

"I hate questionnaires." - Worf

In an episode that reminded me quite a bit of Season Three's The Most Toys, the Enterprise is visited by an historical researcher (played by Matt Frewer) from the 27th century who has come back in time to witness a supposed historical event onboard the ship. He makes a big show of interviewing all of the crew, claiming they are famous in the future, but the crew becomes suspicious when things around the ship go missing. There's not a lot to this one, but its got sharp dialogue, a good dose of humor, and a neat twist ending that I didn't see coming.

Any TNG episode that follows so closely the plot of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey has got to be decent. 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 10: New Ground
Stardate: 45376.3

"Klingon schools are designed to be difficult. The physical and mental hardships faced by the students are meant to build character and strength. However, if you wish to face a greater challenge, you may stay here with me. It will not be easy, for either of us, but perhaps we can face the challenge together." - Worf

All the TNG fans who find Wesley to be the most annoying character ever, must have stopped watching before Alexander was introduced as a regular. Worf's adoptive parents bring the distracting little bugger aboard, saying he needs his father. He proceeds to act out to the letter the role of "starship brat," fighting with classmates, stealing from his teacher, and snapping at his father. Then, when the B-plot (something to do with an unstable wave thing or whatever... go ask Geordi) threatens to kill Alexander, Worf has to save him (unfortunately, he succeeds), and then they have a little Klingon challenge ritual and my eyes roll right out of my head and onto the carpet, which could stand to be vacuumed. The second-to-last thing I want to see on this show is a character working out his daddy abandonment issues. The last thing I want to see is Alexander working out his daddy issues.

Why couldn't Alex have been featured in the upcoming Cause and Effect, so I could have experienced the pleasure of watching him explode multiple times? 2 comm badges.




Episode 11: Hero Worship
Stardate: 45397.3

"Timothy, androids do not lie." - Data

Ok, so there's one TNG episode that works despite the heavy involvement of a child actor. The Enterprise encounters a damaged science vessel and Data travels over to rescue the only survivor, a young boy. As the crew tries to piece together what happened to the ship, Data befriends the boy, who seems to respect him for his strength and lack of emotions. That's basically it, but the lack of plot allows for maximum character interaction, as Data first helps the boy to be a "perfect" android, and then, slowly, watches him break down, revealing his humanity. The conceit that the child would push all emotions to the side makes for a powerful metaphor, and the ultimate explanation for the destruction of the ship is unexpectedly routine, resulting in a rather touching, bittersweet conclusion.

He's a big Data fan, that's for sure, but he's no match for Spiner-femme. 4 comm badges.




Episode 12: Violations
Stardate: 45249.3

"I have been accused of putting people to sleep with one-too-many stories, Captain. But this is the first time it's ever been suggested that I might be the cause of someone's coma." -Tarmin

TNG gets really ambitious with its metaphors and decides to tackle a rape episode, with the futuristic substitutions made in the form of Counselor Troi and some mind-invading aliens who can mess with people's memories. Basically, the aliens can alter root around in people's brains, with the unfortunate side-effect that they slip into a coma. It seems that one of them (David Sage) has taken a shine to Troi, and is willing to do anything to cover up his initial violations of the counselor. The metaphor is clunky and obvious, and the episode is fairly devoid of suspense (since who know the identity of the bad guy from the teaser onwards), but this one isn't a total loss thanks to strong direction and a particularly good performance from the oft-criticized Mirina Sirtis.

My sense of decency is keeping me from making a joke about this episode. 3 comm badges.




Disc Four:

Episode 13: The Masterpiece Society
Stardate: 45470.1

"If we're so brilliant, how come we didn't invent any of these things?" - Hannah

The Enterprise comes into contact with a society that prides itself on perfection; they're a highly refined race of clones that lives in a perfect symbiotic balance with their natural surroundings. But they're in trouble; the shields protecting their colony are breaking down, and any contamination could result in their ruin. The Enterprise tries to help as best it can, but many of the inhabitants don't want help for fear of contaminaton. Dealing with eugenics in a rather unique way, this episode is entertaining and original throughout, and certainly one of the better "issue" stories of the season.

Remember when they cloned the Enterprise crew and called it Voyager? And then when they cloned Voyager and called it Enterprise? 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 14: Conundrum
Stardate: 45494.2

"Try to pull out the personnel files. It'd be nice if you all had names." - Riker

It's my favorite kind of episode: one designed with the obvious intent to screw with the audience for as long as possible without explanation. The Enterprise is hit by an unusual energy beam that knocks out the entire crew; when they wake up, everyone (even Data) has lost their memories, including Commander MacDuff (who?). As the crew tries to piece together their identities and figure out their mission, there is a lot of cute interplay between the characters (Worf believes he is Captain since he is "decorated"). And though we, as the audience, know MacDuff isn't supposed to be there, it's a blast learning how (and why) he is. Minor demerits for freeing the crew from responsibility for their actions during their amnesiac states, but still a strong outing all the way around.

Worf can be in charge since he's tallest and has the biggest forehead. 4.5 comm badges.




Episode 15: Power Play
Stardate: 45571.2

Data: You Klingon, attack me. Or are you afraid?
Worf: I have no fear of death.
Data: And I have no fear of killing you.

After visiting an alien world, O'Brien, Troi, and Data return to the ship, acting strangely. Violently so. They attempt to take over the bridge, but Riker is able to transfer controls to engineering. As the three, who seem to be acting under the influence of alien beings, try to redirect the course of the mission, Beverly and Geordi try to figure out a way to free them from the aliens' control. Not much surprising happens in this one, but it's fairly action-packed, so it passes the time.

Except, why does the lifeform affect Data the same way it does the humans? 3 comm badges.




Episode 16: Ethics
Stardate: 45587.3

Worf: Doctor, I will not attempt to leave sickbay without your approval. The restraining field is not necessary.
Beverly: Worf, there is no restraining field.

One of Trek's patented "issue" episodes. Worf is injured in an accident and paralyzed, and when it looks like he'll never walk again, he demands that Alexander kill him, fulfilling a Klingon ritual. Beverly, of course, makes noise about how this is wrong, so we can be sure to totally disrespect all cultural differences. Aside from the preachy euthanasia-in-disguise A-plot, there's some business about a radical new technique that could help to restore Worf's damaged nervous system. Do you think it will work? Oh, and one last thing: back up organs? I don't think do.

How is it that TNG featured a stale, recycled ER plot years before ER even premiered? 2.5 com badges.




Disc Five:

Episode 17: The Outcast
Stardate: 45614.6

Riker: Nothing will change between us, will it ?
Troi: Of course it will. All relationships are constantly changing. But we'll still be friends, maybe better friends.

This unusual episode revolves around a friendship between Riker and Soren, a member of an andryogenous race called the J'naii. "She" finds Riker attractive, despite the fact that her people's code does not permit such attachments. Once her superiors find out what she has been doing, they do indeed try to punish her, even after she reveals that, unlike the rest of them, she is fully female. What could have been a subtle metaphor for sexual identity and gay and lesbian issues is undermined by a typically preachy and obvious script. Though I do give them points for tackling such a difficult issue.

At least we know Riker is open... er... minded. 2.5 comm badges.




Episode 18: Cause and Effect
Stardate: 45652.1

"We could have been trapped here for hours, days, maybe years." - Geordi

The Enterprise is caught in a time loop and keeps blowing up. The Enterprise is caught in a time loop and keeps blowing up. The Enterprise is caught in a time loop and keeps blowing up. And so on. There's not a whole lot of plot or character development in this one; it's one of TNG's first and most successful "gimmick" episodes. What makes it fun is watching as the characters deal with their feelings of déją vu, reacting a little differently each time the ship moves through the cycle. Jonathan Frakes does some of his best directing, shooting the same basic scenes as many as five times, and managing to make each one visually distinct and interesting. These head-scratching episodes are a love-it or hate-it affair, but I think they're frequently some of the best stories TNG has to offer.

Do you ever get the feeling you've read this review before? Do you ever get the feeling you've read this review before? Do you... 5 comm badges.




Episode 19: The First Duty
Stardate: 45703.9

"Captain Picard, you are a close friend of the Crusher family... I wanted to inform you personally. There's been an accident." - Admiral Brand

Wil Wheaton returns for the second time this season (and the last time before his big exit in Season Seven), and this time, he actually gets a good plot! The Enterprise is visiting Earth so that Picard can speak at the Starfleet Academy graduation ceremonies, at which Wesley was to perform with his flight group. But when an accident during a training run kills one of the team, Wesley and his friends are the subject of a judicial review. The circumstances surrounding the crash were suspicious at best, and Wesley finds himself caught between his duty to Starfleet and his promises to his teammates. It's nice when TNG deals with a moral without being preachy; it's particularly nice to see such a subtle, compelling storyline thrown Wesley's way. He even gets a great scene with Picard, which results in the single finest moment of Wil Wheaton's TNG career.

What's next for Wesley? I'm thinking smoking and illegitimate children. Cheating is the gateway drug. 4 comm badges.




Episode 20: Cost of Living
Stardate: 45733.6

" You're telling me you aren't going to be naked at your own wedding?" - Troi

During the first few seasons, when TNG was less dramatic and a bit campier, I found episodes with Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) a pleasant diversion. By the fifth season, though, either the writers had forgotten how to use her or she just didn't mix with the more dramatic tone. Whatever the reason, her later episodes tend to be a drag. This one is the worst of all, as it also prominently features Alexander. Lwaxana, fearing living out her life alone, agrees to an arranged marriage. Alexander, meanwhile, is constantly disobeying his father and causing a ruckus in school. The two end up hanging out for most of the episode on the holodeck, where they experience an ostensibly magical children's wonderland (it always struck me as equally scary and hokey). There's a "ship in danger" subplot that goes nowhere, and the only worthwhile moment is a monologue from Barrett about growing old that must have hit close to home so soon after the death of her husband (creator Gene Roddenberry).

Hey, let's center an episode around Alexander! Great, and then we can swallow Drano and take a bath with a hair dryer! 1 measly comm badge.




Disc Six:

Episode 21: The Perfect Mate
Stardate: 45761.3

"You learn so quickly what pleases a man." - Kamala

An unusually touching Picard-centric episode that starts off slow before greatly improving, this entry is most memorable for the presence of Famke Janssen as Kamala, a metamorphic woman who will mold to the desires of the man upon whom she imprints. She's transported around in a sort of giant egg so as to not expose her to the wrong person, as she's intended as a gift to stop a conflict between to cultures. Unfortunately, she "hatches" early and becomes attached to Picard, who must balance his affection with the knowledge that acting upon them could have disasterous results for the two races. So tell me, why can't Picard be happy for once? Is that too much to ask?

If I were Picard, I'd certainly not complain if Famke Janssen wanted to "be for me." 4 comm badges.




Episode 22: Imaginary Friend
Stardate: 45832.1

"It is interesting that people try to find meaningful patterns in things that are essentially random. I have noticed that the images they perceive sometimes suggest what they are thinking about at that particular moment. Besides, it is clearly a bunny-rabbit." - Data

A girl on the Enterprise begins interacting with what her father thinks is an imaginary friend, but it's actually a sentient lifeform, and when things start going wrong on the ship, the girl begins to think that she may be responsible. The child actress isn't horrible, but she's fairly wooden, and her character—a Starfleet brat resentful about being moved from ship to ship—is terribly grating. Some decent moments at the end, when the "imaginary friend" reveals its true purpose, but a sermonizing final speech from Picard and sloppy plotting all around mean this one is pretty slow going.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, kids and Trek don't mix. And it isn't just my imagination. 2 comm badges.




Episode 23: I, Borg
Stardate: 45852.4

Hugh: You are not Borg.
Geordi: That's right. And I hope to stay that way.

The Borg make their annual appearance in this fan favorite. An Enterprise away team comes across a crashed Borg shuttle—and there's a survivor. They bring the Borg, a young male, onto the Enterprise, planning to infect it with a virus and reintroduce it into the Collective. But as Geordi spends more and more time with the cyborg, it begins to exhibit signs of humanity and individuality. He names himself Hugh, and begins to recall what his life was like before he was assimilated. Now, the crew has a moral choice—do they still return him to the Borg, or do they let a chance to stop their greatest enemy slip away and allow Hugh to live free? A unique plot, sharp dialogue, and a good arc for the underused Geordi make this one of the best of the season.

Well, not so big and bad without the Collective, now are we? 4.5 comm badges.




Episode 24: The Next Phase
Stardate: 45092.4

"I don't have all the answers. I haven't been dead before." - Ro

The Enterprise assists a damaged Romulan vessel, but when Geordi and Ro beam back with some equipment, something happens in transit. They fail to rematerialize, and no sensors can locate them. They are still on the ship; they find themselves able to see and hear all that is going on, though no one can see or hear them. They can walk through walls—and right through people, prompting Ro to question whether or not they are alive. As the rest of the crew plans a funeral for the two, they try to figure out what really caused their present situation, but they have to deal with a Romulan in a similar predicament. If you don't think too hard about the logistics of this one (why don't they fall through the floor?), this is a pretty entertaining show. Ro is a great character (and Forbes a great actress), and any screen time for her is a big plus in my book.

If I were able to walk through walls, I know I wouldn't bother waiting for the turbolift. 3.5 comm badges.




Disc Seven:

Episode 25: The Inner Light
Stardate: 45944.1

"This is not my life!" - Picard

TNG fans have been waiting a long time for this moment, and now it has come: this episode, long considered the very best of the series by a large percentage of fans, is finally on DVD. It's a striking show in all respects—the story is original, the character interaction revelatory, and the acting and script, superb. The concept is simple enough: The Enterprise is scanned by an ancient probe and Picard falls unconscious on the bridge. He wakes up a different person in a different world, the probe causing him to experiences a lifetime of memories of a dead civilization in only 20 minutes. Stewart ably carries his character through old age, and the ending, which essentially leaves Picard alone with the memories of an entire race, is poignant and impossible to forget.

How many angry e-mails would I get if I trashed this episode? Like it matters! 5 comm badges.




Episode 26: Time's Arrow: Part I
Stardate: 45959.1

"It seems clear that my life is to end in the late 19th century." - Data

An archeological team digging underground on Earth comes upon an unusual artifact from the late 19th century that prompts Starfleet to order the Enterprise to return to base; it's Data's head, severed, showing signs of having been buried for hundreds of years. As Data investigates strange energy readings surrounding the site, he suddenly finds himself back in 1893. Back in the 24th century, the crew, trying to figure out where and when Data has gone, discovers that the strange energy readings are the result of a malevolent alien presence feeding off of the life force of past humans, and they have no choice but to follow Data back in time. An odd season ender, to be sure, but still fairly compelling. It's nice to see Data sticking out like a sore thumb in the past, and the conclusion (the requisite season-ending cliffhanger) gives the goofy plot a bit more weight that you'd think.

Excited to see the conclusion? Don't lose your head. 3.5 comm badges.



Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: If you've seen the previous seasons of TNG on DVD, you should have a good idea of what the video quality is like on this set, as it's nearly identical to past sets. The majority of the footage looks very nice, with saturated colors and nice, deep blacks, though the picture exhibits an overall softness that limits detail. Special effects scenes also continue to look a bit blocky, as they were mastered on video rather than 35mm film.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is likewise identical to past sets. The 5.1 remixes open up the sound a lot, mixing the score and effects into the surrounds and expanding the front soundstage with directional effects. Dialogue is always clear, anchored in the center channel, and LFE occasionally makes an impact.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
5 Documentaries
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The one area where the fifth season set improves on all that came before it is in the bonus features. After four seasons of very similar extras, this set shakes things up a bit with a lengthy retrospective documentary and some nice pieces on the behind-the-scenes work that has gone into the creation of every season. The format is still very much the same, of course, several short documentaries with lots of talking head interviews, but this time around there's a lot more on-set footage.

I'll start with the most familiar segments. Memorable Missions and Mission Overview are essentially the same highly edited interview featurettes we've come to expect from these sets. Most of these interviews are fairly new—they looked to have been recorded during the filming of Nemesis. Memorable Missions (18 minutes) is usually my favorite piece, as it collects the recollections of the cast and crew about their favorite shows of the year. This time around, we hear about Mirina Sirtis' fear of chocolate, the appearance of Patrick Stewart's son in a scene with his dad, and Jonathan Frakes' unique challenge of filming the same scene five times in Cause and Effect. Mission Overview (17 minutes) makes a huge deal out of the appearance of Leonard Nimoy in Unification, and all the gushing is quite difficult to swallow, particularly considering how bland the episode turned out to be. The piece also features interviews with the TNG writers, including Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller.

Production is another familiar feature; this time around, the 16-minute segment focuses on two episodes, Power Play and The First Duty, and includes interviews with writers Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore. You'd think that it was a huge deal to have Wesley return to the show for the second time in a season. Visual Effects, on the other hand, breaks the mold of the formulaic seasonal featurettes; for 18 minutes, it sheds some light on the development of the effects throughout the series. From the development of the opening credit sequence for the third season, to the late nights at the effects house that produces dozens of shots per show on the fly, this is a great piece, filled of trivia for Trek fans.

The final piece, A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry, is a touching commemorative look at the life of the "Great Bird of the Galaxy." With a generous running time of nearly 30 minutes, interviews are included with nearly every member of the cast. We hear from Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Mirina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg, and Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett. All have nothing but nice things to say about the man, so don't expect any juicy tidbits about his legendary temper. Most interesting is the generous amount of archive footage of Roddenberry, including a look at a special on-set 25th anniversary Trek celebration.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Star Trek The Next Generation slips a bit in Season Five, but, oddly enough, it also includes several of the very best episodes of the series. As Paramount's marathon year-long release schedule winds down, I remain impressed with the work they've done in bringing this show to DVD quickly without sacrificing quality. Recommended for The Inner Light alone.

 


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