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



The original Star Trek series fell apart during its third season. After two consecutive successful save our show campaigns, the third season is regarded by many fans as a bit of a let down. Stories run rampant about how creator Gene Roddenberry had given up on the show as he prepared for his next project. The five year mission was aborted although the series quickly entered syndication warp speed for decades. Interestingly enough Star Trek: The Next Generation also had a massive creative change in its third season. The show was popular enough, but many of the viewers were hoping for the show to truly click and become its own sensation. Was this new U.S.S. Enterprise doomed to have only a three year journey like the previous run? In a reversal of fortune, the scripts improved with its greatest episode being the cliffhanger. This was the season that the show stepped up and out of the shadow of the Kirk-era. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three brings a greater resolution to stories that deserve it.

“Evolution” stars out with a simple tale of helping a scientific team document a star before it supernovas. The Enterprise is supposed to get out of there before the critical moment. Trouble happens because Wesley Crusher (The Big Bang Theory‘s Wil Wheaton) let his own scientific experiment get into the ship’s computer. They’re going to die. Not sure why this wasn’t the episode where Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) launched Wesley into deep space. “The Ensigns of Command” sends Data (Brent Spiner) to convince a human colony to speedily evacuate a planet. Turns out someone else is intent on colonizing. “The Survivors” makes Picard ponder why a colony has been wiped out of humanity with only an elderly couple left behind. “Who Watches the Watchers” turns Picard into a god on a planet. How can he get them to see he’s just a guy with a spaceship? Patrick Stewart is still worshiped this way at conventions.

“The Booby Trap” snares the Enterprise with the same snare that took out a ship one-thousand years before. Can Picard and crew work their way out of the Menthar trap. “The Enemy” is the classic tale of two warring soldiers forced to rely on each other to survive. In this case we get Lt> Cdr. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) stuck with a Romulan. “The Price” has people bidding for the rights to control the space rights around a wormhole. “The Defector” puts the Enterprise in a tricky space as they take aboard a Romulan defector. He claims to have the information on an impending invasion. This information seems true judging by how badly the Romulans want him back.

“Deja Q” brings back the god-like Q (John DeLancie) with a twist. He’s lost his powers and is reduced to being nearly human. Can he handle being just like Picard? “Yesterday’s Enterprise” takes a past version of the ship into the future. On board the older version is a still alive Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). The reunion must be short lived without destroying the timeline. This was a popular episode since it featured two versions of the Enterprise. “The Offspring” was also popular with Data giving “birth” to a daughter. He doesn’t so much give birth as create her in a workshop. There are those who want to grab the girl to study her for the sake of science. “Sins of the Father” involves Worf (Michael Dorn) clearing his father on treason charges. The Klingons suspect the dad worked with the Romulans. “Captain’s Holiday” sends Picard down to an intergalactic version of Hedonism. But this is more than an episode of The Love Boat. A mystery is investigated at the resort. “The Most Toys” gets Data kidnapped by a really rich collector. The crew think their robot pal died in an accident. “Sarek” brings back the Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) from the original series. Lenard was considered to be a replacement Mr. Spock when Leonard Nimoy was considering leaving the show in a salary fight.

“The Best of Both Worlds (Part 1)” was the season ending cliffhanger that made the casual ST:TNG viewers into fanatics. The show established an alien lifeform that rivaled the Klingons and Romulans. The Borg were back and heading straight to Earth. The Cyborg enemies want to assimilate all that wish to stop their giant cube shaped spaceship. Picard learns the hard way that there’s no reasoning with the Borg. The ending of Part 1 is a major shock. Ultimately, this was the episode that made kids eager to wear a Picard red uniform versus the classic yellow Kirk shirt.

What if you want to see Part 2, but don’t want to wait for the Season Four boxset due out on July 30? You’re in major luck with the Blu-ray for Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Best of Both Worlds also coming out. They’ve taken the two episodes and melded them into on TV movie. No need to say too much. There are bonus features geared toward the episode. A commentary track features Cliff Bole, Mike & Denises Okuda and actress Elizabeth Dennehy. Regeneration: Engaging the Borg (29:40) has cast and crew speak about the episode. Family Guy‘s Seth McFarlane must also contribute. Gag Reel (5:28) has clips from the episodes when Picard and the script don’t assimilate. Episodic Promos (1:00) are for both parts. There’s a way to access an Ultraviolet version for watching in the Cloud. This is perfect for those that are impatient or just have to have every Star Trek home video in their collection.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three has the show truly taking flight. It no longer needed to rely on nostalgia to keep viewers. The scripts were better. The Borg became a massive hit as the ultimate in universal horror. This is why the show was able to last for four more seasons before being launched into a movie series.

The Episodes
“Evolution,” “The Ensigns Of Command,” “The Survivors,” “Who Watches The Watchers,” “The Bonding,” “Booby Trap,” “The Enemy,” “The Price,” “The Vengeance Factor,” “The Defector,” “The Hunted,” “The High Ground,” “Deja Q,” “A Matter Of Perspective,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “The Offspring,” “Sins Of The Father,” “Allegiance,” “Captain’s Holiday,” “Tin Man,” “Hollow Pursuits,” “The Most Toys,” “Sarek,” “Ménage à Troi,” “Transfigurations” and “The Best Of Both Worlds (Part 1).”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The HD transfers look better than ever. The show has gone through the post production process one more time. The old CGI effects have been remade in 1080p. It looks so much better than the old DVDs. The audio is 7.1 DTS-HD mix. The score really swells with the new mix. They also include the original 2.0 stereo mix. The mono dub tracks include Japanese, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The episodes are subtitled in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch.

Audio Commentaries are included for five episodes. “The Bonding” gathers writer Ronald Moore with Michael and Denise Okuda. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” has two tracks including the 2002 commentary featuring David Carson and fresh one with Ronald Moore and Ira Behr, the authors of the script, with Michael and Denise Okuda. “The Offspring” produces writer René Echevarria with Michael and Denise Okuda. “Sins of the Father” bestows us with writer Ronald Moore with Michael and Denise Okuda.

Episodic Promos (0:34) can be played before the episode. It features the voice of Ernie Anderson. He’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s dad and the man who know how to say “The Looooove Boat.”

Mission Logs Year Three (17:41) lets us know that there was a brand new writing crew. They didn’t have scripts under development from the second season. Yet this become one of the better seasons for episodes. Denise Crosby recounts her comeback. Wil Wheaton swears he couldn’t run around the Enterprise in his underwear. This seems to have been done for the original DVD season set.

Selected Crew Analysis: Year Three
(13:51) lets the stars breakdown the season. Patrick Stewart discusses how the Bridge set is like a theater. Gates McFadden addresses her return to the show.

Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Production
(20:04) remembers Gene Roddenberry’s role on the show.

Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Memorable Missions (13:25) lets Patrick Stewart breakdown a shot from “Sarek.”

Resistance Is Futile (90:00) is a three part documentary about the season that was recently done. This is a lot more warts and all than the original pieces made in 2002.

Inside The Writer’s Room (70:52) is a feature length chat between the men who put the words on the page. The conversation is hosted by Family Guy‘s Seth McFarlane.

Tribute to Michael Piller (13:50) lets cast and crew remember the executive producer who enjoyed wearing UNC hats.

Original David Rappaport Footage (5:07) has the actor’s from Time Bandits scenes from the episode “The Most Toys.” He tried to kill himself during the production and was replaced.

Gag Reel (8:37) is full of lost lines and prop flubs.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three is the year the show became legendary. The Best of Both Worlds is worth grabbing for those who want to see the two episodes in one sitting. It’s better than any of the ST:TNG feature films.

CBS DVD presents Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three. Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton and LeVar Burton. Boxset Contents: 26 Episodes on 6 Blu-ray discs. Released: April 30, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

CBS DVD presents Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds. Starring: Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Elizabeth Dennehy. Running Time: 85 minutes. Released: April 30, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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