Featured TV on DVD Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Six
This is the penultimate season for Star Trek: The Next Generation and the end of what most people would call the golden age of the seasons. (Season seven wasn't bad. It was better than the first two seasons, but it was certainly not as good as seasons three through six.) So what are the highlights of season six? Are there many lowlights? And is the Blu-ray worth upgrading to?
The season starts out with the second half of Time's Arrow where Data was accidentally lost in the 19th century, where he meets Guinan, whose species lives for hundreds of years. Jean-Luc Picard has to be part of the mission to retrieve him, he will change the timeline and they will have never met. This isn't the best two-part episode of the series's run; in fact, it's not the best two-part episode of the season. That said, it is still very good and a worthy way to start the season. Realm of Fear is a Barclay episode. He has to overcome his fear of transporters to perform a mission, but when he comes back, he sees something in the transporter stream with him. Man of the People is a Counselor Troi episode. The writers never got a handle on how to write an episode focused on Counselor Troi and this is one of the worst episodes of the season. Relics is my favorite episode from the entire The Next Generation run. It is not the best episode, but it is my favorite. The crew of the Enterprise come across a distress signal from the U.S.S. Jenolen, a transport ship that went missing 75 years ago. When they get to the location of the signal, they find a Dyson sphere with the ship crashed on the surface. Riker, Geordi, and Worf are transported down. Once there, they find the transporter was jury-rigged to keep the pattern intact for all of these decades. Once they transport the person, they find Captain Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott. Scotty is my favorite character in all of Star Trek, which explains why I like this episode so much. It is also just a really good episode with a fantastic and very human story. While Scotty was one of the best engineers, if not the best engineer of his day, his day was a long time ago and he's struggling to find a way to feel useful again. There are several episodes that I will admit are technically better, but I enjoy watching this one the most. Schisms starts with Data reciting a poem to his cat. Later, several crew members begin to have trouble sleeping and are having emotional breakdowns. After a bit of investigation, they realize they are being abducted by aliens and experimented on.
True Q is the return of Q. Amanda Rogers, a student intern who was selected to serve aboard the ship. When she's first left alone in her new quarters, she misses her pet dogs so much that several puppies just appear in her room. By the way she reacts, you can tell this has happened before. It's not one of the better Q episodes, but still pretty good. Rascals has Picard, Guinan, Keiko, and Ensign Ro returning from shore leave when their shuttle enters a dangerous energy field. The Enterprise is able to transport them back, but when they get there, they are 12-year olds. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is attacked by some Ferengi. It isn't as bad as that sounds, but it isn't great either. On a side note, this is the last episode for Chief O'Brien who joined the cast of Deep Space Nine. Fistful of Datas is a Worf / Alexander episode. The pair go to the holodeck for a western adventure, but something goes wrong and they have to deal with a rogue Data. Again, it isn't as bad as that sounds; in fact, some fans love it. I think it is closer to average than great. The Quality of Life deals with a subject that Star Trek: The Next Generation has dealt with in the past: The rights of robots. The crew arrive at Tyras 71, which is trying a new mining technology that isn't going as well. They have had a major new breakthrough with robotics. These new Exocomps might be so advanced that they might be sentient. Like I said, this isn't the first time the show has dealt with this subject, which hurts the quality, but it is still pretty good.
Disc three starts with the two-part Chain of Command, which is being sold as a separate Blu-ray. You can read the review here. Barclay returns for the second episode this season in Ship in a Bottle, which is a follow-up to Elementary, Dear Data. In that episode, Data accidentally created an A.I. Super genius, Professor Moriarty, who nearly took over the ship. Eventually Moriarty agreed to stop, if the Federation tried to develop technology that would allow him to leave the holodeck. In this episode, Barclay accidentally lets him out again and he's not happy there has been no progress on Picard's end of the deal. It's one of the best episodes of the season. Aquiel is one of the weakest episodes of the season. The crew of the Enterprise arrive at a subspace relay station to resupply, but neither of the crew are there and the shuttle is gone. There's evidence one of the crew was killed, but was it murder or a Klingon attack. Face of the Enemy is a Counselor Troi episode that is actually good. She wakes up in the beginning of the episode to discover she's been surgically altered to look Romulan. There's a lot of intrigue in this episode and that helps.
Tapestry begins with Picard serious injured on an away mission and despite being beamed over to the Enterprise, Dr. Beverly Crusher is struggling to save him. We then see Picard in a white room, where he is greeted by Q, who tells him he's dead. Of course Picard doesn't believe him. Eventually Q goads Picard into wishing he could change one event in his past. We then see Picard's life back in the past changing that mistake, as well as how that change affected his future. This is an excellent Sci-fi subject and it is done so well here. This is arguably the best episode of the season and arguably one of the top ten in the show's run. Birthright is a two part episode. In the first part, Worf learns his father might not have died in combat, but was taken as a prisoner, which would be a great dishonor to his family. Also, Data is hit by an experiment and "dreams". Since he doesn't normally sleep and shouldn't dream, he tries to figure out what it means. It's one of the better episodes of the season. Starship Mine starts with the crew of the Enterprise preparing for a regularly scheduled baryon sweep, which would kill any person caught in it. Picard returns to the ship momentarily, he realizes the "technicians" are actually thieves trying to steal something from the Enterprise and it is up to him to stop them. It isn't a classic episode, but it has good action and enough intrigue. Lessons is a Picard romance story. Star Trek rarely does romance well, but this one does it better than most.
The Chase tries to explain why all of the major races in Star Trek are humanoid. This is a big Sci-fi question and this is one of the better episodes of the season, but not a classic. Frame of Mind is one of the best episodes of the season. It begins with Riker in an insane asylum and the doctor treating him is trying to convince him his life on the Enterprise was all a delusion. This is the kind of subject that only speculative fiction can handle. Suspicions stars with Dr. Crusher relieved of duties. She explains to Guinan that she disobeyed a direct order in order to determine the cause of death of a scientist who created a new type of shield. It's not among the best episodes of this season, but there's some good mystery here. Rightful Heir begins with Worf missing his shift, which is certainly not within his character. It turns out he was trying some Klingon meditation to bring himself closer to the spiritual side of his people. It isn't working. Picard understands the importance of this to Worf and grants him leave four a couple of weeks to go to a Klingon temple to meditate. At the end of this, Worf has a vision of Kahless, the founder the Klingon Empire. Except it is not a vision, but a real person. Has Kahless returned after all of these years? It is another good, but not great episode. Second Chances is a better episode. The Enterprise has to go to a scientific outpost that was evacuated 8 years ago to retrieve some data that was left behind. Riker leads the mission, because he was on the ship that did the evacuation originally, so he has first-hand knowledge of the location. When they arrive at the scientific outpost, the place looks lived in and when they find a survivor... its Riker. It's a good episode that deals with an interesting Sci-fi premise.
Timescape is one of the best episodes of the season and one of the best of the show's run. It begins with Riker in sickbay because he was injured... trying to feed Spot, Data's cat. After being healed by Dr. Crusher, he goes to the bridge where Worf receives a distress call from the Romulans. Worf thinks it is a trick. Riker decides to check it out while Picard, Data, Geordi, and Counselor Troi are out. While they are returning on a shuttlecraft, the four of them are having a conversation when everyone but Troi freezes momentarily. The others don't even notice what happened. As they continue their trip to the Enterprise, they encounter more temporal disturbances. And when they get to the Enterprise, it is frozen in time and looks to be locked in a battle with a Romulan ship. The final episode of the season is Descent: Part 1, which includes the return of the Borg, specifically Hugh from the episode I, Borg, as well as Lore, Data's evil twin. It's a great way to end the season and I think it is better than Time's Arrow.
The extras on Disc One include an 18-minute overview of Season Six. There are also episodic promos for every episode, as well as deleted scenes for two episodes and an audio commentary track on Relics. Disc two has a deleted scene for one episode and three featurettes. Bold New Direction is a 18-minute featurette that looks at some of the episodes from this season that were directed by a couple of members of the cast. There is a 16-minute featurette on the production and a 20-minute featurette on Dan Curry, who was the visual effects producer. Disc three has deleted scenes on two episodes. There is also a 19-minute featurette on Data. Disc four has deleted scenes on two episodes, as well as an audio commentary track for Tapestry. There is also an 18-minute featurette on the Select History on Gowron, Musical Directors, Visor, etc. There are deleted scenes from two episodes, while Frame of Mind has an audio commentary track. There is also a 13-minute featurette on sets and props. The final disc has a three-part, 90-minute retrospective on season six. It is by far the biggest extra on the disc and new for the Blu-ray. There are also some outtakes.
Like the previous releases, the technical presentation is amazing. It doesn't look as good as a first-run show, but it is close enough and fantastic given its age. The audio is even better, as most TV shows made today don't get a 7.1 surround sound track.
Unfortunately, price continues to be an issue, as the list price is $130 and it costs $75 with the Amazon.com discount.
There are only two bad episodes on Season Six of Star Trek: The Next Generation, compared with five or six classics. (It depends on how you look at the two-part episodes.) There are enough new extras that the Blu-ray is worth picking up, if you are a hard core fan of the franchise.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-06-21