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Featured TV on DVD Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain of Command

June 21st, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain of Command - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Ever since The Best of Both Worlds came out, there has been a two-part episode released for each season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For Season Six, they chose Chain of Command as the episode to elevate to is own release. Did that make the right choice? And is it worth the price to buy separately?

The Show

The episode begins with Jean-Luc Picard meeting with Admiral Alynna Nechayev, who immediately relieves him of command of the Enterprise.

It's not that Picard has done something wrong. It's the Cardassians. After the Cardassians retreated from Bajoran space, they've increased their presence along the Federation border. It appears they are going to take one of the disputed planets, Minos Korva, and hope the Federation isn't willing to go to war over it. The Federation is having open negotiations with the Cardassians to prevent this from happening and the admiral thinks having the Enterprise there will be a deterrent to prevent the Cardassians from doing anything rash. So why not have Picard at the helm during this important mission? Because there's another problem. It is believed that the Cardassians are creating a biological weapon on Celtris III and Picard is needed to lead that mission, along with Worf and Dr. Beverly Crusher.

In the meantime, Captain Edward Jellico is given the command of the Enterprise, because he was the Federation officer in charge of the last round of negotiations with the Cardassians over this area of space. It seems like a wise move to get the most experienced captain in the Federation to be on their flagship during these tense times. However, Captain Jellico is a much different commander than Picard is. He is barely on the Enterprise, and not yet officially in command, before he starts changing things around and this rubs the crew, especially Riker, the wrong way.

After training in the holodeck for a while, Picard, Worf, and Dr. Beverly Crusher being their mission... which ends nearly immediately in disaster. It turns out that there was no biological weapons on Celtris III and this information was leaked to the Federation in order to lure Captain Picard in. Worf and Dr. Crusher get away, but Picard is not so lucky. Picard is captured and brought to Gul Madred, the Cardassian interrogator, who will use whatever means necessary to get any information about the Federation that might be useful to take Minos Korva.

I would argue Chain of Command is the best two-part release since The Best of Both Worlds. It has everything you want from a two-part Star Trek episode, including intrigue, interpersonal conflicts, inter-species conflicts that feel big within the Star Trek universe, and it deals with an incredibly important topic. The conflict between the Federation and the Cardassians was never a huge part of The Next Generation (Deep Space Nine was a different story) but they are used extremely well here. Additionally, the conflict between Captain Edward Jellico and Riker helps elevate this episode above the norm, because the crew of the Enterprise work so well together that there's almost never any conflict to add drama. And of course, the way the episode deals with the subject of torture is absolutely fantastic. I'm a little surprised Patrick Stewart's acting or the writing didn't win any awards that year.

On the downside, I never did buy Picard, Worf, and Dr. Beverly Crusher being sent on this mission. You are telling me that in all of the Federation, these are the three best people suited for a stealth mission. Shouldn't the Federation have experts in infiltration missions like this?

The Extras

Extras include an audio commentary track with Ronny Cox, who played Captain Jellico; Jonathan West, the cinematographer; and Michael and Denise Okuda. There is also a 29-minute making of featurette called The Privilege of Rank: Making 'Chain of Command. It includes interviews with many of the main cast, some of the guest stars like Ronny Cox and Natalia Nogulich, as well as some of the writers. They talk about why they decided to tackle such an important issue; how important it was to make Captain Jellico a prickly character, but ultimately a great leader; as well as other topics, like putting Counselor Troi in a real uniform, finally. Lastly, there are deleted scenes.

The technical presentation is the same as it is on the full-season set, obviously. It is excellent and worth the upgrade from the DVD.

The Verdict

This is the fourth time I've reviewed a Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter and I've run out of things to say about it, so I will just repeat myself. If you consider Chain of Command to be a TV movie, then the extras on the Blu-ray are enough to be worth picking up. However, if you are also buying Season Six, then spending the extra money for an audio commentary track and a making of featurette is a little too much. I'm sure a lot of hardcore fans will still buy both.

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Filed under: Video Review, Ronny Cox, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, David Warner, Natalija Nogulich