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Featured TV on DVD Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Best of Both Worlds

April 25th, 2013

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds is widely considered the best episode in the show's seven-year run. In fact, it is considered one of the ten best episodes in the franchise's history. It is coming out as a special engagement tonight and on a special Blu-ray on Tuesday. Is it worth checking out? Is it worth buying? Or should you stick to the full season sets and wait till season four comes out on Blu-ray to get both parts?

The Show

In Q Who, Q tries to teach humanity a lesson in humility by showing them how insignificant they are in the galaxy. He throws them into the Delta quadrant where they encounter the Borg, one of the most dangerous species in the galaxy. Q later sends the Enterprise home, but the Borg now know of humans and will travel to assimilate them.

In the first part of The Best of Both Worlds, the Borg have arrived at the outer most edge of Federation space and destroyed a colony there. The Federation had been preparing for the Borg's attack, but they thought they would have at least another year or two before they arrived. Admiral J.P. Hanson (George Murdock) talks to Jean-Luc Picard and Riker about preparations and introduces him to Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy). After Shelby and Riker leave, Admiral Hanson suggests to Picard that Shelby would make an excellent first officer. Picard is a little confused, because he has an excellent first officer, Riker. It turns out Riker has been offered the command of the Melbourne, but he has yet to accept it. He never even told Picard. Because Shelby wants the position and Riker seems unwilling to get out of the way, they clash at first.

It isn't long after that that the crew of the Enterprise receive a distress call about a cube-shaped vessel and move in to help. By the time they arrive, the Federation ship has long since been destroyed, but when Jean-Luc Picard hails the Borg, they know who he is and they demand he surrenders himself to the Borg. This takes everyone by surprise. Shelby's new shields don't hold, but at least she is able to get the phasers to be effective. Even so, the Enterprise has to run away and hide in a nearby nebula. While the Borg scan the nebula for the ship, the crew try and figure out a way to defeat the Borg. They come up with one plan that involves the main deflector dish and a concentrated blast of energy. Before they can get that plan into place, the Borg begin to bombard the nebula and force the Enterprise out into the open. After that, they quickly drain the shields, transport aboard, and abduct Picard.

At this point, we start to find ourselves in spoiler territory, so we should end the plot synopsis there.

I'm happy to report that The Best of Both Worlds holds up very well and it deserves its reputation. It is fantastic in nearly every way. The writing is amazing with excellent tension and great character work. The conflict between the Borg and the Federation feels important. This is an epic battle between civilizations and only one can survive. We get the impression that most of the crew think the Federation might not pull through on this one. On the other hand, the conflict between Riker and Shelby was smaller in scope, but it seemed natural and added to the story. It always annoyed me that Elizabeth Dennehy didn't get a chance to return as the character later on; she was really good in this role. The action scenes are very well done, especially for TV, and the special effects look great converted to high definition. There is perhaps a little too much technobabble, but it isn't gratuitous. The effect of the cliffhanger is lessened somewhat because the two parts are shown as one episode, but that's only a minor complaint.

The Extras

The biggest extras is an audio commentary with the director, Cliff Bole; the actress who played Shelby, Elizabeth Dennehy; and the technical advisor team of Michael and Denise Okuda. It is a very good tract and adds quite a bit of value to the Blu-ray. Next up is Regeneration: Engaging the Borg, a 30-minute retrospective on the episode. In includes interviews with some of the cast, some of the crew, and even some fans. Finally, there are close to six minutes of outtakes.

As for the technical presentation... this is the fifth Blu-ray release from Star Trek: The Next Generation I've reviewed and I've run out of ways to say the same thing. At this point, I think it is safe to say from now on, assume they look and sound fantastic, unless I say otherwise. There are no problems to report and it continues to be the best looking and best sounding catalog TV on DVD release I've seen. The menu says there are 3 seconds of standard definition footage up-converted to high definition on this episode, but I didn't even notice them. I was so wrapped up in the story.

On the downside, the Blu-ray costs $16 for just two episodes and the extras. That's not bad if you consider it a TV movie, but it is high for a TV on DVD release.

The Verdict

For many people, Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds is the high point for the series. It is undoubtedly in the top ten for the show's seven year run. The Blu-ray has better extras that most TV on DVD releases, but the price might scare off some fans.

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Filed under: Video Review, Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds, John de Lancie, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart