Twenty-five years after debuting in syndication, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is looking spiffier than ever in its new Blu-ray incarnation.
After watching the big-screen presentations of the first season episodes “Datalore” and “Where No One Has Gone Before,” I was excited to finally get my PS3 back from the repair place late last week so I could watch the Blu-ray set Paramount sent me.
Knowing the set was coming, I watched a few episodes on BBC America so I’d be able to compare the quality. And while I don’t think the current broadcast quality is quite as bad as the before and after shots would have you believe, there is significant improvement in the special effects and the overall picture quality.
There’s a making-of featurette that covers the restoration process — how they went back to the original film elements, digitized them and cleaned them up. Unlike today’s sci-fi, “TNG” still used models for the ships, so there wasn’t too much to do there. But the planets those ships fly by look a lot better, and one of the best examples of the enhancements comes with the Crystalline Entity in “Datalore.” It looks much cooler now.
There’s also a new series of behind-the-scenes featurettes called “Stardate Revisited” with new cast interviews (a round-table cast reunion is due with the Season 2 set), as well as lots of production crew members and archival footage of creator Gene Roddenberry.
The wardrobe/makeup tests are especially hilarious. Ah, the ’80s. And it does touch on some of the on- and off-set turmoil with Denise Crosby leaving, as well as some issues in the writers room.
What bugged me, though, and made me wonder about the accuracy of any of the cast interviews: Patrick Stewart contradicts an interview shown in a 2002 featurette from the earlier DVD release. In the new one, he says before auditioning he had never watched “Star Trek”; he just remembered something about guys in colorful T-shirts and relied on his kids to tell him about it. But in the older interview, he said watching “Star Trek” was a weekly ritual with his wife while he was acting at Stratford.
But the show made up for the inconsistency with a hilarious glamour-shot interview with Marina Sirtis. Seriously, what were they thinking?
As for the show itself, it’s the first season. There are some great moments (I will always love Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi, and she’s great in “Haven”; Q is a fantastic character), and there are some duds (stiff acting, many of the cutaway shots with weird looks between cast members, Wesley telling his mother he thought she know how to turn Data on).
It’s interesting how much you forget about when things happened after so many seasons and then so many years since watching. It all blurs together. A preview for the season 2 set reminded me that Guinan, the Borg and Dr. Polaski were all season 2 additions. I thought they’d come later.
If you’re a die-hard fan, this is a can’t miss set — unless you want to wait for the inevitable full-series release in a couple years. The show looks great, and it’ll only get better with future season releases.