The Series (4/5)
I tried like hell not to watch the theatrical release version of Best of Both Worlds, and attempted to suffer through the months long wait after the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 for the resolution to the epic cliffhanger presented in the episode (Picard becoming a Borg), but alas I could not resist. That, of course, did not stop me from watching the episode again as soon as I could secure a copy of the Season 4 Blu-ray set. It should be said that the first 3 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were building up to something, starting slowly as a good piece of sci-fi television, and getting better with each subsequent season. However, with the Best of Both Worlds two-parter, and the emergence of the Borg as such an epic threat in the TNG universe, it goes from just another great science fiction series, to earning it's status as a legendary entry in science fiction television.
I try not to do episode overviews on these reviews, and like to keep them much more of about my feelings on the series and a general overview. However, the next episode, Family, as many of you are aware takes place on Earth almost directly after the events of Best of Both Worlds. The episode acts as a separate, but wonderful conclusion to the pair of episodes that precede it and in a way makes the piece a trilogy. It also offers a thematic glimpse into Series 4, which deals more with family in both the case of blood relations, and also the family created by the characters either by other members of the crew as we have slowly seen building since the beginning of the series. This series beyond the familial themes also plays with themes of honor and loyalty with greater depth than seen in prior series especially in regard to Worf’s character progression throughout the season, coming to terms with his dishonor from the Klingon empire.
The prior seasons have been a mixed bag with certain episodes begin good to fantastic, and others being outright stinkers. There are certainly some less than great episodes mixed in here, but by this point those episodes are getting further between, and even the worst episodes are at least entertaining. The series writers are also expanding outside of their various comfort zones, and writing stories that are not typical of the series.
The highlights of Season 4 for me are as follows
Best of Both Worlds Part 2
Family (Quite possibly my favorite TNG episode ever)
CBS have presented Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 with another astounding 1:33:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. As with the last 3 series of TNG this set blows away and exceeds any expectations I had for the series on Blu-ray. The sheer level of detail in these transfer is amazing from ship details, to facial details in close up shots, to background elements that were previously obscured in SD. The colors on this transfer absolutely pop, black levels are inky and deep, and flesh tones are accurate.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 tracks in English. The audio as with the video is completely flawlessly presented with dialogue coming through nice and clearly. The music and sound effects take center stage, and really come through well. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the set.
As with the prior sets there is an exhausting amount of supplements on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4. Some of them are ported from the DVD release, whilst others were newly crafted for this Blu-ray set. Each disc has an Archival Mission Log ported over from the DVD set. These featurettes usually run about 13-20 minutes in lengthy, and give a season overview, a look at the crew, locations, the staff behind the series, the production, and other archival information. There are a pair of commentaries on the set. The first disc has a commentary on Brothers featuring Mike and Denise Okuda, and Rob Bowman. The second has a commentary track on Reunion again with the Okuda's and also with Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga.
The Sixth Disc of the set features the newly crafted extras. There is a slightly longer than a hour interview with the Art Department from TNG. We then get a 29 minute featurette called Relativity: The Family Saga of Star Trek The Next Generation Part 1: Homecoming and Part 2 Posterity that runs 27 minutes both discuss TNG from the perspective of the cast and crew from the position of Season 4 (actually the Season 3 cliffhanger), and into the future, and cover a variety of topics about the show. The set is rounded off with a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
I never found any of the Star Trek sequel series particularly interesting growing up, so this is my initial voyage through the TNG universe, and with each subsequent season the show seems to be bringing more to the table. The A/V restoration compared to my memories of seeing a handful of episodes on TV is simply mind-blowing, and the volume of extras is enough for me to rate this set as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.