Paramount and CBS Digital continue to beautifully immortalize the crew of the starship USS Enterprise-D with the high-definition release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Six (CBS Home Entertainment, Not Rated, $129.99).
The latest collection arrives on six Blu-ray disks and, again, as with all of the latest re-releases of The Next Generation series, remastered to eye-watering brilliance.
Owners get all 26 episodes of the show originally appreciated during the 1992 to 1993 television season. Yeah, remember the days when a TV show season lasted more than eight to 12 episodes.
That translates into some classic “Trek” for fans highlighted by the adventures of such legends as Capt. Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), Cmdr. William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton).
Within the set are some of my favorite episodes including:
Relics — Chief engineer La Forge investigates a deserted, nearly destroyed, ship and finds someone purposely stuck in in the transporter buffer. I’ll be darn, it’s Scottie (actor James Doohan), the engineer from the original “Star Trek” series. What follows is a wonderful story as the old Montgomery Scott tries to fit in with the new Enterprise and its crew, and eventually realizes he still has a value in the universe.
Chain of Command — A two-part episode eventually finds Picard relentlessly and brutally tortured by a Cardassian (not Kim or but the villainous actor extraordinaire David Warner) after being caught in a covert mission on the planet Celtris III. The mind games played out will have any fan of George Orwell’s novel “1984” in full salute.
Tapestry — Thanks to the mystical powers of alien “Q,” Picard gets to relive key moments in his life in the most Frank Capra of story lines. Both Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie deliver powerhouse performances here.
Descent — A cliffhanger ending for Season 6 revolves around the crew dealing with a major threat from a unique collection of Borg, while Data has an emotional response to the entire situation. Watch for an appearance by esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking.
What’s important throughout each show, presented in its original 1:33:1 aspect ratio (meaning not wide-screen but old-school size TV), is the CBS Digital team of artisans’ meticulous remastering effort.
They, once again, took the original 35-mm camera negatives, rescanned them and reassembled each show often rebuilding the special effects shots from scratch to deliver the incredible visuals while bundling the look with enhanced DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. The result is a brilliant viewing experience for the connoisseur of the series.
The great news is almost everything looks amazing from the costuming and special effects to the fine detail on the ship modeling and planets. However, makeup suffers with the high-resolution format making Worf’s head appliance look like a piece of painted plastic.
Still, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Season Six provides some of the best and most intelligent science fiction of the era and arguable some of the best television in the history of the medium.
Best extras: The bonus content is really the remastered shows themselves, what a treat. However, I will mention a trio of new audio commentaries (“Relics” with writer Ronald D. Moore is essential), deleted scenes, crew profiles, episode promos and the near 90-minute documentary “Beyond the Five Year Mission — The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Broken up into three segments (Lithosphere, Biosphere and Noosphere), viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at the entire series, including time devoted to the break out series “Deep Space Nine,” interviews with production staff as well as the actors and a lively bit with Whoopie Goldberg (of course, Guinan the bartender on the USS Enterprise-D).