Disc Spotlight: ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation — Season One’ Makes a Stunning Debut On Blu-ray

By  · Published on July 30th, 2012

They say the world is divided into two types of people: those who prefer Star Wars and those who prefer Star Trek. Of course, they also say the same thing regarding Elvis Presley/The Beatles, chocolate/vanilla, and Charlie Sheen/Emilio Estevez.

I’ve always leaned towards the Star Wars side of things (along with The Beatles, chocolate and Estevez), and to that end I’ve never before watched an entire episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The original series I’ve seen from beginning to end over the years, but The Next Generation? Never gave it the time. Which reminds me… the world is also divided into people who prefer Captain James Kirk and those who prefer Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

The show ended its seven-season run in 1994, but the series has never received the high definition treatment that fans have been clamoring for. That HD drought ends this week as CBS-HD and Paramount bring all 25 episodes of the show’s first season to Blu-ray along with a strong complement of special features.

And now I’m no longer an NCC-1701-D virgin.

The First Season:

Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG going forward) was the first hour-long drama made exclusively for syndication, and it was an immense gamble. While most shows had homes on the networks this one was a risk that had to pick up affiliates one at a time. Its eventual success helped pave the way for our current television model where many of the best hour-long dramas are off network shows and found in places like FX, AMC and HBO.

That success lasted seven seasons, but it all started twenty five years ago in 1987. The show was ahead of the technological curve then, but watching now makes it difficult to appreciate what must have been cutting-edge effects. Still, old shows (like all media) have value beyond their contemporary presentation. The Twilight Zone, The Greatest American Hero and even the original Star Trek are incredibly dated, but they’re still wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking series. (Well, Hero is obviously more of the former.)

Watching TNG for the first time it’s easy to forgive the high tech world of the 80s, and instead it’s in the scripts and ideas where the show feels the most dated. We get it. Humanity in the future is pretty much perfect. They’ve eliminated racism, sexism, hunger, herpes and the lack of carte blanche options from cable providers, and while they’re constantly called to task for the crimes of mankind’s past the men and women of the USS Enterprise consistently show themselves to be humanity at its finest.

It’s a recurring theme throughout season one, and it works as often as it doesn’t. I watched all twenty five episodes in order, and while some of the episodes stood out for their writing or events (“Conspiracy”) just as many stood apart for less positive reasons (“Code of Honor”). Here are my quick thoughts on each along with a rating on a one to ten scale.

The Blu-ray:

Having never watched the show before I had no reference point for the quality of the Blu-ray’s high definition upgrade, but even without that foreknowledge it’s easy to see that these episodes look stunning. The new featurette on disc one covers the upgrade in detail, and it shows an incredible difference between the previous DVD standard and this new Blu.

In addition to every frame of filmed footage being digitally remastered they’ve also re-composited all of the show’s practical effects. Remember practical effects? The ships here are physical models, not CGI, and this new Blu allowed the opportunity to bring out details fans never knew existed. My favorite, discussed in detail in the featurettes, is the appearance of people moving inside the ship’s top windows during the opening-credits fly though. The fact that they’re hand drawn animation just makes it that much cooler. The digital effects get a makeover too most notably in the various planets the ship is shown flying above.

The set includes a handful of extras that previously premiered on the DVD releases, but it’s also home to some solid new features including:

Bottom Line:

This purchase should be a no-brainer for Star Trek fans whether or not they already have the season on DVD. Every episode looks like it could have been shot just last year. Sure it would have been nice if the tech wizards over at CBS-HD could have also fixed the lack of stunt doubles’ resemblance to the actors they’re doubling. Or how the fleshtone on Data’s neck is clearly visible when the face paint wears off. Or how smarmy Riker looks when he smiles. Or how more patients die on Dr. Crusher’s operating table than survive…

Star Trek: The Next Generation ‐ Season One is now available on Blu-ray from Amazon.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.