Over the past two years, CBS Studios’ Blu-ray division has released all seven seasons of television’s classic science fiction series “Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).” Building on its previous work in remastering of “Star Trek: The Original Series,” CBS Blu-ray provides Trekkers a high-definition version of the Emmy-winning syndicated series that boldly goes where no one has gone before. In 2014, CBS Studios rolled out the last two 26-episode season sets, including Season Six.
The Final Frontier Goes Further
Capt. Picard: Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Season Six originally aired in broadcast syndication between September 21, 1992 and June 21, 1993. Its full 26-episode slate included several stories that veered away from the late Gene Roddenberry’s idealistic vision of the future and trekked into dramatic darkness.
Perhaps the best known divergence from Roddenberry’s Utopian version of the 24th Century is the two-episode Chains of Command, in which Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is captured by the Cardassians during a covert operation ordered by Starfleet Command. In Chains of Command, Picard endures torture and imprisonment at the hands of Gul Madred (David Warner). Given Roddenberry’s antipathy for stories in which Starfleet officers are not shown as explorers and diplomats, it’s hard to imagine his checking off on either Chain of Command or the Deanna Troi-as-spy story Face of the Enemy.
Gul Madred: I remember the first time I ate a live taspar. I was six years old and living on the streets of Lakat. There was a band of children, four, five…six years old—some even smaller, desperately trying to survive. We were thin, scrawny little animals, constantly hungry, always cold. We slept together in doorways, like packs of wild gettles, for warmth. Once I found a nest. Taspars had mated and built a nest in the eave of a burned-out building. And I found three eggs in it. It was like finding treasure. I cracked one open on the spot and ate it, very much as you just did. I planned to save the other two. They would keep me alive for another week. But of course, an older boy saw them and wanted them. And he got them. But he had to break my arm to do it.
Jean-Luc Picard: Must be rewarding to you to…to repay others for all those years of misery.
TNG’s sixth season also explored different aspects of the crew’s personal lives. In Tapestry, Q (recurring guest actor John de Lancie) gives Picard a glimpse at what the captain’s life would have been like had he been less impulsive as a young Starfleet officer. First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) discovers that he has an exact duplicate created by a transporter accident years before he served aboard the Enterprise in Second Chances. Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz) must confront his fear of the transporter in Realm of Fear, while Data becomes a Western baddie when his positronic brain is connected to the ship’s holodeck in A Fistful of Datas.
Commander William T. Riker: Mr. Data
Lt. Commander Data: [southern accent] Howdy, Commander.
Commander William T. Riker: Geordi, what have you found?
Lt. Commander Data: [southern accent] Well – we figure part of my memory structure…
Lt. Commander Data: [normal voice] … was replaced with information from the computer’s recreational database.
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Specifically, the files relating to the American 19th century West.
Commander William T. Riker: That would explain the accent.
Lt. Commander Data: [southern accent] You got it, partner.
Perhaps the most outstanding episode of Season Six is Ronald D. Moore’s Relics, which was a loving tribute to TNG’s television progenitor, “Star Trek: The Original Series.” Guest starring James Doohan as Scotty – aka the original Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Relics features a moving performance by Doohan as a man caught out of his own time, Once again, the transporter is a crucial story element, as is the Enterprise-D’s holodeck.
[Scotty walks up to the holodeck and activates it]
Computer Voice: Please enter program.
Scotty: The android at the bar said you could show me my old ship. Let me see it.
Computer Voice: Insufficient data. Please specify parameters.
Scotty: [frustrated] The Enterprise. Show me the bridge of the Enterprise, you chatterin’ piece of…
Computer Voice: There have been five Federation ships with that name. Please specify by registry number.
Scotty: N-C-C-1-7-0-1. No bloody A – B – C – or D!
The Blu-ray Set
CBS Blu-ray released “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six on June 24, 2014. The set’s six Blu-ray discs come in a slim Blu-ray jewel box package. Its cover art features TNG’s Starfleet insignia against a blue-violer backdrop. Within the Starfleet delta are portraits of Capt. Picard, Chief Engineer Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge, and Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher. The background art depicts an overhead view of the Enterprise-D cruising near a large planet.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six boldly goes where no one has gone before in 1080p high-definition Blu-ray and digitally remastered 7.1 audio. Discover new visual depths and enhanced special effects in unforgettable episodes that take the crew to strange new worlds. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) endures a Cardassian torturer, Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) uncovers a life-changing secret aboard the Starfleet station Deep Space Nine, and Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge rescues Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) from a 75-year transporter limbo. Experience al this and more, plus a trove of special features that unlock previously unrevealed secrets of the Star Trek universe. – Promotional blurb
CBS Blu-ray did not upgrade the 1992-1993 Season Six’s special effects with CGI graphics as they did with the remastered 40th Anniversary DVDs of “Star Trek: The Original Series.” They digitally cleaned up the images directly from the original film elements used during the series’ production. The result: a vast improvement in video and audio quality that doesn’t compromise the vision of the original directors and effects supervisors.
In a similar fashion as the previous five Blu-ray sets, “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six” offers a wide array of bonus features. Some are carryovers from the earlier DVD releases, but quite a few are all-new in this Blu-ray edition. The Mission Logs for Year Six in each of the six Blu-ray discs are from the earlier DVD editions, but there are several behind-the-scenes presentations that were produced for this Blu-ray set.
This set’s extra features include several new documentaries produced by CBS Home Entertainment, including the three-part retrospective “Beyond the Five Year Mission: The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation” and audio commentary by cast and crew on episodes such as Relics and Tapestry.
Like many fans of the “Star Trek” franchise, I consider TNG’s sixth season to be among the finest hours of the series’ 176-episode run. Freed from many of the story-telling restrictions imposed by series creator Gene Roddenberry, the writers dared to explore the sometimes shady side of Starfleet and the Federation.
Season Six also gave Patrick Stewart’s Capt. Picard more depth than in the previous seasons. Not only was he made more vulnerable in Chains of Command, Parts I and II, but he also had a bittersweet romance in Lessons, saved the Enterprise from terrorists in the “Die Hard”-like Starship Mine, and experienced a 24th Century version of Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Tapestry. Stewart also joined fellow cast members-turned-into-directors Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton behind the camera. when he directed A Fistful of Datas.
The Emmy-winning series’ penultimate season gave every regular cast member a chance to shine. Frakes’ “Number One,” Marina Sirtis’ Deanna Troi, Michael Dorn’s Lt. Worf, Brent Spiner’s Data, and Gates McFadden’s Dr. Crusher all got episodes in which the A plot (main story) focused on them rather than on just the Picard-Riker-Data trio.
As with the previous five “Star Trek: The Next Generation” season sets on Blu-ray, this is an excellent product. The Season Six Blu-ray set is great for old-school TNG fans who want to own the series on high-definition. It’s also a good window into the past for newcomers to the nearly 50-year-old “Star Trek” franchise who have only seen the J.J. Abrams reboot movies.
Q:You’re dead, this is the afterlife…and I’m God
Jean-Luc Picard: You are not God!
Q: Blasphemy! You’re lucky I don’t cast you out or smite you or something. The bottom line is, your life ended about five minutes ago… under the inept ministrations of Dr. Beverly Crusher.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Six” Episode Guide and Special Features
- “Time’s Arrow, Part II”
- “Realm of Fear”
- “Man of the People”
- Episodic Promos
- Audio commentary with Ronald D. Moore and Mike and Denise Okuda on “Relics”
- Deleted scenes from “Time’s Arrow, Part II” and “Relics”
- Mission Overview Year Six
- “True Q”
- “A Fistful of Datas”
- “The Quality of Life”
- Episodic Promos
- Deleted scene from “True Q”
- Bold New Directions
- Departmental Briefing Year Six: Production
- Departmental Briefing Profile: Dan Curry
- “Chain of Command, Part I”
- “Chain of Command, Part II”
- “Ship in a Bottle”
- “Face of the Enemy”
- Episodic Promos
- Deleted scenes from “Ship in a Bottle” and “Face of the Enemy”
- Special Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data
- “Birthright, Part I”
- “Birthright, Part II”
- “Starship Mine”
- Deleted scenes from “Tapestry” and “Birthright, Part II”
- Audio commentary with Ronald D. Moore and Mike and Denise Okuda on “Tapestry”
- Episodic Promos
- Select Historical Data
- “The Chase”
- “Frame of Mind”
- “Rightful Heir”
- “Second Chances”
- Episodic Promos
- Audio commentary with James L. Conway and Jonathan West on “Frame of Mind”
- Deleted scenes from “The Chase” and “Rightful Heir”
- Inside Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props
- “Descent, Part One”
- Episodic Promos
- Beyond the Five Year Mission – The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Part 1: The Lithosphere
- Part 2: The Biosphere
- Part 3: The Noosphere
- Gag Reel
- Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
- Resolution: 1080p
- Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
- Original aspect ratio: 1.33:1
- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kbps)
- German: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
- French: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0
English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
- 50GB Blu-ray Disc
- Six-disc set (6 BDs)
Slipcover in original pressing