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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

'Star Trek: The Next Generation The Best of Both Worlds' Blu-ray: Classic Event Television



Watching the Blu-ray feature-length movie version, which is being released on April 30, 2013, of the two-part "The Best of Both Worlds" (Worlds) episode of  "Star Trek: The Next Generation" coincided with discussing the lack of event television these days with my very significant other.

I recalled gathering with a large group during college to watch the nuclear holocaust film "The Day After" and a smaller group getting together every Wednesday to watch "Dynasty." I also hosted a party, complete with big salads and Tweety Bird pez dispensers, roughly 15 years later when the "Seinfeld" series finale aired.

This weekend's conversation occurred in the context of remarking that people typically at best do not know their neighbors and at worst have hostile relations with them. It definitely did not seem that way in the '50s when television began bringing people together.

"Worlds," which was the first season finale cliffhanger that "TNG" aired, revolved around the largely omnipotent Borg capturing Enterprise captain Picard to assimilate him into their collective culture. The goals of that effort included facilitating the Borg conquest of earth.

"Worlds" was event television when it premiered in 1990. The final scene of  the first part truly is shocking and looks beyond awesome in Blu-ray. Additionally, I recall being very eager for the conclusion in the fourth season premiere episode.

The upcoming Blu-ray release is the first time that "Worlds" has been available in a feature-film format, rather two separate one-hour episodes, for home consumption. Seeing it as a more fully integrated story is manna for Trekkers, and there is reasonable hope that Paramount will provide the remaining three season finale cliffhangers and the "TNG" classic series finale the same Blu-ray treatment.

Regarding the technical quality of the Blu-ray presentation, it truly is spectacular. I ask that anyone who is interested in more thoughts regarding this topic please read my review of the Blu-ray version, which shares "World's" release date, of "TNG's" third season.

My review of the third season mentions that "TNG" is a "house painting series" in that the quality is so good and that you pick up enough new content in each viewing that it is worth watching again after making your way through all seven seasons. This is particularly true regarding "Worlds."

In the spirit of the high standards of Starfleet, I confess that the numerous dramatic moments of "Worlds" are not quite so dramatic after five or six times. The story remains compelling, and the incredible audio and visual enhancements of the Blu-ray release make it worth watching again.

My only gripe relates to a scene in which two small spaceships attack the ginormous Borg cube despite strong knowledge of the Borg's firepower. This tactic is very silly and a horrible waste of both the ships and their crews. 

My new "take-aways" from the most recent viewing include the significance of both the first season "TNG" episode in which the Borg became part of "Star Trek" lore and the third season premiere episode in which microscopic nanites cause more mayhem than a herd of fuzzy little tribbles.

I additionally enjoyed a very humorous moment from the episode. A crew member who had inappropriately left early to visit a planet remarked that the early bird gets the worm. This prompted literal-minded android Data to scan the area and report in a very scientific manner that the planet did not have any birds or worms.

A more timely notable moment involved newly promoted acting captain William T. (Thomas, not Tiberius) Riker to look at the captured Picard's empty seat and, ala Clint Eastwood at last summer's Republican Convention, address his fallen comrade. Riker's monologue prompted me to comment to my very significant other "I can't tell Worf to do that to himself."

"Worlds" also prompted watching the feature film "Star Trek: First Contact" Sunday night. That excellent entry in the classic "Star Trek" films had the Borg traveling back to 2063 to stop humans from ever venturing out into space. As a side note, "Star Trek IV's" influence included my always remarking "remember where we parked" when out with friends.

"Contact" tied nicely and closely into "Worlds." "Contact" provided new insight into the motives for capturing Picard, and the actions in "World" proved pivotal in the subsequent film. Additionally, Picard's reaction in "Contact" to the Borg's terrorist tactics are highly relevant in our post-9/11 world in which the recent Boston Marathon bombings indicated that domestic terrorism ain't gonna stop any time soon.

The relevancy of the Borg's extremely effective fascist culture also prompted thoughts of the truly Americana '50s based '70s sitcom "Happy Days." I recalled an interview in which television icon, and genuinely nice guy, "Days" creator Garry Marshall stated that he set "Days" in the '50s so that it would never look dated.

"Star Trek" creator and Trekker idol Gene Roddenberry had an equal genius for including universal and timeless themes, including the hazards of wearing red shirts that apply in today's Democrat-controlled culture, in the "Star Trek" series and films in which he had a hand. Racism, megalomania, caste systems, discrimination based on sexual preferences, the existence rights of artificially created and/or particular evil life forms, and countless other challenges that "Trek" series addressed are like terrorism in that they ain't goin' nowhere.

The special features in the Blu-ray set include a new documentary titled "Regeneration: Exploring the Borg," which offers the insights of "TNG" actors and production folks of "Worlds" and the Borg in general, early sketches of the Borg, and fan commentary from primetime animation king Seth MacFarlane. I can relate to MacFarlane's enthusiasm for "Worlds," and his repeated viewings of that episode. There is also a gag reel and episode promos.

I encourage fellow Trekkers to email any thoughts or questions regarding any "Trek" series.