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Friday, November 7, 2014

'Star Trek: The Next Generation' S6 BD: Boldly Combining Thought-Provoking SciFi and Humor

Product Details
Watching the terrific CBS Home Entertainment Blu-ray (BD) feature-film version of the two-part "Star Trek: The Next Generation" S6 episode "Chain of Command" for a recent review triggered vague thoughts regarding the exceptional (and entertaining) quality of the episodes from that season. They had good humor and included numerous fan-favorite elements. Further, they kept this (by-now) veteran "Trek" series fresh if not always especially dramatic or serious.

Subsequently watching several episodes in the CBS 1992-93 S6 BD release confirms that this season is highly memorable and that the remastered episodes are well worth owning in Blu-ray despite TNG not being filmed in hi-def.

S6 begins with the conclusion to the S5 season-ending cliffhanger "Time's Arrow," which surprisingly is not available in a BD feature-film version. This one takes the fan-favorite technique of time travel to an awesome new level and has several members of the intrepid crew of the Enterprise encounter Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain.

This adventure commences with the "present-day" 24th century discovery of the head of advanced android science officer Lt. Commander Data during a study of a site from 19th century San Francisco. The fact that Data has never literally (and rarely figuratively) lost his head during his existence, which does not even date back even nearly 500 years, adds to the mystery.

Data is also center stage during Part One of the S6 cliffhanger episode "Descent." His dilemma this time is experiencing inexplicable reactions during a battle with the uber-evil (and powerful) cyborgs known as the Borg, who are displaying their own inexplicable behavior. The final scene in this episode is one that had Trekkers and Trekkies alike at the edge of their seats during the summer of 1993.

The aforementioned two-part "Chain" helped promote interest in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" roughly a month before the premiere of that series by having the Soviet-like Cardassians from "DS9" engage in simultaneous intense torture and efforts to reverse the contraction of their empire.

The subsequent two-part "TNG" "DS9" cross-over episode "Birthright" has Enterprise Klingon security officer Worf embarking on an important solo mission (and making surprising discoveries about both his father and a life-changing battle) based on information obtained at the station. Meanwhile, Data teams up with Dr. Julian Bashir of "DS9" to study the latest puzzling step in the evolution of the former.

The early-season episode "Relics" is arguably the most memorable in S6 in that it adds James Doohan to the list of "Trek" OS leads who guest star on "TNG." DeForest Kelley makes a hilarious cameo in the "TNG" pilot, and Leonard Nimoy shows up in the S5 episode "Unification."

As the title of Doohan's title suggests, his Captain Scott is not exactly up on the latest technology. Further, he experiences frustration regarding the "kids" of today not giving him the regard to which he feels that he is entitled.

Looking forward,"Starship Mine" has future "Star Trek: Voyager" star Tim Russ playing a member of a terrorist group that is plotting an attack. This one has entertaining elements of both "Die Hard" and "Home Alone." (One spoiler is that Russ does not dance in this one either.)

The Russ appearance follows future "Voyager" star Robert Duncan McNeill (The "McNeill" with one "l" is the one with no sense of humor) guest starring as a Starfleet Academy (think West Point) cadet in an S5 episode.

Trekkers and Trekkies also get the treat of two visits by the maliciously playful omnipotent Q. The latter of the two is more significant in that said villain requires Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard to re-examine his life with said continued existence being at stake. This one also has good fun and provides for several humorous moments between Picard and Q.

The remaining episodes are just as good and include similar humor and/or camp. Viewers even get to meet the not-so-evil twin of Commander William T. (Thomas, not Tiberius) Riker and to enjoy a "TNG" "kids" episode.

The typically excellent (but hardly standard) and very copious special features in the S6 BD set include profiles of characters and production people and elements, the evolution of "TNG," and a gag reel.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "TNG" S6 or anything "Trek" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.