Star Trek: The Next Generation-Season One (Blu-ray) (1987)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Selected Crew Analysis
Featurette-The Making Of A Legend
Featurette-Energized: Taking The Next Generation To The Next Level
Featurette-Documentary – Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: T
|Year Of Production||1987|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (7)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 (6912Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In 1966, Gene Roddenberry brought Star Trek to the small screen. On its original run the Original Series, as it is now referred to, was only a modest success, being cancelled after running only three seasons. However, the show found a new life in re-runs, and having been re-run over a decade the show slowly found new audiences in the US and in Europe and other parts of the world, until it became an icon – a part of popular culture so instantly recognisable that it often pervades our lexicon without us even knowing it.
The success of the series in re-runs led to a series of big screen ventures. Given the fan base that the series had established having been almost endlessly rerun for the better part of a decade, the first movie was a commercial success, leading to a number of sequels.
By the mid-1980s, Gene Rodenberry thought that it was time to restart the small screen adventures, but this time he conceived of setting the show nearly eighty years after the setting of the Original Series, allowing for all sorts of new technology and new social developments to be brought to the show. Thus was born the subject of this review, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One. The double-episode pilot, ”Encounter At Farpoint”, first aired in the US in September 1987 to some 28 million viewers, and although the ratings waxed and waned over the years, it did build in popularity, both in the US and in Europe.
Finishing in 1994, the characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation were then the subject of 4 of the big screen movies - Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis - as well as the progenitor of three spin-off series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Separate from the big and small screen adventures were a series of novels, numerous comic books and a number of computer games that all fed into the mythos of the universe created by Star Trek: The Next Generation. In short, Star Trek: The Next Generation became its own wide and diverse universe across multiple media platforms.
So it is fitting that, 25 years later, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Video have collaborated to bring Star Trek: The Next Generation into the 21st Century by way of a high definition transfer – a task that many said simply could not be done. The process, as detailed in the special features in this set, involved a painstaking recreation of each episode from the original film negative per the filming notes, scanning the film in at 4K resolution and recutting the episodes into their broadcast versions. In addition to the film scanning and editing process, each and every special effect needed to be recreated, many of which were never done in film and only on NTSC video for the original broadcast.
Trite as it sounds, rewatching these episodes in their recreated versions in 1080p High Definition, this reviewer was caught off guard by how well the series holds up. Having stayed up late to watch the original broadcast of the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in Australia on my old 52cm CRT TV (those were the days), it was quite phenomenal to have the opportunity to watch the series again as intended but with the benefit of High Definition resolution and on a 64-inch TV that captures all of the effects of the multitude of models used, and the use of computer graphics to enhance the original without changing the story line or the intended shot.
As for the show itself, there is not much that can be said that has not already been said. The second incarnation of the small screen adventures of the crew of the Starship Enterprise initially strove in many ways to be like its progenitor, until it slowly found its own feet and distinguished itself from the adventures of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That probably did not occur until the episode "Datalore", but the show itself would probably not properly come into its own and throw of the shackles of its history until the third season. That is not to say that this first season is a waste of your time – it is not. There are many stand out episodes in the first season, including "Where No One Has Gone Before", "The Battle", the aforementioned "Datalore" and the penultimate episode "Conspiracy".
What cannot be denied is that, 25 years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One still holds up, and its influences on small-screen story-telling as well as modern day life are, if anything, even more obvious now.
Shot on 35mm film, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been transferred in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Although the producers wanted to recast the series into a 1.78:1 aspect ratio to fill a 16:9 TV, this proved too difficult given that all of the shots and 90% of the special effects were composed for a 1.33:1 frame. Pushing the series into a 1.78:1 frame would have involved either drastically reducing the information on the top and bottom of the screen, or else digitally removing objects and people caught in the 1.78:1 frame and recreating from scratch each and every special effects shot. This proved ultimately unfeasible, and so the show was re-edited in its original aspect ratio.
So how does it look? Encoded at a resolution 1080p in MPEG-4 AVC encode with a rough bit rate of 30Mbps, the picture is stunning – well beyond anything I expected when I sat down to watch this. The level of detail in the film is truly astounding, and the High Definition encode brings the show to life in a way it never seemed in its initial airing or at any time since on DVD. It feels like it was made yesterday.
There are certainly some dark scenes that do suffer from the quality of the film, resulting in a graininess that would not have been present on broadcast TV. Several such scenes occurred in the episode "Where No One Has Gone Before", where the graininess and darkness resulted in loss of shadow detail. But by and large those scenes are minimal.
The colour is truly a joy to behold – the depth and richness of the numerous bright colours used in the series had a vibrancy well beyond that present in the DVD release. Uniforms, computer terminals, even the interior of the Enterprise were all vivid and realistic.
There were no film or film-to-video artefacts that I spotted. However, there are a few scenes scattered throughout the series that are clearly "up-resolutioned" NTSC video. These scenes are short, generally of no more than a couple of seconds, and result from the producers of this Blu-Ray version being unable to locate the original film negative of the scene in question. To their credit, I only spotted a handful of such scenes, although they do tend to stick out next to their true High Definition counterparts.
Subtitles are available in numerous languages including English for the Hearing Impaired.
Originally recorded with a Dolby Stereo mix, the audio of the Blu-Ray has been remixed with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix at 48kHz and an average bit rate of 4.8Mbps. However, the original Dolby Stereo mix has been included with the set in English and a number of foreign languages. I sampled the Dolby Stereo mix but listened to the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix.
Although the sound field has tried to stay faithful to the original audio intent, the remix is far more impressive than any previous home video release. In short, this is one of those audio mixes that is demo-worthy and puts you in the middle of the sound field like the TV series were airing in a theatre.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout the series – central in the mix and given priority so that it is always intelligible.
Whilst dialogue is generally central, this is hardly a front driven soundtrack. The surround and the subwoofer are quite active through each episode as the sound field requires it, though never out of balance. I unfortunately do not have room for back surrounds so cannot comment directly on their use, but would suggest that given how aggressively the left and right surrounds are used I have no doubt that the back surrounds are equally as well utilized.
There are some criticisms online about some apparent faults in the audio mix of the US Blu-Ray release where the front and back surround channels were reversed. Paramount Home Entertainment responded to this criticisms by acknowledging the fault and releasing replacement discs and holding back the international release dates of the series until the fault could be corrected. I did not detect any fault in the audio mix like that described.
All up, this is an amazing soundtrack that, in some respects, sounds better than it deserves to – not that I am complaining mind you...
|Surround Channel Use|
The start-up menu is presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a DTS-HD MA soundtrack.
Presented in 1.33:1, Standard Definition, each episode is accompanied by the TV the commercial that aired for the episode in question.
Promotional featurette from the time of the airing of the first season of The Next Generation.
Promotional featurette from the time of the airing of the first season of The Next Generation.
A detailed documentary covering the restoration process of the series and everything that went into converting the show to HD.
A documentary from the original DVD release detailing the first season.
A featurette from the original DVD release with production crew discussing the creation of the characters and the issues with establishing the characters in the first season.
A featurette from the original DVD release looking at the production of the effects and look of the show.
A featurette from the original DVD release with cast members discussing their favourite moments of making the first season.
This is a documentary in three parts - "Inception" (28:09), “Launch” (32:13) and “Continuing Mission” (32:42) detailing everything from Gene Rodenberry’s conception of the show and convincing the studio and the cast to get involved, interviews with the original cast members, and interviews with the original production and special effects persons. By far the best special feature in this set.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Paramount Home Entertainment do not region code their Blu-Rays, so the US release is Region Free. It would appear that this release is a direct port of the US release with slightly different packaging to conform with Australian ratings markings and a slim-line package and with the audio corrections already included.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One is landmark TV as you have never seen it before. This is by far the most impressive restoration effort of a TV series that I have seen, and I cannot wait to see the rest of the series in this manner. Hopefully these releases will be successful enough to justify restoration of other Star Trek series (I for one am eagerly awaiting Star Trek: Deep Space Nine remastered as this show has been) and serve as inspiration for restoration efforts of other landmark TV series that deserve to be brought into the 21st Century as this series has been.
|DVD||PlayStation 3 160GB with HDMI 1.4a, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 64" Plasma PN64E8000 (this device is 3D capable). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Marantz SR6006 Receiver and Rotel RB-1552|
|Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 fronts, wide-fronts, rears, Wharfedale Diamond 10.CM centre, Velodyne MicroVee subwoofer|