Star Trek: The Next Generation-Season 1 (1987)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-May-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Star Trek Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-The Beginning
Featurette-Selected Crew Analysis
Featurette-The Making Of A Legend
Featurette-Memorable Missions
Booklet-16pp
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 1133:38 (Case: 1131)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Corey Allen
Paul Lynch
Russ Mayberry
Richard Colla
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Levar Burton
Michael Dorn
Gates McFadden
Marina Sirtis
Denise Crosby
Brent Spiner
Case Gatefold
RPI $229.95 Music Dennis McCarthy
Ron Jones
Fred Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Norwegian
Swedish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, uncommon
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1986 we were watching the fourth Star Trek movie (The Voyage Home), and it had become clear to even the densest studio executive that there was considerable life in the Star Trek universe. Gene Roddenberry had been asked about reviving the TV series. Clearly they couldn't use the original cast - they were busy making movies. But the studio execs wanted something as similar as possible. Gene Roddenberry didn't like that idea - he started outlining new characters for a show set later in the Star Trek universe. After discussing his ideas with quite a few people, he developed the outline of what became Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Because I'm a bit lazy, I intend to abbreviate that to ST: TNG in this review)

    Technically one could argue about the term "next generation" - a generation is generally regarded as being about 30 years, and this series is set about 75 years later, but that's getting really picky (I'm very good at that).

    Roddenberry was a clever man. Precedent had already been set for a new Enterprise in the fourth Star Trek movie - that movie introduced the NCC-1701A. Rather than call the new ship the NCC-1701B he called this one the NCC-1701D (we got to see NCC-1701B in the movie Star Trek: Generations, and NCC-1701C in an episode of ST: TNG, so his foresight paid off). This ship was larger, much more powerful, and intended for extended voyages. This required the ability to provide the crew with some of the comforts of a normal life: hence the holodeck, and the accommodating of whole families aboard. That had further implications - how to keep those families safe while fighting battles, for the Enterprise is definitely a manifestation of "walk softly but carry a big stick". The answer was cute: the Enterprise can split into two pieces - the saucer section, with the families on board can run away to the nearest star base, while the battle section (also known as the stardrive section), with all the power of the warp nacelles, and relieved of the mass of the saucer, becomes a rather daunting weapon. I have always wondered how the saucer section can achieve warp speed, given that we have been told that warp speed requires warp nacelles, but I'm sure there's an explanation...

    While on the subject of things that I've always wondered about - don't you think it a touch strange that out of over a thousand people on board, the only people considered suitable for away missions are the bridge crew? I'd have thought that  the ship might carry teams of specialists that would be rather better suited to beaming down and sorting out problems, but what the heck!

    Oh, and one last comment before I start talking about the episodes: I passionately hate the way the scriptwriters use Q. Q is an exercise in laziness, pure and simple. When a scriptwriter is too lazy to think up a consistent, logical reason for something, he simply waves Q over it and no further explanation is required. Grumph! Feel free to disagree, but you're unlikely to change my opinion on this. Anyway, on to the episodes.

    I was a bit surprised by how much happened in the first season - quite a few of the episodes I remember fondly come in this first season. Watching all of them again brought back quite a few memories.

    The pilot for ST: TNG was Encounter at Farpoint - this is good strong stuff, introducing the characters and the ship, and explaining some of the most important things, like Geordi's VISOR, and Data's existence. There are some inconsistencies between this episode and the rest of the first season: perhaps the most glaring is Troi's appearance in a standard Star Fleet uniform (and the frock version, to boot), given she is the only one not in uniform for the rest of the season; although Tasha Yar's appearance in the final scene in the same uniform (I think this is the only time we see Tasha in a frock!) is a bit jarring. It is good to see that this double-length episode has been presented as a unit, with no annoying break in the middle.

    Interesting that the episodes are numbered, but are not presented in numerical order, nor in order of stardate. The sequence below is the sequence in which they appear on the DVDs - perhaps this is the order in which they were broadcast? Or at least, in the USA - I am fairly confident that The Naked Now was not the second episode broadcast here in Australia.

# Title Director Music Length Stardate Comment
721 Encounter at Farpoint Corey Allen Dennis McCarthy 87:15 41153.7 our introduction to the people and universe of ST: TNG
103 The Naked Now Paul Lynch Ron Jones 43:39 41209.2 harking back to an episode from the original Star Trek, when people are affected by an intoxication. Data is proven fully functional
104 Code of Honour Russ Mayberry Fred Steiner 43:35 41235.25 Tasha Yar kidnapped and fighting for her life
107 The Last Outpost Richard Colla Dennis McCarthy 43:40 41386.4 the first encounter with the Ferengi
106 Where No One Has Gone Before Rob Bowman Ron Jones 43:37 41263.1 the Enterprise thrown 2.7 million light years in minutes
108 Lonely Among Us Cliff Bole Ron Jones 43:35 41249.3 transporting the Anticans and Selay to a meeting
109 Justice James L Conway Dennis McCarthy 43:35 41255.6 the Edo, who dress in the skimpiest of white outfits, are quite friendly
110 The Battle Rob Bowman Ron Jones 43:37 41723.9 another meeting with the Ferengi, and we learn part of Picard's past
111 Hide and Q Cliff Bole Dennis McCarthy 43:35 41590.5 Q's second appearance, this time testing Commander Riker
105 Haven Richard Compton Dennis McCarthy 43:38 41294.5 Troi's mother Lwaxana Troi and Troi's wedding
113 The Big Goodbye Joseph L Scanlan Dennis McCarthy 43:37 41997.7 our first encounter with Picard's favourite detective: Dixon Hill - on the holodeck
114 Data Lore Rob Bowman Ron Jones 43:38 41242.4 we learn more about Data's background, and encounter Lore for the first time
115 Angel One Michael Rhodes Dennis McCarthy 43:35 41636.9 a female-dominated society threatened by 4 male survivors of a freighter crash
116 11001001 Paul Lynch Ron Jones 43:36 41365.9 the Bynars upgrading the Enterprise computer; Riker playing jazz on the holodeck
112 Too Short a Season Rob Bowman George Romanis 43:35 41309.5 transporting Admiral Mark Jamison to negotiate for hostages on Mordan IV
118 When The Bough Breaks Kim Manners Ron Jones 43:38 41509.1 the mythical planet Aldea is real, and in need of gifted children
117 Home Soil Corey Allen Dennis McCarthy 43:37 41463.9 Director Mandl (Walter Gotell) in charge of a terraforming project that's having problems
119 Coming of Age Michael Vejer Dennis McCarthy 43:29 41416.2 Wesley testing for entry to Starfleet Academy, the Enterprise being investigated by Commander Remmick

120   

Heart of Glory   

Rob Bowman

Ron Jones

43:34

41503.2

some rescued Klingons give us more of an understanding of Worf

121   

Arsenal of Freedom   

Les Landau

Dennis McCarthy

43:36

41798.2

"peace through superior firepower" - perfect motto for an arms merchant!

123   

Symbiosis   

Win Phelps

Dennis McCarthy

43:37

(none given)

the interdependence of the planets Onarra and Brekka via the drug felicium

122   

Skin of Evil   

Joseph L Scanlan

Ron Jones

43:33

41601.3

a puddle of black goo named Armus causes serious problems

124   

We'll Always Have Paris   

Robert Becker

Ron Jones

43:34

41697.9

time distortion ripples spread across thousands of light years

125   

Conspiracy   

Cliff Bole

Dennis McCarthy

43:34

41775.5

the entire Federation is faced by a threat that is difficult to pin down

126   

The Neutral Zone   

James L Conway

Ron Jones

43:39

41986

the first encounter in fifty years with the Romulans

    Unlike the original Star Trek, where there was a distinct sexist difference in uniforms, with men wearing trousers, and women in frocks, it is interesting to see both variations of the uniform worn by both sexes - seeing a muscular male figure in a frock is a bit disconcerting, but a distinct victory for equality. And the formal uniforms (first seen in Lonely Among Us) look rather like a frock over trousers. The costumer has the occasional fondness for making blouses for women that have fronts and backs, but no sides - see, in particular, Jenice Mannheim's costume in We'll Always Have Paris, but also the outfit Tasha Yar wears in The Naked Now.

    Most of the props are much higher quality than those in the original Star Trek, but there are the occasional exceptions: the away team being threatened by toasting forks in Angel One, for example.

    I rather liked the casting of Majel Barrett (who played the voice of the computer on the original Star Trek, and who was married to Gene Roddenberry) as Lwaxana Troi - she clearly relished the role, and played it beautifully over-the-top.

    One area that varied a lot was Engineering - we saw a number of Chief Engineers during this season, including a female Chief Engineer McDougal in The Naked Now, a Chief Engineer Argyle in Lonely Among Us, and Chief Engineer Logan in Arsenal of Freedom. I suspect that this was why Geordi was put in charge of Engineering in a later season - clearly they couldn't find a suitable Scot...

    It is quite something to watch these episodes quickly, one after another - there are flaws, but the breadth of vision is rather impressive. In brief, I can definitely recommend this set for interest and content, but I have to say that the quality of the material is somewhat limited - this is not a flaw of the transfer so much as in the source material. An excellent start to what promises to be quite a collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVDs are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and therefore are not 16x9 enhanced. That's how TV was made in 1987/88, so we can hardly be surprised.

    The picture is variable, but generally rather good. Most of the time the image is rather sharp, with good shadow detail and little or no low-level noise. There are exceptions: some of the footage is rather grainy, and there are some moments of sloppy focus - like at 20:31 in Arsenal of Freedom, or 29:08 and 31:48 in Lonely Among Us, and 6:59 in Angel One. There's some low-level noise or grain around 7:45 and 8:20 of Data Lore and there's serious grain at 31:56 in Conspiracy. and 2:08 in The Neutral Zone. There are variations in brightness, too; Home Soil, in particular, has some very dark scenes - the first meeting in the observation lounge is so dark that all the uniforms appear almost black. But the worst variation in brightness lies between different shots around 22:00 in Angel One. Perhaps the most telling instances of sloppy focus are those where we have a series of close-ups of different people talking together, and one of those is out of focus, but the rest are clear and sharp - this can be nothing but flawed source material, because the transfer can't vary like that. There's rather reduced shadow detail in parts of The Big Goodbye, for no apparent reason. There's also some effect that looks like excessive edge enhancement (fortunately this is relatively rare) - see 2:16 of Hide and Q, for example.

    Colour is generally clear and bright. As mentioned, colour is rather dark in Home Soil. There's no over-saturation or colour bleed. There are several instances where the maroon of the command uniforms becomes banded or striated - see 42:15 of Hide and Q, for example, and at various times in The Naked Now.

    There are lots of film artefacts, but they are mostly quite small. Some examples of the larger ones are: a spot on the star field at 42:41 in The Naked Now, a black line on the frame at 24:04 in Code of Honour, a white spot at 36:32 in Lonely Among Us, another at 10:36 in Justice, a hair at 12:22 of Hide and Q, and another hair at 13:39 of Haven.

    There is a lot of aliasing, especially in the external shots of the Enterprise. I suspect that this may have been exacerbated by these shots originating in NTSC, and having been converted to PAL - hard to be sure. The problem is strong enough to result in apparent ripples of the edge of the Enterprise as it moves - see 11:13 of Angel One, for example, or any instance of the stock shot of the Enterprise moving from left to right across an orange planet. There's also some moire, but it is quite minor compared to the aliasing.

    We get quite a bit of MPEG shimmer on background surfaces, but I didn't find it too distressing - it just comes across like fine film grain.

    All-in-all, this is not a brilliant transfer, but an awful lot of the problems are attributable to fairly low grade source materials - bear in mind that this stuff was shot to be shown on NTSC TV, rather than in a home theatre, and this season was shot under somewhat constrained budget conditions. Without a huge restoration effort, I very much doubt we'll ever see this material in better condition.

    There are ten subtitle tracks, including both English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched a lot of the English subtitles, and they are mostly very good - well-timed, accurate, and very easy to read. They use a slightly larger font than usual, probably to compensate for the possibility of being shown on smaller screens. I did catch one big error in the subtitles starting at 29:05 in Arsenal of Freedom: the subtitle reads: "...there's a good chance we'll be blasted to pieces...", but the audio says "...there's a good chance she'll be blasted out of the sky..." - I have no idea where that error came from.

    All seven discs are single sided (boring labels!) and dual layered. There are no visible layer changes - I suspect because they have placed two episodes on one layer, and the other two on the other layer. This would have been made easy to do by the extreme consistency in episode length - I have never seen a series with such consistency.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is presented in five languages - I only listened to the English (curse my limited language skills!). The English soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, although there's very little to distinguish this from a stereo soundtrack. Some of the extras had fairly poor sound, with some hiss and quite a bit of environmental sound.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand with no audio sync issues.

    The score is credited to quite a few composers, with Dennis McCarthy and Ron Jones appearing most often. The main theme has been carefully built from the fanfare of the original Star Trek combined with the theme composed by Jerry Goldsmith for the first movie. I like it.

    The surrounds don't get a lot of directional sound, but they do support the score. The subwoofer comes in and out - it most often manifests itself when the Enterprise warp drive kicks in, although it supports other rumblings. My sub switches itself off after a period without a signal, and switches back on when it gets a signal again - it was switching on and off every so often as I watched.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    There is an opening transition, plus animation and sound within every menu. The menus are styled after ST: TNG control panels - they are simple to operate, as well as attractive. The sound behind them is not music, but rather Star Trek ambience - nice stuff.

Featurette - The Beginning (18:00)

    A short documentary about the start of ST: TNG. Rather interesting footage of set building (including the bridge), and interviews with most of the stars, Gene Roddenberry, and some of the crew.

Featurette - Selected Crew Analysis (15:17

    Interviews and discussions of casting and the actors - very interesting. We finally get to learn that Troi's accent is modelled on an Israeli friend - the actress Marina Sirtis has a strong English accent, and it is a bit jarring during her interviews.

Featurette - Making of a Legend (15:26)

    Interviews with crew members about elements of the design, especially production design, visual effects (not CGI!), even a short passage on the subject of the control panel design (the work of Mike Okuda). Very interesting stuff.

Featurette - Memorable Missions (17:03)

    Interviews with many of the cast and crew, discussing which episodes from the first season are their favourites.

Booklet

    An attractive 16 page booklet tucked in the package, with some limited information about the ST: TNG universe.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This box-set is released in Region 1, and it seems that the features are the same world-wide, as is the packaging. There is no strong reason to favour one version over another. It could be argued that the NTSC version might be preferable due to concerns about the effects sequences being converted to PAL. I leave it up to you to decide which you prefer. You can't even prefer one version over the other due to price - the pricing is quite similar.

Summary

    A momentous start to a TV series, on seven fairly good DVDs in attractive packaging. Recommended if you like Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    The video quality is variable, but often quite good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are interesting and worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
Dark Horizons - Garth F
DVD Plaza - Chris T

Comments (Add)
Q - Downtown REPLY POSTED
Sad trekkie corrects glaring error :-) - REPLY POSTED
A couple of points. - Bardfin (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Packinging Is Not The Same as R1 - REPLY POSTED
severe mpeg-ing - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio) REPLY POSTED
Regarding Q... -
Sreve the sad trekkie is incorrect - REPLY POSTED
RE Sreve the sad trekkie is incorrect - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)