Star Trek: The Next Generation-Season 4 (1992)

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Released 12-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Star Trek Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Mission Overview
Featurette-Selected Crew Analysis
Featurette-Departmental Briefing: Production
Featurette-New Life And New Civilizations
Featurette-Chronicles From The Final Frontier
Featurette-Select Historical Data
Featurette-Inside The Star Trek Archives
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 1134:14 (Case: 1186)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Cliff Bole
Les Landau
Winrich Kolbe
Jonathan Frakes
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner
Michael Dorn
Marina Sirtis
Levar Burton
Gates McFadden
Wil Wheaton
Whoopi Goldberg
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $234.95 Music Ron Jones
Dennis McCarthy
Jay Chattaway


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Season Four of Star Trek: the Next Generation already! If you missed them, here are reviews of Season One, Season Two, and Season Three.

The third season ended on a cliff-hanger, with the Borg headed to Earth, guided by Locutus (an assimilated Picard). This season opens with the second half of that two-parter. Given that the rest of the season isn't about the Borg, you can guess that they do solve the problem, but not without substantial cost. Interestingly, one of the events in this episode, the battle at Wolf 359, is a key element in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

After that rip-snorter of an opening, we get a season with quite a few eventful episodes. There's quite an emphasis on family, relations, and children, with the first eight episodes after the opening having this as a central theme, and it recurs frequently. This is not accidental - during one of the extras the head of the writing team explains that they were deliberately focussing on people, rather than "the alien/disease of the day". I think this is where ST:TNG left the pattern established by the original series, and that's one of the reasons it garnered an even wider following (I'm going to get flamed for saying that!).

The episodes are, once again, almost in numerical order (there's only one disturbance this time, but it has three numbers in reverse order). The numbering picks up where the previous season left off, and goes up to 200 (what a nice round number!)

# Title Stardate Director Music Time
175 Best of Both Worlds, Part II Cliff Bole Ron Jones 43:37 The Borg, with Locutus, are headed for Earth. Can the whole of Star Fleet stop them?
178 Family 44012.3 Les Landau Dennis McCarthy 43:36 The only episode that doesn't visit the bridge. Picard in France, with French relatives, all with English accents...
177 Brothers 44085.7 Rob Bowman Ron Jones 43:37 While a boy deals with a practical joke gone horribly wrong, Data is acting more than a little strangely
176 Suddenly Human 44143.7 Gabrielle Beaumont Dennis McCarthy 43:36 Picard, who dislikes children, must help a boy discover his humanity
179 Remember Me 44161.2 Cliff Bole Jay Chattaway 43:38 Dr Crusher has reason to question her own sanity - how can she remember people who no-one else does?
180 Legacy 44215.1 Robert Scheerer Dennis McCarthy 43:37 Tasha Yar's home planet has changed, but it is still a dangerous place, as is Tasha's sister Ishara
181 Reunion 44246.3 Jonathan Frakes Ron Jones 43:38 Ambassador K'Ehleyr shows up again, with a surprise for Worf, and a job for Picard - Arbiter of Succession for the Klingon High Council
182 Future Imperfect 44286.5 Les Landau Dennis McCarthy 43:36 16 years into Riker's future, when he is captain of the Enterprise
183 Final Mission 44307.3 Corey Allen Ron Jones 43:37 Wesley and Picard are on their final mission together (Wesley is off to the Academy) when something goes wrong
184 The Loss 44356.9 Chip Chalmers Dennis McCarthy 43:36 Deanna Troi does not cope well with losing her empathic faculties
185 Data's Day 44390.1 Robert Wiemer Ron Jones 43:36 Data's recitation of a day's events for Commander Maddox, including his participation in the wedding of Keiko and Chief O'Brien
186 The Wounded 44429.6 Chip Chalmers Dennis McCarthy 43:39 The Enterprise chasing down the vessel that destroyed a Cardassian outpost with Gul Macet onboard
187 Devil's Due 44474.5 Tom Benko Ron Jones 43:38 Picard, and crew, up against the devil (red with horns and all)
188 Clues 44502.7 Les Landau Dennis McCarthy 43:37 Everyone is knocked unconscious by a wormhole transition, but it isn't for long, is it?
189 First Contact Cliff Bole Ron Jones 43:38 First contact with the Malcorians is a delicate matter, made more complex by Riker's accident
190 Galaxy's Child 44614.6 Winrich Kolbe Dennis McCarthy 43:38 Geordi meets the real Leah Brahms, who isn't quite what he was expecting; Dr Crusher faces the biggest medical problem she's ever had
191 Night Terrors 44631.2 Les Landau Ron Jones 43:40 What made 34 people kill each other? Will the crew survive when the same problem afflicts the Enterprise?
192 Identity Crisis 44664.5 Winrich Kolbe Dennis McCarthy 43:35 Geordi and Commander Leijten are the only survivors of an away team 4 years earlier - the others have vanished
193 The Nth Degree 44704.2 Robert Legato Ron Jones 43:38 Barclay gets a bit of a boost to his confidence
194 Qpid 44741.9 Cliff Bole Dennis McCarthy 43:38 Vash reappears, disconcerting Picard. Q reappears, determined to repay Picard for his help - is a helpful Q better, or worse, than normal?
195 The Drumhead 44769.2 Jonathan Frakes Ron Jones 43:39 The discovery of a spy starts a chain of inquisition
196 Half A Life 44805.3 Les Landau Dennis McCarthy 43:38 Lwaxana Troi cannot cope with an unusual culture's mores
197 The Host 44821.3 Marvin V Rush Jay Chattaway 43:35 The Enterprise's first encounter with the Trill, in the form of Ambassador Odan. Beverly Crusher is very friendly with Odan.
198 The Mind's Eye 44885.5 David Livingston Dennis McCarthy 43:39 Geordi's is captured and tortured by Romulans with an insidious plan
199 In Theory 44932.3 Patrick Stewart Jay Chattaway 43:38 Data's first experience at romance with Lieutenant Jenna D'Sora
200 Redemption 44995.3 Cliff Bole Dennis McCarthy 43:40 Picard's responsibilities as Arbiter of Succession aren't over yet. The Romulans, including Sela, are interfering

One of the extras reveals an interesting personal secret of one of the cast members (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Gates McFadden was pregnant during this series, and she was seven and a half months gone when playing a smitten lover in The Host that's why she's wearing her lab coat so much in the later episodes...

Q (John de Lancie) only gets one show this season, and it's almost forgivable he's keen to do something nice for Picard in thanks for Picard's help getting him re-admitted to the Q continuum (a reference to last season). This episode also sees the reappearance of Vash from Captain's Holiday; she's a welcome sight, being both beautiful, and something of a rogue.

There are, in fact, a number of reappearances in this season. Worf's love-interest, Ambassador K'Ehleyr, reappears in Reunion, and his brother shows up in Redemption. Geordi's love-interest, Leah Brahms (first seen in Booby Trap last season), shows up in Galaxy's Child. Lwaxana Troi appears in Half a Life. Reg Barclay gets an episode: The Nth Degree. Even Lore sneaks in an appearance.

We also get to meet the off-ship families of some of our characters: Picard's brother and his family, and Worf's adoptive human parents.

There are some interesting guest stars: David Ogden Stiers (Charles Emerson Winchester in Mash), and Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith on Frasier), are the most noticeable. Denise Crosby also appears, but I mustn't say where or when...

The Wesley Crusher un-fan club can complain about Final Mission, but Wesley only appears a few times. Most episodes are completely Wesley-free.

Colm Meaney (Chief O'Brien) is still a guest star, but he's appearing much more regularly, and getting bigger parts he's doing more than reporting that he managed to beam (insert bridge crew member's name) off the ship before it exploded. But then, even Whoopi Goldberg is a guest star (OK, she's a special guest star...). Another, uncredited, guest star is Data's cat, Spot for those who care about these things, Spot looks like a Somali (that's a breed of cat, like a semi-long haired Abyssinian).

Ah, what the heck you know already you want this box set. Let me just assure you that it is part of the prime years of ST:TNG, and then you can rush down to the store and buy it.

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. We know this series wasn't produced in widescreen, so there's no disappointment there we're getting exactly what was made.

The picture is good. It's quite sharp and clear in close-ups, and perfectly adequate in long shots. There are some minor occurrences of a phenomenon I mentioned in previous reviews, where one shot will be out of focus, while all the others are in focus (look at Riker at 14:00 in Best of Both Worlds, Part II, or Crusher at 25:00 in Suddenly Human) we must remember that this was a TV show, and not a movie. Externals of the ship vary older stock shots have not improved, but newer ones are better (not marvellous, but better). Shadow detail is generally good, but there are quite a few shots that drop off into black a bit fast, and that's a hassle, given that the uniforms are black from the waist down; still, unless you're a huge fan of trousers and boots, you probably won't mind too much. There's no low-level noise, but some of the darker shots (tunnels, night-time) exhibit film grain moments like 24:44 in First Contact, for example, or 20:33 in Final Mission, or 31:34 in Identity Crisis.

Colour is mostly very good. The striation I've commented on in the colour of the command uniforms is pretty much absent, which is good. Unfortunately, Disc Four, alone of the seven, shows a markedly different colour for the command uniforms they come out orangey-red, rather than their usual maroon; skin tones look a bit off, too, but I'd not have noticed them if it hadn't been for the obvious difference on the command colour. You probably won't be bothered by this unless you sit down and watch more than one disc in a row. Other than this, there are no significant colour-related artefacts, although there are some hot whites on windows to the outside, most noticeable in Chancellor Durken's office in First Contact, but also at 20:35 in Data's Day.

There are a few film artefacts, but they are small and not disturbing. There are small white marks at 7:13 in Best of Both Worlds, Part II, 10:58 in Suddenly Human, and 14:47 in Clues. There's a water mark at 40:22 in Suddenly Human. Perhaps the only annoying film artefact, and it is both uncommon, and very brief, is the appearance down the left edge of white lines, most often on external ship shots; you'll see them at 31:32 in Redemption, and 40:42 in Legacy.

Aliasing is still fairly common, but it is mostly minor, and mostly confined to ship shots. There's one instance on a deck display at 6:49 in Brothers, and on vents at 22:29 in Night Terrors. There's some horrible aliasing at 24:26 in Data's Day, and 6:52 in Identity Crisis. Perhaps the worst, though, is on the Borg cube, at several points in Best of Both Worlds, Part II. There's no significant moire, and no MPEG artefacts.

The video quality, despite all I've commented on above, is at least as good as Season 3. You have to be quite picky to complain about it.

There are ten subtitle tracks, including both English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched most of the English subtitles, and they are very good they are slightly larger than usual, in a decent font, well-timed, and accurate. I must confess to not having spotted an error in them (and you know how much I enjoy doing so...).

All seven discs are single-sided and dual layered. There are no layer changes in episodes, because there are four episodes per disc (except the final one), with two episodes on each layer.

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. It is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but it might as well be 3.1 only the left, right, and centre channels were used extensively.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no flaws in dialogue audio sync that I noticed.

The score is mostly the work of Ron Jones and Dennis McCarthy, taking alternate episodes, as usual. Once again, Jay Chattaway came in as pinch-hitter on occasion. None of the music really stands out, but I don't see that as a problem.

The surrounds are barely used. They produce a slightly deepened score, and the occasional quiet ambience, but this is not a surround extravaganza. The sub is not heavily used either, but it does give a bit of bottom to the on-board rumble.

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

Extras

There are a few more extras this time: there's plenty to look at, and it's all on disc Seven.

Menu

The discs start with an opening transition featuring the main characters, in order of the opening credits. The main menu for each disc has the episodes arranged in a list, simplifying navigation just go straight down the list. Interestingly, a few of the discs are set up so that the episodes play one after another discs Four and Six work this way. All the others return to the main menu after each episode.

Featurette - Mission Overview - Year Four (15:41)

Lots of interviews, taken from various times from shooting up to 2002. Rather interesting stuff. They make a big point of the 100th episode (remember that the original series didn't reach that mark...).

It was amusing to learn that Marina Sirtis seemed miffed about the episode QPid she points out that only she and Gates McFadden had experience fencing, and they weren't permitted to fight with swords...

Featurette - Selected Crew Analysis (16:04)

Wesley and Troi get some coverage. Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) is one of the few non-regulars to get discussed. There's a couple of brief spots with Jonathan Frakes on fighting with a quarter staff, and Marina Sirtis on being suspended on wires.

Featurette - Departmental Briefing - Production (15:47)

Lengthy interviews on the subject of inexperienced directors: Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart, and David Livingston. There's some brief coverage of makeup, discussing Dr Soong (Brent Spiner), a "lizard" (Levar Burton), and Locutus (Patrick Stewart).

Featurette - New Life and New Civilisations (12:53)

Discussions of location shooting (not common), and ships.

Featurette - Chronicles from the Final Frontier (17:09)

Mostly discussion of the writing behind the series, and the writing team that was established in seasons three and four.

Featurette - Select Historical Data (9:41)

Interviews talking about the very first episode to use CGI: Galaxy's Child. And about many of the new ships: the Klingon attack cruiser Vor'Cha, the Federation Greyhound shuttle, the Ferengi ship, the McKinley space dock, and the Romulan starships.

Featurette - Inside the Star Trek Archives (10:28)

Some oddments that didn't fit anywhere else. Interesting stuff, and recommended.

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 already released in Region 1 with pretty much the same features a reliable source tells me that we get two more extras (Select Historical Data and Inside the Star Trek Archives) than the R1 that's unusual! From everything I've read, there's no special reason to prefer the R1 over the R4, unless you really want NTSC, or a cardboard box (I like the plastic packaging of the R4).

Summary

Another excellent season of episodes, including one of the most important (resolving the Locutus issue), on seven good quality DVDs.

The video quality is at least as good as Season 3, and is rather good throughout.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are even better than on previous seasons.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, November 09, 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

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Comments (Add)
Star Trek II - released or not released? That is the question. - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Star Trek II: Release - Paul Lee (Bio this way)
Disc error??? - TPF