Star Trek: The Next Generation-Season 4 (1992)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
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
|Year Of Production||1992|
|Running Time||1134:14 (Case: 1186)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (7)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Paramount Home Entertainment
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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!)
|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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a few more extras this time: there's plenty to look at, and it's all on disc Seven.
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.
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...
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.
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).
Discussions of location shooting (not common), and ships.
Mostly discussion of the writing behind the series, and the writing team that was established in seasons three and four.
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.
Some oddments that didn't fit anywhere else. Interesting stuff, and recommended.
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).
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.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|