Star Trek: The Next Generation-Season 5 (1994)

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Released 2-Dec-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Star Trek Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Mission Overview
Featurette-Departmental Briefing-Production
Featurette-Departmental Briefing-Visual Effects
Featurette-Memorable Missions
Featurette-Intergalactic Guest Stars
Featurette-Alien Speak
Featurette-A Tribute To Gene Roddenberry
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 1135:40 (Case: 1183)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Les Landau
Winrich Kolbe
Cliff Bole
Gabrielle Beaumont
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner
Michael Dorn
Marina Sirtis
Levar Burton
Gates McFadden
Whoopi Goldberg
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $234.95 Music 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 Yes, infrequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Season Five of Star Trek: the Next Generation arrived before I'd caught my breath after reviewing Season Four. If you missed them, here are reviews of Season One, Season Two, and Season Three.

Season Four closed with Redemption, Part I. The Klingon civil war is raging between the supporters of Gowron (the legitimately chosen leader) and those of the Duras family, led by the sisters Lursa and B'Etor, with the figurehead of Toral (Duras' illegitimate son). The Duras faction is getting covert help from the Romulans. That episode ends with the revelation that the leader of the Romulans assisting them is Commander Sela, the only blonde Romulan we've ever seen, who looks amazingly like Tasha Yar (unsurprising, given that she is played by Denise Crosby). Of course, we know that Tasha Yar went back into the past on USS Enterprise NCC-1701C (episode 163 Yesterday's Enterprise, Season 3), but because that changed the past, none of the Enterprise crew know that.

This season starts, naturally enough, with Redemption, Part II. The episodes are:

# Title Stardate Director Script Music Time
201 Redemption, Part II 45020.4 David Carson Ronald D Moore Dennis McCarthy 43:37 The Federation is forbidden to intervene in the Klingon civil war. Is there anything the Enterprise can do?
202 Darmok 45047.2 Winrich Kolbe Joe Menosky Jay Chattaway 43:43 If someone's language is based on references to their mythos, how can you communicate to them without knowing it?
203 Ensign Ro 45076.3 Les Landau Michael Piller Dennis McCarthy 43:40 The Enterprise is drawn into conflict between the Bajorans and the Cardassians - well before Deep Space Nine
204 Silicon Avatar 45122.3 Cliff Bole Jeri Taylor Jay Chattaway 43:45 The crystalline entity which killed Data's colony (and others) reappears, and the Enterprise tracks it down
205 Disaster 45156.1 Gabrielle Beaumont Ronald D Moore Dennis McCarthy 43:46 Is there anything Picard would hate more than being trapped in a lift with three small children?
206 The Game 45208.2 Corey Allen Brannon Braga Jay Chattaway 43:38 Computer games are addictive, but this one goes way beyond the norm.
207 Unification, Part I 45233.1 Les Landau Jeri Taylor Dennis McCarthy 43:51 One name: Spock!
208 Unification, Part II 45245.8 Cliff Bole Michael Piller Dennis McCarthy 43:50 Similarities and differences: Data and Spock
209 A Matter of Time 45349.1 Paul Lynch Rick Berman Jay Chattaway 43:42 The Enterprise gets a visitor, a history professor from the future
210 New Ground 45376.3 Robert Scheerer Grant Rosenberg Dennis McCarthy 43:38 An experimental new propulsion system goes horribly wrong
211 Hero Worship 45397.3 Patrick Stewart Joe Menosky Jay Chattaway 43:36 A young boy would rather be an android than suffer the pain of being human
212 Violations Robert Wiemar Pamela Gray
Jeri Taylor
Dennis McCarthy 43:37 New times, new crimes, including an ugly form of rape
213 The Masterpiece Society 45470.1 Winrich Kolbe Adam Belanoff
Michael Piller
Jay Chattaway 43:37 The Enterprise's help has an unintended side-effect on a completely planned society
214 Conundrum 45494.2 Les Landau Barry Schkolnick Dennis McCarthy 43:39 Who is who? Everyone has lost their memory, even Data!
215 Power Play 45571.2 David Livingston Rene Balcer
Herbert Wright
Brannon Braga
Jay Chattaway 43:38 Crew members are possessed, and take hostages
216 Ethics 45587.3 Chip Chalmers Ronald D Moore Dennis McCarthy 43:45 Crusher and Riker both face "what is ethical?" when Worf is injured
217 The Outcast 45614.6 Robert Scheerer Jeri Taylor Jay Chattaway 43:43 For a race without gender, sexual identity is a confronting thing
218 Cause and Effect 45652.1 Jonathan Frakes Brannon Braga Dennis McCarthy 43:36 A time loop can really wreck a poker game!
219 The First Duty 45703.9 Paul Lynch Ronald D Moore
Naren Shankar
Jay Chattaway 43:36 An accident on a training flight at Starfleet Academy brings conflict between Wesley and Picard
220 Cost of Living 45733.6 Winrich Kolbe Peter Allan Fields Dennis McCarthy 43:38 Lwaxana Troi plans to get married on the Enterprise, but it may not be around for that
221 The Perfect Mate 45761.3 Cliff Bole Gary Perconte
Michael Piller
Jay Chattaway 43:40 A beautiful metamorph causes chaos as she changes personality to suit the man she's with
222 Imaginary Friend 45852.1 Gabrielle Beaumont Edithe Swenson
Brannon Braga
Dennis McCarthy 43:43 Clara's imaginary friend suddenly appears while the Enterprise is investigating a nebula around a neutron star
223 I, Borg 45854.2 Robert Lederman Rene Echevarria Jay Chattaway 43:46 What is ethical when dealing with the Borg?
224 The Next Phase 45892.4 David Carson Ronald D Moore Dennis McCarthy 43:37 Geordi and Ro Laren vanish in a transporter accident, but they are not dead, are they?
225 The Inner Light 45944.1 Peter Lauritson Morgan Gendel
Peter Allan Fields
Jay Chattaway 43:41 Picard wakes up on an alien world, Kataan, among people who recognise him as their friend Kamin
226 Time's Arrow, Part I 45959.1 Les Landau Joe Menosky
Michael Piller
Dennis McCarthy 43:38 The Enterprise is called when something unexpected is found in a cavern on Earth: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Data's head!

There are some very memorable episodes in this season, of which The Inner Light and Darmok stick in my mind the most. I was thinking about episodes of ST:TNG, and these two came to the surface I began to wonder when we'd see them. Ethics was another (if only for the image of a Klingon spine!), and The First Duty, Cause and Effect, and I, Borg. And we can't forget Unification, of course. Or Disaster. I hadn't remembered Conundrum (maybe I missed it on original broadcast?) or Hero Worship both are excellent. And I do like Ensign Ro and The Next Phase (clever title). Hmm, doesn't leave much, does it? And what is left is good stuff. To be honest, I don't think there's a weak episode in this entire season. But The Inner Light is special, and so is... (I'll stop!)

More fun with uniforms this season. For some reason, Picard has been issued with a new design of uniform, one that involves what looks like a velour jacket with the traditional maroon and black layout, with a shirt under it in grey we see this in several episodes, although he's in conventional uniform for several others. He's the only member of crew to wear this variant of the uniform, although Ro Laren (in Ensign Ro) takes off her uniform top to reveal a light sleeveless top underneath (although hers is in command maroon, rather than grey). Dr Crusher appears in what looks like a grey uniform on one occasion, but that may simply be a colour error due to lighting. The Starfleet Academy uniforms are interesting, partly because they have the new colour pattern (they're coloured like DS9 uniforms), and partly because they have large cargo pockets on the thighs these may be the first Star Trek uniforms I've seen with pockets. There's another uniform for admirals, too.

There are lots of interesting guest stars this season. Some are mentioned in one of the extras, but not all of them (Matt Frewer and Ray Walston are missed, for example). The most important, to most of us, is Leonard Nimoy, who appears in the double episode Unification. Unsurprisingly, Mark Lenard appears in that one, too, as Sarek. The other former Star Trek cast member to appear is Denise Crosby. Interestingly, we get to see a future Star Trek crewman: Robert Duncan O'Neill plays cadet Nick Lucarno in The First Duty that performance won him the role of Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager. Of the non-Star Trek people, some are easy to recognise Kelsey Grammer (Frasier from Cheers, and Frasier) is decorated with a beard, but is instantly recognisable others are not Paul Winfield is completely unrecognisable as the captain in Darmok (Winfield was also in The Wrath of Khan). I spotted Ashley Judd playing Ensign Lefler in Darmok (she has a much bigger part in The Game) she's quite young, and this was one of her first acting roles. Michelle Forbes started as a guest star on this season, playing Ro Laren, but it was clear they intended her to become something of a regular (although they kept messing with her hair what's with the Vulcan / Romulan hairstyle in one episode? And then the Alice band in The Next Phase?). Matt Frewer (probably best-known as the star of the sit-com Doctor, Doctor) plays a major role in A Matter of Time. Famke Janssen (who'll never live down being "a Bond girl", although I remember her better as Jean Grey in X-Men) got her first acting job playing Kamala, the eponymous character in The Perfect Mate. Tim O'Connor appears in that episode too, as Ambassador Briam. And we must not forget Jerry Hardin (best known as Deep Throat in The X-Files) who appears in Time's Arrow. Oh, and Ray Walston appears as Boothby (we finally get to meet the famous Boothby!); older folks will remember Ray Walston as Uncle Martin in My Favourite Martian (the TV series, not the film), younger ones may recognise him as the judge on Picket Fences. One other interesting guest appearance: Patrick Stewart's son plays Patrick Stewart's character's (Kamin's) son in The Inner Light.

Lwaxana Troi makes an appearance, of course. Majel Barrett must be an interesting woman she plays the voice of the computer (ultimate in calm, cool), Lwaxana Troi (ultimate in extroverted), and she was married to Gene Roddenberry. Not to forget that she also played Nurse Chapel in the original Star Trek.

I'm happy to report that this entire season is Q-free.

The Wesley-Crusher-die-die-die club will be disgusted with The Game, but they have to be happier with The First Duty he doesn't save the Enterprise, for once. Those two episodes are his only appearances this season.

The pedants can have some fun with this season there are some interesting mistakes, including the phasers firing from the wrong part of the Enterprise in Darmok.

This is one of the best seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Strongly recommended for all fans, and recommended for others, too.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

These DVDs are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, so there's no 16x9 enhancement. This is the aspect ratio in which the series was shot no complaints.

The picture is never going to be perfect, because this was shot on a TV budget; a large one, but a TV budget nonetheless. However, this set comes very close. The image is clear and reasonably sharp almost all the time (better than past seasons). Shadow detail is improved (still less than perfect, but noticeably improved). Grain is almost never a problem (a few shots inside a Klingon vessel in Unification Part I at 31:38 and 32:28, are quite grainy), except in the title sequence and the occasional stock shot of the Enterprise one suspects these are older footage. Low-level noise is never a problem.

Colour is also improved, with the command uniform maroon (always a problem) looking much more consistent, and almost never striating. There are a couple of exceptions, including one where the colour timing is sufficiently off to make the maroon look red. There are no significant colour-related artefacts (no bleed, no over-saturation), but there is some discolouration in the bottom right of frame at 16:28 in The First Duty.

There are even fewer film artefacts, which is good. Again, these mostly appear in stock shots of the Enterprise, leading me to suspect that these may be fragments of older footage. There are no significant film artefacts otherwise, which is a fairly impressive feat. There is a strange optical effect in The Next Phase, however: from 14:15 to 14:37 there are pulsing blue bars on the top of the image they look like the blue light of the engine, but they are across a wide part of the frame. It's almost as if the camera was shooting through a sheet of glass that was reflecting the engine, but there's no apparent glass there. It's a bit irritating. The same effect can be seen from 14:30 to 14:45 of Imaginary Friend.

Aliasing is still common, but it is almost completely confined to external ship shots and even there it is reduced from what it was in earlier seasons (except at 27:34 in The Outcast). There's some minor moire on some of the fabrics (Romulan uniforms, in particular). There are no MPEG artefacts, although there was a strange effect on some of the ship shots, where white bars appear on the extreme left of scene it looks almost, at times, as if the picture was slightly wrapped from the right to the left this won't be visible on a normal TV, due to overscan.

This is the best video quality we've had so far.

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 found one tiny error: in Cause and Effect, at 4:36, the subtitle reads "200" when the character says "20".

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 (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) 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, with occasional bursts from the subwoofer.

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

The score is now the work of Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway; Ron Jones no longer contributes I don't know why.

The surrounds are hardly used: they mostly produce a slightly deepened score, but there's some nice surround sounds at 36:30 in The Inner Light, and they do give us a whoosh at 42:41 in Cost of Living. The sub is not heavily used, but it does give a bit of bottom to the on-board rumble and the odd explosion or two.

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

Extras

There are some good extras this time: all on disc Seven, as usual. No crew analysis this time, which is a shame, because I'd like to hear what they had to say about Ro Laren. I do wish they'd persuade some of the directors or writers to give us a commentary I find the commentaries on Buffy episodes to be the most interesting extras.

Menu

Another new opening transition, but still featuring the main characters, in order of the opening credits. The main menu for each disc is presented inside the holodeck, which is a cute touch.

Featurette - Mission Overview - Year Five (17:53)

Interviews with cast and crew, shot at varying times (mostly recently, but some dating back to the time of shooting). There are a number of subjects, including the impact of having Spock on the show.

One of the most interesting interviews is with Jonathan del Arco, the young actor who played the Borg in I, Borg. Fascinating to see him out of costume.

Featurette - Departmental Briefing - Production (15:16)

More interviews, including a passage where Jay Chattaway explains that the Ressikan flute that features in The Inner Light was actually a penny whistle I was surprised to learn that the passage that Picard plays at the end of that show is one of the more requested pieces of music for Paramount.

Featurette - Departmental Briefing - Visual Effects (17:46)

Some interesting material about the visual effects used in the show, and the people who made them. We finally get to hear about Image G, the model photography specialists who shot most of the starship models, and the new title sequence.

Featurette - Memorable Missions (18:01)

A focus on some episodes with special meaning:

Featurette - Intergalactic Guest Stars (15:11)

A series of interviews talking about some of the guest stars on the show (this featurette seems louder than the rest):

Featurette - Alien Speak (12:15)

A discussion of creating alien scripts for written materials and signs, including Klingon, Vulcan, and Romulan. Also covers the creation of the Klingon spoken language by linguistics specialist Marc Okrund, although the original few words were invented by James Doohan (Scotty). Very interesting, and I want to see if I can get a copy of the book.

Featurette - Tribute to Gene Roddenberry (28:21)

Unsurprisingly, the longest segment is this one a tribute to Gene Roddenberry, who died while they were shooting Hero Worship. As well as the stuff you'd expect, there's some interesting revelations, including the fact that his ashes were sent into space on a shuttle mission a touching tribute that no one ever questioned, because it just seemed appropriate.

Beware of one horror, though: Patrick Stewart sings and dances at the end, and he's not too good at it.

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 has been released in Region 1 with roughly the same features (possibly missing the Alien Speak featurette), but early pressings of the R1 box include an extra disc: a Star Trek Nemesis (the next, as-yet-unreleased, movie) mini CD-ROM.

There are the usual differences, the obvious NTSC versus PAL, and the fact that the R1 is in a cardboard box, while ours is in this nifty plastic one (much more robust).

Summary

A superb season, with a great many memorable episodes, given an excellent transfer to DVD.

The video quality is the best I've seen so far. It may not be perfect, but it's the best we'll ever see.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are good, but I'd really like to see a commentary or two.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS905V, 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)
one of the best seasons - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Intergalactic Guest Stars Correction - Downtown
Why Ron Jones left. - Anonymous
Ponder this... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)