Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s road from SD broadcast archives to fully remastered HD has certainly been a bit of a bumpy one thus far. There were audio glitches in Season One, some heavy-handed video processing in the Season Two release, and so we fans of the show have approached the latest release, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three — which many consider to be the when the show really hit its stride — with bated breath.
If you’ve been holding your breath along with me, go ahead and exhale now. Thanks to improved film stocks, a new director of photography (not to mention a new writing staff, new uniforms, and a host of other improvements), the third season of Star Trek: TNG on Blu-ray is everything I hoped it would be. The dynamic and moody lighting on “Yesterday’s Enterprise” — one of this season’s pivotal episodes — combined with the high quality of the restoration, puts this box set ahead of many theatrical films of the period with its impressively cinematic aesthetic.
Yes, it’s really that good.
The model shots, particularly the Romulan Warbird, are going to send hobbyists into fits of ecstasy, because — finally — every detail, every color gradient is distinctly visible. Please keep in mind, the previous seasons were great, but the combination of experience and better materials have made Season Three the current high water mark that every future television restoration project should shoot for. As those who saw the recent theatrical exhibition of Best of Both Worlds can attest, any quarter-century-old TV show that can withstand the scrutiny of being projected onto a 50 foot screen is in pretty good shape.
The audio restoration remains consistent with the past two seasons: solid, serviceable, and a definite upgrade from the original broadcasts.
The bonus material on these sets has been exceptional from the very first season, though, providing a definitive historical record to accompany the new masters, and Season Three brings it with the best of them. Starting off with The Writer’s Room, the show’s new crew — which came on-board after the 1988 Writers Guild Strike — sits down for over an hour with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane to talk about how they joined the show, and to explain how an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was really created. Considering that the talent sitting in that room have gone on to be influential parts of Battlestar Galactica, LOST, 24, The 4400, and a lot more, it’s pretty neat seeing their minds picked so thoroughly.
Once again, 90 minutes have been set aside to explain all the things that shaped the season that broke TNG out into the mainstream, the rewards and trials of working with Michael Piller, fighting with Gene Roddenberry over his “No TOS references” policy, and how the changes in the show at all levels finally brought it into its own. Finally, A Tribute To Michael Piller celebrates the man, who — while he sometimes drove his writers crazy — played a gigantic role in shaping the entire mechanism that drove the Trek machine for another 15 years.
Season Three is the release that a lot of cherry picking upgraders have been waiting for to jump on board, and no one will be disappointed in this set. The video quality is simply exemplary, the episodes themselves are some of the best in the series, and the extras continue to be outstanding. The only thing that could have made this collection better would have been the inclusion of material from The Best of Both Worlds standalone Blu-ray release, which wraps up the “Who Shot JR” level cliffhanger from Season Three that literally had the actors being stopped on the street by complaining fans (in good humor). For the conclusion of that arc, and a majority of its extras, most of the people buying these Star Trek: The Next Generation collections will either have to pick up an additional Blu-ray or wait until late summer for Season Four.Buy Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three at Amazon