Series Concept by: Gene Roddenberry
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis
- All 24 episodes of Season 3 (1989-90)
- Four making-of documentaries
- Cast and crew interviews
Released by: Paramount.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: It’s Star Trek, for cryin’ out loud. Own it. You don’t need me to tell you.
Star Trek: The Next Generation provided an entirely new generation of Federation crew members, but perhaps more importantly, bombarded a new generation of sci-fi fans with fresh ideas and interesting stories to draw them into Gene Roddenberry’s sweeping future, where humanity freely explored the far corners of the galaxy and regularly interacted with hundreds of alien races. In this respect, the “generation” referred to in the show’s title may have more to do with those of us on the sofa side of the equation than the starship side.
[ad#longpost]This collection presents the third season, regarded by many fans as the first truly great season of the new series. Casting questions, revolving characters, and a ship’s doctor to which a host of fans objected all served to make the first two seasons, while still definitely worth watching, a hit-or-miss proposition. Season 3 stands as the season when the crew composition most familiar to fans finally stabilized, with the return of Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher. With the cast having acclimated to their roles in the earlier seasons, this season became more about expanding the definitions of those characters, and toying with the relationships between the various members of the USS Enterprise’s crew.
Season 3 also presents some very popular (and incredibly good) episodes of the series. “Evolution,” “The Defector,” “DÃ©jÃ Q”, “The Offspring,” and of course the season cliffhanger, “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” all stand out as exceptional installments in an excellent series. This season also provides some choice moments for the lesser-known crew of the Enterprise to shine, including Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and Lieutenant Barclay (Dwight Schultz). Several of the major characters get full focus in various episodes, with Data’s creation of a daughter, Worf’s defense of the family honor, and Troi’s continuing trials and tribulations with her mother.
The DVD treatment certainly suits the popularity of the series with a beautiful case containing seven discs. I will say that the gatefold arrangement needs to be reconsidered, as it becomes unwieldy when attempting to recover the later discs. But once the discs are in the player, things are excellent. The show looks as good as the day it aired (and maybe better, if the syndication station in your market looks as rough as it does in mine). The extras are solid, with a set of making-of features and interviews with all the major players, as well as some of the writers and directors.
It’s hard to find much to dispute in the red carpet presentation, but there are a few things that would be required to vault this one to the top of the DVD heap. There are no commentaries available for any episodes, and especially given that this season represents the first attempts of various crew members to direct, insights are sure to be entertaining. Likewise, some script notes or discussions with writers and directors about what things didn’t make it from the printed page to the small screen, and why such decisions got made, would give great insight behind the scenes of a landmark of American pop culture.
But without these, the set is still definitely a must-have for any Trekker or fan of science fiction. Very little else has the genre credibility of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and rightly so. On a final note, it gives you something to watch when Voyager is on TV. So run out and pick this bad boy up ASAP, before they come and revoke your license to wear pointy ears.