Written by: Gene Roddenberry
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner
- Mission Overview: Year Six
- Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data
- “Bold New Directions” featurette
- Production featurette
- Profile on Dan Curry
Released by: Paramount
Rating: NR, suitable for audiences 13+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Own it.
[ad#longpost]The penultimate installment in the Next Generation collection presents some of the most solid writing seen in the series. On the whole, this season’s episodes are stronger than any other season in the life of the show, with fewer individual episodes feeling like filler to get from one quality script to another.
Having shed the annoying Ensign Ro, the series returns to the solid chemistry of the Season 3 cast, with a greater depth of character development to build stories upon. Standouts include the season opening “Time’s Arrow, Part II,” excellent two-parter “Chain of Command,” Patrick Stewart-directed “A Fistful of Datas,” and LeVar Burton‘s directorial debut “Second Chances.”
The range of the writing in this season is as broad as any of the seasons to date. Having well-established characters and five solid seasons of history behind them, the writing staff started exploring a wider variety of topics and including more of the interplay between these well-developed (and still developing) characters.
The performances in these season are also incredible, from Brent Spiner‘s constantly evolving Data to Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of the tortured and abused Picard in “Chain of Command.” There are also some excellent secondary performances and cameos in this season, including David Warner as the Kardasian interrogator in the aforementioned “Chain of Command” two-parter, James Doohan‘s reappearance in “Relics,” and a poker-playing Stephen Hawking.
Extras are solid, though I’m going to continue to harp on the lack of any available commentary tracks. Given not only the directorial commentaries in the theatrical film DVDs, but also the text commentaries provided from the authors of Star Trek fan classics, it astounds me that similar features haven’t been incorporated into the television show releases. The production featurettes and overview of the season’s high points are interesting viewing, too. The interview with Brent Spiner is highly entertaining, and really sheds a lot of light into the unique challenges he faced in his portrayal of Lt. Cmdr. Data.
There’s also the “Bold New Directions” featurette, which talks about the directorial efforts of cast members Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton. Stewart expresses his enthusiasm at taking a shot on “A Fistful of Datas,” providing him an opportunity to direct a Western. LeVar Burton talks about the great challenges faced by the crew in filming “Second Chances,” which features a pair of Commander Rikers squaring off and bristling.
Trek fans will want this one on their shelf pronto. If you’re only going to pick up a couple of the season sets, this one and Season 3 are the two to go for first.