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Star Trek: The Next Generation (S4)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Star Trek: The Next Generation (S4) order

Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner


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The fourth season of the most successful syndicated show in history. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew continue their high-flying adventures aboard the Starship Enterprise, still in search of new life, still in search of new civilizations and still going where no show had gone before.
Following the breakthrough third season, ST:TNG's crack writing team treated us to yet another great season where we were able once again to bask in the power of the Federation of Planets and its Flagship The Enterprise. This season took on a very noticeable turn toward a character based series, rather than a straight sci-fi one by bringing us more episodes that dealt with the personal joys and tragedies of the crew members. This was obviously one of the secrets to the show's longevity as it lured in a new audience that found a way to watch the series without being true-to-form trekkies.

On a personal note, this is the season where I gradually ceased to watch the show, not because I didn't like it anymore but because it was the year I entered high school and began devoting more time to homework and other high-schoolish affairs (mainly avoiding the aforementioned homework). Looking back now, I remember trying to latch back on a few years later but having missed most of the character development, I found it difficult. Had this box set been available then, this particular season would have allowed me to brush up on it quite nicely as it was a nice transition for the show and would probably have gotten me back into it pretty quick. That's how pivotal it was.

As far as the episodes themselves go (and I trust you're more interested in this than you are with my personal Star Trek-related tragi-comedy), we got to witness in season four, the end to the dramatic cliffhanger "The Best of Both Worlds", which had capped season 3 with Picard being abducted and slowly assimilated by the dreadful Borg. We were also treated to many episodes centering around Picard the Man, rather than Picard the Captain, among which was "Family", a great episodes that saw Picard return to Earth to visit the home of his youth and rekindle his relationship with his elder brother's family. We also delved deeper into The Klingon Worf's personal life and witnessed yet more cast changes, with the departure of the youthful Wesley Crusher, played by Wil Wheaton up to that point.

Once again though, the show's strength proved to be its writing. Both creative and entertaining, the show's writer continued to pelt viewers with fresh angles and develop its characters as best anyone could while proving to the world that TV could in fact be an outlet for intelligent entertainment (of course, the 90's rolled in and totally ruined all that, but I digress). All in all, one of the good seasons of a great series at its peak.


Disc 1: The Best of Both Worlds Part 2, Brothers, Family, Suddenly Human

Disc 2: Future Imperfect, Legacy, Remember Me, Reunion

Disc 3: Data's Day, Final Mission, The Loss, The Wounded

Disc 4: Clues, Devil's Due, First Contact, Galaxy's Child

Disc 5: Identity Crisis, Night Terrors, The Nth Degree, Qpid

Disc 6: The Drumhead, Half a Life, The Host, The Mind's Eye

Disc 7: In Theory, Redemption Part 1, Special Features
The 7-disc set is pretty decent and as usual, the packaging looks great but the bonus content is a tad disappointing. I remember when I saw the first season, I figured they were pacing themselves to add more extras to later sets but now it's getting a bit redundant as the same type of features are shown season after season. As usual, they will all be found on the last DVD in the set, the 7th one in this case.

Mission Overview - Year Four: In this featurette, you take a closer look at some of the pivotal episodes in the season. Narrated mostly by Executive Producer Michael Piller with some interview segments with Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and John DeLancie (Q), the film analyzes key moments such as the confrontation with the Borg in part 2 of "The Best of both Worlds" as well as the celebration of the show's 100th episode. (16 minutes)

Selected Crew Analysis: As you did in the previous sets, you'll be able to obtain more information about particular characters in the series. This time around, we heard from Wil Wheaton, whose character Wesley Crusher was leaving the show. Also featured were Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) and Jennifer Hetrich (Vash). One particularly interesting moment was a story by Jonathan Frakes about being wounded and transported to a hospital wearing a Robin Hood outfit. The guy's pretty decent if you ask me. (16 minutes)

Departmental Briefing: Production: This is usually one of the most interesting features on the ST:TNG box sets, one where they discuss the on-set events and production related anecdotes about particular episodes. In this segment, Stewart and Frakes get the opportunity to discuss their own experiences directing some episodes and it was pretty interesting to hear them describe the atmosphere around the set on one of these special occasions. We're also treated to a pretty neat makeup segment that features some funny ad-libbing by Brent Spiner (Lt. Cmdr. Data) during an extensive makeup session and we got to see how Picard was transformed from gentleman captain to murderous cyborg during the season opener. (25 minutes)

New Life and New Civilizations: This was my favorite feature on this set. It was a (too) brief documentary on the way the set designers managed to create the alien landscapes used in the series. Ship sets are straightforward enough but every time these kids step off the Enterprise, it's no-holds barred to make the scenery look real and contemporary. Through a mix of locations, matte paintings and other techniques, they were able to either adapt existing structures or create new landscapes from scratch. Pretty cool. They also discussed some of the models used to make a ravaged spatial battlefield in "The Best of Both Worlds", which was pretty cool considering they literally did it in a matter of only days. Worth a look. (13 minutes)

Chronicles From the Final Frontier: This is a discussion with some members of the writing staff about the season and about where the show had been, where it was headed and so on. This isn't my favorite type of thing, especially where sci-fi is concerned as it's usually nice to keep the writers in the background, thereby keeping the fantasy just that much more real (hear that George Lucas?). Overall though, this wasn't bad but maybe a tad too long just to hear people tell stories about brainstorming sessions and lunches. (18 minutes)
Once again, your decision on this will be one based on price. These sets don't come cheap and will cost you at least one U.S. brownie (for our American friends, a "brownie" means a hundred dollar bill-- a C-note if you will, we Canadians have the tendency to color our money), so it's pretty much a "fans only" treat. For the rest of us, we'll have to evaluate whether our love of Star Trek is worth that expense but on the other hand, if you're one of the lucky few for whom money is no object, then go right ahead and prepare to get your dough's worth!
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