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Star Trek: The Next Generation (S5)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Star Trek: The Next Generation (S5) order

Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner


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Season 5 of the second ever Star Trek series sees the continuing adventures of the Starship Enterprise and its crew as they visit some stranger new worlds and seek out newer civilizations. The show also had to come into its own, following the passing away of the series' creator Gene Roddenberry.
I can't really say as this was my favorite season of the show up until now, but it still managed to live up to some pretty high expectations. Every show has a few up and down seasons and I guess after a string of great ones, ST:TNG was due for one that was just "good". The episodes preserved most of their predecessors' aspects, the main ones being high production values, great and original storylines, a continuing growth of imagination and a great cast but somewhere, somehow...it seemed they lacked a bit of the magic we'd seen in the four earlier volumes.

Of course, it did have its high points. I remember the media buzz surrounding the "Unifications" episodes to this day. Media buzz, you say? Yes, I say. Why you say? I'll tell you why. That episode marked the return of Mr. Spock to the small screen and his first bit of mingling with his successors. As any fan knows, Vulcans have a bit of a longer lifespan than we regular mortal humans and so it was made possible that Leonard Nimoy would be able to fit in an appearance. Now I was hoping Mr. Scott would show up and teach eunuch LeVar Burton what a real engineer is but hey...I won't bore you with my personal beefs. It was pretty cool to see Spock though. Another episode, "The Inner Light" was one of those other episodes where the space travel, huge starships and alien races weren't as much a story driver as they were a backdrop to a human story. Very nice and done with taste as per the usual Star Trek standards.

Some other episodes in the season really grabbed me by the shirt collar but there were a few letdowns such as "The Outcast", in which a member of a breed of androgynous aliens discovers he/she is female and confesses to Riker (Frakes) that she/he's attracted to him and "Cost of Living", one of the episodes to feature Majel Barrett (Roddenberry's wife) as Deanna Troi's mother Lwaxana. She's very entertaining, but even she couldn't manage to save it. That being said though, if every show could wait until its fifth season before making a couple of doubtful episodes, then maybe TV wouldn't be such a bland mess nowadays.


Disc 1: Redemption Part II, Darmok, Ensign Ro, Silicon Avatar

Disc 2: Disaster, The Game, Unification Part I, Unification Part II

Disc 3: Hero Worship, A Matter of Time, New Ground, Violations

Disc 4: Conundrum, Ethics, The Masterpiece Society, Power Play

Disc 5: Cause and Effect, Cost of Living, The First Duty, The Outcast

Disc 6: I, Borg, Imaginary Friend, The Next Phase, The Perfect Mate

Disc 7: The Inner Light, Time's Arrow Part I, Special Features
Yet another slick looking 7-disc set from Paramount (boy, these are starting to look real sweet on my shelf), but if I had to make one complaint about the packaging, it's that the actual disc container is pretty damn hard to remove from the outer case without enlisting at least two military engineers. In addition, although the extras are all pretty interesting, it would be nice to see a little variety. The same type of feature is basically being repeated set after set and while there's usually one wild card in the lot, it still becomes a bit redundant after a while. C'mon Paramount! Give us some nerdy Trek stuff for the pencil-necked geeks out there waiting to sink their Spock-ears into something tasty!

Mission Overview - Year Five: A look at some of the fifth season's highlights, including a visit from Mr. Spock, whose long Vulcan lifespan allows him to rejoin his successors aboard the Enterprise in Unification. He's joined there by a former ST:TNG cast member, Denise Crosby who makes a guest appearance as the alien Commander Sela. (18 minutes)

Departmental Briefing - Production: Here's a good but brief look at some of the production effects used during filming to bring all these weird and wacky alien life forms to your TV screen. One of the important parts of the documentary focuses on the makeup used to make Patrick Stewart age to the extreme in The Inner Light. It's actually a bit creepy because the end result is so realistic. There's also a brief section on the music of the series and on specific episodes (15 minutes)

Departmental Briefing - Visual Effects: It's clear that you can notice a marked improvement in the quality of the visual effects in the series from year to year so pretty much every season's review will bring forth the comment that it's "their best ever season for visual effects". This feature takes a look, not necessarily, at the very technical aspects of the whole endeavor, but more at the pure logistics of being able to produce so many on a weekly basis and at a time when the use of computer graphics was still a rarity. Like the days of Harryhausen, you can hear fun stories about the sun being made of oatmeal and the planets being made of playing marbles. Fun stuff, if you think about it. That must be a pretty cool job. (18 minutes)

Memorable Missions - Year Five: As with every other season box set, there's a section recapitulating the most memorable moments of the season. The actors and crewmembers discuss not only the episodes and characters, but also anything that would have gone on behind the scenes. Good, but not great. (18 minutes)

A tribute to Gene Roddenberry: Season Five marked the passing of one of the luminaries, not only of science-fiction, but of television and entertainment in general. Who would have guessed when Star Trek was first released and cancelled after 3 seasons that it would today stand out as one of the great franchises in history? This briefly recounts the man's life and Trek people gather to the cameras to present accolades of a man everyone seemed to like. You can even get a glimpse of Shatner in his TJ Hooker shades praising him at a dedication to a building named in his honor on the Paramount lot. (30 minutes)
It was a very good season although the weakest up to now. It may also just be a simple case of Paramount releasing these sets way too close to each other and not really giving us the time to want them real bad, but this would definitely make a great Christmas gift for anyone who likes the series. For the rest, you'll have to make a call between owning it or leaving a gaping hole in your collection. Not a tough choice to make, eh?
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