Last week, I purchased Season One of Star Trek: The Next Generation on BluRay. I’ve been a fan of this series since its debut in late 1987. It was a shaky start: clunky writing; inconsistent acting; TV-quality visual effects. But, there was something special at its core. Something that made me give it a chance. First off, it was Gene Roddenberry’s baby and he was the man. He already had created the best sci-fi series of all time, and I knew he could do it again.
So I signed up for the adventure every week and eventually fell in love. The cast had a few real standouts with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard; Brent Spiner as the venerable android, Data; and LeVar Burton as Geordi LaForge — they brought real depth and gravitas to the show.
I also came to respect Andrew Probert’s design for the Enterprise D. Yes, the saucer was a little too big and the engines a little too small, but she was really a gorgeous vessel from the right angles.
A second season, marred by a writer’s strike, still showcased some spectacular episodes and promising writing. By the program’s third year, the TNG team had finally found their stride. The quality of the program ultimately increased to where it literally felt like an epic 42-minute feature film nearly every week.
We watch a crew go through major growth and transitions as they face numerous interstellar and interpersonal conflicts. By the end of its seven-year run, the show had become a milestone in the history of television, transcending the genre to become a tremendously popular mainstream phenomenon.
Fast forward to 2012. This new $10 million restoration has taken CBS and Paramount back to the original film negative and effects shots for a totally new high-definition transfer and edit. The results are truly glorious and not only remind the viewer of why TNG was such an important achievement — it takes the show to a whole new dimension.
After skimming a number of episodes to get a sense of the whole, I settled with what was probably my favorite episode from first season: “The Arsenal of Freedom”. All I can say is wow. The visuals were stunning and crisp. The colors and details of sets and uniforms were bold and outstanding. And the space effects were out of this world.
Much like in the re-master of Star Trek: The Original Series, new CG planets have been created. The result is truly (seriously) amazing. I gasped each time I saw the Enterprise in orbit around the planet Minos.
I give the team at CBS Digital serious kudos on this effort. They’ve restored and revitalized a major piece of science fiction history and will hopefully open up the show to an entirely new generation. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years, but this new release really makes it seem feel brand new.
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