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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Complete Third Season (1989-1990)

"Let's make sure that history never forgets the name Enterprise."
- Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart)

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: September 01, 2002

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner
Other Stars: Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, John de Lancie, Michael Dorn, Whoopie Goldberg, Mirina Sirtis
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sci-fi violence)
Run Time: Approx. 1200 min.
Release Date: July 02, 2002
UPC: 097361569543
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- AB+A- B-

DVD Review

By the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show was a massive success, regularly ranking as the number one syndicated show in the United States. Fans had finally warmed to the characters, and after overcoming the occasional lazy plotting and inconsistency in tone that plagued the first two seasons, the episodes were getting better and better. But behind the scenes, things weren't running as smoothly as the show's quality would indicate. Michael Piller (a name familiar to all Trek fans, he later went on to create The Dead Zone for the USA Network) had just joined the series as the head of an entirely new writing staff. They began the year with no completed scripts, and only two weeks to begin shooting the season premiere.

With these time constraints, you'd expect slipshod, formulaic material (the kind that killed the original Trek in its third season). But Piller's staff managed otherwise, creating, in Season Three, the best episodes the series had yet offered, and, in fact, some of the best of the entire seven-season run.

Piller's approach was to focus as much on character as on plots, aliens, and techno-babble, and the result is a number of excellent episodes that cleverly blend all of those elements. The third season is remarkably consistent, with many high points, only a few missteps, and no outright clunkers (like Season One's Justice). It's full of ambitious firsts—the first look at the Klingon home world; the first season-ending cliffhanger; new uniforms, finally with collars—and enough good writing to keep the series going strong for four more seasons and, to date, four feature films.

This set contains all 26 episodes of Season Three on seven DVDs.

Disc One:

Episode 1: Evolution
Stardate: 43125.8

"I allowed two of the Nanites to interact, for a school project. I wanted to increase their abilities. And they escaped." - Wesley

A halfway decent start to the third season (at least it's better than Season Two's "Troi's preggers!" stunt, The Child), even if it is a Wesley-centric episode (my love/hate relationship with Mr. Crusher is too complicated to get into here). Anyway, the Enterprise begins malfunctioning sporadically, and as the problem worsens, it becomes clear that there is intelligence behind the chaos. It seems Wesley has, during a routine science experiment, created a new breed of electronic life form out of the everyday Nanites that normally function as individual repair units. Complicating things is a visiting scientist's pressing need to witness a once-in-a-lifetime stellar event. The crew questions the ethics of destroying the new creations while Wesley races to find a way to save them. The plotting is a little rough, but the ideas behind it are intriguing, and there's a great speech about baseball that, though it doesn't make sense in context, is really well written.

Oh, that Wesley. What'll he think of next? Hopefully leaving for Starfleet Academy. Sigh. 3 comm badges out of 5, anyway.




Episode 2: Ensigns of Command
Stardate: Unknown

"When you die, you will die for land and for honor. Your children will understand that they are dying for a worthy cause." - Data

Ho-hum. Data must convince the stubborn leaders of a Federation colony to relocate their people or face destruction at the hands of a ruthless race of aliens (the Shelliac) that thinks humans no better than vermin. As Picard tries to negotiate with the Shelliac for a reprieve for the colonists, Data, with the help of a comely lass smitten by his robotic charms, tries to talk the colonists out of a fruitless battle. The "love of Data" subplot is pretty weak, and Data seems to act out of character here and there, displaying more emotion than should be possible. Picard, meanwhile, gets to talk at the view screen, which must be really fun for Patrick Stewart, as he only does it in: Every. Single. Episode.

Each night I ask the stars up above, why must I be an android in love? 2.5 comm badges.




Episode 3: The Survivors
Stardate: 43142.4

"What could two botanists in their 80s possess that would aid whoever attacked the planet?" - Beverly

Here's an engaging little mystery. The Enterprise discovers a planet that's population has been completely wiped out, save for an elderly married couple. Picard tries to convince the two to leave the barren world, but they doggedly refuse, raising the crew's suspicions about their true motives for doing so. The climax is unexpected, and pretty emotionally satisfying as well. Demerits for the dorky Troi subplot, where she gets a song stuck in her head that drives her crazy, as it's a pretty flimsy excuse to get the Enterprise to return to the planet. Nice humor from Worf, though ("Good tea. Nice house."), and great acting from guest stars John Anderson and Anne Haney as the weird seniors.

Yeah, Troi, complain, but at least you don't have Dancing Queen stuck in your head. 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 4: Who Watches the Watchers
Stardate: 43173.5

"I believe I have seen the Overseer. He is called... the Picard." - Liko

An intriguing episode that was so good, they reused large chunks of it in Star Trek: Insurrection. When the cloaking device shielding an anthropology observatory on an undeveloped world is damaged, the Federation research station is revealed to the primitive, Vulcan-like inhabitants. One of them, Liko (Ray Wise), is injured by the equipment, and taken to the Enterprise for treatment. He believes he has gone to heaven, and that Picard is an all-powerful God. Having violated the Prime Directive and meddled in the affairs of a developing culture, the captain must remedy the situation, even if it means proving his mortality in the most drastic way. Though everything is a bit rushed (one of the primitives visits the Enterprise and deals with it very well), the ideas behind this one are pretty intriguing. I'm not too keen on the degradation of faith, though, as religion is referred to often as superstition and mythology.

Patrick Stewart does have a sonorous, God-like voice, doesn't he? "Moses, these commandments are for my people. Make it so." Or maybe, "Noah, I want you to build an ark. Engage." That alone is worth 4 comm badges.




Disc Two:

Episode 5: The Bonding
Stardate: 43198.7

"On the Starship Enterprise, no one is alone. No one." - Picard

TNG should stay far, far away from child actors. Adolescent Wesley is bad enough. But this episode focuses on the prepubescent Jeremy Aster (Gabriel Damon), who is left an orphan when his mother unexpectedly dies during a routine mission. He's just beginning to deal with his grief when a mysterious alien presence visits him in the form of his dead parent. There are some good moments, including Riker's attempts to explain the difficulties of death to a confused Data (including a poignant reference to Tasha Yar), and Wesley's memories of his own father's passing, but it's rather weak overall. The script was radically changed before filming, as Roddenberry somehow got the idea that people will not mourn the dead in the 24th century. Yeah, OK, because people will be robots.

The kid is kinda funny-looking, too. And why do they dress the kids like that on this show? 2 comm badges.




Episode 6: Booby Trap
Stardate: 43205.6

Picard: It is exactly as they left it, Number One. In the bottle. Ship in the bot... Oh, Good Lord, didn't anybody here build ships in bottles when they were boys?
Worf: I did not play with toys.
Data: I was never a boy.

The Enterprise enters a mysterious asteroid field to examine a derelict ship from a long dead race, only to discover that they have stumbled upon an elaborate booby trap that has been laying in wait for thousands of years, one that traps the ship and threatens to destroy her. Trying to find a way to move the ship out of danger, Geordi goes to an expert, a holographic representation of one of the Enterprise's original designers... and falls in love. Again with the holodeck romances? Still, a pretty exciting race against the clock, even if the ending is a foregone conclusion.

"Love on the holodeck" sounds like the title of an X-rated fan fiction. 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 7: The Enemy
Stardate: 43349.2

"No wonder your race is weak. You waste time and resources on defective children." - Bochra

TNG does Enemy Mine. Geordi is marooned on a violent, barren planet after a transporter malfunction; his only companion, a Romulan officer (John Snyder). As the two work to overcome their differences and send a message to the Enterprise, Picard must deal with the stubborn captain of a Romulan War Bird threatening to move into Federation space. The scenes on the planet are pretty routine (as both parties learn they aren't so different after all) but it's all very well done. There's also a great Worf subplot, where he has to choose between his honor and the life of a dying Romulan, who can only be saved by a blood transfusion from the Klingon.

I wonder if Worf signed the back of his donor card? 4 comm badges.




Episode 8: The Price
Stardate: 43385.6

"God forbid I should miss my first look at the wormhole." - Troi

This is an odd little episode that I've always enjoyed, despite a few weak spots. Federation, Ferengi, and third party delegates vie for control of the only known stable wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant, allowing for instantaneous travel across light years of space. One of the negotiators, Ral (Matt McCoy), feels a strange attraction to Troi (the feeling is mutual), even as her faces her former lover—Riker—at the negotiating table. There's some humor from the usually-annoying Ferengi (including a cute bit that set up an episode of Voyager years later), and a weird but welcome bit of girl talk between Troi and Crusher (even in the 24th century, people like to gossip about their sex lives, it seems).

Riker is so cute when he's jealous. 3 comm badges.




Disc Three:

Episode 9: The Vengeance Factor
Stardate: 43421.9

Yuta: I have all that I want.
Picard: What about freedom?
Yuta: I can never have that.

Riker and Picard come up against an age-old blood feud when they try to negotiate peace between warring members of a divided race. Picard tries to reason with the two cultures, one of them regal, civilized, and self-centered, the other ruthless pirates, hoping for reunification, while Riker falls for one of the former group's servants, the timid Yuta (Lisa Wilcox), who has had a tumultuous past. In typical TNG style, the "space pirates" are wildly overdone, clad in leather and spikes and looking like a bunch of tag-team wrestlers, but the unexpected (and grisly) conclusion more than makes up for the intermittent dorkiness.

Riker, Riker, Riker. Just because Troi got to have some fun in the last episode... 3 comm badges.




Episode 10: The Defector
Stardate: 43462.5

"We have less than 48 hours to prevent a war. Or perhaps, to start one." - Picard

One of the best things about season three is the increased presence of the Romulans, some of Trek's best villains. This time around, a well-known Romulan officer defects for the Empire to warn the Enterprise of a planned invasion into Federation space. Picard must decide if he can trust the man, who faces execution if he is apprehended by the Romulans that are lurking about the Neutral Zone. The episodes unfolds quite nicely (we're never quite sure, until the end, if the Romulan is telling the truth or not) and features great acting from guest star James Slovan, who does a good job with his monologues about the beauty of the Romulan home world. This, I suppose, is why I can excuse a massive gaffe involving the holodeck and the supposed total lack of knowledge the Federation has about Romulan culture.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Romulan ships are cool. 4.5 comm badges, well deserved.




Episode 11: The Hunted
Stardate: 43489.2

"I believe you and I have something in common. We have both been programmed." - Data

This time around, it's "Die Hard on a spaceship" as the crew captures an escaped convict from a once war-torn world, one who exhibits incredible cunning and enhanced strength, and shows signs of genetic manipulation. There are some great scenes of the convict creating havoc on the Enterprise, nearly disabling the ship single-handedly, and the truth behind his heightened abilities provides a nice little political issue for Picard to yammer on about (this time, he's got to deal with an Oscar® nominated adversary, James Cromwell, so he has his work cut out for him). It's a good thing Patrick Stewart is such an excellent actor, because Picard is required to stand around on the bridge negotiating and getting indignant quite often this season.

Every time I see James Cromwell, all I can think of is Babe. That was my only problem with Star Trek: First Contact. Look, Farmer Hoggett invented warp drive! 3.5 comm badges.




Episode 12: The High Ground
Stardate: 43510.7

Riker: Why would they want to take a Federation officer hostage? Their fight doesn't involve us.
Worf: It does now.

Trek is at its best when the episodes are subtle about making their moral arguments. This one does a remarkable job with a very weighty issue, and one that has gained a new-found relevance in the last year—terrorism. While caring for the wounded on a planet under siege by terrorist bombers, Beverly is kidnapped by the terrorist leader (Richard Cox) and forced to treat his people, who are suffering from the detrimental effects of the dimensional transporter they use to perpetrate their attacks. While Picard and Co. work with the local government to rescue the doctor, Beverly finds that her captors aren't as inhuman as she'd like to think, and that the acts of terror are intended not as a way to cause pain, but as a way to draw attention to suffering. Remarkably even-handed, this episode provides some thought-provoking commentary on a complicated issue.

Nothing funny about this one. 4.5 comm badges.




Disc Four:

Episode 13: Deja Q
Stardate: 43539.1

Q: I have no powers! What must I do to convince you people?
Worf: Die.
Q: Oh, very clever Worf. Eaten any good books lately?

Q episodes are always great fun—John de Lancie is always a welcome guest star—and this is one of the character's best. Q appears on the Enterprise, naked and helpless, apparently stripped of his powers by the Q Continuum for creating disorder around the galaxy. Picard isn't willing to trust his old nemesis, but he nevertheless offers him asylum. He proves to be a great annoyance, unfamiliar as he is with the peculiarities of life as a human mortal (sleep is particularly troubling). Unfortunately, some of Q's enemies have heard about his condition and seek revenge, endangering the Enterprise in the process. Meanwhile, the crew is trying to figure out a way to save a race whose planet is threatened by the decaying orbit of its moon. Features some great interplay between Data and Q, and a great ending.

My, but Q makes for a whiny human. 5 comm badges.




Episode 14: A Matter of Perspective
Stardate: 43610.4

Krag: Commander Riker, I am here to take you into custody.
Riker: Custody? On what charge?
Krag: Suspicion of murder.

It's Rashomon on the holodeck as the events leading up to the destruction of a research station are reconstructed from different points of view in a trial that could cost Riker his life after he is accused of murder. Surprisingly interesting, considering the fact that we end up watching the same couple of scenes over and over again. Episodes like this always suffer a bit because we know how it's going to turn out in the end, but it is fun watching the story unfold. Some of the story points don't quite make sense, considering the conclusion, but the overall plot is fairly well constructed.

In all three "realities," Riker gets his swerve on. 3 comm badges.




Episode 15: Yesterday's Enterprise
Stardate: 43625.2

"It's clearing now, Captain. Definitely a Federation starship. Accessing registry. NCC-1701-C. U.S.S.... Enterprise." - Tasha Yar

Possibly the best episode of TNG ever. A ship emerges from a rift in time and suddenly, Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) appears on the bridge. With that brilliant conceit begins the most complicated and rewarding alternate-universe episode (far better even than the original series Mirror, Mirror and City on the Edge of Forever). It seems the mystery ship is the Enterprise, classification NCC-1701-C, from 24 years in the past. It's disappearance from its own time caused a massive disturbance in history—not only is Tasha alive, but the Federation is fighting a losing war with the Klingon Empire. The art direction is particularly wonderful here, with the "at war" Enterprise looking darker and more menacing. The little touches, like the sleeker uniforms and altered lighting, do wonders to enhance an already excellent script. And it's great to see Tasha again, isn't it? Stupid oil monster.

5 comm badges. Duh.




Episode 16: The Offspring
Stardate: 43657.0

"Why is the sky black?" - Lal (Hallie Todd)

The third best episode of the season is another that focuses on Data's search for humanity. After attending a symposium on positronic brains, the android decides to build himself a child. His creation is Lal, a sentient machine that functions as a childlike version of its creator. Lal decides to take the form of a female humanoid, and Data acts as teacher, instructing Lal on the ways of humanity and of life on the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Starfleet officials, wary of having the only two known sentient androids on the same ship, demand that Lal be taken from Data and placed in Federation care. The story is a sort of sequel to the excellent second season installment, Measure of a Man, as those issues are reexamined in light of Data's wonderful creation. Excellent throughout, the poignant ending, featuring some of Brent Spiner's finest work, only makes things better. Jonathan Frakes, the first cast member to direct an episode, acquits himself quite nicely, paving the way for his successful post-TNG career behind the camera.

Don't worry Data. Next season you get a cat. 5 comm badges.




Disc Five:

Episode 17: Sins of the Father
Stardate: 43685.2

"That is the response of a Klingon. A response I would expect... from my older brother." - Kern

Worf's past, always mentioned only briefly, is finally investigated more fully in this solid outing (which won an Emmy® for art design). Worf's long-lost brother (Tony Todd) appears on the Enterprise, informing Worf of a plot in the Klingon council to dishonor the family name. Worf is determined to defend his honor, even if it means leaving Starfleet, and Picard is more than willing to accompany his friend to the Klingon home world. Once there, however, Worf is drawn into a web of deceit perpetrated by the devious Duras (Patrick Massett), who will do anything to advance his position in the Klingon High Council. The matte paintings of the Klingon cityscape are amazingly detailed and wonderfully imagined, and the script is well-structured and involving, setting up Worf's character arc for the next few seasons.

What would you do, Worfy, without us... Sha na na na. Family Ties, get it? Oh, never mind. 4 badges.




Episode 18: Allegiance
Stardate: 43714.1

"Oh, I know, Counselor, that the crew has always had full confidence in me, but... what if that were to change?" - Picard

A rather dull episode that still manages to be sporadically entertaining. Picard is kidnapped from the Enterprise and awakens to find himself locked in a room with three other people, all members of different alien races. They seem to be the subjects of some kind of experiment, but none of the captives can imagine who might want them so confined. Soon, their suspicions turn on each other, and Picard must keep order in the group if any of them are to survive. Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, a duplicate of Picard has been running things, raising the suspicions of the rest of the crew. Neither scenario plays out quite the way I'd like—the Enterprise crew is too slow to question their captain, and Picard's "rats in a maze" predicament is all too predictable. Still, there are a few worthy moments, including an unexpected conclusion, that bring the score up a bit.

Hey, let's write an episode about a bunch of people sitting around! Yeah, ok! Yawn. 2.5 comm badges.




Episode 19: Captain's Holiday
Stardate: 43745.2

"I don't like vacations." - Picard

In an attempt to get Picard (and Patrick Stewart) off the bridge, the writers came up with a clever idea: Captain goes on vacation, wackiness ensues. And as much as I like seeing Jean-Luc in a new setting, the episode is, overall, a bit of a mixed bag. Picard becomes involved in a treasure hunt that spans centuries when he is visited by beings from the 27th century, who inform him that he will soon locate a weapon from the future possessed of great destructive powers. He meets up with Vash (Jennifer Hetrick), who claims to have knowledge of the weapon's whereabouts, and the two set off, followed every step of the way by a tricky Ferengi trader. All the elements are there for a fun throwaway show, but nothing comes together quite right. The pacing is off, and the conclusion comes too quickly and suffers from some fuzzy logic. Certain fans will be happy to note that Stewart spends nearly half the episode in a Speedo, hanging out all over the place.

I prefer my Trek characters to wear pants, thanks. 2.5 comm badges.




Episode 20: Tin Man
Stardate: 43779.3

Troi: Can I come with you to greet Tam?
Picard: You know him?
Troi: I do. He was at the University on Betazed when I was studying psychology there.
Picard: Oh, I see. He was a colleague of yours.
Troi: No. He was a patient.

Federation scientists discover an odd, living spacecraft, dubbed Tin Man, and send the Enterprise to investigate. Also aboard is a Betazoid man, Tam (Harry Groener), who shows amazing talent communicating with other life forms. He's unstable, though—prone to emotional outbursts—and half his missions have failed in the past. The Tin Man mission becomes particularly vital when, while on route, the Enterprise discovers that the Romulans are also interested in this new discovery. Tam and Troi have quite a few good scenes together (it's nice to see Deanna get some good screen time), and the ending is emotional and effective, and makes up for a few rough spots along the way.

Farscape's whole "living ship" doesn't seem so novel anymore, does it? 3.5 comm badges.




Disc Six:

Episode 21: Hollow Pursuits
Stardate: 43807.4

"I look forward to your report, Mr. Broccoli." - Picard

Geordi is exasperated with one of his engineers, the sputtering, shy Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz). He's always late, often inattentive, and extremely shy around his co-workers. However, on the holodeck, he's a different person, interacting with (and dominating) his own version of the Enterprise crew (including Deanna and Beverly as his virtual sex kittens). When the real crew learns of Barclay's holo-addiction, they are none too happy, but they don't have time to get mad as computer failures threaten the ship. Though not brilliant (the "ship in danger" subplot is tacked-on and fairly ludicrous), this episode features some genuine humor. I love Barclay's versions of the Enterprise crew, with Riker, Picard, and Geordi as the Three Musketeers and Wesley as an idiot who does nothing but stuff his face with pie. Plus, there's Deanna and Beverly all corseted up.

Finally, an episode that shows what the holodeck would really be used for. 3 comm badges.




Episode 22: The Most Toys
Stardate: 43872.2

Fajo: Your every wish will be fulfilled.
Data: I wish to leave.
Fajo: Almost every wish.

This episode is downright goofy at times, but a lot of fun. While transporting unstable medical supplies from a supply ship to the Enterprise, Data's shuttlecraft explodes, and the crew believes him lost. However, he has really been kidnapped by the flamboyant Fajo (Saul Rubinek), a collector of rare, one-of-a-kind creations. Data is his new conversation piece, the only sentient android in existence. Fajo is a wonderfully over-the-top character, very reminiscent of the original series' Harcourt Mudd. He delights in showing off his possessions, from the Mona Lisa to a mint condition Roger Maris baseball card (you can still smell the bubblegum!). But when Data refuses to be on display, Fajo's reveals a darker side to his personality. Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise pieces together the accident that cost them a crewmember, slowly retracing their steps back to Fajo's ship. Corny? Yes. Fun? Yes.

Fajo... he's not just a super-villain... he's fabulous! 3.5 shiny comm badges.




Episode 23: Sarek
Stardate: 43917.4

"It would be illogical for a Vulcan to show anger. Illogical. Illogical!" - Sarek

Mark Lenard reprises his role as Sarek, Spock's father, as the Vulcan Ambassador visits the Enterprise. The ship is playing host to a negotiation of a peace treaty, and Sarek is the only one who can conduct the talks. However, he is suffering from a rare disease that causes the Vulcan to lose control of his repressed emotions, affecting others on the ship as well. His wife and assistants don't want to admit he has a problem, and Sarek himself cannot accept it. But Picard knows that he must takes steps if the negotiations are to be successful. Both Lenard and Stewart give remarkable performances (particularly Stewart, who masterfully plays an extended emotional breakdown scene in one long take), and the script is one of the best of the season, simplistic and very emotionally affecting.

My thoughts to your thoughts, this is a great episode. 4.5 comm badges.




Episode 24: Ménage à Troi
Stardate: 43930.7

DaMon Tog: Lwaxana Troi, I desire you.
Lwaxana: What?

In the past seasons, Majel Barrett's visits to TNG as Troi's loudmouthed mother Lwaxana have been a high point. I know many fans can't stand that character, but I've always loved the interplay between the two Troi women. This time around, though, even Lwaxana can't save the bland, humorless script. The problem lies in the choice of villains. Two Ferengi are guests on the Enterprise along with Lwaxana, and one of them, DaMon Tog, becomes smitten with her. He kidnaps her, Deanna, and Riker, taking them aboard his vessel. What follows? Lots of "hilarity" involving Ferengi attitudes towards women (no clothes) and ears as erogenous zones, and Riker playing chess with the dumbest Ferengi ever, and on and on. Nothing much happens, and there aren't any interesting character developments, save maybe the sudden reappearance of the Riker/Troi romance. Keep an eye out for Ethan Phillips (Neelix on Voyager) as a Ferengi officer.

I never met a Lwaxana episode I didn't like. Er, except this one. 2 comm badges.




Disc Seven:Episode 25: Transfigurations
Stardate: 43957.2

"Unfortunately, Captain, my memories begin the moment I awoke in sick bay." - John Doe (Mark LaMura)

The Enterprise encounters the wreckage of a shuttle on a barren planet and beams up the only survivor—who's barely alive. He heals remarkably quickly, but has lost his memory. Beverly dubs him John Doe, and proceeds to show him around the Enterprise. After a few weeks, she's clearly smitten, as John proves to be a wonderful companion. But he is plagued by odd attacks that are breaking down his DNA, even as strange powers, like the ability to heal, begin to manifest. While Data works to discover John's origins and Beverly tries to discover what's killing him, an alien vessel threatens the Enterprise, saying that John is a dangerous escaped criminal. Though the story is decent, the script is a little clunky. Too much time passes (I can't think of any other episode that happens over a matter of weeks) and the ending is rushed (and a bit preachy). Still, there are lots of great character moments—particularly for the underused Wesley, Beverly, and Geordi—to redeem things a bit.

Somehow I doubt a colloquialism like "John Doe" would survive 350 years into the future. Of course, this *is* the galaxy where everyone speaks English. 3 comm badges.




Episode 26: The Best of Both Worlds: Part I
Stardate: 43989.1

"There's no doubt anymore. It is the Borg." - Lt. Commander Shelby

This monumental season-ending cliffhanger is another fan favorite, and with good cause. Finally, after making a lot of noise in Season Two's Q Who, the Borg return to TNG. Since the Enterprise's initial encounter with the ruthless, hive-minded species, Starfleet has been working on weapons upgrades and strategies. When a Borg cube is spotted near Federation space, Borg researcher Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) is brought aboard the Enterprise to offer her expertise. Her plans aren't much good when a cube unexpectedly attacks, and the ship is forced to flee into a camouflaging nebula and wait out reinforcements. The Borg seem to have particular interest in the Enterprise, however, and have designs for Picard himself, and, afterwards, the Earth. The pace is unrelenting, and Michael Piller's script is peppered with strong dialogue and some great character moments (particularly in regard to Riker's cold feet about taking his own command). The brash Shelby is an interesting foil for Riker, and a welcome addition to the crew. Oh, and that ending... It's still effective, even a decade later. So effective, in fact, that it's almost cruel, considering that fans had to wait all summer to see how things were resolved. Be thankful you only have to wait until the release of the Season Four DVDs.

Resistance is what again? Oh, right... 5 comm badges.



Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Transfer quality seems at first comparable with the previous seasons, but upon closer examination, several improvements are worth noting. Interior shots of the Enterprise show less graininess and an overall sharper look. Special effects shots still show some breakup and aliasing (as, as always, effects were mastered on video due to budgetary constraints), but the effect seems less severe this time around. Hopefully, future sets will continue to show marginal improvement (though the quality here is certainly acceptable).

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio remixes remain excellent. Music and sound effects expand nicely across the front soundstage, with frequent directional and panning effects. Dialogue is always clear and natural sounding, anchored in the center channel. Surrounds frequently provide support for both the score and action sequences. Every time the ship goes to warp, for example, the engines can't be heard cycling behind you and then shooting overhead, with great imaging between the rears and the mains.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Book Gatefold
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras on the past few sets have been interesting overall, particularly a feature on the second season set that took a trip inside the TNG prop archives. I was hoping for a similar behind-the-scenes look on this set. Unfortunately, no additional documentary has been included this time around. Of course, the four standard documentaries are included, totaling over an hour of interviews and anecdotal material, but after similar segments on the last two sets, all this talking head stuff is growing tiresome, especially considering that all three seasons' interviews appear to have been conducted at the same time, resulting in some repetitive footage. Hopefully more in-depth, behind-the-scenes material will be included with future seasons. That said, the material here is still well worth viewing.

First up is Mission Overview: Year Three, with a running time of 18 minutes. Some interesting topics are covered this time around (I finally know the real story behind Gates McFadden's departure from and eventual return to the role of Beverly Crusher). Executive producer Michael Piller talks about the particular pressures the writing staff faced in the third year. The entire team was new, and began the season with no completed scripts, forcing a lot of quick writing and story planning that resulted in some of TNG's most original episodes. In another segment, the cast and crew praise Jonathan Frakes for his direction of The Offspring, paving the way for future directorial efforts by other cast members.

Memorable Missions runs 13 minutes and features personal reactions to selected episodes from various members of the cast and crew. The recollections are pretty routine—most simply point out episodes they thought were particularly well-written—but Michael Piller does reveal how the episode The Most Toys got him addicted to collecting baseball cards.

The Production featurette runs for 20 minutes and offers a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes material. There is yet more talk about the new crew of screenwriters, and the efforts it took to get a script written and filmed with only a few weeks to work with. Model designer Greg Jein takes us through the design and construction of TNG's intricate models, his comments augmented by some nice video footage. Composer Jay Chattaway offers his thought on writing music for a weekly series. Finally, several technical consultants talk about their efforts to keep the science of the show more or less realistic.

The final featurette, entitled Selected Crew Analysis, runs for 14 minutes and focuses on the developing character relationships in Season Three. Highlighted characters include Picard; Beverly and Wesley; Riker, Troi, and Lwaxana; Worf; and Geordi.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

The third season of The Next Generation features the series at its most consistently entertaining, and several of the episodes are among the best of the entire seven season run. I loved the previous two box-sets, and I can't praise this one highly enough. If you've been waiting for the "good ones" to start your collection of TNG on DVD, the wait is over.

 


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