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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Next Generation—Jean-Luc Picard Collection (1988-95)

"My husband has taken an interest in your career. He finds it to be... satisfactory."
- Perrin, wife of Sarek (Joanna Miles)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: December 20, 2004

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jean Simmons Mark Lenard, Jean Simmons, Paul Winfield, Gates McFadden, John de Lancie, Wil Wheaton
Other Stars: Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Whoopi Goldberg, Theodore Bikel, David Tristan Birkin
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 05h:44m:00s
Release Date: August 03, 2004
UPC: 097360534245
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+BB D

DVD Review

The notion of a box set that features Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard is scary, because it naturally leads to other ideas of package releases. Say, for example, a set of Geordi in Love episodes, or perhaps, Beverly in Love, or, what the hey, Data in Love. Not to mention such possibilities as The Life and Times of Wesley Crusher and Time Shifting 101 episodes and more. Still, to begin with the erstwhile commander of the ship and leader of the crew is a good start, because in the struggle to get a new Star Trek on television back in the early 1980s, it was the unique and singular presence of Patrick Stewart that allowed the series to emerge from its first season of clunky episodes, into the intriguing and often inspiring television science fiction that it became.

The Big Goodbye
Air Date: 01.11.1988
Stardate: 41997.7

Although not a promising start for the disc, because, as a rule, holodeck episodes suck, this episode is saved by an enthusiastic performance by Stewart and an fascinating ending. The set-up is lame, with Picard set to learn some elaborate greeting in contacting a prickly race. To blow off steam, he takes several members of the crew with him on a fantasy holodeck adventure to 20th Century San Francisco. Picard is Dixon Hill, a lower rent Sam Spade, who finds himself in constant trouble with cops and criminals of the day. Lightweight and amusing at the start, the show takes a serious turn and ends with a quite interesting take on reality that is played out more elaborately in episodes featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty.

Sarek
Air Date: 05.14.1990
Stardate: 43917.4

Long-time fans can enjoy this tribute to the history of the franchise, as Spock's father Sarek (Mark Lenard) appears in an episode that is more style than substance. Sarek is the most familiar full Vulcan (Spock is half-human), and his style and swagger did much to establish the nature and behavior of that important race in the Star Trek universe. Here, he struggles with the effects of a long illness and is assisted by Picard in a crucial negotiation. This episode serves as a prequel to the popular two-part Unification, involving the Romulans, Spock, and the daughter of Tasha Yar.

Family
Air Date: 10.01.1990
Stardate: 44012.3

This episode is not my cup of tea, but some will perhaps like it more. Pretty sappy stuff, with Worf's parents dropping by, Wesley Crusher getting a video message from his deceased father, and Jean-Luc making a somewhat embarrassing visit back to vineyards of his home in France. The Enterprise quickly becomes a distant force in his life as Picard struggles with the eternal questions of filial duty and the aftermath of his experiences with the Borg. Okay, next.

The Drumhead
Air Date: 04.29.1991
Stardate: 44769.2

This is one of those great ST:TNG episodes that embodies all the qualities that make Star Trek great science fiction. Guest star Jean Simmons comes onboard for an investigation into some irregularities that quickly turns to a witchhunt. Parables and metaphors fly fast and furious as the investigation takes a turn that targets Picard in a devastating re-evaluation of many past events. Potent drama and fantastic acting by Patrick Stewart make this a jewel of this set.

Darmok
Air Date: 09.30.1991
Stardate: 45047.2

No matter how many times I see this episode, I can't figure out why I like it. The earnest attempts of Picard to understand the language of the Tamarians, represented by Dathon (Paul Winfield, in a fascinating performance), are annoying, yet compelling. The plot is difficult to fathom and seems to be operating on two levels. The Enemy Mine aspect of the relationship between Picard and Dathon is finely portrayed, and there is a sense of exasperation and confusion that is very unique. Worth a watch, for sure.

The Inner Light
Air Date: 06.01.1992
Stardate: 45944.1

A classic Jean-Luc episode and one of the finest of the show, with one of the most potent endings of any Star Trek episode. Picard is forced to live an entire lifetime by contact with an alien probe the Enterprise encounters floating in space. Awakening to find himself with a wife and a completely different life, Picard struggles to understand who he is until he realizes that he's a witness to the life span of a people. Poignant and powerfully acted, this is another must see.

Tapestry
Air Date: 02.15.1993
Stardate: Unknown

Another fine episode that delivers a thought-provoking conclusion. In the original Star Trek series, there is an episode, The Enemy Within, where Captain Kirk is split into two people. One is a thoughtful, meeker side of himself and the other, a savage. Kirk learns that as much as he hates his darker half, he needs it to survive and be the commander that he is. Picard learns a similar lesson as the powerful alien Q (John DeLancie) gives him a chance to change some events in his young life that Picard had perceived as mistakes. The results of the changes provide a chance for Jean-Luc to reassess parts of his own personality and life that he had not properly understood.

From Here to Infinity: The Ultimate Voyage
Length: 42m:12s

More like a supplement than an episode in the collection, this show adds a unique aspect that distinguishes this set. This quite interesting documentary is a scientific look at the cosmology that surrounds us. Not intended for graduate students by any stretch, it nicely depicts how the universe appears to be constructed, with solar systems, galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Stewart's narration is a little overwrought, but fine for younger viewers.

Patrick Stewart is the heart and soul of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and this set of episodes certainly shows why. This fine actor did much to single-handedly raise the bar when it came to science fiction performances.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Sufficient quality transfers that maintain a consistency across the episodes. From Here to Infinity seems a bit cheap at times (with an "educational TV" look), but is still watchable. Nothing special to be said.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Clear and unmuffled, both the 2.0 and 5.1 mixes are solid, with nothing to really point to as good or bad. Typical of Trek transfers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 57 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Cardboard Tri-Fold
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Sadly, nary an extra, and it would seem appropriate to include at least an interview with Patrick Stewart. Perhaps some biographical information? There is a Picard timeline on the case that is fairly brief. With the plethora of Star Trek extras on the movie discs, what are they saving them for? Another movie?

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

A great set for those not interested in buying entire seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation but who would still enjoy owning some of the finest in quality television science fiction. The Jean-Luc Picard Collection showcases a tremendous actor in seven quality episodes of the series.

 


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