Darren Jamieson
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Box Set DVD Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Box Set

May 9, 2003

Director: Various,
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFaddon, Wil Wheaton,

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DVD Review

Darren Jamieson

What’s the difference between a Trekkie and a Trekker? A Trekker dreams about what sex would be like with Deana Troy and a Trekkie dreams about what sex would be like.

That’s just about the funniest joke I’ve heard that attempts to pigeon-hole Star Trek fans as geeks, weirdos and unclean demons.

Fear not though, for while the outside world may consider us creatures that remain in shadows, we know it is they that are devoid of any true happiness in life. After all, how can someone who doesn’t look up to and respect Captain Jean Luc Picard actually consider themselves alive?
If they are without Star Trek, they are without purpose.

Thankfully we have purpose, and now that Star Trek TNG has arrived in a Galaxy class DVD boxset laden with cast interviews and behind the scenes footage our purpose has become even clearer. Our purpose is to own this DVD.

Every season, bi-monthly, it’s what we’ve always wanted and dreamed about. But is it genuinely the fantastic product that we all hope and believe it to be?

Packaged in a hard moulded plastic case resembling some equipment case that might be carried by Geordie on an away mission, this set gleams like the jewel that it is. Each individual series will be colour coded, the first being purple, and they all interlock via the embossed and recessed Star Trek logos on either side.

I can’t stress enough how cool this packaging is. If like me you’re a collector of branded tat, you’ll have a room/house full of gadgets and gizmos and this DVD box fits right in with the dĂ©cor. No one will know what it is that sits on your shelf proudly displaying the Trek logo, and if they’re used to your collection they’ll be coy about investigating too!

Upon opening the case, rather than being presented with a Starfleet issue disrupter, you find a square fold out case, with an enormous widescreen image on one side and the seven DVDs on the other. These discs present your initiation into the Star Trek TNG universe.

First take note of the booklet that is included with this set. It introduces you to the crew using photographs that aren’t all from the first series, shame on you Paramount. It also gives you the background to the Federation, when it was set up and a map of its member systems – for when you’re out and about in the Alpha Quadrant. The info is very light and I’m sure there’s nothing there that any one of us didn’t already know. The real find is on the DVDs themselves…

The first season on Star Trek introduced us to a new crew, a new Enterprise, and perhaps most importantly a new captain. It was believed by many, including some of the cast of TNG, that there could never be another Star Trek, and finding a replacement for captain Kirk was impossible. But replace Kirk they did, and despite early character problems Jean Luc Picard became arguably a more popular captain than the great Shatner himself. The early Picard appeared, through uncertain scripting, as something of a tyrant, a school master without any warmth. Yet through trial and error, and some superb performances from Patrick, the character of Picard developed into the great icon that it is today.

As Patrick Stewart explains in an interview on this DVD, he was helping out a friend with a Shakespeare reading when he was spotted and asked to read for the role, proving the old actors adage that you never know who’s out there watching.

As with any first season, TNG is very much a case of see what works. The characters don’t have the back story and history to draw on, they are not fully defined or developed and things are attempted that don’t necessarily work. Wesley Crusher being the smartest person on the ship for example, that’s toned down in later seasons.

This first season also represents the last season for security chief Tasha Yar, as Denise Crosby dispels the belief that only unknown members of the crew can beam down to planets and get killed off. The first major crew member of any Star Trek series to die, did she make a mistake? Was it her choice to leave believing, as Brent Spiner believed, that TNG would only run for one series? These are questions that should have been answered in the documentaries but are alas, left out.
Denise obviously enjoyed her time as she returned in later series episodes Yesterday’s Enterprise and All Good Things as Tasha Yar, and of course as a Romulan descendant of Tasha’s.

As this is basically a pilot series, a setting up of characters on which to build, many of the episodes are underdeveloped. There are however a few gems, the best of these being the episodes involving a character named Remick. The first of these episodes Coming of Age sees Remick investigating the crew of the Enterprise, paying particular attention to captain Picard. This unwanted intrusion brings the crew closer together and unites them for the long journey ahead. Of course Remick’s investigation was merely a ruse by Admiral Quinn to find out if the suspected Federation corruption has spread to the Enterprise.
This storyline is picked up once more in the penultimate episode Conspiracy, where the very foundation of Starfleet is under threat from within. So powerful is this storyline that it really should have been played over two episodes, but the two parter storylines were something saved for later seasons. The storyline is basically invasion of the body snatchers, but then that is derived from Communist fears so where does it all start?

This first series is more about history than anything else being the birth of, quite literally, the next generation of Star Trek series.
The DVD presentation is, as you’d expect very slick. It bubbles with pretension and power from the moment you place the disc into the machine. The menu system works much like a Starfleet console, if one were real of course, giving you options such as Engage to play the episode, Communications for languages and subtitles and Chapter log for the scene access. If you play it on a PC you can of course touch the buttons yourself rather than use your DVD remote, if you want that added interactive element.

This is without doubt the finest DVD boxset I have seen, in terms of presentation and packaging. We’ve waited long enough and we’ve not been disappointed. When the future seasons are released and we get episodes such as Best of Both Worlds and Yesterday’s Enterprise we’ll really be in Stova’Kor, in a happy sense at least.

As a point of interest, the card sleeve that wraps around this boxset states that it contains all twenty five episodes from the first season. Now hold on, surely there are twenty six episodes? Why yes there are, when you load up the DVD it shows each episode numbered, and The Neutral Zone is episode 26.

Clearly something is wrong here, I guess the confusion arises around Encounter at Farpoint being a two parter. Maybe this will be changed for future prints, maybe not, but if it is it will make this original version quite collectible.

As we look boldly into the future, Paramount say this is just the beginning. After TNG has finished its seven boxset run we can expect further series releases. But what would be first? I believe that the current way of thinking is for Enterprise to strike while the warp reactors are hot and get its season one out first. Voyager is considered a superior property to DS9, so expect Janeway and crew to start their voyage home from the Delta quadrant once all good things have come to an end (a gag for us true Star Trek fans there).

Hopefully by the time we get to DS9’s run, Enterprise will be firmly etched into our hearts and minds as a great Star Trek series. After all, the early signs have been good and Captain Sam Beckett has done Captains’ Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway proud.

Oh boy.

Darren has enjoyed an interest in film for many years, studying the subject at Newport Film School where he worked on the film ‘Cop on the Edge IX: Prelude to Justice‘ in a directing and acting capacity. The official site can be enjoyed here. Darren setup WhatDVD.Net in 2003 to further his love of films and to write passionately about the movies he enjoys, and about those that he doesn’t.

Although his day-to-day activities mean that he now has less time to review movies than he would ideally prefer, he still tries to review new releases, and DVDs from his extensive collection, whenever possible.
view all DVD reviews by Darren Jamieson

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Rating: 81%

Website: http://www.startrek.com/


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