Blu-ray Review: Wave of ‘Star Trek’ HD Releases Timed to ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

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CHICAGO – It makes sense that Paramount would time releases of classic “Star Trek” televisions episodes in HD to coincide with the release of their sure-blockbuster “Star Trek Into Darkness” and so recent weeks have seen sets for “Star Trek: Enterprise: Season One,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds.” All three are worth a pick-up for Trekkies and are more than mere cash-ins. They’d be strong releases without the J.J. Abrams’ film on which to piggy back.

Star Trek: Enterprise: Season One was released on Blu-ray on March 26, 2013
Star Trek: Enterprise: Season One was released on Blu-ray on March 26, 2013
Photo credit: Paramount

“Star Trek: Enterprise: Season One”

The first season of “Star Trek: Enterprise” to be available on Blu-ray comes home in a nicely packaged release, highlighted by an informative and engaging documentary on the history of the show, “To Boldly Go — Launching Enterprise”. Centered around interviews with two of the most important behind-the-scenes pioneers in the history of “Trek” — Brannon Braga and Rick Berman — the documentary does allow one insight into why this show seemed to struggle to find its identity in the first season. Braga and Berman make clear that they were essentially pressured into “Enterprise” so quickly on the heels of “Voyager” and that their idea of an entirely on-Earth prequel about the building of the Federation were fought by producers who wanted futuristic storytelling.

The documentary will be fascinating enough to fans of “Enterprise” but it’s far from alone. There are new cast and crew commentaries on a few episodes — audio tracks on 4 episodes, text tracks on 3 episodes — deleted scenes, and an archival piece about the production of the show that never aired.

As for the show itself, it was produced in HD, and even aired in repeats in the format, and so it makes a seamless transition to Blu-ray. In fact, it’s just silly that it look this long. In terms of storytelling, I was never a huge fan of “Enterprise” but I also never understood those who railed against it. It was always a “not bad” show with the potential for storytelling greatness and several interesting ideas. It’s a fun program to catch up with on Blu-ray and see how Braga handled a “Trek” prequel before Abrams.

Special Features:
o To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise - New 3-Part Documentary Includes New Cast & Crew Interviews, Vintage Behind The Scenes Footage And More
o In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga Sit Down For A Candid, New Interview
o On The Set - Star Trek: Enterprise - Produced For TV, But Never Broadcast - A Firsthand Account Of The Making Of An Episode
o Cast And Crew Commentaries On Select Episodes

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three was released on Blu-ray on April 30, 2013
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three was released on Blu-ray on April 30, 2013
Photo credit: Paramount

“Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three”

Now that “The Twilight Zone” has stopped releasing their stellar season sets, the editions for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” are the best on the market. The episodes of this beloved series have been upgraded with new special effects and 1080p video with 7.1 sound. As cheesy as this sounds, you really haven’t seen “TNG” like this before. Many of the “exterior” space scenes have been polished but not in a way that loks out of tune with the rest of the show. Even the interior scenes look sharper, crisper, and more refined.

The releases also come with numerous special features, highlighted this time by a round table discussion with the show’s writers, moderated by Trekkie Seth MacFarlane. There are new documentaries about the show, commentary tracks, and a tribute to the great Michael Piller, one of the writers who turned the program around.

As for the show itself, season three was a turning point as the head writer was replaced by Piller and Gene Roddenberry took more of a backseat role. In many ways, this is where the show really started to define what it would be for the bulk of his run. Great episodes include “Sins of the Father,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and the first half of “The Best of Both Worlds”.

Special Features:
o Star Trek: The Next Generation, Inside The Writer’s Room
o Resistance Is Futile - Assimilating Star Trek: The Next Generation
o Archival Mission Logs
o Tribute To Michael Piller
o Audio Commentaries On Several Episodes Including Yesterday’s Enterprise and Sins Of The Father
o In Memoriam David Rappaport
o Gag Reel
o Episodic Promos

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds was released on Blu-ray on April 30, 2013
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds was released on Blu-ray on April 30, 2013
Photo credit: Paramount

“Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds”

Maybe you’re not ready to commit to the full packages above or maybe you just have a love affair with the Borg — Paramount has a standalone release for you. Two of the most beloved episodes of television of all time have been compiled into what is essential a feature film, complete with a commentary track and a documentary about the making of these episodes and their lasting legacy. Many of the major players, including Frakes, Sirtis, and, the team behind the show, offer insight into why “Best of Both Worlds” continues to resonate. And the episodes still play incredibly well, although they haven’t been quite as HD upgraded as the season set episodes. If you REALLY love “Star Trek: TNG,” just get the season sets. If you want to dip you toe in the water instead of jumping in, this is the best way to go.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary By Cliff Bole, Mike & Denise Okuda and Elizabeth Dennehy
o New Featurette - Regeneration: Engaging The Borg
o Gag Reel
o Episodic Promos: Part 1 and 2

“Star Trek: Enterprise: Season One” was released on Blu-ray on March 26, 2013. “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Best of Both Worlds” were released on April 30, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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