08:50:38 on November 03 2002
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Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced
players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the
turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses,
bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near
the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original
We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS
Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all
interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is
superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we
will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices,
check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away
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Buy new STAR TREK toys to support TrekWeb!
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
The complete fifth season DVD gift set
7 discs, 26 episodes, 5 extras
Street Date: November 5
Pre-order now to support TrekWeb
Written by Steve Krutzler
If you’re anything like me you probably wrote off STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION’s fifth season a long time ago. It was the year of the cheesy “warping” text in the title sequence; the year of Picard’s strangely out of place captain’s jacket; and the keeper of the dreaded episode “Imaginary Friend.” But as you glance through episode listings in the new season five DVD gift set (hitting U.S. streets Tuesday) it’s startling just how many good episodes call year five home. From Denise Crosby in “Redemption,” to Leonard Nimoy’s guest appearance in “Unification,” to the epitome of high-concept sci-fi in Brannon Braga’s addictive “Cause and Effect,” you might be amazed at just how many of the episodes you love were actually a part of the fifth season.
Wil Wheaton returned for two episodes, the first featuring big time movie star Ashley Judd in an early role (“The Game”) and the second introducing us to Starfleet Academy and Tom Paris—err, I mean Nicholas Locarno, (Robert Duncan McNeill) in “The First Duty.” Young Data fans everywhere were vindicated by “Hero Worship,” Joe Menosky turned in the brilliant linguistic parable “Darmok,” Picard saw “The Inner Light” – an episode since recognized as one of the series’ finest – and who didn’t like finding Data’s head in a cave and meeting Mark Twain in “Time’s Arrow?”
The seed was planted for DEEP SPACE NINE in the episode “Ensign Ro,” the Crystalline Entity returned in “Silicon Avatar” and the Borg returned in the risky “I, Borg,” which forever changed the way we looked on our favorite villains. Frankly in retrospect, I can’t understand where the conception that season five was the show’s worst year came from and this new DVD set easily disabuses you of the notion. Sure, there are a few clunkers: the aforementioned “Friend” comes immediately to mind. The alien-takeover in “Power Play” has the series a bit off its game and the ambitious attempt at addressing sexual orientation in “The Outcast” seems to fall flat with lack of chemistry, not to mention subtlety. But reexamining the fifth year reveals far more gems, like the time travel mystery “A Matter of Time” and the surprisingly effective Picard-doesn’t-eat-little-children-after all story of “Disaster.”
If you’ve been collecting these sets or reading these reviews you know that the video transfers are in pretty good shape. There’s hardly ever an imperfection and the antiquated effects shots seem to age well. The image itself is somewhat grainy, but this is television and it wasn’t shot in digital widescreen ala ENTERPRISE, so what are you gonna do? Not having to endure commercials ever again is almost worth it alone and none of the episodes sampled demonstrated any jumps or problems. Sound-wise you’re listening to 5.1 digital or dolby digital surround that sounds excellent to the average ear without a surround system and English subtitles are included as usual.
This time in a sky-blue package and sporting TNG-style navigation menus with the yellow grid holodeck in the background, the S5 set contains five all-new documentaries. Beginning with MISSION OVERVIEW we get a well-produced featurette focusing on four of the season’s marquee episodes. Behind the scenes footage of Leonard Nimoy’s visit for “Unification” abounds and the cast talk about him in new interviews recorded about a year ago right before production on NEMESIS commenced. It seems clear that most of these new interviews were all conducted at the same time, with Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis’s clothing, hair and setup unchanged from the last two sets. Would we like a little variety? Sure, but it’s difficult to get new interviews and clearly this was the most economical way of doing it. Based on the KHAN and SEARCH FOR SPOCK documentaries, however, it’s hard to complain about these TNG presentations, which are far superior in production value and editing skill.
We hear primarily from Stewart, executive producer Michael Piller (though not as much as on the last two sets), supervising producer Peter Lauritson and even Jonathan Del Arco. Piller talks about the script for “Darmok,” Lauritson recalls directing “Inner Light” and Del Arco reflects quite impressively on his role as ‘Hugh’ in “I, Borg.” Missing is something from Nimoy, who’s been working recently with Home Entertainment on the ST3 and ST4 DVDs, about his TNG stint. Piller and Stewart make the weight of his contribution clear but we never hear from the man himself, an unfortunate omission. It’d also be nice to have heard from Joe Menosky about “Darmok” and some of the year’s other installments, since he was a co-producer after all. Rick Berman is again absent, even though “A Matter of Time” was only his second solo script.
Next up is DEPARTMENTAL BRIEFING: PRODUCTION concentrating mainly on Lauritson’s direction of “Inner Light” and Westmore’s extensive makeup for the aging Picard in the episode. Stewart recalls his 1 a.m. makeup call and there is plenty of behind the scenes footage to keep you interested. Brannon Braga makes his only appearance this time out speaking of “Cause and Effect,” an episode that probably best exemplifies his early contributions to the series (certainly more so than “Imaginary Friend”). Jonathan Frakes gives us some directorial insight into the episode with several behind the scenes shots: recall that the script’s five acts are almost identical, a task easier said than done, according to Frakes. Writer Ronald D. Moore trades off with Piller in talking about the opposing viewpoints in writing “The First Duty,” one of the few in-depth writing analyses to be found in the features. Most interesting is composer Jay Chattaway talking about the Ressican flute Picard plays in “The Inner Light” and commending the producers for their decision to depart musically in the ep’s final shot. Nothing Earth-shattering here, folks, but the next documentary should cheer you up.
DEPARTMENTAL BRIEFING: VISUAL EFFECTS has a little more bang for the buck, offering a plethora of behind-the scenes production photos of models, incomplete matte shots and interviews with FX supervisors Robert Legato and Dan Curry, among others. There are no five minute FX process lectures here, like on the ST3 Special Edition, and this featurette provides several sequences that demonstrate how various shots are combined into complete composite shots. You’ll learn plenty of fascinating tidbits about creating space clouds, motion-control shots and finding innovative ways to bring the effects in within budget and on time. Some of the segment delves into effects from previous seasons, reaching all the way back to season one, so it loses a point for focus.
MEMORABLE MISSIONS continues into year five with a few choice Marina Sirtis memories. First, delight yourself to the story of Sirtis’s not so sensual method for getting the chocolate scene in “The Game” just right. Then, if you’re still hungry, stay later to hear about the actress getting her just deserts when she insisted on doing her own stunt for “Power Play.” Hurt her back, poor thing; serves her right for breaking the allure of the chocolate scene forever (just kidding). Archival footage of Robert McNeill from the set of VOYAGER recounts his casting as Paris after they couldn’t find anyone to approximate his “First Duty” performance quite well enough (they wanted Paris to act like Lacarno but they never got around to changing his name?). Some of the more memorable stuff was actually used in earlier documentaries, but certainly there were some more memorable moments than these?
The extras wrap up with the best installment, a 26 minute TRIBUTE TO GENE RODDENBERRY, who died during the fifth season. Featuring extensive footage of the christening ceremony of the Gene Roddenberry building at Paramount this documentary is well edited and includes some of the best interviews. Roddenberry himself talks from a 1988 interview and some of his comments might be surprising to fans used to hearing about the bastardization of the man’s “vision.” Roddenberry says he encourages young people to do new things with STAR TREK and he’s happy that it’ll live on long after him. One can’t help but think of ENTERPRISE while watching the Great Bird speak honestly. Rick Berman finally makes a rare appearance in a new interview recorded four moths ago, reflecting on Gene’s friendship and his positive view of the future. Wil Wheaton shares an intimate moment Roddenberry shared with he and the cast and Stewart speculates on the “fun” episodes we might have gotten more of if Gene hadn’t passed (citing “The Naked Now” as an example of an outlandish script that Gene nevertheless believed in). You’ll even get a brief archival glimpse of Michael Dorn talking about Roddenberry and Sirtis and Majel Barrett will almost choke you up with their recollections of Gene’s unexpected death. Most of all, the words of Roddenberry himself make this a feature not to be missed and you may come away with a reevaluation of just what you thought Gene’s vision was.
By now you know there are no outtakes or bloopers, no deleted scenes, no alternate endings as far as these season sets are concerned. So you’ll be tickled to find an Easter egg of sorts attached to the end of this final documentary. Captain Picard, in respectable medium shot, orders “Mr. Crusher, set course for Starbase A…” before turning to address the camera. You may think you’re in store for a rare outtake but what is to follow is far more bizarre and infinitely priceless. Stewart says, “Gene… you’re adorable…” and before you know it he’s breaking into full-fledged song with, “B, you’re so beautiful. C, you’re a cutie for a charrrrm!” The captain rises from his chair, puts on a show tunes hat, catches a cane thrown to him from off camera and proceeds through the alphabet in an acapella song and dance routine around the bridge that’ll have you thinking you just woke up from a bad trip. It’s funny and touching and probably one of the only TNG outtakes you’ll ever see.
The marketing department also realized the potential of these sets and stuck a STAR TREK NEMESIS mini-disc in here. Likely the same disc given away at conventions over the summer, the disc contains wallpapers, instant messaging buddy icons, and the original teaser trailer all wrapped in a nice Flash presentation. You’ll probably need a laptop-type CD tray to play it because I don’t know how you’d lay it in a traditional drive. The inside fold-out also contains a written tribute to Gene Roddenberry. You'll also be delighted to find a special offer tucked away inside for a $25 (or $30 CDN) rebate if you buy seasons five, six and seven before December 31st of next year. The remaining sets go on sale December 3 and December 31, 2002.
The main drawback to these sets remains not any major failing, but the lack of supporting cast interviews, outtake material, storyboards or photo archives and unimpressive cardboard packaging. But with more great episodes than you remember, professional-level documentaries and the outrageously hilarious Stewart dance number, season five is yet another superb candidate for ST:TNG ownership.
(out of 5)
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