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Review: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's Sixth Season Arrives on DVD Tuesday!

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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 Borg Incursion.
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 from home.

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Posted: 15:07:18 on November 29 2002
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
The complete sixth season DVD gift set
7 discs, 26 episodes, 7 extras Retail: $99 Street Date: December 3
Pre-order now to support TrekWeb

Written by Steve Krutzler

By its sixth season STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was practically a well-oiled machine, producing excellent stories both challenging and memorable. Early in the season we had James Doohan’s appearance as ‘Scotty’ in the delightfully intriguing “Relics,” an episode that probably demonstrates a perfect model for STAR TREK episodes, combining novelty, character arcs and—gasp—a compelling science fiction concept that you just can’t help pausing the darn thing to discuss and consider. “A Fistful of Datas” embodies the fun that STAR TREK has always striven for and practically invented the crew-trapped-in-the-holodeck plotline oft-revisited in subsequent series. “Chain of Command” managed to push the limits of television with a two-parter that’s intensely political and reminds us just how lucky TNG was to have an actor like Patrick Stewart. “Tapestry” is one of the series’ best installments with the ever-mercurial Q returning to a more serious treatment in an imaginative episode about the choices we all make in life, and episodes like “Frame of Mind” and “Second Chances” make us seriously question why William Riker has been so shortchanged in the TNG feature films.

As other DVD reviewers have no doubt mentioned, finding new and interesting things to say about these sets is becoming more difficult with each season. Whether you want these ultimately comes down whether there are enough of your favorite episodes in each set. The image and sound quality is excellent and there are no commentary tracks or bloopers. Extras are restricted to a few similarly-looking documentaries that feature new and archival interview footage, focus on some of the season’s choice episodes and include plenty of behind the scenes footage and photography. The simple question becomes: is season six a package that will provide plentiful hours of viewing enjoyment? Without a doubt, yes.

Bonus Features

MISSION OVERVIEW, the first documentary, features segments on the season premiere “Time’s Arrow, Part II,” “Relics,” “Chain of Command” and the debut of DEEP SPACE NINE. Writer Ronald D. Moore again makes an extended appearance throughout these programs, asserting that the sixth season was one of the show’s most creative and reminiscing about the process of writing the Scotty episode, “Relics.” Producer Michael Piller talks extensively about “Time’s Arrow” and how it was originally going to take Data back to some decade in the 20th century. Brent Spiner and Whoopi Goldberg sing the praises of the period piece in new interviews before LeVar Burton begins what is his meatiest participation on any DVD set to date. The actor speaks thoroughly on working with Jimmy Doohan for “Relics,” the symbolism of the original series icon’s appearance, and includes behind the scenes footage of the two on the set of the episode. Next, Rick Berman and an archival Piller talk about the premise behind DEEP SPACE NINE, which premiered during this season before turning to an extended segment on “Chain of Command.” Here Patrick Stewart describes working opposite David Warner in the episode and Piller talks about the risky storyline, which showed the torture of Picard at the hands of his Cardassian jailer. The piece ends with Moore and Spiner remembering the visit of physicist Stephen Hawking as himself in the season finale “Descent.”

In BOLD NEW DIRECTIONS, Stewart takes us through the shooting process of “A Fistful of Datas,” recounting the story of how he got all the Warner Brothers backlot footage in a single day of production. Marina Sirtis remembers her role as the mysterious stranger with fondness, joking at how Michael Dorn didn’t want her to overshadow Worf in “his” show. Unfortunately we don’t get to hear anything from Dorn, who is absent entirely on this set. The remainder of the presentation involves more Burton footage on getting his directorial debut with the late “Second Chances,” the episode involving the double Riker. Special effects supervisor Dan Curry explains the wizardry behind making the dual Jonathan Frakes performance believable. Burton finishes up with an inspiring tale of how Mae Carol Jameson, the first woman astronaut in space, guested as the transporter chief in the episode and met Nichelle Nichols behind the scenes during production. All in all, this second featurette could probably have been bundled with the previous as there isn’t really much to differentiate it other than the particular instances covered.

DEPARTMENTAL BRIEFING: PRODUCTION is somewhat of a misnomer, with only the first half dealing with production itself. The choicest segment is the description of how the original Enterprise bridge was brought to life with minimal construction and effects compositing. Rough footage demonstrates the way in which Scotty was blended with a shot from an episode of TOS to make the scene. “Relics” is explored further, as Mike Okuda explains how the theory of the Dyson Sphere made its way into the episode and we see the models constructed to bring the massive sphere to the screen. Scotty’s ship, the Jenolan, is also shown to be a reworked model used originally in STAR TREK VI. The program shifts to Michael Westmore and James Cromwell discussing the alien ‘Shrek’ in the two-part DS9 crossover episode “Birthright” and Cromwell appears in a brief, but new interview.

The highlight of the features actually ends up being DEPARTMENTAL BRIEFING: PROFILE DAN CURRY, which takes us to the home of the visual effects supervisor, where he spends about 20 minutes demonstrating various art pieces that have ended up in STAR TREK. Particular episodes touched upon include “Realm of Fear” and “Birthright” and Curry demonstrates models and sculptures he fashioned for various ships and aliens throughout the series, and comparison to final effects shots makes for an insightful exploration of STAR TREK art and design. Curry also demonstrates his exotic weapon collection and reveals that Asian inspiration for much of the Klingon weaponry seen in “Rightful Heir” and beyond. Curry explains the Himalayan influence in much of his design work and then demonstrates an entire bat’leth calisthetics routine in this backyard, intercut with shots of Worf using the weapon in combat.

The fifth and final featurette is SPECIAL CREW PROFILE: LT. COMMANDER DATA and the 19-minute presentation takes on a special and appropriate meaning in light of the events you’ll see in STAR TREK NEMESIS. Full of new interview footage with Brent Spiner talking about his initial thoughts on the character and taking us through a retrospective of some of Data’s most memorable moments, the piece also includes new interviews with LeVar Burton, who reveals a missing scene in “Encounter At Farpoint” that would’ve set up the Geordi/Data friendship even earlier, and Rick Berman, who narrates on various Data-related issues. With seven seasons on DVD, it’s a shame all of these sets haven’t included a special character profile but it’s a welcome addition here and one you’ll probably want to look at again come December 14th.

The rest of the seventh disc is packed with two trailers, one for the forthcoming STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE season DVD sets beaming down February 25th, and the original teaser trailer for STAR TREK NEMESIS. Both are great to have although since season five contains the NEMESIS teaser it’d have been nice to get the theatrical trailer here. The DS9 trailer is pretty well-produced for a segment that will most likely never see the light of day beyond DVD-buyers but it hints at what will hopefully be a lot more bonus features for the DS9 sets.

With excellent episodes like “Tapestry,” “Relics,” “Schisms,” “The Chase,” “Time’s Arrow II” and “Suspicions,” it’s impossible not to recommend TNG’s sixth season on DVD. One of the few duds in the set is the finale “Descent,” which treads the bounds of hokey cartoon work we began to glimpse more of in the seventh season. Packaging or special feature lineups won’t be changing any time soon and although season six lacks some of the Gene Roddenberry moments on the last two sets, the Data and Dan Curry profiles help differentiate this set enough to make it another undeniable winner.

TrekWeb’s Rating: (out of five)

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©2002 TrekWeb.com. All Rights Reserved.


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