Star Trek TNG Season 7 Blu-ray Review
Welcome to the review of Star Trek The Next Generation Season 7. It has been a long journey since I reviewed season 1 over two years ago, but we have finally arrived. Season 7 is difficult to review. There is so much to like, but there are some bad apples as well. It was a show that was trying to change itself one last time before the curtain call that was ‘All good things’. For us the journey is not over, Enterprise has already arrived on Blu-ray but there is still Deep Space 9 and Voyager to look forward to.
During the last year there were no major casting changes. Will Wheaton had long since stopped being a regular. Both him and Michelle Forbes do get their farewell episode. In the case of Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher it is probably the bets episode of that character.
- Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard
- Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker
- Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr. Data
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Marina Sirtis as Councillor Deanna Troi
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
The Next Generation Season 7
Season 7 is a rather unexpected farewell for The Next Generation. It was not the end of the TNG franchise, that continued to live on in the movies and DS9, Voyager cross-overs. However, TNG was arguably the high-water mark for Star Trek. Certainly even TOS can’t rival it in popularity among the general population. Though its fan base is more vocal. With season 7 the show was becoming a bit stale. Several episode plots seemed re-used from previous season (parallels) and more focus was placed on drama and even some romantic storylines. Some fans berate these changes, but I approve of them. It merely showed the show needed to make changes during its earlier season and not the desperate attempt to stay relevant at the end. In many ways season 7 comes full circle with season 1 in that both tried to experiment with new story ideas and character development. I like that about season 7, it is certainly not the worst season, but not the best either. TNG was originally supposed the have an eight season. The mythical season 8 was cancelled to concentrate on Star Trek Generations, the first TNG feature film. Rumor has it that rising costs also had something to do with Paramount deciding to produce DS9 and Voyager instead.
For this review I will suggest a few episodes that no one who buys this disc set should miss. Season 7 has a good number of excellent episodes and ends with what some fans think is the best series finale ever. Yet, the season is mostly famous for it’s over the top drama. While it has few if any really bad episodes most are distinctly mediocre with concepts from previous season reused.
The episode Lower Decks is often described as a what-could-have-been episode. It introduces several secondary characters and show how they serve on the enterprise with such an esteemed crew. Relationships between the characters stays tense as staff evaluations are due and only one can get promoted. Things take a turn for the weird when Ensign Sito is ordered to conduct a secret fly through of Cardassian space. The episode does tie in with the fifth season episode The First Duty with the re-introduction of Ensign Sito. Most fans will state they like this episode because it show characters such as Riker, Worf and Picard from a different perspective and that it broadens the scope of the show suddenly. Sadly, too little too late in my opinion.
On the threshold of TNG ending we learn that Commander Riker has a dark secret. Years before his assignment to the Enterprise while he was a young ensign he served on the Pegasus. While conducting experiments with a form of phase cloaking the crew mutinied. Riker defended Captain Pressman (played by Terry O’Quinn). Now admiral Pressman wants to continue the experiments after the supposedly destroyed Pegasus has been found. Riker’s friendship with Picard is put to the test when he is pressed about the mutiny and illegal experiment. This episode was directed by Levar Burton and feels like a classic chase episode as Picard races the Romulans to retrieve the Pegasus. It reminds me a lot of The Chase from season 6. I really enjoyed the glimpse in Riker’s past though it does come a bit sudden, it is also never alluded to afterwards. Such standalone revelations is what you can expect from a procedural show. Still, an exciting episode with excellent drama.
All Good Things
All Good Things is considered among fans to be one of the best episodes of the show. It connects well with the series pilot Encounter At Farpoint in that the trial that Q put humanity through is now concluded with the final test for Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Can Picard save humanity from destruction if he himself is the cause? The two-part episode manages to intertwine a possible future of the central characters by through flash-forwards together with flashbacks from moments before Encounter At Farpoint. Most fans will remember the episode mostly because Marina Sirtis was once again wearing her space-cheerleader outfit complete with go-go boots and skirt uniform. The brief return of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar shows what could have been if she had stayed on. Though sadly she forgoes the skirt uniform that was only glimpsed in the pilot. You can buy All Good Things as a separate Blu-Ray disc. At 16.29 from Amazon it is cheap but per episode it is expensive. All Good Things together with episodes such as Lower Decks and The Pegasus proofs that there is a better TNG hidden beneath the chaff. If only the show creators had the courage to broaden the scope for secondary characters it would have prevented the show from becoming so stale so quickly after the season 4 high-water mark.
Other honorable mentions include Gambit Part 1 and 2, Parallels and Preemptive Strike. The latter concludes the storyline of Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes).
The visuals of The Next Generation continue to impress, even after 20 years. After the show third the style changes only a little. The special effects continue to be perfected. By the time season 7 aired the use of the right coloring, FX’s and set décors had reached such a level that even today they withstand the test of time. This is even more so with the Blu-ray transfer and the 1080p resolution. Suddenly details that weren’t visible on the very poor DVD transfer come into view. For example; the burgundy coat Levar Burton wears in All Good Things has patterns that I never noticed before. It is incorrect to say that it gives TNG a entirely new experience but it certainly adds a lot to a renewed viewing of the season. That said, the high-resolution does make it abundantly clear that everything takes place on a set. This is especially during All Good Things.
This transfer features a series-standard DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. There is really nothing wrong with it. The sound effects and music are top-notch. Seven years of technical development and increasing budgets made sure that by 1994 the quality would hardly be below the standards of even today. The ever-present humming noise the enterprise makes is dealt with in an unobtrusive way. The seven point surround sound makes sure that special effects have that little bit of extra bang.
This was Star Trek TNG Season 7 Blu-ray Review. Sadly, as the shows finale tells us, ‘All Good Things’ do indeed end. I can only hope that those who hold the rights to the franchise believe like many fans that Star Trek belongs on TV. The extra’s of this Blu-ray release are not noteworthy, most fans already know the rumors and facts. Though the references to season 8 are weird. If you’re not a big fan of Star Trek you can certainly buy this disc set if you want. Most episode are good, but there are a few bad apples. For now I can only hope that Star Trek will try and make its way back to the small screen, its where it was born and where it thrived.
Score; 8.5 / 10. A good ending to a fantastic show.