Blu-ray review: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 5
TV & Radio
REVIEW: Blu-ray review: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 5
(CBS Blu-ray, PG)
Five years into Star Trek: The Next Generation's run the producer's decided to bring back Mr Spock.
A character from the original Star Trek series, which had ended its run in 1969, had not appeared in the new show since its 1987 pilot Encounter at Farpoint. Then creator Gene Roddenberry had convinced DeForest Kelley to reprise his role as Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy in a cameo which would see the new Enterprise on its maiden voyage. Bones, who had used his knowledge of medical science to keep himself alive until the age of 137, helped establish the time that had elapsed between the old and new series. None of the original cast, Roddenberry had decreed, would cross over to the new show after "Bones".
By the time Season 5 of The Next Generation had rolled around in 1991 Roddenbery's ailing health had seen him take a back seat as executive producer, while Spock actor Leonard Nimoy had taken a story and producing credit on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The 1991 film was to be Nimoy's last appearance as Spock before his retirement. That was until somebody at Paramount Pictures thought they could bring back Nimoy to television and use a Next Generation story to tie in to the upcoming film. The two parter, Unification, was born and ended up dedicated to Roddenberry as he died as it went to air.
Unification, which also brings back Mark Lenard as Spock's father Sarek, is one of the many highlights of Season 5. It delves into the long established relationship between the logical pointy eared Vulcans, of which Spock is one, and the emotional pointy eared Romulans, who with the Klingons were regular heavies in the original Star Trek series. It's full of great moments as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Lt Cmdr Data (Brent Spiner) shanghai a Kilingon ship to go undercover on Romulas in a search for Spock.
Unification is just 2 of the 26 episodes of Season 5 and us in some fine company with the likes of Darmok and The Inner Light. Of course they have never looked and sounded better, after a massive remastering exercise for high definition Blu-ray.
In Darmok Picard is kidnapped with the commander of an alien ship and must learn to communicate with him. While his universal translator lets him understand Darmok's words his language is entirely based on metaphor which Picard does not understand. It's one of Star Trek's cleverest moments and illustrates how often we hear but don't listen. It also marks the return of Paul Winfield who had played Captain Clark Terrell in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
I, Borg, the story of how the Enterprise crew befriend someone who should be their enemy, is another highlight and sees a strong performance by uber fan Whoopi Goldberg as Enterprise bar keeper Guinan.
The Inner Light, often held high as Star Trek's greatest episode, also appears in Season 5. The Enterprise discovers an alien probe which links with Picard's mind and forces him to relive the life of a long dead inhabitant of a long dead planet. There is much philosophising in this great show, but it also gives Stewart lots to do as a young, middle aged and then elderly character . . . all in the space of 45 minutes of television. Stewart admits, in the extras, that this is his favourite episode.
This multiple disc set repeats all of the extras from the Season 5 DVD set of several years ago, and includes hours of new material. The Music of Star Trek: The Generation is a fascinating documentary on the composers who turned out mini films scores week after week. Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a tribute to Roddenberry and his legacy.