Monday, December 3, 2012

Star Trek: The Next Generation® – A Celebration of Season 2

On Wednesday, November 29th, NCM Fathom Events and CBS Home Entertainment hosted another theatrical presentation of two newly restored episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Similar to the Season One event in July promoting that season’s Blu-Ray release, this event coincides with the Blu-Ray release of Season Two on December 4th.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is, of course, the second live-action Star Trek series which premiered in 1987.  (There have since been a total of five.)  It’s set around 80 years in the future from Captain Kirk’s era and follows the adventures of a whole new crew aboard a much larger Enterprise – NCC-1701-D.  Originally offered in syndication, this new series outlasted the original series’ 3 year, 79 episode run.  The Next Generation ran for 7 years with 178 episodes plus 4 feature films. 

Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and Captain Picard (Patrick Steward)
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Episode 42: "Q Who"
(photo - NCM® Fathom Events, CBS Home Entertainment)

The second season episodes offered in this theatrical release were "Q Who" – featuring the return of the character Q and the introduction of the Borg and "Measure of a Man" – in which a trial is held to determine whether the android, Data, has rights or is merely Starfleet property.  In addition to the two episodes, we were treated to a sample of some of the extras that will be included on the Blu-Ray: a gag reel, interviews with the writers and directors of the episodes, and a cast reunion.

It was great seeing these episodes again, especially on the big screen and at their original or extended length.  Over the years, as commercial times have increased, more has been cut from the syndicated airings.  So, unless you’ve been watching on DVD, you’ve been missing a lot of the original episodes.

That’s exactly what the new video release promises.  Originally restored episodes that in some case are even enhanced.  The best example of this is the second episode that screened on Thursday night, “The Measure of a Man”.  As originally written by Melinda M. Snodgrass, the episode ran longer than the normal episode length.  As a result, about 12 minutes had to be cut from the initial airing.  Now newly restored, the extra footage has been added back into the episode and only a die-hard fan would notice the difference.

Data (Brent Spiner) and Commander Maddox (Brian Brophy)
(photo - and Paramount)

One of the apparent changes is the expansion of the antagonist’s role in the story.  Commander Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy) who wants to disassemble Data for his own research and Admiral Nakamura (Clyde Kusatsu) who orders it to happen, both get more screen time.  We see more of these characters, their background and motivations.  We also get treated to more scenes with the regular cast.  Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) struggles to obey orders when he is forced to act as prosecutor on  the case.  Data asserts his rights, then seeing he has none, resigns from Starfleet.  In the original cut but no less poignant is the scene where Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) gets some much needed perspective from Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) on how treating someone as property or a "disposable person" very easily leads to slavery.  And, in an additional scene, Picard’s fencing partner finally makes his first and last appearance.
It now seems a shame that until now we almost didn’t get to see the full episode as it is a very well written drama.  The extra scenes enhance the whole story.  Now that I’ve seen them, I can’t imagine the episode working without them.
That’s the beauty of this theatrical presentation and the Blu-Ray release of Season Two this Tuesday.  A beautifully restored picture, enhanced effects, added scenes and of course extra features like the documentary and cast reunion.  Star Trek: The Next Generation never looked better.
And we can only hope that for Season Three, there is another theatrical event.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Two on Blu-Ray beams down December 4th.

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