Yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation finally hits Blu-ray this week. Unfortunately, not in the way you might prefer. What arrives today is the Next Level set, basically a sampler that includes four episodes to showcase just how impressive the cleaned up episodes look (check out this earlier story to see for yourself). Individual season sets are supposed to be arriving beginning sometime this year, so the devoted fan will likely want to save their cash. If you absolutely must have some high-def TNG in your collection right now, The Next Level will at least give you some top-notch episodes. The set includes the two-part pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint” (the one with the space jellyfish), “The Inner Light” (the one with Picard’s flute), and “Sins of the Father” (the one with Worf’s Klingon problems). Each episode has been restored and remastered into full 1080p and 7.1 sound, so there’s no question that this is the best The Next Generation has ever looked, and that’s why it’s our GFR Pick of the Week.
Alcatraz (Fox, 9/8c) – “Cal Sweeney”
When a vicious bank robber appears from the past and winds up at the center of a hostage standoff, Rebecca has to find a way to get him out of the bank before his true origins are discovered. I think the show’s underlying mythology has potential, and Jorge Garcia is always fun, but the show needs to find a way to move beyond the “convict of the week” formula fast, or my attention span is staging a break-out.
“In Fire Forged” by David Weber
Set in Weber’s “Honorverse,” this fifth book in the “Worlds of Honor” series lets other writers take a stab at the universe named for Weber’s Honor Harrington. Includes stories by Jane Lindskold, Timothy Zahn, and a new novella by Weber himself. [see cover art]
In Time (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Despite being written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the mind behind such classics as Gattaca and The Truman Show, In Time received a pretty thorough beating from the critics. Nevertheless, the story about a world where time is literally a commodity is intriguing and might be worth a rental. [see cover art]
“Mass Effect: Deception” by William C. Dietz
Leading up to the March release of Mass Effect 3, Bioware takes us back to the ME universe in print. As with the previous three Mass Effect novels, Admiral David Anderson teams up with scientist Kahlee Sanders, this time racing to try to prove to the galaxy that the seemingly unstoppable Reapers are about to return and harvest all organic life. Licensed books are always hit or miss, but the Mass Effect novels have all been solidly written. Deception will be a nice time-killer for ME fans waiting for the release of the final game. [see cover art]
“Star Trek: The Rings of Time” by Greg Cox
While investigating a mysterious alien probe, Captain Kirk finds himself time-swapped with
a 21st century space explorer. [see cover art]
“Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual” by Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff, Chris Trevas
Fans love them some blueprints. Following in the tradition of Star Trek‘s technical manuals, this one takes a look under the hood of Han Solo’s sweet-ass ride. [see cover art]
The Thing (Blu-Ray, DVD)
John Carpenter’s The Thing is a damn near perfect horror movie, so you’d have to question the sanity of anybody trying to tackle the same material. But that’s just what this 2011 prequel does, attempting to fill in the blanks of what happened to the Norwegian camp before MacReady and company came on the scene. [see cover art]
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Three-Disc Combo Pack)
“Wait a minute,” I hear you say, “didn’t they already release this turd back in September?” They did indeed, voice in my head. But that was the bare-bones version. This is the version that actually includes bonus features. None of them, however, corner Michael Bay and ask the simple question, “Why?” [see cover art]
Face Off (Syfy, 10/9c) – “Night Terrors”
A challenge from last season returns, with the contestants tasked with creating a horror icon, this time based on various phobias. We’re not generally big fans of reality TV here at GFR, but Face Off gets a pass for actually involving skill and offering up plenty of interesting tidbits for genre fans curious about how our favorite onscreen creatures come to life.
Nova (PBS, 8/7c) – “Ice Age Death Trap”
Scientists race to excavate a Rocky Mountain site filled with fossilized mammoths before the area is developed.
Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) – “Making Angels
The Astrids from both universes finally meet each other, while Peter and Olivia are on the trail of a killer murdering people with a poison that supposedly doesn’t exist. This is the eleventh episode of what could be Fringe‘s final season, so don’t expect many more standalone eps before they may start wrapping things up in a hurry.
An Idiot Abroad (Science, 10/9c) – “Swim with Dolphins”
Karl gets to live the dream of many a teenage girl and swim with the ocean’s most graceful creatures. I don’t think he’ll be swept away by wonder.