By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation’s fifth season premiered in September of 1991, the show was in its prime. Now the fifth season set is scheduled to hit Blu-ray this November, and it’s pretty much a must-buy for fans of the show. While the Blu-ray releases of the first few seasons improved the show’s visual quality and effects, all the high-tech polishing in the world couldn’t put a shine on episodes such as “The Naked Now” or “Samaritan Snare.” (Try as they might, the Pakleds could not make that interminable episode go…fast enough for my liking.) With the season five Blu-rays, you’re getting tons of top-notch television, now made all the more enjoyable thanks to a high-def upgrade.
Season five includes the beloved “Unification” two-parter, which has Sela, the daughter of Tasha Yar from the alternate timeline of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” front and center in the midst of Romulan intrigues. Thankfully, Leonard Nimoy is on hand as now-Ambassador Spock. Season five also includes not one, but two of the show’s best episodes ever, and two of the finest hours of scripted science fiction television period.
The second episode of the season is one my favorites: “Darkmok,” where Picard finds himself stranded on a planet’s surface with an alien commander from an unfamiliar species, one that speaks only in metaphor and references to their own history. It’s speculative fiction at its best, taking an intriguing concept and spinning an unforgettable tale out of it.
Then there’s “The Inner Light,” the Hugo-winning episode where Picard lives out an entire lifetime on a lost alien world, courtesy of a probe sent out to preserve the memory of the now-extinct species. It’s Star Trek at its very best, and is easily one of the show’s finest hours.
There are plenty more solid episodes filling out the season. “Silicon Avatar” brings about the return of the deadly crystalline entity. “I Borg” challenges the Enterprise crew with a dire ethical dilemma when a captured member of the cyborg species presents Picard with the chance to utterly destroy the menace that had once captured and converted him into Locutus. The season ender is the first part of “Time’s Arrow,” which is, well, pretty so-so.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 5 will hit Blu-ray on November 19. In addition to remastered versions of all 26 episodes, it’s got the usual array of snazzy bonus features, seen below. It lists for $129.99, but you can pre-order it on Amazon for $119.99.
- Mission Overview: Year Five (featuring highlights of the most memorable events occurring in Season 5, including Leonard Nimoy’s guest appearance, “The Inner Light” episode, the return of Denise Crosby, and the passing of Gene Roddenberry
- Departmental Briefing, Year Five: Production (Peter Lauritson discusses “The Inner Light,” Michael Westmore recalls the creation of Patrick Stewart’s old-age makeup, and writer Michael Pillar discusses “Time’s Arrow”
- Departmental Briefing, Year Five: Visual Effects (Dan Curry and Rob Legato discuss the challenges of creating meaningful visual effects for a weekly show)
- Memorable Missions: Year Five (members of the cast and crew recall their favorite episodes and scenes from Season 5)
- A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry (featuring interviews with Majel Barret Roddenberry, The Next Generation cast and crew, and Gene Roddenberry
- Also includes the dedication of the Gene Roddenberry Building
If you’re one of the people who buys tiny slivers of a show’s seasonal run on Blu-ray — and apparently those people do exist somewhere — then you can skip the season set and instead get the “Unification” two-parter on Blu-ray instead. The “Unification” set will set you back $24.99; $19.99 if you pre-order. The set actually splices the two-parter into one feature-length presentation, and also includes a few bonus features of its own: an audio commentary and a featurette called “From One Generation to the Next.”