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Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4(TV) (1990-1991)
Space... The final frontier... These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds... To seek out new life and new civilisations... To boldly go where no one has gone before!
For more about Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 and the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray release, see Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis
» See full cast & crew
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray Review
Now with more seasons than the original series.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 28, 2013
What a cliffhanger, right? Star Trek: The Next Generation's fourth season begins with the ingenious resolution to the unsolvable problem that left Captain Picard a key ingredient in the Borg collective. Season three's finale was the episode that propelled TNG upwards and onwards towards history, that paved the way for a variety of season-ending cliffhangers to come (including this season's own Redemption), that divided fans and even "ruined summers" if one of Patrick Stewart's favorite fan anecdotes is to be believed. Not only did the writers, cast, and crew of TNG win over fans and craft incredible television, they followed it up with a tremendous season built around a variety of fantastic episodes that saw the growth of the crew even as one of its own departed, that saw further adventures with old friends in new settings, that saw friendly faces turned into devilish enemies, that even introduced a species that would play a vital role in shaping the complex political landscape of TNG's successor, Deep Space Nine. Indeed, season four had quite the unenviable task of making a great thing even better and paving the way towards not only the last three seasons of TNG but establishing Star Trek as a brand beyond a niche audience. In short, this is the season -- with a lot of help, admittedly, from the end of season three -- that took the franchise to a place no television show had been before.
Following "The Best of Both Worlds," season four begins with episodes entitled "Family" and "Brothers," two names that get to the heart of what season four -- and The Next Generation as well as all of Star Trek -- is all about: togetherness, community, the strength of close bonds, and the very real sense of family that's only strengthened through the greatest trials, the most difficult hardships, the most challenging of moments, the hardest of decisions, the very real threat of loss, and the almost surreal relief when things return to the status quo. Season four explores in some detail its characters beyond their basic personalities, accomplishments, abilities, wants, needs, and relationships. There's a sense of growth throughout the season as a number of episodes explore the characters on a more intimate level. Even as one of the crew's own departs, the show introduces new faces or significantly expands roles for characters who were once little more than background pieces. Alexander Rozhenko has a tremendous impact on one of the show's most insightful, well designed, and endearing characters: his father Worf. The emergence of Chief O'Brien and his relationship with Keiko provides the show with a more homely, familiar feel that can be lost on board an otherwise sterile and procedural starship, even as one as diversely populated as the Enterprise. Yet all of season four's best is embodied in "Data's Day," a touching and highly agreeable glimpse into the title character's desire to better understand humans and appreciate the subtleties of the human condition, furthering Data's life ambition and encapsulating what Trek is all about. On the whole, the crew grows more closely knit and the adventures become more intimate and immediate. As character emotions, origins, and backgrounds are further developed, the show only gains a very real, very approachable, and very endearing sense of family that's more powerful than most television and more approachable than any other series.
That's really the season in a nutshell, that sense of togetherness and not simply working familiarity. Most television programs worth anything strive for it, but few really find it, embrace it, and continually elevate it quite like The Next Generation. Yet there's still plenty of the standard Star Trek flavor, with wonky "aliens of the week" and the inevitable crisis that must be resolved to prevent another. There's no shortage of moral quagmires ("Half a Life"), time travel ("Future Imperfect"), extraordinary feats beyond human ability ("The Nth Degree"), sprawling mystery ("Remember Me"), and opportunities to remove the characters from their comfort zone and into 24th century-silly costumes, usually reserved for Sherlock Holmes-inspired Holodeck adventures but here courtesy of Q and source material from old Earth lore ("Qpid"). Through all the standard Trek, which does include a number of forgettable episodes, comes a very real sense of the show expanding and exploring its universe in a way its predecessor never quite did and its successors never quite could, particularly the lamentably uninspired but nevertheless enjoyable and well constructed Voyager. It's incredible to witness such obvious growth from every corner of the series and propel it forward as the definitive Science Fiction program of all time, even beyond the greatness of the original series.
Season four highlight episodes include:
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Season four looks quite good, generally. There are some troubling warts that aren't always present but seem to linger with some regularity throughout the season, chiefly in the form of excess noise and occasionally crushed blacks. Grain is also somewhat inconsistent, spiking in places and leaving the image looking rather smooth (but not scrubbed) in others. Like the noise and blacks, however, this is more of an infrequent observation rather than a constant shift. On the plus side is the usual visual excellence associated with these TNG restorations. Detail is again absolutely stunning. The image is amazingly crisp and well defined, revealing fine makeup detail on Data as well as Klingons, Romulans, and other aliens. Close-ups showcase the finest textures on uniforms, right down to minor frays and inconsistencies in the stitching and fabric. Unevenness in the carpeting, the creases on the leather seats found the bridge, and LCARS readouts show the most intimate bits. Even carpet-looking accents on the walls of the turbo lifts show a little wear and small imperfections the set designers probably thought would never be noticed in standard definition but are revealed, painfully but also comically and charmingly so, on Blu-ray. The best part of the upped detailing are those ship exteriors which still amaze even after four seasons; to see such stunning and intricate detail on the Enterprise is a real treat that will have fans pausing and admiring from every angle. Colors are excellent, too. The red, blue, and mustard uniforms look fantastic, as do Romulan and Klingon green, the blue glow on the warp nacelles, and green vegetation on planet surfaces. Skin tones are accurate, and blacks are usually fine, save for those aforementioned instances of crush. This is a spectacular transfer that will leave fans thrilled and experiencing their favorite episodes like never before.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like the previous seasons, TNG's fourth features a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack, and like those tracks from the same previous seasons, this presentation excels. The sound is consistently engaging, with plenty of well designed surround usage both in terms of aggressive music and effects and more subtle but environmentally critical ambience. Music swells during the opening titles, playing with an incredibly big, rich, invigorating sort of structure. Clarity is fantastic, even at the aggressive volume at reference levels. The voiceover plays with deep authority, and the sound of the ship swooping from speaker to speaker comes seamlessly. The soundtrack also displays some excellent action elements, too. Phaser fire bursts into the stage with tremendous presence, and other big elements flow through the stage with uncanny precision and aggression both. The track is really at its best, however, in its sonic conveyance of daily ship background noise. The heavy pulse of the warp core in engineering, the hum of the engines heard elsewhere, and all the little bleeps and bloops help define a very real-sounding world without which the show would most certainly lose much of its luster. Dialogue plays with perfect clarity and evenness from the center. This is a continuously exciting and exacting presentation that will absolutely delight Star Trek fans.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
As usual, season four contains a wide array of supplements -- both new and archival -- many of which again heavily deal with the role of the writers on the show but also delve deeply into the sense of family both in the show and on the set. All episodes include the option to view with nostalgic "Episodic Promos." Other supplements are detailed below.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No surprise this is an excellent set, with revealing video, fantastic audio, and plenty of great supplemental content, both newly recorded and vintage. Fans can expect about the same as with previous TNG season sets (and no doubt the same from future installments) and buy with confidence. These TNG releases are some of the finest Blu-ray sets on the market, and adding this one to the collection is a no-brainer. Very highly recommended.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Other Seasons
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