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Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds(TV) (1990)
The powerful cliffhanger that served as the Season Three finale and Season Four premiere: The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 and 2 has been fully restored in brilliant 1080p HD, and seamlessly edited together into one feature-length presentation. The Enterprise team discovers the devastated remains of a Federation colony, as an ambitious young officer joins the crew to confirm the presence of the deadly Borg. Soon after, Borg drones abduct Captain Picard, mutilating him horribly as they assimilate him into their collective. Commander Riker must take over as Enterprise captain, as Starfleet braces for an all-out battle to defend Earth. But the Borg's power proves overwhelming, and resistance is futile. Will Riker be forced to destroy his former captain to save Earth...and the Federation?
For more about Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds and the Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray release, see Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 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 - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray Review
Big screen quality on television.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 21, 2013
We have engaged the Borg.
With season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation out on Blu-ray and season four right around the corner, it might initially appear curious at best, pointless at worst, for Paramount/CBS to release the two-part cliffhanging Best of Both Worlds episodes as a standalone Blu-ray title. After all, part one is available now, part two is just a matter of moments, cosmically speaking, away from release. Besides, audiences breathlessly waited around three months back in the Summer of 1990 for a resolution to what was, and remains today, one of the great season-ending cliffhangers in television history. But watching it again -- for about the umpteenth time -- confirms that The Best of Both Worlds is no run-of-the-mill two-part television episode. This is riveting stuff, an experience that works even better, particularly on a re-watch, when seen whole, without commercial, absent the second episode's title sequence, and certainly without the months-long delay in its full near-90-minute glory. Frankly, it's better than a whole slew of movies -- most, really -- and certainly superior to at least a couple of Star Trek feature films, notably the dismal Next Gen clunker Insurrection. The Best of Both Worlds really is the series -- and fine television -- exemplified. Even on replays, the episode proves dramatically captivating, emotionally riveting, and thoroughly intense, and put the episodes together back-to-back and the narrative flow and excitement makes it a viable and worthwhile single-experience motion picture-quality phenomenon.
The Enterprise has received, and responds to, a distress call from the New Providence colony, but she's too late. The colony has been completely wiped off the map, a crater and a little debris all that's left of what was once a thriving settlement. Admiral Hanson (George Murdock) and Lieutenant Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) arrive to aid in the investigation and confirm the Federation's worst fears: the Borg are behind the attack. The alien race that meshes the biological with the technological and "assimilates" races and technologies into its own collective has made its way to the Alpha Quadrant well ahead of the Federation's predicted timetable. New weapons are nearly two years away from implementation, and the Federation -- the entire quadrant, really -- is grossly unprepared for the threat. As Commander Riker battles his own doubts about leaving the Enterprise and accepting a promotion to command another starship, Shelby takes the initiative to prove herself Riker's superior and take his position when -- if -- he departs for his own time in the Captain's chair, if the Federation continues to exist in light of the Borg threat, that is. When the Borg and the Enterprise finally meet, the Borg kidnap and assimilate Picard, leaving Riker in command of the Enterprise and forced to confront his former captain, now a member of an unstoppable force that's only stronger with Picard's intimate knowledge of Riker, the Enterprise, and the entire Federation now an inseparable part of the Borg collective that is determined to assimilate mankind from the heart of the Federation: Earth.
The Best of Both Worlds really is aptly described by the word "best." The two-parter still creates a sense of awe all these years later for the extended episode's command of dramatic flair and pure action excitement. The episode does so much well and really nothing wrong. Larger films could stand to learn from its demonstration of the power of a script that's superficially simple but capable of setting up some deeper character themes and arcs that explode in importance just at the height of confrontation and danger. The episode's primary theme revolves around Riker's refusal to part ways with his cozy position as the Enterprise's First Officer and take his own command. The matter is complicated by the arrival of a hungry go-getter with ambitions of her own to replace Riker at his own favorite spot. The episode explores his ability to command even those that defy him, to control a perilous situation, and get the most from his subordinates even at a time of crisis. Of course, his leadership ability is put to the test by the end of part one when he must make a terribly difficult choice just moments after taking command of the ship.
What really sets the episode apart from most others -- Next Generation, Star Trek, or really any television series -- is the way it so easily makes that personal drama both a major part of the episode but at the same time a downplayed element, when necessary, in favor of the raw in-the-moment story arc intensity and the fantastic action sequences. The episode builds tension like few others, partially because the Borg really are just that frightening as an adversary but also because the episode is wonderfully adept at putting all its pieces on the board in such a way so as to maximize the full potential of every element, major and minor, as they all crash together in several robustly constructed scenes of chaos, doubt, fear, and raw excitement. The first half of the episode in particular takes shape through its combination of all these elements as the Borg -- beings more fundamentally fearsome than the Klingons, more technologically advanced than the Federation, more mysterious than the Romulans -- charge relentlessly towards a rather hopeless Enterprise. The second half of the episode doesn't necessarily lose that intensity but rather shifts it to Riker's ability to command the moment and demonstrate his prowess as a more-than-capable starship Captain, both making the hard -- and correct -- choices and also outwitting a far superior enemy, superior in brute force, numbers, and raw intellect but not in human cunning. The episode truly does blend all the pieces together in great harmony, and it remains a masterpiece of entertainment and one of the best ninety minutes of television in history.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray, Video Quality
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds looks like every other Next Generation Blu-ray episode: fantastic. Fans familiar with the previous two seasons and the sampler know exactly what to expect out of the 1.33:1 aspect ratio production. While there are a couple of soft shots and a little bit of noise here and there, the image generally dazzles, and in spectacular fashion. One need only look at the old DVDs or, here, either the "episodic promo" supplement or the three seconds of up-converted standard definition footage, which appears at exactly the 1:01:00 mark (did the Binaries have something to do with that?); see the last screenshot in this review by clicking the "screenshots" tab above and scrolling to the bottom of the page to see what a miracle of a restoration this truly is. Details are so fine that one can even make out the seam on the Enterprise model underneath the nacelle, seams in the carpet and around the various sets (particularly on the bridge), stitching on the uniform tops, and other fine little textures, many of which the filmmakers probably didn't want the audience to see, and that really weren't all that noticeable in standard definition. The natural sharpness of the source film also reveals amazing facial detailing, whether natural human lines, Worf's Klingon prosthetics, or Data's android makeup. Even the unevenness and little flaws of Geordi's visor are visible, as are the little touches on the LCARS panels around the ship. Colors are marvelous; the red uniform tops really pop, and the relaxing light colored hues around the bridge also dazzle. A light grain overlay accentuates all the positives. This is truly a marvel that every Star Trek fan needs to see.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds features a series-standard DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. As usual, it's an excellent presentation, perhaps a little harsh here and there but generally well balanced, sonically enthusiastic, and awfully exciting. Music is full and potent, maybe a little on that harsh end at times, but it plays richly and with a big, full-stage presence. The entire listening area absorbs the sound of the transporters at the beginning of the episode, effectively turning the living room into Chief O'Brien's workstation. Listeners will enjoy the ship ambiance, particularly the hum or the engines that are evident but low key up in Ten-Forward -- about as far as one can get from them -- and much closer up next to the warp core in Engineering. There's a wonderful presence to phaser fire as it zips around the stage, whether from hand phasers or the ship's exterior phaser banks as heard during space combat between the Enterprise and the Borg cube. There's a fun yet necessarily dangerous sound effect in the scene in which the Borg cube effectively drops charges around the Enterprise while she's hiding in a nebula; the entire stage rattles quite nicely with the effect. The track excels at every turn, whether robust action or quiet dialogue in Picard's ready room. The spoken word comes through clearly in every scene. This is another excellent Next Generation Blu-ray soundtrack.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds contains a few supplements, all of which are exclusive to this release, minus the retro-silly "Episodic Promo Part 1." For fans on the fence about shelling out some extra money for this release, let the added supplements be the deal maker. Packing consists of a standard Blu-ray case house inside a fold-open outer slipcover that's protected by a second, transparent slip.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While it will save $15 or so to just buy seasons three and four and swap out discs to watch The Best of Both Worlds, that method doesn't offer quite the full experience, even if it does replicate the original airing pattern. The episode worked incredibly well as a classic cliffhanger, but it works even better now more than 20 years removed from its debut as a single entity, an uninterrupted experience that's remarkably crafted and thoroughly engaging, better, even, than a host of motion pictures, Star Trek or not. Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds is arguably the finest ninety minutes of Star Trek made for the small screen, though certainly All Good Things... and some of the best from The Original Series and Deep Space Nine might have something to say about that. Yet even though it works very well, and even considering the supplements and the video and audio qualities, this is something of a tough sell given that it's $15 for, basically, a little editing and no disc swapping. Still, it comes very highly recommended to all, Star Trek aficionados in particular, because it really is that good and really does work that well as it's presented here.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Other Seasons
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