This week, Paramount Home Media Distribution addresses one of the most egregious absences in its Blu-ray catalog; the distributor is releasing Season One of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While die-hard Trekkers often disparage numerous elements from the sci-fi program's inaugural run - Season One stalwarts Wesley Crusher and Lieutenant Tasha Yar often draw the most fan ire - the season does deserve much credit for establishing an eclectic group of actors (including, but not limited to, Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, and Brent Spiner) that would form the backbone of one of television's most enduring sci-fi dramas.
The Blu-ray set offers newly remastered versions of Season One's twenty-six episodes alongside a bevy of bonus supplements; all told, it provides a fitting introduction into a world that, as Martin Liebman notes, only improves with age, how "even if the uniforms would need some tweaking, even if Dr. Crusher would come and go and come again, even if Riker hadn't yet grown in the beard, it's clear early on - beyond the first handful of episodes which are largely forgettable - that the series didn't only show promise, but promised greatness."
Another promising TV-on-Blu-ray addition arriving on Tuesday is Lionsgate's Boss: Season One set. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation, Boss didn't become instantly iconic; in the telling of a corrupt Chicago mayor trying to maintain his power after learning he has a debilitating degenerative disease, creator Farhad Safinia lays on the melodrama awfully thick at times, and his show's "Breaking Bad meets The Wire" setup often suggests a certain degree of commercial calculation.
However, Kelsey Grammer's brilliant lead performance helps Boss overcome many of its issues; the once-and-former Frasier Crane is almost unrecognizable as a bad man simultaneously humanized and degraded by a horrible act of fate. As Jeffrey Kauffman writes in his Blu-ray review, the actor's "Tom Kane is a fascinating, if often outright disturbing, character, one whom Grammer embodies with a boldness and vicious energy that makes Boss really compelling a lot of the time, even if it's also uncommonly surly and unsettling."
On the feature-film front, the Criterion Collection brings out Blu-ray upgrades of filmmaker Whit Stillman's wry comedies Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco. In only four movies (his last being the past year's Damsels in Distress), Stillman established himself as the poet laureate of the early-to-late-twenties yuppie population, casting an eye on his heroes both sympathetic and gently critical. His first film, Metropolitan, deserves comparison with the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald; like the celebrated writer, Stillman uses the social gatherings of a group of college-age acquaintances to mark the end of a privileged, more naïve way of life.
The Last Days of Disco charts that societal decline against the fall of disco, as the picture's heroes find themselves bonding intensely to a culture that has well entered its death throes. Svet Atanasov's Blu-ray review pays particular attention to that disconnect, the way the film "shows how disco united and liberated people, at least for a short period of time...[but] as [the characters] date each other and repeatedly meet in the club, they engage in strange debates that essentially keep the viewer isolated because almost always they feel incomplete. Naturally, instead of learning more about these characters the view[er] wonders if they truly are as eccentric as they seem to be or simply trying to impress each other."
Finally, Tuesday sees one of the least essential Blu-ray packages ever released on the format in the form of the revised Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season box set. The series itself is wonderful; Kenneth Brown's initial effusive praise still holds true - Game of Thrones is "a breathtaking, beautifully executed, perfectly cast ten-episode first season that brought uncertain viewers, hard-to-please critics, and skeptical fans of Martin's books to their feet in thunderous applause."
No, what makes this new edition wholly redundant are the edits HBO made to the program. In an audio commentary, showrunners D. B. Weiss and David Benioff revealed that the show's makeup artists used a cast of former President George W. Bush's head to represent a beheaded dissident. Despite a lack of political motivation - Weiss and Benioff maintain that they used the cast to save time and money (apparently, HBO had fake George W. Bush heads on tap) - numerous organizations attacked the choice, forcing HBO to recall all previous Blu-ray and DVD units and replace them with this new one, which digitally alters the image of the severed head. It is a small alteration, admittedly, and the change should not ruin the viewing experience for any Game of Thrones newbies. The fact remains, though, that this version is not the same as the one that wowed critics and audiences last year, so purists need to beware.
Star Trek TNG for me! I met the whole cast in April, including Sir Patrick so I'm definitely picking this up. Spiner cracked me up when I got his autograph, great guy. Kudos to him for putting a smile on my face.
Boss is worth a watch just for Mr. Grammer. Probably get nothing this week, if I was a Star Trek expert I would TNG but I'm not but the reviews are great so maybe it's time. I know eventually I'll get Mystery Men and the train wreck Island of Dr. Moreau ( i know, i know it's a guilty pleasure for some reason) but we all have our faults. I can't stand Spawn (that's one of my most hated movies), anyway. Maybe next week.
The point of these "this week on blu-ray"s is so that fans of film can say which ones they'll buy each week and be proud of certain blu-rays. Why would anyone vote their comments negatively?? I just don't get it...
I'd think the point of this section is to notify members what movies are being released, thus encouraging support of the format. What's the point of telling people what you intend to buy? Why would anyone care?
repete66211, I think the point of telling people what you intend to buy is so that you can say, "hey, look, I liked this film well enough that I'm buying it on blu-ray, so you know at least one other member on here likes the blu-ray". Its sort of like recommending a blu-ray; if everyone on here says they're buying a certain blu-ray, then its easy for someone who's never seen that particular film to judge for themselves if they should also get it. Or, perhaps, we all just want to shout it out for the simple reason that, like I said before, we're proud to own certain blu-rays. Why would anyone care, you ask? Because we're blu-ray geeks. Its what we do.
Hey, I'm a Blu-ray geek too. I maintain a list of BDs I own and BDs I want to own, etc. I can understand if someone says, "I never saw it. Is Mystery Men a good movie?" But when people just list off 5 movies they (supposedly) intend to buy that tells me nothing. It's just noise. I see guys listing movies they'd buy all the time that are absolutely horrible.