This review was a salute to the cliches of television, specifically science-fiction.
Seven DVDs worth of pleasure arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. That’s seven DVDs worth of the best outer-space cliches around.
What I am talking about is the entire third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation burned onto seven DVDs, plus bonus material. Did you know that:
The Enterprise make noise. All spaceships must make a noise of one sort or another. Of course, enemy ships must make a very ominous noise, while friendly ships can sound like something from a 60’s hippie-fest combined with a military band.
All spaceships must always fly perpendicular to the same axis. When two ships encounter each other, they’re always aligned on a plane and never approach at odd angles. Ever wonder why this is? I do too. No more is this more evident than in the episode titled Tin Man in which a life form causes the Enterprise and a Klingon Bird-of-Prey to spin out of control away from each other. I guess the producers do not feel we humans can think three-dimensionally.
No matter how small the ship, they all have internal artificial gravity. In a battle, this is absolutely the last thing that fails. I can’t recall artificial gravity ever failing aboard the Enterprise. No matter how badly it is pummeled by the evil aliens, no matter how many external panels get blown away, no matter how many sparks or how much smoke pours out of the control panels, the artificial gravity will always keep working. The only exception I have ever seen is in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and it failed on the Klingon ship, not the Enterprise. This is an important point since season three ends with the Enterprise doing battle with the evil Borg who seem to be unbeatable.
Warp or hyper-drive will always fail at critical moments. This is especially true during the episode Yesterday’s Enterprise where the events are changing the course of history.
Inertial dampers will always prevent passengers from being plastered against the walls during acceleration into warp speed, yet any explosion will send passengers reeling across the room. I always wondered why when I slam on the brakes in my car, everyone shoots forward, but when the Enterprise goes from warp 9 to a full stop, no one budges. I want one of these things for my car!
During a battle scene, all ships must be in visual range. Even though in the 20th century we could fire weapons without visual contact, the people of the future have lost this technology. We can hone on a ship with cameras on the viewscreen from thousands of kilometers away, but to fire a weapon we must be close by.
All members of each alien species wear the same outfits, including clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry. This makes them readily identifiable. Aliens who do not dress like aliens are hiding something. This is true in the case of the Ferengi, the Klingons, and the Romulans. The Borg are all just clad in leather and rubber with tubes sticking out. All of this may be a consequence of the fact that aliens all have single, monolithic cultures: one language, one religion, one outfit, per planet.
Paramount has once again given the DVD release the attention to detail it did with the first two seasons. The Introductions to the episodes and menus are all appear like the control panels on the Enterprise. It gives a great sense of themeing to the viewer.
This season is where the acting and writing really began to come together. It also seems like the Enterprise really comes together as more of a floating community in space. There are great episodes such as Yesterday’s Enterprise, The Offspring, Deja Q and Sins of the Father. Gates McFadden returns to the show as Dr. Crusher during this season. Geordi LaForge is promoted to Chief Engineer instead of the “guest star chief engineer of the week.” This is also the first season with a cliff-hanger ending.
There are also quite a few episodes that start with “The”:
Disc 1 contains the episodes Evolution, The Ensigns of Command, The Survivors, and Who Watches the Watchers?.
Disc 2 contains the episodes The Bonding, Booby Trap, The Enemy, and The Price.
Disc 3 contains the episodes The Vengeance Factor, The Defector, The Hunted, and The High Ground.
Disc 4 contains the episodes Deja Q, A Matter of Perspective, Yesterday’s Enterprise, and The Offspring.
Disc 5 contains the episodes Sins of the Father, Allegiance, Captain’s Holiday, and Tin Man.
Disc 6 contains the episodes Hollow Pursuits, The Most Toys, Sarek, and Menage a Troi.
Disc 7 contains the episodes Transfigurations and The Best of Both Worlds Part 1, plus all of the Special Features.
The Special Features are once again a wonderful addition which Paramount has compiled for Star Trek fans. Many of the interviews which air are from years past, but the dating also indicates that Paramount took the time to round up all these people and interview them all over again for this DVD release.
In the Mission Overview there are a series of interviews with executive producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller as well as associate producer Peter Lauritson, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, and the entire cast including Whoopi Goldberg and Denise Crosby. In this they discuss the highlights of the season, as well as visits to the sets by famous people such as the Dalai Lama, Colin Powell and Stephen Hawking.
The Selected Crew Analysis has each actor talking about how their characters changed and developed during season three. It is interesting to hear Patrick Stewart talk about how he felt Captain Picard was beginning to stagnate. Gates McFadden and Wil Wheaton talk about the change in dynamic of the relation ship between their characters (mother & son) after she has been away for a year.
The Departmental Briefing – Production takes a look at how the stories were hashed out for this season. It talks about the changes in the writing staff as well as the fact that Star Trek: The Next Generation was the only show in Hollywood actively soliciting scripts from inexperienced writers. It talks about the art design and visual effects used this season, as well as the models and music. It is all very interesting to see how an episode’s production comes together.
In the Departmental Briefing – Memorable Missions various members of the cast and crew talk about what episodes from this season in were particularly memorable for them and why.
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