That the seventh season would be the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was well-known in advance. At the time, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was also on the air. Fans could look forward to a movie following this season featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast as well as a new series about to begin, Star Trek: Voyager.
I mention all of this because I think it is good background for this season. Though still by far one of the best shows on television, the cast and crew were being spread fairly thin. This shows in several episodes during the seventh season.
There are some stellar moments, such as the episode Parallels which takes on jumping between parallel universes long before Sliders was ever on the air. There are some great moments of character development such as Attached which explores the history between Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher (Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden). There is the fantastic end to the television series in All Good Things… which draws together the pilot – the beginning – with the ending. It also gives us a glimpse of a future which fans now know will never be.
The Maquis storyline present in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is given a boost with the episode Preemptive Strike, just so fans don’t keep asking “where is the Enterprise while all this is going on?” (Though that is a sentiment echoed by fans during the Dominion War, but more on that another time…)
Wesley Crusher’s (Wil Wheaton) storyline comes full-circle in Journey’s End as he reunites with “The Traveler”, whom we met in the first season episode, Where No One Has Gone Before, and abandons the Starfleet dream to go live on an astral plane (how he manages to come back to appear at Riker and Troi’s wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis is one of those moments that makes fans shake their heads). We also get to meet Geordi’s (LeVar Burton) father (portrayed by Ben Vereen) in Interface as they deal with the death of his mother (portrayed by Madge Sinclair) who we’ve met in previous seasons.
While, in my opinion, this is not the best season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it is also far from the worst. The cast has truly defined their characters by the end of the series, and it resonates in the performances. They are so truly comfortable and at ease that it is strange to think of them outside of these roles.
Disc 1 contains the episodes Descent Part II, Liaisons, Interface, and Gambit Part I.
Disc 2 contains the episodes Gambit Part II, Phantasms, Dark Page, and Attached.
Disc 3 contains the episodes Force of Nature, Inheritance, Parallels, and The Pegasus.
Disc 4 contains the episodes Homeward, Sub Rosa, Lower Decks, and Thine Own Self.
Disc 5 contains the episodes Masks, Eye of the Beholder, Genesis, and Journey’s End.
Disc 6 contains the episodes Firstborn, Bloodlines, Emergence, and Preemptive Strike.
Disc 7 contains the episode All Good Things… and the Special Features.
The Special Features are once again the highlight of the set for me. In Mission Overview, members of the cast and crew discuss the overall series with specifics about the seventh season, including the feeling that this was a year that focused on families. Everyone seemed to have a brother, parents or a previously unknown child come out of the woodwork. The crew also talks about the abundance of press coverage that interfered with the filming of the final episode.
In A Captain’s Tribute Patrick Stewart talks about all of his castmates and the relationships that developed. The fun times he recalls include those with Denise Crosby and Wil Wheaton, for they were there at the start of the series. I have to give this man a lot of credit because he admits his foibles here in talking about the relationships. Stewart talks about the relationship with Michael Dorn (Worf) being sometimes turbulent as well as Dorn and Burton calling him on it when he inadvertently made a remark that could be construed as racist. It wasn’t until they pointed out how whatever he said could be construed in that light that he realized it, and rather than hiding from the incident, Stewart uses it as an example of how well they worked through things and got along.
Departmental Briefing: Production brings in Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) to talk about her first experience directing with Genesis. Both she and Marina Sirtis (Troi) talk about the strong women characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Michael Okuda talks about working with astronomer Carl Sagan’s son, Nick, who wrote the episode Attached and went on to become a Star Trek staff writer.
Starfleet Moments & Memories really delves into the camaraderie that the cast and crew has over the run of the series and into the movies. The general silliness on the set that is needed to offset some of the deep, serious storylines is touched on and some of the actors show their out-of-character wackiness. The general lack of Emmy nominations except for the technical areas is also talked about. Star Trek: The Next Generation was finally nominated for an Emmy for Best Drama Show after the final season, but in general there is a bias at NATAS and science-fiction shows are not taken seriously.
The Making of All Good Things talks about how the three time periods were tied together – the first episode, the final episode, and that future we know will not happen. The show brought back former castmembers as well as made good use of makeup to show what the cast might look like in the future.
The final Special Feature is a preview of the DVD’s of the seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ll be reviewing those starting in February.
The entire set of the Star Trek: the Next Generation DVDs is great for any Trek fan. If you had to pick one or two seasons as “must-haves” or for a gift, I don’t know that I’d choose this one. I’d encourage everyone to collect the entire seven seasons, though. Paramount has done very well with the extra material they include with each set, as well as the graphics used to display menus and introduce each episode. It’s well worth the high price tag for a wonderful collection of a terrific television show.
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