It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. No, I’m not having a Charles Dickens flashback or reliving Star Trek II. I’m talking about the new Trek release The Best Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It does feature one of the best Trek episodes of any of the shows, the Borg extravaganza The Best Of Both Worlds. In fact this really does contain 4 of the show’s best episodes. The problem is that there are only 4. With the fan collectives already taking up Yesterday’s Enterprise, it’s not that great a bargain for the real Trek fan.
The Best Of Both Worlds I & II: The Borg are ready for an all out attack on Earth. Now they’ve captured Captain Picard and use his knowledge of Starfleet defenses and strategies. Locutis, the Picard-Borg, leads the cyborg fleet in an epic space battle, perhaps the most ambitious on a Trek television episode. We all know Picard gets rescued and the Federation wins the day, but at what cost? Picard would be permanently scarred by his encounter with The Borg.
Yesterday’s Enterprise. Again this is another very strong episode in which we visit a reality where the Federation never made peace with Klingons. Both are embroiled in a horrible war, and starships are heavily armored fighting ships and not scientific vessels. It’s the return of Tasha Yar…Yeeech.
The Measure Of A Man: Data’s rights as an intelligent being are brought into question when he refuses to allow himself to be experimented upon by a careless Starfleet officer. A hearing is called to determine if Data is a being or a piece of equipment with no rights at all. It’s a moving episode as Riker is forced to argue against Data’s case, knowing what his victory would mean to a loyal friend.
Each episode of Star Trek is presented in a full frame aspect ratio. The picture looks every bit as good as the broadcasts on my satellite television system. Colors are outstanding, as is the level of detail. Black levels never fail to produce fine shadow detail.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works very well to spread out many of the show’s claustrophobic moments. While not extremely aggressive, you get a good sense of space with the ambient channels. Dialog is clear and always placed correctly compared with what’s on the screen. Occasionally musical cues are a little louder than I’d like, but the clarity and quality are always consistent.
No one and nothing is ever dead in the Star Trek universe. With the remastered shows taking center stage and the films soon to follow in HD, I thought we’d seen the last of these Fan Collective sets. With the last release, I thought I heard the unmistakable voice of DeForest Kelley announce: “It’s dead, Gino”. Alas, the temptation to double dip was too much for Paramount to resist, and a new release is upon us. These are very good episodes, but it’s just four in a large number of equally worthy episodes. I’d rather Paramount keep working on the HD product and let these collections pass away quietly into the night, but it appears that “Resistance is futile”.