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Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Next Level (Blu-ray)  [Region Free]
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For the first time ever, you can experience some of the show’s most important and beloved episodes in glorious 1080p high definition, with true high definition visual effects and digitally re-mastered 7.1 sound--or with the original audio. You’ll witness new picture detail and depth you haven’t seen before, and enjoy spectacular visual effects that have been painstakingly re-created from the original film elements--definitely not up-converted from videotape. This “taste of tng” is a glimpse of what the upcoming complete season Blu-ray releases of The Next Generation will be like, and it will transport you to the next level.
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In 1987, some 20 years after the original series had ended, Star Trek: The Next Generation was launched into a decade renowned for its materialistic greed, but also for its hesitant steps towards a more unified world order. Creator Gene Roddenberry revised his vision of humanity's future accordingly, shifting the Trek timeline 80 years on and reinventing the new Starship Enterprise as an Ark-like exploration vessel full of families, schools, soothing recreational facilities and a maternally pacifying computer voice (Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett). The Next Generation crew were not soldiers, but scientists and diplomats. Unlike the fiercely individualistic Captain Kirk, Patrick Stewart's patrician Captain Jean-Luc Picard was a model team leader: no matter how desperate the crisis, he ensured that everyone got to sit round the Conference Room table and talk it over. And in a true late-1980s touch, a key member of the Bridge crew was psychoanalyst Counsellor Troi, always on hand to discuss everyone's feelings.
Season Two saw the welcome introduction of the cybernetic horror that was the Borg. Originally a powerful symbol of technological misuse in an otherwise technologically utopian universe, ultimately their hive-like existence served to reinforce the message that everyone would be much happier as a team player. Even renegade super-entity Q (John De Lancie) relied on Picard as much as his fellow god-like playmates; Data followed Pinocchio and Spock in a quest to discard what made him an individual; and there was even an episode that rationalised why all aliens basically looked alike (we're all one big family). Even the slogan change to "Where no one has gone before" acknowledges that there's no "one" in a team. But for all its earnest political correctness and an over-reliance on "technobabble", good stories played by an appealing ensemble cast were at the heart of the show's success. After seven successful seasons, "All Good Things" finally came to an end. Until Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, that is. --Paul Tonks --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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First, a quick word on the episodes. Encounter at Farpoint obviously isn't one of the strongest TNG episodes, but watching it again after quite a long time made me realise just how big a foundation this episode built for the characters (and story direction) we would all come to love over the following seven seasons. Sure, the pacing is a bit scatter-brain and the premise is very TOS-esque, but otherwise it's a joy to watch just for the memories it invokes.
Sins of the Father is, in my opinion, the strongest of the three. TNG did so well to turn the Klingon Empire from pantomime villains to a fully fleshed Alpha Quadrant species and this episode is just one example of it. Picard and Worf always had their best moments in these episodes, and there a fair few tear-jerkers here. Finally, there's Inner Light, which tends to be one of the most lauded TNG stories. Personally, I did find it emotionally devastating the first time around, but it isn't one that I would choose to watch again and again.
Wow, there just aren't enough words to describe the video quality of the episodes... amazing, phenomenal, incredible and mind-blowing would be just a few possibilities. The clarity of the image, vibrancy of the colours and quality of the special effects are all top notch. Sure, there are a few problems now and then, such as a little over-saturation of colour, some graining and blurring (particularly on Farpoint episode), but that doesn't prevent this release standing lightyears above the standard definition episodes we normally watch. The video also allows you to spot intricate details that you won't be able to see normally, and some weaker elements which are less welcome (for example, Data's very obvious stunt double on the holodeck in Farpoint).
The one (very minor) setback is that the newer the episode is, the less you notice the difference. With seasons 1-3 we are bound to be blown away by the difference from our memories of the episodes, but from season 4-7 the quality of the special effects and video generally tended to gradually improve. This means that, although the video is undoubtedly incredible and the special effects will remain a pleasant surprise because we've not seen them that way before, I don't think the difference will be so big as to justify a blu-ray double dip for those later seasons (although most fans will obviously buy them anyway!).
The surround sound is another great success. The hum of the Enterprise engines is ever-present in the ship scenes and beautifully balanced for immersive effect. The other sound effects are equally impressive but the stand out winner is the musical score, which has always been one of Star Trek's strongest elements and really brings the stories to life. A tear came to the eye as old McCoy and Data walked down the Enterprise corridor and the music piped up.
There aren't any except a couple of trailers, but it doesn't really matter.
You might be questioning the true value of paying for a few episodes if you're thinking about buying the full sets anyway. The obvious answer is that these full season blu-rays are not going to be cheap, especially given the the money CBS/Paramount has invested in converting the show and re-doing the special effects. Therefore, it's best to be sure it's worth the dosh... and this release proves beyond any doubt that it most definitely is worth it. For a few quid, why not watch these few episodes in all their hi-def glory, and revel in how amazing it's going to be to sit down and watch the rest!
Both episodes of Encounter at Farpoint are on here, in this episode you see the biggest and best increase in quality. The first series suffered from a horrible red tint all over the place, well that has gone and all the colours are back the way they should be, very vibrant and not bleeding into each other, it looks like it was filmed just recently it looks that good.
The Next Generation was filmed in a 4:3 ratio, not 16:9 widescreen ratio, it has always been 4:3 and will always be 4:3, even the blu ray versions, there is no point in releasing these discs in 16:9 ratio because there simply is no picture to fill the gap as it was never filmed, so don't expect any of this to be in widescreen, however, it does not take away from the experience or disappoint.
Seeing the new intro for the first time is absolutely amazing, I was in awe, and still am in awe, at seeing how gorgeous the Enterprise looks in high definition, it's so clear you think you can reach out and touch it! The TNG theme is much better too, it is crystal clear and you can hear sounds and instruments that you could not hear before in the original, it's an amazing job.
The only downside to this Blu Ray is that now because it is so crystal clear on a large screen I can spot the stunt doubles haha. See if you can spot them in Encounter at Far Point
Why stretch the image, just to lose the full screen of what was filmed? You wouldn't gain anything. Instead, you'd lose half of the image!!
I have no criticism for this release. You could argue that they should've recreated all of the special effects (as they did with the Original Series Blu Rays)instead of just brushing up the originals, and in some scenes, they actually have recreated the whole image, but not all. That said, if they'd changed things too dramatically, it would've ruined the whole feel of the show.
Looking forward to the first season box set later in 2012. It feels great to be excited about 'The Next Generation' again. They feel new!
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If someone wants to see what the remastered series looks and sounds like, this is a low cost try.Read more
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