- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, German Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish,
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Run Time: 182 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2012
- List Price: $22.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Okay Trekkies, Trekkers, Star Trek fans, or whatever you prefer to refer to yourselves as, take a deep breath and relax. Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level is simply a small taste of things to come, a preview or primer, if you will. Some more cynical folks may even call it a cash grab. Whatever the case may be, later in the year, the official role out of the complete Star Trek: The Next Generation series on Blu-ray will begin with the release of Season One. As such, this The Next Level release cannot and is not meant to please everyone with its choice of episodes (there are only three on the disc). I’ll tell you one thing, with the few episodes on this sampler, they’ve already proven to me that The Next Generation is going to look and sound spectacular in its entirety.
So, what episodes do you few who can’t wait for the complete season get with this release? Here’s a breakdown:
- Encounter at Farpoint (Season 1) – The very first episode of the series starts off by introducing the popular recurring character Q (John de Lancie), an all powerful entity who puts the crew of the Enterprise and all of humanity on trial for their savage history as they journey to Farpoint Station to pick up Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes).
- Sins of the Father (Season 3) – Worf (Michael Dorn) learns he has a brother when a Klingon commander comes aboard the Enterprise in an exchange program. Later, Worf ends up heading to the Klingon Empire to fight for the honor of his family name, a fight that could end in his death.
- The Inner Light (Season 5) – In this episode, when a strange object attacks the Enterprise, Captain Picard awakes on a planet in a small village where he lives out an entire lifetime amongst people who believes he is delusional for thinking he was once a captain on a starship.
The Next Generation on Blu-ray looks every bit as good as I suspected it would, especially with the track record of this franchise on Blu-ray so far. As most people will already have heard by now, for The Next Generation releases on Blu-ray, they haven’t just remastered from the existing completed film masters, but they have gone back to the original camera negatives and redone all the visual effects composites – originally done in standard definition – in high definition. The end result are visual effects that are clearer, sharper, and more detailed than ever before. This AVC/MPEG-4 encodement, framed in the original broadcast framing of 1.33:1, looks amazing, with a fine grain structure and beautiful colors. Those Starfleet uniforms in their glorious reds, yellows, and blues look fantastic while the Klingon uniforms yield intricate detail and texture. If there is one problem, it is that flesh tones might suffer slightly from pushing a bit too much towards a reddish look in certain spots, but it’s a minor issue.
The sound on this sampler set – and the forthcoming full season collections – has been spruced up in glorious lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 as well as having the original Stereo soundtrack provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
I have to admit that I do enjoy the new 7.1 mixes even though they are not in line with what purists will likely want to listen to. They are quite expansive without being overly aggressive. They follow quite closely the sound and original panning of the stereo mixes, but offer more ambience, deeper lows, and a bit of discrete sound effects in the surround channels.
Meanwhile, the original stereo mixes actually sound very good as well. I was surprised at what a wide stereo soundfield they actually had, particularly in reference to the musical score and sound effects during each episode. Even in this stereo mix, one can clearly make out the low chatter of sounds of crew aboard the Enterprise and other bleeps and blips of the ship spread out across the the two speakers. Most of the years this series was on the air, I was watching it while listening through awful 1980s TV speakers, and, not to mention, stereo broadcasting was only just rolling out, so many of the them I heard in mono. Hearing all of the episodes even in their intended stereo on a proper sound system is still a revelation.
There are only three promotional extras on the disc, all for the forthcoming Season One Blu-ray release of The Next Generation and the accompanying iPad App.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One Blu-ray Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p/24)
- Star Trek Padd – iPad App Promo Spot (1.78:1; 1080i)
- A Hint of HD “Star Trek – The Next Generation” HD Teaser Promo (1.78:1; 1080i)
The Definitive Word
This The Next Level set for Star Trek: The Next Generation offers just a taste of things to come for the forthcoming Blu-ray releases of the complete series. It looks and sounds great and as is a nice sampler that hardcore Start Trek fans might want to pick up, but, honestly, if you can wait, it might be best to just hang in there until the complete season sets hit store shelves or etailer’s websites.
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