Blu-Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level

Created By Gene Roddenberry
Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby and Michael Dorn

Despite a diverse and geeky pop culture upbringing, I never really got into Star Trek or any of its spin-offs. Despite my father having the entire VHS collection in the house when I was younger, I never watched much of The Next Generation beyond seeing the lackluster movie Generations and the pretty great ‘Die Hard on the Enterprise’ follow-up First Contact at the cinema. In that sense, I guess I’m in the ideal target range for Blu-ray sampler disc ‘The Next Level’.

The Blu-ray serves as a collection of three episodes of The Next Generation in remastered high definition ahead of the full-season Blu-ray set, presumably directed at those new to or on the fence about the show (there’s not much sense in die-hard fans paying money for what they’ll undoubtedly get in the eventual full sets anyway). You get the feature-length pilot, ‘Encounter at Farpoint,’ Worf-centric Klingon episode ‘Sins of the Father,’ and ‘The Inner Light,’ in which Captain Picard is zapped unconcious by an unidentified alien probe and wakes up in a different body on a far-flung planet.

(Click images to enlarge)

The selection of episodes aren’t quite the strongest, but provide a great glimpse of the show’s potential for newcomers. ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ is a solid enough intro, and the first episode is a no-brainer inclusion to introduce newcomers looking to sample the show. But like many pilots, things are still shaky as the writers and actors are still finding their footing and characters, while the writing is occasionally clunky and heavy on exposition as the writers introduce all the cast and set plot pieces into place for the rest of the series.

‘Sins of the Father’ is heavy on Klingon politics and your enjoyment – like all character-centric episodes – is dependent on how much you like the one getting the most screen-time, but it’s a pretty great character-driven episode that offers plenty of development and insight into Worf and the series’ most tyre-track-headed species. ‘The Inner Light’ is, story-wise, the best of the trio, offering an intelligent and occasionally touching sci-fi story that’s a great vehicle for Patrick Stewart as Picard. Unfortuately it does suffer a little from the light shined on it by the loving restoration job.

(Click images to enlarge)

The high-def treatment afforded to the episodes is an incredibly impressive one, bringing out unseen detail from the original negatives and remastering the CG special effects to wonderful effect. But that added clarity does highlight some unflattering elements, like occasionally cheap sets and dated prosthetics, which is especially noticeable with the age effects in ‘The Inner Light’. It’s not a massive dealbreaker, but the new HD job does occasionally bring out both the best and worst about the show’s visual design in that respect.

The sampler disc likely won’t be of much interest to die-hard fans; despite the fantastic work that’s gone into lovingly remastering the show for Blu-ray, if you love The Next Generation, you’re going to be buying the full season sets anyway, so it’s a little pointless to pick this disc up. If you’ve never really seen the show and are looking to test the waters before you jump in, this is a great way to do it – the series has never looked better, and the disc provides a solid selection of episodes to let you know what to expect.

(Click images to enlarge)

  • The Next Generation in HD Teaser
  • Season One Blu-ray Trailer
  • The Next Generation iPad App Trailer

This being a sampler disc, it’s predictably light on extras. Included are a brief trailer teasing the arrival of The Next Generation in HD, a longer trailer for Season One with intereviews and before-and-after clips of the remastering work and a trailer for an upcoming iPad Wiki app based around the series.

The Episodes:

The Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level is out on Blu-ray in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from