After the confidence of the previous two years, however, year 5 often disappointed by not seeing a good idea through to the end. Denise Crosby was swept back under the carpet in the Klingon soap opener ("Redemption, Part II"). No one could make the prospect of Deep Space 9 attractive enough to Michelle Forbes, so her fantastic performance as Ensign Ro seems wasted in retrospect. And no one could reschedule Robin Williams to guest star, so we had Matt Frewer instead ("A Matter of Time"). Of all stories to use Leonard Nimoy in, "Unification" wallowed in Romulan politics instead of anything emotionally engaging. Gene Roddenberry wanted to introduce a gay character, but mere months after his death all we got was the trite "The Outcast." This was inarguably where the series weakened, without the Great Bird overseeing what was going on. Worst of all, his hard-as-nails bad guys the Borg were given a touchy-feely side in "I, Borg." Fans and critics now appreciate that the behind-the-scenes focus had shifted from The Next Generation to the next spinoff, and it would never fully return.
The picture quality is so-so. It looks sharper than VHS but is a little soft on many of the episodes. The extras are pretty skimpy with a interviews with various cast and production members about various episodes. It's not bad but it would have been far more inviting to have some actor/director/writer/producer commentaries. Still, the dual layer DVD's included in this set are the one of the fewStar Trek: TNG where I haven't had a some sort of flaw (the season three set had picture problems, dialog somehow out of synch, etc.). So Paramount has gotten the manufacturing difficulties out of the way.
The packaging is very nice all except the booklet. It would be nice to see some sort of overview on the season, comments, etc. Considering the amount of $ your paying I don't think this is too much to ask.
On the positive side--many of these episodes are among the best Trek produced. They also stand as some of the best science fiction, no, scratch that, drama produced for either television or the movies during the 90's. TNG was equaled (with some episodes and the story arcs that were developed they actually surpassed TNG) by the complex Deep Space Nine (which, by the way, is still not available on DVD thank you very much).
If you're a Trek fan, I'd recommend this set although I wish Paramount had included more extras. TNG surpassed The Original Series in terms of scope, writing, acting and optical effects.
With that, I present you with a full-scale review of all the episodes in this season. Evaluations range from 0 to 5 stars (*). Hope this helps.
Redemption, Part II (**) - The Enterprise tries to stop the Romulans from interfering in the Klingon Civil War. This is meandering and horribly written. The plot point about Tasha Yar's kid being a Romulan was never explained fully, leaving someone who wouldn't know better totally confused.
Darmok (*****) - Picard struggles with an alien, who seems to communicate in gibberish. Patrick Stewart is featured extensively, which is always a good thing. His scene where he explains the Gilgamesh story is priceless. Even better, this episode actually deals with metaphor and language in a fairly intelligent way. Well acted and well written. This season's gem.
Ensign Ro (***) - Introduces the character of Ensign Ro Laren, who tries to help the Enterprise with a dispute over the treatment of an oppressed people and their possible terrorist operations. There's probably a hidden message about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Decent political drama, but uneventful.
Silicon Avatar (**) - A scientist and the Enterprise try to thwart a large, deadly silicon being. Some pretty horrible special effects (which is atypical), plus the guest star can't act. Somewhere in here, there's a debate about science and ethics.Read more ›
The fifth season stars out with REDEMPTION: PART II. The fourth and last part of the rough quadrilogy involving Worf is by far the best of them all. It starts with a spaceship fight and never lets up. 10 times better than the first part.
What made this season so great was that it had many guest stars and character-based episodes:
1) In THE GAME and DARMOK, Ashley Judd guest stars.
2) Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock in UNIFICATION, PART II. There is a priceless conversation between Data and Spock in that episode.
3) Kelsey Grammer makes a brief apperance in CAUSE AND EFFECT.
4) Famke Janssen appears in THE PERFECT MATE. (She would later star with Patrick Stewart in X-MEN)
5) Ray Walston makes a memorable appearance in THE FIRST DUTY. Will Wheaton is in that episode as well and delivers a great performance.
6) In THE NEXT PHASE, La Forge and Ro get some time to deliver some good performances
7) ETHICS is a great Worf episode.
Also in this season were many funny and intersting episodes:
1) In DISASTER, Data's head is removed, Worf helps to deliver a baby, and Troi must run the bridge. Good stuff.
2) In POWER PLAY, Data, Troi, and O'Brien go renegade and take over Ten-Forward. Very cool.
3) I, BORG was a great episode. Very intersting. And watch for Hugh to come back late in the 6rth season...
Unfortunately, there were some bad episodes as well. IMAGINARY FRIEND and COST OF LIVING were horrible. Watch for yourself. (LWAXANA taking a MUD BATH?!?!?!?! Please, no!!!!!!!)
And last, the season's last episode, TIME'S ARROW. Unfortunately, it's not that great.Read more ›