Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three
(2002) - Paramount
by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
Approx. 1,196 mins (26 episodes at 46 mins each), NR, full frame
(1.33:1), 7 single-sided, dual-layered discs (containing 2-4
episodes each - bonus content on Disc Seven), custom "clam
shell" case with inner gatefold packaging, 4 "behind-the-scenes"
featurettes (Mission Overview: Year Three,
Selected Crew Analysis: Year Three,
Departmental Briefing: Year Three -
Production and Departmental
Briefing: Year Three - Memorable Missions), booklet
insert, animated program-themed menu screens with sound effects and
music, scene access (8 chapters per episode), languages: English (DD
5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
"Let's make sure that history never forgets the name...
In the third season of Star Trek: The
Next Generation, Gene Roddenberry's vision of the 24th
Century finally hit its stride. I'll say it right up front - I
believe that, episode for episode, this is the show's best year. At
last, there were no writers strikes or production slow-downs.
Finally, the Starfleet uniforms lost that cheesy one-piece pajama
look. Season Three saw Whoopi Goldberg (as Guinan) become more
involved, and saw the return of Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly
Crusher. More importantly, it saw the addition of Michael Piller to
the show's production staff, as co-executive producer. Piller played
a key role in crafting several episodes that catapulted the series
That's not to say that there weren't difficulties. At the start of
production on Year Three, the series was was helmed by an almost
entirely new writing staff and there were no episodes in
development. That meant the writers had to work fast - often writing
the next day's work the night before - and they had to be inventive.
Thankfully, the writers had plenty of great ideas to work from.
There are so many great episodes in this season. Who
Watches the Watchers? sees Picard and company struggling
not to violate the Prime Directive when a mission to observe an
indigenous culture goes bad. The Enemy
features a great game of cold war brinksmanship between Picard and a
Romulan captain, when a secret Romulan mission to spy on the
Federation is uncovered. This is continued in The
Defector, when a Romulan officer attempts to warn the
Enterprise that the Romulans are planning a major offensive into
Federation territory. In Sins of the
Father, Worf's dead father is charged with treason and
Worf must defend his family name in the eyes of the Klingons. And
Sarek sees the return of
Spock's father - the Vulcan Ambassador - who is discovered to be
suffering the effects of a disease that strips Vulcans of their
emotional control on the eve of a critical negotiation.
Then there are the season's best episodes. In Yesterday's
Enterprise, the Enterprise discovers a strange temporal
rift in space. When another Federation starship comes through it -
the Enterprise-C from 25 years earlier - history suddenly changes.
The Federation is now fighting a losing war with the Klingons.
Guinan is the only one who realizes that something is wrong - the
Enterprise-C must go back to restore history. The episode also
features the brief return of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar - a
character who died in the show's first season.
Finally, nothing could be better than the season-ending
cliffhanger, The Best of Both Worlds,
Part I, which sees the devastating return of the Borg.
When a colony on the edge of Federation space goes missing, the
Enterprise investigates and discovers signs that the Borg
assimilated it. The Enterprise confronts the invaders, but the Borg
take Picard captive and then head for Earth, where the destruction
they could unleash would be unthinkable. Starfleet begins massing a
huge fleet of ships to try and stop them, but the Enterprise, with
Riker now in command, finds a new weapon that could destroy the Borg
ship. When they confront the Borg again, however, they're in for a
shocking surprise. This cliffhanger left fans of the show reeling
and even people who had never watched Star
Trek before were hanging on the edge of their seats. For
a brief time, Star Trek: The Next
Generation became THE show to watch. And it didn't let
The 26 episodes included in Paramount's third DVD collection (in a
boxed set of 7 discs) are as follows: Evolution,
The Ensigns of Command, The
Survivors, Who Watches The
Watchers?, The Bonding,
Booby Trap, The
Enemy, The Price,
The Vengeance Factor, The
Defector, The Hunted,
The High Ground, Deja
Q, A Matter of Perspective,
Yesterday's Enterprise, The
Offspring, Sins of the Father,
Holiday, Tin Man,
Hollow Pursuits, The
Most Toys, Sarek,
Ménage à Troi,
Transfigurations and The
Best of Both Worlds, Part I. As with the previous two
seasons, I won't go into the episode stories here - you can visit
Star Trek website for complete summaries of each.
These episodes are presented on DVD in their original full frame
aspect ratio. Thankfully, the video looks a little better that it
did for the earlier seasons. It still has a slightly digital look to
it, along with a slight softness. However color and contrast are
excellent. Fans should be quite happy.
As expected, the audio quality of these episodes is excellent,
remixed in full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for DVD. The
soundfield is nicely active and surprisingly ambient, with tons of
directional play for effects. Dialogue is clean and centered,
balanced nicely with the music which is evenly spread around the
soundfield. And there's good low frequency as well. As with earlier
seasons, there's plenty of fun to be found in the sound on these
Unfortunately, also as expected, this third collection's weakness
is in the extras. I do wish there was a little more variety here.
It's not that I don't like the featurettes - they're fine for what
they are. I just wish there was a wildcard here - something like the
Inside Starfleet Archives on
the last set. Maybe some production design artwork, or a look at the
ships or props. A discussion of the fictional "science"
created for the show, or maybe deleted scenes. There HAD to have
been deleted scenes.
What you do get here are a series of 4 featurettes. Mission
Overview: Year Three (17 mins) features the cast and crew
(including Denise Crosby and Whoopi Goldberg) looking back at the
season and some of the more exciting episodes and challenges, as
well as some of the guests to the set. In Selected
Crew Analysis: Year Three (14 mins) the actors once again
remember the season and how their characters continued to develop,
particularly Geordi and Worf. Departmental
Briefing: Year Three - Production (20 mins) features
various crew members talking about their work during the year and
interesting efforts behind-the-scenes. And finally, Departmental
Briefing: Year Two - Memorable Missions (11 mins) has the
cast and crew recalling their memories and personal stories from
Paramount's full seasons of Star Trek:
The Next Generation on DVD are continuing to improve in
subtle ways, but I still wish the extras weren't so formulaic. I
guess I'd like to see the occasional surprise in the bonus material.
Still, I don't think too many fans will be displeased. If you love
Star Trek on DVD, this season
of episodes is as good as it gets.