Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Best of Both Worlds"
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Blu-Ray Disc • 1 Disc
CBS Home Entertainment
Consistently ranked as one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Best of Both Worlds" originally aired as two episodes - the cliffhanger to Season Three and the opener to Season Four. This Blu-ray takes both parts and edits them together as a 90-minute feature, sprinkling in a nice selection of exclusive bonus material to sweeten the pot.
"The Best of Both Worlds" was a watershed moment in Star Trek history, offering up the franchise's first true cliffhanger. Ask any fan who watched the series in first-run, and the chances are they'll tell you how excruciating the wait for Part 2 was during the summer of 1990. The plot to the episode is legendary, ingrained in the brains of anyone with a passing familiarity with Next Gen - our hero Captain Picard is captured by the Borg and assimilated into their collective. Commander Riker with the help of the ever-eager Lt. Cmdr. Shelby must take command of the Enterprise and think fast as the Borg, led by Picard, prepare for an all-out assault on Earth.
Despite the fact that Part 1 was always designed to be a cliffhanger, the feature-length edit bridges the two parts very effectively and maintains pacing and excitement. After Riker's famous line, "Mr. Worf, Fire" we cut to the weaponized Enterprise deflector dish firing at the Borg cube. Part 2 then continues with Worf's "The Borg ship is undamaged."
This single-disc release provides a wonderful and very affordable introduction to TNG remastered for fans who may not have picked up the season sets yet. I should also mention that the release comes with a special "Ultraviolet" version included, allowing you to stream or download the episode in HD. This isn't a feature found on the season sets, but is perfect for those of you wanting to watch "The Best of Both Worlds" on your portable devices.
To maintain consistency over the two parts, visual effects house CBS Digital were assigned both parts of "The Best of Both Worlds" to remaster. For a far more detailed look at how I rate the remastering of Season Three by CBS Digital, check out my review here.
Color, grain and contrast are nicely balanced between both parts and I would challenge anybody to notice any major differences in picture quality over the break between seasons.
Planet Jouret IV (seen in Part 1) was originally a reuse of the planet model seen in Season Two's "The Child" ('aucdet IX). Rather than reuse the same model, CBS Digital's Max Gabl recreated the planet digitally, incorporating some wonderful topography to represent mountain ranges on the surface. Similarly, Saturn (seen in Part 2) has been recreated faithfully but stays closer to the original 1990 version than recent NASA photography of the actual planet.
There's some amazing VFX work going on with the destruction of the Borg Cube at the end of Part 2, as fires stream out of the cube prior to explosion. The debris thrown out in the explosion looks far more realistic here and the slightly dubious "firework-style" remnants shooting out in all directions have been toned down to a more subtle and ultimately more realistic level.
It should be noted that CBS were unable to locate 3-seconds of the original film elements for Part 2 (this is incorrectly labeled as Part 1 on the Blu-ray cover). Unlike the 13-seconds from "Sins of the Father" (now thankfully recovered), these 3 seconds fly by and are hardly noticeable. They take place at 1:00:58 as Riker tells Locutus he needs time to prepare his people for assimilation. It's unfortunate, and I'm sure CBS Digital's film hunter Sarah Paul searched tirelessly for it, but it doesn't detract from the episode too much as it's so short.
The single disc Blu-ray of "The Best of Both Worlds" comes with a nice selection of bonus material presented exclusively for this release. Compiling bonus material for one specific episode of TNG was always going to be a dicey prospect given how 20 years of time tends to dull the memories of those people involved in the show. Surprisingly, Robert Meyer Burnett & Roger Lay, Jr have served up a treat with a wild 30-minute documentary, 90-minute audio commentary and freshly cut gag reel.
“Regeneration: Engaging the Borg” is a terrifically paced behind-the-scenes retrospective of "The Best of Both Worlds". Clocking in at 30 minutes, I was thrilled to see just how many people are represented in this documentary - we get to hear from the whole principal cast plus the likes of Elizabeth Dennehy, Cliff Bole, David Livingston, Seth MacFarlane, Mark Altman, Gary Hutzel, Greg Jein, Ron Jones and Michael Westmore. The piece is well structured, with Elizabeth Dennehy guiding the viewer through her experiences as a young, untested actress coming on to Star Trek: The Next Generation as an "outsider". Dennehy is incredibly engaging and holds a unique perspective about working on Next Gen which we haven't seen before. Jonathan Frakes certainly still has very fond memories of working with her, lamenting the fact that she never came back to reprise the role while at the same time joking "She wanted my job! My chair! My pips!" Couple the smorgasbord of interviews with some stunning shot breakdowns of the starship graveyard and a host of behind-the-scenes drawings and photos and you have a great companion piece to "The Best of Both Worlds" and an excellent incentive to pick up this release in addition to the season sets.
The disc's Gag Reel comes freshly cut from the show's original 35mm camera negative and puts together an impressive selection of bloopers and outtakes from both parts of "The Best of Both Worlds". As anyone who has seen the new TNG Blu-ray gag reels on previous releases will know, Michael Dorn always takes center stage in these compilations. BOBW is no exception as Dorn proceeds to tear up so many scenes that I lost count! Jaw-aching laughter is guaranteed!
There's also a special 90-minute audio commentary recorded for the episode featuring Mike and Denise Okuda, Elizabeth Dennehy and episode director Cliff Bole.
The Bottom Line? Setting aside the merits of CBS's decision to issue this release separately to the season sets (complete with exclusive VAM), I would find it hard to make a case for not picking this disc up given the high caliber of the extra content on display. It's perfect for those fans wanting to dip their toes in the water of high-definition TNG and it's affordable enough to justify picking up for those fans who are already collecting the season sets. The VAM (as is increasingly true) is what seals the deal. Pick this one up and enjoy 90 minutes of awesome HD Borg action with a great collection of bonus content. Resistance is Futile!
- Written for TrekCore.com by Adam Walker, April 24, 2013
Note: Unfortunately this review is being written while I'm in LA and don't have access to screencapping. I've included all the images I took in advance, but apologize that it's lighter on image content than usual.