Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Redemption"
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Blu-Ray Disc • 1 Disc
CBS Home Entertainment
After the successful release of the single-disc feature length "Best of Both Worlds" Blu-ray in April, CBS Home Entertainment have given Star Trek: The Next Generation's, "Redemption" the same lavish treatment. Both parts - the cliffhanger to Season Four and the opener to Season Five - have been edited together as a 90-minute feature presentation in this Blu-ray which also sports a healthy dose of exclusive Klingon-themed bonus material.
Few fans will argue that "Redemption" doesn't have the same punch as "The Best of Both Worlds", but revisiting the 2-part Klingon Civil War saga in high definition is a whole lot of fun and will gave many a new appreciation for the episodes.
Loyalties are divided when civil war splits the Klingon Empire. When Worf sees a chance to regain his wrongfully lost family honor, he must choose between his duty as a Starfleet officer and his heritage as a Klingon warrior. Meanwhile, Picard struggles to keep the Federation from being dragged into the fray. But a shocking new adversary from the past threatens to destroy both the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
Turning the attention to the feature-length edit, the transition between the two parts of "Redemption" isn't quite as smooth as "The Best of Both Worlds". In the two-part story, there is a clear passage of time between the end of Part 1 and the start of Part 2 (how much time is not certain, but a few weeks to a couple of months would seem a sensible estimate.) This helps to make Picard's sudden change of heart about Federation involvement at the start of the second part more palatable. In this feature-length edit, we don't have quite the same benefit of an imagined time jump, and you may be left trying to understand why things have changed so much in the first few moments of Part 2!
Nevertheless, this single-disc release is yet another affordable, great quality introduction to TNG remastered and will serve both the casual and die-hard fan alike! 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 "Redemption" on your portable devices.
To maintain consistency over the two parts, CBS Digital were assigned both parts of "Redemption" to remaster. The quality is very much in-line with the superb job the team did on TNG's third season (for a far more detailed look at how I rate the remastering of Season Three by CBS Digital, check out my review here.)
Yet again I'm blown away with the high quality work on display from the remastering team at CBS Digital. Klingon-themed episodes have always been dark, moody and atmospheric - attributes which never translated well at video resolution on DVD or when broadcast. In high definition I found myself noticing so much more detail in the grand sets on the Klingon Homeworld and the bridges of the various starships showcased in "Redemption". There are a couple of occasions where blacks are slightly crushed resulting in a loss of some detail in dark areas, but this is minor and hardly detrimental to the otherwise perfect picture.
The much derided 4-foot model of the Enterprise looks superb here - there wasn't one shot I noticed which lacked realism or depth. Yet it's not just the Enterprise - fans will undoubtedly be thrilled to see the standards to which the Klingon Vor'cha class battle cruiser has been restored and remastered here. The visual effects work on display is truly feature-quality and I'm thoroughly confident that it won't disappoint even the most critical fan!
I must make one final note regarding the terrific shot of the burning Klingon First City. The newly-created inferno underneath the city is truly hellish in design and the billowing clouds of smoke add a great sense of perspective. You're going to be hitting "rewind" to check out those few seconds over and over again - the movement and scale of the flames are so realistic - great work and a vast improvement over the original!
Bring on Season 5!
The single disc Blu-ray of "Redemption" comes with a healthy portion of Klingon-themed bonus material presented exclusively for this release. After the mildly disappointing new special features on the fourth season set, Redemption's VAM (Value Added Material) is very much back on the high-quality track with a thoughtfully created 30 minute tell-all Klingon documentary, "Survive and Succeed: An Empire at War" and an insightful 90-minute audio commentary from episode writer Ronald D. Moore accompanied by Mike and Denise Okuda.
“Survive and Succeed: An Empire at War” serves as the ultimate behind-the-scenes resource to the Klingon mythology. Chancellor Gowron himself - actor Robert O'Reilly - introduces the segment with his customary exuberance recounting how he went nuts in his original audition, a technique which seemed to impress producers. "Redemption" writer Ronald D. Moore gives a nice overview of TNG's Klingon arc and the battles he faced to get a Worf-centric cliffhanger while actor Michael Dorn takes us through the development of Worf as a character. The doc also sports a very nice interview with B'Etor actress Gwynyth Walsh who touches on everything from being taken aback by her costume (which apparently made Paramount very nervous) to the King Lear inspired Shakespearean "big acting" of the Duras Sisters. Throw in more interviews with Denise Crosby on the return of Sela, Dan Curry on designing the Bat'leth and Dennis Madalone on Klingon weapon training and you're set for half an hour of engrossing entertainment fit for any warrior of the Empire!
Audio Commentary: The newly recorded 90-minute audio commentary with writer Ronald D. Moore (accompanied by Mike & Denise Okuda) is simply dripping with Klingon factoids. Ron Moore went through the original early versions of the episode before recording the commentary and brings with him a wealth of information. Moore reveals how "Redemption" was originally set to be a single episode featuring Gowron as the nemesis and finishing with Kurn killing Gowron and offering his brother Worf a seat on the council, an act which shatters the Federation-Klingon alliance. Quite a departure from what the final episode became! There are more than a few laughs as Moore recounts his hatred for the Romulan uniforms and problems telling the Klingon sisters apart.
The Bottom Line
Another solid single-disc feature release from Star Trek: The Next Generation's collection of two-part episodes. Great episodes, a stunning remaster and engaging bonus content make "Redemption" on Blu-ray a tantalizing prospect for any fan. That's without mentioning the (extremely) cool Klingon-themed disc navigation menus and packaging... CBS have certainly gone the extra mile (or should that be kellicam) with this release! I certainly hope they continue to release the remaining two-part episodes of The Next Generation in the same format... they make a wonderful addition to the season sets. Qapla'!
- Written for TrekCore.com by Adam Walker, July 25, 2013