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DVD review: 'Star Trek: TNG' Season 1

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Some of the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation": clockwise from bottom left, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, and Patrick Stewart  

By Marc Bernardin
Entertainment Weekly

(Entertainment Weekly) -- It's almost hard to believe, looking back on the first season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," just how bad much of it was.

To be fair, the show itself was a bold experiment -- an expensive take on the "Star Trek" mythos, without any of the classic cast that saw the fans through the 18 years between TV series -- and it was bound to have a few missteps. And even if they were intentional bones thrown to the diehards, cheesy holdovers from the '60s "Trek" clogged way too much of the first season: There was the episode with the disease that made everyone horny, the one with the planet of scantily clad women, the hour with the clumsy military parable, and the half-dozen shows where Starfleeters beamed down to a world with a monochrome sky and Styrofoam landscape. All that was missing was the half-black/half-white-painted Frank Gorshin.

But, for all of its silliness, the first season succeeded where it needed to: It introduced viewers to the characters who would carry the torch through six more seasons, the new crew of the Starship Enterprise.

RESOURCES All about 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' 

Led by Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, the cast was executive producer-creator Gene Roddenberry's masterstroke, even if he wasn't always sure how to best utilize them (drinking-game alert: Do a shot every time Marina Sirtis' empathic Counselor Troi "senses something"). But for every awkward moment, there's a bit that portends the greatness the show would achieve, beginning with its third season.

The creation of "The Next Generation" is documented in a series of retrospective documentaries on the set's seventh disc; cobbled together from mostly archival footage, it's an interesting if somewhat biased look at the rejuvenation of a franchise. After all, the interviewees are people who still make enormous amounts of money off their past or present "Trek" association.

The episodes themselves look just fine -- they've also been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround -- and aside from the docs, there aren't any other supplements. But the real draw here is watching the first tentative steps in going where no one had gone before.

Grade: B+

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