When Capt. Jean-Luc Picard took the helm of a new Starship Enterprise in 1987, he and his crew expanded the Star Trek universe beyond the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy et al., explored even more strange new worlds and boldly took fans of Gene Roddenberry's beloved sci-fi franchise where they had never gone before.
The groundbreaking series celebrates its 25th anniversary with a new high-definition upgrade as a six-disc Star Trek: The Next Generation - The First Season (1987, Paramount, not rated, $118) makes its debut on Blu-ray.
During its seven-year, 178-episode run from 1987-1994, the syndicated TNG was so popular that it competed with broadcast network shows in the ratings. It was nominated for 38 Emmy Awards and won 19 while also receiving multiple Hugo and Saturn awards. The cast was popular enough to carry four theatrical films between 1994-2002, and the show opened the door for other Star Trek properties -Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005).
TNG premiered in September 1987 with the two-hour pilot "Encounter at Far Point," which was set 80 years in the future of the original show's five-year mission, with a more cerebral captain in Picard (Patrick Stewart), a sleeker Starship and an ensemble of crew members whose characters, back stories and interpersonal relationships would be explored in far greater depth than those of the first show. They included Picard's "Number One" - Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton).
On their first mission, the crew find themselves standing in for the human race in a trial by the seemingly omnipotent Q (John de Lancie). He believes they are dangerous to the rest of the galaxy and should be destroyed. They pass the test, but the imperious Q would be a recurring thorn in the side of Picard and other Starfleet captains for years to come.
As the first season progresses, the Enterprise encounters an array of alien cultures, deals with a wide variety of social issues and even suffers a death in the family. They face threats from familiar foes like the Klingons and Romulans, and discover new ones like the hive-like cybernetic Borg ("Resistance is fu-tile") and the profit-mongering Ferengi.
The boxed set comes with several extras, including a feature with producers and cast members talking about the challenge of creating a new show in keeping with Roddenberry's vision; interviews with the cast about their roles both before the show aired and after it ended; a behind-the-scenes feature on producing the show and its effects; and the cast and crew talking about memorable episodes from the first season. There is also a 25-minute documentary, "Energized: Taking the Next Generation to the Next Level," that discusses the painstaking process of restoring and upgrading the show to its new high-definition presentation.
Paramount will be giving each of the subsequent seasons similar restorations, but have not yet announced a timetable for their release.