Saturday, November 28, 2009

DVD Review: ‘The Best of Star Trek’ The Original Series & The Next Generation – Volume 2

Earlier this year, Paramount Home Entertainment released Best Of Star Trek DVDs for Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Each DVD contained four episodes, apparently deemed as the “best” in their respective series. Considering how long each series ran (79 episodes in TOS; 178 in TNG), four episodes hardly seems sufficient, so it’s no surprise that the studio has followed up with Volume 2 Best Of collections for both series, released in conjunction with the release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek on DVD and Blu-ray this month.

Both Volume 2 DVDs contain fully remastered episodes and enhanced special effects (the same ones included in the recent Blu-ray releases) and are economically priced at priced, making them them a great choice for any new viewers who want to jump onto either Star Trek show. Most die-hard fans of Trek would probably already own all the season DVDs, though your average fan might not want to or be able to invest in them, so these DVDs might be the way to go for them as well.

I own all of The Original Series, but haven’t completed my Next Generation collection just yet, so I wouldn’t think I’d need Best Of DVDs, but I found they came in handy while on vacation. Instead of lugging huge boxsets with me and then having to choose what to put on, I basically had some of the best episodes on hand to watch with me. And trust me, the episodes chosen for the Volume 2 DVDs are all excellent. (I should quickly mention that the episodes chose for Volume 1 are great as well.)

Of the 4 episodes of The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series Volume Two, my favorite is “Journey to Babel,” where teh U.S.S. Enterprise is tasked with transporting ambassadors to a peace conference, but all is not harmonious aboard the starship when one of the ambassadors is found murdered. Aside from the murder mystery, this episode is where we first meet the parents of the half-human half-Vulcan Spock and learn of his complicated relationship with them.

A close-second favorite would be “Space Seed,” when Captain Kirk and his crew find a ship floating in space, the SS Botany Bay, where a group of passengers aboard are in a cryogenically frozen sleep. This episode is one of the most popular of the series, as it guest-stars Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh, who is later the main villain in the film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

The final two episodes are “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot episode for the series, and “A Piece of the Action,” where the crew visits a planet whose inhabitants have based their society on early 20th century Earth gangster culture.

A stand-out episode of The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation Volume Two is “Relics,” where the new U.S.S. Enterprise-D crew rescues Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the engineer from the original U.S.S. Enterprise. James Doohan reprises his famous role from the original Star Trek series, which is a major bonus. But all of the episodes in this volume are exceptional.

Two episodes deal with Captain Picard and what his life would have been like if he’d made different choices or had settled down with a family instead of exploring the universe. In “The Inner Light,” Picard awakens with amnesia on a planet he doesn’t recognize, but he’s told of his life and family on that planet. Picards lives there for many years, always feeling like something is missing. In “Tapestry,” Picard is killed, but the omniscient being Q gives him a chance to travel back in time to his young Starfleet days to change the events of the future.

The last selection in the Volume 2 TNG DVD is “Cause and Effect,” where the U.S.S. Enterprise-D is unknowingly stuck in a time loop causing them to repeat each day over and over again. I always joke that they write these stories just to save some money in the budget (because they use scenes over and over again in the same episode), but really, they end up being the most interesting because they show the characters’ intelligence and how they’re able to overcome even the most seemingly impossible obstacles.

Even though I’ve seen these episodes many times and have watched them in order of their original broadcast, these episodes were fun to watch collected together on these Best Of discs.