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The Series
Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the few shows that just got better and better as the series went on. It’s characters became much more developed, the actors far more comfortable in their roles, the story-lines became much more interesting, and the overall execution became much smoother in the later episodes. The fact that the show got better as it went on means this sixth season is not the best, that is a crown held by the seventh and final season, but this season is still home to some great episodes. Rather than review the season overall, here is a little review of each episode.

‘Time’s Arrow: Part 2’ - The season premiere that continues on from where the last season left off. In this episode, the crew finds a way back to the nineteenth century to rescue Data, who is already stranded there. They also look into the mysterious beings that led to the time travel. Not a bad way to start the season. This is a fun episode, featuring some nice character development, in particular from the characters of Picard (Patrick Stuart) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). There is also some very good work from the guest stars. Although the loose ends from last season are cleared up in a very clever way, an unsatisfying villain leaves this episode a tad empty, but this is still lots of fun, don’t get me wrong.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six
‘Realm of Fear’: A fairly forgettable episode that focuses mainly on series regular Lt. Barkley. Barkley is terrified of transporting. He takes shuttles everywhere. The one time he conquers his fear and beams back to Enterprise after a salvage operation, he catches a glimpse of something mid-transport—something that looked alive. Is this just his fears, or is something actually there? Although the turnout is fairly unpredictable, this episode focuses more on the smaller characters such as Barkley and O’Brian (who went on to become a main character on the following series ‘Deep Space Nine’) which keeps it from being a standout episode. Although this isn’t far from being a poor episode, it perhaps would have worked better as a sub-plot in another episode.

‘Man of the People’: After a diplomat comes aboard the Enterprise, his elderly mother dies. Not long after, he asks Troi to take place in a mourning tradition. After the bizarre ceremony, Troi beings to age at an alarming rate, with her sexual desire getting stronger. Now the crew has to find out what this man did to her and how to save Troi from eventual death. This is one of the down points for the season. There is some really silly and corny dialogue that sounds like it should be in a soap opera, with some scenes to match. The plot was also poorly worked.

‘Relics’: The fourth episode in the season gives us the return of ‘Star Trek’ legend James Doohan in the role of Scotty. The crew of the Enterprise rescues from the transporter buffer of a crashed ship, where he put himself to survive. The chance to see the return of a legend as well as an interesting plot about the Enterprise being trapped inside a giant metallic sphere make this one to remember.

‘Schisms’: Commander Riker and Worf, as well as some other crew members, start noticing some strange stuff. Mainly insomnia, time just passing by with no memory of what happened, bizarre scars, uneasiness around sharp objects etc. What is happening to them? This episode actually works pretty well. There is a real sense of mystery and you actually really want to find out what happened. It’s a well-worked episode. Also worth mentioning is a very creepy Holodeck scene involving a chair you would not want to be in with fast clicks coming from the darkness with someone saying “I’ve been in this room before.” Spooky. Good one.

‘True-Q’: The Enterprise has taken on a passenger who just may be one of the enigmatic Q beings. This is revealed when the Q we know and (some of us) love pays the ship yet another visit announcing the fact. The problem is, she just wants to live a normal life. Q brings it to her attention however that she would have to choose between her infinite powers as a Q or living the life of a mortal. One or the other, not both. This episode shares the same attributes as the other Q episodes as it is cute, funny, and still has time to involve a subplot about a doomed planet. A memorable episode in the season.

‘Rascals’: A Shuttle accident reverts four of the Enterprise crew, including Captain Picard back into twelve-year-olds. It is rotten timing too as there is a mining colony reporting a distress signal, and as always, the Enterprise is the only ship in range. What’s worse, during the rescue, a rogue Ferengi group decides to hijack the ship and sell it on the black market. With the children being the only ones left on board, it is up to the young Captain and his friends to take back the ship. Silly at times but a fun episode that stands out.

‘A Fistful of Datas’: One of the several Holodeck gone wrong episodes. An experiment being performed on Data and the ships computer leads to Worf (Michael Dorn) and his son being trapped on the Holodeck with the safety programs deactivated (of course) in a western program. What’s worse, all the holographic characters start turning into Data. A decent and occasionally funny parody of spaghetti westerns, which makes fun of, but also effectively uses the conventions of westerns to make a very satisfying episode.

‘The Quality of Life’: The Enterprise pays a visit to a space station where a scientist is showing off her new robots, which can access systems and repair them faster than any human could. It is crafty technology, but some strange behaviour in these cute little robots leads Data to believe that they have developed sentience. He believes they are alive and will so anything to make sure they are treated as such. This episode is a personal favourite. It shows us a side of Data we have not seen before and also pays with some very cool idea such as when do humans and computers collide? Almost like a whole ‘what separates us from the animals’ thing. I like it. There is also an exciting sub plot that emerges and integrates the robots very well. This is a keeper.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six
‘Chain of Command’: A two-part episode. Picard, Worf and Dr. Crusher are assigned to a top-secret mission by Starfleet to infiltrate a hidden Cardassian base and retrieve a super weapon the Cardassians are developing. Things may not be what they seem however. Perhaps this is a more controversial entry in the series. It is a bit of a cover for the political issues of the time and deals with corruption, torture and manipulation. It is a very good two-parter that benefits from pushing the boundaries a bit. David Warner plays his guest star role wonderfully.

‘Ship in a Bottle’: This episode sees the return of Professor Moriarty, a Holodeck character from ‘Sherlock Holmes’ who became aware of what he was and found a way to hijack the Enterprise in an earlier episode. Simple curiosity from Lt. Barkley sees the return of Moriarty, who strangely is now able to exit from the Holodeck. He now insists that he be able to bring his lover out of the Holodeck as well, going to extreme measures to ensure it happens. This is just another fun episode. Is fairly light and easy to enjoy as well as incorporating some very good twists.

‘Aquiel’: The Enterprise checks out a space station in distress, only to find it seemingly abandoned. The only trace of anyone is some remains on the floor. The remains are that of Aquiel Unari, a woman who was part of the stations crew. Geordi does his part in investigating by viewing her personal logs to see if they will shed light on what happened. Things get weird when Aquiel is produced alive by a Klingon passer by. A pretty average episode. It is slow and predictable. You will figure out the ending about half way through, which makes the rest of the episode a chore. The biggest fans will probably watch it once, enjoy it, and then never watch it again.

‘Face of the Enemy’: Funny enough, this was the first episode of ‘Star Trek’ I ever saw when it first came on television. It’s not bad either. Troi wakes up in a different place than where she went to sleep. What’s worse, she’s been made up to look like a Romulan, and a secret Romulan agency wants her to masquerade as a Romulan officer on a ship with a very unfriendly Captain. If you are a newcomer, like I was when I saw this, you will find this episode very confusing. You won’t know the character and therefore will not know the importance of what is going on. However, if you are a character you will see a side of Troi we have never seen before as well as get involved in a pretty intense and enjoyable episode.

‘Tapestry’: After being fatally wounded on an away mission, Picard is visited by Q, who claims to be God welcoming him to the afterlife. Picard is not fooled, and then finds that Q wants to give Picard a chance no one ever gets, a chance to change his past. Sending him back to his youth, Q gives Picard a chance to prevent a deadly fight which caused him to be stabbed through the heart, and change the fact that now he has an artificial heart. However, the effects of changing such an event can have undesired consequences. This is very different from other Q episodes. There is very little humour and this is at times rather violent. Like ‘Chain of Command’ pushing the envelope a bit works just fine here and we learn much more about the Picard character. A very good episode.

‘Birthright’: Another two-part episode. A strange traveller tells Worf whilst visiting Deep Space Nine (this is a crossover episode they did to promote the start of the DS9 show) that his father is still alive and is being held in a Romulan prison camp. Meanwhile, with the help of a DS9 crewmember, Data investigates dreams he has been having of his father. The first episode of this double, which focuses more on Data is mysterious, interesting and at times touching. The second part, which revolves around Worf and the prison camp is a bit of a let down, as the first episode builds up to this big cliff-hanger, then pretty much nothing happens. There are some good answers to some of the questions though.

‘Starship Mine’: The Enterprise is shut down and its crew evacuated for a deadly sweep of the ship. Just before he evacuates himself, Picard becomes aware of a group of scavengers who plan to rob the ship of weapons-grade materials. Now, with his escape cut off, Picard must stop the intruders and find a way off the ship. The crew on the surface also faces some issues from bad guys. It’s good to see an action-based episode here and there. This is an exciting and sometimes intense forty minutes. Have fun. Look out for an appearance by Tim Russ, who plays a lead role in ‘Star Trek: Voyager.’

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six
‘Lessons’: Picard finds himself falling head over heals with a new science officer. The two meet, share a love for music and eventually fall for one another. Things get intense however when she has to go on an away mission which will endanger her life. This episode is very nice. It’s fairly light and charming and is very easy to enjoy.

‘The Chase’: Professor Galin, an old friend of Picard, asks him to leave the Enterprise and come on an archaeological journey with him. Picard turns him down. Not long after his departure, Galin is killed by an intruder over something he had found. Picard now has to continue what Galin started and find out what he had discovered that was worth killing for. This is an interesting episode that will pass the time wonderfully. You will also never guess hat the answer to the riddle is. It is very out there.

‘Frame of Mind’: Riker starts to have visions of him being in a mental home whilst play a mental patient in an Enterprise play. Which is real? Which is the fantasy? A very surreal episode. Very strange. It’s a bit of a mind job but overall it is fairly enjoyable.

‘Suspicions’: Dr. Crusher invites a group of diplomats aboard the Enterprise to help out with an experiment involving a shield that will allow ships to get closer to stars. Things get weird after two scientists are killed whist experimenting. Although it violates medical ethics and direct orders, Crusher investigates further. The mystery here really does stay a mystery until the final act, which is very good. The episode is well paced and really keeps you on your toes. Very much worth a look.

‘Rightful Heir’: Worf is feeling spiritually empty. He takes leave from the Enterprise and visits a religious Klingon landmark where the Klingon legend Kahless is promised to return. It is a shock to all when Kahless actually dos return. The question is, is it really Kahless? This is another one of those episodes that is enjoyed, but forgotten soon after. It is predictable, but does contain an impressive fight scene.

‘Second Chances’: Upon revisiting a hostile planet, Riker finds a double of himself in a crashed ship. This double was created by a transporter glitch and now wants to continue with life before the accident. This includes his long finished romance with Troi. Not a bad episode, but like several others, it is enjoyed, but soon forgotten. The visuals of putting two Rikers into one room are very good.

‘Timescape’: Picard, Troi and Data return from an away mission to find the Enterprise and a Romulan Warbird frozen in time by spacial fractures during what looks like a battle. They must find out how it happened and how to stop it. What makes matters worse is the Enterprise warp core is on the brink of destroying the ship. This is a very good episode. There is a real sense of urgency and like several other episodes, the finale puts in a very nice twist. The temporal displacement episodes on any Star Trek show are usually very good and this is no exception.

‘Decent’:  The first part in a double episode. The Enterprise responds to a distress call from a colony, only to discover a group of Borg who are now thinking and acting as individuals. To complicate matters, Data displays the emotion of hatred when killing one of the drones. How are the Borg acting on their own? How is Data experiencing emotions? The mysteries of this episode are only half solved as it finishes with a cliff-hanger to the next season. It is a very entertaining episode that will want to make you lash out and buy the final season to find out what happens next.

As you can see, this is a season filled with very good episodes and is a valuable pickup for fans, or semi fans or closet fans, whoever you may be.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six
Video
Although this isn’t exactly reference quality, it is still pretty good. The colours are well saturated, especially in the Starfleet uniforms, and look very vibrant. Skin tones all look great, whether it be human, Klingon or even Android skin. There are very few issues with grain and pixelation. Shadows and reflections all look superb. There is some obvious edge enhancement, (which seems to be a factor in most Star Trek DVDs, especially in the new Generations Special Edition from what I’ve heard) but it is mostly around the black sections on the uniforms and doesn’t detract at all to the shows entertainment.

Audio
Listened to with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This track works quite well for the show. There is plenty of dialogue, and it won’t be missed as it is very clear in this track. It is also in perfect synch, which helps a lot. Most reviewers are very hard on the use of the surrounds and sub in this track (one I read even claimed the surrounds were inactive). I found the track to be very satisfying. The surrounds are used very well, mostly for ambience and background noises like people tapping panels on the bridge and the sounds of the warp core in engineering. They also enhance the music score as well as give off some directional effects when ships fly by and occasionally in weapons fire. The sub also gets a working mostly for ship atmosphere such as the low rumblings of the engines. There is also use of it in ship flybys and action scenes. This is a very good track that I think is severely under-rated.

Extras
I hate it when DVDs promote ten hours of extras, when only about an hour or two of it is any good. Here we have almost two hours of quality extras such as seven featurettes, which are straight to the point and almost never waste time.

‘Mission Overview’ is feature that goes over the best of the season according to the cast and crew. It includes talking about the cliff-hanger episode, the inclusion of Scotty, the introduction of Deep Space Nine, the ‘Chain of Command’ episode and the visit by Steven Hawking.

‘Bold New Directions’ talks about the more unique episodes such as ‘Fistful of Datas’ and ‘Second Chances’. Some good stuff here. ‘Production’ goes over some of the bits and pieces of making the show. ‘Dan Curry Profile’ is a feature of the Production Designer talking about some of his work. It is quite long but still has its moments. ‘Data Profile’ is almost twenty minutes and goes over the history of the character of Data. It’s not bad.

‘Select Historical Data’ goes over some bits and pieces such as music, Geordi’s visor and sets. It’s pretty good. ‘Sets and Props’ is exactly that, it talks about some of the sets and props used in this season. After that there are two trailers. One for ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ on DVD which is slightly enticing and a trailer for ‘Star Trek: Nemesis.’ Again, a very good set of extras with pretty much no time wasted.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six
Overall
The second last, and second best season of TNG. It has everything from a guest appearance by an original cast member, time travel, disruptions in the space-time continuum, Holodeck malfunctions to an appearance by Steven Hawking. The episodes in this season are generally great, and leave a good cliff-hanger for the premiere of the final season to clear up. The season is presented well on DVD with a decent picture transfer and a very pleasing surround track, as well as almost two-hours of informative and interesting featurettes and trailers as a bonus. Not the best, but still a keeper.


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