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In 1987, some 20 years after the original series had ended, Star Trek: the Next Generation was launched into a decade renowned for its materialistic greed, but also for its hesitant steps towards a more unified world order. Creator Gene Roddenberry revised his vision of humanity's future accordingly, shifting the Trek timeline 80 years on and reinventing the new Starship Enterprise as an Ark-like exploration vessel full of families, schools, soothing recreational facilities and a maternally pacifying computer voice (Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett).
The Next Generation crew were not soldiers, but scientists and diplomats. Unlike the fiercely individualistic Captain Kirk, Patrick Stewart's patrician Captain Jean-Luc Picard was a model team leader: no matter how desperate the crisis, he ensured that everyone got to sit round the conference room table and talk it over. And in a true late-1980s touch, a key member of the Bridge crew was psychoanalyst Counsellor Troi, always on hand to discuss everyone's feelings. Even the slogan change to "Where no one has gone before" acknowledged that there's no "one" in a team. But for all its earnest political correctness and an over-reliance on "technobabble", good stories played by an appealing ensemble cast were at the heart of the show's success. --Paul Tonks
On the DVD: Star Trek: The Next Generation comes to DVD in a distinctively packaged seven-disc set. This is reproduced for all seven series, thus forming a handsome collection. The outer gunmetal grey case is plastic, and the discs themselves are held in a rather flimsy cardboard fold-out sleeve. Each disc has nicely done animated menus and audio/subtitle options for each episode--though no "play all" facility. Disc 7 also includes bonus features in the shape of informative cast and crew interviews (both new and from the launch of Season 1), subdivided into four chapters: "The Beginning", "Selected Crew Analysis", "The Making of a Legend" and "Memorable Missions". Picture is adequate 4:3 with good Dolby 5.1 showing off the innovative sound effects. --Mark Walker
DVD Special Features:
Seven-disc box set. Full season 26 episodes. One hour of unique extras. The Launch
Gene Roddenberry's vision for Next Gen; Building a new Enterprise; The cast's reactions to being part of the "Star Trek" legend; writing new characters and aliens; Designing the new ships and props.