Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Best of Both Worlds

(1990) **** Unrated
86 min. Paramount Television. Director: Cliff Bole. Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton, Elizabeth Dennehy.

/content/films/4503/1.jpg[Spoiler alert: here comes the ending of Part I of "The Best of Both Worlds."] "Mr. Worf, fire." Cut to black. "To be continued." It's a memory seared on the brain of every Star Trek fan old enough to have viewed "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" on June 18, 1990. The first Star Trek: The Next Generation cliffhanger—capping the show's third season—would prove the best, a TV moment that was the sci-fi equivalent of "Who Shot J.R.?" How would the series write its way out of this one, with Captain Picard kidnapped by the Borg, biotechnologically reconfigured as "Locutus of Borg," and threatened with annihilation by his own loyal crew? Even screenwriter Michael Piller had no idea until forced back to his computer during the summer hiatus before the show resumed production on Season Four.

But write their way out of it they did, in a second part nearly as exciting as the first. As a whole, "The Best of Both Worlds" is as good as, if not better than, any of the feature films that would later star the Next Generation cast. The plot concerns the long-promised but nonetheless untimely arrival of the Borg from the outer reaches of space. The fearsome cybernetic species very nearly makes good on its promise "Resistance is futile," and it takes all the strategy the Enterprise crew—and newly arrived Borg expert Lt. Commander Shelby (memorable guest star Elizabeth Dennehy, Brian's daughter)—can muster in order to save the Earth and recover Captain Picard.

Some of the series' punchiest action (tightly directed by Cliff Bole) and most important character development is either contained in this hour and a half or can be traced back to it. Once violated by the Borg, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) would never be the same man, and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) had to face his greatest command challenge before deciding he wasn't yet compelled to captain his own ship (as Frakes has frequently had to discuss, this marked an apparent inconsistency in the once-ambitious character, but I'm sure of pressed, fans could intuit that—like themselves—no one would want to leave the flagship U.S.S. Enterprise and its loveable crew).

The two-part story won the series two Emmy Awards and made its way halfway up TV Guide's "100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History." More importantly, it immediately wormed its way into the hearts and minds of even the most resistant hardcore Trekkers, those who had previously resisted any perceived infidelity to "The Original Series." Well, you know what they say: "Resistance is futile."

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Aspect ratios: 1.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Street date: 4/30/2013

Distributor: CBS Blu-ray

With Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Best of Both Worlds, Paramount and CBS Blu-ray assimilate "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" for this seamless feature presentation on Blu-ray, complete with bonus features exclusive to this single-disc release. For more detail on the beautiful A/V quality, see my review of Star Trek: The Next Generation—Season Three Blu-ray.

The highly entertaining bonus features here include a UV Digital Copy, a "Gag Reel" (5:28, HD) constructed entirely from "Best of Both Worlds" outtakes, and "Episodic Promo Part 1" (:34, SD) and "Episodic Promo Part 2" (:34, SD). There's also a nicely chatty audio commentary with director Cliff Bole and actress Elizabeth Dennehy that's moderated by Trek-sperts Mike & Denise Okuda. Bole and Dennehy share their memories of being selected for the episode, its filming, its legacy as one of Trek's most famous episodes, and relationships with cast, crew, and fans. Last but not least, the terrific new retrospective documentary "Regeneration: Engaging the Borg" (29:40, HD) includes the reminiscences and reflections of Bole, Dennehy, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis.

The novelty of being able to watch this classic Trek story without interruption, and the exclusive extras, make this an enticing proposition for Trekkers.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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