Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All good things...'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' ends with Season Five



Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season Five

“Ready he is to teach an apprentice. To let go of his pupil, a greater challenge it will be. Master this, Skywalker must.” – Yoda, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

All Good Things…

On October 3, 2008, George Lucas’s CG-animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered on cable’s Cartoon Network. The 3D animated show aired two months after the theatrical release of the eponymous animated feature directed by Dave Filoni, the man tapped by Lucas as the TV show’s supervising director.

After five seasons on Time Warner-owned Cartoon Network and 108 episodes, Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended its run on March 2, 2013. Lucasfilm, now owned by the Walt Disney Company, decided to wind down Star Wars: The Clone Wars in order to focus on the new live action Sequel Trilogy of Episodes VII-IX. Lucasfilm also needed its animators to start production on a new animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

(Star Wars Rebels will begin airing in Fall 2014. It will be introduced in a one-hour special on the Disney Channel; regular episodes will air on Disney XD.)

A batch of 13 episodes intended for the series’ sixth season has finished production and is (as of this writing) being broadcast on Germany’s Super RTL. Known as Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season Six – The Lost Missions, this batch will introduce several new characters and continue the Rush Clovis story arc which began in Season Two. Lucasfilm/Disney have not announced when or in what format The Lost Missions will be released in the United States. (Note: The Lost Missions was eventually made available on Blu-ray and DVD in the spring of 2014.)

 The Dark Side Rises


Maul:
 To continue, we need one singular vision…my vision.

Savage: Brother, let us share our strength. There is no need for dominance between us.
Maul: Always two there are, my brother—a Master, and an apprentice. And you are the apprentice.

Set in the three-year gap between the live-action Star Wars prequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith,* Star Wars: The Clone Wars chronicles the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, known colloquially as the Separatists. The Republic is defended by the Jedi-led clone army introduced in Attack of the Clones, while the Separatist forces are led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi Master who has turned to the dark side and become a Sith Lord. Dooku is aided by several minions, including the cyborg General Grievous.

Though The Clone Wars often features story arcs about lesser known Jedi Knights such as Plo Koon, Kit Fisto, and Luminara Unduli, its main characters are Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), and Anakin’s Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein). Other major characters from the live action Episodes are featured in their own story arcs, including Padme Amidala (Caterine Taber), Yoda (Tom Kane), Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2, and a young Boba Fett (Daniel Logan).

In Season Five, the show’s narrative tone is darker as the storyline draws closer to the events of Revenge of the Sith. This can be discerned both by the stories told and by the look of the characters themselves.

Season Five’s thematic title is “Army of Revenge” and its 20 episodes make up five story arcs. These arcs are:

The Onderon Rebellion

The Younglings and the Pirates

Droids on a Mission

Sith Brothers

Ahsoka Framed

These story arcs push the story closer to the “Twilight of the Jedi” scenario George Lucas depicted in Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. They also subtly plant the seeds for the birth of the Rebellion against the nascent Galactic Empire.

In the four Onderon Rebellion episodes, writer Chris Collins describes how the Jedi help a group of freedom fighters in their struggle against a tyrannical ruler who is in league with Count Dooku. Although the Jedi are forbidden to intervene directly because Onderon is not a member of the Republic, they provide training, strategic advice, and help the rebels to purchase weapons. According to Dave Filoni, the series’ supervising director, the Onderon arc shows the emergence of armed groups that will later coalesce into the Rebel Alliance. (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fans: This arc also introduced a young and hot-headed character named Saw Guerera.) 

In the Younglings and the Pirates arc by Christian Taylor, we follow a group of Jedi younglings in a series of adventures that start on the ice world of Ilum and lead to encounters with pirates led by Hondo Ohnaka and, later, General Grievous. The first episode in this arc, The Gathering,  shows the Jedi ritual in which trainees gather the crystals for their lightsabers. Though its main characters are youngsters from various species,The Gathering’s emotional tone will remind Star Wars fans of  The Empire Strikes Back’s Jedi training sequences.

Though the four episodes which feature R2-D2 and a motley crew of droids led by Col. Meebur Gascon in a covert mission against the Separatists are enjoyable, Season Five is worth watching for the Sith Brothers and Ahsoka Framed arcs.

Sith Brothers continues the plot thread of Nightbrother Savage Oppress and his brother, the long-lost Darth Maul. Thought to have died on Naboo at the hands of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi over a decade ago, Darth Sidious’ former Sith apprentice survived his bisection-by-lightsaber and rescued by his brother. Now, thirsting for revenge against Obi-Wan and Sidious, Maul forms an alliance with the Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch. With Mandalore under the Sith brothers’ control, Maul and Oppress set in motion a plan that will lead them on a collision course with Kenobi and Maul’s former Sith master.

Charles Murray’s four-episode story arc answers the question “Why doesn’t Anakin have a Padawan inRevenge of the Sith?” Murray, who gave his episodes titles based on those for movies by Alfred Hitchcock, begins the arc with Sabotage, in which Ahsoka Tano and Anakin investigate a bombing at the Jedi Temple. In true Hitchcock-like style, Ahsoka becomes the prime suspect as a result of a frame job and flees into the underworld of Coruscant while trying to prove her innocence.

My Take: Though the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie which launched the series in 2008 was at first dismissed as being geared more for kids than for general audiences, the TV show  enjoyed both popular and critical acclaim. Even fans who do not like the live-action Prequel Trilogy seem to have embraced the series’ strong narrative sensibility. The scripts have gotten better with each passing season, and the animation techniques reflect subtle but significant tweaks that improve the show’s look, especially in high definition formats.
.
The home media (DVD and Blu-ray) sets of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season Five  break with the pattern established in the previous four home video releases and present the 20 episodes in chronological order. When they were first aired on Cartoon Network in 2012 and 2013, they followed the old anthology format, partly because Revival is the follow-on episode to Season Four’s Revenge. However, Lucasfilm and Warner Home Video decided to put all the story arcs in chronological order.

This is a seemingly trivial change, but to some fans, The Clone Wars’ anthology approach could often be confusing. Viewers have to pay attention to detail when they watch Seasons One through Four in order to keep the series’ internal chronology straight. In Season Five, each story arc flows in a more logical and easy-to-follow order.


Though the series aired on kid-friendly Cartoon Network, it was rated TV-PG for good reason. Unlike most "cartoons" where characters can go through battles and other nasty situations virtually unharmed (as in the 1980s' GI Joe series), Star Wars: The Clone Wars features many episodes in which clone troopers and even Jedi Knights are injured or even die.


On Animation:  For first-time viewers, the animation (which was inspired by the British animated series The Thunderbirds) does take some getting used to.  It's rendered in three-dimensional computer style and done in a slightly exaggerated style (Count Dooku, for instance, has a decidedly knife-like look in his face-and-beard) reminiscent of both the 2003-2005 Clone Wars series and anime.

Once the viewer gets used to the visual style, though, the strength of the writing will win over almost all Star Wars fans.

Season Five Episode List

Disc One:

A War on Two Fronts- Written by Chris Collins, directed by Dave Filoni
Front Runners – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Steward Lee
The Soft War – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
Tipping Points – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Bosco Ng
The Gathering – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
A Test of Strength – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Bosco Ng
Bound for Rescue – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
A Necessary Bond – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Danny Keller
Secret Weapons – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Danny Keller
A Sunny Day in the Void – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Kyle Dunlevy

Disc Two

Missing in Action – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Steward Lee
Point of No Return – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Bosco Ng
Revival – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Steward Lee
Eminence – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
Shades of Reason – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Bosco Ng
The Lawless – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
Sabotage – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
The Jedi Who Knew Too Much – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Danny Keller
To Catch a Jedi – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
The Wrong Jedi – Written by  Charles Murray, directed by Dave Filoni

Created and Executive Produced by: George Lucas
Supervising Director: Dave Filoni
Produced by: Cary Silver
Score by: Kevin Kiner
Original Star Wars Themes and Music by: John Williams

*Interestingly, Star Wars: The Clone Wars also fits in the timeline between Chapters 22 and 23 of Cartoon Network's 2005 animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars. This "microseries" is also set between Episodes II and III, and some elements from it were refined in the 2008-2013 series.

Recommend this product? Yes

© 2014 Alex Diaz-Granados.  All Rights Reserved

Trekking in HD: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Two

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Two
 
Background:

Capt. Picard: 
There's still much to do; still so much to learn. Mr. La Forge - engage! –“The Neutral Zone” (Season One finale)

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s (ST-TNG) first season officially ended with these optimistic words on May 16, 1988. On that date, many television stations broadcast The Neutral Zone, the 26th and last first-run episode of the syndicated show’s premiere season.

Created by Gene Roddenberry at the insistence of Paramount Pictures, ST-TNG was a daring concept for its time. Intended to be a sequel to the canceled Star Trek TV series that aired on NBC  in the late 1960s,The Next Generation was one of the first direct-to-syndication series produced.

Paramount had shopped the show’s concept to ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, but – to the studio’s relief – was turned down. Paramount Television and Roddenberry were secretly glad about the big networks’ rejection. The producers were now free from network censorship, and the show’s existence wasn’t at the mercy of ratings-hungry executives.

The question was: “Would a new Star Trek show succeed where no other science fiction show had worked before?”


In May of 1988, no one really had a clear answer to this question.


Although most TV shows have growing pains during their first season, ST-TNG had to overcome a string of problems which threatened its viability as a profitable series for Paramount.     

The most glaring problem facing Roddenberry and his show-runner Rick Berman was a creative brain drain that began almost as soon as the first batch of Season One episodes aired. David Gerrold and Eddie Milkis, two of the Original Series staffers who helped create ST-TNG,  left shortly after production started.   
 
To make matters worse, Roddenberry’s insistence that every story had to have a “message” placed creative limits on writers. While Roddenberry’s thematic ideas were noble in theory, in practice they restricted stories to two basic archetypes. One was:  “the Enterprise crew learns a lesson from its encounter with Alien Society A.”  The other archetype was, with rare exception, “Alien Society B learns a lesson from theEnterprise crew.” 

Star Trek in all its incarnations has always been a medium for social commentary. However, such obvious moralizing in TNG’s freshman year was heavy handed and made for poor drama. Season One’s batch of 26 episodes contains decent exceptions – Heart of Glory and The Neutral Zone come to mind – but many of the stories are watchable only because the performances are decent.

The show also lost two major cast members by the end of the first season. First to beam off the Enterprisewas actor Denise Crosby, who believed her character, Lt. Tasha Yar, was being underutilized. Frustrated, she asked the producers to release her from her contract and to write off her character. This they did, and Yar was killed in the episode Skin of Evil.  (There were rumors among fans that Crosby was fired  becausePlayboy magazine reran a 1979 pictorial in which she posed nude. However, Crosby had already quit TNGbefore the May 1988 issue of Playboy hit newsstands.)

Gates McFadden’s departure was a bit more complicated than Crosby’s. McFadden, who played Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher, had never done a recurring role on a TV series and was na├»ve about behind-the-scenes politics. After having too many arguments with Roddenberry and co-executive producer Rick Berman, McFadden was fired. (To their credit, though, the producers left the door open for McFadden’s return and transferred her character to Starfleet Medical on Earth.)
 
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two: New Faces, New Writers

Though the quality of TNG’s scripts was still uneven due to the “revolving door” in the writing staff, the second season showed some hints of the show’s future glory.  Maurice Hurley was promoted from his job as a producer to co-executive producer.  Under his watch the writers coped with constant staff changes and the 1988 Writers’ Guild Strike. (This strike is why The Child, Season One’s first episode, was a rewritten version of an unproduced script originally intended for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II TV series.)

Another Hurley contribution was the creation of the Borg, a new and more dangerous antagonist worthy of Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his new Enterprise-D starship. Introduced in Q Who? and shown to be almost invincible, the Borg would become Star Trek’s most formidable villains. The Borg, the Romulans, renegade Klingons, and the Cardassians would give Starfleet a run for their money and viewers more exciting baddies than the silly Ferengi.

The instability in the writing department had its detrimental effects on the second season’s abbreviated run. Hurley’s Q Who? and Melinda Snodgrass’ The Measure of a Man are considered to be among the best episodes written for the show. So is Burton Armus’ A Matter of Honor. However, Unnatural Selection is a slightly rehashed version of The Original Series’ The Deadly Years, and Shades of Grey is a budget-mandated “clip show”  forced upon by the producers by the Writers’ Guild Strike.   

In front of the camera, there were several changes. The sets were repainted and reupholstered during the hiatus, and the lighting was subtly changed to give the Enterprise a slightly more welcoming look.

In addition, a new location aboard the ship, The Ten Forward Lounge, was introduced, along with the mysterious Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg in a recurring guest role).

To fill the vacuum created by Gates McFadden’s absence, actor Diana Muldaur was cast as Dr. Kate Pulaski, the ship’s new Chief Medical Officer. Older and more outspoken than Dr. Crusher, Muldaur’s character was intended to remind viewers of the Bones/Kirk relationship from Star Trek: The Original Series.Trekkers already knew Muldaur from two guest appearances in The Original Series. A consummate performer, she was witty and stubborn as Pulaski. However, fans missed the chemistry between Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden, so Pulaski’s assignment on the Enterprise was as ephemeral as her “Special Appearance By…” credit in the cast list.

  The Blu-ray Set:  

CBS Blu-ray, which produces Star Trek  HD home media for Paramount after CBS acquired the franchise’s copyright several years ago, released Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two on December 4, 2012. The five-discs are ensconced in a slim Blu-ray jewel box package. Its cover art (which is duplicated in the cardboard slipcover) features ST-TNG’s Starfleet insignia against a orange backdrop. Within the Starfleet delta are portraits of Capt. Picard, Counselor Troi and Lt. (JG) Worf. The background art depicts theEnterprise-D cruising near a Saturn-like planet, with distant stars lying further away.


My Take: I’ve never owned previous Paramount’s VHS or DVD issues of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I can’t offer a comparison between the Blu-ray edition and its forebears. According to the package blurb and some of the behind-the-scenes materials in the set:

Star Trek: The Next Generation- Season Two returns to the final frontier at warp speed in brilliant 1080p high definition and digitally remastered 7.1 sound. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) leads the crew of the Enterprise through a new season of new friends, new foes and amazing adventures. Introduced this year are Whoopi Goldberg as mysterious Guinan – bartender of the Ten Forward lounge, Diana Muldaur as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer Katherine Pulaski, and the deadly, unstoppable Borg. The voyage also explores powerful moments including Riker (Jonathan Frakes) serving on a Klingon ship, and Data (Brent Spiner) on trial for his life.
 
In contrast to the remastered versions of Star Trek: The Original Series, the wizards at CBS Video did not replace the 1988-1989  special effects with 21st Century updates. They did, however, digitally clean up the images directly from the original film used during the show’s production. The result: a vast improvement in video and audio quality that doesn’t compromise the vision of the original directors and effects supervisors.

As in the Season One set, Star Trek: The Next Generation features a ship’s cargo bay’s worth of extras.
There are two behind-the-scenes documentaries: Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation reunites the series’ cast members for a historic session of reminiscing and intriguing anecdotes about the series’ second year.


Making It So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation is a two part look at the production of the 1988-1989 batch of episodes. Like Season One’s Stardate Revisited,  cast and crew interviews shed light on why TNG’s second year was almost as problematic as its first. At the same time, participants point out what went right for Star Trek even with all the turmoil in the writing department and fans’ still-present “wait and see” attitudes.
 
Note on Languages (Subtitles and Audio)
 
Though the product listing on Amazon only lists “English” in the Language category, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One features various languages in both audio and subtitle options. English is the default selection on the preliminary menu, but viewers may also choose Danish, French, Japanese, Castillian Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, and Swedish. (Some of these options apply to audio and subtitles, though some apply only to subtitles.)

 
 
Season Two Episode List
 
Disc One: 
 
The Child
Where Silence Has Lease
Elementary, Dear Data
The Outrageous Okona
Loud as a Whisper

Episode Promos
1988 On-Air Season Two Promo
“Energized!” Season Two Tech Update (HD)
1988 Reading Rainbow segment with LeVar Burton
2012 Reading Rainbow iTunes Promo (HD)
Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year Two: Production

 
Disc Two:
 
The Schizoid Man
Unnatural Selection
A Matter of Honor
The Measure of a Man

Episode Promos
The Measure of a Man (HD Extended Version)
Audio Commentary by Melinda Snodgrass and Mike & Denise Okuda
The Measure of a Man (Hybrid Extended Version)



Disc Three:
 
The Dauphin
Contagion
The Royale
Time Squared
The Icarus Factor

Episode Promos
Gag Reel
Archival Mission Log: Inside Starfleet Archives: Penny Juday: Star Trek Coordinator
Archival Mission Log: Selected Crew Analysis Year Two

Disc Four:
 
Pen Pals
Q Who? – Audio Commentary by Dan Curry. Rob Bowman, and Mike & Denise Okuda
Samaritan Snare
Up the Long Ladder – Deleted Scenes 
Manhunt

Episode Promos
Archival Mission Log: Departmental Analysis Year Two: Memorable Missions
 
Disc Five:
 
The Emissary
Peak Performance
Shades of Grey

Episode Promos
Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation (HD)
Making It So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation (HD)
Part 1: Strange New Worlds
Part 2: New Life and New Civilizations
Archival Mission Log: Mission Overview Year Two

Recommend this product? Yes

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Measure of a Man (Episode 35) review

The Measure of a Man
Stardate 42523.7 (Earth Calendar Date 2365)
Episode Production Number: 135
Episode Number (Aired): 35
Original Air Date: February 13, 1989
Written by: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Directed by: Robert Scheerer

While docked at Starbase 173 for scheduled repairs and refits, the Galaxy-Class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) commanding, receives a visit from Admiral Nakamura (Clyde Kusatsu). The admiral, an old friend of Capt. Picard, is the ranking Starfleet officer in the sector, and Starbase 173 is strategically important because it’s located close to the Romulan Neutral Zone.

After exchanging small talk with Picard during a tour of the Enterprise, Adm. Nakamura introduces Picard to Cmdr. Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy), a cyberneticist assigned to the Daystrom Institute. The ambitious Maddox is an admirer of Dr. Noonien Soong, the scientist who created Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), and seeks to replicate his accomplishments. As brusque as he is smart, Maddox bluntly tells Picard, Data, and the Enterprise’s first officer, Cmdr. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), that he’s going to disassemble Data, dump his memory into the starbase’s mainframe computer, and use Data’s components as a “guide” to create a copy of the android.

Though initially intrigued, Lt. Cmdr. Data is skeptical about Maddox’s plan to “build more Datas.” In Data’s opinion, Maddox has not resolved even the basic problems a cyberneticist faces when creating a positronic brain. In addition, though Data has no emotions and can’t hold a grudge, he remembers that Maddox was the only member of the Starfleet Academy’s admissions board to reject Data’s application as a cadet. The reason: Data is a machine and not a sentient being.

Maddox was overruled then, but he still holds on to the belief that Data is merely a machine, albeit a highly advanced one. His notion is that if his experiments succeed, he can build thousands of Soong-type androids.

“Imagine, a Data on every starship,” Maddox tells Picard during one of his entreaties.

Maddox, apparently, has used this enticing argument with Starfleet higher-ups, because he has arranged for Data’s transfer from the Enterprise and reassigned to his command at Starbase 173. Maddox coldly tells the reluctant android to report to him at 0900 the next day.

Data, certain that Maddox doesn’t have the knowledge to carry out his experiments successfully, refuses to undergo the procedure and resigns from Starfleet.

"I am the culmination of one man's dream. This is not ego or vanity, but when Doctor Soong created me, he added to the substance of the universe. If, by your experiments, I am destroyed, something unique – something wonderful – will be lost. I cannot permit that. I must protect his dream."
Data, to Maddox

Capt. Picard is caught between a rock and a hard place. He realizes the benefits Starfleet will reap if more Soong-type androids are created and posted to every starship in the service. But he also respects Data as a loyal Starfleet officer and an important member of the Enterprise Bridge crew. He turns to Starbase 173’s Judge Advocate General, Capt. Phillipa Louvois (Amanda McBroom).

"It's been ten years, but seeing you again like this makes it seem like fifty. If we weren't around all these people, do you know what I would like to do?"
"Bust a chair across my teeth."
"After that."
"Oh, ain't love wonderful."
Jean-Luc Picard and Phillipa Louvois


In the episode’s “teaser” intro, Louvois is introduced as someone connected to Picard’s past, in more ways than one. It’s suggested that Picard and Louvois had had a romantic relationship. Later, though, the two became estranged after Louvois was assigned as the prosecutor during Picard’s court-martial after the loss of the USS Stargazer, the captain’s previous command.


My Take:  Though Star Trek: The Next Generation was in a state of creative flux throughout its second season, Melinda M. Snodgrass’ unsolicited script for The Measure of a Man and the resulting episode are considered among that series best all-time efforts.

Snodgrass, who practiced law for several years before devoting herself full time to writing novels and teleplays, gives viewers a multilayered story that asks the question “What makes us human?”

In  The Measure of a Man, Snodgrass gives us a complex story that works on several levels.

As a Star Trek story, it gives us a brief look at Data’s backstory. In Season One, it was established that Data is the first android admitted as a Starfleet Academy cadet and had graduated with honors. In The Measure of a Man, Snodgrass introduces us to Data’s demi-nemesis, Cmdr. Maddox, who was the sole dissenter on the admissions board at the Academy.

There’s also a tip of the hat to Star Trek: The Original Series in Snodgrass’ script. Cmdr. Maddox is said to be assigned to the Daystrom Institute.  This is a reference to Dr. Richard Daystrom, the brilliant-but-disturbed scientist from The Ultimate Computer. The Daystrom Institute became a running gag throughout the series; it’s mentioned again in several episodes over the next five seasons.

Keeping with Star Trek’s tradition of mixing social commentary with an entertaining science fiction scenario,The Measure of a Man dares to raise the following issues:

What does it mean to be sentient?

Does the creation of artificial intelligent androids mean the creation of a new race?

Does a military organization (or semi-military, as Starfleet claims to be) have arbitrary control over its officers at all times?

Would a race of Datas, pressed into service to perform missions too dangerous or too unpleasant for humanoid lifeforms, be considered slaves?

Director Robert Scheerer brings Snodgrass’ thought-provoking teleplay to life by brilliantly striking a delicate balance between character development and the always tricky delivery of a social message. Scheerer gets great performances from the series’ regulars, especially Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes, who are reluctantly pitted against each other in a regulations-mandated trial to determine if Data has rights under Federation law.

Guest stars Brian Brophy and Amanda McBroom are terrific in their roles as Cmdr. Maddox and JAG Capt. Louvois. Brophy’s character is hard to like, even detestable, but the viewer also sees that he’s driven by what he thinks is a higher purpose.

McBroom is also interesting to watch, especially in scenes where she’s alone with Patrick Stewart’s Picard. Their dialogue suggests that they had been lovers before the Stargazer court-martial and that Capt. Louvois temporarily resigned from Starfleet after Picard’s acquittal.

Though Season Two still bears some scars from Star Trek: The Next Generation’s tumultuous beginnings,The Measure of a Man  is one of the series’ best episodes. It’s currently available in various home video formats (including the now obsolete VHS videocassette). The best version available as of this writing (June 2013) is contained in Disc Two of the Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Two Blu-ray set.

Not only is the original episode, remastered in high definition, included as the fifth episode in Disc Two, but two versions of The Measure of a Man: The Extended Edition are included in the extra features.

Based on the unedited first cut of The Measure of a Man, the Extended Edition is essentially the same as the edited version which aired, with a few minutes of footage which focuses on character development. One version is presented in HD, the other is a hybrid consisting of HD and standard definition footage.

Recommend this product? Yes

© 2014 Alex Diaz-Granados.  All Rights Reserved