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Star Trek: The Next Generation—Redemption

(1991) *** 1/2 Unrated
87 min. Paramount Television. Directors: David Carson, Cliff Bole. Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Levar Burton, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert O'Reilly, Gwynyth Walsh, Barbara March, Timothy Carhart.

/content/films/4546/1.jpgPerhaps the most commonly applied adjective when it comes to the Klingon homeworld episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is "Shakespearean." While Trek's prose dialogue doesn't achieve lyrical heights, there's some truth to that comparison. Most of the episodes—including the season-spanning two-parter "Redemption"—are penned by Ronald D. Moore, who gives them a certain unity of voice, as well as compelling throne-room drama and civil-war intrigue.

Moore, the brain who went on to reboot Battlestar: Galactica for SciFi, benefitted partly from the wacky idea of an actor that became the Season Four-ending "what the heck?" cliffhanger. But "Redemption" more so concerns closure for the long-simmering storyline of Lt. Worf's unjust loss of family honor in the Klingon Empire, an issue brought to the head at the same time as the potential outbreak of a Klingon Civil War. Politically ascendant Gowron (Robert O'Reilly) intends to take his place as leader of the Klingon High Council, but first he must contend with a challenge from young Toral (JD Cullum), whose challenge as purported heir to the late Duras has been engineered by treacherous sisters Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwynyth Walsh)—characters who would recur in two later Trek episodes and the feature Star Trek Generations. (In keeping with the Shakespearean theme, Walsh would refer to Lursa and B'Etor as "Goneril and Regan in space.")

As with CBS Home Video's "Best of Both Worlds" feature presentation, this one "seamlessly" pieces together a season-closing episode with its season-opening second half, and as with the pervious release, the new edit is too abrupt, not allowing the impact of the cliffhanger stinger to sink in but running roughshod into the next scene. Still, there's an advantage to this presentation in its slicing out of the extra opening title sequence and its negation of the need to switch out discs from one season set to another. (The new Blu-ray release also comes with exclusive bonus features.) What used to be "Redemption, Part II" intriguingly fills out the Klingon-intrigue storyline with the run-up to a climactic space confrontation. The success of Picard's crafty supply blockade hinges on Lieutenant Commander Data's first time in a captain's chair and his added challenge of overcoming prejudice—especially on the part of Timothy Carhart's Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hobson. For the benefit of first-time viewers, I'm deliberately leaving out the cliffhanger spoiler, but "Part II" also allows for juicy scenes with a face from the past, Patrick Stewart's Picard, and Whoopi Goldberg's Guinan.

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Aspect ratios: 1.33:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Street date: 7/30/2013

Distributor: CBS Blu-ray

CBS Home Video earns more fan dollars with its feature presentation of Star Trek: The Next Generation—Redemption on Blu-ray. A/V specs on entirely on par with the concurrently released Season Four set reviewed here, so here I'll focus on the disc's almost entirely exclusive bonus features. We get a brand-new audio commentary with screenwriter Ronald D. Moore and graphic designers/Trek-sperts Mike and Denise Okuda. With the Okudas serving as hosts/interviewers (as well as commentators in their own right), Moore explains his role as the series' resident Klingon-story purveyor and, specifically, how "Redemption" was developed in part as the inevitable resolution of the long-dangling Worf-dishonor storyline and in part as an opportunity to pave a shocking return for a fan-favorite performer.

In addition to Episodic Promos for parts one (:34, SD) and two (:34, SD), the disc comes with a brand-new, high-def behind-the-scenes documentary on "Redemption": "Survive and Succeed: An Empire at War" (30:06, HD). This never-dull featurette allows Moore, visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, composer Ron Jones, and cast members including Michael Dorn, Robert O'Reilly and Gwynyth Walsh to tell their stories of Klingon glory. Moore gives the "long story short" version of his screenwriter's perspective, Curry fascinatingly recounts how he came to create the iconic Klingon Bat'leth and contribute to the creation of its corresponding martial art, and the actors discuss their understanding of their characters (as well as, in some cases, recalling their casting). Ron Jones also amusingly explains his development of Jerry Goldsmith's work in scoring for Klingons. If only for these enticing extras, fans will be unable to resist this nicely put-together feature presentation.

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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