We’ve previously talked about how Paramount is slowly overhauling Star Trek: The Next Generation season by season. But they’re also making this worth rebuying with some absolutely killer extras.
The set includes all the extras from the original Season 3 DVDs, but it also has three hours of new documentary material that basically gets Brannon Braga, Ron Moore, Rene Echevarria and Naren Shankar, essentially the key writers of the season, into a room to gossip about what happened behind the scenes. And honestly, it’s almost ridiculously absorbing.
One of the biggest revelations is that Michael Piller, the head writer and showrunner, issued a mandate that every episode would center around a cast member. Piller, who died in 2005, looms large in the new material; by all accounts he was a difficult man to work with and a taskmaster.
But he was also surprisingly generous and open to new writers. Ronald Moore got a job on the show because Piller liked the spec script he wrote that had been sitting on a shelf for seven months… so much so that Piller made it a standing policy that anybody could submit a spec script and hired Moore onto the writing staff. Echevarria was working as a lifeguard in New York, before Piller promptly hired him; Echevarria relates a very, very funny story about having to do a shot to calm his nerves before calling Piller back.
The various documentaries are also scattered with juicy and amusing tidbits, like Patrick Stewart cornering writers and demanding Picard do more “shooting and screwing” and the fact that the writer’s room and Jonathan Frakes both were angry Riker always turned down a promotion because it was out of character.
Oh, and the episodes themselves are uniformly gorgeous: The show has literally never looked this good.
In short, it’s worth the sixty bucks, especially if you’re a fan, just for the extras. Hopefully the rest of the seasons keep this up.