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KUNG FU's Keye Luke Almost Played Data’s Dad!! The NEXT GENERATION Bridge Almost Had A Conference Table In It!! (And 100 Other Things Hercules Learned From The Fabulous New STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION Season Four Blu-ray!!!!)

I am – Hercules!!

Newly upgraded to HD, the excellent fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” introduced Data’s creator, the Trills and the Cardassians (but not the Bajorans, who would not happen along until early season five). It brought honor back to Worf’s family and sent Wesley Crusher off to Starfleet Academy.


Relativity: The Family Saga of The Next Generation Part One: Homecoming (29:05). Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga, Rene Echevarria, Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner and others discuss season four. Learn:

* Moore says it wasn’t until the summer following the first half of “Best of Both Worlds” that most fans began to regard TNG as “real” Trek.

* The writers, led in season four by “Simon & Simon” vet Michael Piller and “Quincy” vet Jeri Taylor (who was recruited to replace “Fame” vet Ira Steven Behr), wanted more continuity on TNG, but showrunner Rick Berman stood in firm opposition.

* Gene Roddenberry hated 4.2, “Family,” because the conflict between the recently deBorged Picard and his estranged brother did not fit Roddenberry’s utopian vision of Future Earth.

* Wheaton says he asked to leave the show because he did not care for Wesley Crusher’s diminished role, and the “Stand By Me” star found himself having to turn down movie offers.

* Braga remembers giving up on watching TNG after the first few episodes, then returning to it after hearing positive word of mouth about later installments.

* Braga says Piller picked him for an internship on the show because he was intrigued by the “D” grade on Braga’s college transcript for a course on human sexuality.

* 25-year-old intern Braga got his big break when Piller and Taylor assigned him to work with Ron Moore on a rewrite of 4.7, the Klingon-centric “Reunion.”

* About four months before Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” came out, Moore got a hate letter from Jim Morrison’s widow because Moore killed off Worf’s romantic interest K'Ehleyr.

* Some 30,000 unsolicited scripts were garnered under Michael Piller’s open submission program.

* Moore loved reading the long, disparaging Internet reviews of the shows he’d written. He and other staffers did not understand why the series wasn’t garnering Emmy nominations and why Patrick Stewart wasn’t getting invited onto “The Tonight Show.”

* Though the credit does not appear on his IMDb page, Berman says he worked as a writer on PBS’ “Big Blue Marble” before he came out to Los Angeles.

* Braga says with a straight face he should perhaps have left the franchise earlier because he is today known as “the man who killed Star Trek.”


Relativity: The Family Saga of The Next Generation Part Two: Posterity (27.45) features new interviews with Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes, John DeLancie, make-up artist Michael Westmore and director Rob Bowman.

* While Brent Spiner was always meant to play Data and Data’s brother Lore, “Kung Fu” icon Keye Luke had been contacted to play their elderly creator, Dr. Noonian Soong – but Spiner suggested himself to play Soong.

* Marina Sirtis said her British accent and her Troi wig kept her from being recognized in Los Angeles supermarkets.

* When it was announced that “Spartacus” icon and Trek fan Jean Simmons would appear in “The Drumhead,” some thought the producers were talking about Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.

* Frakes says Star Trek does not appeal to his kids, and they don’t watch his old show.

* Westmore gave the Cardassians their cobra-esque appearance in part because Marc Alaimo, who played lead Cardassian Gul Macet in “The Wounded,” has an unusually long neck. The spoon foreheads were inspired by a painting Westmore saw in a Studio City Thai restaurant.

* Stewart admits he grows genuinely angry when interviewers suggest he might have been slumming during his years on the series.

* Wheaton reveals that when he was making TNG he could afford L.A. Kings season tickets. The fortysomething actor who played Wesley Crusher says he spent a good deal of his adult life debating the merits of his decision to leave the series, but allows he “had been treated really, really, really poorly by the producers for at least a full season.”


In Conversation: The Art Department (1:07:29). Production designer Herman Zimmerman, makeup artist Doug Drexler, technical consultant Rick Sternbach, scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda, scenic artist Denise Okuda and visual effects producer Dan Curry chat on plush brown sofas in somebody’s living room. Learn:

* Zimmerman takes responsibility for the Okudas’ marriage.

* “Star Trek Enterprise” was the first Trek series that utilized no physical starship models.

* The only CGI shot of the titular station in “Deep Space Nine” was the series’ very last shot.

* Original-series fan Sternback came out to Los Angeles from Connecticut in hopes of landing a gig on the aborted “Star Trek: Phase II” series. His first Trek job though was working on Robert Wise’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

* One early idea for the Enterprise-D bridge was to have a conference table in the middle of it, with no TOS-style stations for the helmsman, navigator and captain. Zimmerman says the writers talked Gene Roddenberry out of that idea.

* Zimmerman says before he joined the series the things the TNG designers came up with were “impossible to build.” One of the reasons Zimmerman was brought aboard was because he knew what constructions shops were and were not capable of creating.

* A gyroscope and a Moscow air terminal helped inspire the design of the DS9 space station.

* Zimmerman says the DS9 station was originally to have been built by some 15 different cultures with as many different languages and levels of technology – before showrunner Rick Berman decided to scrap two months of design work and start from scratch with the Cardassians as the station’s sole designers.

* While the original Kirk-Spock series was shot in 35mm, NBC used 16mm dupes to broadcast it in the 1960s!

* One member of the DS9 effects crew apparently went on to invent Photoshop.

* Zimmerman and Mike Okuda note that Paramount spent more freely on the DS9 sets than it did on the TNG sets because Trek was finally a proven TV franchise by the time DS9 came around.

* One of Zimmerman’s sweaters inspired a new transporter room design.




4.3 BROTHERS with director Rob Bowman and scenic designers Mike & Denise Okuda. Learn:

* “Brothers” was Bowman’s last episode of the series. His agent encouraged him to leave the series because he didn’t want Bowman to become pigeonholed as a guy who only did sci-fi. He went on to direct a lot of “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” and “X-Files” episodes. His feature work includes the “X-Files” movie, “Reign of Fire” and “Elektra.”

* This was the first episode longtime showrunner Rick Berman wrote.

* There was talk of building a Jeffries Tube beneath the bridge which would involve literally digging a hole beneath the set. It was never added for any of the series, but was implemented for one of the movies, finally giving the bridge crew a route of escape.

* At least one wall of the TNG transporter room had originally been built for Robert Wise’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” transporter room.

* For some reason Bowman keeps referring to Dr. Noonian Soong as “Soonian.”

* A number of set elements from season one’s “Datalore” were repurposed for Soong’s lab.

* Scenic designer Mike Okuda was cast as the face of Noonian Soong for a “Datalore” dossier photo, but the shot of the photo was cut from the episode – allowing Spiner to play Soong with a different face three years later.



4.7 REUNION with Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga and Mike & Denise Okuda. Learn:

* This episode marked the first time Moore or Braga ever worked with a writing partner.

* The original script by Drew Deighan may have been titled “What Dreams May Come.”

* One of the reasons producers broke their no-continuity rule was Suzie Plakson, who impressed many with her work as the half-Klingon K'Ehleyr in the season-two episode “The Emissary.” Also, everyone was anxious to see Worf reverse his discommendation from season three’s “Sins of the Father.”

* Moore says there was never a draft of “Reunion” in which K'Ehleyr didn’t die.

* Denise Okuda believes the goblet K’mpec drinks from was originally used in “The Ten Commandments.”

* The cloak K’mpec wears is a hand-me-down from “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”

* Before “Reunion” was written, Michael Dorn would complain that Worf never got to win a fight.

* This episode also introduced Gowron, who would lead the Klingon High Council in four episodes of TNG and five episodes of “Deep Space Nine.”

* Departed staffers Richard Manning & Hans Beimler, who co-wrote “The Emissary,” were apparently among those pretty sore about K'Ehleyr’s demise.

* Rick Berman didn’t want to revive the Klingon howl of mourning introduced in season one’s “Heart of Glory” but permitted it anyway.

* Head writer Michael Piller fought to allow Worf to commit his murderous act of vengeance.




HD GAG REEL (3:34). See a turbolift door knock Picard to one side.


* "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" (3:06) Riker and Troi discuss the loss of Picard.

* "Family" (1:44) Hologram Jack Crusher reveals to Wesley that one of their relatives was a horse thief on Nimbus 3 and another fought for the Confederacy at Bull Run.

* "Brothers" (3:48) Data confirms to his creator, Dr. Soong, that he can detect humidity.

* "Final Mission" (3:11) An injured Picard admits surprise that he may die while the sun shines. Data explains why a shuttle is necessary to retrieve Picard and Crusher.

* "The Wounded" (6:35) Picard suggests that the way the Cardassians are treated aboard the Enterprise could mean the difference between peace and war. O’Brien and Riker have a conversation about O’Brien’s former captain, who appears to have gone rogue. O’Brien discusses with wife Keiko his attitudes about postwar grudges against the Cardassians. Picard orders Starfleet tracking codes be given to the Cardassians. Cardassian-hating Captain Ben Maxwell, on his way to meet Picard, spies Gul Macet on the Enterprise bridge. Maxwell admits to Picard that his suspicions regarding the Cardassians’ intentions are based on suppositions.

* "Galaxy's Child" (:50) Picard learns he and Worf learned the same nursery rhymes.

* "Qpid" (1:40) Q, as the Sheriff of Nottingham, confers with Sir Guy on how best to vex Robin Hood.

* "The Host" (2:36) An uncomfortable Trill Ambassador Odan, inhabiting Riker, explains to Riker’s poker buddies that Trills don’t usually take on their hosts’ personalities.

SD Bonus Features From the 2002 DVD release:

* Mission Overview, Year Four
* Selected Crew Analysis, Year Four
* New Life and New Civilizations
* Chronicles from the Final Frontier
* Production
* Select Historical Data
* Inside the Star Trek Archives

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Blu At Last Aug. 20!!

$9.99 Blu!!

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