Star Trek: The Next Generation, Chain of Command (Blu-ray)

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Along with the Blu-ray release of the complete season six, CBS/Paramount has released the critically acclaimed two-part “Chain of Command,” as a standalone. As with other single-disc releases, both parts have been edited together to make one 90-minute movie. Truthfully, this is one of the best single-disc releases, as it’s a solid story from beginning to end.

Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is given a very risky Starfleet Command assignment to take a small team—consisting of himself, Worf (Michael Dorn), and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden)—and sneak into a secret Cardassian biological weapons installation, and destroy it. The mission goes wrong, and Picard is captured by a sadistic Cardassian interrogator named Gul Madred (David Warner). As a result, the Enterprise needs a new captain, leading to the arrival of Captain Edward Jellico (Ronny Cox). His no nonsense approach leaves the entire crew nervous and unsettled.

Written by Ronald D. Moore and Frank Abatemarco, the story is efficient and well executed, as the reasons behind Picard’s mission are slowly revealed. The Cardassians are developing a powerful (read: illegal) weapon capable of wiping out an entire planet’s ecosystem. Of course, Picard and team had been sent in to stop the progress. Unfortunately, Picard finds himself captured, where he is relentlessly tortured. Many of the tactics, (“How many lights do you see?”) were clearly adapted from George Orwell’s 1984, and used in an attempt to break Picard.

Ronny Cox is one of the best supporting actors around, and he clearly enjoyed playing Captain Edward Jellico. Very different from Picard, he’s all business, all the time. His personality just makes a mess of the crew, especially Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes). In one of the episode’s best moments, he and Jellico drop ranks and express their mutual dislike for one another While the others (very) uncomfortably adapt to the new Captain and his leadership, Riker stands alone in standing up for what he believes to be right.

Intense and terrifically acted, watching this storyline feels ahead of its time. Given how important the issue of torture would become to America and its allies circa 2004, it’s interesting that Star Trek: The Next Generation was talking about it a little more than a decade beforehand. It’s also interesting to note that the idea for Chain of Command was born out of Patrick Stewart’s work with Amnesty International helped inspire the episode.

The 1.33:1/1080p transfer is the same one seen on the season six Blu-ray. Colors are well saturated and look vibrant throughout. Skin tones all look appropriate. The image clarity is top notch stuff.

The DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix is also the same sterling soundtrack we hear on the Season Six box set. Every sound inside and outside the ship can be heard, and ambient noises are superb. Dialogue is crisp and clear, LFE is notable at times and the score never gets lost. The original 2.0 Stereo Surround mixes have also been included for purists, but they’re still being presented in lossy Dolby Digital instead of DTS-HD Master Audio.

Optional Dolby Digital 2.0 dubs are provided in German, Spanish, Italian, French and Japanese. Optional subtitles are also provided in English (SDH), German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

The following extras, unique to this release, are available:

  • Audio Commentary: Actor Ronny Cox, Director of Photography Jonathan West, and Star Trek experts Mike and Denise Okuda discuss this “long play” version of the season six episode. Discussions include the role of the director of photography on the series and the budget for visual effects, to Ronny Cox’s thoughts on his character.
  • The Privilege of Rank: Making “Chain of Command” (HD, 28:35) An exploration of the episode’s themes and their beginnings in real life causes, including torture; the writing process; Ronny Cox’s appearance on the show, and his character; Natalia Nogulich’s character and getting the role; the series’ broader writing and styles; David Warner’s performance and character; Patrick Stewart’s performance; and more.
  • Deleted Scene, Part 1 (HD, 1:49).
  • Deleted Scenes, Part 2 (HD, 11:40).
  • Episodic Promo, Part 1 (SD, 0:34).
  • Episodic Promo, Part 2 (SD, 0:34)