Star Trek: The Next Generation “Unification” Blu-ray review

Along with the boxed set of Season 5, the single disc release of ”Unification”, the special 25th anniversary celebration of the two generations meeting, will also be available to purchase on November 19 in the USA. As with other single-disc releases, both parts have been edited together to make one 90-minute TV movie.

The Packaging

As with “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Redemption” before it, “Unification” comes in a cardboard slipcover that opens up to artwork showing the other major characters in the episode.

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The Episode

This episode was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Star Trek, it was a tantalizing concept for fans at the time, to see someone from our beloved TOS crew on a mission that involved our newly beloved TNG characters. Spock being a long-lived Vulcan was of the logical choice.  We also knew “Unification” would contain a hint about the much anticipated finale of the TOS cast’s cinematic run, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, due out a month later. I remember being so excited to see the crossing over and even the tiny hint Spock drops in the episode about “cowboy diplomacy” and his involvement with the Klingon peace talks, left me salivating for December when The Undiscovered Country would be released.

Seeing how Sarek has deteriorated in the year or so since we last saw him is heartbreaking. Picard finishing the Vulcan salutation for him is a moment that could have been cheesy but was executed perfectly by Patrick Stewart.

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We also get to see more of Sela’s manipulation of politics in the Alpha Quadrant, first brought to light in “Redemption.” Sela makes one last try at destabilizing the Federation, this time with the idea of twisting Spock’s unification concept to use as a ruse to conquer Vulcan. Much of her plan is flimsy, but at the time anyway, we didn’t care too much, it was really just a framework to see Spock and the TNG heroes solve what could have turned into a major crisis for the Federation.

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The end with Spock mind melding with Picard to get a sense of his father (Sarek) is a major Trekkie moment.

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Video and Audio Quality

CBS Digital is back doing the full episode (and all of Season 5), and it’s gorgeous as usual. As with other darker episodes the new transfer of the film to HD helps with the details in the dark caves on Romulus and onboard the Klingon Bird of Prey.

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One of the most stunning Enterprise shots of the series debuts here. The “hull scraping” shot of the Enterprise D in the Qualor II depot is amazing. What’s more amazing is that it turns out this shot is of CBS Digital’s newly upgraded CGI Enterprise model! They did a fantastic job.

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While they were going through the episode, the CBS Digital team fixed two outstanding issues with Unification II. Both are pretty well known oversights. The first is that Galorndon Core was mistakenly made a tan color in this episode, it was blue when we last saw it in season 3’s “The Enemy.” This was of course an easy fix, as the team had already rendered the planet for season 3.

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The other well known issue is the “sound guy in the vase” reflection in the Romulan proconsul’s office.  The reflection of the sound guy was removed digitally for the Blu-ray release.

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Bonus Material

Note that all of the new bonus material here is exclusive to this single-disc release and is not found on the Season 5 set.

Exclusive
Audio Commentary by Jeri Taylor (Season 5 producer and teleplay writer for “Unification I”) and the Okudas – It’s really nice to hear from Jeri Taylor, this is her first (and thus far only) commentary for the TNG Blu-ray project. She talks about her process, how she was honored to write part of the momentous occasion of TOS and TNG coming together for the 25th anniversary. There’s lots of complementary talk about Michael Pillar as the executive producer. She loved writing for Sarek and Perin, she really could understand the characters. Later they discuss how Jeri, as a pro from many other TV shows, mentored the young writing staff.

Exclusive
From One Generation to the Next: The Making of “Unification” (16:43) – Interview bits with Rick Berman, Marc Cushing (original pitch author of S3 episode “Sarek”), they discuss how “Sarek” started to set the precedent for carefully incorporating TOS characters into TNG when it was appropriate. Berman made a bit of a trade with the ST VI people, Michael Dorn as Worf’s ancestor in ST VI for Nimoy in TNG and that they’d work in hints in “Unification” about what was to come with ST VI in December. Michael Dorn discusses growing up being a fan of TOS, and how great it was to be on the ST VI set as Colonel Worf working with the TOS actors. Gates McFadden talks about not really knowing Nimoy from TOS, but from seeing him on the stage. Denise Crosby talks about the irony of finally getting to have a meaty role as a recurring guest star in season 4 and season 5 when she couldn’t as a main character.

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Exclusive
Deleted Scene (1:43) – A deleted scene from Part I. Picard greets Perin (Sarek’s wife) in the transporter room and they discuss Sarek’s deteriorating condition as they walk.

Episode Promos from 1991

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Haven’t gotten this yet but plan to. The only Trek on blu-ray I own is STID. So far.

Not the greatest episodes ever, but who would have thought that Unification would work as a prelude to Star Trek 09 back in 1991!

BBC America ran Unification a couple days back – sorry to admit that those episodes are not aging well….

Good excuse for me to finally get a Blu-Ray player and upgrade my AV system.

I love that episode- especially when we believed that this would be the last time we’d see Nimoy’s Spock.

Kinda sad they removed the sound guy. I know they’re trying to make it all fancy and nice and fix all the issues, but it’s one of those little charming things about the making of TNG that I always loved.

I love the Enterprise shot in the bone yard. I also wouldn’t mind taking one of those Miranda’s if I was there. It would be a little fixer upper. :)

Ha! I have never realized that “Unification” came BEFORE “Star Trek VI”, and on top of that so close before that the authors have been clearly aware of that! This context gives the episode (for me) a whole new perspective!

Anybody think Sela may have been the worst idea ever?

That was a happy time in my life. Winter of ’91. I remember watching the beginning of “Unification-Part I” and then going to a hockey game and coming home and watching the rest of the episode.
I got to see the first scene and the first commercial break that contained the first TV Commercial for “Star Trek VI”. If you remember this was also the episode that began with the tribute to Gene Roddenberry who had passed away a couple of months earlier.
It was a great time to be a Trek fan. It reminded me of the mid 70’s when I discovered “Star Trek” and was watching “The Menagerie” and “City on the Edge of Forever” for the very first time.
Pure magic !

Where is Times Arrow?

ST VI and Unification meshed TOS and TNG much better than Generations. In my opinion, having Michael Dorn in TUC and Leonard Nimoy in TNG, was pure genius! I graduated HS in 1991 and started in college that year. I was so excited to see TNG and ST VI at that time. :D Hard to believe that was 25 years ago…

@MarkusMcLaughln

It’s not a bad ST:TNG episode, but it’s not the greatest, either. As with “Generations”, I wish that the TOS character could have been on the bridge, if even for a moment. The scene with Data and Spock was the highlight for me – both characters being two sides of the same coin, for their perspective on the human condition. One striving to be human, one trying to overcome his humanity, both eventually embracing the best of both worlds.
It was disappointing that the reunification angle was rarely mentioned again in TNG, DS9, or Voyager – though fitting that the backstory of ‘Star Trek (2009)’ is the logical progression of that storyline.
For my money, “Relics” is the best of class for bringing back an original cast member in a memorable, emotional, nostalgic way.

MJ -- THE GRAND RETURN !!!

One of the biggest letdowns in Star Trek of all time.

Only Rick Berman could find a way to make Spock and Sarek BORING.

Was so looking forward to that super-hyped episode, and then when I saw it, I was like, “what the hell was that?”

Epic missed opportunity. It’s right up there with the horrid misuse and dumb-ass death scene of Shatner in Generations in terms of the biggest missed opportunities in Star Trek history.

I haven’t seen this one, but I gotta say, I was disapppointed at how BOBW was edited into a “two hour movie”. All that was really done was to remove the credits that ran at the top of the second episode. It was a disappointing theatrical experience, to pay good money to see very few changes from the televised episode. I can understand why they didn’t bother to release this one theatrically.

13. Yeah, alas. Zack Handlen at the AV Club is a lot kinder to it than I am.

http://www.avclub.com/articles/unification-parts-i-and-ii,52884/

Hogwash is more interesting then this stagnant pile of Rick Berman’s trashing of Star Trek that so many die hard’s hold so dear as real Trek…they can keep it.

This episode was a huge letdown. Berman’s Trek was cut from a different cloth. They never knew how to handle TOS characters when they got a hold of one. Sadly, it just underscores how little they understood their namesake.

17. Jonboc… I have to disagree, DeForest Kelley’s appearance in “Encounter at Farpoint” was superb, easily the best two minutes of the episode (and among the highlights of the entire first season.

I also liked Scotty in “Relics”, although that should have been another two hour episode with more exploration of the Dyson Sphere, and it should have ended with Scotty remaining behind in the Sphere to study that incredible engineering achievement.

“Sarek” was okay, although Patrick Stewart uncharacteristically overacts badly in it.

Also, DS9’s reappearances of Kor, Kang and Koloth was a lot of fun.

Generations was okay. It was rushed to meet a schedule imposed on them by Paramount, so I don’t really blame him for all of its faults. It really needed a complete rewrite of the opening scene once Nimoy declined and Kelley was unable to take part due to poor health. And Kirk’s death scene was a mess. But the biggest disappointment to me in “Generations” is that Picard’s “fantasy world” is some totally fictitious cast of characters and not a return to his “Inner Light” family.

The only TOS crossover of the Bermanverse that was a complete flop to me was Sulu on Voyager.

Weird, it’s only in recent years that I’ve seen negative reactions to this episode. At the time, and certainly amongst most fans I knew, it was very well-received. Sarek’s death is huge, as it’s the first permanent death of a major TOS character. It’s also carries a heavier impact than most Trek deaths, as Sarek & Spock don’t reconcile, and Sarek dies never seeing Spock again. Plus watching that scene where Sarek struggles to make the Vulcan salute is absolutely heartbreaking. I always enjoyed it as a kind of companion piece to The Undiscovered Country.

17. With the possible exception of Relics, I’d have to agree. As thrilling as it was to see Spock and Picard together at the time, it eventually felt like a missed opportunity.

Spock’s best moments came from his one on one scenes with Picard and Data, which is telling. Personally, I wanted to see Spock with more of the main cast, and maybe even roaming the halls of the Enterprise-D. Just as most of us could probably think of better things to do with Kirk than scrambling eggs and burning toast, Spock skulking about fake caves and other drab sets didn’t feel like the best use of Nimoy’s limited screen time.

Agreed,

Unification = Missed Opportunity

It pretty much fell flat considering the expectations.

only USA release,lucky not locked,so i am import the blu-ray,looking to watch it sometime between now and January !!!

@11 i think i agree with you

the whole passing the torch thing had been done at the 25th anniversary with Star Trek VI (how peace with the klingons emerged…Worf…Kirks final log entry) & had nimoy passing the baton in Unification…They didnt really NEED to do a crossover film after that…just a full on TNG movie as TNG was popular in its own right

Anyway the minute they realised they wouldnt be able to get the 2 enterprises on screen with the 2 complete crews the crossover film should possibly have been scrapped. (one of the writers of Generations even said that as soon as the crossover film was suggested the image that came into his head was a movie poster with the 2 enterprises and Kirk, Spock plus Picard and Data)

I actually quite like Generations as it is but believe a crossover movie would only have been really great (im talking TWOK great) if it had been the ‘Yesterdays Enterprise’ storyline (yeah it had already been done but certain TOS eps had been ‘remade’ as movies before)

#23.

It’s just too bad thought that Berman and company metaphorically pissed all over that torched in the years following that passing, and very nearly extinguished Trek for all time.

I loved this episode! The death of Sarek and the mind meld moved me emotionally. The scene with Spock and Data where they compare and contrast their characters was excellent as well. And the humor was done very successfully with the Zakdorn at the junkyard putting Riker in his place, and the hologram of Riker at the end with the bad hair. A great follow up story to this is the book/audiobook “Crossover.” I’ll be buying this for sure!

Oh, and I loved the idea of Sela and this was a great way to bring her back.

@25 @26

You are being sarcastic, right?

Those elements are all of the ones that critics have pointed out as severe weaknesses, so I assume you are having fun with us here?

Yea, T’Cal’s joking. LOL

19–I agree. At the time, Unification was huge. It was tied to TUC and I can’t say I heard anyone that said they didn’t like it at the time. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with it. But to each their own.

23–Perhaps had they left Kirk’s death on the Enterprise-B be the end of it, it would have been better received (after all, he died for the Enterprise). But, of course, they wanted Kirk and Picard together on screen. I never had a problem with him dying on Veridian III to save the civilization on Veridian IV, after all, what more heroic sacrifice is there than giving your life to save a planet of people you never met. But, and it’s a big but, there certainly should have been a better way. I’m with MJ on his final death (and MJ would be the first to tell you he is no apologist for Shatner).

But take out the botched Kirk death screen, and Generations wasn’t a bad film, IMHO. There were many interesting themes, getting older, the loss of one’s family, obsession. The nexus was an interesting plot device, and it didn’t involve Earth at all.

T’Cal

I needed a laugh today — thanks!

Didn’t hate Unification, but was not blown away by it. Then again, Nimoy was probably too old even then to do the kind of episode I’d have like to have seen…something with more action.

I liked it, though I thought Data applying the Vulcan nerve pinch in one scene was a bit cheesy…

Loved that scene too! No joking here. I pity those who didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. You are pitiable!

I want to express my appreciation to the authorities at CBS that they’re producing these episodic Blu-rays. This is sincerely stated on my part. If there’s no new Trek in production, then at least these kinds of discs are a consolation prize for now. The improvement in quality is quite good on a technical level, and if there are new commentaries and so forth, that is appreciated all the more.

So, thank you, CBS. But let’s get going with entirely new Trek as well, please.

@5. Marcelo – “Kinda sad they removed the sound guy”

Maybe they didn’t want to pay him for his on-screen appearance? [grin]

God I hate all the Rick Berman bashing on this site.

In terms of fan interest and excitement in a Star Trek TV episode, Unification was hands-down the biggest letdown in Star Trek history.

My friends and I were just so disappointed with this lackluster effort.

#25 and #26

I’m with you! I loved this episode, personally. I feel like it had a little bit of everything: some humor, some action, and a mystery, to name some. Bringing Sela back after Redemption was cool, and the scene between Spock and Data is one of my favorites from the series. Overall, great episode, and I look forward to owning it on Blu Ray

Unification = Epic Fail

Seldom have I been letdown so much by a Star Trek movie or television episode.

How do you bring both Sarek and Spock into a TNG episode together and not get them onscreen together??? That’s a complete failure by the writers — a complete lack of imagination, and illustrated an unforgivable lack of understanding to what to do with TOS characters in TNG.

Watching this episode back then was to that date the most disappointing experience I had had a Trek fan in viewing Star Trek.

The odd thing is, both McCoy’s appearance in “Encounter At Farpoint” and Scotty’s appearance in “Relics” were astoundingly well done. Of course, in the case of McCoy, it was a short and sweet cameo, and Scotty had a prominent role in the single episode “Relics”.

There simply wasn’t enough material to justify making “Unification” a two-parter. They should have left out the Sela plot, and had Spock be with Picard and Sarek when Sarek died. Picard could have helped reunite the estranged father and son in a physical manner instead of a lame mind-meld at the end of part 2.

Contrast this with “Relics”, where Scotty was still able to work his magic as a “miracle worker”, working with LaForge to save the Enterprise D. At least Scotty was given his own shuttlecraft as a gift of gratitude.

This was a huge letdown given the expectations that many of us had for this episode. The episode was subpar as compared to any average TNG episode, which meant a lot of us were really disappointed given how excited we all were that Spock and Sarek were going to appear. I don’t know why this is so hard for you to understand,and why you are trying to make this about Rick Berman? This is about a hugely squandered opportunity, and should not be part of whatever fight you want to have with others here concerning Rick Berman — that is not what I was talking about at all here.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
36. captain_neill – November 17, 2013
God I hate all the Rick Berman bashing on this site.

As a devoted fan of TOS and TNG, I confess that I did find “Unification”… Lacking. It’s sad, because the best moments of those episodes truly DID come from the touching scene of Sarek’s last moments and Spock’s all-too-brief scene with Data. I would have enjoyed a little more interaction between Spock and Picard (…although the dialogue did provide some nice sparks. I particularly liked Spock’s indignation of Picard’s accusation of “cowboy dipolomacy” and Picard’s gratitude at Spock placing him in Kirk’s league.). The last shot, of Spock’s devastating sorrow at losing his father and finally, at last, touching Sarek’s mind through Picard’s was beautifully done. I only wish that there were more such scenes. As it was, I don’t think it was a bad episode – just more of a missed opportunity, given how wonderful “Relics” was. Wanna see an awesome interaction between Spock & McCoy and the TNG crew? Read “The Modala Imperative”, by DC Comics. Yes, it’s set early on in the Enterprise-D’s voyage, when the Ferengi were still thought to be a primary villain of the universe (before they became more of a comic foible and annoyance), but it features a BEAUTIFUL set of scenes between McCoy and Spock and Picard’s crew. Most especially touching is a quiet little scene between Spock and McCoy alone in Picard’s ready room as they look back upon all their years of adventures together. It’s worth buying the comic for that scene alone.

I recall thinking at the time it was rather drawn-out and bland as well. Shame, lots of opportunity for some great story/interaction there, if the writing had been better.

It’s easy to say Berman destroyed Trek, but tough to say whether it would have gone on as long as it did without him (hundreds of hours of television).

I think Trek got tired and too self-referential (a claim some make of STID), but even at it’s most cynical, I think it was a very loving, cautious stewardship.

This one wasn’t Berman’s fault! Piller spoke openly about being disappointed in himself and this plot/script. As I recall he lamented this missed opportunity publicly for quite some time. I wish he had longer to contribute to Trek, but certainly they can’t all be home runs.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much better this episode plays with HD revealing a greater range of color and light. This is among my least favorite episodes to look at, because it’s almost oppressively monochromatic in browns and grays (Spock’s costume does not help), dimly lit, and way too claustrophobic for what aspires to be an epic story. There’s no budget to convincingly realize the many Romulan locations required (not to mention the off-screen Romulan invasion fleet) and so we’re stuck in caves, alleys, and windowless rooms, not unlike some budget-challenged TOS episodes but sadly lacking the colorful lighting TOS used to make plain sets somewhat sexy. Did the TNG costume designers ever notice that TOS Romulans wore some colors besides gray?

So far, I’ve rad nothing to sway me from my positive opinion on Unification. Don’t like it? Move on. Why bash Trek when you obviously like it over all? I don’t like every episode of Trek but I don’t look to dis the franchise constantly. The constant bashing has me visiting this site less and less.

@47

Oh, OK,

My apology. I was under the false impression that comments boards here for articles/reviews were here for people to express their opinions, whether positive, neutral or negative, on the topic being presented. I am so sorry that I didn’t realize this was a RUBBER STAMP process, where only people who agree positively with the article can post here.

My mistake. Again, I’m so sorry.

T’Cal,

Why do you feel the need to attack people who just happen to have a different opinion than you, and whine like a toddler about it?

Your over-the-top defensive posts might suggest to an objective observer that you have a lack of confidence in your opinion.

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