""Star Trek"" DVD a fitting tribute

    Season five of “”Star Trek: The Next Generation”” continues the epic saga of the starship Enterprise that boldly goes where no man has gone before. After the unforgettable episodes of seasons three and four, the producers of the show continued to churn out one good episode after another and avoided resting on their laurels, as do many other successful television shows.

    The DVD set of season five is a fine showcase of the efforts of the cast and crew of TNG, highlighting the rich storylines and talented acting apparent in many of the episodes. Beyond the actual production of the series, the death of series creator Gene Roddenberry halfway through the season created a sense of sadness but also a reflection that can be felt throughout the latter half of the episodes.

    The seven-disc set consists of memorable episodes such as “”Unification,”” where Spock from the original series makes an appearance; “”The Inner Light,”” in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) explores several different parallel universes; and “”Cause and Effect.”” What distinguishes this set from the previous four DVD sets is a featurette on the life of the late creator, titled “”A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry.””

    A somber documentary, the tribute contains several interviews with various cast and crew members about the high esteem they had for Roddenberry. It also contains rare footage of a Paramount bash held in honor of the series’ visionary leader. Of all the extras that have come out so far, this is by far the most emotional and is a must-have, not only for TNG fans, but for any Trekkie.

    The remaining extras are similar to the previous episodes with various interviews with cast and crew in addition to several small documentaries that focus on behind-the-scenes production. These extras are now common in all DVD releases and no longer seem as unique as they once did in the first several seasons of TNG. Video and audio quality are also in line with the other sets, with decent video and a good Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

    In retrospect, season five contains an emotional wallop for Star Trek fans: The DVD set gives a fine tribute to Roddenberry, making it a definite addition to any Trekkie’s collection.

    Star Trek: TNG

    Season Five

    ***

    Starring Patrick Stuart

    In stores now

    not rated

    Sunset Boulevard

    Forget all that you’ve heard about Hollywood primadonnas. In fact, ignore any pretenses you might have had about spoiled thespians. Before any of the decadent lifestyles of the modern rich and famous, there was a dark comedy called “”Sunset Boulevard”” that perfectly captured the murkier side of the fame and glamour that was Hollywood. The line, “”I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,”” comes from lead actress Gloria Swanson and is permanently ingrained as an expression of madness, delusion and despair. Directed by acclaimed director Billy Wilder, “”Sunset Boulevard”” has finally been brought from the silver screen into the home via DVD.

    This story of insanity and depression is centered on the aging diva Norma Desmond (Swanson), a silent film star who has all but disappeared from the limelight. As her life crumbles into a small shell of what was a living being, Desmond becomes deluded by the fact that she thinks she is still a star. When a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, Joe Giles (William Holden), stumbles onto Desmond’s secluded estate, he is slowly corrupted by the despair and dishonesty of the aged star.

    Soon, Giles is slowly drawn into Desmond’s life, and he must find a way to escape from her madness.

    The DVD of “”Sunset Boulevard”” is a restoration of the old print and is cleaned of much of the dirt and scratches that have destroyed some of the great classics. There are many extras included: an audio commentary, a documentary on famed costume designer Edith Head, several featurettes and a behind-the-scenes documentary.

    Desmond is one of the most memorable and well-written characters that has graced (or demolished) the screen. For any serious film buff, “”Sunset Boulevard”” is the textbook standard for Hollywood run amok.

    Sunset Boulevard

    ****

    Starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson

    Available Nov. 26

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