When the Fathom Events TNG Season One Blu-ray screening concluded (click HERE), my first thought was: more, please. But I have a tendency to be a glutton sometimes. Just look for me at one of those frozen yogurt places where you can sprinkle on your own toppings. Yet I hoped Fathom would repeat the success of that July night with the new high-definition release of each season. Magic struck again last week as audiences around the country flocked to movie theaters to watch second-season episodes of a 25-year old show that they quite possibly knew by heart.
This was a great pick to show off the Blu-ray transfer. Not only does it have terrific special effects, but Q's decision to introduce The Borg to the Enterprise was a great way to hook the handful of people in attendance who might have been new to TNG. (There was at least one; I heard her in the lobby talking to her Trekkie friends.)
There were some moments that might make you smile watching at home that played for big laughs in a group. Riker's suggestion to “take it easy, Wes” when the young ensign starts asking a million questions at once was met with guffaws and cheers, as were the two separate times Picard simply says “Worf” to calm down his Klingon head of security. The biggest laugh came, though, when Picard does call for Worf's aid in yanking the Borg intruder away from the Engineering station. Finally, it is the Son of Mogh's chance to crack some skulls, and he turns to the unnamed security crewman and sends him on the attack instead.
It's an interesting kind of group laughter. It is one part genuine (these are funny moments), there's another part that is somehow copping to the fact that some of the stereotypes about Star Trek have their roots in a kernel of truth. But it okay for us to laugh because we love it. It is an altogether great feeling to share these moments with other diehard fans.
“Q Who?” also proved that actors like Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie have the goods to deliver to a large room. But this was just a warm-up to the second full episode, “The Measure of a Man.”
Before we got to that, there was a nice intermezzo, a look at some bloopers and outtakes. Let's just say that seeing Michael Dorn in full Worf makeup doing his impression of Don Corleone is a treasure I'll take with me no matter where I travel in the galaxy. Also: more footage from a recent cast reunion interview. It is terrific to see the crew poke fun at Patrick Stewart talking about his time at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
But the screening of “The Measure of a Man” took an already special evening and really put it over the top. In a quick prologue, we learned how Melinda Snodgrass' original script was shot as written, but it ended up going long so it had to be edited down. A version that included all the scenes (but minus the effects and sound mix) was cut together and given to Snodgrass on VHS as a gift. That lone tape was the only record of the original version and was used as a blueprint make this special edition. The highest compliment I can pay it: even though I've seen “The Measure of a Man” a number of times, it took me a bit of thinking to recognize what was the “new” stuff. In other words, it flows with a natural pace – so much so that now I couldn't dream of watching this without seeing Riker kick Commander Maddox out of Data's going-away party.
This capacity screening of “The Measure of a Man” ran the full gamut of emotions and, yes, I see the irony in that considering the subject matter. There were big laughs – some from the innuendo lines coming from Picard's former flame Phillipa Louvois – and others just from Riker's reaction shots. I tell you I never really realized just how fantastic of a non-verbal performer Jonathan Frakes was until seeing this.
This evening proves that the first one was no fluke: these Fathom Events screenings are the best thing going for Star Trek fans right now. The precise release date for Season Three hasn't been announced, but if you were on the fence about celebrating by joining fans at a nearby theater, I can't urge you enough.
Let me know if you were there last week for the Season Two evening and if anything nifty went down. Also, lemme know which two episodes you'd like to see for Season Three.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.