December 4 is fast approaching and, as promised, that means we’re ramping up our coverage of Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two, the comprehensive Blu-ray collection that will be released on that day. Right now, in part two of an exclusive interview, StarTrek.com picks the brain of Roger Lay, Jr. producer/director of special features for CBS Home Entertainment's upcoming releases of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray. Lay discusses Season Two’s many extras, including the commentaries, TNG cast reunion, a gag reel and more.
One of the missions on this project has been to retain the essence of the work done by the directors. So, was Bob Scheerer involved in the expansion of “The Measure of a Man”? If not, why? If so, what input did he have?
Lay: I got in touch with Bob and he was very interested in coming in to CBS Digital and meeting with the entire team. He was also going to do an on camera interview for the season 2 documentary and be a part of the commentary session for the episode. But, unfortunately, he had to pull out at the last minute due to some health complications. Fortunately he's doing better and we still plan to have him participate in the special features for upcoming seasons.
Melinda Snodgrass and the Okudas provide the audio commentary for "The Measure of a Man." What insights did they offer?
Lay: Melinda's background as a lawyer was key to the creation of the episode and she shares her story in great detail. It's actually quite an inspiring tale since she wrote the episode on spec and had a friend's agent submit it the producers of TNG, which led to her start as a TV writer. So you get to hear that in the commentary track along with some great insights from Mike and Denise regarding that 23-year-old VHS tape that served as the basis for this groundbreaking extended cut of "The Measure of a Man.”
Tell us a little about getting the TNG cast reunion together and what fans can expect to see?
Lay: Two years ago, when I had my very first meeting with the team at CBS Home Entertainment, way before we were even talking about the season sets -- this was just when we were talking about the sampler disc -- I said that if we moved forward with season sets the centerpiece of the collection in terms of special features had to be a 25th anniversary cast reunion. I knew it would probably be one of the most difficult things to pull off, but I just couldn't picture us doing this release justice without getting the gang together again on camera. As crazy and difficult a proposition as that was, our fearless execs Ken Ross and Phil Bishop got behind it and they made it possible. Ken and Phil made it their mission to make this happen. I couldn't have asked for a better team to make it so. Two years later, not only have we pulled it, off but we are ecstatic about the results. I don't believe any other show in the history of television has had a reunion special like this one, where you really get to see the cast in an intimate, candid forum, not as TV stars, but as a family that has been trough an incredibly rare journey together and they still love each other and still function as a magnificent unit together on screen. Fans will be really amazed and surprised at some of the things they'll see and hear in this piece.
You also have an interview with Diana Muldaur. What did she have to say?
Lay: I have to tell you that Diana is one of the most delightful ladies on the planet. She's been so gracious and supportive of what we're doing and I'm really thrilled that she's a part of this set. She had barely done any interviews over the years to talk about her involvement in the series and I'm really happy that we now have her definitive account of her times on the show and her relationship to the Trek universe dating all the way back to her appearances on TOS. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get her and I really felt that without her involvement we wouldn't be able to tell the story behind the making of season 2 properly. Fortunately, I had a wonderful phone call with her and by the end of the conversation she was onboard.
Having first met Gene during the days of TOS, Diana brings a great perspective to the documentary. Her take on the importance of Gene's vision and why it's still relevant today is really touching and powerful. We close the documentary with that and it ends the piece on such an emotional high point. Her appearances in "Making it So" are really emotional and memorable. She's got this great infectious laughter and a twinkle in her eye that accentuates every story she shared with us. I can't say enough great things about her.
Is the gag reel new, or a HD version of the reel that the cast and crew may have seen at the season-two wrap party?
Lay: We've been able to build an all-new gag reel exclusively for this set. We've gone back to the original film elements and created a true HD gag reel rather than just utilizing an old tape master from a wrap party. There's a lot of great content and this is one of the luxuries the decision to rebuild the show in HD from the original camera elements offers you -- you get to find all these missing gems and share them with the fans in the best possible sound and picture quality.
You're now on to Season Three. Without revealing too much, what should fans expect to see as part of that Blu-ray set?
Lay: Season 3 has some of the most compelling episodes of the series, so we'll give fans an in-depth exploration at such classics as "The Best of Both Worlds," "Yesterday's Enterprise,” "The Offspring" and "Sins of the Father." The season 3 special features also focus on the writing of the series. In season 3, you had Michael Piller taking over the writers’ room and really shaping the type of storytelling that defined the show. Fans will get a glimpse at the process which led to the formation of the writing staff that went on to run the course of the series and they'll also get to see them reunited again for a really insightful and fun piece we call "Inside the Writers' Room," which is hosted by Family Guy creator and TNG super-fan, Seth MacFarlane. I'm really proud of that piece, as well as of a really emotional tribute to Michael Piller which we've put together exclusively for the season 3 Blu-ray set. Producing these releases has been a really rewarding journey for all of us. Everyone on the team has gone above and beyond to create a product that is not only unparalleled in quality and scope, but one that effectively gives the fans everything they want, since this wouldn't be happening at all without their support of the series over the last quarter of a century. And as amazing as the first two sets have been, I can guarantee you that the best is yet to come…
Click HERE to read part one of our exclusive interview with Roger Lay, Jr.
Season Two is a 5-disc set that includes all 22 episodes, as well as more than 120 minutes of brand-new documentaries that include recently recorded cast and crew interviews. Fans can expect an extended version of the episode “The Measure of a Man,” audio commentaries, a gag reel, Archival Mission Logs and Featurettes (among them “Reunification: 25 Years After The Next Generation” and “Making It So: Continuing The Next Generation”). Season Two will be available for the suggested retail price of $129.99 in the U.S.
You can pre-order from Season 2 on Blu-ray by clicking your country below. Click HERE for details/tickets for the in-theater A Celebration of Season 2 event on November 2.