"I'm looking for Ambassador Spock." "Indeed. You have found him, Captain Picard."
That exchange remains one of the most exciting moments in the entire Star Trek canon. I can't even be sure the last time I saw either part of "Unification", but it thrilled me as an adolescent. I read the novelization penned by Jeri Taylor (who wrote the Part I teleplay). I bought the TNG Volume Three CD, featuring a suite of Dennis McCarthy's music from the two episodes. I was thrilled when Playmates added an Ambassador Spock action figure to their lineup, and when he appeared in Decipher's Star Trek CCG. In short, I've been borderline obsessed with "Unification" for 22+ years.
At present, the full season sets on Blu-ray are outside my limited entertainment budget, but I was kindly given some Amazon credit by a friend and splurged on this release. I know I'm behind the times, but this was my first TNG in HD (outside of the movies) and I was quite impressed with the A/V quality. I was captivated just taking in the richness of the textures of costumes and sets. The lone exception is that the Vulcan ear points on Mark Lenard are embarrassingly off-color from the actor's own skin tone. I never noticed it in SD, but it's distracting here. His scene with Patrick Stewart is so poignant and heartrending, though, that I feel guilty even remarking on such a trivial thing. It remains one of the most affecting scenes in the series.
As for the bonus content, I confess to being disappointed. Though I didn't expect anything particularly revelatory, there isn't much here that adds to the appreciation of the featured episodes. Also, CBS decided not to include an UltraViolet Digital Copy for this title, as they had done with the similar standalone Blu-ray releases for "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Redemption".
Commentary by Jeri Taylor and Mike & Denise Okuda *** This one is a mixed bag. When Jeri Taylor shares anecdotes from either "Unification" or Star Trek at large, she's engaging and interesting. The highlight for me was hearing Taylor acknowledge that Sarek's reference to Spock going off into the mountains was, in fact, a direct reference to "Yesteryear", an episode of the animated series. The Okudas, however, interject with remarks and questions more along the lines of minutiae. It comes off as a Q&A conducted on a fan made podcast. Since Taylor doesn't appear in the lone making-of featurette, though, it's your only chance to hear her reminisces.
From One Generation to the Next: The Making of "Unification" (16:43) *** In fairness to the producers, it's difficult to make a making-of featurette without any of the key principles participating. Jeri Taylor only recorded the commentary, Michael Piller (who wrote the second half) passed away several years ago, as did actor Mark Lenard, and apparently, Leonard Nimoy passed outright on anything to do with this release. Instead, we hear more about the road that led from the original series through the TNG episode "Sarek" to "Unification" - which, thankfully, is actually relevant and interesting, even if it feels off-topic.
Deleted Scene (1:43) *** This one kind of baffles me. It's a throwaway scene, to be sure, but it's clearly completed, rather than rough footage that was jettisoned early. I can understand excising it from the broadcast episode, but it seems to me that this single cut Blu-ray would have been an appropriate place to reinsert it as originally planned, though of course, no one asked me.
Episodic Promo: "Unification I" (0:34) *** Episodic Promo: "Unification II" (0:34) *** Pretty basic TV promos, but that second one, touting "one man sacrifices his life" is entirely and unnecessarily misleading.
Conclusion Though the bonus content is generic and the second half of the story - the part that actually includes Nimoy as Spock - feels rushed and anticlimactic, the first half is genuinely terrific. "Unification" has taken on a new place in the context of the franchise in the wake of the last two movies. I can't in all honesty call this a mandatory purchase for Trekkers with the money to buy the TNG Season Five Blu-ray set, but for me...I have no regrets.