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The Picard Legacy Collection puts one of the greatest remasters of all time in sprawling context

Jean-Luc Picard would want you to... engage with him in HD

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Picard yelling “Well there it sits!” Image: Paramount
Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

Like a lot of folks here at Polygon, I’m a bit of a physical media nerd. I’m not going to extol its virtues here (we have a regular roundup for that), but I’ve recently leveled up my media library game, obsessing over the quality of a given release, learning about the work that goes into a good restoration, being a stickler about packaging and extras. It’s a fun way to engage with art more intentionally, like a pop culture archeologist.

This is how I recently learned what an incredible feat the Star Trek: The Next Generation remaster was. Released from 2012 to 2014 in celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary, the remaster brought the 1987 series into high definition through incredibly painstaking labor. The short version is that, due to production streamlining that was common at the time, the team working on the remasters basically had to rebuild the episodes from scratch. Locating, then re-cutting the original negatives, rebuilding all the special effects, compositing everything all over again and striving to stay faithful to the original intent, warts and all.

The remaster was a fascinating and wildly expensive labor of love, one that is almost certainly not going to repeated for Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Voyager. So it’s worth checking out every iteration of its release, to consider picking it up. For example: this fall’s Picard Legacy Collection.

An absurdly comprehensive collection of just about everything Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard was in (barring a guest appearance or two like Deep Space Nine’s pilot), the box set includes all seven seasons of The Next Generation remastered, all four Star Trek movies featuring the Next Generation cast, and all three seasons of Picard, all in a handsomely uniform design.

There’s just one catch: The packaging sucks. While it all comes in a nice big sturdy box, the Next Generation discs are in two big clamshell volumes of cheap plastic with flimsy disc trays bound into them, something you might be familiar with if you’ve bought other TV box sets like the complete series collections of Mr. Robot or The Good Fight.

The Picard Legacy Collection box set, with its contents displayed next to it. Image: CBS Studios/Paramount Pictures

The movie blu-rays are similarly collected in one volume, as are all three seasons of Picard, but they’re less annoying simply by virtue of having far fewer discs. They still lack a premium feel, which is a disappointment given that this is billed as a limited edition collector’s item. I also hate the decision to print the disc contents on the inside of each case’s box art, where it’s basically impossible to read. Since just about every disc in The Next Generation set has some special features, not having a convenient pamphlet to refer to is kind of maddening. A few baubles like a themed deck of cards and a book of Picard aphorisms, while nice, does little to assuage this.

All that said, if you have none or very little of the media collected here, The Picard Legacy collection is still worth considering. It bundles a legendary remaster of an incredible show with all of its sequel movies (albeit not the new 4K versions) and Picard, a divisive show that still managed to pull off a fine farewell in its final season. Add to that a massive library of special features, and The Picard Legacy collection feels less like a TV series box set and more like a massive archive full of everything you could possibly want to know about a beloved show. You could dig through it forever — just consider coming up with a better storage solution first.

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