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Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Blu-ray Review

Star Trek- The Next Generation Season 2 Blu-ray

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” season two is even better than the first season.

The crew of the Starship Enterprise are back for 22 more episodes in the second season of “The Next Generation.” In this eventful season, Trekkers and Trekkies can expect to see plots about: Q, the Borg, Android rights, the introduction of Dr. Polaski (who replaces Beverly Crusher for a season), Troi having a child, a “Sherlock Holmes” holodeck program gone awry, a man named Thadium Okona, an entity called the Nagilum, a telepathic ambassador, Data having the memories and personality of a scientist, mysterious old age deaths, Riker serving on board a Klingon vessel, Wesley falling in love, a computer virus, a hotel called the Royale, a time loop, Riker’s father, Data befriending a young girl named Sarjenka, the Pakleds, Irish people and clones, Lwaxana Troi searching for a new husband, Worf’s lover K’Ehleyr, the Ferengi, an intense game of Strategema between Data and Kolrami, and a clip show.

Like season one, the second season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” gets a bad wrap. Yes, not all of the episodes are winners. I think most fans could do without the glorified clip show “Shades Of Grey,” the cringe worthy Pakleds in “Samaritan Snare,” and the silly Wesley Crusher in love with a shapeshifter in bad costumes story “The Dauphin.” With that said, even these lackluster episodes have their merits. The reality is that most shows have seasons with episodes that may not be on par with the best episodes. The weak episodes shouldn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of a particularly strong season.

The most noticeable differences between seasons 1 and 2 is that not only do the cast members look more comfortable with their roles here (especially Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn), but the writers really start exploring the rich characters and the universe that Gene Roddenberry created. This is especially evident in classic episodes like “The Measure Of A Man,” “Q Who?,” “The Emissary,” and “A Matter Of Honor.” ‘Measure’ really digs into thought provoking ideas about the relationship between humans and androids while also tackling heavy themes of freedom, slavery, and rights. It’s a very heady episode to be sure and it’s simply sci-fi writing at its best. As for the other 3 episodes, they offer up some great characterization for Riker and Worf while also introducing to the now iconic villains the Borg to fans. While the Borg may have later became played out and ruined in “Star Trek: Voyager,” there’s no denying that they were certainly interesting and creepy in TNG.

Of course, those weren’t the only highlights of the season. Season 2 launched several fan favorite characters such as James Moriarty, Guinan (wonderfully played by Whoopi Goldberg), and Worf’s feisty, bad-ass love K’Ehyeyr.

Video/Audio:

The remastered episodes, which are presented in 4:3 1080p, continue to amaze me. The new special f/x look like pure eye candy and the lighting is sharper than ever. The best part, however, is the fact that you are able to notice more details on sets and costumes. It gives you the feeling that you are watching the series anew.

The 7.1 DTS-HD audio track is so much more lively than the broadcast version. Just hearing the Enterprise swooping by the camera is enough to give you goosebumps. The dialogue, phasers, and score have also never sounded better.

Extras:
* Promos for all 22 episodes, a 1988 season 2 promo, and a 2012 “Reading Rainbows” iTunes promo.
* The big extra here is an HD extended edition of the classic episode “The Measure Of A Man.” A lot of extended episodes (or films) are fairly needless, but this extended cut is superb as it seamlessly blends in the new scenes by adding more characterization and depth to an already rich story. A hybrid edition of this extended episode is also included here. It features unfinished, not remastered new footage in standard definition. Strictly for the hardcore fan.
* A “Star Trek” centric 1988 episode of “Reading Rainbow” (starring LeVar Burton of course).
* “Archival Mission Logs: Selected Crew Analysis Year Two”- Patrick Stewart, Gene Roddenberry, Marina Sirtis, Diana Muldaur, LeVar Burton, Rick Berman, Peter Lauritson and Wil Wheaton chat about characters (mostly their own) in the series.
* “Archival Mission Log: Departmental Analysis Year Two: Memorable Missions”- The cast and crew chat about their favorite episodes of season 2.
* “Archical Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year Two: Production”- An old school featurette covering everything from miniature special f/x model work and characters to music and sound f/x.
* “Archical Mission Logs: Inside Starfleet Archives: Penny Juday Star Trek Coordinator”- Another segment of this series of extras revolving around Trek archivist Penny Juday showing off some of the actual archives.
* “Archival Mission Log: Mission Overview Year Two”- The last in this series of extras mainly covers the new characters and Gene Roddenberry’s imagination.
* “Energized! Season Two Tech Update”- A featurette about the sets, special f/x, and the hi-def upgrade.
* Commentary on HD extended version “The Measure Of A Man” by writer Melinda Snodgrass and Michael and Denise Okuda. The track is rather dry, but there are some in-depth conversations about scene inclusions, character dynamics, special f/x facts, set information, restored scenes, etc.

*Deleted scenes from “The Icarus Factor” and “Up The Long Ladder.”
* A great 10 ½ minute gag reel. Guaranteed to make you laugh.
* Commentary on “Q Who?” by Dan Curry, Rob Bowman and Michael and Denise Okuda. Again, this isn’t the most exciting commentary track, but you can expect interesting discussions about the Borg, behind-the-scenes stories, visual f/x, etc.
* “Make It So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation, Part 1: Strange New Worlds”- A nearly 40 minute piece that covers the success of season 1, the writers’ strike, the Borg, characters, and more. Cast and crew interviews are also included.
* “Make It So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation, Part 2: New Life and New Civilizations”- Continuing where the first part left off, this one delves more into season 2 as they talk about the new characters (and returning villains/aliens), Gates McFadden being replaced by Diana Muldaur, f/x, sets, etc.

* ”Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation”- “Free Enterprise” director Robert Meyer Burnett moderates this reunion Q&A with Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Brent Spiner. This is the real gem of the Blu-ray set as this lively hour long chat is extremely entertaining. Expect conversations about Whoopi Goldberg, Trek’s impact on careers, the pilot, set stories, Gene Roddenberry, casting, cast chemistry, jokes about Patrick Stewart, and more that I won’t spoil for you.

Summary: Before watching this set, I thought the first season Blu-ray set of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was the best Blu-ray set of the year. Now, it’s clear that the second season set is even better. I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Buy it.

December 9, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , ,

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