STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael
Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Brett Spiner, Wil Wheaton, Diana Muldaur
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Features: Five Featurettes
Length: 999 Minutes
Release Date: May 7, 2002
NOTE: Complete episode listing is available at the end of this review.
captain’s chair is the best place to be.” – Patrick Stewart
Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up its first season in early 1988,
my friends and I were convinced that the show was heading for success.
How much so, we could only speculate…and even then, I still think we
grossly underestimated just how good the show was going to end up being, but one
thing was certain…we couldn’t wait for season two.
felt the same way when revisiting season one on DVD, courtesy of a very smartly
packaged and long awaited release from Paramount…I was anxious for season two
to start! And now, like then, I
wasn’t disappointed. Season two
proved to be an overall improvement over the first year, and an even greater
harbinger of things to come for the new series.
the course of season one, we could sense the increasing confidence and rapport
the actors had with one another. We
could sense the scripts starting to improve and get a little more daring.
Season two is the fruition of that artistic growth.
Star Trek was never afraid to tackle the big issues, and the
second season covered everything from birth (in “The Child”) to death (in
“The Schizoid Man”), and just about everything
else in between. It
continued a good mix of episodes that were smart and intriguing with shows that
were just plain fun.
Enterprise started its second year with some changes. Because of Tasha Yar’s (Denise Crosby) death near the end
of the first season, the position of Chief of Security went to Lt. Worf (Dorn).
Lt. Geordi La Forge (Burton) earned a well deserved promotion to Chief
Engineer. And the ship temporarily
switched doctors, replacing Beverly Crusher with Dr. Pulaski (Muldaur) while
actress Gates McFadden was taking time off to become a mother!
added was a new area of the Enterprise called Ten Forward…it was a bar for
off-duty crew members to relax and just be people instead of Starfleet members!
Tending bar in this new location was Guinan, a memorable character played
by Whoopi Goldberg, who had many of season two’s shining moments.
yes, and the biggest change…Commander William Riker (Frakes) grew his beard,
something my friends and I thought to be a great improvement…it seemed to help
him find his character.
Deanna Troi (Sirtis), with new uniform and hairstyle for season two, earned the
spotlight in the premiere episode, when in “The Child”, she finds herself
unexpectedly pregnant by an alien form! The
birth and early life of the child goes by quickly, and one can sense the sad
android Lt. Commander Data (Spiner), continued to be a favorite for Trek writers.
He had many big episodes in season two, starting with a bit of holodeck
fun in “Elementary, Dear Data”, where a Sherlock Holmes mystery goes
frighteningly awry when the computer, in an attempt to create a puzzle Data
couldn’t solve, created self aware programs that threatened the entire
Enterprise! Data’s best moments,
however, were probably “The Schizoid Man”, in which he becomes a vessel to a
departed elderly scientist, and “The Measure of a Man”, which posed the
question of whether as an android he had free will or was the property of the
Federation, with an unpleasant fate hanging in the balance.
of the other memorable episodes include “The Dauphin”, where young Ensign
Wesley Crusher (Wheaton) gets his first romance, “Loud as a Whisper”, in
which a hearing impaired but brilliant negotiator gets a chance to begin a
historic peace process courtesy of the Enterprise, “The Emissary”, which
will definitely change your mind if you thought there was no such thing
as an attractive Klingon woman, and more. The
highlight of season two, however, definitely had to be “Q Who?”, which not
only brought back Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s (Stewart) inimitable foe Q (John
De Lancie), but introduced the Enterprise and Trekkies to the next generation
(no pun intended) of Federation foes, the unstoppable Borg.
as mentioned, some of the episodes were just good fun.
I enjoyed “Manhunt”, which returned Majel Barrett to the screen as
Troi’s mother, and also included another return to the holodeck for Picard and
his private eye character Dixon. “The
Royale” may have been a tongue-in-cheek take on 2001, when Riker, Worf
and Geordi find themselves in an alien world set up for them like a big, classy
hotel, which was actually taken from a rather banal 20th century
novel. The most amusing of the
bunch may have been “The Outrageous Okona”, where the Enterprise picks up a
funny and charming free spirited pilot, who is being chased by a couple of
enemies who don’t find him so amusing.
best aspect of the show, though, continued to be the cast, which was a terrific
ensemble of actors obviously growing more and more comfortable with each other
and bringing out the best in one another. The
Next Generation gave everybody equal time, and this teamwork aspect of the
program was most appealing.
two was slightly shorter than the others owing to the writers’ strike of the
time…there are only 22 episodes making up year number two.
But shortened or not, the second season continued to prove that Gene
Roddenberry’s new formula was working, and continued to indicate that there
were even better things looming for The Next Generation just over the
Muldaur actually had two appearances on the original Star Trek series,
including a starring role in the memorable episode “Is There in Truth No
with the second disc in the series, a noticeable video improvement is apparent.
Prior to that, the shows looked fine for their age, but with occasional
problems. Starting with this set, The
Next Generation takes a slight step up, with better coloring, sharper
images, less apparent grain, and a generally cleaner look, with plenty of new
special effects shots that come across quite well.
There’s still a few flaws here and there…in “The Royale”, when
the actors are against a solid black background, the black isn’t as solid and
pure as it should be, for example, but these are far less frequent than the
first box set had to offer. All in
all, a solid presentation.
very much enjoyed Paramount’s 5.1 remixes for the first set; on the second,
they are even better and more daring. Yes,
the Enterprise zipping around still brings front and rear stages into play
nicely, but the more adventuresome episodes add breadth to the dynamic range,
and the .1 channel is almost constantly in use to deliver the hum of the 24th
century machinery. Action sequences
are mixed even more boldly than before, with smooth crossover effects that will
put you in the middle of the action like never before.
are five fifteen minute featurettes pertaining to the second season, all located
on Disc Six. The Mission Overview
features some cast and crew members, including the late Gene Roddenberry,
discussing the ideas and concepts behind the second year.
Selected Crew Analysis lets some of the cast members talk about their
season two memories, combining both archive and new interview footage.
Inside Starfleet Archives takes a look at the production side of the
series, including the sets, designs and props.
Finally, there are two Departmental Briefing featurettes.
One is on production, with more cast and crew interviews discussing
episodes, special guests, and more, and the second is Memorable Missions, where
cast and crew discuss their favorites from the second season.
COMPLETE SEASON TWO EPISODE LOG:
|The Child||The Royale|
|Where Silence Has Lease||Time Squared|
|Elementary, Dear Data||The Icarus Factor|
|The Outrageous Okona||Pen Pals|
|Loud as a Whisper||Q Who?|
|The Schizoid Man||Samaritan Snare|
|Unnatural Selection||Up the Long Ladder|
|A Matter of Honor||Manhunt|
|The Measure of a Man||The Emissary|
|The Dauphin||Peak Performance|
|Contagion||Shades of Gray|