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Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2(TV) (1988-1989)
Space... The final frontier... These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds... To seek out new life and new civilisations... To boldly go where no one has gone before!
For more about Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 and the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray release, see Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis
» See full cast & crew
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray Review
Resistance is futile. This Blu-ray will be assimilated into your collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 28, 2012
A new doctor named Pulaski, a gathering place bar called Ten Forward, a familiar face at barkeep, unstoppable hive-minded cybernetic villains from the furthest reaches of the galaxy, a fresh beard for the First Officer, and a few hands of poker provide a few interesting additions to season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it's still the same wonderful show at its core despite some shakeups and new additions. In its second, writers' strike-shortened season, it's clear early on -- even from its bland debut episode -- that Star Trek: The Next Generation remains a show in search of its absolute identity, still ramping up to full stride, not quite yet having reached the excellence of the original series and still not exactly certain as to what its legacy would be. It introduced some changes -- most for the better, a few not -- to separate itself from season one, though like its predecessor it still doesn't evoke the sense of family and flawless television that would come in later seasons. It presents viewers with quite a few standout episodes amidst several forgettable outings and a few miserable efforts, including what is easily the worst season finale in Star Trek history. Nevertheless, season two sets the stage for the greatness to come in both the noble pursuit of exploring new worlds and civilizations and also in the need to find itself before lifting off into another dimension of television excellence and Star Trek greatness.
Season two dabbles in many of the usual Star Trek elements, and often to good dramatic effect, high entertainment value, and strong canonical influence. The season studies Data's place on the ship, amidst the crew, in Starfleet, and his ability to advance beyond concept and discern the intricacies of reality, to grasp the fine nuances of humanity, and to separate the absorption of raw knowledge from the delicate and in many ways intimate and soulful implementation of it in practice. Whether through a hand of poker, deducing a mystery of which he has no foreknowledge of the result, standing on trial for his very essence as a sentient being, or losing a fast-paced hand-eye-mind coordination game to an organic being, the season carefully, methodically, and in many ways lovingly evolves the character from mystery and unique crew member to the Data who not only strives to be human, but understands what that actually means beyond the organic level. Season two also deals in classic Trek paradoxes, such as recreations of Earth's past in "The Royale" and experiencing a crisis in time in "Time Squared," but the series also pushes ahead towards its destiny, not only introducing a new, classic villain but bringing the characters closer together and showing the first signs not of mere chemistry, but of family.
Season two also sees the introduction and one-season run for Dr. Pulaski, a character in stark contrast to season one's and season three-seven's Dr. Crusher. She's older and a bit more stubborn and set in her ways but also a little more active beyond sick bay. The season loses the Wesley-Beverly Crusher son/mother dynamic and gains Pulaski's struggles with Data, including the pronunciation of his name and his place as a real, legitimate member of the crew and not a collection of circuits and artificial coverings, which ties back into the season's most intriguing arc. Pulaski lacks the dynamism of the other characters and never seems to fit in as well in season two as Crusher does in later seasons. Season two also brings into play the Ten Forward bar/lounge operated by the mysterious Guinan, the former of which serves as the ship's soul if the bridge is thought of as its heart and the engines its muscles, while the latter settles into something of a conscience for the crew. Guinan, then, may be seen as the typical bartender, but Actress Whoopi Goldberg brings a deeper authenticity to the part, making Guinan one-half mystery and another one-half gentle, almost motherly, figure. There's also the introduction of one of TNG's best mini recurring characters, the holographic Dr. Moriarty, who will return in season six's "Ship in a Bottle," one of the stronger of all of TNG's episodes. The season's mix of various bland plots is offset by about a dozen high-quality efforts that play out with smart stories, inventive crises, gripping tales of adventure, and moving stories that engender great character moments that will drive the series towards its peak. Sadly, the strike-shortened season ends with a dud of an episode that's comprised almost entirely of flashbacks, though it certainly, and thankfully, doesn't portend bad things to come. On the contrary, season three is where the series really begins to take off, moving on from interesting premise and advancing towards legendary television.
Season two highlight episodes include:
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Two arrives on Blu-ray with a fairly consistent and highly impressive high definition transfer. The image is presented in the series' broadcast 4x3 aspect ratio; "black bars" necessarily frame the image on either side of the 1.78:1 high definition display. Certainly, this isn't the perfect image. There are very unobtrusive and very infrequent but nevertheless noticeable white speckles throughout the season. Characters and objects appearing in front of effects shots -- such as windows showing a star field or the ship at warp speed -- go fairly soft and lack the pinpoint detail seen elsewhere. Blacks can also go a hair pale, whether uniform bottoms or shadowy backdrops. Additionally, the visible grain field often fluctuates from quite heavy to practically invisible. Yet despite all of these rather minor flaws and inconsistencies, the image on the whole dazzles. Details are so impressive at times that makeup streaks are visible and minor flaws or the crudeness of set construction down in corners or seams appears clearly evident. The flip side is breathtaking facial details, whether Picard's winkles, Riker's beard, or Data and Worf's detailed makeup work. Uniform textures are stunningly intricate in close-up shots, as are other costume pieces such as Wesley's sweater. Exterior Enterprise shots reveal tremendous details across the entire vessel. Colors are also quite strong. They're not brilliant but rather stable to just a tad bit dark. Red uniforms in particular appear a little dim, but the mustard crew and science blue uniforms look fantastic. The bridge's tan colored furnishings and wooden fixings are true, while the darkened recesses of space impress. Flesh tones are excellent across a dynamic range defined by natural variations and makeup both. This is a very appealing image, not quite perfect but certainly a revelation that's worthy of the show, of Blu-ray, and the restorative effort.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Two warps onto Blu-ray with a precise and absorbing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. Even if it's not the representative pinnacle of the absolute best in recorded and engineered sound clarity, the pure sense of immersion, series authenticity, and improvement over the television and DVD soundtracks listeners have grown accustomed to hearing over the years make this a standout presentation and quite the achievement of high definition sound listening. The track proves faithful to the source while amplifying various effects with heightened clarity and spatial presence. This soundtrack takes full and natural advantage of the entire stage, including the extended rear channels. Music plays richly and fully, whether score in-program or the main title sequence that's big, beautifully accurate, and accentuated by sounds of the Enterprise hurtling from one speaker to the next. Much of the track is defined by the constant hum of the Enterprise engines that add critical ambience to the presentation. What was before merely an underlying element beneath dialogue is now a full, very much real and mood-critical sound effect that becomes the environment, not merely a detached piece of it. Likewise, various beeps and bloops across the bridge, the heavy whir of the warp core in engineering, transporter and phaser effects, and other series-specific sound elements enjoy an uptick in accuracy, placement, and clarity. Additional but minor elements such as the din of the Royale casino or light chatter throughout Ten Forward put the finishing sonic touches on various scenes. Some of the more intensive low end elements play deeply and naturally and never too rattly or forced. Dialogue enjoys natural presence and constant intelligibility, never lost under surrounding elements. This is a first-rate soundtrack that should greatly satisfy fans who have never heard Star Trek sound this good.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season Blu-ray release contains various supplements across all five discs. All episodes contain "episodic promos" accessible from each episode's own sub-menu.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Star Trek: The Next Generation might sometimes stumble through its second season with a rather uneven grouping of episodes, but the season is more than the sum of its good-medicore-bad episode ratio. The better episodes are so good that they more than offset the forgettable and bad ones, and the various arcs and characters and character studies introduced within the season make it, arguably, a more substantial and substantive collection than season one. Season two sees TNG about to really take off at warp speed, but it certainly doesn't just idle before making the jump. Star Trek: The Next Generation is great television that only gets better as it goes along; season one and, more so, season two, is the foundation on which the rest will be built. Paramount/CBS' Blu-ray release of Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season features excellent video and audio. A healthy collection of extras is included. This release earns my highest recommendation.
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