Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Review
There's little point in me writing pages of spiel on Season Two as Mark Davis has already covered pretty much everything that I would say in his review of the Region 1 release. This is going to be more of a brief comparison between the UK and US releases so pop across and read Mark's review for a detailed look at the season itself...
Starting with the packaging, once again Paramount have hit the target perfectly with the Region 2 packaging. We get the nice solid plastic outer casing this time with a dark purple/blue highlight while inside we once again have a cut down digipack housing all six discs in a cardboard slip case. Beautiful and well designed matching the tone of the TV series perfectly.
The season is spread across six dual layer discs - once again the bulk of the extras are on the final disc.
A slight improvement over the previous season. However, it's still not perfect due to the source material. What we have is a fairly sharp transfer that has unfortunately undergone obvious digital restoration leading to occasional jaggies and digital artefacts. The black levels are, however, solid. My other minor complaint regarding the picture is that there is a small amount of colour-bleed which is obvious from time to time.
There are signs of aliasing on the effects shots - particularly space-based effects which can be a little distracting, but for the most part this is a reasonable transfer and a easy step up when compared to the current UK broadcasts of the series.
Compared to the Region 1 disc, this is almost identical. As with season one, the only real difference is in colour reproduction with the NTSC Region 1 release looking slightly more natural while the Region 2 is a little brighter.
Again, a very slight improvement over the previous season - although the difference is minimal at best. There aren't any problems with the soundtrack and the 5.1 channel remix makes good use of all the surround speakers for both ambience and effect. Bass levels are good with a suitable punch keeping your system on it's toes.
I can't find any reason to complain - this is as good as the series has ever sounded and the added channels allow for more interaction with the viewer.
Again, not much to add over Mark's review - we get around an hour of extra features as with the previous release. I'll just do a copy and paste job as there's little point in me rewriting what Mark's already covered...
Paramount’s attitude to the Next Generation extras is as I suspected. In order to ensure each set has some extras they have been spread evenly. In this case we get five featurettes instead of the four on the previous set and this time total running time is 80-minutes. Given this average we are going to end up with around 8 hours worth of extras contained in all 7 sets and that’s a lot of Star Trek.
Season 2 Overview. This 15-minute featurette covers the move into Season 2 and some of the new ideas and themes brought in. Muldaur and Goldberg have interviews explaining their new characters and how they feel/felt. Also the creation of Ten Forward is discussed and covered in some depth. Finally the piece covers the increasing popularity of the new series and it’s loyal fan base.
Selected Crew Analysis. This 15-minute section is very similar to the one in the first set. Almost every cast member is covered and the interviews reveal how they thought their characters were developing in the second season. Sirtis is admirably frank about her character in season one and expresses her happiness at being given a better chance in season 2. This time round Muldaur, Goldberg and Stewart get the lion’s share of the screen time, others like Burton only get a minute or so and Spiner is missing completely. As the piece is only 15-minutes on each set this isn’t surprising and it seems that after 7 boxsets we should have covered each character very well indeed.
Starfleet Archives. This 17-minute piece is the first extra that is not TNG or series specific. It covers the archive that Paramount hold, which contains all of the Star Trek properties. Here we see models, props, designs, paintings, furniture, walls and drawings from all Star Trek series and all Star Trek films. Highlights are seeing the Enterprise D full size model in the flesh so to speak and it certainly is magnificent. This is an amazing feature and shows just how much effort goes into Star Trek. The cataloguing alone is mind boggling as there are 5 or 6 warehouses full of stuff. Just as an aside at this point I’d like to clear up an oversight. The Enterprise D model shown has the number 1701-E on its saucer and the presenter says this is a trivia point and never answers it. To save the more casual fans scratching their heads I’ll fill in the blanks. When the 1701-D was destroyed in Generations they knew that the next ship was to be the 1701-E. The Effects guys changed the number on the Saucer just before they packed it away for the last time. This was probably done as a joke or maybe because they fully expected the Enterprise E to be Galaxy class.
Departmental Briefing – Production. This 17-minute piece covers the production design on the second season. The main focus for the first 5-minutes is Q-Who where the Borg are first seen. This is followed by a piece on Ten Forward, it’s creation and genesis. The section on writing is the most interesting even though it is the shortest. Here it is explained how in a season the producers sit down and decide on how a character will develop over the season before any writers have even worked on a script. This way the character arcs can be gradually built into different episodes.
Departmental Briefing - Memorable Moments. This piece, lasting 17-minutes, shows some memorable season 2 moments. This time it isn’t each cast member’s favourite moment. The format seems slightly more jumbled with each piece not being specifically linked to a cast or crewmember. Highlights are Marnie De Lancie’s appearance in Loud as a Whisper, The hand painted morph in The Dauphin and Mick Fleetwood appearing as a giant fish alien in Manhunt.
Criticisms? Well there aren’t any commentaries at all which is annoying and the episode trailers aren’t present which is an unfortunate oversight. The main criticism though is blindingly obvious in this season set. There is no negativity at all, no mention of production problems or turmoil. As a result we don’t hear a word mentioned about the writer’s strike and we never know why there are only 22 episodes. They also carefully skate around the issue of the change in cast to bring in Pulaski and Gates McFadden doesn’t get a mention. I shall be interested to hear what they have to say about that in the season 3 set when McFadden returns. The sad fact is that whilst Star trek is a money making franchise we won’t get to hear a lot of the real stories behind the series. So these DVD sets carry a lot of information but don’t expect anything other than a squeaky clean veneer rather than a true picture.
The Region 2 release of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Two is pretty much as expected. No huge suprises waiting for you as you rip off the packaging. If you've already got the Region 2 release of the first season then this is of course the obvious choice, while if you've got the Region 1 release of the first season you may as well continue with Region 1 for the rest.
Good presentation of probably the weakest season of the series, so thumbs up.