Blu-ray Review “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two”

Actors: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Spirtis
Number of discs: 5
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: December 4, 2012
Run Time: 998 minutes

Season Two: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” has become one of my favorite series, but only in the last few years. I got into it thanks to Netflix Instant. When I got a chance to review “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One” earlier this year, I was blown away by the way the episodes looked. Well it season two, I believe they went beyond and delivered a more impressive release (if that is possible). Season two also delivers the birth of the fan-favorite baddies, Borg. They are the best villains of the series! Resistance is futile! One of my favorite episodes of the series happen during season two: “The Measure of a Man”. Fans of the series are sure to do back flips for this release.  Also it is perfectly timed to be added to everyone’s Christmas lists and also nicely priced as well, compared to season one.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two” Blu-ray looks extremely impressive with it’s high definition transfer. The series is presented with its original broadcast 4×3 aspect ratio, which is perfect and expected. Like season one, this series contains improved special effects from the original camera negatives. If you are a fan of this series and know it well, you will have your mouth open experience these upgrades. The star of this release though has to be Season Two’s surround-sound pumping DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Obviously the soundtrack wasn’t made with that but I can’t help but get goosebumps when I hear that theme song in 7.1 sound. Of course for the hardcore Trekkies, there is also the original Stereo Surround audio included as well.

Official Premise: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two travels warp speed into the next realm of adventure. Under the leadership of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the Enterprise faces a season of new changes and big challenges. With Dr. Crusher on sabbatical, Chief Medical Officer Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) fills in. And Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) arrives as 10 Forward’s wise El-Aurian bartender. This voyage explores watershed moments, including Riker (Jonathan Frakes) experiencing the Klingon culture, Data (Brent Spiner) defending his humanity and the introduction of the Borg, a species of terrifying cybernetic conquerors threatening the fate of intelligent life.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” – Season Two has various special features spread out over all five discs. They are a nice improvement over season one.  To start each episodes contain their own “episodic promos”, which are an awesome retro look at the series.  Disc one extras start with an 1998 On-Air Season Two Promo, “Energized! Season Two Tech Update” is a chat with Dan Curry, Michael and Denise Okuda about release season two to high definition. Decent but I wish it was much longer. There is 1988 Star Trek-themed “Reading Rainbow” Segment with LeVar Burton, as well as a 2012 Reading Rainbow iTunes Promo with Burton showing off his new Reading Rainbow app. Lastly there is “Archival Mission Log: Departmental Briefing Year Two – Production”, which is a vintage featurette looking into a the “best of” from the filming of season two.

Disc Two brings various cuts of my favorite episode “The Measure of a Man”.  It includes an HD Extended Version, which runs 57:35 minutes from Editor Robert Lederman.  The extended cut includes thirteen minutes of new footage, which was recently turned up from Writer Melinda Snodgrass’ private VHS tape collectionand then reconstructed in high definition. Next, we have a Hybrid Extended Version for “The Measure of a Man” running at 55:50 minutes. This version of the episode that mixes up the broadcast footage in high definition and the rough VHS footage.  It is raw but still a cool look at the amazing episode.  Lastly, there is an amazing audio commentary track from Melinda Snodgrass, Michael and Denise Okuda as they discuss about the episode.

Disc Three consists of two “Archival Mission Logs” featurettes.  The first is “Inside Starfleet Archives: Penny Juday – Star Trek Coordinator”, which has her speaking about her role as the Star Trek archivist, with Star Trek Magazine and working on the film “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Next up is “Selected Crew Analysis – Year Two”, which features various cast/crew chatting about the show’s characters roles including Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton,  Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Wil Wheaton, Marina Sirtis, Diana Muldaur and Peter Lauritson.  Lastly there is a funny Gag Reel, presented in HD and runs about 10 minutes.

The star of Disc Four extra is the audio commentary track from Dan Curry, Rob Bowman, and Mike & Denise Okuda for the episode “Q Who?”.  Lastly, there is also another “Archival Mission Log” called “Departmental Analysis Year Two – Memorable Missions”.  It features interviews with cast and crew on the following episodes:  “Loud as a Whisper”, “The Icarus Factor”, “Up the Long Ladder”, “The Dauphin”, “Elementary, Dear Data”, “Manhunt”, and “The Measure of a Man”.

Disc Five has the best extras of any disc and also the best feature in the whole release, which is “Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation”, which runs just over an hour.  It is a awesome cast reunion with all of the primary cast members — Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Wil Wheaton.  It just makes me want to give them all a hug and re-watch the episodes again! “Make it So – Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation”. It consists of two parts, the first part 1 – “Strange New Worlds” and the second “New Life and New Civilizations”.  Each one runs about 40 minutes and is a look into the season’s best qualities and character in depth from cast, crew and others.  Lastly there is one more final “Archival Mission Log” called “Mission Overview – Year Two”, which is a look into Roddenberry’s plans for the future and reflection on the show’s success.

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