Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Complete 2nd Season
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Complete 2nd Season
Review By: Staff
Star Trek: The Next Generation
- The Complete Second Season
As an avid Star Trek fan, it is sometimes difficult for me to be non-
biased regarding this show. I truly love almost every incarnation of the series, but this season fills me with mixed emotions. Perhaps this is biased due to my perspective now, looking back at the show as a whole. Season two of TNG has some truly amazing stories, but I have some reservations about giving it a glowing review. This is not to
say it isn't worth purchasing – some of the best moments of TNG are in this season – but if you will entertain an avid fan's musings on both its merits and detriment, I hope you will understand where I am coming from.
My main problem with season 2 is summed up in two words: Doctor Pulaski. The introduction of this character is done in a frankly unsatisfying way. We are told that Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) has gone off to do some sort of other Starfleet doctor's thing (specifics escape me) and that Dr. Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) is now settling in as Chief Medical Officer. Like many other fans, I felt completely perplexed as to the sudden departure of a character that I was developing an interest in. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) may have been given the axe, but at least she was given an actual death scene and an emotional goodbye. Beverly Crusher just seemed to
disappear, and with her son left on board, the improbability of this turn of events, in the context of the story and the character, left me feeling cheated and suspicious. As it turns out, Gates McFadden who played Dr. Crusher had some disagreements with executives about the development of her character and was released from her contract, paving the way for Diana Muldaur's character Dr. Pulaski. While this turn of events is not uncommon in Hollywood, I felt that, in the interests of the story, Dr. Crusher's departure felt ambiguous, cheap and far too abrupt. Pulaski's Muldaur would prove to be unpopular among fans and McFadden would eventually return to her role as
Crusher, picking up the storyline of the widowed-mother serving under
the command of the man responsible for her husband's death. Like many
other fans, I felt this plot thread to be one of the backbones of the show, not only in her relationship to Picard, but also for Picard's relationship to himself and those he commands. With Beverly and Wesley Crusher being the virtual personifications of his previous actions, and always in close proximity, they served to remind him of
the reprocussions of his command decisions. Needless to say, I was glad to see Gates McFadden return in Season 3.
Another issue I have with this season is also due to behind-the scenes issues. The season started off with a
While interesting in concept, it lacked something in story and character and was a lousy way to start a season. Several other episodes in this season were also unsatisfying, but two things in particular would make everything negative seem completely inconsequential. The first is the constant development and growth of
Data, and the second is the introduction of a new race of alien beings like none ever conceived in fiction – the Borg.
Data (Brent Spiner) is certainly the character that shines brightest this season.
As the android who longs to understand what it is to be human, he makes the viewer look inward and try to understand himself. Never has this been more apparent than in The Measure of a Man, an amazing examination of what defines Data, and more to the point what defines life. In a riveting hearing to determine whether he is sentient or merely circuitry, Data faces the possibility of having his rights as a person stripped away and being essentially sold to Starfleet as a prototype for a new race of androids to probably perform the most menial of tasks. His friends must rise to his defense and prove that he is much more than a computer and certainly not the property of any man or entity. This is perhaps Star Trek at its finest and it is a story that touches the hearts of anyone who is interested in the concept of man's own identity and his relationship to his fellows.
Data also gets a chance to dazzle in Elementary Dear Data where he
assumes the guise of Sherlock Holmes in a holodeck mystery, another opportunity for our beloved android to learn more complexities of human nature. As the star of the second season, Data's exploration of the human condition leads to his interest in humor in The Outrageous Okona, and a profound lack of confidence in Peak Performance. It would be impossible to list all of Data's highlights this season. Even in episodes where he is not the main focus, his character is always developing in some fundamental way, even when on the periphery of the main story.
New characters, like the before-mentioned Dr. Pulaski are introduced and familiar faces return as well. Our resident Klingon, Worf (Michael Dorn), now promoted to full Lieutenant and Security Chief, meets an old flame in The Emissary, the consequences of this encounter developing into a major story arc
Season 2 also introduces us to Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg. As the bartender of Ten Forward, the "bar"Â of the Enterprise, (a new set constructed for this season), she is a constant source of wit, wisdom and insight. Both Guinan and Ten Forward are wonderful additions to the show, expanding the notion and feeling of the Enterprise being not just a space ship but a community, crew members and their families traveling together in the stars.
But the major introduction this season is that of the Borg in Q Who. With the re-appearance of Q, played by John De Lancie, the Enterprise is flung to the far reaches of space and forced to encounter this race of cybornetic entities with one collective consciousness. As Picard soon realizes, he and his starship are no match for the Borg, who are technologically far more advanced, and driven by a hive-like instinct to attack, dissect and assimilate the technology of anything in their path. As Q states, "You can't outrun them. You can't destroy them. Even if you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming. They are relentless!"Â While not destroyed by the Borg, Picard realizes they are aware of his people, of his race, and prophetically states "They will be coming."Â Picard's realization and fear could not be more justified – the Borg will return in Season 3, and the Captain, his crew, and all of humanity will be forever changed.
All in all, Season 2 of TNG is not that bad. As I said before, I was very dissatisfied with the disappearance of Dr. Crusher, the character of Dr. Pulaski, and with the jumbled writing at the first half of the season. But all of this is overshadowed by the
introduction of Guinan, Ten Forward, the exploration of Data's identity, and the menacing coming-threat posed by the Borg. There
That pretty much wraps up the season summary, so onto the retail aspect of this review. Besides the stories, why should you buy this boxed set? Well, for one, there are some amazing interviews in the bonus features. Like the previous boxed set, there are several
special featurettes like Mission Overview: Year Two, with original interviews with Gene Rodenberry and cast members about the continuing story of TNG. Selected Crew Analysis: Year Two focuses on the development of characters with interviews of actors both returning
and new. Departmental Briefing: Year Two and Memorable Missions both expand on specific episodes with aspects from story to effects.
The most interesting special feature is Inside Starfleet Archives with a tour of Star Trek sets and props from the show. All of this stuff was probably sold at Christie's in October to some rich jerk in Iowa, so this boxed set is as close as you will get to this treasured jewels of nerd-dom. There are six discs in all, each
episode in 1.33.1 aspect ratio, optional subtitles and audio, including 5.1 surround.
Have Fun and See You in Season 3!
Season Grade: B
DVD Features Grade: A
Overall Grade: B+