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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Complete Second Season (1988-1989)

"You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far. The Romulans, the Klingons—they're nothing compared to what's waiting. Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine and terrors to freeze your soul."
- Q (John de Lancie)

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: June 26, 2002

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner
Other Stars: Diana Muldaur, Wil Wheaton, John de Lancie, Michael Dorn, Whoopie Goldberg, Mirina Sirtis
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild sci-fi violence)
Run Time: Approx. 1000 min.
Release Date: May 07, 2002
UPC: 097361569048
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BA- B

DVD Review

After the breakout success of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show's crew was determined to push themselves creatively and artistically beyond anything they had done before. The show's first year struggled with finding the proper tone, the right chemistry between the characters. With 26 episodes of practice, a higher budget, a few changes to the cast, and some new locations around the Enterprise, it finally feels like everything is truly beginning to gel. TNG's second season is generally regarded as one of the weakest, marred by some poor scripts and cut short by a writers' strike that reduced the number of episodes by four. But upon reflection, it's still every bit as entertaining as the much-admired seasons that followed. True, there are the occasional clunkers, but every series has episodes that don't quite work. TNG year two is remarkably consistent, presenting new ideas with each show, slowly expanding our understanding of the characters, revealing new facets of personalities that once seemed one-dimensional.

It helps that a conscious effort was made to give the writers more freedom to explore their creations' personal lives. A new addition to the ship, an officers' lounge known as Ten Forward (deck ten, at the edge of the saucer section), provided a venue for the characters to interact while off-duty. The bartender, Guinan, provided a much-needed sense of levity (it always helps when your comic relief is an Academy Award® winning actress, and Whoopie Goldberg is seamlessly inserted as a semi-regular character). Gene Roddenberry himself admitted that he had envisioned Riker as too serious, and with the growth of his beard, Jonathan Frakes transforms his character from a stodgy bore into the galaxy's most charismatic commander, unable to stand without striking a pose, unable to walk without a self-assured swagger.

Gates McFadden left the show at the end of the first season, and her Dr. Crusher is sorely missed. But that character, and her hinted-at relationship with Picard, is replaced by one nearly as appealing, as Diana Muldaur joins the crew as Dr. Kate Pulaski. Pulaski is every bit as strong a character as Crusher, but she is more straightforward, more willing to speak her mind. It doesn't matter than she's an obvious clone of the original Trek's Dr. McCoy (Deforest Kelley), with her mistrust of technology and her sparring with a logical being (Data)—she's still a worthwhile replacement for the much-loved Beverly.

At the center of it all is Patrick Stewart as Picard, the consummate captain, the focal point of a large, vibrant ensemble. Despite changes in the cast or failed experiments by the writers, Captain Picard remains, at his core, the essence of Star Trek. He's an explorer, a historian, a philosopher and thinker. He represents humanity at its best, operating with a clarity of purpose and an integrity to which we can all aspire. Star Trek: The Next Generation, season two included, has always been about the expansion of consciousness, about a journey of discovery, and Picard makes an excellent guide.

This set contains all 22 episodes of season two on six DVDs.

Disc One:

Episode 1: The Child
Stardate: 42073.1

"Counselor Troi is... pregnant."- Picard

After a whole season spent doing little more than sensing "pain... great...suffering," Counselor Troi finally gets an episode of her very own. A strange anomaly passes through the Enterprise and makes its way to Deanna's quarters. The next morning, she wakes up pregnant. The ship's new doctor gets a workout when she has to deliver the baby after only a few days due to its rapid growth rate. However, the unexplained brillo-headed child's presence may be having adverse, potentially deadly effects on the rest of the Enterprise. An ok start to the second season, this one is noteworthy as an abandoned plot from the aborted 1970s series Star Trek: Phase II, and the fact that apparently no one on the ship has anything better to do than to watch Troi give birth.

Troi squirts out a healthy baby boy and 2.5 comm badges out of 5.

Episode 2: Where Silence Has Lease
Stardate: 42193.6

"Captain, the most elementary and valued statement in science, the beginning of wisdom, is 'I do not know.' I do not know what that is, sir."- Data

A 'bottle show' is a nickname for an episode of TNG in which the crew stays onboard the Enterprise for the duration, dealing with some anomaly that, more often than not, threatens to destroy the ship. Sometimes these episodes are worthwhile (like the season five episode Cause and Effect), but sometimes they are tedious and unimaginative. This episode is a bottle show of the worst kind. The Enterprise becomes trapped in a sort of intergalactic Bermuda Triangle, with no apparent beginning or end. It soon becomes clear that some sort of intelligent entity is merely toying with the ship, treating it as a curiosity, an experiment. And it has no qualms about killing members of the crew to satisfy its questions about death. At one point, Wesley leaves his station at the bridge just long enough for his red-shirted replacement to be killed in his place. For most of the episode, the Enterprise simply cruises around in the space bubble, looking for a way out, and as Geordi and Wesley spout a bunch of techno-babble about how they can modify this or that and escape. Sigh. At least Wesley isn't always saving the day this season.

If silence really has lease, then why won't Wesley shut up? 2 comm badges.

Episode 3: Elementary, Dear Data
Stardate: 42286.3

"Your artificial friend has no chance of solving a Holmes mystery he hasn't read."- Pulaski

I love holodeck episodes. I think that the device is one of the best things about TNG—it provides an opportunity for the characters to let their hair down a bit, to reveal what they are like when not on duty. Picard's attraction to the pulp character Dixon Hill, for example, adds wonderful colors to his sometimes stuffy persona. Data, it seems, has a similar affection for Sherlock Holmes, and when Pulaski claims that Data is incapable of the independent thought and creativity required to solve a Holmes mystery he hasn't read, Geordi asks the computer to design just that. He speaks wrongly, though, asking for a villain that could defeat not Holmes, but Data himself. Somehow, the computer is able to create a true holographic equal for Data in Professor Moriarty, a being that recognizes its existence and does not act simply as a character in a simulation. After kidnapping Pulaski, Moriarty begins to discover ways to control the Enterprise from the holodeck, in his ignorance endangering the entire ship. The conceit that a hologram can gain a type of artificial intelligence is an intriguing one (after all, Data is a similar sort of artificial life form), and Moriarty's situation is a poignant one, as he is unable to ever leave the confines of a holodeck. A great episode all around.

Moriarty is a smarty, but Data is greata. 4.5 comm badges.

Episode 4: The Outrageous Okona
Stardate: 42402.7

"So, if you put funny teeth in your mouth, and jump around like an idiot, that is considered funny?" - Data

Argh. This episode is just really stupid. It barely even feels like Trek. The Enterprise encounters the damaged ship of Capt. Okona (William Campbell), a cocky, self-assured pilot who wants to be Han Solo so bad, spouting off about how carefree and adventurous he is. Two alien ships approach, both captains claiming the right to arrest Okona, one for impregnating his daughter, the other for stealing a rare jewel. Meanwhile, Data's "humanity project of the week" is humor. He talks with Guinan about his wishes to understand laughter, but her attempts to explain it are unsuccessful, so he visits the holodeck to be coached by a real comic. Joe Piscipo guest stars, and if Data wanted to be funny, I believe he's getting off on the wrong foot. This episode is truly insufferable all the way through, with a downright embarrassing conclusion, and no sense of drama or pacing (it doesn't help that the two races asking for Okona have no weapons systems capable of challenging the Enterprise). But it is revealed that Data gives good Jerry Lewis.

I'm all for the title's alliteration, but I would've called it "The Swarthy Smuggler." 1.5 comm badges.

Disc Two:

Episode 5: Loud as a Whisper
Stardate: 42477.2

"Our mediator is very self-assured. We'll know soon enough if he can deliver." - Riker

The Enterprise is ordered to transport a mediator to negotiate a truce between two warring alien races. The man, Riva (Howie Seago) has a unique was of communicating—he is a deaf mute, but he is able to "speak" through a telepathic link with three interpreters, who act as his chorus. Troi finds herself strangely drawn to him, savoring the telepathic link they share (it seems he is interested in her as well, as the only one of his chorus that even talks to her is libido-guy, which is kinda creepy). But when a trigger-happy delegate during the negations kills Riva's chorus, he has to rethink the way he experiences the world, and quickly if he wants to stop an all-out war. Howie Seago, who plays Riva, is deaf in real life, which adds gravity to his performance, but even that cannot redeem the labored writing and poorly developed attraction between Troi and the negotiator. What could've been an interesting episode is instead simply average; far too preachy and moralizing to be entertaining.

If some guy's libido kept talking to you, wouldn't you be a little squicked out? 2 comm badges.

Episode 6: The Schizoid Man
Stardate: 42437.5

"I am many things. Scholar, artist, philosopher, lover... genius." - Data

The Enterprise answers a distress call from a science station where a famed researcher, Dr. Ira Graves (W. Morgan Sheppard) is reported ill. He has been working for some time on a way to transfer his personality into a computer, as a way to preserve himself after death, so naturally he sees Data as an excellent opportunity for a test. The great Brent Spiner gets to show off a bit here as Graves begins to take over Data's functions. He exhibits jealousy as Picard interacts with Graves' female assistant, and even begins to hurt other crewmembers, unable to fully control himself. A rather uninspired premise is elevated by the emotional resonance of Graves' predicament—a man who has suffered from a debilitating disease for years finally gets a new chance at life—and the conclusion is surprisingly emotional.

Data, you so crazy. 3.5 comm badges.

Episode 7: Unnatural Selection
Stardate: 42494.8

Riker: Looks like they had a battle with time.
Worf: And lost.

The Enterprise finds a ship floating dead in space, its crew dead of apparent natural causes—the effects look like extreme old age, despite the fact that most of the crew members were much younger. Following clues in the ship's log, the Enterprise travels to a genetics research colony, where scientists are working to create the perfect human, one not susceptible to disease and sickness. But the scientists are suffering from the same rapid aging, forcing the Enterprise to quarantine the planet. The colonists ask that their genetically engineered "children," who have been in isolation since the plague began, be saved. Pulaski suggests that she examine one of the children on a shuttlecraft, away from the Enterprise, and she too begins to age rapidly. The Enterprise must figure out a way to reverse the effects before Pulaski, and the rest of the colonists, wither and die. The plot is entirely predictable, a little dull, and the mumbo-jumbo transporter conclusion implausible, but it is nice to see Pulaski getting some significant screen time. Muldaur is an appealing actress, even under pounds of old-age makeup, and she does a fine job with her key emotional scenes.

Damn kids today, always leaving the TV on and giving you genetic diseases. 3 comm badges, and no supper tonight!

Episode 8: A Matter of Honor
Stardate: 42506.5

"I have been aboard the Pagh for a short time, but long enough to be impressed with the abilities and single-mindedness of the Klingons." - Riker

The Enterprise takes part in an officer-exchange program, bringing onboard Ensign Mendon (John Putch), a member of a race that operates its starships quite differently than the Federation, while Riker becomes the first human ever to serve on a Klingon ship. When a space parasite begins to eat away at both ships, the Klingons mistake their invasion for an attack by the Enterprise. Riker's loyalties are tested as he is bound both by his oaths to Starfleet and his orders to participate fully as a member of the Klingon crew. The scenes of Riker interacting with the Klingon crew are amusing (especially his attempts to consume the warrior race's rather unusual cuisine), and the final confrontation between the two ships is surprisingly tense.

Take my Riker, please. 4 comm badges.

Disc Three:

Episode 9: Measure of a Man
Stardate: 42523.7

"Data is a toaster." - Capt. Louvois (Amanda McBroom)

Season two might be remembered as one of the series' weakest, but it includes this, perhaps one of the best episodes of the entire seven season run. When the Enterprise stops at a starbase to pick up new crewman, Picard runs into an old adversary—Capt. Phillipa Louvois, who was the prosecutor at his court martial case years before. She informs him that Data is to be turned over to Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy), a cybernetics expert who plans to disassemble him and find out how to create more similar beings. Data understandably objects, as the procedure will rob him of years of memories and experiences, even though he will technically continue to exist. Picard challenges Maddox's right to perform such an experiment, and what follows is a remarkably thought-provoking trial that delves into issues of humanity, consciousness, and what it means to have a soul. In a particularly effective scene, Guinan compares the potential treatment of an army of Datas, a race of "disposable people," to slavery. Acting is strong all around, with Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes (who is forced to act as prosecutor in the case, against his wishes) giving particularly impressive performance, and the script is easily the finest seen on Star Trek since City on the Edge of Forever.

I don't object to anything in this episode. 5 comm badges.

Episode 10: The Dauphin
Stardate: 42568.8

"It's this girl they beamed up, Geordi. She's perfect." - Wesley

OK, writers. I'm no Wesley hater, heck, I can even tolerate an entire Wesley-centric episode once in a while. But a Wesley-centric episode about Wesley's love life? That's just too much. But I must shoulder on. Sigh. Wesley becomes enamored with an alien princess who is traveling on the Enterprise en route to her world, where she will become the leader of her civilization. She too is intrigued by the boy, who lives a life she has never imagined, free to choose his own path. Wesley, however, was probably not expecting some of her more unique characteristics, such as her ability to shape shift into big hairy monsters. The entire hidden-love-of-Wes plot is bad enough, but the endless scene of Riker and Guinan giving advice to the lovelorn is liable to cause eye-rolling related injuries.

My rating for an episode drops in direct correlation to the number of times Wesley is shown getting his mack on. 2 comm badges.

Episode 11: Contagion
Stardate: 42609.1

"The Yomato's entire crew and their families, over 1000 lives, have been lost."- Picard

This episode begins with one of the most effective images of the season, as the Enterprise's sister ship, the Yomato, explodes dramatically onscreen, killing all on board, after the Enterprise answers its distress call. It seems the ship, which had violated the Neutral Zone between the Federation and Romulan territories, was investigating the home world of an ancient alien race rumored to have possessed powerful weapons far more advanced than phasers and photon torpedoes, when their ship began to fail. After downloading the Yamato logs, the Enterprise too begins to experience systems failure. The situation is complicated by the approach of a Romulan ship intent on claiming the planet for the Empire. Finally, the Romulans make an effective return after season one's The Neutral Zone, proving themselves the bad-asses of the Alpha Quadrant. Also interesting are scenes where Picard and Data race the clock to decipher the alien technology remaining on the planet while the Enterprise continues to fall apart in orbit. Picard orders "Tea, Earl Grey, hot" for the one and only time this season.

My ratings also increase in direct correlation to the number of times a Romulan ship decloaks onscreen. 3.5 comm badges.

Episode 12: The Royale
Stardate: 42625.4

"What kind of 'bidness' do you suppose he is getting down to?" - Data

This episode is generally regarded by fans as one of the season's worst. I say, what do fans know? True, the premise of this one may be implausible, but it's all in good fun. The Enterprise beams is investigating a hostile planet when they beam up an unusual piece of wreckage—a piece of the hull from an American NASA vessel from the mid-21st century. Upon further investigation, the crew discovers a small pocket of breathable air surround by some sort of force field. Beaming down to investigate, Riker, Data, and Worf find themselves in an exact recreation of the Hotel Royale, a casino taken straight out of the pages of a pulp novel. It seems that the building was created by an alien race as a holding pen for an astronaut from Earth, as it was their understanding of an ideal environment for an earthling (having found the titular novel among his possessions). The away team is amused with the gamblers and intrigue until they discover that they cannot leave until the story has run its course. I admit, it's an oddball premise, and some of the interactions with the hotel residents, including a rowdy Texan gambler (Noble Willingham), are cheesy, but it's fun to see the crew out of their element. I especially love the scenes of Data shooting craps ("Baby needs a new pair of shoes.").

Good thing the guy wasn't carrying a copy of Watership Down, because I doubt even Data speaks Lapine. Although the visual picture is amusing. 3.5 comm badges.

Disc Four:

Episode 13: Time Squared
Stardate: 42679.2

"I have just witnessed the total destruction of the USS Enterprise, with the loss of all hands save one—me." - Picard

In the first of many episodes focusing on some sort of temporal distortion, the Enterprise crew is shocked to pick up a shuttle craft, floating dead in space, that happens to be identical to one sitting in their cargo bay, and even more shocked when the contents of the shuttle turns out to be a duplicate of Picard from six hours in the future. The alterna-captain is unconscious, but by studying the craft's logs, the Enterprise crew soon discovers that their ship will be destroyed in a matter of hours if they don't figure out how to defeat the time loop. There's little explanation for the strange phenomena throughout, and the ending comes a little too easily, but Patrick Stewart does a great job acting against himself, and Picard's insecurities and fear at perhaps abandoning and losing his ship is very effective. But man, the Enterprise sure seems to wander right into these anomaly things, huh? First Where Silence Has Lease, now this. Why even risk space travel at all?

Two Picards equals every female Trek fan's fantasy. And 4 comm badges.

Episode 14: The Icarus Factor
Stardate: 42686.4

"Dad?" - Riker

This is a rather unusual show in that there is no real plot, no threat to the Enterprise that must be defeated and no anomaly that must be explored. Rather, the episode is primarily a character study. The foci are Worf and Riker. Worf is upset that he is so far from the Klingon home world on the anniversary of his Day of Ascension, so Wesley arranges a little holodeck get together for him. Meanwhile, Riker is offered command of his own vessel, but his decisions are clouded by the arrival of his father, whom he has not seem in 15 years. The rivalry between the two feels genuine, and the conflict adds a welcome bit of insight into what motivates the commander. Pulaski is expanded a bit too by the revelation that, not only was she married to Kyle Riker, but also two other times. I guess that gruff bedside manner doesn't help in a relationship. It's unusual for Trek to focus so much on characters over action, and though the episode is a bit slow-moving (and culminates too-quickly with a clichéd and goofy-looking fencing contest between Riker and his dad), it's still worth a look.

I wish they settled their differences by beating each other with sticks on Full House. 3 comm badges.

Episode 15: Pen Pals

"Data, all communication with this life form must cease." - Picard

Season one was all about the Prime Directive, and I suppose the writers just hadn't gotten it out of their systems quite yet. Sigh. While the Enterprise is investigating unstable geological activity on a number of planets in an undeveloped system, Data makes contact with a primitive being on one of the planets facing destruction. Picard orders him to break contact with the girl, citing Starfleet regulations, but Data doesn't see the point in allowing a race to die out. Aside from the stale premise, Data acts totally out of character throughout, reacting illogically, emotionally, and with little relation to his usual analytical self. Also, dweeby kids packed into molded latex are never a good thing when it comes to Star Trek.

Dear Rick Berman: This episode sucks. 1 comm badge.

Episode 16: Q Who?
Stardate: 42761.3

"My people encountered them a century ago. They destroyed our cities. Scattered my people throughout the galaxy. They're called the Borg. Protect yourself, Captain. Or they'll destroy you." - Guinan

Episodes featuring the villainous super being Q (John de Lancie) are always worth watching, and this one is no exception. In fact, it's one of the season's best, and one of the most important in the series, as it introduces the adversaries that came to define TNG: the Borg. Q, breaking the promise he made in season one's Hide and Q, once again bothers the Enterprise crew. He questions their right to explore the galaxy, transporting them across the galaxy and into the path of a Borg vessel. Guinan, whose race was nearly destroyed by the Borg, has chilling words for Picard about their ruthlessness. The Enterprise is faced with assimilation by the hive-minded creatures unless Picard can reason with Q. Some nice touches here include the rivalry between Guinan and Q, and of course, the very effective introduction of the Borg. The race was originally envisioned as a hive of insects, but I think the cube ship and cyborg drones were the right way to go, don't you? Also of note is the introduction of Ensign "Wacky" Gomez (Lycia Naff), who comes dangerously close to exceeding Wesley on the annoyance meter.

Q, you rascal, always dooming the Enterprise crew to one death or another. 5 comm badges.

Disc Five:

Episode 17: Samaritan Snare
Stardate: 42779.1

"Can you make our ship go?" - Pakled

For some reason, this is the episode from this season that I find the most memorable, even though it is far from the finest Trek has to offer. Wesley leaves the Enterprise to go take Starfleet Academy tests, and Picard travels with him in a shuttlecraft for a refit of his artificial heart. Meanwhile, the ship receives a distress call from a race called the Pakleds, who seem too dim to operate a Ziploc bag, let alone a starship. Geordi beams over to fix their vessel, and they decide they like having him around and want to keep him, which becomes a problem when an emergency message indicates that Picard's surgery may fail without Pulaski's help. Key moments: Wesley and Picard's awkward trip to the starbase, the bridge crew's clever ruse to fool the Pakleds and get their officer back, and the dimwitted race's amusing fractured speech ("We are SMART.").

So a Pakled goes do the doctor and says, "Can you make me go?" and the doctor says, "Sure, just take two prunes and call me in the morning." Cough. 3 comm badges.

Episode 18: Up the Long Ladder
Stardate: 42823.2

Data: Mariposa. The Spanish word for butterfly.
Picard: Thank you, Data.
Data: I thought it might be significant, sir.
Picard: It doesn't appear to be, Data.
Data: No, sir.

This is probably one of the oddest episodes of the second season. The Enterprise makes contact with two long-lost Earth colonies that haven't been heard from in hundreds of years. One is descended from a group of Irishmen who shunned modern technology. They must leave their colony because of impending destruction by solar flares. The other colony, on a planet called Mariposa, took the opposite route, embracing technology and using cloning to survive. But the passage of centuries has degraded their DNA, and they need new material from the Enterprise crew to survive, and the crew isn't too happy about doing so. The first half-hour of the episode meanders through scenes of the Irish group feeding their livestock in one of the shuttle bays and ordering alcohol from the replicators, while the main plot about the cloners doesn't kick in until nearly a half-hour in. Picard's hissyfit over the animals pooping on his transporter pad is pretty funny though.

They should've called this episode "Goats in Space." 2 comm badges.

Episode 19: Manhunt
Stardate: 42859.2

"You remember Mr. Homn? I've retained his services despite the outlandishly lustful thoughts he spews in my direction." - Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett)

This episode mixes two of my favorite things about TNG: Picard's holodeck alter-ego Dixon Hill, and a visit from Troi's mother Lwaxana (played once again by a fiery Majel Barrett). The plot is pure fluff—the Enterprise has to transport her to a conference, where she will serve as ambassador along with two other guests on the ship, the fish-like Antedians, and en route, she hunts for a mate. It seems she is going through the "change" in a Betazoid female's life, when sexual drive increases four-fold ("Or more," says Deanna). There are lots of great comic moments—like Lwaxana lusting over first Picard, then Wesley, a holodeck character, and, most memorably, Worf; Worf's admiration of the Antedians ("A handsome race."), and Picard's dinner date with Lwaxana and a chatty Data—that more than make up for a lack of any real main storyline. Note the scene in which Mrs. Troi asks the computer for directions, as actress Majel Barrett is talking to herself (she provides the voice of the computer in every episode).

I can understand Picard, maybe Worf... but Wesley? C'mon, Lwaxana, you can do better than that. 4 comm badges.

Episode 20: The Emissary
Stardate: 42901.3

"Worf. So this is where you've been hiding. I told you we'd meet again." - K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plackson)

Finally, a really good Worf-centric episode! A half-human, half-Klingon ambassador, K'Ehleyr, boards the Enterprise, en route to a rendezvous with a Klingon vessel from the 23rd century. The crew of the ship has been in stasis for a hundred years, and it is feared that they will wreak havoc on Federation worlds, unaware that the war is over. Worf and the ambassador have a past*#8212they were once intimate—and he is uncomfortable around her. K'Ehleyr, meanwhile is conflicted, trying to control both her feelings for Worf and her Klingon anger and violent tendencies. Worf's character is greatly developed by this glimpse into his past, and a fight with K'Ehleyr on the holodeck that turns into hot Klingon lovemaking is pretty steamy for Star Trek. Of course, since Worf's annoying son Alexander was a direct result of this episode's coupling, I'm tempted to disregard it altogether.

I would've called it "Worf in Love." Or "How K'Ehleyr Got Her Grooved-Headed Man Back." 4 comm badges.

Disc Six:

Episode 21: Peak Performance
Stardate: 42923.4

"Only 21 percent of the time does he rely on traditional tactics, so the Captain must be prepared for unusual cunning. Counselor, Commander Riker will assume that we have made this analysis, and knowing that we know his methods, he will alter them. But knowing that he knows that we know that he knows, he might choose to return to his usual pattern." - Data

Sima Kolrami (Roy Brocksmith), a member of a race of legendary tactical geniuses, boards the Enterprise to conduct a war game that will pit the vessel and Capt. Picard against Riker in an aged, broken-down ship. Kolrami makes his bid for the most annoying guest star ever, ridiculing Riker on his command tactics and generally irritating the entire crew, especially when he beats Data at a game of Stratagema (causing the Commander to doubt his abilities). Riker has some tricks up his sleeve for the war games, and his skills truly shine when the battle becomes a real fight with an intruding Ferengi vessel. This is a remarkably satisfying episode all around, humorous and creative, with a great concept that allows the characters to shine through despite a standard battle situation.

I like that Riker kid. He's got moxie. 4 comm badges.

Episode 22: Shades of Grey
Stardate: 42976.1

"Is there nothing that will cure this infection?" - Picard

Not much to say about this one, because not much happens. Riker, on an away mission, is infected by a strange micro-organism that attacks his mind, causing him to slip into a coma, a REM-like state in which he hallucinates scenes from the previous two seasons of the series, while Pulaski races to save him. The fact that this episode was likely a necessary evil due to the writer's strike is no excuse. Convient that the infection causes Riker to flash back to his memories from our point of view rather than his own. And the glimpses of the commander pre-beard were painful and unnecessary.

You know your series is a success once you have a clip show under your belt. 1 comm badge.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is equal to that on the first season set, which is to say, the material looks good (better than most broadcasts, I'd wager), but not outstanding. The problem is the source material, as TNG was shot on film but the effects shots were mastered on video (thus necessitating the use of video source material). Colors generally look good, if a little dull, and blacks are not as rich as they would be in a film presentation. Effects shots have a tendency to look overly grainy or pixelized (which I suspect has something to do with the increased clarity of DVD). Still, considering the source material, this set provides a more than adequate transfer that, while not stunning, will not pull you out of the episode at hand.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The remixed 5.1 audio tracks for TNG nearly put the video transfers to shame. It's hard to believe that the audio is coming from a series that was mixed in stereo nearly 15 years ago. Dialogue is clean and clear and anchored in the center channel. Though the front soundstage carries most of the major audio elements (including the effects, with frequent directionality and panning, and the nicely spread out score), but the surrounds certainly make their presence known with added atmosphere and support during action scenes. A pretty good remix, really.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 176 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The extras package for season two is comparable to what was included one season one. That is to say, it's all housed on the last disc in the collection and consists of several featurettes on various aspects of the series' production. Where as season one included only four featurettes, however, season two includes five, all of them very interesting and informative, even for die-hard Trekkers.

First up is Mission Overview: Year Two, which runs just under 15 minutes. As on the first set, this piece provides a basic summary of the events that occurred both in and around the series at the time the second season was being produced. Interviews are featured with many from the cast and crew, and such issues are discussed as the series' breakout success during the first season and how it affected the actors, and what changes occurred in the casting, including the ol' doctor-switch-a-roo that has mystified me for so many years. Some clips of Diana Muldaur as she appeared when filming scenes for the original Trek reveal that she was a total dish. Also discussed is the conception and creation of the Ten Forward set (one of the best additions to the series, even if it did eventually lead to Neelix on Voyager).

Selected Crew Analysis runs 14 minutes and includes comments from Patrick Stewart, Levar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Wil Wheaton, Mirina Sirtis, and Diana Muldaur. Each discusses their interpretations of the characters and discusses some of the changes they dealt with in season two. Interspersed throughout are comments from Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman, offering their own thoughts on their goals for the characters in the second season. Such as, Riker loosened up and got a beard. Also, a young Wil Wheaton proves he deserves his geekified reputation by proclaiming himself "totally stoked" to be working with Whoopie Goldberg.

Inside Starfleet Archives is a 17-minute piece on the extensive collection of Trek props and set pieces that Paramount has collected over the years and over the course of five television series and ten movies. Star Trek Coordinator Penny Juday takes us through the storage warehouses, showing off a few favorite pieces from the collection and offering fans a glimpse at a whole mountain of Trek history. Of all the featurettes on this set, this one is my favorite, if only because it truly offers something that I have never seen before.

Departmental Briefing is another 17-minute piece, and this time the subject matter concerns the various production issues that arose throughout season two. Specifically discussed are the creation of the Borg in terms of design, sets, and special effects, the overarching themes in writing the scripts for the year, the creation of costumes for Whoopie Goldberg (aka Officer Big-Hats) and other various alien races, and alterations to the existing Starfleet uniforms, and finally some comments from the production designers and the music composers. These segments are all fairly brief, but it is really nice to get a glimpse at some of the work that goes into creating items that only flash onscreen for a number of seconds. Especially oogy is a discussion of the creation of a Klingon banquet out of various animal organs and toes and such.

Finally, Memorable Missions features interviews with various cast and crew members discussing their favorite episodes from the second season. It's an engaging 16-minute piece that features quite a bit of humor from the cast, particularly John de Lancie and his wife Marnie (who played one of the "Greek chorus" in Loud as a Whisper), as the two discuss their four-year-old son's reaction to seeing his mom die onscreen.

All in all, this set of mini-documentaries runs well over an hour an offers quite a bit on insight into year two of everyone's favorite 24th century adventure.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Though the second season isn't the best that Star Trek TNG has to offer (that comes in the next box-set), it's good Trek and great fun. I once again commend Paramount for releasing such high-quality product at such a rapid pace. I look forward to completing my collection and quitting that second job.


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