Star Trek: The Next Generation appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. As was the case with Season One, the visuals looked quite good.
Sharpness came across well. A little softness appeared at times, but that was usually due to the source. In particular, some effects shots – like in front of the Bridge viewscreen – could be a bit tentative. Nonetheless, the majority of the episodes appeared well-defined, and the shows lacked issues with shimmering or jaggies. Edge haloes were minimal, as were print flaws; I saw a few small specks but nothing more.
Colors worked nicely. The series opted for a fairly warm palette, and the hues came across as well-developed. Blacks tended to be dark and rich, and shadows were clear and well-defined. This was a pleasing presentation.
The audio for Season Two continued the solid DTS-HD MA 7.1 sound heard during the first year. The soundfields of the various shows seemed very engaging. The forward spectrum dominated, and it offered fine stereo imaging for the music as well as a strong sense of atmosphere. The front speakers provided a clear and vivid environment, and various elements like ships and phaser fire panned cleanly across the channels. Planet environments often came across nicely, as they offered lively and engaging audio.
For the most part, the surrounds offered general support of the front speakers. They showed some split-channel material at times. This occurred mainly via ship fly-bys, as crafts passed cleanly from front to rear. Otherwise, the surrounds mostly gave us a good sense of environment, and they also added musical support. The 7.1 remixes didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they opened up the tracks nicely.
Audio quality seemed quite good for its age. At times speech came across as somewhat flat and thin, but for the most part, the lines remained distinct and natural, and I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was nicely vivid and bright. I wasn’t wild about the synthesizer sound, but the quality of the music remained positive, as the score was consistently clear and bold.
Effects showed good clarity and accuracy, and they displayed very few signs of distortion. All elements provided very nice bass response, as low-end seemed deep and rich throughout the shows. All in all, I was very pleased with the audio of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2002 DVDs ? Audio was peppier and richer, while visuals were radically improved. The shows looked much more concise and also featured fewer flaws and more dynamic colors. This was a major step up in quality.
The Blu-ray reproduces the DVD’s extras and adds some new ones. Mission Overview: Year Two offers a pretty general look at the ways the show changed between Seasons One and Two. During this 14-minute and 43-second program, we get show clips, shots from the set, and interviews with executive producer/creator Gene Roddenberry, executive producer Rick Berman, co-executive producer Maurice Hurley, associate producer Peter Lauritson, and actors Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Diana Muldaur and Whoopi Goldberg. The interviews mix sources from 1988, 1994 and 2001; in a nice touch, the subtitles indicate the date of the material.
”Overview” does what its title indicates, as it provides a broad look at the variations seen during Season Two. This means we hear about the writers’ strike, Pulaski, Guinan and Ten Forward. The gang offer some general comments about the year as well. It seems moderately informative and entertaining, but it’s nothing special. (One fun bit: we learn that Muldaur played two separate roles on the Original Series, and we see short clips from those.)
After this we find four more mini-documentaries. All of them featured the same format and many of the same participants. Selected Crew Analysis runs 13 minutes, 46 seconds and includes comments from Roddenberry, Berman, Lauritson, and actors Patrick Stewart, Sirtis, Frakes, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and Muldaur. This show gives us a decent little look at the characters, especially the ways in which they grew between seasons. Of particular interest is the discussion by Sirtis of her fears that Troi would get the boot; we get some nice comments about “The Child”, a Troi-focused episode.
Inside Starfleet Archives gives us something different. This 17-minute, 33-second program concentrates totally on the official prop collection maintained by Penny Juday, the sole participant in the piece. Essentially she walks us through the warehouse and shows us a variety of materials. It’s a little flat at times, but it still shows some interesting pieces. Juday lacks much charisma, but she adds enough useful comments to make the show worth a look.
Departmental Briefing: Production gives us a good take on a number of technical issues. During the 17-minute, 32-second piece, we hear from Hurley, Lauritson, special effects supervisor Dan Curry, production designer Richard James, costume designer Durinda Rice Wood, and composer Dennis McCarthy. They cover a lot of issues, from the development of the Borg to the writing process to clothes and props. It’s revealing and entertaining.
For the last documentary, we discover Memorable Missions. This 16-minute, 33-second program concentrates on anecdotes that relate to specific episodes. It goes over seven of the 22 shows and includes interviews with Berman, Lauritson, Wood, Curry, property master Alan Sims, and actors Stewart, Michael Dorn, Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Marnie DeLancie, and John Tesh. We hear a lot of entertaining notes here, as we get details about a variety of elements. Obviously it lacks great coherence since it jumps from episode to episode, but it gives a reasonable amount of worthwhile and fun facts.
From there, we head to the Blu-ray’s new additions. We find audio commentaries for two episodes. “The Measure of a Man” includes notes from writer Melinda Snodgrass and scenic artists/Trek historians Mike and Denise Okuda, while “Q Who?” features the Okudas along with visual effects supervisor Dan Curry and director Rob Bowman.
For the “Measure” chat, we learn about some technical areas and changes for extended version but mostly hear from Snodgrass as she talks about the development of story, how she came to Trek and related topics. “Q Who?” focuses on Bowman’s work as director, cast and performances, and the visual effects.
The Okudas tend to act as moderators for the most part; they’re more active participants during “Measure”, but they usually facilitate and help guide Snodgrass. This works well, as both tracks deliver solid information. “Measure” ends up as the superior of the two, mainly because Snodgrass shows a willingness to criticize aspects of the Trek universe; she’s not nasty – she clearly loves Trek - but her honesty adds a dimension usually absent from commentaries.
Two episodes also offer Deleted Scenes. We get these for “The Icarus Factor” (one scene, 1:12) and “Up the Long Ladder” (four scenes, 8:02). The “Factor” sequence shows an interaction between Geordi/Data and Wesley, as the latter asks the former to cover for him. In “Ladder”, we see a bit more discussion/exposition, with one long segment that takes up most of the time; the second scene lasts nearly three minutes and delivers philosophical thoughts along with pipe-laying. An extended finale also appears. None of these tidbits add a lot, but fans will be happy to see them.
On Disc One, we discover Energized! Season Two Tech Update. In this seven-minute, 56-second featurette, we hear from Mike and Denise Okuda along with Dan Curry as they discuss some shifts from S1 to S2. They also look at bringing TNG up to snuff visually for the Blu-rays. Some of the info repeats from elsewhere, but we still get a good recap of the appropriate topics.
LeVar Burton appears in a Reading Rainbow Segment from 1988. It lasts 17 minutes, three seconds and connects to TNG beyond the actor’s appearance in both. After a modern intro from Burton, we go back to 1998 to see him take Reading Rainbow on a tour of the TNG set. Made for kids, it's all pretty basic and not likely to tell fans anything they don’t already know, but it’s still a cool archival piece, and the behind the scenes shots can be fun.
We also get an iTunes Promo for Reading Rainbow. Episodic Promos appear for all 22 of S2’s shows as well. Disc One provides an On-Air Season Two promo that lasts one minute, eight seconds.
Disc Two provides three different versions of The Measure of a Man. In addition to the standard broadcast cut (45:34), we get an “HD Extended Version” (57:35) and a “Hybrid Extended Version” (55:50). We learn that the episode’s “first cut” ran nearly an hour and was trimmed for broadcast length.
Both “HD” and “Hybrid” offer essentially the same show, but “HD” does so with much more panache. It comes with finished visual effects and dialogue in place of the rough elements found on “Hybrid”. The latter is cool to see as a historical curiosity, but fans will want to view “HD” as the much more satisfying presentation of this extended cut.
Indeed, the “HD” version blends old and new seamlessly. Fans familiar with the broadcast cut will recognize the changes, but I think it offers no clear shifts or signs of additions/changes. It’s a satisfying extension of the original story and it holds up with high quality reproduction.
Over on Disc Three, we locate a Gag Reel. It goes for 10 minutes, 30 seconds and displays the standard array of goofs and giggles. While most blooper packages bore me, these become a bit more entertaining due to the general seriousness of the series; it’s fun to see some goofiness behind the scenes.
Disc Five gives us Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation. This piece runs one hour, one minute, 53 seconds and brings us a “cast reunion”. Hosted by Free Enterprise director Robert Burnett, the show brings back Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton. They all sit together to discuss their casting/pre-Trek careers and the early days of the series, how the show impacted them, their interactions, various experiences over the years and general thoughts about the series.
One gets the impression that many of these stories have been told many times over many years, so “Reunification” seems unlikely to provide much new info for fans. Nonetheless, it’s cool to get the series’ main actors back together after all these years, especially since they interact in such a loose, warm manner. Those factors make this an enjoyable chat.
Finally, we locate the two-part Making It So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation. “Strange New Worlds” goes for 39 minutes, 28 seconds, and “New Life and New Civilizations” occupies 42 minutes, one second. Across these, we hear from Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, Rick Berman, Melinda Snodgrass, LeVar Burton, Peter Lauritson, Rob Bowman, Dan Curry, Gates McFadden, Enterprise writers/producers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, ST:TNG Companion author Larry Nemecek, pre-production associate Eric Stillwell, Official Star Trek Fan Club president/publisher Dan Madsen, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, writer/producer Ronald D. Moore, Free Enterprise producer Mark A. Altman, producer/director David Livingston, stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone, script supervisor Cosmo Genovese, visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore, and actor Diana Muldaur, John De Lancie, and Brian Thompson.
“So” examines the end of Season One and changes that led to S2, the series’ burgeoning popularity and its connection to fans, and growth in story/character realms. We also hear about the impact of the writers’ strike, thoughts about the abandoned Star Trek: Phase II from the 1970s and its adaptation for TNG S2, some episode specifics, cast alterations, the atmosphere on the set, stunts and effects, and general areas.
Expect a good variety of notes across “So”. We encounter a broad variety of participants and cover the expected mix of subjects in a brisk, involving way. Taken together, the two programs create a positive overview of S2.
Season Two of Star Trek: The Next Generation felt like a nice expansion on Season One. Though the quality of the episodes could be more erratic, I liked the shows as a whole and enjoyed the season. The Blu-ray gave us very good picture and audio along with an informative collection of bonus materials. This becomes a high-quality release.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - SEASON TWO