Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two (1967- 1968)
R1 - America - CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment Home Entertainment - Remastered Edition
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (29th September 2008).
The Show

(Note: Since this release is a follow up to “Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One (Combo format - Remastered)”, I’ll advise you to read my earlier review of “S1” HERE first. The review for “Season One” has more background and the basics of the series, guiding the reader into “Season Two”.)

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations - to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

At the start of the second season, the audience is expected to be quite familiar with the basic concept of “Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)”, since there are no history, re-caps or character introductions. First episode of the season, “Amok Time” gets to the heart of the series very quickly by setting the dramatic tone when Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) actually has to square off with his First Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the distant Vulcan planet. This is just one episode of many, but it’s what “Star Trek” is all about; intense drama, kid-friendly action, wild science fiction and technological inventions, strong loyalty and friendship, witty humor, hidden social commentary and of course those rich and inventive visual worlds, life forms and civilizations that the series created. Just like the creator/executive producer Gene Roddenberry originally imagined it. There is also some low budget, silly and campy aspects for sure, but always presented in a warm and lovable way. “Star Trek” has the word “vintage” written all over it, but that’s the way the fans like it.

Essentially, nothing has changed in the series' second season. In addition to Captain Kirk and Spock, Chief medical officer Dr. Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is “officially” part of the main trio, now also included at the opening credits. Other notable crew members are more or less the same; Chief Engineer Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan), Communications officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei) and occasionally also Head nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett). The only new addition is the young, Russian born Navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), who appears on the deck (and is often part of the “landing party”) right from the first episode. In 23rd Century space the starship “U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701” is a very multi-cultural place to be.

In this second season, the quality of the stories is usually kept very high and the crew gets the chance to visit many planets. There is a recurring theme; that the main characters are “stuck” on some distant planet (for some reason or another) and have to again use their wits (rather than phaser guns) to overcome the problem. While there are many “happy endings”, deaths still occur (mainly to the poor “security personnel”, who often accompany the main characters - they’re usually expendable) and the threads are often very serious (sometimes they could destroy not only our main characters, but the main ship itself or even the whole planet). The 26 episodes of the second season include the variety of different threads and oddities; odd Vulcan mating ceremony; powerful forces of energy (in the form of e.g. giant hand and energy fields); humanoid god; unpredictable and hostile robot (“thinking machine”); negative parallel universe with e.g. “agony booth”; “The Garden Of Eden” with poisonous plants, exploding rocks (!), humanoids and computer god; huge planet killer; spooky castle with witches and the black cat; androids worshipping the Captain Kirk’s “old foe” Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel); unknown entity called the “companion”; space spies; aging effects; cloud creature; furry “tribbles”; space amoeba; The Klingons and Romulans; telepathy, telekinesis and disease. Even murders occur, all the way to the gangsters, Romans and Nazis. Of course, the Earth itself is also visited. All this should keep the fans happy.

“Season Two” does a great job of uniting the three “main characters” of the show. Kirk, Spock and Bones now work even more closely than before, depending on each other in more ways than one. Their chemistry shines through from almost every episode and there’s also friendly bickering and dry humor involved. The other crewmembers do their best by supporting the trio and e.g. Chekov has a minor romance in a few episodes. The character of Chekov is not formally introduced in the series, but he gives minor hints to his origins throughout the series (“The place is even better than Leningrad!”). There’s also some occasional “hidden sexuality” in the series (clearly in e.g. “Catspaw”, where Kirk uses his masculinity for his own purposes and in “Mirror, Mirror”, where we see a very different side of Sulu - along with Uhura’s belly button). While the “action” isn’t the main focus with the series, some old-fashioned fistfights and even “Star Wars”-type space battles are included. This of course spices up the series.

The driving forces of the series are still the various conflicts and political undertones that occur in many episodes. During the series, the main characters find their strengths and weaknesses and from the aliens and life forms that they encounter. All these events shape their knowledge and understanding of the Galaxy and its inhabitants. Many times the episode can delve quite deep; war and peace; love and hate; good and bad; dark and light; right or wrong; optimism and pessimism; emotions and logic; Earth and Space… “Star Trek: The Original Series” throws many questions up in the air, while usually still reflecting that one basic thing from every single viewer; humanity. Moral and social issues were always part of the series and eventually that is what makes the series so special. The “Cold War”-era (which was often in the background with “TOS” in a subtle way) might be over, but by looking at the current state of the world, new similar era might not be that far away. We sure could use Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock now.

Like the “First Season”, this second season is now remastered. Instead of just re-mastering the old series (removing dirt and print scratches, correcting print damage, making the colors and black levels vivid and stable again, etc), some special effects, miniature shots, backgrounds and matte paintings are replaced - or at least tweaked, with the new CGI-effects. By the second season it’s quite obvious, that this bold and risky decision (considering the huge fan base) has paid off and the new effects blends in seamlessly. I don’t claim, that the fans have to ignore - let alone simply “forget” the original effects, but this is a fresh, alternate way to bring the series to the 2000’s (in terms of the look). I actually doubt, that any fan can really deny the sheer beauty of the series now with the new effects, even when I at the same time hoped that the original DVD-releases (with the original effects) stay in circulation. Fans should always have that opportunity to choose and there’s no need to make the fans to forget the real roots of the series. “Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two” was the child of the 1960’s and always will be.

The main upgrades include (info from the official Startrek.com-site);

*Space ship exteriors: The “U.S.S. Enterprise”, as well as other starships, are replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
*Show opening: The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence are redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.
*Galaxy shots: All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the viewscreen on the Enterprise's bridge, are redone.
*Exteriors: The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan “Bird of Prey” and Klingon “Battle Cruisers”) are updated.
*Background scenes: Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds have a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.
+ *The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally re-mastered version of William Shatner's classic original recording of the 38-word "Space, the final frontier..." monologue continues to open each episode.

Again, since there are so many sites (both fan and official) about the “The Original Series” and the whole ST-franchise, I’ll skip the episode synopsis. They can be found e.g. HERE (startrek.com) or HERE (IMDB), so make sure to check them out if you’re looking for more info about the individual episodes. “The original series” ran for three seasons on the NBC network, including 79 episodes (counting the 2-part “The Menagerie” as one and not including the unaired “first pilot” - “The Cage”). Note, that the episode “Preview Trailers” (short promo from the “next week” episode) are also included.

Episodes:
(Prod # - original Air Date - Episode title – Director - “Preview Trailer”)

Disc One:

*034 - 09.15.67 - Amok Time
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

* 033 - 09.22.67 - Who Mourns for Adonais?
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Two:

*037 - 09.29.67 - The Changeling
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

*039 - 10.06.67 - Mirror, Mirror
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

*038 - 10.13.67 - The Apple
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

*035 - 10.20.67 - The Doomsday Machine
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Three:

*030 - 10.27.67 - Catspaw
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

*041 - 11.03.67 - I, Mudd
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

*031 - 11.10.67- Metamorphosis
Dir: Ralph Senensky
+ Preview Trailer

*044 - 11.17.67 - Journey to Babel
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Four:

*032 - 12.01.67 - Friday's Child
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

*040 - 12.08.67 - The Deadly Years
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

*047 - 12.15.67 - Obsession
Dir: Ralph Senensky
+ Preview Trailer

*036 - 12.22.67 - Wolf in the Fold
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Five:

*042 - 12.29.67 - The Trouble With Tribbles
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Six:

*046 - 01.05.68 - The Gamesters of Triskelion
Dir: Gene Nelson
+ Preview Trailer

*049 - 01.12.68 - A Piece of the Action
Dir: James Komack
+ Preview Trailer

*048 - 01.19.68 - The Immunity Syndrome
Dir: Joseph Pevney
+ Preview Trailer

*045 - 02.02.68 - A Private Little War
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Seven:

*051 - 02.09.68 - Return to Tomorrow
Dir: Ralph Senensky
+ Preview Trailer

*052 - 02.16.68 - Patterns of Force
Dir: Vincent McEveety
+ Preview Trailer

*050 - 02.23.68 - By Any Other Name
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

*054 - 03.01.68 - The Omega Glory
Dir: Vincent McEveety
+ Preview Trailer

Disc Eight:

*053 - 03.08.68 - The Ultimate Computer
Dir: John Meredyth Lucas
+ Preview Trailer

*043 - 03.15.68 - Bread and Circuses
Dir: Ralph Senensky
+ Preview Trailer

* 055 - 03.29.68 - Assignment: Earth
Dir: Marc Daniels
+ Preview Trailer

Video

After watching the “Season One - Remastered Edition” from the sharp and vivid 1080p 24fps-source (HD DVD), I had some mixed feelings of going back to the “standard definition” (480p NTSC). Fortunately the series is just so good, that you tend to forget the softness and minor artifacts (perhaps some “noise” and compression issues) that you can see in the finer details (obviously some grain is also included, since the series was shot in film). Colors are solid, black levels deep enough, contrasts strong and since this is a “Remastered Edition”, everything is usually very clean and bright. You don’t get the “HD experience”, but as a “DVD experience” it does a fine job. Compared to the original DVD-releases, things have improved (meaning the general quality, not necessarily the updated effects and such, which undoubtedly divide the viewers), so it’s another aspect that it’s good to keep in mind.

It has to be added, that clearly some shots (here and there) are taken from the inferior source (they’re clean and everything, but not as strong as the majority of the footage) and with several close up shots of various women, so-called “soft focus” is probably used. With some sequences (with the original, vintage optical effects), there’s some additional softness because of that.

The season is presented in the OAR of 4:3 and the discs are region coded for R1.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps), Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks are included. Optional Spanish and French subtitles (very odd thing is, that there are no English or even English HoH subtitles) are also available, as well as English Closed Captions.

You can hear that the audio is more to the “vintage side”, a bit muffled and all that, but generally it’s clear and well balanced. 5.1-mix sounds very natural, adding some surround activity where it’s needed (action and battle scenes, space ship crossing the screen, etc), but still being faithful to the original Mono-mix in many ways. Dialogue is clear. I had great time with the series in audio wise, so no complains whatsoever. Theme song again sounds wonderful and crisp.

Extras

“Season Two - Remastered Edition” includes most of the extras from the original releases, but two "Text commentaries", four "Red Shirt Logs" (Easter Eggs) and Photo gallery are missing. Like the film, extras include French and Spanish subtitles (also the Audio commentary for “More Tribbles, More Troubles”). Extras are included in the discs “One”, “Five” and “Eight” (others include only the selected episodes and their “Preview Trailers”).

Disc One:

*”Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories - Part 2” -featurette (12:04 minutes) is a follow-up from “Season 1”-set. It’s basically the interview with actor Bill Blackburn, who mostly appeared in “The Original Series” as an uncredited extra. He often sat in the navigation seat, but he appeared in some episodes as a member of the planet search party or even as an “alien form”. You’ll hear his memories and anecdotes from the series and great inclusion includes his Super-8 “behind-the-scenes”-footage from the set (no audio, though). He has many warm memories and he calls the cast & crew almost like a family.

This particular featurette also focus on the costumes of the series and introduces certain episodes where Blackburn appeared in the “Season 2”; “Friday's Child”, “Amok Time”, “Return to Tomorrow” (playing the android), “Journey to Babel” (playing one of the pig-like aliens), “The Apple” (one of the natives in reddish-brown make-up), and “I, Mudd” (one of the androids in the planet). Reminiscence of the classic episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” already starts in this featurette, which is also one of Blackburn's favorite (since it’s rather funny). This featurette is NEW and the interview continues in the “Season Three”.

*”To Boldly Go… Season Two” -featurette (19:19 minutes) basically focuses on the selected episodes from “Season 2”, with the interviews from the cast, crew (producers, writers) and some scholars of the series. We still hear some general memories of the second season. First part of the featurette is dedicated to “The Trouble With Tribbles”-episode, which brought some comedy to the series. Actor George Takei (“Sulu”) tells how well he was prepared for the second season, but then the long shoot for “The Green Berets (1968)” forced him to miss some episodes. This gave more screen-time for the “newcomer” actor Walter Koenig (“Chekov”), “stealing” his moments (they were still good friends in off-camera). We also hear some history of the new Chekov-character.

Episodes “Journey to Babel” (the relationship between the parents and children), “Amok Time” (poetic, dramatic, intense and great writing) and “Mirror, Mirror” (the “negative universe” gave many new challenges for the cast) and “A Private Little War” (social commentary masked with sci-fi) gets some special attention. This featurette also reminds the viewer that “The Original Series” tackled some “issues of the day” and reflected the times, it wasn’t just silly entertainment. Science fiction gave opportunity to do that in the subtle way, since you couldn’t really do that directly back then (even when there was Cold War, Vietnam, racial issues, death of JFK and other turmoil going on in the country). “Star Trek” was about the humanity; we are all humans being together, so we have to learn how to work together.

*”Designing The Final Frontier" -featurette (22:15 minutes) does exactly what it promises, since we’ll hear from the art directors, set designers, set decorators and other crew about the sets, stages and props of “The Original Series” (also from “Season 1”). We also see some early sketches and plans. The series didn’t have that much money, so the art department had to be inventive and resourceful. Anything could be used (and was used), whether it was built from the proper material, quickly bought from the store or taken from the nearest dumpster. The crew usually worked on multiple episodes at the same time and many times the budget was cut down for various reasons. The art department also used various colors throughout the series, which then would stand out from the set. Some of the designs were later incorporated to the new TV-series and feature films (even when some of them were of course very low budget and silly - especially to the modern viewers).

*”Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana" -featurette (7:23 minutes) focus on the story editor/script consultant/writer D.C. Fontana, who was the essential part of “Trek”-legacy (she appears in most of the other featurettes also). She (her first name was “Dorothy”, but in “Star Trek” she was usually credited as “D.C.”) obviously talks about the writing of the series and says, that many times they developed the “culture” of the different species as they went along. There was some consistency (they just didn’t “forget” the earlier episodes), but things still evolved very quickly. Time was always running down and budget was tight also in the writing department.

*"Star Trek’s Favorite Moments" -featurette (16:58 minutes) is rather dull (and way too long) piece, where the actors & crew mainly from the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” share their memories of the series and talk about their favorite episodes. We also hear some comments from the fans and the people related to “TOS”. Note, that while the original R1-set some stores (e.g. "Best Buy") sold this featurette as a part of the bonus supplemental disc, it’s now included right from start.

Disc Five:

This disc is “dedicated” to the classic “The Trouble With Tribbles”-episode (042 - 12.29.67) from “TOS” and two of its the later incarnations. Do note, that all episodes and their extras have been released before.

*"Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1975)" -bonus episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles" (Season 1 - Episode 5 - 10.06.73 - 22001 - 24:12 minutes) is directed by Hal Sutherland and it includes also optional audio commentary by the episode writer David Gerrold. He also wrote the original “The Trouble With Tribbles”-episode on “Star Trek: TOS”. Audio commentary was originally released in the “Star Trek: The Animated Series” DVD set.

"More Tribbles, More Troubles" is in 4:3, with English Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Spanish and French subtitles are included.

*"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)" -bonus episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" (Season 5 - Episode 6 - 11.04.96 – 503 - 45:30 minutes) is directed by Jonathan West. No audio commentaries on this one.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is in 4:3, with English Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Spanish and French subtitles are included.

*"Trials And Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends" -featurette (17:02 minutes) tells about the 1996 tribute project, that blend the old “The Trouble With Tribbles”-episode from “TOS” to the “Trials and Tribble-ations"-episode from “Deep Space Nine”. By digital composing, the characters of the “DSN” interact with the characters of “TOS” and the costumes, sets, look and the feel follows the original series. This specific episode was made for the “30th anniversary” of “Star Trek” in mind and is the story that takes to another story - occasionally “touching” the original story from “TOS”.

*"Trials And Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor" -featurette (16:41 minutes) continues the subject, but this time it goes a bit deeper to the story, digital work, sets and model work. The crew had to dig up the original negatives back for the digital work and the “scene blending” was done partly by shooting the new actors in front of the blue screen (which was often tricky and where the timing was very precise). They also had to build a couple of new models for the shoot from the old designs (mainly “U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701”). Both of these “Trials And Tribble-ations” -featurettes were included in the “Season 5” DVD set of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, so the whole “Disc 5” feels a bit like a “filler” here to tell you the truth.

Disc Eight:

*"Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy" -featurette (11:49 minutes) introduces Mr. Nimoy’s main passion, photography. He talks about his hobby, tells about his latest project (called “life”) at the time of the interview and shows some of his earlier work (from “yoga exercises” to “eggshells”). He reveals how he wanted to be a professional photographer at some point, but since his interest was “fine art photography”, getting the decent paycheck for that profession wasn’t the easiest thing to do (so ultimately he stuck to acting). He introduces his personal darkroom (where he can have some “quiet” and “privacy”) and talks about his photographical book “Shekhina” (“First-ever monograph by Leonard Nimoy revealing his intrigue with scriptural mythology and ancient spirituality” - Umbrage Editions, 2005). It’s clear, that his interest in photography originates from his childhood. For more info and his photographs, please visit THIS site.

*"Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio" -featurette (6:57 minutes) tells about the unique chemistry of the most famous trio ever created to the TV-screen. We hear comments from the actors themselves (apart from DeForest Kelley, who sadly passed away in 1999) and other personnel connected to the series. This is more like homage to the trio than in-depth featurette.

*"Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols" -featurette (12:51 minutes) is an interview with the still lovely Nichols, where she talks about her character Uhura. We learn about the origins of the name, her occasional “singing”-habit and generally how Nichols “got the job” (she already met Gene Roddenberry during the short lived TV-series “The Lieutenant (1963-1964)”). Nichols states, that since she came from the musical theatre-background (singing and dancing), she wasn’t really a “film and TV actress”. She also talks about her latest project (at the time), a “one woman”-variety show (and proves that she is probably a very good in that by doing some ad-libbing).

The 8 discs are packaged in a plastic tray Digipack (opens like a “book”), with a cardboard slip-case. This is then housed in equally plastic “Clamshell” case. Although the package looks quite nice and compact, the decision hasn’t been ideal for shipping. The plastic tray (and perhaps the “Clamshell” case also) might brake quite easily. At least the dreaded “double-sided” discs are not used again (although there are no proper disc labels for some reason, though).

Overall

“Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two” is the real landmark of television and the whole science fiction-genre, so let’s keep this short; Get it. See it. Enjoy it. And then see it again. This “Remastered Edition” includes a new CGI facelift, which might not please all the older fans, but generally the results are very seamless, natural looking and pleasing. I don’t dare to say the old Lucas-ish saying, that visually “Star Trek finally looks like how Gene Roddenberry probably envisioned it”, but there might be some truth to that with “Star Trek: TOS”. Most extras from the older DVD sets are fortunately included, but the lack of the new extras was disappointing (especially after the great “Starfleet Access” -interactive interface from the earlier HD DVD-set). “Season 3”, here I come!

The Show: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.