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STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES
Season Two

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig
Creator:  Gene Roddenberry
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  1307 Minutes
Release Date:  November 2, 2004

“Do you know what you get when you feed a tribble too much?”

“A fat tribble?”

Shows ****

To me, the single most significant aspect of the second season of Star Trek was adding DeForest Kelley’s name to the opening credits alongside William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.  It showed that the writers and creators had come to recognize the three way relationship between the three actors’ characters as a key dynamic in the Trek universe.  I’ve always thought of Mr. Spock (Nimoy) and Dr. McCoy (Kelley) as being like the two voices on either shoulder of Captain Kirk (Shatner).  The former represented cool logic and a straightforward, factual approach to duty.  The latter represented emotion, feeling, and gut reaction over logic.  Kirk reflected both sides, and as such, the essences of Spock and McCoy both made up the essence of the Captain.

Like its premiere season, which seemed to show no trouble getting out of the starting gate, the second year was filled with great moments and many memorable episodes.  The clear, unique vision of Gene Roddenberry married with some talented writers and crew members, and came to fruition with a great cast that made their characters as real to us as family.  It was the interrelation of all of the characters capped by the trio of main stars that allowed both drama and comedy to work with full function.

The second year saw plenty of both.  Fan favorites like “The Trouble With Tribbles” and the return of our favorite interstellar scoundrel in “I, Mudd” showed that Star Trek could be just as funny as it was fantastic.  Other episodes like “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and “The Apple” accentuated the fantasy.

The culture of Vulcan and Mr. Spock got further exploration in a couple of key episodes.  “Amok Time” brought the Enterprise and the viewing audience on their first trip to Vulcan so that Spock could placate a ritual mating urge.  “Journey to Babel” introduced Spock’s parents and gave us a first glimpse at our science officer’s life growing up, as well as bringing the great Mark Lenard into the fold as Sarek, who would be a recurring character in Trek lore for years until his demise somewhere in The Next Generation.

Some looks at Earth’s past are included, such as the fun “A Piece of the Action”, which finds Kirk and company on a planet that modeled itself after prohibition era gangster life in America, or “Bread and Circuses”, where ancient Rome (sort of ) came alive, or in one of the more striking episodes “Patterns of Force”, which showed a world patterned after Nazi Germany.

Other of the year’s best episodes include the popular “Mirror, Mirror”, where members of the Enterprise are transported to an alternate universe, where the Federation is a warmongering organization and where the Enterprise crew is comprised of savage versions of themselves.  “The Changeling” finds the ship at the mercy of a seemingly indestructible robot bent on “perfecting” things by destroying them.  “The Gamesters of Triskelion” is a good action packed episode that has Kirk fighting for his ship’s life, while “The Deadly Years” has Kirk, Spock and McCoy aging rapidly.

Perhaps the year’s most odd offering was the season finale, “Assignment: Earth”, which was actually designed to serve as a pilot for a new series Gene Roddenberry had in mind featuring a new character called Gary Seven.  It never grew into the new show he had hoped for, so as a singular Star Trek episode, it’s always felt a little strange and out of place to me.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot…the second season added a new crew member to the bridge:  the plucky young Russian Chekov (Koenig), originally introduced as a Davy Jones-like youth designed to appeal to a younger demographic.  It worked, but thankfully, Chekov quickly grew from a poster boy to an integral part of the Enterprise crew and a popular character with all Trekkies.

As well as the first two seasons went, it’s amazingly hard to believe in retrospect that the show only had one more year of life left.  Season Two proved that the formula that made Star Trek work was no fluke, and that with terrific, likeable characters and an imaginative creative staff, the skies were indeed the limit.

Video ***

Paramount continues to do an impressive job in preserving these classic shows for modern DVD audiences.  Season Two looks good, with bright colors, clear crisp images, and very little in the way of aging artifacts.  Some of the space shots look a little hazy, but that’s really the only complaint worth logging.

Audio **1/2

The 5.1 mixes continue to be welcome if not overwhelming.  I enjoy the little ambient touches here and there, but the soundboard wasn’t overworked to the point where the whole experience of Star Trek seems new.  Dialogue is still clean and clear and dynamic range minimal, but the overall effect is quite serviceable.

Features ***

In addition to episode trailers on each disc, the seventh DVD has all the featurettes for season two.  “To Boldly Go” is a look at how the second season unfolded, the new changes and ideas, and how a science fiction show managed to be topical with our own headlines from time to time.  “Life Beyond Trek” takes a new look at Leonard Nimoy, who discusses among other things his photography hobby.  “Kirk, Spock and Bones” looks at the dynamic between the three main characters.  The main featurettes are rounded off with “Designing the Final Frontier”.

Nichelle Nichols is focused on in “Star Trek’s Divine Diva”, while the great screenwriter D. C. Fontana is profiled in “Writer’s Notebook”.  There are also galleries for photos and production art, and a couple of Easter eggs that are easy to find.

Summary:

Star Trek fans can continue to rejoice as Paramount keeps rolling out the original series in complete season box sets, as we’ve always wanted them to be.  Season Two was a banner year for the show, and Trekkies can now experience it time and time again in the comforts of their living room with the episodes looking and sounding better than ever.

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