Back in the summer, Paramount released Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season One on Blu-ray -- and there was much rejoicing throughout the galaxy. Apparently, the set was so successful, the studio shifted into warp speed to deliver Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Two in time to stuff a few stockings. Needless to say, if you bothered to buy the first set, resistance is futile! Overall, this is is an excellent set that even the casual Trekkie should enjoy.
After a successful first season, TNG did a bit of retooling. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) was out and Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) was in. Also, the Enterprise picked up Whoopi Goldberg somewhere to work the ship's lounge area. However, cast changes were nothing compared to the 1988 writers' strike, which cut the season down to 20 original episodes. OK, fans actually got 22, but one script was picked up from 1978's abandoned Star Trek: Phase II and the other was "very special" clip show -- and by very special, I mean it's filled with clips of Riker (Jonathan Frakes) getting it on with intergalactic ladies.
The restoration work put into Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season One paid off immensely. Apparently, it was a huge undertaking, so CBS decided to split the work with HTV-Illuminate for Season Two. It's still beautiful -- just not as beautiful. Season One made your jaw drop, but this set just doesn't have that same sparkle or sharpness throughout. It probably doesn't help that the film stock wasn't consistent this season, either. The grain levels are a little mixed and some of the skintones are hit or miss. There's also a good deal of soft shots in this season. That said, the detail in the faces on closeup shots are nothing short of phenomenal, as are the surrounding textures on clothing and pieces of the Enterprise. It's really hard to complain when you look back at the old episodes. It's just that the first season set a very high bar. Still, this is Star Trek: the Next Generation: Season Two like you've never seen before and anyone would be insanely happy with this purchase.
Season Two has the same stellar DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that we got with the last set, but without all of the glitches. There's absolutely nothing to complain about here. The dialogue is bold and clear throughout, with the soundtrack and sound effects giving the surrounds a nice workout. Most impressive are the many sounds of the Enterprise, which are present throughout most of this season's episodes. Those sounds have great directionality when needed and give the feeling that you are really there, all without overpowering everything else that's going on in this wonderful track.
Season One had a decent amount of bonus features, but this season certainly sets the bar very high for future releases. The 5-disc set is busting with extras, including various interviews, a gag reel, and even a nod to LeVar Burton and "Reading Rainbow." Also notable is that "The Measure of a Man" gets an episode commentary, an extended edition, and a mash-up of the broadcast and extended versions of the episode.
It has a little bit of everything, including the one thing that was lacking from the Season One set: a cast reunion. Thankfully, CBS and Paramount made up for that with this set's "Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation." This is a one-hour must-see sit-down reunion rountable with Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Wil Wheaton. Above the episodes, the AV presentation and everything else packed into this collection, this is the gem of the set. It's a fun piece, with the cast revealing how they got there and how they feel about the show today, as well as topics like Gene Rodenberry, the show's reception, guest stars, and so much more.
If you were even a little bit happy with your Season One purchase, consider Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Two to be another must-buy. Despite the image not being as awesome as season one, it's still awesome -- and it helps that there are some really stellar episodes here. The collection of extras, especially the cast reunion, will be the icing on the cake for any fan. Make it so!