1967, Star Trek boldly moved into its second season, taking
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the Enterprise to a whole set of new
adventures and strange new worlds. With the worst uncertainties of
behind it, Star Trek could (and did) focus on exploring the
corner of science fiction that it had carved out for itself. The
result is that Season 2 features an interestingly varied assortment
of episodes, with the show tentatively developing its characters and
trying out different kinds of stories.
Mr. Spock was now recognized as being a fan favorite, Star Trek's
second season opens with Spock in the spotlight: the season premiere
is "Amok Time," in which Spock, suffering from the pangs of
pon farr, urgently requests that the Enterprise take him back to his
homeworld of Vulcan. It's a notable episode on several fronts. First
of all, it's the start of an increasing emphasis on the friendship
among Kirk, Spock, and McCoy; while in the first season they all work
together perfectly well, it's in this season that we start to see how
their relationship goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Time" is also notable in that here we get to see Vulcan culture
in more detail, and there's a distinct effort here to emphasize that
the Vulcans are not human. The characterization of a true alien being
is one of the most interesting (and difficult) challenges in science
fiction, and while Star Trek's efforts here are far from
perfect, they do represent a significant step down the right track.
The alien Vulcan nature is further explored later in the season, when
Spock's father Sarek comes on board in "Journey to Babel."
Confronted with a situation in which his human and Vulcan natures
would respond in very different ways, Spock chooses the logical
Vulcan way, and sticks to it, which strikes me as a fairly impressive
achievement in terms of Star Trek's development of its alien
2 features a number of more experimental storytelling ventures, some
more successful than others. The premise of "Enterprise crew meets a Greek god" may have seemed intriguing on paper, but in practice, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is best passed over without comment. On a more positive note, the celebrated episode "The Trouble with Tribbles"
represents Star Trek's venture into the realm of comedy; while
it's rather too broad in its comedy to play as well nowadays as it
did at the time, it still set the precedent that Trek could
play for laughs as well as drama.
idea of setting Star Trek stories in distinctive settings
evidently came up in Season 2, and got exploited perhaps a bit too
heavily: we have adventures in civilizations
patterned after 1920s-style Chicago gangland in "A Piece of the
Action," Nazi ideology in "Patterns of Force," and
ancient Rome in "Bread and Circuses." And then there's the
dreadful "The Omega Glory," in which the native Kohms and
Yangs battle against each other, until the Yang leader is convinced
to faithfully obey their "holy document"... the US
on to some of the more successful stories, Season 2 features several
stories that develop interesting science-fiction ideas, which has
generally been a productive direction for Star Trek. The
murder-mystery "A Wolf in the Fold" involves a
non-corporeal entity that can make its way
into human bodies (a plot premise that would be mined extensively in
Next Generation...). "Return to Tomorrow" features
similarly disembodied aliens, as well as a guest starring role for
Diana Muldaur, who would go on to play Dr. Pulaski in Next
Generation's second season. One of the most entertaining episodes
of Season 2 is "Mirror, Mirror," in which a transporter
malfunction causes Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to rematerialize in
a weirdly different alternate universe. (Deep Space Nine would
later take this idea and run with it quite successfully.) Artificial
intelligence also provides a fertile source of story ideas, usually
when it goes wrong, as in episodes like "The Ultimate Computer."
And of course the season finale, "Assignment: Earth," gives
Star Trek another taste of time travel.
be totally honest, though, I have to admit that these episodes are
most enjoyable for their place in Star Trek history, not as
stories that work well on their own merits. Plots are often sketchy,
and there are rather too many pointless hand-to-hand action sequences
for my taste, not to mention the fact that we're starting to see a
lot of gratuitous appearances of Kirk with his shirt off or his
clothing ripped to shreds. (Those Starfleet uniforms can be quite
fragile, it seems!)
characterization of the various main crew members also remains fairly
sketchy; to a large degree, it's left up to the fans to extrapolate
the characters' personalities from occasional short scenes or
snippets of dialogue. Certainly Trek fans have been more than
willing to do so, and the Star Trek feature films did a lot to
fill in the gaps for at least Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, but when I look
at the actual episodes of the Original Series, I don't see a
whole lot of depth to any of the characters. Next Generation
did a great deal more in that regard, creating a full ensemble cast
of characters who were recognizably three-dimensional figures and
personalities that shaped the events they were involved in.
any case, though, Star Trek fans can overlook many of the
flaws of the Original Series simply because it's a lot of fun
to take a look back in time at the Star Trek universe in its
babyhood. The episodes really become like historical fiction, seen
from the perspective of the "present day" of the 24th
with Season 1, Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2 is
packaged in a tricorder-imitation case that probably looks really
cool to someone, somewhere, but leaves me merely scratching my head
wondering "What were they thinking?" The blue plastic case
splits down the middle to reveal a CD-sized packet of hard plastic
pages holding the seven DVDs. There's a paper slipcover to this
packet, and the insert booklet with the list of episodes is stuck in
here as well. In other words, you have to dismantle the whole thing
to get to your discs, and there's nowhere to conveniently store the
booklet, which I conservatively estimate will end up being lost in
82.5% of Star Trek-owning households. Menu animations continue to be
tediously non-skippable (and the menus are slow to navigate as well).
On the bright side, the case has a kind of retro charm, if you like
that sort of thing, and it's not as bulky as it looks in the picture.
All 26 episodes from the show's 1967-1968 season are included,
arranged in the order of their original air date. They're also
numbered in production order on the menu screens.
an almost 40-year-old television series, Star Trek: The Original
Series Season 2 is in very good shape indeed, though the episodes
of this season don't look quite as outstanding as those in the first
season set. The level of detail is about the same, with close-up
shots having an amazing level of texture and detail, middle-ground
shots offering a moderately soft but quite satisfactory appearance,
and long-distance shots tending toward the blurry. Fortunately, edge
enhancement is virtually absent. Contrast is handled very well, with
the balance of light and shadow looking just right under a variety of
In these episodes, though, I found the colors to be a tad bit muted,
with a slightly dull look at times. A few print flaws make it
through, mostly in the form of scratches or lines in the print, and
some noise is evident at times. Viewers will note that the exterior
shots of the Enterprise or other ships or space stations look
significantly worse than the interiors, but this is a consequence of
the optical effects technology used in the original prints, not of
the DVD transfer.
All the episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack offers a clean and pleasing audio
experience, with all the actors' voices always sounding completely
crisp and natural. Special effects are likewise handled well, and the
music is also balanced correctly with the other elements of the
track. Admittedly, I sometimes found the theme music to be a little
intrusive, but this is pretty clearly the way it was originally
handled, as it's only noticeable in music-only scenes, and never
interferes at all with any of the dialogue or special effects.
While there's not a whole lot of use of the surround channels in the
5.1 track (which shouldn't come as any surprise), it's still the
better choice over the original Dolby 2.0 track, which is
flatter-sounding and not as attractive to the ear.
commentaries by Star Trek experts Michael Okuda and Denise
Okuda appear on two episodes in this set: "Amok Time" (Disc
1) and "The Trouble with Tribbles" (Disc 4). The
commentary takes the form of pop-up bubbles that appear on the
screen, with text inside; they're partly transparent, and are placed
intelligently so as not to overlap with important parts of the
on-screen action, so it's easy to watch the episode while paying
attention to both the actual episode and the text commentary. The
commentaries are full of interesting comments on the background for
the stories, the making of the episode, and what was going on with
the production of the series, and will be of interest to both
die-hard fans and more casual viewers.
seventh disc of the set contains the rest of the special features;
all the featurettes are notable for being composed of interview
footage done specifically for the DVD release. The first featurette
is "To Boldly Go: Season 2," which is an interesting
19-minute look at the season as a whole, featuring interviews with
many of the cast as well as others involved with the show. Two of the
show's cast members are profiled in detail in this set. "Life
Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy" (12 minutes) gives Nimoy a
chance to talk about his current projects and interests, which center
around photography these days, and "Star Trek's Divine
Diva: Nichelle Nichols" (13 minutes) is a nice interview segment
in which Nichols shares her recollections of the process by which she
was cast as Uhura, as well as other experiences with the show. A
short featurette pays tribute to the famous trio of the Original
Series, in "Kirk, Spock & McCoy: Star Trek's Great
Trio" (7 minutes).
more featurettes take a look behind the scenes at the making of the
show. The 22-minute "Designing the Final Frontier" gives
art director Matt Jeffries a chance to speak in detail about his
experiences with designing Star Trek's sets, and the short
"Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana" (7 minutes) has Fontana
explaining her role both as a writer and a story editor for the show.
Lastly, we get an image gallery of production art, and a photo
gallery. There are also four "hidden files," each of which
is a clip about a minute and a half long, taking a brief look behind
the scenes. On the first special features menu screen, these are
found if you click on the left-hand speaker and the rectangular panel
in the center; on the second screen, on the square panel on the
right; and on the third screen, once again on the left-hand speaker.
Who actually enjoys hunting for these things? Not me.
second season of Star Trek: The Original Series has an
assortment of reasonably entertaining episodes, though I think that
they're likely to appeal mainly to Star Trek fans who are fond
of the show for what it later developed into, rather than to viewers
who are looking for great science fiction television. Many of the
episodes are exceptional for their time, and would inspire later
shows... but it's true that the Original Series shows its age.
I found Season 2 to be a bit more uneven than Season
1 in terms of the quality of its storytelling, with fewer
stand-out episodes to make up for the not-so-great ones. It still
earns a solid rating of "recommended" for Star Trek
fans, as there's still a healthy dose of retro fun to be had here,
along with a nice slate of special features.