Judge Eric Profancik was upset that he couldn't find his pointy ears for Halloween. He thinks his pet tribble ate them.
Our reviews of The Best Of Star Trek: The Original Series (published May 12th, 2009), Star Trek: The Original Series: Season 1 (Blu-Ray) (published May 6th, 2009), Star Trek: The Original Series: Season 2 (Blu-Ray) (published September 16th, 2009), Star Trek: The Original Series: Season Two (Remastered) (published August 22nd, 2008), Star Trek: The Original Series: Season Three (Remastered) (published November 26th, 2008), Star Trek: The Original Series: Season One (published September 27th, 2004), and Star Trek: The Original Series: Season Three (published January 26th, 2005) are also available.
"You mean you're the lunatic who's responsible for almost destroying my ship?"
Is there anything left to say about classic Star Trek (TOS)? In the last thirty years, every detail of every show has been examined beyond measure. Every quirk of every character in every situation, projected to various futures, has been discussed ad naseum. So in 2004, with the release of the second season of TOS, what is left to be said? Is there some small morsel left that would make this review all the better?
I'm not sure what is left to say about the show, but they won't let me keep this DVD if I don't find something, so here goes…
Facts of the Case
All 26 episodes of the second season are presented in the order they aired on NBC:
• "Amok Time"
• "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
• "The Changeling"
• "Mirror, Mirror"
• "The Apple"
• "The Doomsday Machine"
• "I, Mudd"
• "Journey to Babel"
• "Friday's Child"
• "The Deadly Years"
• "Wolf in the Fold"
• "The Trouble with Tribbles"
• "The Gamesters of Triskelion"
• "A Piece of the Action"
• "The Immunity Syndrome"
• "A Private Little War"
• "Return to Tomorrow"
• "Patterns of Force"
• "By Any Other Name"
• "The Omega Glory"
• "The Ultimate Computer"
• "Bread and Circuses"
• "Assignment: Earth"
As a proud Trekkie, how can I not be excited about the second season of TOS? Out of the three years, it is certainly the best overall. First and foremost, look at the lineup of episodes this year. While there are a few clunkers, some of the finest and most well known are here. Who can forget "Mirror, Mirror," "Amok Time," or "A Piece of the Action"? And how about Gary Seven, Nomad, and the Iotians? Fizzbin? Tribbles? Giant space amoebas? A mugato? This season has it all! If you have no idea what TOS is all about, then all you need to do is watch this season to completely understand why this franchise has lasted for nearly forty years.
I've always considered one thing to be anomalous about TOS, and that event occurs here in the second season. In the infamous "Tribbles" episode, Kirk is completely out of character. Yes, this is the one and only true comedic episode, but it still doesn't fully account for how outrageous, over-the-top, and thoroughly insubordinate Kirk acted. At every possible moment, Kirk is insulting, completely disregarding of any authority presented by Mr. Baris. Now, while Kirk is a very, let's say, aggressive captain, he usually does exhibit some respect for authority, but with Mr. Baris, there's never an inkling of respect. You may now want to mention the other notable instance of disrespect involving Commodore Decker in "The Doomsday Machine," but that is not a valid comparison because Decker was putting Kirk's ship and crew in danger. But, you may ask, isn't the Enterprise in danger because of the Klingons at Deep Space Station K-7? Not even close. There was no hint of the danger as posed by the planet killer. For some arbitrary reason (comedy), Kirk's personality was kicked up 100%, and he became the worst example of a Starfleet officer. Regardless, it's still funny as all heckfire to watch Kirk do his thing. And, as time would progress and the movies would come to be, that behavior exhibited in "Tribbles" would later be categorized as being "Kirk." An aberration eventually became the man.
Following pretty much the standard pattern on Paramount Trek releases, there's an interesting smattering of bonus materials included in the set:
• Text Commentaries. You'll find two text commentaries by the Okudas on this set, on "Amok Time" and "The Trouble with Tribbles." As I've consistently stated, I love text commentaries, and I wish they'd become standard practice on all DVDs.
• "To Boldly Go…" Season 2 (19.5 minutes): I am happy to report that I did learn a few new things from this featurette, but just a few. The new information seemed to be front loaded, and once we got past that it was standard fare of "old news."
• Life Beyond Trek—Leonard Nimoy (12 minutes): With all due respect to Mr. Vulcan, I found little of interest in this piece. While the title suggests an overview of Nimoy's life since Trek, all you get is his latest endeavor: photography. I already knew most of this too, and though I don't care all that much, I'm happy that you're happy.
• Kirk, Spock, and Bones—Star Trek's Great Trio (7 minutes): This is your basic rehash of the great chemistry that evolved among these three. And, as a result, it's nothing new.
• Designing the Final Frontier (22 minutes): This featurette primarily focuses on the inspired work of Matt Jeffries. While it starts off a bit slowly, the piece does pick up as you learn more about what he did, how he had to fight the budget to get things done, and the creative scrounging went through to make a set.
• Star Trek's Divine Diva—Nichelle Nichols (13 minutes): Perhaps because I've never had a strong interest in researching Nichelle's life, I found this to be a very pleasant and interesting overview of the person and the character. For once, I didn't hear the Martin Luther King story, but she still did embellish a couple of facts along the way. Ugh! And she had to mention the fan dance…
• Writer's Notebook—D.C. Fontana (7.5 minutes): The story editor/writer talks about her role in the Trek universe, discussing what guidance she gave and what her favorite episodes are.
• Preview Trailers: On the submenu for each episode, you can choose to view that episode's trailer. It's about time these were included in the packaging.
Rounding out the extras are some production art, a photo gallery, and the "Red Shirt Logs," a fancy labeling for the "hidden" Easter Eggs. The nice thing about the majority of the bonus items is that you do get new (2003) interview footage with most of the cast members. Still missing are those infamous bloopers and some audio commentaries.
As for the quality of the episodes themselves, as everyone is keen to say, TOS has never looked so good. By spending a little time, effort, and money, these classic episodes look like a million dollars (adjusted for inflation to 1967). The full-frame video is pretty much in line with every other Trek DVD that has come down the pike. Those delightfully bold color choices pop out from the screen along with crisp blacks, nice definition, saturation, and detail. Fortunately, I couldn't discern any significant errors aside from just a quick spot of shimmering and moiré patterns along the way. As for the audio, the new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is nice, but it is clearly lacking. While you get solid dialogue from the front, the use of the surrounds isn't stunning and feels a bit clipped and forced. Again, TOS sounds good, for a show of its age.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
How did this campy little show ever survive? With an assortment of silly "villains," bad acting, and goofy plots, Star Trek is a most ridiculous show. Bright, neon colors? GNDN pipes slapped randomly in corridors? A captain with a girl in every port? An actor with an odd stuttering speech impediment? What exactly is so captivating and enchanting about this space opera? You can espouse about those shows that were allegories for society's problems, you can revel in the delight of a global crew (men and women from all over the planet), and you can be happy with the exciting thoughts of exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new civilizations, but nothing will obstruct the simple fact that Star Trek is a campy, poorly executed, inane science-fiction show that has long outlived any useful life it may have had.
Having been born in late 1970, I never saw TOS during its first run. When the first conventions popped up around the country, I was too young to attend. As avid a Trekkie I am today, I cannot recall how I first learned about this television show. My earliest memory of Trek comes from the release of The Wrath of Khan. I can vaguely recall that word had leaked that Spock would die; I think I knew who Spock was, so I must have known what Trek was too. But I don't know if I had seen the show in reruns yet, and I have no recollection of seeing The Motion Picture. But that is all irrelevant at this point, because at some point I did see TOS in syndication. I enjoyed the show, and it stuck with me, so that when The Next Generation came to be, I watched it as well.
I truly do believe that this season is the best of the TOS series. Too bad it can't be absolutely perfect and also include "Space Seed" and "The City on the Edge of Forever." That's too much to ask or hope for. If you have any hesitation about buying this set, don't. It's a great set with solid transfers, a nice assortment of bonus materials, excellent episodes, good menus, and slick packaging. If TOS is Greek to you, then pick up this season and give the second episode a spin. If at the end of these episodes you don't begin to understand why this show was so successful that it has spawned ten movies and four new series, then you're a silly person and I want nothing to do with you. When you're done, you'll understand why Kirk will always be the captain, and William Shatner will always be allowed to ride this gravy train.
All charges against Star Trek: The Original Series, Second Season are hereby dismissed. Mr. Sulu, warp factor one.
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