Star trek the next generation the complete second season starring patrick stewart brent spiner better than fast!
Star Trek The Next Generation - The
Complete Second Season starring
Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner
A Masterpiece Of A Season (With Plenty Of Room Left For Growth!)
To the delight of Star Trek fans everywhere, the stellar second season of
The Next Generation (1988-89) belonged to Lieutenant Commander Data.
As the Enterprise-Ds resident android, Data (in the Emmy-worthy hands of
Brent Spiner) would gain legal sentience in the season highlight The
Measure of a Man, and his increasingly human personality would refine
itself in such diverse episodes as Elementary, Dear Data (Data as
Sherlock Holmes), The Outrageous Okona (a misfire, but worthy from the
Data perspective), and Pen Pals. While Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher)
took a sabbatical of then-unknown duration (gracefully replaced by original
Trek guest star Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski), the remaining bridge crew
would match Datas vitality: Riker grew a handsome beard and proved his
command potential; Worf became richly nuanced in The Icarus Factor, and
met his match (and mate) in guest Suzie Plaksons fiercely Klingon sexpot
KEhleyr; Wesley matured admirably, despite continuing fan disapproval;
Betazed culture emerged as Troi locked horns with her eccentric mother,
Lwaxana (Majel Barrett, in a recurring role); and La Forge made good on
his promotion to chief engineer while Chief OBrien (Colm Meaney)
flawlessly rode on Geordis coattails. In a crucial series development,
Guinan (special guest Whoopi Goldberg) revealed a connection to Q in her
helpful capacity as Ten-Forwards enigmatic host, while Q himself (John
DeLancie) precipitated the Enterprises first, fateful encounter with the Borg
(in the suspenseful Q Who?). Through it all, Patrick Stewart brilliantly
intensified all of Picards renaissance qualities (especially in the dazzling
Time Squared), exploring the captains facets with equal measures of
curiosity, fascination, amusement, courage, and philosophical insight.
Despite its lame finale with the money-saving clip-show Shades of Gray,
season 2 charted a warp-nine course to the even better season 3. --Jeff
Captain Picard, I cannot allow you to leave. Before we can go forward, the
cycle must end.
-- Picard, while shooting and killing his future self, Time Squared
The first minute of the first episode of this season lays it all out for you.
We get far more advanced model and computer animation (ship exteriors),
a first glimpse at the shuttle bay and a shuttle craft, a better lit and color
adjusted bridge, and some sophisticated camera work, all set to a brilliant
new score (not to be confused with the title theme). All in all, it seems
clear that the producers have taken fan input into account and have done
everything possible to deliver a superior product for season two.
As the episode and season continue, we discover a slew of new surprises.
For one thing, the boundaries of the ship truly expand with not only the
addition of the shuttlebay, but also the introduction of Ten Forward, the
social center of the ship in which we get to see more of our favorite
characters off duty. Guinan, ably played by Whoopie Goldberg, manages
to pull the best from each character when the main action of the plot
doesnt allow them to reveal their inner selves otherwise. Furthermore,
Season Two makes far better use of the holodeck, establishing its
parameters and functions more clearly, but also presenting some of the
best holodeck-oriented concepts, moments, and full-blown episodes of the
Another nice surprise is the tweaks (both subtle and not so subtle) made to
the cast. Worf and Troi both receive necessary make-overs. Wes ditches
the rainbow racing stripe across the chest and matures into a relatively
likeable and rarely annoying young cadet. Geordi finally earns legitimate
placement amongst the main cast by becoming Chief Engineer. Picard
drops much of the grouchy facade he bore in season one, establishing
genuine rapport with much of the cast (especially Ryker). Finally, Dr.
Pulaski replaces Dr. Crusher as the ships doctor. While, in many ways,
Pulaski is a clear and tired rip-off of Dr. McCoy from the original series, she
challenges and pulls much from the crew whereas Dr. Crusher felt
relatively isolated and uninteresting amongst the cast in season one (this
changes when she returns in season three).
Beyond these changes, both subtle and blatant, occurring in the
background of each episode, what strikes me the most about season two
is the writing. Nearly every episode in this season brings out all the grand
science fiction adventure of the original series while applying the
statesman-like discourse on ethics to each adventure that later becomes
Next Gens hallmark.
Some highlights from this season include:
A Matter of Honor, in which Ryker serves on a Klingon vessel, introduces
us to Klingon culture, and confronts the double-edged sword of culture
shock while providing a fantastically entertaining storyline in the process.
The Measure of a Man, in which Datas sentience is determined in a
riveting courtroom trial with Picard as the defendant and Ryker as the
Contagion, in which the Enterprise discovers highly imaginative and eerily
advanced technology from a long-dead civilization and must decide how to
keep it from the Romulans.
The Royal, a highly whimsical yet disturbing episode in which Ryker, Data,
and Worf are trapped in an early twentieth century casino which serves as
reparation for a man who has been dead for hundreds of years.
Time Squared, TNGs first great time loop story in which the crew discovers
and must deal with the existential problems of an unconscious Picard from
six hours in the future who fled the Enterprise shortly before it was
Q Who: the return of Q, the continuation of his assessment of the human
race, and the terrifying first appearance of the Borg.
Manhunt: Luwaxana Troi at her comic best as she tries to snare Picard as
Honestly, though, the only disappointing episode of this season is Shades
of Gray, the final episode which was strung together on the threshold of a
writers strike. Its a clip show before TNG had enough worthwhile clips to
warrant such an undertaking.
All in all, TNG season two is a fantastic experience and a personal favorite
season of mine. Its still a long way from achieving all the greatness that
can be found in later seasons, but theres so much here to love. Its
absolutely worth the time and money to discover this season and then
revisit it, again and again.
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