While the "Star Trek" franchise seemed to be coming to a close with the end of "Star Trek: Enterprise" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (as well as diminishing returns for the feature films), the franchise will soon reawaken again with a feature film reboot of the "Trek" saga, courtesy of director JJ Abrams. With the new feature film only months away, Paramount has begun to re-release the season sets of the original series, complete with new effects. The second season of "Star Trek" includes some classic episodes, including "Amok Time", where Kirk must fight Spock and "The Trouble With Tribbles", where the crew of the Enterprise must deal with a frequently multiplying new species on the ship, who threaten to consume anything and everything they find edible.
These remastered episodes have gone through a significant restoration process. From the press release: "Meticulously remastered from the original camera negative, each classic episode is presented in pristine condition with new state-of-the-art digital visual effects and a new 5.1 soundtrack. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy® Award-winning composer Alexander Courage has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner’s classic original recording of the 38-word “Space, the final frontier…” monologue continues to open each episode."
The newly produced visual effects are quite fine and most of them do a nice job of "touching up" dated effects. Although there are some exceptions, most of them also blend in reasonably well. The greater benefit of this set is the appearance of the episodes themselves, which look fresher and more vibrant than I've ever seen them before. The effects are a fun touch (although I'm sure there will be quite a bit of debate from fans who aren't keen on new effects worked into the old-fashioned look of the show), but I think everyone can agree those who worked on the remastered presentations did a fantastic job.
26 episodes on seven discs: Amok Time, Who Mourns for Adonais?, The Changeling, Mirror Mirror, The Apple, The Doomsday Machine, Catspaw, I Mudd, Metamorphosis, Journey to Babel, Friday's Child, The Deadly Years, Obsession, 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.
VIDEO: As mentioned, the presentations of these season two episodes have gone through an extensive restoration process, and are presented here in 1.33:1 full-frame by Paramount Home Entertainment. Taken from the original camera negative, these presentations are impressive and certainly a leap over the prior release. Sharpness and detail aren't extraordinary, but when compared to the original release, it's a pretty grand difference.
This new release looks crisp, fairly detailed and enjoyably film-like. While there were a couple of minor specks seen at times throughout the episodes, I was pleasantly surprised at how crisp and clean the show looked here. While some minor grain was seen at times, it is likely an element of the original cinematography and actually adds to the show's "film-like" look here. Yet another element of the presentation that topped the old edition was the color palette, which looked somewhat richer and fresher here than ever before. Overall, I thought the show looked the best it's ever looked here.
SOUND: The second season of the original series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound quality is generally very good, considering these are repurposed soundtracks of a show that's over thirty years old. The audio was mainly focused from the front channels, although there were certainly some moments where the surrounds kicked into gear with sounds of the Enterprise, some various sound effects or other ambience.
While the amount of activity was pleasing, considering the show's age, also very enjoyable was the audio quality. While these soundtracks definitely don't sound like more recent audio productions, the show did sound quite good. Some minor distortion was heard at times, but dialogue, music and sound effects were largely crisp and clear. This set supposedly has a new 5.1 soundtrack, but it sounded awfully similar to that of the prior release.
EXTRAS: The set includes most of the features from the prior release, as well as several new ones. The main missing bonus feature is a text commentary that was included on some episodes of the prior set. "Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy" is a 12-minute documentary that catches up with the actor. Nimoy offers an enjoyable discussion of his hobbies and interests, such as his work in photography. Pretty fascinating stuff. "Kirk, Spock and Bones: Trek's Great Trio" is a 7-minute featurette that focuses on the chemistry between the three. We don't get a whole lot of information, but we do get some interviews with the cast members.
"Designing the Final Frontier" offers a 22-minute look at the creation of the look of the series. Interviews are offered with the show's set and art direction/design teams and we get a good deal of insight regarding the process. We hear about the process of working with the other members of the crew, learn about the conceptual process of sets and the overall look and hear about the budget problems that often forced the team to get even more creative to try and bring the ideas to the screen.
"Star Trek's Divine Diva: Michelle Nichols" is a 13-minute program that has the actress giving an overview of her career. We learn more about how she worked her way up, how she arrived on "Trek" and some of her experiences on the series. Overall, a very interesting and insightful program.
Finally, we get "Writer's Notebook: DC Fontana", which is an interview with the former writer/story editor, who discusses her involvement with the show, as well as story issues and how some problems in plots were solved.
Some of the new features have to do with the legacy of "Tribbles", including an episode of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" that has to do with the creatures, "More Tribbles, More Trials", which offers some insightful audio commentary from writer David Gerrold. Also "Tribble-related" is "Trials and Tribble-Ations", an episode of "Deep Space Nine". Two summary featurettes can also be found: "Trials and Tribble-Ations”: Uniting Two Legends" and "Trials and Tribble-ations”: An Historic Endeavor" - both of these featurettes reunite members of the cast and crew to discuss the production of the episode, as well as the reaction and continued fame of the episode.
Finally, we get "Star Trek’s Favorite Moments" and "Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories Part 2" - the former a collection of production members discussing some of their favorite moments from the original series, the latter a look at some very rare behind-the-scenes clips from the set.
Final Thoughts: "Star Trek: Season 2" offers a lot of superb episodes, including a few classics from the series. This new DVD set boasts episodes that look better than ever and have some new effects work within, as well. Audio/video quality will delight fans, who will also appreciate that not only have most of the extras from the prior set have been carried over, but we get some new bonus features, too. Recommended for fans who haven't already picked up the prior DVD edition.