The second season of Star Trek- The Original Series saw the show taking bigger risks, and embracing more complex and epic themes, even as the network slashed its budget. The production team countered their ever-growing financial limitations by focusing primarily on the quality of the story rather than visual effects, with much of the season's episodes revolving around conveniently "Earth-like" planets or one or two set pieces. Despite these budgetary restraints, this second year of Trek still managed to generate more than its fair share of classic sci-fi moments and characters, and solidified the series place in the annals of science fiction. Now, through the same process of remastering and seamless integration of all new CGI effects, the second season of the original series has undergone a facelift that makes it accessible for a whole new generation of viewers all the while keeping the retro charm and, most importantly, fantastic storylines intact.
Opening with one of Trek's most beloved (and important) episodes, "Amok Time", we are introduced to a different side of Spock, as Vulcan mating season draws near, bringing on a wide range of emotions that will spell the end of the first officer unless Kirk brings him home to Vulcan to mate with his arranged bride, T'Pring. However, she has other ideas, and has her sights set on another Vulcan with whom she hopes to mate. T'Pring chooses Kirk as her champion, so that her chosen mate won't be harmed. Kirk agrees despite Spock's warnings, but learns too late that this fight between friends is to the death. "Amok Time" is the first episode to really showcase Vulcan culture, and much of what was introduced in this episode went on to become a major part of the series’ mythology.
In "Mirror,Mirror" Kirk, McCoy, and Uhura are trapped in a parallel universe in which the crew of the Enterprise are a vicious group of mercenaries. Meanwhile, back in their own universe, Spock imprisons the "evil" Kirk and his cohorts, hoping to find a way to bring his captain back to their reality.
A familiar face returns in “I, Mudd”, as the Enterprise finds itself hijacked by a mysterious crewmember, who then sets a course to a remote planet where the devious Harcourt Fenton Mudd has taken up residence as the king of an army of androids.
Other standouts include the fan-favorite "The Trouble with Tribbles", the humorous gangster tale "Piece of the Action", and, one of my personal favorites, "A Wolf in the Fold", in which Scotty (James Doohan) is accused of murder during a shore leave.
Nearly every episode in this boxed set is classic stuff, save for the curiosity that is "Assignment: Earth". Featuring a young Teri Garr as the nervous secretary of the super spy Gary Seven, this odd episode was actually a platform for a potential new series that never materialized, relegating the Trek cast to little more than a supporting role. Still, even this oddity is entertaining and well worth a watch.
Star Trek – The Complete Second Season Remastered warps onto Blu-ray with the same level of quality as its predecessor. The image here is wonderfully vibrant, teeming with detail and a great sense of depth and dimension. As before, the new effects inserts blend in seamlessly with the cleaned up and color corrected original footage. While there are still a few “age spots” and evidence of artifacts, only the most jaded of HD consumer could find anything to complain about here.
As with the first season set, an all new 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio track has been created, and it’s as impressive as the video upgrade. The score (culled from the original sheet music and performed by an orchestra consisting of the same amount of musicians using the same instruments as that of the original orchestra from the 60's) sounds remarkably lush and full. New audio effects compliment the new visual effects work, with more modern sounding effects added to represent everything from the weapons to the ship’s engines.
A treasure trove of extras have been scattered over seven discs, many of which are presented in 1081i. We get PiP commentary tracks on select episodes, offering a detailed breakdown on the work that went into recreating said episodes. Once again, we are also given the option to view episodes as they originally aired, allowing viewers to make comparisons between the original episodes and their remastered counterparts “on the fly”.
Other bonus features include several interview featurettes, another installment of the entertaining “Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest” (a collection of rare photos and film from the production days of the series), and much more.
The coolest supplements by far are included on disc 4, which offers both the remastered and original versions of The Trouble with Tribbles, as well as “More Troubles, More Tribbles” from Star Trek: The Animated Series, and “Trials and Tribbel-ations”, the deliciously retro episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, both presented in 1080i with a 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio track! This disc also features assorted Tribbles related material culled from both the DS9 and Animated series boxed sets (presented in standard definition), as well as a new HD featurette, Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-ray, which features interviews and discussions about the work that went into the creation of this set. Other extras include episode previews, BD Live! functionality, and much, much more.
Like the fantastic season one set, Star Trek – The Original Series Season Two Remastered offers an image that is beyond beautiful, extraordinary audio, and a generous amount of compelling extras that makes this an essential purchase for fans. Paramount’s treatment of the franchise has always been excellent, but, with the advent of Blu-ray, they’ve managed to outdo themselves. I’m counting the days until season three arrives!