Well, until the next generation of home video comes about, one should be able to stand firm at the belief that this is finally the ultimate release of Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete Second Season. Having gone through one or two VHS releases and several DVD versions, its nice to see the series hit Blu-ray carrying both the original television versions as well as the remastered versions that hit airwaves a few years back.
For me, Season Two has always been the best of The Original Series. Sure, Season One introduced us all to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his gallant crew (Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, and George Takei). It also contained that classic “Arena” episode (not to mention “The City On The Edge Of Forever”), but Season Two is definitely where it’s at. Why? Well, first there’s the debut of Walter Koenig as Ensign Chekov.
And then, we have a shitload of fantastic episodes — including the epic “Mirror, Mirror” (wherein several key members of the Enterprise crew find themselves paying an unwanted visit to an alternate universe where everyone is evil), the comical “The Trouble With Tribbles” (introducing us to the sci-fi universe’s only loveable furry critters — you hear me, George Lucas?), “Amok Time” (in which we find out Spock not only has a wife, but that he sorta has to kill Captain Kirk, too), “The Gamesters Of Triskelion,” “A Piece Of The Action,” “The Deadly Years,” and still more.
Many of these Season Two episodes would later serve as stepping stones when writers would develop other Trek movies and series. For instance, Spock’s parents are both introduced in “Journey To Babel” — these two characters would return once in The Animated Series and in several of the feature films (they would also have important roles in J.J. Abram’s reboot). Another familiar name, Zefram Cochrane, first appears in “Metamorphosis” — his character is credited as creating the warp drive in the Trek Universe, and the franchise would revisit his character three more times in the future (or is it “in the past?” Damn these time-travel stories!).
Not only may fans rest easy that this may very well be the ultimate home video release, but you may also rest assure that it’s the best-looking release by far. The entire season is presented in a 1.78:1 ratio, with black bars added to the sides in order to preserve its original broadcast format (1.33:1). The 1080p (MPEG-4 AVC) resolution for this season boasts a transfer that is so clear, you can actually see how much pancake makeup is applied to Leonard Nimoy’s face now! Black levels are satisfyingly deep, and colors are very bright and stunning.
Accompanying the dynamic video presentation is an equally impressive DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 7.1 soundtrack. Frankly, I never imagined to hear a ‘60s TV show in Surround Sound, period — so listening to Trek in 7.1 is a bit of a mind-blower. The new mix can literally engulf viewers, and the various sounds of the bridge come through with such fervor (even the minor sounds), that one can almost imagine themselves on the Enterprise. Also included with this release are some Dolby Digital mono mixes in English, Spanish, and French. Subtitles are provided in English (SDH), Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Much like Season One on Blu-ray, Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete Second Season includes the option of viewing the original or remastered editions via seamless branching (just click the “Angle” button and say “Whoa…cool, dude” — repeat as needed). This in itself is a treat — and I should point out that even the 7.1 soundtrack changes when the angles are switched, making the newer, computer-generated special effects seem that much more impressive by comparison.
Special features for Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete Second Season vary from disc to disc. Every disc contains the original television promos for their respective episodes (in Standard Definition), as well as some BD-Live capabilities (I have no interest in checking out what is so fancy about this whole “BD-Live” thing, so I can’t say much here). Disc One has a “Starfleet Access” feature, which is a picture-in-picture video commentary for “Amok Time” with many Trek alumni and historians. Also on Disc One is a HD 1080p look at “Billy Blackburns’s Treasure Chest,” the second of three featurettes compiled from vintage home movies that were filmed on-set by cast/crewmember Billy Blackburn.
Since “The Trouble With Tribbles” spawned a few off-shoots, CBS/Paramount has designated Disc Four to be all Tribble-related. The Original Series episode includes an audio commentary as well as another “Starfleet Access” picture-in-picture video commentary. As with the Remastered Edition, the episodes “More Trouble, More Tribbles” (from The Animated Series, presented 1080p) and “Trials And Tribble-ations” (from Deep Space Nine, presented 1080i) are here, as well as the two featurettes about the latter episode (both Standard Def). Rounding out Disc Four is a new featurette, “Star Trek: TOS on Blu-ray.”
Several other featurettes previously included on some of the prior DVD releases are available once again in this set. “‘To Boldly Go…’ Season Two” and “Designing The Final Frontier” appear on Discs Five and Six (respectively). The other featurettes, “Star Trek’s Favorite Moments,” “Writer’s Notebook: D.C. Fontana,” “Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy,” “Kirk, Spock, & Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio,” and “Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols,” are located on Disc Seven.
Also included on every disc is a Mobile-Blu function, in which some mobile phone users can upload material to their phones. Again, much like BD-Live, this is another feature that is of no interest to me, although there are some exclusive bonus materials to be found here.
It is a pleasure to see Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray. Not to get all hokey or anything (or more hokey, as the case may be with me), but this set does boldly go where no man has gone before. This release is, in every practical sense, definitive.