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Go to warp with "Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two" on Blu-ray or DVD

Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two

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"Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two" starring William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, and DeForest Kelley as Dr. "Bones" McCoy, premiered on September 15, 1967 with Theodore Sturgeon’s Amok Time. This episode gave viewers insights into Spock, the Vulcan race and its philosophy, particularly the concepts of pon farr and arranged marriages. Audiences also met Spock’s parents, Sarek (Mark Lenard) and Amanda (Jane Wyatt) in the season’s tenth episode, Journey to Babel.

Shatner played the original Capt. Kirk in two TV series and seven movies.
Shatner played the original Capt. Kirk in two TV series and seven movies.
Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

The series’ second season is noteworthy for giving actor DeForest Kelley third billing status in the main titles. Kelley had originally been cast as a supporting actor, but the writers realized that the show’s strength came from the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship. Kelley’s genuine warmth, intelligence and emotional honesty were attractive traits the writers enjoyed highlighting: In a show produced during the struggle for civil rights, Dr. McCoy became an antidote to the stereotype that Southern whites were bigots who hated everyone who wasn’t a white Southerner.

"Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two" also introduced Walter Koenig, who plays Ensign Pavel Chekov, the Enterprise’s navigator. NBC publicity claimed that Gene Roddenberry created Chekov after Pravda, the Soviet Communist Party’s official newspaper, wrote an editorial asking why a show touting its multicultural crew did not have a Russian character. According to NBC, Pravda reminded its readers that cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, so excluding Russians from Starfleet was akin to denying the Soviet Union’s space achievements.

Though this story is entertaining, it isn’t quite true. Gene Roddenberry created Chekov because he believed a younger Starfleet officer would have appeal with fans of NBC’s "The Monkees" and help boost the ratings. Chekov was intended to channel the appeal of British Monkee Davy Jones and add irreverent humor and youthful energy to the show.

The second season was the series’ creative high point. Although not every script was great and the production budget was still barebones, Season Two featured many classic episodes. David Gerrold’s The Trouble with Tribbles stands out thanks to its great mix of comedy and Klingon-versus-Federation tensions.

Mirror, Mirror shows a parallel universe which resembles our own but is harsher and more menacing. Patterns of Force deals with the Federation’s Prime Directive of nonintervention and the consequences of violating it. In a variation of that theme, David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon wrote A Piece of the Action, an all-out farce in which the Enterprise encounters a “socially contaminated” civilization which mimics Prohibition-era Chicago

There were also some “bottle episodes” which were either set only on the Enterprise or on other Federation starships. Producer Bob Justman was fond of these because they only required the existing Enterprise sets and were not as expensive as “planet” episodes. The Changeling, which introduced the lethal space probe Nomad, is thought to have inspired the writers of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." Then there’s The Ultimate Computer, D.C. Fontana’s cautionary tale about the dangers of replacing starship crews – and their captains – with computers.

"Star Trek" even made its first attempt to create a spinoff show: Art Wallace’s Assignment Earth, which was the second season finale, was the pilot of a series slated to star guest stars Robert Lansing and Teri Garr. Set in contemporary (1960s) Earth, it would have followed the adventures of Gary Seven (Lansing) and Roberta Lincoln (Garr) as they battled nefarious extraterrestrials bent on destroying humanity. Though the episode is okay, the series "Assignment: Earth" was not picked up by any of the networks.

Despite the addition of Chekov and the contributions of noted writers such as Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, John Meredyth Lucas, Norman Spinrad and Stephen Kandel, the show’s ratings remained low. NBC knew "Star Trek" was popular with young educated adults, but the network still didn’t know how to market or schedule it. The mindset at NBC headquarters was that the show was not a revenue-maker, that it was going to fail and therefore not worthy of larger budgets. It would be better, in NBC’s point of view, to let "Star Trek" limp to the end of season and then pull the plug on the show.

Fortunately, producer Gene Roddenberry's imaginative show was saved from cancellation by a cleverly conceived letter-writing campaign organized by "Star Trek" fan Bjo Trimble. But that, dear readers, is a story for another day.....

The Packaging – The DVDs:

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two’s eight DVDs come in a plastic “clamshell” outer shell that holds a cardboard box that contains a multi-disc jewel case. The Season Two set box is blue to represent the Enterprise’s Science division. The art on the cardboard box features The Enterprise Four (Scotty, McCoy, Kirk, and Spock) on the left, the Starfleet delta insignia in the center, and the Starship Enterprise on the right. A discreet pocket in the back of the box holds a set of five collector’s cards which list all the episodes and extra features.

The design is nice; the artwork is well done and the dimensions of the packaging make storage convenient and less space-consuming than older, bulkier box sets.

However, the plastic clamshell casings and the cardboard inner boxes are fragile and require careful handling.

Furthermore, the DVD holder's colored cardboard box is not terribly sturdy. Handle it with great care so the edges don't get dog-eared and the flaps don't fall apart.

Even though the 8-disc DVD set of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two has much to offer, it does have its limitations.

In 2006, when Paramount and CBS decided to remaster Star Trek: The Original Series for its 40th anniversary, a “format war” was waged to determine a standard for the DVD’s high-definition follow-on. Toshiba came up with the HD-DVD, while Sony and the Blu-ray Disc Association developed the Blu-ray (BD). Paramount was one of the HD-DVD format’s supporters, so its corporate sibling, CBS DVD, released the 2007 Season One sets on double-sided dual format discs. Side A played the HD-DVD content and Side B played the standard definition DVD content.

When CBS DVD released Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two the following year, the Blu-ray Disc Association had won the format war and production of HD-DVDs ceased. However, instead of placing labels on the 2008 Season Two standard definition DVDs, the studio opted to make the one-sided discs look like the dual-format ones

This is one of the Remastered Edition’s weakest points. Not only do you have to look carefully at the top side of each disc to identify it, but you also need to make sure you have it right side up when you’re handling it. DVDs last a long time if you handle them properly, but careless storage and rough handling can result in damage from scratches, dust and smudges. If you accidentally store the Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two DVDs upside down or place them on the player’s tray the wrong way, you might accidentally damage them and render them unplayable..

Another weak point of the DVDs is that they lack English-language subtitles. When you access the discs’ main menu and select Communications, you can choose either French or Spanish subtitles. You can only activate English closed captions by using a standard DVD player.

The weakest point of the 2008 set is that the DVDs’ storage capacity only lets viewers see Star Trek in its 21st Century remastered edition with its updated visual effects shots.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two - The Blu-ray Version

In September 2009, CBS Video released the Blu-ray set of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two. The seven-BD set has 26 episodes from the show’s 1967-1968 season and most of the featurettes from the 2007 DVD/HD-DVD set.

The 2009 Blu-ray edition of Star Trek: The Original SeriesSeason Two gives Trekkers the ability to see and hear the show with its original 1960s special effects and mono audio track. The 2009 Blu-ray discs also include the remastered CGI effects, and a 7.1 surround sound audio track. This option of choosing which version to see and/or hear is a boon for two camps of Star Trek fans. Purists who want to see the classic show the way they remember it can choose Original Effects. Viewers who want to see the updated effects can choose the Enhanced version.

Packaging

The packaging of the Blu-ray version is sturdier than that of the 2008 DVD set. The Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two BD set sticks to the color scheme introduced in the DVD version. However, instead of reusing the artwork from the Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two DVDs, the Blu-ray package features a stylized Science division insignia against a blue-black background.

The blue plastic box holds seven BD discs. Except for Disc Four, which holds The Trouble With Tribbles and related extras, each disc has four or five Star Trek episodes and assorted extra features. Every disc has the original Next Voyage previews for each episode. Some discs also include short “making-of” documentaries on the original show’s production. There are also interviews with surviving key cast and production staff members.

Five of the seven BDs feature Starfleet Access episodes. The Starfleet Access option allows you to watch pop-up information boxes about characters, races, ships, or 23rd Century tech. Picture-in-picture commentaries from Mike and Denise Okuda and other production staff veterans present bits of trivia, history, and humorous anecdotes. While the Starfleet Access feature is available in only a few episodes, it is a welcome extra.

The BDs now have cooler menus and more language options. In the DVD edition of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two, the menus look like the Enterprise transporter room. You can get access to various options through the “transporter control” panel. When an episode is “engaged,” the familiar sound of the transporter beam is heard and the screen sparkles momentarily before the show begins.

The Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two Blu-ray menus are more dynamic. A shot of the Enterprise in orbit over a ringed gas giant is the first thing viewers see. Then the picture changes to depict the main viewer in the starship’s bridge. The various menu options are displayed on separate panels: one for Episodes, one for Communications (Language Options), one for Visual and Audio versions and, when applicable, one for Starfleet Access.

The languages option on the BDs is a vast improvement over the 2007 DVD sets’ somewhat limited capabilities. Though the sound is a bit muffled in the discs’ feature content when compared to that of the extra features, Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two offers more audio and subtitle options.

Languages: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dubbed: French, Spanish

For Star Trek fans who don’t own a Blu-ray player, the 2007 DVD release of Star Trek’s second season is still a nice addition to their video collections. Despite its fragile packaging and lack of multiple viewing options, the 8-disc set is a good way to enjoy the updated version of Gene Roddenberry’s classic series.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray edition is the perfect reason to upgrade from DVD to HD format. With the second season of the original series on Blu-ray, Star Trek fans can experience the best of both worlds.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two Episode List

The following episode list is derived from the Star Trek: Season Two Blu-ray seven-disc set. Episodes are listed in the same chronological order as in the 2008 eight-disc DVD set. The Season Two episodes are listed according to their original 1967-1968 airdates instead of their production order.

Disc 1: Amok Time*, Who Mourns for Adonais? The Changeling, Mirror, Mirror
Extras: Preview Trailers, Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories, Part 2 (* denotes Starfleet Access Episode)

Disc 2: The Apple, The Doomsday Machine, Catspaw, I, Mudd, Metamorphosis
Extras: Preview Trailers

Disc 3: Journey to Babel, Friday’s Child, The Deadly Years, Obsession, Wolf in the Fold
Extras: Preview Trailers

Disc 4: The Trouble with Tribbles*
Extras: Audio Commentary with David Gerrold, More Tribbles, More Troubles (Star Trek: The Animated Series #1 with commentary by Gerrold), Trials and Tribble-ations (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Ep. 503) Trials and Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends, Trials and Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor, Star Trek: TOS on Blu-ray (* denotes Starfleet Access Episode)

Disc 5: The Gamesters of Triskelion, A Piece of the Action, The Immunity Syndrome, A Private Little War

Extras: Preview Trailers
“To Boldly Go…” Season Two

Disc 6: Return to Tomorrow, Patterns of Force, By Any Other Name, The Omega Glory
Extras: Preview Trailers, Designing the Final Frontier

Disc 7: The Ultimate Computer, Bread and Circuses, Assignment: Earth
Extras: Preview Trailers, Star Trek’s Favorite Moments, Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana, Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy, Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek’s Great Trio, Star Trek’s Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols

Audio Language: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Dubbed: French, Spanish