The voyages of Picard's Enterprise continue, with the
crew encountering more Klingons, more Romulans, more Ferengi,
Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy Professor Moriarty, a duplicate
of Picard himself and an unstoppable new foe known as the
could say that Season 2 of The Next Generation is like
Season 1, only more so. Its best episodes are far stronger
than the highlights of the previous year, but its weakest
instalments are more toe-curlingly bad than the first season's
most embarrassing lowlights.
the better episodes, the tense and emotive courtroom drama
that is The Measure of a Man is an absolute classic.
And Q Who is both an excellent Q episode (John De Lancie
gives one of his best performances as the mischievous entity)
and a stunning introduction to the chillingly impersonal Borg.
Elementary, Dear Data is another winner, a logical
and irresistible development of the holodeck detective program
in Season 1's The Big Goodbye and Data's (i.e. Brent
Spiner's) superb impersonation of Sherlock Holmes in Lonely
Among Us. There are a couple of excellent explorations
of Klingon culture in A Matter of Honor and The
Emissary - this being a time when the Klingons still had
novelty value. The intriguing and unsettling time-travel tale
Time Squared isn't bad either, and the same can be
said of the extremely worthy Loud as a Whisper, Contagion
(in which something very bad happens to a Galaxy-class
starship) and Peak Performance.
the opposite end of the spectrum, the first season's Haven
and Skin of Evil seem like works of art compared to
the shoddy plotting and duff dialogue in Up the Long Ladder
and Shades of Gray. Up the Long Ladder contains
the classic (not) exchange of dialogue: "Clones..." "Clones?"
"Clones!" Meanwhile, Shades of Gray is an example of
that woeful cost-cutting standby of American television, the
clips show - a very disappointing way to end the season. The
Icarus Factor also makes tedious viewing, being primarily
composed of a string of sequences that go something like this:
Riker's dad (Mitchell Ryan) tries to make peace with his son
(Jonathan Frakes), who then storms off in a huff, repeat ad
infinitum. The Outrageous Okona has its moments, particularly
those involving the loveable rogue Captain Okona (William
O. Campbell), but is seriously impaired by too many unfunny
"comedy" scenes as Data tries to cultivate a sense of humour.
Manhunt is a real Frankenstein's monster of disparate
elements that don't really mesh together, featuring the return
of Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett), a return visit to the Dixon
Hill setting of The Big Goodbye, and some big fish
people (whose leader is played by Mick Fleetwood).
remaining episodes, The Child, Where Silence Has Lease,
The Schizoid Man, Unnatural Selection, The Dauphin, The Royale,
Pen Pals and Samaritan Snare are rather average,
but entertaining enough. Unnatural Selection is a rehash
of the "Classic" Trek episode The Deadly Years,
and not the last one either - the idea of a rapidly ageing
crewmember would be used again in Deep Space Nine's
Distant Voices. The Schizoid Man is predictable,
but lifted by more scenery-chewing from Brent Spiner as a
possessed Data, a virtual repeat performance of his evil Lore
aspect that is a clear improvement on Season 1 is the special
effects. In general, the space shots look smoother and more
expensive. The Child boasts an impressive establishing
shot that tracks from the exterior of the ship, through a
window and into the interior set.
is not to say that the production team is averse to a little
frugal recycling of effects from the previous season. A view
of the transition from impulse to warp speed seen through
an observation window uses effects that were originally filmed
for the warp experiments in Where No One Has Gone Before.
The shot of the Enterprise being flung parsecs off
course in When the Bough Breaks is put to good reuse
in Q Who.
few characters are changed or undergo a "cabinet reshuffle"
of assignment for the second season. The departure of Lieutenant
Yar (Denise Crosby) is of great benefit to Michael Dorn's
Klingon Worf, who functions splendidly as Security Officer.
La Forge (Levar Burton) takes on the much-needed role of regular
Chief Engineer. Apart from growing a beard, Commander Riker
also lightens up his previously rather humourless character.
Watch out also for the developing role of Colm Meaney, as
he rises in status from nameless Transporter Chief to become
Miles O'Brien, who will one day join the crew of Deep Space
new cast members also join the team: the mysterious (at least,
she is at this point in the show's history) bartender Guinan
(Whoopi Goldberg) and the new Chief Medical Officer Katherine
Pulaski (Diana Muldaur). Dr Pulaski is rather obviously based
upon DeForest Kelley's Dr McCoy - witness her disparaging
attitude towards the unemotional Data, which is akin to McCoy's
ribbing of Spock, and her loathing of transporters - but her
character still possesses great strength, easily standing
up to Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). She only served for
this one year before Dr Crusher (Gates McFadden) returned
for the third season. This is a pity, because I happen to
prefer Pulaski's no-nonsense authority to the sentimental
whining of the bleeding heart Beverly Crusher!
may notice that this is a shorter season than usual, comprising
just 22 episodes instead of the usual 26. This is because
production was hampered at the time by a writers strike. However,
to partially compensate for this, there is a little more documentary
material than we got with the Season 1 box set - one hour
and twenty minutes' worth in total.
Sure, this season contains more than its fair share of dull
or embarrassing moments, but this box set is still worth the
asking price for the many top-class episodes it contains.
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