Jun 13, 2013

[TV] Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2

I'm continuing in my side adventure of re-watching the entire series run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, while at the same time exposing my partner Tobie to the series for the first time. And while he is able to watch most of the episodes, even I have to admit that there are a few of them that he can skip. Like any other TV show, there are just those episodes that are downright silly - and I mean that in a bad way.

This season season is still a great step forward for the series and that features a number of notable achievements and memorable moments. But this definitely fell in the category of one of the TNG seasons that was still rather shaky - at least in comparison to the later seasons. Of course I speak with the benefit of hindsight after having watched most of the show.

And we all best remember this second season of the show because of the temporary addition of Dr. Katherine Pulaski to the main cast. After having re-watched this season, I have to admit that I rather liked her gruff yet efficient demeanor.

Synopsis: Star Trek: The Next Generation is a science fiction TV series created by Gene Roddenberry as a continuation of the original series. This season had the position of Chief Medical Officer to be replaced by Diana Muldaur as Dr. Katherine Pulaski.

The second season includes a number of notable changes apart from the addition of Dr. Pulaski to the crew. Lt. Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) is no longer the primary pilot of the Enterprise - he's now the ship's Chief Engineer. The biggest one is the addition of Ten Forward, the ship's recreational area and of course its enigmatic bartender, Guinan (Whoopie Goldberg). This was also a somewhat shorter season, largely due to the 1988 Writers Guild of America Strike

Oh, and Riker finally has a beard.

But despite the relative brevity of this season compared to others, it's safe to say that they managed to get quite a lot of things done. The episode "Elementary, Dear Data" introduces Lt. Commander Data's (Brent Spiner) Sherlock Holmes holodeck program with Geordi LaForge as his Watson. The extent of the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire with their officer exchange program, as demonstrated in "A Matter of Honor". We question whether or not Data is an individual and not just a piece of equipment in "The Measure of a Man". And of course there's the forever memorable "Q Who", which introduces us to the techno-organic species known as the Borg.

This season also lighter episodes that were equally entertaining. The episode "Manhunt" establishes Ambassador Lwazana Troi's quirky interests Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) as a potential husband. And this clearly set the tone for her character in her many later appearances.

The writing of the show gained additional clarity in this season and perhaps a lot more focus as well. The season had some specific goals such as further exploring Data's nature, expanding on the background of Klingon culture and really bringing the crew together into an efficient team. The cameraderie among the bridge crew was certainly a lot warmer this time around, save a bit for Dr. Pulaski given she was the newer addition to the team.

I'll take a moment to admit that I rather liked Pulaski. She was a nicely strong character and certainly reminded me a lot of Dr. Leonard McCoy from the original Star Trek series. She was equally gruff, highly opinionated and of course extremely arrogant when it came to medical matters. Her duty as a healer would almost always take precedence over her responsibilities as a Starfleet officer. It's a shame that she didn't get to stick around as a regular member of the cast beyond this season.

Star Trek: The Next Generation in its second season was a significant improvement over the prior season but not quite in that sweet spot that really made me fall in love with the show. But that moment is just around the corner. Thus the season gets 4 alien children being involved in the story out of a possible 5.

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