‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Shows Some Growth In Its Second Season

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access

Early next year, CBS All Access will debut the latest entry in the long-running Star Trek franchise in the form of Star Trek: Picard.  The series’ debut is set for April 2020.  According to information from multiple media outlets, the third season of the streaming service’s other Star Trek series, Discovery will premiere.  While audiences wait for the premiere of Discovery’s third season, they have the series’ to take in on DVD and Blu-ray.  Officially released Nov. 12, the series’ second season is a slight improvement from its debut season.  That is proven in part through the season’s writing, which will be addressed shortly.  At the same time that the writing has provided a certain improvement from the series’ first season, it also has proven to be a negative to the season.  This will also be addressed.  The season’s acting rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed here.  Between the writing and acting, audiences get in the second season of Discovery, an example of a show that is improving, but still has a very long way to go before it can be considered among the best of Star Trek’s series.Star Trek: Picard

The second season of Star Trek: Discovery is a small step up from the series’ debut season.  It shows that the series has some potential.  That is due in part to the series’ writing.  The writing offers audiences far more lighthearted moments this time out than in Season One.  There are more jokes and casual moments featured throughout the season’s 14 episodes this time around.  That could be perhaps because the crew of the Discovery has more breathing room, what with the war with the Klingons ended after Season One.  It is nice to see those more lighthearted moments, as it shows that the show’s writers apparently don’t constantly take themselves with a lot of seriousness and can offer some entertainment.

The writing offers entertainment not just through lots of lighthearted moments this season, but also in the more action packed moments.  Those moments are many throughout the season, too.  From the crew’s dealings with “Control,” which are essentially the ancestors of the Borg, to the fights with Capt. Leland to the final epic battle in the season’s two-part finale, there is just as much enjoyable action throughout the season as there is joking and lightheartedness.  The combination of those elements shows that clearly a lot of time and thought was put into improving the writing for this season.  The time and thought paid off, clearly.

For all of the payoff that the noted time and thought had in the writing, it also proved just as much a negative as a positive.  That is proven as there is an overabundance of unnecessary, over-the-top drama throughout the season, too.  From the season premiere to its exciting two-part finale, the show’s writing team gave star Sonequa Martin-Green more than her share of screen time and just as many opportunities to shed a river of tears and then some.  Between her personal moment with Saru when it appears he is going to die (not to give away too much here, but Saru doesn’t die), her nonstop emotional confrontations with Spock and her adopted parents, to her full-on emotional breakdown after another of her ship mates forced her to send her out of an airlock, killing her, Martin-Green gets plenty of crying time on screen.  As if all of that is not enough, Anson Mount’s extraordinarily (and unnecessarily) long speeches as the season nears its end make it quite easy for audiences to hit the fast forward button on their remotes.  The ongoing drama between Hugh and Stamets, and the seemingly never-ending drama between Michael and Ash adds to that overabundance of drama, too.  That overabundance of drama sadly detract quite a bit from the season’s overall general effect and make it difficult for audiences to take seriously.  Rather, they give the season more of a feel of one big supernova of an interstellar soap opera than an action, science fiction series.  Simply put, the overabundance of drama tied into Season two’s presentation does just as much to hurt this show even more as the more lighthearted moments do in order to make the show more enjoyable.  To that end, one can only hope that the show’s writers will continue to infuse more light dialogue next season than drama.  If they don’t go that route, odds are, it will just continue to alienate fans (no pun intended) and find itself ending sooner rather than later.

While the writing incorporated into Discovery’s second season is both a pro and a con, the one element that can be said to be a full positive is the work of the show’s cast.  Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) is a wonderful addition to the cast.  His portrayal of Capt. Pike makes him one of the best additions to the cast.  He really conjures thoughts of Capt. Kirk as he directly contrasts the much harder-edged presence of Capt. Lorca.  Getting off topic for a moment, the writes mention Lorca in the opening episodes of the season, but still do nothing to explain away what happened to the prime universe Lorca, since it was revealed that Discovery’s Lorca was from the alternate universe.  Getting back on topic, Mount effortlessly makes Pike a character that every viewer loves just as much as the Discovery’s crew.  He cracks jokes with the bridge crew, shoots sarcastic remarks at Ash and Emporor Georgiou, and takes control when the heat is on, just as a good leader would.  He just shows so much charisma throughout.  It makes it too bad that he allegedly will not return for the series’ third season.

Another notable acting job from Season Two comes from newcomer Tig Notaro.  Notaro, who takes on the role of Federation Engineer Jett Reno plays expertly off of Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets).  The verbal barbs that Reno so willingly shoots at Stamets are among the best of the season’s lighthearted moments.  Her timing and general presence makes for some of the season’s best laughs.  In the same breath, she shows her own unique brand of care as she talks to Hugh about his relationship with Paul (yes, Hugh does return this season, albeit in a rather comic book-esque fashion, which is another issue with the writing that detracts from the season’s general effect).  She maintain’s Reno’s edge, but still manages to show Reno has a heart in the process.  It makes her quite the sympathetic character and talented actor.  Between her acting, that of fellow newcomer Anson Mount and Ethan Peck (who plays Spock – Peck’s take on the timeless, beloved figure is noteworthy in its own right), audiences have just as much reason to watch this season for its acting as for the growth exhibited in the show’s writing.  One can only hope that between the growth exhibited in the writing and the positive acting jobs of the cast, the improvements made in this season will continue in Season Three and continue to help this show prove its potential.

Paramount Pictures and CBS’ latest entry into the Star Trek universe, Discovery has show n significant growth in its second season from its debut season.  That is evident in part in the season’s writing, which attempts to offer more lighthearted moments to balance out its overabundance of unnecessary over the top drama.  Speaking of the drama, there is a lot of that, which seriously detracts from the season, along with the oftentimes dizzying cinematography.  Thankfully, as much as those items detract from the season’s presentation, they are not enough to make the season completely unwatchable.  The on-camera work of some of the show’s new cast members adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, they show this season has the potential for growth, if only its creative heads won’t let it become the full-on interstellar soap opera that it largely become this season.  Here’s to hoping Season Three will avoid all that drama and instead opt for more action than overdrawn, overabundant and unnecessary tear-filled jaunts.  If they do that, it can make Season Three a major turning point for Discovery; if and only if they go that route.  Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on the series is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

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Star Trek: TNG Gets Even Better In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy:  CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment

Courtesy: CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment

Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the greatest incarnations of Gene Roddenberry’s beloved franchise.  Considering that it started in the late 1980s, it was unlike roughly anything else on television at the time.  So for audiences to say that its first two seasons were shaky is somewhat unfair.  The show’s first two seasons were enjoyable in their own right.  And it only got better from there.  Season Three proved how far the show had come since its premiere.  And now, with Season Four officially out on Blu-ray, audiences can see how much more developed the show had become in its run.  Season Four shines first and foremost for its writing.  From wrapping up the hugely popular Best of Both Worlds cliffhanger that started at the end of Season three to the introduction of Data’s “brother” in “Brothers” to the season finale that sees Worf  stepping down from Starfleet this season sees more than its share of storylines that will keep audiences engaged.  The writing involved in each episode was the major sticking point for Season Four.  In terms of the overall presentation, much more can be said that makes Season Four work.  The set’s bonus features and its packaging play just as much a part in its success, too.  Together with the solid writing, the packaging and bonus features help to make Star Trek The Next Generation: Season Four another great addition to the home library of any Star Trek fan.

The writing involved in each episode of Star Trek’s fourth season is some of the best that the show saw in its seven-season run.  It really helped to validate Star Trek literally for a new generation.  The resultant effect was that its validation also validated, in turn, science fiction in general on television.  Because the writing progressively got better through Star Trek: TNG’s fourth season, it could be argued that it really helped open the door for more science fiction shows to make their way onto mainstream television.  Prime examples of this would be in the rise of shows such as: Babylon 5, The X-Files, Earth 2, etc.  There are many more that could be listed that came not long after Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Four.  These are just a handful of that mass that came possibly as a result of this season.  To make such a claim as this is a very powerful statement.  So it raises the question, what made the writing in Season Four so impressive and important?  The answer to that is that the show’s writers were able to balance strong stories with personal character development.  Data, Dr. Crusher, Capt. Picard, and Worf all became the central focus of their own episodes.  Even Dr. Crusher’s son, Wesley, got his own share of face time through this season.  In the case of Capt. Picard, audiences got to see him face being human again after being saved from the Borg.  And later, he is forced to face some old demons when he takes a vacation to see his own family.  Dr. Crusher has to watch her son grow up and go off on his own to Starfleet Academy.  Thanks to the show’s writers, she also has to face the philosophical question of what reality is in the episode, “Remember Me.”  Who would have ever thought that science fiction and philosophy would work so well together?  But it worked.  Even Worf has his own moments as he is forced to consider some very difficult decisions as the season closes.  Here is an individual that audiences have come to know as being a very strong individual both physically and emotionally.  So seeing him have to do such deep soul searching in a manner of speaking shows so much more depth to his character.  And it makes audiences want to see more from him.

The personal character development balanced with the storylines in Season Four are the anchors to this season.  This is clear.  Thanks to the people at Paramount and CBS Home Video, viewers have gotten in this season’s box set (as with the previous three seasons) even more understanding and appreciation for the writing thanks to the season’s bonus interviews.  As with the previous seasons, the writing staff as well as members of the cast are interviewed this season.  Audiences will appreciate the insight on the episodes included in Season Four.  The gag reel included in Season Four adds even more enjoyment.  There’s something about science fiction that makes gag reels even better than others.  Maybe it’s the use of blue/green screen forcing the cast to essentially play pretend.  Maybe it’s just the camaraderie between the cast members.  But the gag reel will have viewers laughing hysterically.  And as minor as it may seem, including the episodic promos as an option with each episode is that icing on the cake.  There’s something about having the original episodic promos both by themselves and along with the episodes themselves that generates a full sense of nostalgia for those that remember watching the show on television.  It makes the whole viewing experience that much better, and worth watching every time.

The bonus features and the writing included in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Four work together to make the overall viewing experience a win.  There is one more part of this season’s set that makes everything complete for the show’s fans.  That one last part of the puzzle is the set’s packaging.  Season Four is comprised of six discs in its Blu-ray release.  It would have been so easy to package that many discs in a larger box.  But Paramount and CBS Home Video didn’t do that.  They maintained the standard set in the previous three seasons’ release.  The discs were placed inside the case in a fashion that is both ergonomic and that protects them from scratching one another.  This both saves space on racks and in cabinets as well as preserves the discs for future viewings.  It is the final piece of the puzzle that makes Star Trek: The Next Generation Four one of the year’s best box sets.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Generation-Season-Blu-ray/dp/B00CKYHH6O/ref=sr_tr_sr_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1376406257&sr=1-1&keywords=star+trek+the+next+generation+season+4.  After ordering Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Four, fans can keep up with all of the latest releases from CBS Home Entertainment on its official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cbshomeentertainment.  

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Star Trek TNG Season Three Even Better On Blu-Ray

Courtesy:  Paramount

Courtesy: Paramount

One of the most anticipated movies of the Summer 2013 movie season is the upcoming sequel to the 2009 reboot of Star Trek.  Just in time for the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Paramount Studios and CBS Home Entertainment have released the third season of the highly acclaimed series, Star Trek The Next Generation.  From here on out, it will be shortened to Star Trek TNGStar Trek TNG Season Three is considered by many fans of the show to be one of its best.  It is where the show started to turn around and start to take off.  That is thanks in large part to the leadership of head writer Michael Piller.  It was under his leadership that great episodes including: “The Offspring”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Sins of The Father” came about.  And who can forget what is considered one of television’s best ever episodes in the two part episode, “Best of Both Worlds?”  These episodes are just part of the whole that make Season Three so great now that it is available on a five-disc blu-ray box set.  The bonus features included also play a role in this new set’s success.  And of course, one has to also take into account the set’s packaging, which is just as impressive as every other aspect of the box.  All assembled together, it makes for a box set that any true hardcore fan of Star Trek TNG will appreciate and enjoy with every viewing.

The episodes included in the third season of Star Trek TNG are some of the series finest.  A prime example of this comes in the form of “The Offpspring”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Sins of The Father.”  In “The Offspring”, Data has one of his first tastes of being human when he creates an android child for which he can care.  This episode is a wonderful example of art imitating life.  Just as Data didn’t know what to expect as a parent, neither do real parents.  And Captain Picard’s reaction to Data on Data’s announcement was just like that of a parent to perhaps his or her own child announcing the expectation of a new child.  Data is forced to learn his “offspring” and she is forced to learn about the world around her.  Again, it is such a mirror image of actual life.  Much the same can be said of the episode, “Sins of the Father.”  This episode gave the show’s writers more chance to show a more “human” side to Worf when he is forced to return to the Klingon home world and answer for charges placed against his father.  This episode also introduces Worf’s brother.  It is those family interactions with his brother and standing up for his father that shows a largely hidden side of Worf.  Again, this is art imitating life.  There are people much like Worf who would prefer to keep their gentler, more caring side hidden so as to maintain a certain reputation.  Again, this mirror image of life makes the suspension of disbelief that much easier, and thus enjoyment of the episode that much easier in turn.

Both “Sins of the Father” and “The Offspring” are episodes to which audiences can relate so easily.  That’s because of the ability to relate to these episodes.  Season Three also offers audiences episodes that are less related to regular life and more related to scientific theory.  Such is the case of “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”  Audiences get in this episode the concept of whether wormholes exist and whether they are more closely related to black holes or are perhaps extraterrestrial passageways between time and space.  Yes, this is a deep concept.  And the writers obviously knew this.  That’s because they didn’t present the theory in a fashion that would be above the heads of casual sci-fi fans and not too much below those that are far more deeply involved in scientific theory.  This episode also sees the return of Tasha Yar, who in herself presents another theory linked to the interconnectivity of events at given points in time.  That, along with the general storytelling, makes this another wonderful addition to the hit sci-fi show’s most integral season.

The writing for the episodes noted here (and the others not listed) makes Star Trek TNG Season Three the best in the show’s seven season run.  Audiences will understand and appreciate this even more in the bonus three part feature, “Resistance is Futile – Assimilating Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  Audiences get to hear from the writers and the main cast of Star Trek TNG in this feature.  Viewers will be quite interested to hear just how much went on behind the scenes in order to bring Season Three’s episodes to life.  There apparently was a lot of turmoil among the show’s staff of writers; so much so that at one point, there might have been either a mutiny or an all out walk-out.  There are also discussions from members of the main cast, including: Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner.  McFadden discusses coming back to the show after having been away for a season.  Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Troi, adds her own thoughts on McFadden returning to the show.  She shares that she was quite happy to have her friend back.  Brent Spiner’s thoughts on being addressed by the public as Data instead of Mr. Spiner are definitely worth checking out.  He makes perfect sense in what he shares.  And Michael Dorn sharing some funny moments in taping episodes of the show will have audiences rolling with laughter.  Again, it is one more positive to a set that already has so much going for it.

The episodes written for Star Trek TNG Season Three and the discussions about the writing processes together make this latest box set another must have for any true Trek fan.  There is at least one more aspect of the set that viewers will appreciate.  That aspect is the set’s packaging.  The set is comprised of five Blu-ray discs.  Each disc is placed in its own spot inside the case in what is increasingly becoming the standard for multi-disc box set packaging.  Following this model protects the discs, thus preserving them for a much longer period of time than those sets from other shows that might have otherwise been packaged in a less ergonomic style.  That is another positive to the set’s packaging.  Because of the style in which this set was packaged, it takes up less room on a DVD and/or Blu-ray rack than more traditional box sets.  This is an example of the adage that less is more.  This combined with everything else presented in the new Star Trek TNG Season Three box set, makes this set an absolute must have for those who perhaps would rather see the show in high definition rather than standard def.  It is available now in stores and online.

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