Hello and welcome to To Boldly Go, where I weekly review every episode of Star Trek over the next few years.
You know, I think the second season of The Original Series is stronger than the first in some places. It wobbles here and there, but it otherwise stands well on its own two feet. The episodes might not be as memorable, but it’s clear that everyone is more comfortable with who their characters are at this point, writers included.
The best is going to be a pretty long list when you get right down to it. The season starts with “Amok Time”, a Star Trek classic that shows the bond that Kirk and Spock share. “Who Mourns for Adonais?” features Captain Kirk killing a God, which is always fun to watch. “Mirror, Mirror” features an evil alternate universe and is, once again, a classic. “The Doomsday Machine” is an episode you should watch because it’s damn near perfect and I love it. “The Trouble With Tribbles” is decent enough, even if I’m not personally thrilled with it. “A Piece of Action” features a planet full of gangsters, and it’s that sort of goofiness that I love Star Trek for. Meanwhile “The Immunity Syndrome” is just as absurd, since the menace is a giant amoeba, but I love it nonetheless. Then there’s “Patterns of Force”, the episode that asks the bold question ‘Nazis?’, and answers it by putting it into the episode. Finally there’s “Assignment Earth”, an oddity in the Star Trek franchise that still somewhat works on its own.
While on the bad side, we tend to have a bit of a parallel at times. “The Apple” involves Kirk essentially killing a God, only the justification isn’t as good here since it reeks of the old ‘white man teaching the native culture’ idea. “Catspaw” also features Kirk killing a God, but the goofiness is a bit too much in this case. “I, Mudd” features Harry Mudd, and the less said about that the better.
So with only three bad episodes and nine good ones, the second season of Star Trek is somewhat on par with the first. It certainly has some of the more memorable episodes of all time, from fantastically made episodes to the freaking Nazis of all things. The Original Series is often outrageously camp, and I love the franchise because of it. There’s nothing wrong with being campy, since brilliant ideas can hide behind the veneer of goofiness. I’ll take goofy and campy over dark and brooding any day of the week, because at least campiness offers a flare for the dramatic not seen by other TV shows.
With a final percentage of 63.84%, it might not be the best season when compared to the others, but it’s still the best show overall. If you ever wanted to see what all the fuss is about you can’t go wrong with the first two seasons of Star Trek. Now to see whether season three can continue this strong trend.
Oh the Animated Series my old friend. I’ve come to talk about you once again. For, sadly, the last time in this series.
Now, from my perspective, it’s only been a few days since I last talked about it. But, from your perspective, it has been about half a year, more so if we include the last time we talked about an individual episode. So this really is a blast from the past in more ways than one. So how does the second season of The Animated Series hold up?
Well the highlights of this six episode run are few and far between, given how it has so much little to work with. That being said, “Albatross”, “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth” and “The Counter-Clock Incident” are all great episodes in of themselves, and would have probably walked away with the win if other episodes hadn’t done better stuff in the respective weeks. Meanwhile “The Practical Joker” is easily one of the worst, with an idea that never quite works as well as the creators were hoping it would.
So is the second season worth watching? Well, if it wasn’t for the fact that Voyager only had 16 episodes in its first season, I’d have just counted The Animated Series as just one large season. There really isn’t a difference between the two besides a gap in the air date. As it stands, to look at this series as having two seasons is misleading to say the least.
But is this ‘season’ still worth watching? I’d argue yes. It gives us more of the same that we got from the first season, and it’s still a nice bit of campy joy either way. Sure, the animation is terrible, but if you look past that you’ll find a lot to love. It’s a shame that this show has been ignored for so long, since I’d argue it fits in perfectly with the Star Trek canon.
At the end of the day, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s a great series that continues the spirit of the original by doing new and interesting things that they couldn’t do in the original series. Sure, some will wave it off as being dull or silly, but if you’re willing to put in the investment, you’ll find there’s a lot to like here.
Oh TNG, one day you’ll be good… one day. But, while the second season is better than the first, it still has a long way to go before it can compete with the big boys it seems.
We’ll start with the best, since that’ll be a short list. “Elementary, Dear Data” is about Sherlock Holmes, so it automatically gets a free pass. Likewise “Q, Who” makes up a lot for a bad season, since it still stands as one of the best episodes of television of all time. But, sadly, two good episodes can’t save the badness that’s in store for us.
“The Child” is as horrible as it is offensive, and as offensive as it is stupid. “Where Silence Has Lease” involves Pulaski insulting Data for merely existing, immediately putting the episode at the bottom of the list because of how horrible she is. “The Schizoid Man”… isn’t terrible, per say, but the fact it takes so long for them to click that Data is different is a real let-down. “The Icarus Factor” features Riker’s dad… and is mostly just a bore. “Samaritan Snare” features the Enterprise crew being outwitted by idiots, so not their proudest moment. “Up the Long Ladder” has an absurd premise like good old TOS, but the campy tone ultimately doesn’t work in this series. “Manhunt” is sexist trash with barely any climax, to the point where I have to wonder if the writers just gave up at this point. “The Emissary” is okay, but mostly dull. And finally “Shades of Grey”, where a clip show saves Riker’s life. No, I’m not going to let that drop.
I suppose I’ve been hitting TNG a bit too hard, since some of the four’s in this season are very strong four’s, which would have no doubt been the best of the week if not for better episodes taking the spotlight. But there’s no getting past the fact that the second season of TNG just doesn’t work as well as it could. It gets better, sure, but it’s certainly not worth writing home about now.
With a final approval score of 47%, it really isn’t that great. Half the time it’s rubbish, a quarter of the time it’s okay, and a quarter of the time it’s fantastic but overshadowed by better stuff. Is season two of TNG worth watching? Ultimately, no. No doubt there are fan lists out there that rank the best episodes of the show, and Q Who will be on them. But there’s not a lot else going on, and you could probably just focus on a few key episodes instead. Best give season 2 a pass. You won’t miss much.
Once again, DS9 is probably my favourite series overall, but that comes more from knowing what it’s going to be, rather than what it is right now. That being said, Season 2 is pretty good and stands well on its own.
Looking at the best this season, we have: “The Homecoming, The Circle & The Siege”, a strong three-parter that gets off to a good start. “The Maquis” is likewise another strong two-parter, that cleverly sets up what’s going to come in the following few years as important. “Crossover” brings some of the regular cast into the mirror universe, and there’s nothing about that concept that isn’t automatically awesome. “Tribunal” is an episode that does its job properly, showing us what it’s like to be found guilty on Cardassia. Sadly, that’s all the best this season, as there were either other episodes that were more appealing that week, or the series as a whole was mostly ‘okay’.
As for the worst, they’re not as bad as some of the worst we’ve seen this season. “Invasive Procedures” is just run of the mill, being the worst of the week in that I had little to say about it. “Sanctuary” suffers from a confused moral, where Bajor is suppose to be the bad guy for not allowing refugees, but given they’re recovering from a war and the refugees presume is their home based on religious text means it ultimately falters, since the refugees are too stubborn to listen. “Paradise” again has a faulty moral that doesn’t really work when you get right down to it, a common trend it seems. And that’s it for the bad.
So with four to seven good episodes, and three bad ones, Deep Space 9 really places itself as a middle of the road sort of show. It doesn’t do anything amazingly well, but it doesn’t do anything unbelievably terrible either. With a final approval rating of 67.24%, it’s certainly sitting comfortably as an average show. And average isn’t bad. While all but TOS vary in quality, DS9 is consistently good, or at least okay enough that I can’t find fault in it. Sure, it may not be the most interesting show to talk about, but there’s few episodes I’d find repulsive. Likewise there’s few episodes that stick in my mind. DS9 is competent, and whether that’s an insult or a badge of pride depends how you see it. Still, it builds up for what will be important in the future, so if you’re into science-fiction binge-watching the season won’t be the worst thing to do.
You know, I’m left wondering whether Voyager deserves the bad rap it gets. Yes, on the one hand, it has its share of weaker episodes. But, on the other, I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be. Then again, DS9 and TNG have yet to really take off, so maybe that thought will change over the next year.
For the best of the season we tend to have episodes that are good, but not great. “The 37’s” is a neat little idea, and shows that the crew wants to go home, but is otherwise not worth talking about that much. “Persistence of Vision” is okay, but more in the ‘best of a bad week’ sense, and not because of anything the episode itself does. “Maneuvers” is, again, the best of a bad week and nothing more. “Meld” is pretty good, if only because the actor playing the murderer is an interesting character (as is Tuvok), and said character is interesting enough to be memorable when we stumble upon him for the finale. “Death Wish”, meanwhile, is probably the best in general, since the discussion about whether Q has the right to die is an interesting one. “Investigations”, on the other hand, manages to do something with Neelix that’s halfway interesting, although it’s by no means for everyone. “Deadlock”, however, has an interesting idea that seems to exist almost to ignore itself after it happens, since splitting the ship in two (and conveniently swapping over crew that died on the other ship so they have the same cast at the end) is an idea that’s great up to the point where it becomes mostly pointless due to the retcon. And finally, while “The Thaw” might be decisive, I love the surreal horror of it all, even if others find it too campy to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile the worst is… it’s pretty bad. We have “Elogium”, where a giant space slug wants to have sex with the ship (can’t believe I said that out loud). “Tattoo” is beyond stupid, relying on a climax where the characters have to act like idiots in order for there to be tension (as well as having a sub-plot that goes nowhere fast). “Prototype”, meanwhile, suffers from it being the worst of a good week; since the episode isn’t terrible but is sorta mostly pointless and involves arguments with the Prime Directive that don’t make sense. “Innocence”, meanwhile, has Tuvok babysitting… and that should tell you how bad that episode is. “Resolutions” resolves nothing and ultimately just gives us a rather rubbish episode that only sort of comes alive near the climax. And finally, “Basics” is a season finale/season opener that starts strong but ultimately limps to the finish when compared to other episodes going on.
So what’s the common theme when it comes to the second season of Voyager? Well Voyager tends to be at its best when it uses its characters well, and puts them into interesting situations. Tuvok, Neelix, even some of the one-off characters, they all tend to create interesting episodes when given a decent idea to work with. Likewise Voyager does well at tackling some pretty big issues, even if it does it in an absurdly silly way.
But it’s this silliness that ends up being its downfall so often, since we end up with episodes that are too wacky to be taken seriously. The Original Series always managed to make the campiness feel grounded to an extent. Here, whenever the show gets silly it gets way too silly, to the point where it’s no longer fun to watch and becomes a bore. Voyager is at its worst when it’s boring, and that usually comes from when a clever idea is completely wasted.
At the end of the day, season two of Voyager isn’t that bad. Right now it sits somewhere in the middle, and that’s ultimately where it deserves to sit. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great. Only time will tell at how bad it gets come season 3.
So Enterprise is essentially continuing much the same as before, doing things the original Star Trek series would have never done, while at the same time making new and bold decisions at being terrible. But yet, at the end of the day, it’s surprisingly average. It neither fails amazingly, nor does amazingly well. It’s impressively middle of the road.
Lets start with the best, or the little there is. “Cogenitor” deals with a species that has three genders, and is perhaps the darkest Trek episode to date, beautifully reinforcing the idea that this is anti-Star Trek in many ways. “Regeneration” features the Borg, so that’s always going to be an episode to recommend since even a bad Borg episode is sorta interesting. Meanwhile “The Expanse” is a pretty shocking episode, dealing with themes prevalent in America at the time, and sending Enterprise in a new and interesting direction.
Meanwhile the worst is pretty bad. There’s “A Night in Sickbay”, an episode that’s even worse than Voyager’s “Threshold”, and shows that not only does Archer care more for his dog than his crew or his responsibilities as a leader, it’s that he’s also a pretty terrible diplomat as well. “Dawn” is less offensive, but is the dull ‘two enemies forced to work together’ story that’s rarely that interesting. “Bounty”, on the other hand, takes the concept of Pon Farr and uses it to objectify T’Pol in a very creepy way, one that’s not very fun to watch.
So you have three good episodes, three bad episodes, and twenty episodes that tend to come in at just average. And that probably sums up Enterprise in a nutshell. It’s a very average show. It’s percentage for this season is 59.23%, putting it almost right in the middle of the six second seasons we have here. Almost every week it sits somewhere between 50% and 60%, being just good enough to beat out the competition, but never shining on its own.
As such, the second season of Enterprise offers more of the same as the first, but what it does offer is only good if you like the premise to start with. It’s not a bad show, but it probably deserves to be somewhat forgotten. If you’re new to Star Trek, check out the other stuff first and leave this one to last. There’s not a whole lot here to recommend.
First: DS9 89/132 aka 67.42%
Second: TOS 83/130 aka 63.84%
Third: VOY 86/136 aka 63.23%
Fourth: ENT 77/130 aka 59.23%
Fifth: TAS 21/36 aka 58.33%
Sixth: TNG 52/110 aka 47.27%
First: TOS 203/297 aka 68.35%
Second: TAS 89/132 aka 67.42%
Third: DS9 161/252 aka 63.88%
Fourth: VOY 145/232 aka 62.5%
Fifth: ENT 158/282 aka 56.02%
Sixth: TNG 111/262 aka 42.36%
So there you have it. Another week of Trek. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.