The Second Season of Trek : The Next Generation gets off to a rough start but once it finds its footing, one begins to get a sense of just how good it can get. The absence of certain characters is felt from the outset, and the reliance on the holodeck in the first few eps feels like a real misstep. Fortunately, by episodes 7 and 8, the show turns a corner and gets solid.
Once again, the mostly likable crew is forced into challenging dilemmas that provide for a nice blend of comedy and catharsis, with the show proving intelligent enough to lean on character rather than preaching. For all the many, varied ideas explored, the show never loses its heart, even if one might not agree with a given conclusion the characters reach. Thinking about the show in this way, I understand to an even greater degree why it was such a hit at the time and why it has retained fans so many years later.
The show is about good, decent hardworking persons just doing the best they can when faced with difficulties and challenges that force them to question their beliefs and attitudes. In many ways, Star Trek : The Next Generation feels as relevant now as it was when it aired. The show seems tailor made to speak to a time in which culture feels ever changing and on the verge of crisis, which is what the crew encounters nearly every episode. What makes it so valuable for the postmodern culture of now is that the characters are able to navigate these challenges because they have core values and guiding beliefs by which to judge and discern. While Trek: TNG was and is forward thinking in many ways, the show is downright fundamentalist in its insistence on having deeply held values and maintaining them, allowing for mercy, grace, adaptation, and change when needed but certainly never losing a core of either self, community, or mission. For all the wacky adventures that take place, it’s the show’s consistent tone and crew’s overall sense of unity that make it such a wonderful experience that appeals to both the mind and soul.
Despite tripping off the starting line, Season 2 was over quickly, and I was excited to spend more time aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Personal Season Highlights include:
“A Matter of Honor” (ep 8)
“Measure of a Man” (ep 9)
“Contagion” (ep 11)
“Pen Pals” (ep 15)
“Q-Who” (ep 16)
“Samaritan Snare” (ep 17)
“The Emissary” (ep 20)