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Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season Two (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000222768
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 6/7/2023 13:23
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    Review for Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season Two

    10 / 10


    I haven’t felt this excited about an entertainment event since 1999, back when I stood in the queue for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. That single movie soured me on hype for what I thought would be the rest of my life. Subsequently, even when the prospect of a new entertainment phenomenon excited me, I’d have a niggling cynicism that something might let me down, and I’d always go into a new movie or show, daring it to disappoint me. The Phantom Menace stole my innocence, and I’ve never forgiven it for that. But last year, an accidental click on the Free Prime option at Amazon introduced me to two new Star Trek series, Strange New Worlds, and this, Lower Decks, and I fell in love with them both. And now that season 2 of Strange New Worlds is coming, it comes with a live action crossover episode with Lower Decks, with Mariner and Boimler beaming onto the Enterprise. And I have no doubt at all that this will be brilliant! It’s only taken me a quarter of a century, but I have my innocence back!

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    While I wait for another Amazon Prime offer to accidentally click on, I’m taking a look at Season 2 of Lower Decks on Blu-ray.

    Lower Decks follows the adventures of the USS Cerritos, focusing on the lower ranked crew, Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, Sam Rutherford, and D’Vana Tendi, who do the important drudge work of Starfleet while those higher up the command chain get all the credit and the glory.

    10 episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 are presented across two Blu-ray discs from Paramount. Most of the extras are listed with the episodes.

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    Disc 1
    1. Strange Energies
    Brad Boimler transferring to the Titan without even saying goodbye is bad enough, but the challenge of being friends with her mother, and Captain of the Cerritos Carol Freeman is driving Mariner to the holodeck. First officer Jack Ransom, isn’t dealing well either with the power balance shift on the ship, and when hit by some strange energy on an away mission turns into a vengeful god. That’s a chance for Mariner to restore the status quo on the ship.

    * Animatics (0:58)
    * Easter Eggs (1:01)

    2. Kayshon, His Eyes Open
    The Cerritos has a new security chief, and his first mission is to take the lower decks crew to a deceased Collector’s ship to catalogue his collection while avoiding booby traps. Meanwhile, after a transporter malfunction, Boimler’s staying on the Titan, while Boimler transfers back to the Cerritos.

    * Audio commentary with Mike McMahon, Jack Quaid (Boimler), and Jonathan Frakes (Riker)
    * Animatics (1:00)
    * Easter Eggs (1:31)

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    3. We’ll Always Have Tom Paris
    Shaxs is back on board and Rutherford can’t sleep until he knows how he came back to life. But that’s a social faux pas. Tom Paris of the Voyager is visiting, and Boimler wants him to sign a commemorative plate, but the ship’s computer refuses to recognise him. And Tendi and Mariner have a mission together.

    * Animatics (1:03)
    * Easter Eggs (1:26)

    4. Mugato, Gumato
    The bartender on the Cerritos has been spreading rumours about Mariner, rumours which Boimler and Rutherford take seriously, despite knowing better. This can only mean trouble on a mission to investigate a stray Mugato on Frylon IV.

    * Animatics (1:01)
    * Easter Eggs (1:03)

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    5. An Embarrassment of Dooplers
    The Cerritos is transporting the Doopler representative to a meeting at Starbase 25, which coincides with an annual Starfleet party. The problem is that Dooplers duplicate when stressed, and a ship full of stressed Dooplers won’t be allowed to dock. So Mariner convinces Boimler to sneak off the ship and crash the party.

    * Audio Commentary with Mike McMahon and Jack Quaid
    * Animatics (1:00)
    * Easter Eggs (1:04)

    Disc 2
    6. The Spy Humongous
    The Cerritos is on a mission to the Pakled homeworld for peace negotiations. Mariner, Rutherford and Tendi have been put on Anomaly Consolidation Duty (cleaning up trash), and Boimler’s been invited to join the Redshirts, Captain wannabes.

    * Animatics (0:43)
    * Easter Eggs (1:03)

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    7. Where Pleasant Fountains Lie
    Following a 100 year war, Mariner and Boimler get the job of escorting the mad AI that caused it to the Daystrom Institute, only their shuttle crashes on the way. Chief Engineer Billups is called by his mother for help. But she has an ulterior motive.

    * Audio Commentary with Tawny Newsome (Mariner), Paul Scheer (Billups), and Garrick Bernard
    * Animatics (0:50)
    * Easter Eggs (1:01)

    8. I, Excretus
    Starfleet have sent a Drill Instructor to perform an evaluation on the Cerritos crew, putting them into various simulations. To make things more difficult, the crew will swap places, the bridge crew performing lower deck duties, and the lower decks staff now in command.

    * Animatics (1:03)
    * Easter Eggs (1:07)

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    9. Wej Duj
    It’s not just the Cerritos; all ships have lower decks, and we get to see how the other halves live on a Klingon ship, and a Vulcan ship too. But these three ships have a date with destiny, and a Pakled ship. And yes, the Pakleds have lower decks as well.

    * Audio commentary with Mike McMahon, writer Kathryn Lyn, and Gabrielle Ruiz (T’Lyn)
    * Animatics (0:51)
    * Easter Eggs (1:02)

    10. First First Contact
    The Cerritos will be supporting the U.S.S. Archimedes under Captain Sonya Gomez on a First Contact mission. They run into trouble when the local star flares up, and the resulting energy wave not only disables the Archimedes, but sets it on a lethal collision course with the planet they are supposed to contact. And the crew of the Cerritos is stressed as never before as they race against time to come up with a plan to save the Archimedes.

    * Animatics (1:03)
    * Easter Eggs (1:03)

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    Lower Decks gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, which is clear, sharp, and colourful, with excellent detail, bringing the animation across smoothly and without issue. There isn’t even the spectre of digital banding to worry about, that I see on many anime Blu-rays. The character design is somewhat generic for US adult comedy animations. It has its own style to be sure, but it still conforms to an overall stereotype that I have been seeing since the year Simpsons. Where the show really does impress is the world design, really embodying that 24th Century Star Trek era where The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager reside. Costumes, ‘sets and locations’ and the technology will all be comfortably familiar if you’ve grown up with those aforementioned shows.

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    Lower Decks gets a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English track with optional SDH English subtitles. This time there is also DD 5.1 Surround French, German, Italian and Spanish, with further subtitles in these languages, plus Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. I had no issues with the audio; the surround bringing the action and music across well, and with animation, the absence of mumbly actors is a godsend, with the dialogue clear and audible throughout. I find that US animation of this nature shares a common ‘voice’, fast paced delivery and familiar cadences across the medium, and in that way Lower Decks has a degree of comfort to it. The music takes a cue from the Berman era that inspired the show’s 24th Century look, and the orchestral feel really suits the show well, establishing it firmly as Trek with the opening credits (The TNG font doesn’t hurt either).

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    You get 2 discs in a BD Amaray style case with one held on a centrally hinged panel. It’s wrapped in an o-card slipcover that repeats the sleeve art and blurb. The inner sleeve has episode synopses and extras listings. The discs boot to animated menus where you get a Play All option, an episode listing, and audio and subtitle options. The episode titles in the listing open up a sub-menu where you can see the extras listed with that particular episode, as I’ve mentioned above.

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    The separate extras are on disc 2 and are as follows...

    A Sound Foundation (13:19)
    Lower Decktionary : Season 2 (32:37)

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    Season 1 of Lower Decks was brilliant. Sure it went on the curve of development any new series goes on, growing the characters and building its world. What started off looking like a Star Trek parody pretty quickly became proper Star Trek, an integral part of the shared universe its set in, and so heavily references. It reminded us that Star Trek was a dramatic show with comedy elements, by offering a mirror to that, a comedy show with genuine drama to it. And you could say that while Season 1 was a proof of concept, at least at first, this Season 2 comes fully formed, and it’s even better than the first. I love Lower Decks. It’s fantastic.

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    It’s clear that the love for Lower Decks is universal. The first season had its occasional cameos from Trek alumni, with John DeLancie notably reprising an animated Q for a throwaway gag. But this second season sees many TV Trek actors showing up, including Lycia Naff, who played Ensign Sonia Gomez in two early episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation, now a Captain in Lower Decks. There are also vocal appearances from Alice Krige as the Borg Queen, Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris, and Jonathan Frakes again as Will Riker, and Jeffrey Combs as a psychotic computer.

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    The show also continues with the overarching storylines, not least the various interpersonal dynamics on the ship; particularly Mariner and her mother Captain Freeman. This season also sees the conflict with the Pakleds play a greater part in the episodes. The Pakleds are the stupidest race in the 24th Century, beings of low intellect but with a thirst for power, introduced in The Next Generation. Here, their machinations are beginning to have a galactic import, as the conflict spreads, and their duplicities mount.

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    Of course the comedy is paramount, and there are plenty of Trek and general sci-fi tropes and clichés deconstructed and spoofed. We begin with a mirror of the 2nd original series pilot, with a strange energy beam giving a regular character godlike power. The second episode is a deft call-back to the TNG episode, The Most Toys with a bit of Darmok thrown in, and then the third episode addresses the oft-used trope of the resurrected character, only this time Shaxs is back from the dead with no explanation at all. Mugato, Gumato might be the first Trek episode with on-screen sex, while the unspoken ‘class system’ in Starfleet rears its head when there is a party that everyone wants to go to. There’s plenty to appreciate in all of these episodes, and it’s amazing how they can squeeze two, or even three story arcs into just 25 odd minutes of animation.

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    The show really transcends in the final two episodes of the season though, with Wej Duj seemingly a novelty piece at first, as we get to see the Lower Decks dynamics on a Klingon and a Vulcan ship. Seeing the Klingon version of a career aspirational Boimler is a twist enough, but seeing the Vulcan equivalent of Mariner, shockingly playing successful hunches in the face of unrelenting logic is a novelty. But then all these little comedy asides come together as part of the season spanning story arc, and the episode hits a wholly different level. The final episode in the season gets a full half hour and it seems like a standalone story for the most part, albeit one with the toughest challenge that the crew has yet had to face. The season began with a broken family dynamic, and how that sense of loss began to heal only after Boimler returned to the Cerritos, with a lot of hurt feelings for the characters, especially Mariner to work through. This is mirrored in the final episode, as Captain Freeman gets a promotion, and the crew find out in the worst possible way, and given the crisis they face, at the worst possible time. And just when you think that you’re getting a happy ending, the season story arc returns to end things on a Best of Both Worlds style, seasons spanning cliff-hanger.

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    What a turnaround! For so long, I have been watching Star Trek sink ignominiously into irrelevance with each new bite at the franchise cherry. Recycled formulae, and ill-considered fan service increasingly displaced originality and innovation in my book. But the last couple of years have completely turned things around, and I find that Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks are competing to see who can deliver the best Star Trek ever. I haven’t been this thrilled with the franchise since Star Trek The Next Generation was airing side by side with Deep Space Nine. Lower Decks is fabulous, and it handles blending its great storytelling with its affectionate comedy with deceptive ease.

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