Following hot on the heels of Star Trek Picard’s much-loved final season. We jumped back in time to the 23rd Century. To a time when many of those ships seen at the Starfleet Museum were still flying about, and some hadn’t even been built yet! I am of course referring to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2. A season that decided to throw out quite a few rule books, and included many, many, moments that delighted fans. Along with some other moments that are quite controversial. Some of those moments may finally, with time, dethrone Tuvix as the ‘favourite Trekkie Dinner Table debate’.
But the Strange New Worlds Season 2 episodes themselves aren’t what this review is about. If you want to read our thoughts on them you can check out our Strange New Worlds Archives. What this review is about is the 4K UHD physical Steelbook, which was just released.
Artwork and Packaging
After the amazing Drew Struzan-inspired art for Star Trek: Picard Season 3. I think anybody would struggle not to feel slightly let down by Strange New Worlds Season 2 Key Art. Instead of an artistic ensemble piece on the 4K Steelbook edition’s cover, it’s simply a slightly stylized headshot of Anson Mount‘s Captain Pike. All the character covers are taken straight from the publicity shots for the prior season. The Steelbook boxset also includes 4 other magnetic character covers. So there is a positive here in that you can attach your favorite character cover to your Steelbook.
Sadly though, it’s a much more interesting idea than execution. Unless you plan to display your Strange New Worlds Season 2 Steelbook prominently and change it up regularly, it feels more like a gimmick than a genuine value addition to the box set. It also feels especially low effort given that they went to the effort to have custom artwork of the characters made up for the Subspace Rhapsody poster. This has been delegated to a fold-out paper poster that doesn’t feel particularly high quality either.
The back of the Steelbook, confusingly, looks amazing. It has a lovely image of the Enterprise saucer coming into the frame, while the silhouette of the ship is cast in shadow on colorful clouds below. While this is also one of the original publicity shots, it just feels a bit more… original. Now, I know I’m a ship enthusiast so I’m a bit biased here. But surely this is a much more suitable statement art piece for the front? Once again, we have no disk artwork (although these are black, rather than just reflective like the Blu-rays) and the interior artwork is character posters again. This also highlights that a significant number of characters didn’t get a magnet. A lot of strange choices here…
The main presentation is on 4K UHD, the highest quality Star Trek has released to date and exclusive (at least in the realms of television/streaming) to Strange New Worlds. Like other shows though it’s in the 2:39:1 letterbox format. That’s where the positives in terms of technical specs end. After the veritable smörgåsbord of language and subtitle options for the Picard Season 3 release. Strange New Worlds Season 2 is also, unfortunately, a step down in this department.
People who speak the show’s native English language and love the increased visual fidelity of 4K UHD may be pleased with this release. I doubt, however, that it will have the same reception in many overseas territories. The only DTS-HD audio track (like Picard) in this release is US English. After that, we have 5:1 Dolby Digital audio for French-Parisian and German speakers. That’s it.
Subtitles are the same. US English, Parisian French, and German. The Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, and Spanish subtitle options (again present on the Picard Season 3 sets), are absent. For a franchise built around ideological notions of breaking down barriers and bringing people together, this is another strange choice. I guess the diplomatic way to state my thoughts on this would be to describe the options as ‘subpar’.
Special Features – Disk One
The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 release is remarkably light on extras. The first additional or deleted scene is an extended sequence taken from the season opener – The Broken Circle. This extended sequence takes place on Starbase One. Shortly after (in this reviewer’s opinion) one of the greatest shots of the Enterprise in Star Trek television history. I am of course talking about that undocking and then vertical fly-off!
The scene itself opens with a (somewhat fascinating) unfinished CG shot of Starbase One. The scene then cuts to the (completed VFX) interior shot, where we see an unnamed Captain reporting the Enterprise’s course trajectory to Admiral April (Adrian Holmes). We then see a fellow admiral (named Si or Psi) confront Pike about letting them go. The dialogue highlights that they can recall Enterprise remotely and that the ship’s presence could potentially escalate hostilities. It also gives some exposition about the current state of the Federation and the threats against it. The actors with dialogue in this sequence are unfortunately uncredited (aside from April, obviously).
It’s a shame this sequence was cut as it builds out the current state of Federation tensions and priorities nicely, while not feeling drawn out or overly long. If kept in the episode, I think it would have served as a nice epilogue to the Enterprise escape sequence.
Special Features – Disk One Continued
The other scenes on the disk are from episode 3 Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. The first is a short fun exchange between Kirk (Paul Wesley) and La’an (Christina Chong) after they pick out the same outfit. Instead of it just being a comedic beat, La’an prompts Kirk to change stating that the clothes ‘look better on her’.
The second is an extended version of the scene where Kirk sets out to hustle some Chess players, featuring some dialogue with his first opponent. The screened version is a straight cut into the musical montage. The third and final scene from this episode picks up at Pelia’s store. After Kirk and La’an find the watch and move to leave, there’s a short comedic moment as Pelia asks them for payment (playing on their earlier shopping troubles). As the watch has value again now!
You can tell why these moments were cut as they don’t provide value to the narrative beyond a couple of humanizing beats in an episode that already goes out of its way to provide La’an with some much-needed character development. But never the less, it’s fun to see the ‘full versions’ of these scenes before they hit the editor’s room floor.
Special Features – Disk Two
Disk Two is similarly light on special features with the only inclusions being deleted and extended scenes again. Episode 5 ‘Charades‘ has a fun exchange between ‘human’ Spock and Una in the bar, trying the bar snacks. Spock (Ethan Peck) makes some unfortunate combinations, much to his almost immediate disgust and then regret.
Episode 6 ‘Lost in Translation‘ has a corridor conversation between Una (Rebecca Romijn) and Pike. As an interesting observation, they haven’t removed the sounds of them walking so we get to hear what these scenes sound like before post-production! That aside, while you can tell this scene was cut for time, it features some great character-building between Pike, Una, and Pelia (Carol Kane). Pike references Una’s managerial fervor while assigning Pelia to the station. All actors involved do a wonderful job using their body language to hint at the tension between the two women (that boils over later on)! For cosplayers, there’s also a good glimpse at a series of uniform variations here too!
The second cut scene is a slightly extended version of the second Xenoanthropology lab sequence where Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) presents his theory. The cut content opens with the Kirk brothers – Sam and Jim – verbally sparring before Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) puts her foot down. After this, the scene plays out as it did in the episode. Plus point, we get a more obvious shot of Sam stealing that cookie!
Special Features – Disk Two Continued
Finally, for ‘Lost in Translation‘ we also see an extended version of Una and Pelia’s scene in the shuttle. There’s some additional dialogue that was cut from the conversation. So it plays a bit differently and gives Pelia some much-needed extra screen time. It’s a shame it was cut!
One of the highlights from the season was the Star Trek: Lower Decks crossover episode ‘Those Old Scientists’. It also has an extended scene, but this very much feels as though it was added for the sake of having a deleted scene from this episode. It’s a tiny extension of the scene where the Orions steal the portal. It shows Pike, La’an, and Boimler (Jack Quaid) beaming down to visually observe the portal has been stolen.
The first of the controversial ‘Under The Cloak of War’ (episode 8) deleted scenes features a cut-off meeting between M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Chapel (Jess Bush) on the moon of J’Gal. Chapel highlights that they may have miscatalogued supplies. M’Benga encourages her to rest, to which she states she prefers to stay busy. The scene ends with them walking off together while M’Benga tells Chapel that he can already tell he’s going to like her. It’s sweet, but ultimately redundant considering the relationship we’ve already seen between these characters.
Special Features – Disk Two continued
The second deleted scene is one that I really wish they had kept in the episode. It features M’Benga, Chapel, and Ortegas (Melissa Navia) at the bar after the dinner scene letting off some steam. While watching the episode I felt it was missing sequences like this. Scenes showing characters that had been pushed to emotional extremes finally getting to unwind, outside of sparring matches of course. It’s nice to see that while writing and filming the episode those involved clearly had this same idea. So it’s such a shame that it didn’t make the cut.
The final deleted scene is between Pike and M’Benga in Sickbay, where Pike expresses regret at inviting them to the dinner. He makes it clear that M’Benga doesn’t have to go to the match. This again is a much-needed scene acknowledging the mistakes that the characters made throughout the episode.
In this case, it feels as though this one was cut because it would make the audience less sympathetic to M’Benga. An understandable move, but one I wish they hadn’t taken. Sometimes it is just as important to give the main characters flaws. It gives them more depth and therefore reasons for the audience to empathise with them.
Special Features – Disk Three
Have you been reading this Strange New Worlds Season 2 Steelbook review wondering where the special features of this release were? Don’t worry, I was thinking the same! It turns out they’re all on Disk Three. They even have a dedicated menu rather than being sub-options for individual episodes.
There is a deleted scene on this disk though! I also imagine it’ll be the one that most are interested in. It’s the alternate version of the Klingon sequence from Subspace Rhapsody where the Klingons sing an Opera, instead of K[lingon]-Pop. I won’t go into details, but I think that they made the right decision. The scene certainly left fans with quite the impression and meme potential.
Of the special features themselves, the first focuses on props used in Season 2, with a particular focus on the Vulcan lute recreated from Star Trek: The Original Series. As well as other Vulcan items, such as the teapot used in ‘Charades’. Much to the delight of Star Trek prop makers everywhere it turns out this was 3D printed in resin and then dyed!
Special Features – Disk Three Continued
The second feature focuses on costumes. A lot of great cosplay references are in here for those so inclined. The feature goes through costumes seen in the show in chronological order of appearance, with a particular focus on those used in ‘Among the Lotus Eaters’. On a personal note, it’s quite jarring to see the reverence that those behind the scenes have for the aesthetics and props used in The Original Series. While I can appreciate it, I also question their odd decisions to omit Discovery-style uniforms. Later in the season, these would have been appropriate to see.
We also have ‘The Gorn’ featuring, taking a look in detail, at the development of the Gorn appearance and costumes. Rather amusingly this feature is a victim of the menu font, with the capital R being very similar to the capital A. Making it look like a feature about the ‘GOAN’ at a glance.
My favorite of these features, as a lover of the musical episode, is ‘Singing in Space’. This, as the title implies, looks at the production and development of Strange New Worlds Season 2, Episode 9 ‘Subspace Rhapsody’. It shares some fun peaks at the cast during rehearsals, as well as all the in-depth details.
Final Feature and Conclusion
The final feature ‘Exploring New Worlds’ baffles me a bit. First, is the title. Given that we didn’t actually explore many new worlds this season. Second, is that it covers all of the episodes chronologically except ‘Subspace Rhapsody‘, which has a dedicated feature. It seems that it would have been better (as with Picard) to split these focus segments into one for each episode, putting them on the corresponding disks. This would allow viewers to jump into a deeper exploration while questions about each episode are fresh in their minds. Where they may have forgotten the context of earlier episodes and answered questions themselves by taking a look online by the time they reach this feature at the end.
Strange New Worlds Season 2 is available on Amazon
Ultimately, the Steelbook box set is… Cromulent. The art is eye-catching, if unimaginative. The episodes themselves all look superb in their (as uncompressed as we’ll ever get them outside the original masters) 4K UHD HDR glory. There is a good variety of special features and extended/deleted/alternate scenes for fans of the show to dig their teeth into. These especially work for those who are prop or cosplay-inclined!
I can’t however, bring myself to rave about it too much due to the lack of language/subtitle options, and other missing features. Picard Season 3 showed it can be done. Strange New Worlds is now seen by many as the new ‘flagship’ show of the Star Trek Universe (especially now that Discovery is ending). Accessibility for the global fanbase is important, and Paramount needs to do better going forward. It’s absurd that a premiere show in 2023 on 4K Blu-ray has fewer language options than the DVD releases of The Next Generation over 20 years ago.
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