STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON ONE
Right up front, I’ll say I really liked STAR TREK: VOYAGER, but I was never in love with the series, the same way I was with DEEP SPACE NINE. For my money, DEEP SPACE NINE was the best of all television series bearing the STAR TREK moniker, while VOYAGER came across as something of a disappointment, especially during the early seasons. I think the biggest problem with VOYAGER was that it was too homogenized- trying to appeal to many demographics and create an audience for the then fledgling UPN network. VOYAGER might have worked better had it been a little darker, like DEEP SPACE NINE, and tried to push the storytelling envelope a little. It was only in the forth season, when the show ventured into Borg space and added a new series regular, that it became somewhat darker, more complex and truly interesting.
The plot of STAR TREK: VOYAGER focuses on the plight of the Federation Starship USS Voyager. While in pursuit of a Maquis ship in an area of space known as the badlands, Voyager is whisked seventy thousand light-years across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant, where it becomes trapped. After an incident that leads to the destruction of the Maquis ship, Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) decides to integrate the two crews, with Chakotay (Robert Beltran), the Maquis captain, serving as her first officer. Seventy-five years away from home at maximum speed, this newly unified Federation crew begins their trek across the Delta Quadrant, facing countless unknowns and hostile alien species. The STAR TREK: VOYAGER ship’s crew also features Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, Jennifer Lien as Kes, Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris, Ethan Phillips as Neelix, Robert Picardo as The Doctor, Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok and Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the first season is that very few of the aliens encountered in the Delta Quadrant are particularly interesting, especially the Kazon, who would seem to have been intended as the chief antagonists for the Voyager crew (especially in the second season). However, the most intriguing aspect of the first season is the burgeoning evolution of the ship’s holographic doctor portrayed by Robert Picardo. Designed for short-term use, the Emergency Medical Hologram is forced expand beyond its original programming, when it becomes Voyager’s chief medical officer out of necessity. Picardo is wonderful portraying the initially poor bedside manner of "The Doctor," who changes and adapts through human interaction and having his program made autonomous. STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON ONE ($130) comes to DVD in a five-disc set that features all fifteen episodes that were aired in that first year. The fifteen featured episodes are as follows: Caretaker, Parallax, Time And Again, Phage, The Cloud, Eye Of The Needle, Ex Post Facto, Emanations, Prime Factors, State of Flux, Heroes And Demons, Cathexis, Faces, Jetrel and Learning Curve.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all fifteen episodes from STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON ONE available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Being newer than THE NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE, VOYAGER is the best looking of the three series released on DVD. Similar television level postproduction techniques were applied to all three series, but over the course of time there were improvements in said techniques, which produced superior end results by the time VOYAGER hit the airwaves. VOYAGER episodes appear somewhat sharper and better defined than did the preceding series. Certainly not at theatrical levels, the image quality is very pleasing for television fare. Colors appear strongly rendered, without any signs of noise and minimal fuzziness during sequences with the most intense warm hues. Blacks are accurate, whites are clean and contrast is good, despite being produced for the necessities of broadcast television. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are always very well concealed.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON ONE feature soundtracks that have been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 channel format. The Dolby Digital mix would seem to come from the pre-matrixed sound stems, which are very good for a 90’s era television program. As expected, the forward soundstage dominates the mix most of the time, although episodes with space battles and such do get a bit more surround action going. Sound effects are generally convincing, plus the recordings demonstrate very good musical fidelity, which manifests itself across the front channels and with a bit of fill in the rears. Ambient sounds and engine noises are usually the most consistent sounds emanating from the surround channels. Dialogue is crisply rendered and always fully intelligible. The bass channel provides a good bit of clout to each soundtrack, although it still falls short of a theatrical presentation. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.
3-D animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s attractively designed interactive menus, which provide access to the set up and episode selection features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been relegated to disc five of the set. Braving The Unknown: Season One is a ten-minute program that looks at the show’s creation. Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway runs fifteen-minutes and features Kate Mulgrew reflecting on how she got the role of the captain and then made it her own. The First Captain: Bujold clocks in at eight minutes and features some of the footage of actress Genevieve Bujold in the role of Captain, before she left the show for the usual non-descript reasons of "creative differences," which have become so famous in Hollywood.
Cast Reflections: Season One is another eight minute program featuring all the cast members talking about their experiences in the show’s freshman year. On Location With The Kazons is a five-minute tour of one of the show’s outdoor locations. Red Alert: Visual Effects runs ten minutes and looks at the show’s effects work. Launching Voyager On The Web is a six-minute look at the show’s online presence and promotion. Real Science With Andre Bormanis provides a glimpse at how the show tried to remain "authentic" by integrating current scientific theory. A photo gallery and a number of hidden files close out the supplements. One last thing, gotta say I really liked the funky plastic packaging that houses the set, it is sleek and efficient and doesn’t take up excessive space- way to go Paramount!
I’m a Trek fan and have to say that I enjoyed STAR TREK: VOYAGER during its seven year run. It may not have been the best series to carry the STAR TREK moniker, but it produced its fair share of interesting stories and exciting adventures. Paramount has done their usual wonderful job with the set, so if you’re a fan, you will definitely want to add STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON ONE to your collection.
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