STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON TWO
As I stated in my review of season one, I am a fan of STAR TREK: VOYAGER, even though I don’t consider it to be the best of the series that bear the Trek moniker. STAR TREK: VOYAGER proved to be a generally entertaining series that suffer under the weight of being the flagship show of the fledgling United Paramount Network (UPN). For me, the show seemed like it was trying too hard to appeal to a broad demographic base and lacked the dark edgy quality (especially during the early seasons) that made DEEP SPACE NINE, the best of all the STAR TREK series. However, across the first few seasons, there were some darker episodes that stood out and demonstrated the series storytelling potential when the crew of Voyager would eventually encounter the nastiest of all Trek villains at the end of season three, namely The Borg.
Season two of STAR TREK: VOYAGER offers a better ratio of stronger to weaker episodes than the first. However those weaker episodes generally featured an alien race known as the Kazon, who served as the primary antagonists during the second season. For my money, the Kazon were uninteresting villains, which tended to drag down episodes in which they appeared. Of course, during the early days of Voyager’s trek across the Delta Quadrant, the Starfleet crew had a few run ins with the organ harvesting Vidiians, a genuinely menacing race of aliens that seemed to make the impending seventy five year trip home to the Alpha Quadrant a lot more dangerous. Sure, the Vidiians weren’t The Borg, but episodes in which they showed their ugly faces were always entertaining.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON TWO ($130) comes to DVD in a seven-disc set that features all twenty-six episodes that were aired in that second year. The twenty-six featured episodes are as follows: The 37's, Initiations, Projections, Elogium, Non Sequitur, Twisted, Parturition, Persistence Of Vision, Tattoo, Cold Fire, Maneuvers, Resistance, Prototype, Alliances, Threshold, Meld, Dreadnought, Deathwish, Lifesigns, Investigations, Deadlock, Innocence, The Thaw, Tuvix, Resolutions and Basics (Part 1). The STAR TREK: VOYAGER ship’s crew features Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway, Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay, 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.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-six episodes from STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON TWO available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The visual quality of season two is comparable to season one, which was quite good for an effects laden television series of this type. Improvements in mid 1990’s production techniques certainly gave VOYAGER a visual edge over THE NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE. Season two episodes appear reasonably sharp and nicely defined, not a theatrical levels, but quite good for a television production. Colors are vivid and stable, without any significant fuzziness or noise to mar reproduction of even the most intense hues. Blacks are stable, whites are clean and contrast is good, even if it is limited to the broadcast television level. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are always nicely camouflaged.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON TWO have been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Considering the quality of the mixes, all of the tracks would appear to be based upon pre-matrixed surround sound stems. Certainly cleaner and better defined than they sounded upon initial broadcast, the sound still maintains the flavor of a 1990’s era television production. Much of the time, the forward soundstage tends to dominate, although episodes with space battles and other bits of action do engage the surround channels on a more frequent basis. Sound effects are solid and convincing, while there is strong musical fidelity offered for each episode’s score. Dialogue is cleanly rendered, with complete intelligibility. The bass channel provides is solid enough for episodic television productions, but it doesn’t approach the depths of a theatrical feature. English Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.
Braving The Unknown: Season Two is a sixteen minute program that features interviews with production team members who reflect on the show’s sophomore year. Voyager Time Capsule: Tuvok features actor Tim Russ in a thirteen-minute profile of his character. Saboteur Extraordinaire: Seska spends six minutes with actress Martha Hackett, who discusses her traitorous Cardassian character. A Day In The Life Of Ethan Phillips clocks in seven minutes and shows the daily rituals of the actor with the show’s most extensive makeup. Red Alert: Visual Effects is a twelve-minute look at… you guessed it. Real Science With Andre Bormanis is an eleven-minute examination of the feasible science and theories in the STAR TREK: VOYAGER universe. A photo gallery, plus a trailer for Las Vegas attraction Borg Invasion 4D close out the supplements.
With a solid number of stronger episodes, season two of STAR TREK: VOYAGER is definite a step up from the show’s freshman year. As for the STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON TWO DVD collection, Paramount has done another fine job, providing a great looking presentation, solid sound and interesting supplements. If you are a Trek fan, you’ll want to add this set to your Starfleet library.
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