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OK, after a less than awe inspiring freshman and sophomore seasons on the air, STAR TREK: VOYAGER finally began showing some signs of life during season three, which certainly gave this long time Trek fan high hopes for the forthcoming seasons of the show. When season four finally rolled around, I definitely was not disappointed by what I saw, with STAR TREK: VOYAGER starting kicking some serious butt as a TV show, thus making the series an interesting, exciting and worthy extension of the science fiction universe created by Gene Roddenberry. So what kicked STAR TREK: VOYAGER into gear? Probably, better character development, some darker storytelling, interesting adversaries, not to mention Voyager’s first encounter with The Borg, plus the addition of a new cast member that came out of that encounter.

The arrival of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, a freed Borg drone, certainly brought a new dynamic to STAR TREK: VOYAGER; not only was it interesting to see the near life long member of the Borg collective adapt to being an individual human being once again, Seven of Nine’s skin tight outfits really added a whole lot of visual appeal, plus more than a bit of sex appeal to the series. For those unfamiliar with the series, the basic premise of STAR TREK: VOYAGER finds the crew of the starship Voyager trying to make their way hope from the Delta Quadrant- a seventy-year journey at maximum speed. The Voyager ship’s crew features Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway, Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay, Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris, Ethan Phillips as Neelix, Robert Picardo as The Doctor, Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok and Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim.

STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR ($130) comes to DVD in a seven-disc set that features all twenty-six episodes that were aired in the forth year. The twenty-six featured episodes are as follows: Scorpion Part 2, The Gift, Day Of Honor, Nemesis, Revulsion, The Raven, Scientific Method, Year Of Hell Part 1, Year Of Hell Part 2, Random Thoughts, Concerning Flight, Mortal Coil, Waking Moments, Message In A Bottle, Hunters, Prey, Retrospect, The Killing Game Part 1, The Killing Game Part 2, Vis A Vis, The Omega Directive, Unforgettable, Living Witness, Demon, One and Hope And Fear. Personal favorites from season four include Scorpion Part 2 in which the Voyager crew forms an alliance with The Borg to avoid assimilation, The Gift, which marks Jennifer Lien departure from the role of Kes, Year Of Hell Parts 1 & 2, in which Voyager is nearly destroyed by an alien race tampering with the very fabric of time, plus Message In A Bottle, which finds the holographic doctor using an alien communications array to travel to the Alpha Quadrant to inform Starfleet of Voyager’s predicament.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-six episodes from STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. As with the preceding three seasons, STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR looks very good on DVD, especially for a television series that relied heavily on special effects that had to be completed on a television caliber budget. Sequences shot on film look the best, producing crisp and reasonably well-detailed images. Effects work also looks good and is a definite step up from the work on THE NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE, Season Four’s effects even seem to offer some improvements over the earlier years. Colors appear strong, with appealing flesh tones and no signs of noise or fuzziness. Blacks are deep, whites appear clean, and while contrast is reined it to the limitations of broadcast, lighting doesn’t seem particularly flat. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are always nicely camouflaged.

As with the earlier sets, all the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR feature soundtracks that have been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 channel format. Not surprisingly, the new sound mixes appear to be direct transcriptions of the pre-matrixed surround sound stems, which were prepared for television broadcast. Fortunately, the show was well mixed for a mid to late1990’s production and proves to be rather engaging. Sure, the forward soundstage dominates, but there is good channel separation across the front, plus the rears provide solid reinforcement to the space battles, as well as other ambient sounds, engine rumble and a bit of musical fill. Fidelity is good for this type of production, with the music coming across nicely and the sound effects seeming convincing enough. The bass channel is fairly sturdy for a television production, while dialogue is always cleanly rendered. English Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.

3-D animation with a Borg motif, plus sound serve to enhance the DVD’s 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 seven of the set. Starting things off is Braving the Unknown: Season Four, a twenty-one minute retrospective program that looks back at the show’s forth year (with a special emphasis on Seven of Nine), through a series of recent and vintage interviews with various members of the cast and crew. Voyager Time Capsule: Seven of Nine runs thirteen minutes and features vintage interviews with actress Jeri Ryan talking about her character and the challenges of coming into the show, and the instantaneous recognition and sex appeal of Seven.

Voyager Time Capsule: Harry Kim clocks in at thirteen minutes and features new and vintage interviews with Garrett Wang, who discusses his character. The Birth Of Species 8472 in a nine-minute program that looks at the creation of a new alien life form- one that becomes a genuine threat to The Borg. The Art Of Alien Worlds runs ten minutes and features a look the matte art and artists that create the landscapes of alien planets. A Photo Gallery and a promo for TREKKIES 2 close out the supplements.

With the darker storylines and the addition of Seven of Nine to the cast, season four marked a positive turning point for STAR TREK: VOYAGER as a series. As for the STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR DVD set, Paramount does their usual first rate job by providing very good looking presentations, plus solid sound quality and some fine extras. Considering that the show starts to kick butt during its forth year, fans will definitely want to add STAR TREK: VOYAGER- SEASON FOUR to their Starfleet libraries.



Star Trek Voyager - The Complete Fourth Season


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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