Paramount certainly knows how to release TV shows on DVD. The studio is doing "Star Trek" fans a great service by releasing entire RUNS in one calendar year. 2002 saw the release of all seven seasons of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and 2003 saw the release of all seven seasons of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". Now, all seven seasons of "Star Trek: Voyager" are being released in 2004, and it looks like "Star Trek: The Original Series" will be re-released in box sets in 2004, too. Coupled with the special edition re-releases of the "Star Trek" feature films, there's an average of one new "Star Trek" release every month--a definite cause for celebration.
"Star Trek: Voyager" begins with a Federation starship being sent to look for a Maquis (i.e. rebel) raider that was lost in The Badlands, an area of space near the Federation-Cardassian border that is filled with dangerous phenomena. The Voyager finds itself being pulled by an alien force from the Alpha Quadrant (which includes Earth) to the Delta Quadrant--a distance of more than 70,000 light years. The Voyager and Maquis crews join forces to find a way back home. Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) leads the Vulcan Chief of Security Tuvok (Tim Russ), pilot Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), and Operations Officer Harry Kim (Garrett Wang). The Native American Chakotay (Robert Beltran) heads a Maquis crew that includes the half-human/half-Klingon Chief of Engineering B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson), and the combined crew picks up the Talaxian Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and the Ocampan Kes (Jennifer Lien). There's even a holographic doctor (Robert Picardo). New to Season 4 was Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), a Borg drone who has been dis-assimilated from the Borg Collective.
Disc 1: "Night", "Drone", "Extreme Risk", "In the Flesh".
Disc 2: "Once Upon a Time", "Timeless", "Infinite Regress", "Nothing Human".
Disc 3: "Thirty Days", "Counterpoint", "Latent Image", "Bride of Chaotica!".
Disc 4: "Gravity", "Bliss", "Dark Frontier".
Disc 5: "The Disease", "Course: Oblivion", "The Fight", "Think Tank".
Disc 6: "Juggernaut", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "11:59", "Relativity".
Disc 7: "Warhead", "Equinox, Part I".
By Season Five, the writers finally realized that "Voyager" could no longer depend on the "alien-of-the-week" format. Therefore, the focus turned inwards as Seven of Nine tries to date and integrate herself into the ship's social structure, as Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres deal with her demons as they move closer towards marriage, and as Harry Kim begins to assert himself since he's no longer a wide-eyed first-year officer. In fact, one could argue that Season Five is Harry's year. The one-hundreth episode, "Timeless", features Harry sending messages back in time in order to prevent a disaster. (The 100-mark is important for TV shows for syndication purposes.) "The Disease" finds Harry disobeying Starfleet regulations and Janeway's orders as he becomes involved with a woman from an alien race (played by the gorgeous Musetta Vander) who's having a biochemical effect on him after intimate encounters. Finally, in "Warhead", Harry delights in taking command of the night shift so that he can play captain for a few hours. His quick thinking once again saves Voyager from destruction.
During its run, "Voyager" often presented Janeway with reasons to deviate from Starfleet protocols. Season Five's final episode, "Equinox, Part I", is a cliffhanger that shows us what does happen when Starfleet personnel ignore their principles. Voyager meets up with Equinox, another Starfleet vessel pulled into the Delta Quadrant by The Caretaker. Equinox's captain has basically gone rogue while attempting to find a way to get back to Earth as quickly as possible. This conflict between ideals and selfishness is one of the highpoints in the show's run.
"Voyager" arrives on DVD with its original 1.33:1 (full-frame on 4:3 monitors) aspect ratio. As with Season 4, every episode in Season 5 looks consistently great. Colors are appropriately muted and vibrant when necessary, and there are no compression/authoring problems. Everything is sharp and clear.
There are several space fights in Season 5, so the Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio tracks are very active and wide if not as aggressive as mixes for some theatrical releases. Still, for the most part, "Star Trek" has always been more dialogue-oriented than other science-fiction works. Therefore, it's sufficient that the center channel comes through clearly.
You can watch each episode with its original DD 2.0 surround English track (recommended for those of you without DD 5.1 set-ups). Optional English subtitles as well as optional English closed captions support the audio.
All of the set's extras are on Disc 7. "Braving the Unknown: Season Five" gives viewers a glimpse of cast and crew members' memories. "Time Capsule: B'Elanna Torres" and "Time Capsule: Tom Paris" feature old and new interviews with the actors who played those characters. "The Borg Queen Speaks" lets the guest actress who played the Borg Queen in Season Five (NOT Alice Krige) offer insights into her approach to the character. For "Delta Quadrant Make-up Magic", make-up artist Michael Westmore talks about the award-winning work that he did for "Voyager". Finally, if you get creative with your remote control's directional pad, you'll find five Easter Eggs.
The discs are housed in Digipak plastic trays that are bound together like the pages in a book. Two clear plastic slipcases prevent the trays from flapping wildly, and episode listings are printed on one of the slipcases.
I admit that I root for the Asian guy when I watch "Star Trek", even though I should look past ethnic differences if I want others to look past ethnic differences, too. Still, I felt some measure of Chinese-pride when Garrett Wang's character, Harry Kim, took center stage in several episodes. Also, Seven of Nine's increasing human-ness (and often awkward attempts to learn more about humanity) reveal a lot of truths that we take for granted or don't want to notice. Season 5 was a very good year for "Star Trek: Voyager".