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: "Equinox, Part II", "Survival Instinct", "Barge of the Dead", "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy".
Disc 2: "Alice", "Riddles", "Dragon's Teeth", "One Small Step".
Disc 3: "The Voyager Conspiracy", "Pathfinder", "Fair Haven", "Blink of an Eye".
Disc 4: "Virtuoso", "Memorial", "Tsunkatse", "Collective".
Disc 5: "Spirit Folk", "Ashes to Ashes", "Child's Play", "Good Shepherd".
Disc 6: "Live Fast and Prosper", "Muse", "Fury", "Life Line".
Disc 7: "The Haunting of Deck Twelve", "Unimatrix Zero, Part I".
Season Six gets off to a strong start with the exciting conclusion to "Equinox". However, things quiet down with a couple of episodes that have strong moments but aren't strong overall. What really gets the season going in the middle is the Voyager crew's absorption of four Borg children. Seven of Nine gets to play mother, and re-introducing the children to their individuality and their "humanity" provides the show with plenty of humor and pathos.
Harry Kim gets another stand-out episode with "Ashes to Ashes". In that episode, a young lady who died on an away mission makes her way back to Voyager after being re-animated by an alien race. She and Kim initiate a love affair that satisfies Kim's yearning for her since their Starfleet days. However, her biochemistry has been altered so drastically that she decides that she should return to the race that re-animated her rather than stay with Voyager. "Ashes to Ashes" is a genuinely moving moment in "Star Trek" history.
Alas, the rest of the year is rather so-so as well. "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" showcases Neelix well for a change, though "Unimatrix Zero, Part I" is, like most two-parter episodes, unnecessarily protracted and dull too often. Still, I delighted in Neelix and Tuvok's growing friendship during the course of Season Six, and I think it was important for people to see Tuvok spending free time with people other than Janeway.
"Voyager" arrives on DVD with its original 1.33:1 (full-frame on 4:3 monitors) aspect ratio. As with Season 5, every episode in Season 6 looks consistently great. Colors are appropriately muted and vibrant when necessary, and there are no compression/authoring problems. Everything is sharp and clear.
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 Six" gives viewers a glimpse of cast and crew members' memories. "Voyager Time Capsule: Chakotay" features old interviews with Robert Beltran about his character. "One Small Step: A Mars Encounter" looks at how "Star Trek" incorporates contemporary spaceflight events into the mythology. "Guest Star Profile: Vaughn Armstrong" celebrates the multiple appearances of a versatile actor. "Red Alert! Amazing Visual Effects" takes you behind the scenes of the production. 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.
Season Six was a rather uneven year. The highs were very high, but the lows made me feel rather indifferent. Season Six doesn't have outright clunkers, but clunkers can be more fun to watch than so-so efforts. I'm rating Season Six a "7" because I love the "Voyager" cast and because "Ashes to Ashes" is one of my favorite "Star Trek" episodes. However, casual "Star Trek" fans may think less of it than I do.