Star Trek Voyager was the third spin-off from the original Star Trek following the Superior Next Generation and the inferior Deep Space Nine. While the idea was quite an original premise, the cast never seemed to gel. The obvious attempt at political correctness gives us the most diverse cast yet on Star Trek, including the first female captain. Kate Mulgrew is the weakest captain to date on Star Trek. (I know I’ll catch heat for this.) The reason is not her gender but such a lack of strength. She never walks but see…s to glide across the bridge when she moves. The strongest characters come in Tom Paris, the Federation inmate, and Torres, the half klingon half human hybrid. There is real passion in those characters that keep the cast interesting enough. The combination of Federation and Marquis (a rebel Federation group) members was a great setup that too quickly gets tossed aside in later years. There’s plenty of Star Trek eye candy and a whole new quadrant of aliens to meet here. It had been quite some time for me since I had seen Voyager. It was refreshing to watch this first season, perhaps the best before the late addition of 7 of 9.
The Federation starship Voyager is looking for a rebel Marquis ship that vanished in the “Badlands”. Capt Janeway (Mulgrew) is concerned for a Starfleet operative and friend aboard the missing ship. When they find the vessel they are thrown 700,000 lightyears away from home. Now the crews of both ships must work together to overcome a 100 year journey back to Federation space.
You are given a choice of the original 2.0 track or a newly mastered 5.1 version. Don’t look for aggressive surrounds on the 5.1, but it is preferable. I must say there are moments when the surrounds do come alive with startling clarity. The sound is fuller and more dynamic, if not wider spread, on the 5.1. The dialogue is always sharp and well mixed.
Each episode of Voyager is presented in its original television 1.33:1 full frame format. These transfers are definitely a step up from their cable presentations. Colors are quite vivid and at times spectacular. The opening sequence is a great example. The sun and flares are alive in wonderful contrast to a perfect field of darkness. Blacks are as deep and detailed as I’ve seen on television. The only real complaint is the digital artifacts and shimmers that appear from time to time. This often gives the show an obvious CGI look.
Star Trek Voyager: The Complete First Season is contained on five discs. The final disc contains all of the extras. The packaging is another complaint. I know some of you like these things, but I absolutely hate them. The discs come in a plastic book that fits into rigid plastic sleeves. This plastic is exactly like blister-pack and is brittle. The bottom sleeve of my set was torn at the seam in just three days. This is close to the CSI packages. You would think Paramount would understand that Trek fans in particular will want to keep the package nice.
Anyway… on to the extras.
I was most eager to see the “First Captain: Bujold” feature. I’m not a fan of Mulgrew and was very interested in seeing how Bujold handled the role. For those who are unaware, Bujold was originally cast as Janeway and production was already started when she left the role and Mulgrew was hired. This feature dances around the reasons for Bujold’s replacement. There is considerable footage of her in the part. I actually do like Mulgrew better, but now you can judge for yourself.
The others extras line up line this…
- “Braving The Unknown: Season One” is the typical interviews with cast and crew. The format is almost exactly what we’ve seen on the previous Trek season sets.
- “Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway” is a short talk with Mulgrew about the part.
- “Cast Reflections: Season One” is similar to the “Braving The Unknown” feature. It’s interviews with the cast. It is interesting to note their expectations and notions about entering the “Star Trek Universe”.
- “On Location With The Kazons” is a look at the production of the pilot with David Livingston, one of the show’s producers.
- “Red Alert Visual Effects: Season One” f/x supervisor Dan Curry takes us on a tour of the f/x processes for Voyager. The most interesting is a close look at the larger shooting model of Voyager itself.
- “Launching Voyager On The Web” is a look at the creation of Star Trek.com.
- Real Science with Andre Bormanis” takes a look at all of the “technobabble” used in the show.
Voyager launched to a pretty solid start. Most fans agree that the show’s middle years were a struggle of no identity. Season One was a year of infinite possibilities. I liked the cast better before they settled in and became too comfortable. Later 7 of 9 would offer a lot of the inner conflict that should have been mined from the Federation/Marquis convergence. Kes had been gone so long I had surprisingly very little memory of her. The entire series will be released over the next year so start your collection now. “Let’s get started then”.
Special Features List
- Braving the Unknown: Season One
- Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway
- The First Captain: Bujold
- Cast Reflections: Season One
- Red Alert: Visual Effects – Season One
- Real Science with Andre Bormanis
- Launching Voyager on the Web
- On Location with the Kazons