It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. No, I’m not having a Charles Dickens flashback or reliving Star Trek II. I’m pondering the release of this new Fan Collective featuring alternate realities. This new 5 disc collection brings together episodes from all 5 live action television Star Trek shows. They all deal with some adventure into a twisted or fabricated reality outside of the Trek universe we already know. Of course, that covers a lot of ground when you’re talking about Star Trek and the over 700 hours of television these shows have combined to produce. The show was always out stretching the boundaries of reality. Still, I guess someone had to pick out a small enough group of episode to fit on a tidy 5 disc set. How did they do? The answer is mixed.
The set begins with a bang. All of the Mirror Universe episodes are included. You get the original series episode Mirror Mirror to start with. It should also be noted here that all of the original series episodes are the remastered versions. This was one of that show’s best episodes. Everyone remembers the bearded Spock. Beyond the facial hair, the episode was rare in that it allowed each of the regular cast to have at least one big moment in the show. There isn’t a Trek fan alive who doesn’t wish that Kirk and company had returned to that universe to see how things turned out. While Kirk and the gang never returned, two of the subsequent shows did just that. From Deep Space Nine you get all three Mirror episodes: Crossover, Through The Looking Glass, and Shattered. The best of these is Crossover, where Nana Visitor gets to play herself and the Intendant, the fate of the Mirror Kira. The other two episodes merely followed the relatively clichéd idea of watching these characters play their polar opposites. One of the best two part episodes of
Next we venture in to a category called Parallel Dimensions. Unfortunately this section begins with the horrible original series episode The Alternative Factor. Perhaps the powers that be figured because the title contained the word alternative they were compelled to do it. Whatever reason, this tale of a matter and anti-matter hippie is one of the worst episodes in all of Trekdom. Kirk must send poor Lazarus to fight his other self for eternity in order to save the universe. From The Next Generation we get the much better Parallels. Worf is returning from a competition. When he gets back on the
The next section is called Twisted Realities. Where things are often a little strangely arranged from what we’ve come to know. This area contains the original series episode The Enemy Within. This is a better choice than the other episodes from the original series. You remember the split Kirk? We have one of Shatner’s most imitated performances as he shouts “I’m Captain Kirk” maniacally. Shatner also spoofs the episode in the famous Saturday Night Live skit where he tells convention goers to get a life. After being reminded of contractual obligations, Shatner informs the crowd that his outburst was a performance of the evil Kirk from this episode. We also get one of that show’s worst, and its final episode: Turnabout Intruder. Kirk is forced to change places with a crazy woman. From Next Generation we get Frame Of Mind. It’s an average Riker heavy episode. While preparing for a play about a mental patient, Riker begins to move between the play and a reality where he really is in an insane asylum. From Voyager we get Shattered. It’s a pretty good entry in which Chakotay is the only one able to move through time pockets around the ship. Each section is a different place in time.
Finally we have Alternate Lives, where crewmembers experience, what else, but an alternate life. There are no original series episodes here. It starts with the Next Generation episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. Again this is another very strong episode in which we visit a reality where the Federation never made peace with Klingons. Both are embroiled in a horrible war, and starships are heavily armored fighting ships and not scientific vessels. It’s the return of Tasha Yar…Yeeech. Another very strong Next Generation entry is The Inner Light. It’s my wife’s favorite episode. Picard is attacked by a probe that causes him to live the life of a member of a dead civilization. It’s often remembered for the flute he learns to play and uses again in episodes later. It’s one of those touching episodes that is also very well written and acted. From Deep Space Nine we get The Visitor. Sisko is trapped in an energy burst, and Jake spends his entire life trying to save him. It’s another touching episode. From Voyager you get Before And After. This time it’s Kes who jumps forward and backwards in time. Also from Voyager is Timeless. It was the 100th episode and features Chakotay and Kim trying to undo a Voyager disaster back in time. This episode is not only directed by Levar Burton, but he also appears as Geordi as well. The same series also contributes the weaker Course: Oblivion. That old Demon Planet that stole the crew’s DNA is back, as we find out what happened to the duplicated crew. Two entries from
Each episode of Star Trek is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. Enterprise is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture looks every bit as good as the HD broadcasts on my satellite television system. Colors are outstanding, as is the level of detail. Black levels never fail to produce fine shadow detail. The animated episode carries incredibly bright colors. There isn’t any overt problem with compression artifact. This is always a very sweet picture presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works very well to spread out many of the show’s claustrophobic moments. While not extremely aggressive, you get a good scence of space with the ambient channels. Dialog is clear and always placed correctly compared with what’s on the screen. Occasionally musical cues are a little louder than I’d like, but the clarity and quality is always consistent.
There are short 7-15 minute features on each disc named for these different sections of the release. They mostly feature writers talking about each of the episodes. There is occasionally a cast member, including George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. There is an annoying style thing going on here. Many of the commenters are sitting in front of projections of them facing sideways, either preparing for the piece (putting on make-up or drinking water) or talking.
No one and nothing is ever dead in the Star Trek universe. With the remastered shows taking center stage and rumors of the films soon to follow in HD I thought we’d seen the last of these Fan Collective sets. With the last release I thought I heard the unmistakable voice of DeForest Kelley announce: “It’s dead, Gino”. Alas, the temptation to double dip was too much for