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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien, Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Tim Russ, Jeri Ryan, Garrett Wang
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Contains all 26 original broadcast episodes from the third season, available for the first time in 5.1 Surround.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 1186 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 7/6/2004

Bonus:
• “Braving the Unknown: Season Three” Featurette
• “Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix” Featurette
• “Voyager Time Capsule: Kes” Featurette
• “Flashback to ‘Flashback’” Featurette
• “Red Alert! Amazing Visual Effects” Featurette
• “Real Science with Andre Bormanis” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Easter Eggs


PURCHASE @ AMAZON

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: Voyager - Season Three (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 30, 2004)

Wow - it feels like just last week that I finished watching Season Two of Star Trek: Voyager. Oh wait - I did just complete that set a few days ago! My tardiness with that review and an accelerated release schedule lands Season Three on my door quickly, so let’s delve into it - I want to finish this review before Season Four arrives!

This set includes Season Three’s 26 programs. These shows will be discussed in the order broadcast, which is also the way in which they appear on the DVDs. The plot synopses come from http:// www.tvtome.com – thanks to them for their good work.

Disc One

Basics Part 2: “Voyager is captured by the Kazon and the crew are dumped on a planet in its early stages of evolution. As only Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Lon Suder (Brad Dourif) have evaded capture, it's up to them and the Doctor (Robert Picardo) to come up with a plan to retake the ship.”

Throughout the first two seasons, Voyager attempted to develop the Kazon as one of the major series’ baddies. Apparently “Basics” marked the end of that story for all real purposes. If that’s the case, I can’t say I’m sad to see the Kazon go, as they never turned into very compelling villains.

That said, “Basics” started the season fairly well. I didn’t much like the first half of the show during Season Two, and the “roughing it” parts on the planet weren’t terribly interesting. However, it was intriguing to see a little more of the troubled Suder character, and a show in which the Doctor has to work to save the ship can’t be too bad.

Flashback: “After falling ill to what appears to be a repressed memory Tuvok (Tim Russ) must perform a mind-meld with Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) in order to survive. The meld takes them back to when Tuvok was a junior science officer aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior under the command of Captain Hikaru Sulu (George Takei).”

With “Flashback”, we find our first Voyager guest appearance from a main member of the Original Series. (Season Two included a quick cameo from The Next Generation’s Riker, while Season One presented Deep Space Nine’s Quark.) I don’t think a Trek show’s featured an Original Series main cast member since Scotty popped up in Season Six of Next Generation. As far as I recall, none of the Big Seven made it into any of DS9’s seven seasons.

Did “Flashback” give us a satisfying exploration of one of those characters? Not really, but it’s fun. The show only represents Sulu as a memory of Tuvok’s, so it doesn’t give him anywhere to grow.

This makes the program gimmicky, but it remains entertaining. They recreate the elements of Star Trek VI nicely and make those elements interesting to see. It’s not great Trek but it’s enjoyable.

Trivia note: Takei’s appearance here means that only one of the Original Series’ Big Seven cast members never did a guest appearance in any of the subsequent series or the Next Generation movies. Nichelle Nichols failed to pop up anywhere that didn’t totally focus on the Original Series characters.

The Chute: “Paris and Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) are sent to an Akritian prison after being accused of a terrorist bombing.”

Starfleet members unjustly accused of a crime get sent to a prison from which escape seems impossible, and the others rush to save them. Not only is that plot pretty overdone in general on Trek, but it seems especially bizarre for them to run it right after the series reminded us of Star Trek VI, a movie that included a similar story. Add to that too much of Kim - Voyager’s most boring character - and “Chute” seems mediocre.

The Swarm: “Voyager encounters a region of space owned by a mysterious race of aliens that would take 15 months to go around. Upon crossing the boundaries, a swarm of ships attach themselves to Voyager's hull - an act which drains the ship's power supplies and threatens to destroy it.”

Too bad this episode doesn’t remake the campy 1978 disaster epic. It does offer a rare instance of two storylines that both succeed. The Doctor remains Voyager’s most entertaining character, and since Robert Picardo gets to play two roles here, the show seems even more fun. The bits with the aliens get less attention and seem underdeveloped, but they create a moderately unusual villain for Trek and provide nice action and suspense.

Disc Two:

False Profits: “A pair of Ferengi is found masquerading as Gods to a culture still in its Bronze Age. It is discovered that they had arrived through the Barzan Wormhole, which leads back to the Alpha Quadrant, however, its Delta Quadrant end is highly unstable and always moving.”

Back on DS9, Quark brought some depth to the Ferengi, but this episode portrays them at their pure greedy best. It features some decent comedy and even shows Neelix in a rare fit of behavior that doesn’t annoy me. Some slight philosophical tendencies lie beneath the surface, but mostly this is just a fun romp with the Ferengi.

Remember: “After Voyager encounter a telepathic species, B'Elanna (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) starts having powerful dreams that depict the life of a woman and her lover in a time of great political and social upheaval.”

Plenty of Trek episodes featured seemingly advanced and benevolent species with dark tendencies, and “Remember” feels no different. The show mainly feels like a lead opportunity for B’Elanna, and it fails to become anything particularly engaging. It also pours on fascist allusions too thickly.

Sacred Ground: “Captain Janeway has to undergo a rigorous ritual in order to save Kes' (Jennifer Lien) life when she is knocked unconscious.”

While “Profits” hid some philosophical issues beneath comedy, “Ground” presents obvious attempts at intellectual and spiritual depth. They don’t succeed, mostly because the episode comes across as muddled mumbo-jumbo. The program seems entertaining enough as Janeway goes through the looking glass, but it doesn’t exhibit much dimensionality.

Trivia note: “Sacred Ground” offered the first Voyager episode directed by a member of its cast. Robert Duncan McNeill helmed this show. The prior two seasons did include shows directed by LeVar Burton and Jonathan Frakes, members of Next Generation, but no one from Voyager.

Future's End Part 1: “Both Voyager and a 29th century Federation Timeship, the Aeon, are pulled back in time to Earth in the late 20th century. The Timeship Aeon crashes in Arizona during the 1960's, while Voyager appears in orbit around Earth during 1996.”

Since we’ll see the conclusion to this two-part program soon, I’ll skip my opinion until then.

Disc Three:

Future's End Part 2: “While trying to rescue Paris and Tuvok, Torres and Chakotay (Robert Beltran) are captured by a gang of weapons smugglers who believe that they are from the government.”

While “End” owes a big debt to Star Trek IV, it manages to stand on its own feet. Actually, I probably like it more than I do the overrated cinematic effort. The program imparts a sense of urgency and drama but also has a lot of fun with the era and seems quite entertaining.

Warlord: “An injured alien named Tieran (Leigh J. McCloskey) transfers his consciousness into Kes' mind moments before he dies. He then gains control over her and begins using her abilities to steal a shuttlecraft and return to his home world to attempt a political coup.”

DS9 occasionally displayed an alternate universe that I often felt existed just to give the actors an opportunity to ham it up. To some degree, “Warlord” comes across the say, for it feels slightly like a device to let Jennifer Lien broaden her talents. Despite that issue and the fact it’s tiresome to get a program in which the crew needs to rescue Kes so soon after “Sacred Ground”, this show seems good. Lien proves reasonably talented, and the piece offers enough drama to make it worthwhile.

The Q and the Grey: “Voyager encounters several supernovas in a small region of space. Time soon reveals that it is the after effects of a civil war within the Q-Continuum. Q (John de Lancie) appears and believes that the solution to the problem is for him to produce a child, and his mate of choice is Captain Kathryn Janeway. Matters are complicated when a jealous female Q (Susie Plakson) appears claiming that Q was her boyfriend.”

Trek series use Q as such an easy out so much of the time that I almost dread his appearances. In the early days, he was an interesting creation, but the series’ now get stuck with extreme stories that seem tough to accept. “Grey” goes for a high-concept pattern as well, which makes it moderately entertaining but too silly to work. It feels like a cheesy excuse to dress cast members in Civil War garb.

Macrocosm: “Janeway and Neelix (Ethan Phillips) return from an away mission to find Voyager adrift in space and the crew barely alive. They soon learn that the ship has been overrun by viral life forms that are rapidly growing in size.”

“Macrocosm” rips off the Alien films so blatantly I feel startled the Voyager folks had the nerve to make it. Heck, the show even includes a scene in which Janeway suits up for war ala Ripley toward the end of Aliens. Awkwardly structured with intrusive flashbacks, “Macrocosm” fails to take flight.

Disc Four:

Fair Trade: “Voyager encounters a region of space named the Nekrit Expanse. Since Neelix has no knowledge about the space after this point, he tries to make himself feel useful to the crew by trying to obtain a map from an old friend named Wixiban (James Nardini), who uses him as a courier for illegal substances.”

Neelix is such a sucker! It’s obvious from moment one that Wix will be bad news, but Voyager’s most annoying member also is its dopiest. The focus on Neelix and the predictable nature of the story make “Trade” less than satisfying. The fact it often feels like an Afterschool Special about peer pressure and lying doesn’t help.

Alter Ego: “Ensign Kim asks Tuvok to teach him Vulcan emotional control techniques when he falls in love with a holodeck character named Marayna (Sandra Nelson). Kim soon becomes jealous when he sees Tuvok interacting with her behind his back as she tries to seduce him.”

”Ego” starts drably, mostly because it focuses on the series’ most drab character, Harry. However, it expands decently once Tuvok become more involved. It never truly takes off, but it offers some intrigue at its climax.

Trivia note: Robert Picardo directed “Ego”, which made him the second Voyager cast member to head behind the camera for a show.

Coda: “Captain Janeway repeatedly dies after she and Chakotay crash into a planet in what appears to be a time loop. Soon, her deceased father appears and tells her that she is dead and must accept her situation and move on.”

“Coda” gives us another moderately interesting but not exceptional episode. On one hand, it seems inevitable that we’ll learn some trick involved with Janeway’s apparent death, but on the other, the show pursues things in such a deliberate manner that we almost accept her demise. Actually, that’s not really true; there was no doubt that Janeway wasn’t still alive. The show makes the exposition of the cause more interesting, though.

Blood Fever: “Ensign Vorik (Alexander Enberg) expresses his desire to mate with B'Elanna during his Pon-Farr. After they get in a brawl over the matter, Torres begins showing signs of the Pon-Farr herself.”

“Fever” seems odd in its choice to feature a tertiary and very new character like Vorik so prominently. Does this signal that he’ll play a stronger role in future episodes? Maybe, but I think it’s weird that he pops up out of nowhere in recent shows. Where was he previously? In any case, “Fever” seems average, though it’s fun to get the hand-to-hand combat in its climax; a staple of the Original Series, we see little of it in subsequent Trek.

Disc Five:

Unity: “During an away mission, Chakotay discovers a Federation hailing signature coming from an alien planet. After landing, he learns that all is not peaceful, and those helping him have not been entirely honest about their true origins.”

Hinted at in the prior show, “Unity” declares the entrance of the Borg as a force in Voyager. However, the folks met here offer a kinder, gentler Borg, which makes them interesting. I don’t know how these elements will progress, but “Unity” launches things well.

The Darkling: “When the doctor tries to improve his personality by incorporating the psychological profiles of famous and historical people, he is overwhelmed by their dark sides and begins exhibiting signs of a split personality, one the regular doctor, and the other dark and evil. Kes asks to leave Voyager when they encounter a race with vast knowledge of the region of space they are currently exploring.”

Normally I like episodes that focus on the doctor, but “Darkling” seems too silly. It comes across as too much of a transparent attempt to give Picardo something different to do, and the moments with Kes in love are awfully sappy. By the way, where was I when Kes and Neelix broke up? I remember her asking for space back in “Warlord”, but I thought that was the influence of Tieran. I don’t recall a formal break-up decree.

Rise: “Neelix is pushed to the limits when Tuvok's attitude becomes too much to bear while the pair is on an away mission to help evacuate a Nezu planet, which is being bombarded with asteroids.”

“Rise” resembles nothing more than a bad action flick. Replete with comic one-liners, it seems dopey and doesn’t add much. We some expansion of the relationship between Neelix and Tuvok, but otherwise the episode falls flat.

Favorite Son: “Harry Kim experiences strong senses of deja vu in an unknown region of space. He soon learns that he is native to this region and that he is T'Karian, not human.”

Inevitably, whenever a Trek series features a seemingly idyllic society, the cloud outweighs the silver lining. Combine this predictability with the dullness that is Harry and “Son” plods. Well, at least it features a lot of babes, including Kristanna Loken of Terminator 3.

Disc Six:

Before and After: “Kes begins traveling backwards through time from the moment of her death. With each shift, she comes closer to a solution but she also grows months and years younger at a time.”

We’ve seen many episodes that deal with alternate or possible futures. However, “After” seems different in that some parts of it just might stick. For one, Kes finally has a decent haircut, and while she returns to the correct place and time, she maintains memories, which means the possibility of a lasting impact to her experiences. The show doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s fun to watch.

Real Life: “The Doctor decides he should create a holographic family in order to expand himself. When B'Elanna is disgusted by its unrealistic perfectionism, she alters the program to include random events and outcomes with interesting and devastating results.”

The show also includes a second plot about an external threat experienced by the ship, but it seems secondary. The Doctor’s family takes prime importance and offers a moderately compelling story. A lot of these attempts by the Doctor to become more human feel like rip-offs from the Data catalog, and this one goes for a particularly weepy conclusion. Still, I like the character and find most of his adventures to come across as illuminating.

Distant Origin: “An alien paleontologist discovers a common ancestral link between his people and humans. He believes that this proves that his people evolved on Earth and migrated to the Delta Quadrant millions of years ago, but his government is not as willing to believe his interpretation of the evidence.”

If nothing else, one must credit “Origin” as something different. We don’t see a living member of Voyager for quite a while at the start, as it focuses on the alien race. The show gets somewhat silly at times - dinosaurs in space! - but provides an intriguing concept and an unexpected conclusion.

Displaced: “One by one, the crew of Voyager goes missing and is replaced by strangers who claim they have no idea how they arrived. Soon, nearly the whole crew is gone, and there is no way of stopping the strangers from appearing and overrunning the ship.”

Another show in the “something different” category, “Displaced” also proves to be quite entertaining. It takes an unusual and creative scenario and requires the crew of Voyager to provide one of this season’s livelier programs.

Disc Seven:

Worst Case Scenario: “A holodeck program is discovered in which Seska (Martha Hackett) raises a Marquis mutiny on board. The ship is placed in danger when the program is altered and the author is seemingly powerless to stop it.”

The biggest problem with “Case” is that it tips its hand too early. The show starts with an interaction between Chakotay and Torres in which he spouts traitorous dialogue toward Janeway. Since we’ve seen so much affection and closeness between the pair, this makes no sense and immediately tips off the viewer that something’s wrong. However, it overcomes this flaw to turn into a fairly ingenious and clever show.

Scorpion Part 1: “Voyager finally enters Borg space, only to discover a threat more powerful than the Borg themselves.”

Like most episodes that function as the first part of two, “Scorpion” deals mainly with exposition. It does set up an interesting concept, and it progresses in an intriguing way. I look forward to its conclusion.

I couldn’t say that at the end of Voyager’s lackluster second season. That term left me quite indifferent toward the series, but Season Three definitely helped invigorate matters. In some ways, one might claim Season Three left the show with less distinctiveness. After all, it killed off one of the series’ main villains and apparently concluded the threat of major baddies. In their place, we found the Borg, who fall into the category of “old standby” characters from whom we mostly know what to expect.

In this case, I’ll take something tried and true but good over something more unusual but not very interesting. Voyager didn’t do much to redefine the parameters of Trek in Season Three, but it seemed entertaining and provocative, which was more than I expected.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B /center>

Star Trek: Voyager appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Lather, rinse, repeat, as Season Three presented visuals that looked extremely similar to those of the prior two years.

With only minor exceptions, sharpness looked great. Composite shots - like those with two of the same actor - demonstrated the fuzziest picture quality, but they popped up too infrequently to cause much damage. Instead, the shows offered concise and well-defined visuals. Occasional signs of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, but these also stayed minor, and I noticed no distractions caused by edge enhancement. The shows also lacked issues with source flaws.

Voyager continued to present a varied and lively palette with Season Three, and the DVD made the tones look solid. The colors consistently came across as vibrant and dynamic. Even red lighting seemed clear, as the hues lacked issues like bleeding or noise. Blacks were a little inky but mostly came across as pretty taut and dense. Some low-light scenes displayed images that were moderately opaque, but the general effect remained acceptably clean and smooth. I saw no reason to compare this set negatively with prior packages, as Season Three continued to give us fine visuals.

Unsurprisingly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 of Star Trek: Voyager strongly resembled the audio of earlier sets. The soundfield opened up the image well. Across the front spectrum, we got good stereo delineation for the music as well as effects that seemed well-placed. The various elements melded neatly and created a good sense of environment, with solid movement as well. Surround usage mostly acted as a factor to support the forward spectrum. Occasional examples of unique audio popped up there, especially when ships zoomed to the rear, but the back speakers mainly played as an extension of the material from the front.

The quality of the audio remained good. Speech lacked edginess or issues with intelligibility, as the lines sounded distinctive and concise. Music was bright and firm, with clear highs and nice low-end response. The effects also demonstrated fine reproduction, as they showed solid dynamics and tight bass as appropriate. Nothing here reinvented the wheel, but the audio of Voyager stayed positive.

All this package’s extras show up on DVD Seven. Most of these come from the six separate featurettes. All use the same format, as they mainly combine show clips and interviews, with a little behind the scenes material as well.

We begin with Braving the Unknown: Season Three, a 13-minute and 10-second piece. It includes comments from actors Robert Picardo, Roxann Dawson, Tim Russ, and Garrett Wang, director David Livingston, supervising producer Brannon Braga plus executive producers Rick Berman and Jeri Taylor. They go over notes about the episodes “Basics”, “Real Life”, “Blood Fever”, and “Future’s End” as well as the return of the Borg and elements of “Scorpion”. The comments remain somewhat vague and don’t give us great details, but the program offers a few useful bits, especially as we hear the rationale for sending the Borg to Voyager.

Next come looks at two of the series’ leading characters. The Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix runs for 12 minutes and four seconds, while Voyager Time Capsule: Kes lasts 12 minutes, three seconds. Both explore issues connected to the characters and the performers. For “Neelix”, actor Ethan Phillips discusses some aspects of the character, challenges connected to makeup and props, the cookbook he co-authored, and a few episode specifics. In “Kes”, we get notes from actor Jennifer Lien plus Phillips, Russ, Kate Mulgrew and Picardo as they chat the character and her interaction with others.

Neither seems terribly informative or engaging. Both lack depth, and “Kes” seems especially hamstrung by the absence of contemporary comments from Lien; she only appears via remarks from late 1994, so she solely views the character from her initial viewpoint. Annoyingly, both programs include big spoilers that strongly allude to the characters’ final fates.

During the 13-minute and 36-second Flashback to “Flashback”, we learn about that specific episode. We hear from actors George Takei, Russ, director Livingston, visual effects producer Dan Curry, and scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda. We hear a fun story about how Takei heard about the program and get more general notes about the story and characters as well as recreating bits from Star Trek VI and some visual notes. It’s a reasonably informative and interesting piece.

Information about technical elements pops up in Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects. A companion piece to features seen on the first two sets, the 16-minute and 55-second program presents notes from visual effects supervisor Dan Curry; we also hear from visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore, but Curry dominates. They go over the locations for “Basics” and visual composites, that show’s monster and primitive weapons, the dinosaurs of “Distant Origins”, the ship of “Future’s End”, the virus of “Macrocosm”, and the 8472 aliens. Some good behind the scenes material and test footage appears. This is a pretty informative piece, as it covers a lot of elements briskly.

Another continuing series appears via Real Science with Andre Bormanis. This 10-minute and 40-second piece presents information from series science consultant Bormanis and astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sallie Baliunas as they go through the realities of concepts such as keeping the series’ astronomy real, the Nekrit Expanse, presenting believable physics, wormholes, subspace, warped space, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Due to the length, the discussion seems pretty superficial, and this one seems more general and less informative than prior featurettes in the series.

The final obvious supplement presents a Photo Gallery. It includes 40 stills taken from the set, but none seem terribly interesting. We also get a promo for Borg Invasion 4D, a Las Vegas attraction.

Voyager presents some minor Easter Eggs, though we don’t get nearly as many as with the other sets. Referred to as “Lost Transmissions from the Delta Quadrant”, these pop up as slightly hidden icons throughout the “Special Features” screens. We find clips that run between 81 seconds and three minutes, 38 seconds for a total of 12 minutes and 42 seconds worth of footage. We hear from director Livingston as well as actors Martha Hackett, Mulgrew, Picardo, and Russ. We get short notes about the return of Seska, Janeway’s Ripley moment in “Macrocosm” and working with John de Lancie, the Doctor’s smooching scenes, Vulcan interactions during Pon Farr, and shooting the aliens of “Distant Origin”. The clips offer some brief fun but not much of substance.

Note that Voyager continued Paramount’s tradition of English subtitles with the DVD’s extras.

After Voyager’s disappointing second season, I worried things might get worse in Season Three. Happily, the show rebounded that year and offered a run of shows that certainly wasn’t perfect but that offered mostly engaging programs. The DVDs maintain the usual standards of positive visuals and audio, and the smattering of extras fill out our understanding of the series. Trek fans will enjoy this solid DVD package.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6923 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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