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Star Trek Voyager: Season One
1995 (2004) - Paramount

Star Trek Voyager: Season One

Program Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B-/B-

Specs and Features

733 mins (15 episodes at 48 mins each), NR, full frame, 5 single-sided, dual-layered discs, custom slipcase packaging, 8 featurettes (Braving the Unknown: Season One, Voyager Time Capsule: Katheryn Janeway, The First Captain: Bujold, Cast Reflections: Season One, On Location with the Kazons, Red Alert: Visual Effects Season One, Launching Voyager on the Web, and Real Science with André Bormanis), photo gallery, Easter eggs, animated program-themed menus with sound and music, episode access (3-4 episodes per disc), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0 Surround), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

In the aftermath of the Federation's conflict with the Cardassians, a rogue group known as the Maquis has come into existence. This group, composed mostly of Federation colonists along the Cardassian border, who feel they've been abandoned by the Federation, continues to fight the Cardassians and threatens to destabilize the peace. In an effort to gather intelligence on the group, Starfleet has sent an undercover agent into their midst. However, the ship carrying that agent has disappeared, so Starfleet has dispatched one of its most advanced starships, the U.S.S. Voyager, into the troubled region to find out what happened. Before they can accomplish this mission, however, a spatial disturbance throws both the Voyager and the Maquis ship across the galaxy, more than 70,000 light-years from home. Now, the Starfleet officers and Maquis crew must work together to survive the impossibly long journey home.

I have to confess, I was never really a fan of Star Trek: Voyager. It came on the air at a time when Deep Space Nine had already bored me to the point that I'd simply stopped watching Trek altogether. I did see the first few episodes of Voyager, but for whatever reason, its characters never really grabbed me. That said, I've been looking forward to the chance to give it another look on DVD. I have to admit that the show's Lost in Space-style premise was at least original (for Trek anyway). The show was also interesting for featuring the first woman to sit in the Captain's chair, Kathryn Janeway. The crew also included a Native American first officer, a Vulcan tactical officer, a half-Klingon/half-Human chief engineer, and a holographic doctor. You've definitely gotta give the writers credit for trying.

The video quality on this DVD set is generally very good, but not great. The episodes are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, but they're somewhat soft looking and continue to have a digitally-processed look to them, which has more to do with the way they were post-produced than their preparation for DVD. That said, as with all of these Star Trek episodes, the first season of Voyager certainly looks better here than fans have ever seen it before, even on broadcast TV. Colors are rich and accurate and contrast is rock solid.

As with the previous Deep Space Nine DVDs, the episodes are available with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround audio. The 5.1 mix isn't quite as immersive as one might like, but it varies from episode to episode. Certainly, the more action-oriented a scene is, the more you're likely to hear the mix really take advantage of the rear channels. In general, the sound quality is good, with nice dialogue and music presentation.

All of the extras on this set are found on Disc Five. These include the same style of featurettes - 8 of them in all - that have become the norm on these Star Trek DVDs. Braving the Unknown: Season One features interviews with the producers of the show, who talk about the challenge of creating yet another Trek series, while trying to find ways of keeping it fresh for audiences. Voyager Time Capsule: Katheryn Janeway is an interview with actress Kate Mulgrew, in which she talks about her background and how she got and later played the part of Captain Janeway. Probably the most interesting featurette on this disc is The First Captain: Bujold, which gives us a look at the brief work of the first actress to play the role of Janeway. We get to see several scenes with the actress in the part, and learn why she was recast (although it's fairly obvious after watching the footage). It's a fascinating look at a road not taken. Cast Reflections: Season One is exactly what you'd expect - interviews (mostly period but some retrospective) with pretty much the entire cast about their experiences during the show's first year. In On Location with the Kazons, producer David Livingston takes you behind the scenes on location shooting for the pilot episode. In Red Alert: Visual Effects Season One, effects producer Dan Curry gives you a look at the creation of CG effects for the show. You get a close look at the Voyager model and the like. Voyager was the first TV show in the Trek series to be fully supported by an online website, so Launching Voyager on the Web gives you an inside look at what eventually became StarTrek.com. Finally, Real Science with André Bormanis addresses the challenges of trying to keep the dramatic situations and "tech-speak" on the show as accurate as possible to real space science. Rounding out the extras on Disc Five are a photo gallery and several Easter eggs that are hidden around the menus, all brief interview featurettes.

I should say something about the packaging for these DVDs, which I quite like. The discs are housed in a plastic book-like affair, each page of which holds a disc. When this is closed, it's in turn housed in a clear plastic slipcase in two halves - one half slides over the top and one over the bottom. It's simple, but it's attractive and (most importantly) very sturdy.

Star Trek: Voyager - Season One is a solid DVD release. If you're not a fan of this series, I'm still not sure that it's any more likely to capture your imagination on DVD than it was on TV. But if you are a fan, you're going to love it. The presentation quality of the episodes is solid, and there are enough featurette-style looks behind-the-scenes to satisfy the inner Trekkie in most everyone.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com


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