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STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Season Four

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien, Robert Duncan McNeill, Robert Picardo, Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang, Jeri Ryan
Directors:  Various
Video:  Full Frame 1:33:1
Audio:  Dolby Digital Stereo and 5.1
Studio:  Paramount
Length: Seven discs, 19 hours, 53 minutes
Release date: September 28, 2004

Show **** 

While in its fourth season Voyager continued to evolve and go where no sci-fi series had gone before, it never hurts to add another interesting character with tons of sex appeal.  Jeri Ryan, the excellent actress who went on to work on the series Boston Public, joined the cast this year as a Borg designated simply as Seven of Nine.  She is rescued from the collective and once she is free, she actually has many of her non-human electronic appendages removed and her humanity restored.  This was the classic android cliché in reverse: the robot regains humanity, and in a uniquely female way.  Voyager definitely added many exciting tales to the Battle with the Borg saga, and just as members of other races served on Federation ships, now a Borg has joined the ranks.  Her relationship with Captain Janeway is very complex, very feminine, and she also serves as a second science prodigy with Tuvok. 

While there is no denying her voluptuousness, which doubtlessly added male fans to the viewing audience, Ryan’s 7/9 is a very complex and interesting character.  Her remaining Borg features and complete obliviousness to her beauty make her seem cold, yet ready to explode with childlike human emotions at any moment.  This is probably because she was abducted by the Borg when she was only a child.   It is only natural for TV executives to want sexually appealing characters, and there are few women on television as attractive as Ryan.  But she also radiates intelligence and a regal charisma, which would prevent her from ever being just eye candy.  This was a smart move for the series, which like most needed a little extra something to spice things up after three seasons.

Episode list: Scorpion, Part II, The Gift, Day of Honor, Nemesis, Revulsion, The Raven, Scientific Method, Year of Hell, Part I; Year of Hell, Part II; Random Thoughts; Concerning Flight; Mortal Coil; Waking Moments; Message in a Bottle; Hunters; Prey; Retrospect; The Killing Game Pt. I; The Killing Game Pt. II; Vis-à-vis; The Omega Directive; Unforgettable; Living Witness; Demon; One; Hope & Fear.

Video ****

As with prior seasons, the picture is crisp and clear, despite the fact that so many special effects were done before the digital revolution and so many dark scenes.  I could not detect any visual flaws.

Audio ****

Science fiction rocks in 5.1!!!  While the rear speakers are not used as much as in some adventure movies such as X-Men, they are still used mainly for background effects and explosions, and the dialogue is still heard easily in the mix.  Voyager always featured excellent sound production and mixing, as good as any on TV, and that translated well into the DVD mix.

Features ***

This season’s extras include an extensive interview with Garrett Wang, who plays Ensign Harry Kim.  He discusses how his character evolved over seven seasons and includes clips from episodes in future season releases.  He also discusses cruises with fans and his character’s romantic pursuit of Seven of Nine.   Extensive interviews with Jeri Ryan are also presented as well as comments from producers about her significance, especially in the face of rapid male fans who finally had a female character with serious sex appeal and some criticism from female fans of the character for that very reason.  Also included is a featurette on the origins of species 8472, who slaughtered the Borg at will and might be one of the most frightening villains in the Star Trek universe.  They were also the first fully CGI characters.  There is also a beautiful program about the art of Star Trek called “The Art of Alien Worlds” and a photo gallery.   Not as interesting as some of the other seasons’ collections, but the Wang interview is surprisingly candid and entertaining. 

Summary:

Just when you thought the Voyager adventures were going to become routine, they not only encounter a creature which can eat the Borg for breakfast, but they even initiate a former Borg into the crew!   Stay tuned for three more great seasons!

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