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STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Season Two

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien, Robert Duncan McNeill, Robert Picardo, Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang
Directors:  Various
Video:  Full Frame1:33:1
Audio:  Dolby Digital Stereo and 5.1
Studio:  Paramount Home Video
Length: Seven discs, over 20 hours, 26 episodes
Release Date:  May 18, 2004

“You can’t hide from me, Q!”

“And you can’t take me by force! I’ll stalemate you for eternity if I have to!”

“The hell you will!  The vaunted Q continuum!  Self-anointed guardians of the universe!   How dare you come aboard this ship and endanger this crew with your personal tug of war!”

“Did anyone ever tell you you’re angry when you’re beautiful?”

Shows ***1/2

As the above interchange shows, Kathryn Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway resembles Katherine Hepburn in appearance and guts as well.  So does this set give this excellent show an equally brainy and classy DVD presentation? 

Well…I was all set to give this set a pretty good review until I realized that between the brief, non-descript episode titles and the lack of a booklet or summary of episodes in the package, I had no idea which episodes were in the set nor could I navigate to my favorites.  Also, the bland narrative of the special features is disheartening, especially considering the obvious talent of the cast and writers.  

And too often the show lapses into politicizing, which would not be bad if it were not so obvious.  For example, when a Q wants to commit suicide, Mr. Tuvok asks why a society such as the Q continuum would occasionally execute a being but not allow suicide, and obvious ovation to assisted suicide.  Ultimately Janeway’s decision is well-thought out and well-presented, but then the original series also had the political breezes billowing through it, though in those days it was peace, love, beauty, and civil rights, so perhaps I am just being too sensitive here…

This second season features uniformly well-done special effects, an excellent ensemble, and often brilliant writing while incorporating minimal conflict or real drama between members of the crew and sometimes even with aliens.  Some episodes underestimate the intelligence of the audience with Al Gore-style dumbed-down descriptions of cars found in space and other obviously out-of-place devices, such as when Captain Janeway meets Amelia Airhart and the viewer knows who she is long before the captain does, and Lieutenant Paris playing with cars, which any suburbanite can see or hear at any time of day.  Not exactly boldly going where no one has gone before.

Also, there is no way to return to the part of an episode you are watching if you leave and adjust the sound options.  This seems rather primitive and this, combined with the lack of episode summaries and packaging which is not as sleek as those for Next Generation, is disappointing.

Episodes include:  The 37's, Initiations, Projections, Elogium, Non Sequitur, Twisted, Parturition, Persistence of Vision, Tattoo, Cold Fire, Maneuvers, Resistance, Prototype, Alliances, Threshold, Meld, Dreadnought, Death Wish, Lifesigns, Investigations, Deadlock, Innocence, The Thaw, Tuvix, Resolutions, Basics Part I

Video ****

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 ***

There are plenty of them, but they are uniformly bland.  Even an extensive interview with     Tim Russ (Tuvok) playing his guitar lulled me to sleep.  Featurettes include:  Braving the Unknown: Season 2; Voyager Time Capsule; Tuvok; Saboteur Extraordinaire: Seska; A Day in the Life of Ethan Phillips; Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2; real Science with Andre Bormanis; Lost Transmissions from the Delta Quadrant; the trivia version of “The 37’s”; and a photo gallery.  Before the first episode “The 37’s” begins, the viewer may choose a trivia feature which resembles a pop-up video.  Most of the trivia would only interest hard-core fans and I find it distracting from the storylines.   

Summary:

Excellent but not exciting, Voyager continues to entertain but not enthrall.  The second season is good, but better seasons are to come.