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STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Season Three

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 Frame 1:33:1
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Studio:  Paramount
Length: Seven discs, 91 hours 46 minutes
Release date: July 6, 2004

Shows ****

With the third season, Voyager finally got it firing on all cylinders.  Like most series, it took a season or two to reach its potential.  Being married to a TV addict, I watch more prime-time garbage than is good for anyone's health, but then I also have her to thank for discovering this wonderful series and sticking with it through its first two good but uneven seasons.  The second season ended with the first part of Basics, in which the crew becomes stranded without technology on a hostile planet, and the third season opens with the conclusion of this excellent cliffhanger.  Outstanding two-part episodes would become one of the series' trademarks of quality, as described in the extras on Disc 7.  This season ends with Part One of "Scorpion", another classic.

Season Three also boasts one of the best ST episodes I have ever seen, “Real Life”, combining the great directing and writing of the original series with a new idea (in this case, the holographic doctor).  Since the good doctor is always trying to understand humanity better, he creates a holographic family, which is so perfect as to be nauseating.  Then B'Lanna Torres introduces some random problems which any family could encounter, and everything goes haywire.  It was a very simple idea and story but somehow does not feel clichéd, it is completely convincing.  Much of the credit according to the cast should go to director Anson Williams, whom you might know better as Potzie on Happy Days.  What a director he has turned out to be!

Another interesting episode is “Flashback”, in which Tuvok has some repressed memories violently come to the surface, and Captain Janeway has to help him bring the problem to a conclusion in a mind-meld which builds greatly on the concept from the other series.  It also features George Takei as Sulu, in an expanded version of a storyline from the sixth Star Trek movie, which did in fact feature Tim Russ as a Vulcan.  Thus the best elements of the original series are combined with great new ideas which add color the ever-expanding science fiction tapestry.

An interesting fact about this series, which is pointed out in the extras, is how good the visual effects are in their complexity.  Today, CGI would simply make it all happen, but watching these episodes, you cannot tell that this was the peak of non-digital effects.  They are so real; it is almost a shame that it is so easy today to do them even better. 

Episode list: Basics Part II, Flashback, The Chute, The Swarm, False Profits, Remember, Sacred Ground, Future's End Part I, Future's End Part II, Warlord, The Q and the Grey, Macrocosm, Fair Trade, Alter Ego, Coda, Blood Fever, Unity, Darkling, Rise, Favorite Son, Before and After, Real Life, Distant Origin, Displaced, Worst Case Scenario, Scorpion 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 ***1/2

The extras are so much more interesting, just as the shows are as well.  I can't give it four stars since there are no commentaries on the episodes themselves, even the more interesting ones, but the interviews here--even with Neelix, my least favorite character---are great and informative.  I was actually sorry they ended! 

Featurettes include: Braving the Unknown, Season 3: Writers and producers Rick Berman, Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor discuss highlights of the Third Season, including "Basics Pt. 2," the two-parter "Future's End" and "Scorpion.  Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix: A new interview with Ethan Phillips and others discussing his role as Voyager's resident Talaxian, Neelix.  Voyager Time Capsule: Kes: An interview with Jennifer Lien and others discussing her role as Kes. A Flashback to "Flashback": A look at the episode with guest star George Takei, Includes interviews with Takei, Tim Russ ("Tuvok") and an exploration of how scenes from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country were recreated for this episode.  Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects: Visual effects wizards Dan Curry and Ronald B. Moore provide an inside look at spectacular scenes from Season Three episodes, including "Basics Part II," "Future's End," "Scorpion" and "Distant Origin".  Real Science with Andre Bormanis: Andre Bormanis introduces famed astrophysicists who examine the reality of space phenomena as seen on the show, includes comments on the Wormhole seen in "False Profits" and the Supernova in "The Q and the Grey".  Lost Transmissions: Interviews with cast and crew discussing Season Three.

Summary:

Voyager has aged well, as most quality shows do.  Season Three is when the series became truly excellent, and the following seasons are eagerly anticipated on DVD!