PicturePresented here in its original 4:3 television format, the picture is a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst definitely looking better than it ever looked on TV or VHS, the shows still have a softened look to them but are bright and colourful with no evidence of any noise or banding and only showing some slight blocking in heavy action scenes.
SoundAs with the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager Season One sets, the audio here has been remixed from its original Dolby Surround to a full blown Dolby Digitial 5.1 mix. Slightly front-heavy the new mixes work well with music and effects being used to good effect on the new split rear channels. Fans of gut-wrenching bass will be slightly disappointed though.
ExtrasThere's enough on offer here to justify a trekkers interest but I would just like to mention what is still missing. As with earlier box sets there are still no original promo-reels. When aired in the US each episode would have a promotional trailer for the next episode and these have not been available on any of the Star Trek box sets (including all seven of the Next Generation sets). Paramount must surely have access to these promos and could surely find room for them on the discs since some of the features present here - as we will see - amount only to advertising of other paramount products. Anyway, let's see what we have here;
All of the extras are confined to the seventh disc and are headed up by “Braving The Unknown: Season 2”. As with the Next Generation sets, each season is to be accompanied by a documentary looking back and charting the changes and challenges it faced. Here we have interviews from the cast and crew (including creator and executive producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor as well as executive producer Brannon Braga) who discuss among other things the way in which Voyager had to be seen to be leaving some races behind as it heads home. Whilst interesting this featurettes doesn't go far enough, its too short and doesn't really add up. Why do the team say they are leaving behind the adversarial Kazon race when they are in the show right up to the final episode of season 2? Arghh. This was a missed opportunity and really should have been at least 40 minutes long and featured changes in the show, the effects and the general direction of the show. As it is it's little more than a promo piece, a shame.
Voyager Time Capsule: Tuvok is far better. Featuring Tuvok actor Tim Russ, he discusses his roles in Next Generation and the movie “Generations” which led to his role in Voyager. It also discusses his directing talents, interesting semi-pro musical ambitions (a music video of one of his tracks is hidden elsewhere on the disc) and his feelings working on the show. An original and interesting extra.
Saboteur Extraordinaire: Seska is less interesting and features an interview with guest star Martha Hackett who played the spy turned Kazon Seska. Whilst Hackett discusses her character in the show, her genesis and motivations she doesn't seem to be particularly interested in revealing any behind the scenes information or revealing anything new to trek fans.
A Day In The Life Of Ethan Phillips has been screened on TV several times, usually as part of a “themed” evening and it was filmed during the shooting of the first season pilot “Caretaker”. Following the actor (who plays the Talaxian trader turned chef and morale officer Neelix) through a day of shooting we get to see the make up work that brings so much of the character to the screen. Whilst interesting and a worthwhile extra for the trek collector, this would have been more relevant to the season one box set.
Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2 is more like it. Featuring visual effects producer Dan Curry, we get to see the work that went into, among other effects, having the ship land on a planet, creating a biological hologram (although no one ever explains why they need to accurately recreate the internal organs of a patient just to cover them with skin and clothes) and having characters talking to duplicates of themselves. Great stuff but, at just over 10 minutes, way, way too short.
Real Science With Andre Bormanis is an alternative look behind the scenes featuring the “scientific advisor” to the show. Discussing topics such as the real life biology behind the Vidians “Phage”, biological computing, robotics and the influence real world technology has had on the show featuring the fictional starship and her crew.
Designing The U.S.S. Voyager takes a look back at the design of one of the biggest stars of the show, the ship herself. Discussing the design of the ship, the creation of the models and, a first in Star Trek at the time, the creation of CGI versions of the ship this is an interesting look at the design process. It does jump ahead slightly however and features effects and clips from “Year Of Hell”, a two part episode from the shows fourth season. On the whole a very interesting piece that cries out to be expanded into a longer feature.
Rounding off the extras are a photo gallery featuring publicity shots from the show interspersed with behind the scenes shots, promos for the Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine DVD box sets and a “Borg Invasion 4D” promo (which I presume is in connection with the new Las Vegas attraction).
Menus are themed to the Trek universe “LCARS” computer system and, whilst static, have animated introduction sequences linking them. All menus are either scored or feature Star Trek themed sound effects.
VerdictA nicely presented box set which (despite the lack of original trailers and whilst containing some overly-generic featurettes) will appeal not only to die-hard trekkers but also collectors of cult TV. Whether the show has enough appeal to snare a wider audience is open to debate but I doubt it has, or could, ever look better than it does here.
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