Star Trek Voyager: The Complete Fifth Season Studio: Paramount Year: 1998 - 1999 Rated: NR Length: 20 Hours, 16 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English 2.0 Subtitled in English; Closed Captioned in English Special Features: 5 featurettes, "Lost Transmissions" Easter Eggs, Photo Gallery Expected Street Price: $100 USD Release Date: November 9, 2004 Paramount has started down the home stretch with the Voyager DVD releases - they’re coming out at a blistering pace in order to have the complete series out before the end of the year. Season five has a number of good episodes, providing a fairly solid season for Voyager fans. Following are some highlights (and lowlights) from the season. This list of episodes is not complete. There may be minor spoilers in this review. Season five begins with Night, which introduces one of the more promising alien races in the series, the Malon - a species which “exports” its hazardous waste to areas outside their sphere of influence, caring little about the effects the waste has on the inhabitants of the dumping ground. The episode also introduces the tiring Captain Proton holodeck program, which would recur in several episodes in season five. Unfortunately, the Malon would only appear a few times after their introduction. Next, in Drone, a transporter accident fuses The Doctor’s mobile emitter with some of Seven’s Borg nanoprobes. The result of 29th century technology combined with Borg nanoprobes is a Borg drone more powerful than any ever encountered by the Voyager crew. This is a fresh and interesting take on the Borg. Extreme Risk combines another conflict with the Malon with the creation of the Delta Flyer. The title refers to what should be a subplot of the episode, involving reckless behavior by Belanna Torres. Unfortunately, the Torres plot is uninteresting and occupies a significant portion of the episode. In the Flesh brings back Species 8472. The alien race has built a training ground where they disguise themselves as human and train to pass as human in every respect. An obvious prelude to invasion, the Voyager crew surveil the operation to gather intelligence, and Chakotay is captured. This episode brings the two enemies to the negotiation table - but can the two species find any common ground? Timeless is Voyager’s 100th episode. It is one of the more engaging of the time travel episodes seen on Voyager, but features a bit of overacting by Garrett Wang, playing the central character of the episode, Harry Kim. Nothing Human revolves around medical ethics, as The Doctor creates a holographic simulation of a Cardassian exobiologist to assist in the removal of a parasite from Belanna Torres. It turns out that the real Cardassian conducted experiments on live subjects during the conflict between Bajor and Cardassia. This episode manages to be dramatic, serve up a strong message and strong performances, and be entertaining as well. Thirty Days finds Tom Paris demoted and incarcerated after disobeying an order. Tom assists an alien scientist in an attempt to disrupt machinery which is stabilizing the water of an ocean planet, in an attempt to call attention to a coming environmental disaster that the leaders of the ocean planet don’t want to face. Counterpoint is an interesting episode involving crosses and double crosses between Janeway and Kashyk - a leader in the Devore Imperium who subjects Voyager to excessive inspections while the ship is in Devore space. The Devore are searching for telepaths, who they believe can’t be trusted and must be incarcerated. Janeway finds interesting ways to hide Tuvok and some passengers on Voyager from the Devore inspections. Dark Frontier is a two-part Borg episode which reintroduces the Borg Queen (here, played by Susanna Thompson). While the episode has decent action and special effects, the notion of the Borg Queen never really worked for me. Course: Oblivion poses a mystery illness that has more profound implications for the Voyager crew than anyone could imagine. This episode references an episode from season four. Juggernaut brings back the Malon for an encore appearance when Voyager takes on the task of stabilizing a damaged Malon ship so that it won’t contaminate an entire sector. In Someone to Watch over Me, The Doctor has more than a platonic interest in Seven after teaching her some social graces. Fans of The Doctor and Seven will find much to like here, with a good story and solid performances. If you have no interest in these characters, give this one a pass. Relativity is yet another time travel story. Again. The season ends with a cliffhanger, Equinox, Part I. This episode is one of the best episodes that Voyager has had to offer, showing the depths that a group of Starfleet officers will sink to in order to get home from the Delta Quadrant. Voyager responds to a distress call to find the Federation Starship Equinox, a Federation research vessel also lost in the Delta Quadrant. The Equinox appears to be under attack from an invisible foe. Voyager extends her shields around Equinox and finds a group of survivors led by Captain Ransom (John Savage). Come to find out, the attack on the Equinox was not unprovoked. In an effort to find a way home, Ransom has broken the Prime Directive, attacked a sentient species and harvested from them a substance which will trim years off of their journey home. The attacks on the Equinox are a response to that action. Ransom orders the theft of materials from Voyager in an attempt to get away after it becomes clear that Janeway does not agree with his methods. Equinox is easily in the top ten episodes of Voyager, offering exciting action, strong ethical dilemma, and good visual effects. The Transfers This season five set looks as good as what we’ve come to expect - there are no real problems of softness or blemishes. The picture has decent detail and sharpness, with no noticeable edge enhancement. The image is bright, with excellent contrast and strong black levels. Shadow detail is very good, as is the color saturation. Beyond some occasional mild banding, compression artifacts are not an issue with the episodes I screened. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is quite good, but not overly aggressive. The quality is essentially identical to the earlier seasons. The front soundstage is well utilized for Jerry Goldsmith’s soaring theme and the musical scoring. Dialog is generally pinned front and center, with good directional effects and surround effects when called for. Low frequency effects aren’t bad - but don’t expect a window shaking experience. If you’ve seen previous Voyager releases, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Special Features Braving the Unknown: Season Five (20:15) Rick Berman talks about toying with the idea that the producers had to bring the Voyager crew home at this point in the series. The thinking was that, with Deep Space Nine off the air, there would be ample stories in the Alpha Quadrant that could be played upon. It was decided, though, that the Alpha Quadrant would remain the domain of The Next Generation feature films. Brannon Braga talks about his more active role in producing and writing for the series, allowing him more control in the shape of season five. Voyager’s 100th episode, Timeless, is discussed. 100 episodes is a major milestone for any series. Timeless is yet another foray into a time-travel plot. Garrett Wang talks about his pivotal role in the story. Robert Picardo, Jeri Taylor and David Livingston discuss the episode Nothing Human, the medical ethics episode that brought the wonderful character actor, David Clennon, on board as a Cardassian hologram. Kate Mulgrew talks about playing Arachnia, the Bride of Chaotica, in the Captain Proton Holodeck Program. To me, this is one of the more annoying holodeck plots devised for the show. Included are comments from Rick Berman and Production Designer Richard James. Jason Alexander talks about his role in Think Tank, in a period interview. Included are comments from Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan. As usual, this featurette (which has an equivalent for each of the Voyager season sets) hits the high points of season five, along with a discussion of the overall direction the season took. Voyager Time Capsule: Belanna Torres (16:53) Roxanne Dawson relates her inexperience with the Star Trek franchise when she took the job on Voyager. She talks about influencing the makeup for her character, refining it into a milder Klingon-Human look than was originally planned. This featurette follows the evolution of the Torres character through all seasons of Voyager, not just season five. Revisited are several early episodes that revolve around the character, as well as some from season five. Dawson recalls her favorite episodes. Dawson also talks about helming episodes as director - both in [/i]Voyager[/i] and in Enterprise. She also talks about writing novels for Simon and Schuster, since Voyager left the airwaves. Voyager Time Capsule: Tom Paris (15:05) Robert Duncan McNeil, in interviews conducted at various times during the production of Voyager, relates his experience on the program, talks about his real life family, his character’s evolution on the show, and his favorite episodes. One story he relates is about a Captain Proton episode where his pants caught on fire from pyrotechnics in props he was using. McNeil also talks about taking on the role of director of some episodes of Voyager. Included are comments from Roxanne Dawson, Tim Russ, and Kate Mulgrew in recent interviews. The Borg Queen Speaks (6:54) Susanna Thompson discusses her role as the Borg Queen, the fact that she didn’t get the role in the Next Generation feature film (the role went to Alice Krige), and how she came to be in the Voyager episode, Dark Frontier. Thompson talks about the differences in interpretation that she and the writers brought to the character, when compared to the character that Krige created. Finally, she talks about having to deal with uncomfortable makeup and painful metallic contact lenses to play the role. Delta Quadrant Make-Up Magic (19:34) Michael Westmore explores the makeup of Voyager. He relates how the Neelix makeup was inspired by Timon and Pumba from The Lion King, combining elements from both animated characters. He talks about the evolution of Chakotay’s tattoo, based on Maori and Filipino designs. He discusses the softening of the Klingon features for Belanna Torres. The Borgification and DeBorgification of Jeri Ryan is also discussed. This in depth discussion with Westmore covers the Voyager regulars, as well as aliens who only appeared in one episode. We hear about the inspirations for design and color - most of which come from various real Earth species. This featurette is a wonderful exploration of the alien designs and makeup, with commentary from the master, Michael Westmore. Lost Transmissions #1: Garrett Wang talks about the episode, The Disease. #2: Kate Mulgrew talks about Counterpoint. #3: David Livingston talks about the episode Infinite Regress and special lenses. #4: David Livingston talks about the episode Night. #5: David Livingston and Tim Russ talk about working with Ray Walston (In the Flesh). This hidden featurette is a gem, going on for almost five minutes. It is a wonderful little tribute to Walston. Photo Gallery A typical stills gallery, with images from episodes and from the working set. Final Thoughts Season five is one of the strongest seasons of Voyager, with a number of solid episodes. The cliffhanger, Equinox, is about as good as this show gets. Stay tuned for the resolution of Equinox in the Season Six release on December 7. The final season is due just before Christmas, on December 21. The quality of the transfer for this set is as good as seasons past. The Michael Westmore featurette is of particular interest in the special features. Recommended for Voyager fans.