Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Seventh Season Studio: Paramount Year: 2000 - 2001 Rated: NR Length: 18 Hours, 58 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 Subtitles: English Special Features: Featurettes, Photo Gallery, Storyboards, Lost Transmissions Expected Street Price: $100 USD Release Date: December 21, 2004 The seventh and final season of Star Trek: Voyager hits stores on December 21. While the series never soared like its predecessors, it does have occasional intelligent and entertaining episodes in each season. This season is no exception. I will not attempt to write capsule reviews of each episode in this review. Rather, I will touch upon the most notable episodes, good or bad. The season opens with part two of the cliffhanger “Unimatrix Zero.” I must say that the second part makes for pretty compelling television, with several Voyager crew members having been assimilated, and the Borg Queen in the picture again. “Drive” plays like the pod race in “Star Wars: Episode 1.” Whether or not that sort of thing interests you is another story. “Repression” could have been an interesting mystery story, though the solution is given away up front and we must watch the Voyager crew solve the mystery. The complete lack of motivation for the crimes is what sinks this episode. “Critical Care” is a Doctor-Centric episode. As a matter of fact, there is very little of the rest of the crew involved in the story at all. Still, it is a good episode, though a rather obvious indictment of managed health care. In the episode, the Doctor is kidnapped and forced to provide medical services in an alien HMO. It sounds silly, I know - but I actually liked the episode. “Flesh and Blood, Parts I and II” Doctor-Centric episodes, again, this time exploring the concept of racism and rights. It’s a little heavy-handed, but it is an interesting episode with an important message. “Repentance” is an obvious indictment of capital punishment. Not a great episode, either. “The Void” is an excellent episode where Voyager is pulled into a spacial anomaly and can’t get out. The region of space drains energy from ships, so those ships that are in the void tend to battle for limited resources. Janeway, in true Starfleet fashion, proves that teamwork is the answer to escape. The episode features an interesting alien creature, a mute gypsy-like race, the leader of which is played by Jonathan Del Arco (the Borg, Hugh). “Author, Author” is another Doctor episode. Haven’t we had enough of these? This is another “holographic rights” episode. I think one of these would have been enough for the season. “Friendship One” is a compelling episode where Voyager comes across a deep space probe sent out by Earth shortly after the invention of the warp drive. The probe, after traveling hundreds of years, has crashed on a planet. The results were disastrous for the inhabitants of the planet. “Natural Law” finds Chakotay and Seven stranded on a planet with a primitive species. They need the help of this species to escape, but may endanger their way of life in doing so. In “Homestead,” Neelix finds a settlement of hundreds of Talaxians, who appear distrustful of aliens (including Neelix’s friends aboard Voyager). Voyager earns their trust, eventually, when Janeway commits resources to helping the Talaxians defend themselves against a group of miners. “Renaissance Man” is a pointless episode, placed right before the two hour finale. It serves no purpose thematically, and gives up the penultimate episode slot which could have been better utilized to transition into the series finale. “Endgame” is the series finale. I won’t give anything away, here, as far as the fate of the ship and crew. Unfortunately, the episode is poorly hashed together, making fundamental changes in key characters just to serve as a plot device. The Borg are also brought back, and are completely ineffectual. A physical antagonist wasn’t needed for the episode, since the plot revolves around a last effort to get home. The multiple subplots only served to distract from the goal. Also, a character which had seen some significant development in the sixth and seventh seasons has no resolution in the story at all. Finally, a time travel element was thrown in as well, and plays a major part in the episode. It opens up a whole can of worms that makes you question why the characters involved go through all the bother, when they could have just gone back in time to before Voyager disappeared and prevent it from happening in the first place. It is a disappointing end to the series. The Transfers I could just put boilerplate language here, since the quality is identical to previous seasons. The 1.33:1 aspect ratio image has good sharpness and detail, with no noticeable edge enhancement issues. Contrast is good, with excellent shadow detail and no signs of blown highlights. Colors are accurate and well saturated. Occasional mild compression artifacts are visible during difficult scenes, such as mild color banding or pixelation. Any instances are mild and fleeting and do not detract from the visual experience. Overall, the video quality is very good - a significant step above the quality of TNG and DS9. The audio, in Dolby Digital 5.1, continues to impress for a television series. Good frequency response and channel separation provide an immersive experience, though the surrounds and LFE are not overly aggressive. Special Features Braving the Unknown: Season Seven (18:12) Following the lead of the previous “Braving the Unknown” featurettes, this piece features cast and crew reminiscing about their favorite episodes. More importantly, in this last “Braving” featurette, they also talk about wrapping up the series, and react to the loss they experiences with the ending of the show - although much of that is saved for the “Coming Home” featurette, described below. Unfortunately, this featurette (and some others that follow) has some audio problems with some of the archival interviews. The audio seems dynamically compressed, has some distortion, and has a serious problem with over-sibilance. The result is dialog that is very harsh and tiring to the ears. Newer interviews seem immune from the problem, so the issue isn’t pervasive throughout each of the featurettes. Voyager Time Capsule: The Doctor (15:10) Robert Picardo talks about his audition for Voyager (although he really wanted the role of Neelix), the evolution of his character, and the hand that he had in the direction of the character of the doctor. Picardo seems to go much more in depth and is more specific about his experiences than we’ve seen in most of the other “Time Capsule” featurettes - this one is a cut above the rest. Picardo also talks about some of his post-Voyager work, as well. Coming Home: The Final Episode (12:38) Cast and crew talk about the series winding down, and the emotions they endured as they saw the sets coming down around them while they were still filming scenes. Included are comments from Dan Curry, in which he describes a shooting day that lasted almost 24 hours, in an attempt to finish on time. Also, there are comments from Alice Krige, who reprises her role as the Borg Queen, retaking the role from Susanna Thompson. Real Science with Andre Bormanis (12:02) Once again, Andre Bormanis talks about science realities as they relate to science fiction, especially with regard to specific devices used in Star Trek. Here, he talks about teleportation, the space elevator, sub-space, and much more. Pretty interesting stuff. The Making of Borg Invasion 4-D (9:34) An interesting look at the Borg Invasion attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton. Producers, along with Alice Krige, Robert Picardo, and a few words with Kate Mulgrew, lead us through the making of the new attraction. Photo Gallery Over forty still images from the Voyager set - many are of the cast in costume posing for the camera in the last days of shooting. Storyboards Over 25 images of Dan Curry’s storyboards from various episodes. Lost Transmissions 01: Robert Picardo talks about the episode “Critical Care” 02: Dan Curry talks about traps in “Unimatrix Zero” 03: Jonathan Del Arco talks about his character Fantome in “The Void” 04: Dan Curry talks about a visual effect in “End Game” 05: Dan Curry talks about visual effects in “Workforce” Final Thoughts Though the finale was somewhat disappointing, this final season of Star Trek: Voyager is the usual mixed bag of episodes that we’ve come to expect. I suppose, there’s something for everyone... a couple of episodes focusing on personal character issues, and some larger, grander “issue” episodes as well. While the series may not be up to everyone’s expectations, the DVD presentation is competent and consistent with the previous outings.