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HTF REVIEW: Star Trek: Voyager: The Complete Third Season

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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted July 05 2004 - 04:30 AM

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Star Trek: Voyager: The Complete Third Season





Studio: Paramount

Year: 1996 - 1997

Rated: NR

Length: Over 20 hours, including Special Features

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

English subtitles, closed captioned

Special Features: 6 Featurettes, 5 "Lost Transmissions," Photo Gallery, Trailer

Expected Retail Price: under $100.00
Release Date: July 6, 2004





Star Trek Voyager: The Complete Third Season begins a series of changes to the fourth incarnation of live-action Star Trek on TV. There are minor spoilers in this review.

Finally, in the third season, we see the reintroduction of the Borg to the Star Trek franchise. Many fans wondered why it took so long for the Voyager crew to encounter this deadly race, since they they have been traveling through the Borg’s home quadrant.

The Borg are introduced slowly, with the discovery of a Borg corpse in the episode Blood Fever. Then, the very next episode, Unity, finds a relatively benign offshoot of the Borg as they help an injured Chakotay, stranded on a planet after detecting Federation signals.

It is several episodes until the season finale, Scorpion, Part 1, where the Borg are encountered in all their evil, living, breathing glory. The Voyager has to cross a vast stretch of Borg space, but they find a passage through the middle of the space with no Borg activity. Thinking they have found a safe passage, Voyager sets course only to find a more dangerous enemy than the Borg, one capable of destroying an entire fleet of Borg cubes with ease. This is the introduction of Species 8472.

The series begins to set up the circumstances which will lead to Kes’ departure, and the addition of a new crew mate. Season 3 is a season of change for Voyager. The reintroduction of the Borg, it was hoped, would boost the ratings for the show.

Unfortunately for future seasons, too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing, and Voyager would dilute the Borg nemesis to a disappointing degree.

Episodes of note include:
Basics, Part 2
The Voyager crew, having been abandoned on a planet by the Kazon, must survive the hostile environment while Tom Paris and The Doctor retake the ship, with help from an unexpected source.

Flashback
Voyager’s Star Trek Anniversary special episode finds Tuvok and Janeway going back in time, in a sense, to when Tuvok was an ensign aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior, commanded by Hikaru Sulu. While not nearly as entertaining as Deep Space Nine’s retrospective show, this is an entertaining episode with some great guest appearances.

Future’s End
This two-parter finds Voyager traveling back to late 20th Century Earth to stop a time paradox which could destroy Earth’s solar system. Yes... it’s been done before... but it’s entertaining just the same. This episode features guest appearances by Ed Begley, Jr., and Sarah Silverman.

Warlord
In this episode, Kes’ body is taken over by a terrorist. This episode is noteworthy for the beginning of the end of the relationship between Neelix and Kes.

The Q and the Grey
A civil war in the Q Continuum has severe repercussions in the Delta Quadrant. The Voyager crew intervenes in this war between omnipotent super beings to put an end to it.

Macrocosm
Janeway and Neelix return from an away mission to find that the ship has been overrun by giant viruses. This episode is most notable for the use of CG for the virus entities.

Blood Fever
Vulcan engineer Vorik, under the influence of Pon farr, wishes to mate with Torres. Soon, Torres inexplicably begins experiencing symptoms of Pon farr, herself. This episode reintroduces the Borg, though they don’t play a role in the plot.

Unity
Chakotay’s life is saved by a peaceful offshoot of the Borg.

Worst Case Scenario
A holodeck program puts the crew of Voyager in danger. Yes... it’s yet another holodeck episode, but this one is somewhat entertaining. The holodeck malfunction is due to sabotage by none other than Seska, who left Voyager (and died) long ago.

Scorpion
This is the episode that sets the stage for the changes that Voyager will see in the beginning of season four.

Video
Season three continues to display excellent video quality, comparable to seasons one and two (and much better than TNG and DS9). Contrast and black levels are good, the picture is reasonably sharp, and colors are beautifully saturated. There are rare and very mild instances of gradient banding, most notably in the opening credit sequence. In fact, I never noticed it in any other place at all, though I only screened about half of the episodes for this review. In Scorpion, which has some dark, smoky scenes, there were only faint hints of compression artifacts which plagued the DS9 sets in similar scenes. Overall, the video in this set is impressive.

Audio
Once again, the sound quality is virtually identical to previous Voyager seasons. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not overly aggressive, the front soundstage is well utilized, and surrounds come into play when needed for sound effects. Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music is again well represented for the credit sequence. Dialog is up front and center, with adequate directional effects for environmental sounds. LFE is present, but it won’t wake the neighbors. The only obvious defects I could detect in the sound was in the featurette: Voyager Time Capsule: Kes. In the 1994 interview with Jennifer Lien, there is some distortion from what sounds like an overdriven peak audio level.

Special Features

Braving the Unknown: Season Three (13:10)
Includes recent interviews with Jeri Taylor, Robert Picardo, Roxann Dawson, Brannon Braga, Tim Russ, Rick Berman, Garrett Wang and David Livingston. Topics include: writing, the episodes Real Life, Blood Fever, Future’s End and Scorpion. Brannon Braga notes his favor of two part episodes, which give a “bigger canvas” on which to create a story, and Rick Berman discusses the return of the Borg.

Lost Transmission 1 (1:48)
“Worst Case Scenario”
Martha Hackett (Seska) talks about her comeback as a holographic character

Lost Transmission 2 (3:15)
Kate Mulgrew discusses Macrocosm and The Q and the Grey. She also talks about working with John DeLancie.

Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix (12:05)
Ethan Phillips (in multiple interviews) talks about his character’s development from junk dealer / scalawag to vital member of the crew of Voyager. Warning: this featurette discusses future season episodes in detail. He also talks about dealing with hours in the makeup chair. The Star Trek Cookbook is discussed. Phillips wrote the humorous intros to the recipes, while a co-author wrote the recipes. Finally, Phillips talks about his work after Voyager, as well as his dramatic exit from the series.

Voyager Time Capsule: Kes (12:03)
1994 interview with Jennifer Lien (in makeup, on set)
Lien talks about the development of her character. Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Tim Russ and Kate Mulgrew talk about their experiences working with Lien, and her skill as an actress. The only reference to her leaving the show was in the Mulgrew interview, where she said it was “sad to see her go, the way she went”
There was no recent interview with Lien.

Flashback to “Flashback” (13:36)
A 2004 interview with George Takei points out that Takei found out about the guest appearance from a friend who read it on the internet... it was two weeks later when Takei’s agent informed him of the opportunity to reprise his role as Sulu.
David Livingston, 2003 talks about the “reveal” of Sulu for the fist time, walking through a cloud of smoke, and about recreating sets and rehiring actors to shoot new coverage of scenes from Star Trek VI. Michael Okuda talks about recreating the sets in a short period, and Dan Curry talks about the hours involved in the space shots and visual effects.

Lost Transmission 3 (1:21)
“The Swarm”
Robert Picardo, in a 2001 interview, talks about this episode in a short, humorous interview clip.


Lost Transmission 4 (3:38)
“Blood Fever”
Tim Russ talks about the episode and the Vulcan Pon farr - and how the Vulcans interact in this uncomfortable situation.

Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects (16:56)
Dan Curry talks about finding “artifacts” from Gunga Din at the shooting location of “Basics.” Ronald B. Moore discusses measuring the site for the Voyager landing.
The biggest effects challenge - lava. Stock footage of the real thing was used, altered, and inserted into the scene. The tunnel creature is discussed, using the “Darwinian approach” - designing creatures for the environment in which they live.
Effects shots from Distant Origin, Future’s End Macrocosm and Scorpion are also discussed.

Lost Transmission 5(2:40)
David Livingston discusses Distant Origin.

Real Science with Andre Bormanis (10:40)
Bormanis and other notable astronomers discuss the science of Voyager.

Photo Gallery

Star Trek: The Experience: Borg Invasion 4D
A trailer for the new attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton

Final Thoughts
Fans of Voyager should be pleased with this season set, which displays good audio and video quality and over 90 minutes of special features. If only Paramount would include a commentary or two...

#2 of 15 ONLINE   Osato

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Posted July 05 2004 - 06:54 AM

Thanks for the review! I will be getting this set on Tuesday! Looking forward to it.
Thanks again!

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Rex Bachmann

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Posted July 05 2004 - 07:36 AM

Scott Kimball wrote (post #1):

Quote:
Future’s End . . . . a time paradox . . . . Yes . . . it’s been done before . . . but it’s entertaining just the same.

I'm trying to find some excuse to one day purchase this set. I actually only really want "Scorpion", which I thought was a dynamite two-part episode. I also like "Unity" and one you don't mention, "Distant Origin" (despite its wearing its message on its sleeve). Otherwise there's not much there of interest. "Future's End" is, in my not so humble opinion, the very epitome of what was wrong about this series. It's given me a tedium headache every time I've ever seen it. [Mercifully, not for years now.]

It's good to hear that the disks are technically good, at least. Too bad about Voyager. It really does have the best Star Trek villains.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted July 05 2004 - 09:12 AM

I liked the science aspects of "Distant Origin." I just couldn't get past the "message."

-Scott

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Sean.S

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Posted July 05 2004 - 09:50 AM

I've already saved up for this set! I'm looking forward to this season, as it has some great episode such as "Basics 2," "Flashback," "Worst Case Scenario," "Displaced," "Coda," "Distant Origin," "Future's End," "Scorpion 1" and others. Also, it sounds like there are more extras than in the previous sets.

As for the commentary on the commentary (Posted Image), I completely agree!

And that cover art--simply awesome!

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   GarySchrock

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Posted July 05 2004 - 12:54 PM

I don't remember which message distant origin was trying to put forth (my wife is far more the voyager fan than I am), but one thing consistant in the star trek series is that when they want to send a "message" in an episode, they do it with all the subtlety of a lead brick. I know there are others, but ones I remember off the top of my head were the fossil fuels one in TNG, and the aids one in enterprise. In general, I refuse to rewatch episodes like this, because they're just painful.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted July 05 2004 - 02:02 PM

Good review! I'll be picking this one up tommorrow (along with the bonus disc)......look forward to seeing Flashback, Future's End and Scorpion 1.Posted Image
Recently watched- Nosferatu: The Vampyre, Battle Beyond The Stars, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers(1978), Ransom, Dragonheart, Tomb Of Ligeia, Bloodlust: Subspecies III, Gorky Park, The Last Man On Earth(1964), Lost: Season 6, Transformers Age Of Extinction 3D, The World's End, Toy Story Of Terror!, X-Men: Days Of Future Past 3D, Bloodstone: Subspecies II, Snowpiercer, A Nightmare On Elm St Pt 2

Currently watching- Planet Earth, Cheers: Season 6, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, The Equalizer: Season 2, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, WKRP In Cincinnati, Season 1, Arrow: Season 2

 

Irina Asanova - "KGB have better cars, you know."
Arkady Renko - "Ah, but they don't always take you where you want to go, do they?"


#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Rex Bachmann

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Posted July 05 2004 - 05:08 PM

GarySchrock wrote (post #6):

Quote:
I don't remember which message distant origin was trying to put forth . . . .

"(Religious) orthodoxy bad; scientific inquiry good."

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted July 06 2004 - 03:44 AM

Great review, Scott! I got my set and have to give the audio/video presentation of the episodes 5/5, the menus 1/5 (Paramount could work on the menu development a lot better than what's given here), and the extras 3.5 out of 5. Overall: a 3.5/5.

BTW, what's the bonus disc featurette(s) for this set?
"I have in my heart what it takes to run with the big dogs in this life, and nobody can say otherwise."

"Attention all personnel. Tonight's movie is a holdover from last week and will be shown right after supper, which is also a holdover from last week."

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Jonathan_E

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Posted July 06 2004 - 05:08 AM

Has anyone taken a look at the best buy bonus disk included with it yet? Is the bonus disk worth $16 which would be how much more it would cost from Best Buy compared to Amazon?

Thanks, Jonathan

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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Posted July 10 2004 - 06:27 AM

Nice review, Scott!

Anyone happen to remember what season/episode the Delta Flyer was introduced?

Ric

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   cole_b

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Posted July 10 2004 - 07:09 AM

the Delta Flyer was introduced in the third episode of Season 5, "Extreme Risk".

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted July 10 2004 - 06:16 PM

Bill & Jonathan & everyone,

The bonus disc contains the following:

CREATING THE VOYAGER CREW

Series creator Michael Piller provides a detailed look at the principal characters from Star Trek: Voyager.

30TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENTS

A collection of rare interviews with several Star Trek cast members and celebrities from the 30th anniversary celebration at Paramount Studios in 1996. Includes appearances by Kate Mulgrew, Joan Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Jane Seymour, Sharon Lawrence, DeForest Kelley, and Kirsten Dunst.

Total Running Time: 25 min


I'm saving the bonus disc until I'm finished with the rest of the box, but based on the description, it looks meatier than the bonus discs on seasons 1 & 2.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Philip Verdieck

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Posted July 12 2004 - 03:40 AM

[rant]Future’s End
This two-parter finds Voyager traveling back to late 20th Century Earth to stop a time paradox which could destroy Earth’s solar system. Yes... it’s been done before... but it’s entertaining just the same. This episode features guest appearances by Ed Begley, Jr., and Sarah Silverman.
[/rant]

This is the episode where I decided that Voyager is the turd of all turds. They were back home. At this point in time, you warp around the sun at high speed to go future in time. End of series. When you make an inconsistency that large then screw you, Berman and Pillar.

I was an inconsistent viewer, so I missed the truck in outer space episode. After Future's End, I never bothered to look for Voyager on tv again.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted August 10 2004 - 09:10 AM

Just thought I'd throw this in, I am viewing S3 pretty much in order of the disc and skipping the weaker shows. But I saw the Q and the Grey and it was not with much expectation. I had forgetton the basic point of the episode. In re viewing it, I really enjoyed the dialogue and the way Q tries to woo Janeway. It was fun and the witty dialogue between Kate Mulgrew and John DeLancie was fun. Particualry at the end when Suzie Plakson and John DeLancie "do it". I know of course that Kate MUlgrew and John DeLancie are friends, perhaps that helped the chemistry. It is a fun take on the Q-Captain relationship for Voyager verse TNG and Picard. Of course, if you're a purist and feel that Q lost his fangs during TNG, I agree. This digression was a fun one though.

Unlike Philip, I did have fun with Future's End too.





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