Star Trek: Voyager: The Complete Third Season
Year: 1996 - 1997
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the episode that sets the stage for the changes that Voyager will see in the beginning of season four.
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.
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.
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)
Robert Picardo, in a 2001 interview, talks about this episode in a short, humorous interview clip.
Lost Transmission 4 (3:38)
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.
Star Trek: The Experience: Borg Invasion 4D
A trailer for the new attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton
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...