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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > TV > Adventure > Space Opera > Star Trek: Voyager - Season One (Paramount DVD)

Star Trek: Voyager - Season One


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



To launch the United Paramount Network, a new Star Trek TV series was created to launch it.  Voyager set sail in 1995, but like The Next Generation, it was off to a rough start.  Casting the female lead took a while, including the arrival and departure of Lindsay Wagner and Genevieve Bujold.  Finally, the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway went to Kate Mulgrew, who previously had a strange run in the title role of Mrs. Columbo.  This first season only ran 15 episodes, as follows:




Time and Again


The Cloud

Eye of the Needle

Ex Post Facto


Prime Factor

State of Flux

Heroes and Demons




Learning Curve


After going through the shows, I realized trying to explain them would take the pretense of expecting you to know about the Trek world, but all you need to know is that they get hit by a power mass and land up “on the other side of the galaxy” as if they had figured out the whole thing.  The show was not stuck in the “holodeck” like the first few seasons of The Next Generation, or add new meaning to “suspended disbelief” as Deep Space Nine did, but it did get caught up in uncertainty of what direction to take.  The military direction Nicholas Meyer took that reasonably upset Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had this show taking itself way too seriously.  Even more than The Next Generation, because it offered a more varied cast, this felt like a version of the original show that (at least initially) missed the point of the franchise.  That is to say it forgot its roots.  It felt more like a carbon copy that the previous spin-offs.


From the demand for Mulgrew, to asking for her hair to be changed to something more conservative, Paramount wanted something more conservative in feel.  This nearly backfired as a series, but it eventually found its audience.  They also knew it felt too much like Lost in Space and likely influenced the ultra-dreadful feature film of that series to be so stupidly dark.  The studio was likely playing it safe because of their new network, which makes looking at these initial episodes again very mixed.


It feels like a huge comedown from the better feature films and their great vision, their production values, and maybe a third Star Trek series being produced at the same time was stretching it a bit.  The other result it that it not distinguish itself from the likes of Babylon 5 and like shows trying to capitalize on the initial (eventual) success of The Next Generation.  Muddy is the best way to describe the result.


The authorship of Roddenberry, the curiosity about life, space and the unknown was overtaken by melodrama too much.  The characters were not as developed and the thing critics wrongly accused the original show of became true here, in that everyone feels like they are talking too much at each other, and not to each other.  Also, this could only be repeated sop many times without getting into trouble, so we can give the decent cast that much.


The soul of the franchise was really starting to disappear at this point, whether it was from Roddenberry’s absence or how overextended it was.  By becoming too familiar, how can it explore the unknown, especially when that unknown is reduced to mixed visual effects, the unfamiliar as familiar and a record use on TV of latex?


The full frame image shows its age, with softness in its detail, dated digital effects, and an annoying use of video-based editing and special effects finalizing that also plague The Next Generation and shows like The X-Files.  It is something that nobody will miss as digital High Definition continues to take hold, except for more dated digital graphics.  The cinematography is mixed, at least those shots actually filmed.  Some documentary footage is 16 X 9, but not anamorphically enhanced.


The sound is available as Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds and a new Dolby 5.1 AC-3 mix that is no major improvement.  In some ways, it sounds less naturalistic than the original audio.  It also does not add anything major to the low-end with its .1/LFE/subwoofer/low-frequency signal.  It should be said that the music by Jay Chattaway is some of the least memorable in the franchise.


The fifth disc has all the extras, which include Easter Eggs on parts of the ship on the menu page.  Genevieve Bujold’s shooting footage before Mulgrew was picked at the 11th hour is shown.  It is obvious it would have been a different show with her and who knows what would have happened.  It may have taken a less militaristic direction and been more successful as a result.  Had Wagner done the series, she would have demanded the same high standards she did on The Bionic Woman, resulting in more good shows in the long run than the show it came from, The Six Million Dollar Man.  There are several featurettes that cover the invention of the new show, Mulgrew on getting the part, cast reflections, the Kazon aliens from the pilot, visual effects, actual science behind the show, how the website for the show was made (an oddity considering we do not get one about the point of this particular series), and a photo gallery.


The overall result is a series that continued the franchise, but like The Next Generation burned it out too much in the long run.  The show did get better as it went along, also like The Next Generation, but thinking these things out more in advance would have been nice.  The diehard fans just see this as a rough start.  Even with better storylines, it will be interesting to see how this show’s upswing helped it and if that all holds up.  Seasons 2 – 7 are scheduled to be released throughout 2004.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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