Over the past calendar year, I’ve been able to get my hands on every Star Trek television show on home media, after CBS and Paramount decided to release “Complete Series” volumes as part of the show’s 50th Anniversary. You may be saying right now “Dude, it’s all on Netflix.” True, but I’m also not naive enough to believe it will stay there forever. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once Discovery finally gets made, someone at CBS will probably pull all those shows over to their paid service, which no one really wants to do, but we’re being forced into it. Except for the animated series, I was able to snag TOS, TNG, DS9 and Enterprise, but the last one on the list that came out today (March 7) was Star Trek: Voyager.
Voyager is… that younger kid that no one really knows what to make of. The series came off the heels of having TNG praised while DS9 was getting darker, it premiered on UPN to help launch the new network and get an audience for it, and it had a premise that fans face-palmed at because it was a clear sign of creators aiming for longevity. If you’re not familiar with the show, here’s the basic premise: While going after a key leader in the Maquis, Voyager is flung into the Delta Quadrant (their version of the other side of the galaxy) with Katherine Janeway in the captain’s seat. (Star Trek’s first women captain, played by Kate Mulgrew.) They are now on a quest to get home, which is said to take them 70 years to get back home. This presented the obvious flaw that every season they’d get some kind of sci-fi boost to take ten years off their journey and left them with many episodes that became “monster of the week” stories as they constantly had to invent new aliens to encounter.
It also didn’t help matters much that the ship itself got clowned on by hardcore TNG fans for its design. I myself always thought of it as a humpbacked whale. The series as a whole had a hit-and-miss quality to it in terms of storyline and one-off episodes. Some days you’d get excellent episodes like “Flashback” with a return of Sulu, or “Hope and Fear” featuring Ray Wise as an alien determined to give Voyager up to the Borg. But then you get episodes like “The Fight” where Chakotay thinks he’s a boxer, or Threshold where Paris and Janeway mate as salamanders. There’s a contingency of people who say the series improved after Season Four, which also happens to be when Jeri Ryan joined as 7 of 9. I personally enjoyed watching Robert Picardo grow as The Doctor (not that doctor), Ultimately the show was the last to have a seven-year run to mixed reviews from the fanbase, which is about the same as people feel about DS9 these days.
The Complete Collection is all seven seasons on DVD, presented just as they were on television with no edits for syndication. To have all the episodes in one collection is nice, but it does come with some flaws. First, much like TNG and DS9, the menus are lifted from all of the previous DVD sets, so no special version for a modern release. There’s also no additional special features added, whatever was created for those seasons at that time is the limit of what you receive. It would have been nice to have a greater retrospect on the series from cast and crew, but sadly, those are stories you’ll only ever hear at conventions. (Ask Garrett Wang about the time he got his first Ensign Kim action figure, it’s awesome.)
The biggest sticking point for me is that they’re not on Blu-ray and they haven’t been cleaned up for HD. Simply put: Paramount chose to improve TNG because it was cheap and easy to remaster the graphics and enhance the footage of the models. But everything Star Trek-related after the second season of DS9 was computer generated for space—to clean up, re-render or create new materials would be costly, and that’s a price too high for the company to fix the series. Maybe someday we will have enough fans to rally behind fixing Voyager and DS9 up for a better release, but for now, this is all we get.
Of all the DVD sets, the Voyager sets are the weakest. It has little to do with the show and more to do with the features. You still get every episode, which is the point of the collection and it shouldn’t discourage you from getting it if you love it. There was just so much potential to do more with it, and nothing came of it. I highly recommend getting it for the sake of being a Star Trek fan owning everything, even casual fans who love Voyager above the rest could use this on their shelves, but there isn’t anything new for average fans to latch onto. Safe voyage home!
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