REVIEW: “Star Trek: Voyager” – The Complete Series on DVD

The Show  

Voyager is a fan favorite of many readers; for many folks currently in their 20s and 30s this was their introduction to Star Trek. It has had a large influence on entire generation of Trekkies, especially young women, many of whom went on to pursue careers in the sciences.

I personally recall watching the pilot “Caretaker, as part of the launch of the brand new UPN. Voyager was certainly the high point of the network, the other show I can remember was some awful action-adventure show with Richard Grieco (Wikipedia tells me this was called Marker).  Coming off the high of the finale of TNG and Generations (because it was cool to see our TNG heroes on the big screen, plot issues not withstanding), Voyager had a lot to live up to, and it mostly succeeded. Sadly, the idea of UPN did not, and it started to drag Voyager down with it.

I’ve of course revisited VOY over the years. It was syndicated once it hit 100 episodes and I recall watching those repeats sporadically on weekday evenings. I’ve been doing a rewatch more recently in earnest. I have to say there’s a lot to like about Voyager.

For as much crap as Captain Janeway gets from people, I find her to be a captain that I’d want to serve under. She watches out for her people, she came up into command from the sciences, and it shows: she’s inclusive, collaborative, and loves a good problem to solve. I think Tuvok is the best “not-Spock” Vulcan we meet in the franchise. B’Elanna is another great character, she’s a kind of extension of the (awesome) idea first explored in K’Ehleyr in TNG of a half-Klingon, half-Human character; in an early episode, “Faces,” she literally gets to see her other half. Chakotay, while the American Indian aspects are not well done, is another character that you come to see why he was a Maquis leader: he’s a fair and honest commander. The Doctor slowly becomes less of an annoying hologram and is treated like a member of the crew, though his notions of being an opera singer kinda swing him back to being annoying again. Tom is mostly redeemable after some rough early stuff where he’s quite the “frat boy,” and then of course there’s his buddy “poor” Harry Kim, who never gets promoted, but is otherwise a likable guy. Neelix I find mostly annoying. His relationship to Kes is borderline gross, and Kes, while potentially interesting, is written off before much more can be explored. We come of course to the newest addition to the crew, Seven of Nine. I have to give credit to Jeri Ryan and the writing staff for turning what was an obvious ploy by the UPN network suits for more T&A into a complex character. If only they would have let her wear a normal uniform! (shades of Deanna Troi there).

Packaging

To get to what I imagine is the first question that pops into many folks minds: sadly, no, this is not a remastered high definition release, and there likely never will be, the huge costs (in time/post-production staff/money) to remaster the show is something CBS just isn’t interesting in spending. This is the same DVD content from the individual season sets released in 2004, just packaged up in one boxed set. This boxed set is more compact than having seven individual season boxes.

voy-complete-series-dvd-boxed-set-snapcases

Thankfully, the episodes on each disc are written on the label! This has been an ongoing issue with many of the DVD and Blu-ray sets released over the years by CBS and/or Paramount. So kudos to CBS for having episode titles on the discs.

voy-complete-series-dvd-boxed-set-discs

There is also an index on the inside covers (front/rear) of the discs in each case.

voy-complete-series-dvd-boxed-set-index

Also note that there are 47 discs in this set, something I can only imagine the folks at CBS Home Entertainment found greatly amusing, and possibly something they did purposefully. The number 47 was incredibly commonplace in Voyager episodes (and TNG before it), thanks to writer Joe Menosky liking the number, so just about any time a number was needed, it was 47 — 47% shield strength, 47 kiloquads of data, and so on.

What’s on the discs

The content of the discs is the same as the 2004 DVD releases, so there’s nothing new here, but since these are effectively the same discs, you do get all bonus features that were included before. These include: character profiles, one for each season, for each member of the cast; a look at the visual effects of Voyager; designing the alien makeup of the Delta Quadrant; features focused on enemies new and old such as Species 8472 and the Borg Queen; plus much more.

The only bonus content not included are the retailer exclusive discs from the season sets that were sold by Best Buy back in 2004.

A word about DVD versus Streaming

You may be thinking: Voyager is up on various streaming services, why do I care to have it on DVD?

If you care about image quality, then you’ll care to have it on DVD. The copies of VOY, and DS9 provided to the streaming services are quite poor. While there’s no getting around the fact this is a ’90s TV show done in standard definition, the masters prepared for streaming were improperly processed for progressive scan displays (i.e. all modern computer, tablet, phone, and HDTV screens), they have noticeably poor deinterlacing; anything in motion that goes near a series of lines that intersect or anything with diagonal lines aren’t properly handled, causing “combing” for the first case and “stair-stepping” in the second case.  It’s very common to see this in Sickbay because of the tight vertical lined pattern that wraps around the main diagnostic bed.

In the example below take a look at Tom Paris in motion, crossing the closely-set vertical lines of the background pattern in Sickbay. It created “combing” in the streaming version that shouldn’t be there.

voy-streaming-example

Voyager streaming

voy-dvd-example

Voyager DVD

Modern DVD and Blu-ray players, and HDTVs themselves, typically have very good video processing in them. They’re made to handle these exact issues when going from a standard definition show (480i) to the native resolution of the TV (1080p or more). They generally do an excellent job at motion adaptive deinterlacing, so it’s no problem feeding them this DVD, they’ll produce the best output you can expect for something so low resolution.

Final Thoughts

Owning a show on physical media is really the only way to be sure you actually own the content. Just about any kind of online format (download or streaming) is only granting you a license to play it, not to own it. If you’re a Voyager fan and don’t own the previous DVD season sets, if you’re a bit of a completist and want to be sure you own a copy of every series in the franchise, or if you’re bothered by the streaming version’s image artifacts, then this DVD release of the complete series is for you.


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