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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: Voyager—The Complete Fifth Season (1998-1999)

Chakotay: We can find another way home. We’ve waited this long.
Janeway: Long enough. We’ve waited long enough.

- Robert Beltran, Kate Mulgrew

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: November 08, 2004

Stars: Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Tim Russ, Roxann Dawson, Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang, Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Pillips, Jeri Ryan
Other Stars: Martin Rayner, J. Paul Boehmer, Alexander Enberg, Ray Walston, Kate Vernon, Tucker Smallwood, Justin Louis, Wallace Langham, Christine Harnos, LeVar Burton, Scarlett Pomers, David Clennon, Willie Garson, Mark Harelik, Lori Petty, Susanna Thompson, Musetta Vander, Jason Alexander, Ron Canada, Scott Thompson, Kevin Tighe, Dakin Matthews, McKenzie Westmore, John Savage, Titus Welliver
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sci-fi violence and adult themes)
Run Time: 20h:16m:00s
Release Date: November 09, 2004
UPC: 097360508147
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+AA B-

DVD Review

Voyager's fifth season is a fine follow-up to the series' strong third and fourth seasons, opting for bold adventure and darker overtones. Still trapped in the Delta Quadrant, the crew of the starship Voyager, led by the intrepid Captain Kathryn Janeway, must find their way home against all odds. Season Four saw the departure of the Ocampa Kes, making way for a new crew member: The Borg vixen Seven of Nine, whose quest for humanity revitalized the show, bringing a fresh energy provided by a talented actress. Seasons Three through Five are really as good as Voyager gets, beyond which lies the gulf of mediocrity. However, this remains a fine sci-fi series, a quality inherent in the show's title. For more series info, look to my reviews of the first four seasons.

Season Five opens with a literally dark outing entitled Night. As Voyager travels through an area of space completely devoid of light and stars, the crew's morale sinks to staggering lows. After an attack by unknown, light-sensitive aliens, a race known as the Malon rescues Voyager, much to the appreciation of Captain Janeway. Her pleasantries are soon replaced with conflict after she learns the Malon's true intentions in the area: To dump large quantities of antimatter waste, inadvertently killing off the area's single indigenous species. The Malon return in future episodes, such as Juggernaut. Followed by Drone, which addresses the conflict of nature vs. nurture with a Borg drone, Season Five starts out strong.

Bold adventure is the tone once again. The series' 100th episode, Timeless is a superb time travel paradox that opens in the future with Kim and Chakotay finding Voyager buried beneath a glacier. Years before, Voyager modified its warp drive with slipstream technology, allowing her to reach the Alpha Quadrant in a matter of minutes. After Kim miscalculates the phase corrections from another vessel (forgive me for the technobabble), Voyager crashes on a remote ice planet, killing all on board. Dealing with his past errors, Kim becomes a fugitive, hoping to change history by sending a vital message to the past. Dark Frontier is the annual Borg two-hour movie, bringing back the seductive overtones of the Borg Queen. In The Flesh leads Janeway and crew to a secret outpost where Species 8472 is mounting an invasion of Earth, disguised as Starfleet personnel (even gardener Boothby!). These episodes alone prove Voyager's visual bravura and flair for adventure.

Character development continues to shine here and there, but is still underwhelming. Seven of Nine is further developed throughout this season, featured in Infinite Regress, the memorably funny, Pygmalion Someone to Watch Over Me and more. Think Tank, starring none other than Jason "Costanza" Alexander, takes the interesting idea of geniuses who solve problems for a price: Seven. Ensign Kim finally gets some central focus, most notably in the classic Timeless and to less fulfilling effects in the thin, racy romance of The Disease. B'Elanna has a very schizophrenic season, struggling with suicidal depression in Extreme Risk, returning to her vengeful self in the methodically setup Nothing Human and transforming into the sweet-hearted ex-girlfriend in Equinox. Her relationship with Tom Paris reaches a new level. As usual, episodes have little in way of lasting impact, resetting characters and situations at the close of virtually every hour.

A major addition is the Delta Flyer, Tom Paris's "hotrod" shuttle craft introduced in Extreme Risk. Its creation is motivated by a space race against the Malon, who are building their own shuttle in an attempt to capture one of Voyager's advanced probes. Within the cockpit of the Flyer are knobs, levers and buttons installed by Paris out of nostalgia for the old Captain Proton serials, another visual bonus to the season. Proton, akin to the corny sci-fi of Flash Gordon, is Paris' favorite Holonovel, and we are privy to several wonderfully over-the-top, black-and-white adventures throughout the season, most notably in the memorable Bride of Chaotica!. What's better than sci-fi characters loving sci-fi?

The season cliffhanger is one of the best episodes of Voyager, hands down. Equinox addresses the kinds of utilitarian moral issues that can follow from desperate conditions. Janeway and crew stumble on another Federation starship, the short range science vessel Equinox. Helmed by Captain Ransom, his crew was catapulted to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, as well, but their poorly equipped ship has forced them to take extreme measures to survive. When Janeway learns Ransom has been killing aliens to convert to warp-enhancing compounds, she finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes. It's a face-off between two captains with decidedly different moral compasses. Nothing Human is another moral battle, asking the question of whether medical advances gained by unethical means are morally right to use, even to save a life.

Of course, between these worthwhile adventures lies a good handful of misfires. These outings suffer from tired retreads of stories, or simply dull plots that place the viewers light years ahead of the characters; one gets tired waiting for the crew to catch up to a solution that is all but obvious to the audience. While Equinox hints at the kind of uncharted waters Voyager could have traversed throughout its seven year run, Season Five remains on safe ground, not opting for too many risks. There is simply not enough of an "arc" to speak of, preventing me from addressing any kind of long term progression throughout the series. Standalone episodes, many of which are strong, is the tone here. Nevertheless, this remains one of the series' best seasons.

Disc 1: Night, Drone, Extreme Risk, In the Flesh
Disc 2: Once Upon a Time, Timeless, Infinite Regress, Nothing Human
Disc 3: Thirty Days, Counterpoint, Latent Image, Bride of Chaotica!
Disc 4: Gravity, Bliss, Dark Frontier
Disc 5: The Disease, Course: Oblivion, The Fight, Think Tank
Disc 6: Juggernaut, Someone to Watch Over Me, 11:59, Relativity
Disc 7: Warhead, Equinox Part I, Special Features

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is still strong. Colors are bright and well saturated, and contrast is solid. The image is occasionally soft at times, but detail is very good. CGI visual effects shots are smoothly rendered, not prone to the kind of "jaggies" previously seen. This show simply looks great.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is faithful to the original Dolby 2.0 mixes (also included), but adds the extra expected punch. Ambient effects are immersive, some of which extend into the LFE, such as the drone of Voyager’s engines. Discrete starship flybys are plentiful, utilizing the split surrounds.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Documentaries
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unknown keepcase
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: The 25 episodes are contained on seven discs. The set's packaging is the same as before, housing the discs in a book-like arrangement of plastic disc trays, enclosed by two clear plastic pieces that fit over the top and bottom. The color of choice this time is a neon pink.

Guess what? The extras are all interview-based yet again. Braving the Unknown: Season Five (20m:14s) is an overview of the season with comments from cast and crew, including Brannon Braga, who took the reins this season. Topics covered include the show’s 100th episode, Nothing Human, the Captain Proton bits, and Think Tank. Rick Berman mentioned the possibility they were going to bring the crew home before the end of the show, allowing for some stories on their return to Stafleet. I really wish they had gone this route; it would have made for some fresh storytelling.

Two Voyager Time Capsules are included, one on B'Elanna Torres (16m:52s) and another on Tom Paris (15m:05s). Both feature interviews with the actors, discussing their characters throughout the series. Coincidentally, both Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill have graduated from the "Trek School of Directing" and have directed several episodes of their own.

The Borg Queen Speaks (6m:53s) features actress Susanna Thompson, who replaced Alice Krige as the Queen in Dark Frontier. She had quite a hard time with the makeup and long hours, but her performance was strong.

Speaking of makeup, Delta Quadrant Makeup Magic (19m:33s) takes a look at the simply amazing makeup and prosthetic work Trek is known for. Master artist Michael Westmore discusses the design and concept process for several alien races, including the Borg, Hirogen, Vidiians, and more. I wish we got a look inside his studio and saw a bit more of the makeup application process instead of listening to Westmore do a sit-down interview, but this is a good piece.

A photo gallery rounds out the listed extras. A coupon for up to $25.00 off admission to up to 5 attractions ($5 off each attraction) to the Borg Invasion 3-D ride at the Star Trek Experience is included in the package.

Finally, there are five easter egg featurettes, Lost Transmissions from the Delta Quadrant, easily found throughout the Delta Flyer-themed Special Features menus: Garrett Wang discusses his featured episodes (02m:46s); Kate Mulgrew discusses Counterpoint (01m:48s); David Livingston covers the cinematography of nightmares in Infinite Regress (04m:16s); David Livingston returns to offer comments on Night (01m:49s); Livingston returns yet again with Tim Russ to pay tribute to the late Ray Walston, who played Boothby throughout several episodes of Trek (04m:55s).

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Despite the lack of a consistent progression, Season Five continues a streak of strong standalone episodes. Risks are rare, but this remains to be visually stunning, worthy sci-fi television. Paramount's set continues its high a/v quality; the extras need more power.

 


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