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The sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager had a lot to live up to after the brilliance of the critically lauded fifth year of the show. In that season – which is arguably the prime of Voyager’s lifespan – rich and highly poignant storytelling was key to its overwhelming success amid the crowd of fans. Admittedly, season six doesn’t quite knock the ball clean out of sight as its predecessor did, but it is still one hell of a rollercoaster ride, and pure entertainment from end to end nonetheless. But is its storytelling as lavish? For that, you are going to have to read on to find out – or, for the lazy amongst us, skip to the bottom and read the summary.

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Series


The sequel to season five’s ‘Equinox, Part I’ kicks the season off in high gear, with plenty of tension and more cool than you can handle. It always amazes me how these end-of-season cliff-hangers are produced. The production and continuity staff must work tirelessly to ensure the second part looks as if it were filmed right along side the first, and Equinox certainly must have been a tough one to pull off. I cannot really think of a better way to start this sixth season, than the conclusion to one of Voyager’s best two-hour specials leading us right into the action.

B'Elanna Torres confronts death and saves her mother from entering Klingon Hell in the episode ‘Barge of the Dead’. On paper, I probably would have questioned green-lighting this episode with its many trips into limbo and hell – all of which seem a little too over the top, even for a Star Trek show. But as it turns out, it leaves much open for interpretation, and is actually a very solid story with lots of important and thematic undertones. The episode also proves that Voyager’s character development continues as strong as ever, even this late in the game.

One of the best episodes this season is the unforgettable and downright ingenious ‘Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy’, which also happens to feature the greatest pre-title sequence for a Star Trek episode ever! Hilarity is simply not the word to describe just how funny and entertaining it is, with the doctor singing an over the top aria laced with his own personal touch to what seems like the entire crew. I always figured Data or Quark, or even Odo as being Star Trek’s most amusing character, but the EHM Doctor is right up there alongside them. If anything, ‘Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy’ is easily one of the best Voyager has to offer, and the Doctor’s out-and-out tour-de-force.

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‘The Voyager Conspiracy’ proves to be one of the most unusual episodes of the season, with one plot twist after the other fighting for the limelight. This episode also happens to be one of the better Seven of Nine based episodes out there. ‘Pathfinder’ is also something of a classic, and one of those episodes where the whole face of the show is radically altered by its end. As the name suggests, this is the very episode in which Voyager stumbles into Reginald Barclay, who manages to make contact with the ship on behalf of the Federation. ‘Pathfinder’ also guest stars Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. From this episode, Voyager now sees almost regular contact with Earth – a very good thing, and something which turns into a pretty big arc over time.

My second favourite episode this season, and one of the best Voyager has to offer overall, is ‘Blink of an Eye’. Its concept is so compelling and rich that I am surprised nobody has based a film on it yet. The action takes place on a strange pearly white planet that is oddly displaced in time. Every second that passes on Voyager is several days for the planet it orbits. The crew observe one civilization after the other rise and fall, and all the while they do not realize what an affect their ship is having on the planet. Constant tremors shake the planet, leading the inhabitants to name the brightest star they can see (Voyager) “The Ground-Shaker”. Over time, the inhabitants reach such a stage of evolution that they decide to pay Voyager a little visit.

‘Virtuoso’ is yet another classic Doctor episode, which this time sees him leaving the ship so he can pursue fame and fortune on a planet that worships his singing talent. ‘Tsunkatse’ is a pretty cool action-type episode that has special guest appearances by none other than The Rock, Jeffrey Combs and J.G. Hertzler. There are plenty of other treats to mention, including: ‘Live Fast and Prosper’, where the crew run into impersonators, and ‘Fury’, which sees the return of Kes. The last three episodes of the season: ‘Life Line’, ‘The Haunting of Deck Twelve’ and ‘Unimatrix Zero’ send season six out with a bang.

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Video


Not much has changed in terms of the video presentation of Voyager in the last couple of seasons. The images are still sharp and clear, with good if not great colour reproduction and strong blacks across the board. Though the noise is still there in part, it is nowhere near as bad as in earlier seasons. On the whole, Voyager’s sixth season looks as good as ever.

Audio


Once again, paramount have provided a thoroughly strong Dolby Digital 5.1 score for this DVD. Low frequencies are handled well, and likewise, dialogue and directional audio are both clear and sharp. Season six has plenty of action sequences, and each of these demonstrates all too well how the score handles the bass – you won’t be disappointed. Season six sounds great, and although the audio quality hasn’t really taken a step-up since season four, you’ll still be appreciative of what’s on offer.

Extras


The season six packaging is coloured a sort of bottle green, which again looks stunning on the DVD shelf next to its companions. First up is ‘Braving the Unknown: Season 6’. Like the other features of this name in previous seasons, we’re treated to some standout moments from this year of the show, plus some interviews with relevant cast and crew members.

‘Voyager Time Capsule: Chakotay’ sheds some light on the first officer, while ‘One Small Step: A Mars Encounter’ has some detailed information on the episode ‘One Small Step’ and also features interviews with the cast and crew. ‘Red Alert! Amazing Visual Effects’ is a pretty lengthy feature covering some of the coolest special effects during season five and six. ‘Guest Star Profile: Vaughn Armstrong’ and the usual hidden features round out the set.

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Overall


Season six is great on pretty much every level. While it might not be as rich and satisfying as the fifth, I rather doubt you will come out of this season disappointed. The DVD is likewise a great treat, both the audio and visual aspects are solid, and while the array of special features are predictable at first glance, they are still satisfying. Season six is altogether a worthy purchase, and one that will be as cherished as the other Voyager box sets.


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