After proving its long-term potential in season 2, Star Trek: Voyager
served up some of the best episodes in its entire seven-year history. The second-season cliffhanger was intelligently resolved in "Basics, Pt. II," and the fan-favorite "Flashback" placed Tuvok (Tim Russ) aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior from Star Trek VI
, under the command of Capt. Sulu (Star Trek
alumnus George Takei). It was a brilliant example of interseries plotting, just as "False Profits" was a Ferengi-based sequel to the NextGen episode "The Price." The two-part time-travel scenario of "Future's End" is a Voyager
highlight, with clear echoes (including dialogue lifted verbatim!) of Star Trek's classic "The City on the Edge of Forever," featuring delightful guest performances by actress-comedienne Sarah Silverman and Ed Begley Jr. Character-wise, the season belonged to Kes (Jennifer Lien, whose tenure on the series was now near its end), Neelix (Ethan Phillips), and the Doctor (Robert Picardo), who shined (respectively) in "Warlord," "Fair Trade," and the surprisingly touching "Real Life" (the latter directed by "Potsie" himself, Happy Days veteran Anson Williams). By infecting B'Elanna (Roxanne Dawson) with a fellow officer's "Blood Fever," Voyager delved into the turbulent Vulcan ritual of Pon Farr, while the cliffhanger "Scorpion" introduced the relentless, Borg-destroying villains of Species 8472, which would pose a continuing threat in subsequent episodes.
Season 3 had a few clunkers (the guilty pleasure "Macrocosm" puts Janeway in stripped-down "Ripley" mode against invading macro-viruses, and Ensign Kim is an awkward "Favorite Son" to a bevy of babes), but for every misstep there's a strong science-fiction concept, like the highly-evolved Hadrosaurs in "Distant Origin," which doubles as a compelling indictment of institutionalized repression. Overall, this is rock-solid Trek, and the DVD features are equally engaging, albeit growing more perfunctory (especially the season 3 summary) with each full-season release. Don't forget the Easter eggs hidden on the special-features menus, however; they contain some of the set's happiest surprises. --Jeff Shannon
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