Here we go again with another Star Trek Fan Collective. Not long ago Paramount did an online survey of sorts giving people the opportunity to vote on their favorite "themes". Previously we were able to take a look at what Trekkies voted on as their favorite Time Travel and Borg episodes. The Klingon Collective on the horizon but right now it's time now to take a look at the infamous Q.
Now, say what you will about the concept behind these DVD collections. I know all of the series have been released and I know that each of these episodes are already on the market. If you are one of the few with a bottomless bank account who have no problems spending thousands of dollars to collect Star Trek then you have to keep in mind that this release is not for you. These collectives are produced with the Trekkie on a budget in mind or even someone with mere passing interest. In other words, they aren't for everyone.
Anyone who has been watching Star Trek since The Next Generation (TNG) could pretty much dictate all of the prominent races that Starfleet has encountered. The Klingon, Borg, Romulans are all well and good, but to be honest none of them are as powerful as a Q. For the uninitiated, the Q are omnipotent, immortal beings that roam through space and time basically doing whatever they want and living in a universe known as the Continuum. Essentially the Q are egotistical gods who love to stir up trouble.
The most famous Q throughout Star Trek was John de Lancie. Other Q's were shown here and there but de Lancie's particular character was the most prominent across three separate series. This particular Q started out on the Next Generation premier episode "Encounter at Farpoint". He basically put humanity on trial for the crimes of their race. Compared to the rest of TNG and other Trek in general I always felt this particular episode was so bad it was downright silly. I understand that every show needs to start somewhere, but geez that was painful to watch the first time, let alone relive. Q was a very rough character at this point. It was hard to tell whether you were supposed to take him seriously or not, but one thing was sure, he meant trouble.
The next episode featured in the set is "Hide and Q". In it Q tries to make Commander Riker an offer he can't refuse, become a Q himself. Just like "Encounter at Farpoint" this was an episode that aired early on in the TNG's run so you can't expect it to be the best of quality; however it is interesting to watch the struggle Riker goes through in this episode. Should he become a Q? Use his powers to give his friends everything they could possible dream of? Or is it best to remain true to reality? This theme would be revised in a slightly different way in the episode "True Q".
If you have been picking up the Collectives then be prepared for a double dip because "Q Who" is here as well. This was the episode where Q introduced Picard to that lovely race called the Borg. I understand its relevance with the whole Q theme and this is where de Lancie's character really starts to get fleshed out, but I'm tired of these repeat episodes on the sets.
Up next is "Deja Q", which has always been one of my personal favorites. As punishment for the chaos he has been spreading throughout the universe the continuum has decided to strip Q of his powers leaving him human and at the gentle mercies of the Enterprise crew. With Data as his guide he tries to fit in and work with the crew but quickly begins to realize that he's not cut out for the mortal life. De Lancie really does a great job in this episode and it may be one of the funniest of the TNG series.
After that things get even sillier with the Robin Hood themed adventure "Q-Pid". The episode starts off with Vash (Picard's fling from the episode Captain's Holiday) coming on board the Enterprise for an archeological meeting. Q then decided to pop in for a visit as well wanting to do something nice for Picard as a thank you for helping him when he got kicked out of the Continuum. Seeing a golden opportunity with Vash around Q decides to show Picard how dangerous human romances can be. So he turns Picard into Robin Hood, Vash becomes Maid Marian, Q becomes the sheriff, and the rest of the crew gets to be Merry Men. Like Worf says though, "Sir, I protest! I am not a merry man." Sure this may have been just another irreverent Q adventure but it has a lot of personality and is really symbolic of his character.
"True Q" finds a young girl named Amanda winning her way onto the Enterprise, and us discovering very quickly that she's no ordinary cutie. She makes puppies appear and disappear with the blink of an eye and even stops a warp core breach with her bare hands. Before long Q pops in and reveals that Amanda is indeed a future member of the continuum. Of course the wishy-washy humans demand that Q let her choose what fate befalls her. Watching her struggle and inevitable acceptance of her omnipotent status does feel similar to Riker's struggle, but of course this has a different outcome.
"Tapestry" is a touching episode that finds Picard at death's door. And just who does he happen to find on the other side? You guessed it. Before they spend eternity together Q offers Picard the chance to fix any regrets he has from his life. He takes him up on the offer and decided to avoid some youthful indiscretions that caused him to have an artificial heart. Once he does Q returns him to his "new" life, and it is nothing like it was before. This episode had an almost "It's A Wonderful Life" feel to it and in my opinion has always been one of the most prominent episodes from TNG.
And finally, Q returns to the Enterprise one last time in the series finale "All Good Things". In what Q says is a continuance of the trial started at "Encounter at Farpoint" the continuum has reached a verdict and found humanity guilty of being inferior; therefore they will be destroyed. But Q offers Picard one chance to stop this extinction if he can solve a puzzle that links his past, present, and future. The tale is an intricate and emotional work masterfully delivered by the actors, and is a fine farewell for Q on TNG. "All Good Things" was the crowning achievement for Picard's series but considering this is the second double dip to be found among the Collectives I can't help but be annoyed that it's here again.
Q only made one appearance on Deep Space Nine (DS9) which is really a shame. I think there could have been some real gems if he had come back for more. In "Q-Less" a team from DS9 picks up the before mentioned Vash stranded in the Gamma Quadrant. It was revealed at the end of "Q-Pid" that Vash was going off to explore the universe with Q so this marks the first time that we have seen her since then. After being abandoning there by Q he suddenly shows back up on the station intent to get her back, but as soon as he arrives some strange malfunctions start causing damage to the station. Everyone starts blaming Q for their problems and it leads to some great clashes between him and the crew. While certainly not the best Q episode (or DS9 episode) "Q-Less" is still entertaining and good for a few laughs. I also liked how they tied in O'Brien's character and the Enterprise into Q's appearance.
As if the crew of the Voyager didn't have things bad enough with being stuck on the other side of the galaxy they too had the misfortune of being harassed by Q. In "Death Wish" a new Q entity appears and requests asylum aboard Voyager and implores Janeway to allow him to die in their care. No Q has ever been allowed to commit suicide before, so the continuum takes a vested interest in him and refuses to grant him the right. A hearing to determine if Voyage will grant this Q asylum gets underway and it even includes a trip for Tuvok and Janeway to the continuum itself. On paper it may sound rather dry but the episode actually proved to be very entertaining and emotional. I loved the rapport between Q and Janeway too. It's almost more entertaining than he and Picard.
The last two episodes on the set and for Voyager are "The Q and the Grey" and "Q2". They both kind of go together because of a common element; Q has a son. In the first episode Q approaches Janeway with the offer of a lifetime, he wants to get her in the sack and knock her up. Naturally, she refuses. But as she learns that a civil war is erupting in the Continuum she helps Q realize there is another way. Or should I say another woman. A child winds up being born and in "Q2" we see that child come of age. And like father like son he is running amuck with his powers. Because no child has ever been born into the continuum there is a great lack of parenting taking place so the kid gets dumped into the hands of Aunt Kathy. These episodes were hilarious but nothing more really than fluff. Nowhere near as good as previous Q episodes featured in this set.
I have always loved the character of Q and many of these episodes like "Tapestry", "All Good Things" and "Deja Q" are some of the best that Trek has to offer. Just like the previous Fan Collectives this is a strong collection of episodes. My biggest gripes come from the lackluster earlier episodes of TNG and the double dipping of "All Good Things" and "Q Who". Granted these are all of the Q episodes (every single one he ever appeared in) assembled here so I guess there wasn't much choice in the matter, but prior to just throwing the episodes on the discs someone should have stopped to consider the amount of repeats here.
From The Next Generation to Voyager the episodes featured here show a variety of video quality. Each episode is presented with its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks as fine, if not better than it did when it was broadcast. The earlier episodes could have been cleaned up a bit but as it stands the quality didn't bother me too much. The image did sometimes appear to be soft or grainy but naturally got better as the different series progressed.
The episodes here are presented with options for 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital English tracks. The quality was very good with an overall clean presentation and fine channel separation. There were a couple of points where the sound was a little softer than I would have liked but overall I felt that the soundstage was as impressive as it should have been. There are also some optional English subtitles included on the set if you want to watch it with those on.
Just like the previous Fan Collectives the only extra feature available here is a selection of commentaries. Three text commentaries are included by Michael and Denise Okuda for "Deja Q", "Q-Less" and "Death Wish". The commentaries are insightful and even funny at times though I can't help but wish that there was more included to make these Collectives a more enticing package.
The bottom line for these Fan Collectives is that if you already own some of the Trek seasons on DVD then don't bother picking them up. These collections are made with fans on a budget or casual viewers who don't want to invest over a thousand dollars on all the Star Trek series. The Q represents some of the more entertaining adventures that Star Trek has had and many of these episodes are some of the best. If you're picking it up just bare in mind that there are some repeats to deal with again.
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