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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Star Trek Fan Collective - Captain's Log
Star Trek Fan Collective - Captain's Log
Paramount // Unrated // July 24, 2007
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted August 4, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

If you're a Trek lover on a budget there really is no better way to get the best of the franchise for your dollar than the Fan Collective series. Packed with episodes from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise the selection of Star Trek adventures in these collections is very good indeed.

Originally these releases came to be thanks to a poll on StarTrek.com where fans voted on their favorite themes and subsequent episodes. The Borg, Q, Klingons, and Time Travel won the lot the first time around but Paramount went back once again to supply fans with more episodes. No matter how nicely presented or affordable these sets may be there is a flaw with the design.

For starters most Star Trek fans may already own their favorite series and thus these release will yield less value; further narrowing the target audience. The next problem stems from the sets themselves. Throughout the Collectives many of the "voted" episodes appear on differing collections. That means even if you skipped on the complete series and opted for these affordable sets you're still going to be dinged with a double dip. This is an irritant that continues through even to the latest release, The Captain's Log.

The idea behind this collection is really a decent one. The set takes each of the five captains, Shatner, Stewart, Brooks, Mulgrew, and Bakula, and features a favorite episode picked by them. The remainder of the disc includes episodes picked by fans. Unlike the prior Fan Collectives the discs and episodes are in order of the series airing rather than the timeline. That means the Enterprise episodes appear in line after the Voyager ones.

The first disc includes three episodes from the Original Series and features a brief introduction to the collection by William Shatner. Frankly his little stint does a poor job of describing this particular Fan Collective but I suppose you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what you're buying to begin with. The nice thing about this collection is the inclusion of introductions prior to episodes by each of the captains (aside from Avery Brooks).

"City on the Edge of Forever" features another introduction by Shatner who discusses what he felt were the finer points of the episode and the reasons he felt it was his favorite. Apparently, and not surprisingly, Shatner felt the finer point of the episode was Joan Collins because he talks at length with and about her beauty. The two have a decent banter and share their perspectives about the episode but for the most part they merely flatter each other. As far as the episode itself this is one of the classics but also one of the ones recycled from the Time Travel Fan Collective.

The first fan picked episode for The Original Series is "The Enterprise Incident" which has always been one of my favorite. The show starts out with Kirk acting all crazy and ordering the Enterprise into Romulan territory. At first his motives are unclear but when three Romulan ships decloak around them it becomes obvious why Starfleet is there. Kirk and Spock beam aboard the lead Romulan vessel and enact a plan to discover the secret of the cloaking technology. This episode was fun all around and Nemoy even got to stretch his romantic wings as Spock attempts to seduce the Romulan captain. The second fan chosen episode on this disc involves Romulans once again. "Balance of Terror" offers an engaging plot with a cat and mouse style encounter between the Enterprise and a Romulan ship. It wasn't the best episode from this collection but it's still a good entry from Kirk's adventures.

Picard's crew is up next and Stewart's episode of choice is "In Theory". While this episode focused almost entirely on Data, Stewart picked this as his favorite because it was the first he directed. This was an amusing episode with a decent story that features Data experimenting with a human relationship. Better than "In Theory" though, is "Chain of Command Parts 1 & 2".

In "Chain of Command" Picard is captured by Cardassians during a secret mission. He becomes a prisoner of Gul Madred (Trek veteran David Warner) and is subsequently tortured physically and mentally. This was a powerful character building episode for Picard and thanks to Stewarts acting skills his pain and suffering really comes through. The next TNG episode picked by fans is "Darmok" which is famous by Trekkie standards. Picard and an alien (a Tamarian to be precise) must break communication and cultural boundaries to work together on a hostile planet where a strange monster resides. Unfortunately the universal translator does Picard no good because the alien language is based on metaphors from their mythology.

Deep Space Nine's episodes are up next with an introduction by Avery Brooks. His pick is "Far Beyond the Stars" which was a good choice though not the best that DS9 had to offer. In that episode Sisko basically has visions and the story winds up going back to the 1950's to tell the tale about a black science fiction writer. There are ties to the future within and as a whole the script had a lot to say about society of the time period and love of science fiction in general.

"What You Leave Behind Parts 1 & 2" are featured here as well. If you were ever a fan of DS9 you'll remember this as the fantastic finale that wrapped just about everything up. I find it odd that these episodes were included here because without the context of the rest of the series and the Dominion War a lot of the storyline will be lost on owners of the Fan Collective. A better pick on this set was "In the Pale Moonlight" which is, without a doubt, my favorite DS9 episode. In it Sisko rationalizes his blurring of the line between what's right and wrong when he becomes involved with Garak in a plot to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War. Everything from the directing to the writing, to the acting hits all of the right notes. This is an example of Star Trek at its best.

Janeway's crew is up after Sisko's with Voyager. Mulgrew's pick is "Counterpoint" which was actually kind of boring. Janeway basically has to shuttle some telepaths through a region of space that outlaws telepathy. It wasn't the worst episode from Voyager's run but I felt it was a weaker one comparatively. Fortunately "Omega Directive" was much more interesting.

When Voyager is traveling through a section of space when the Omega symbol appears on just about every console in the ship. Once Janeway sees the message she gets very serious and issues strange orders to the crew. Eventually she lightens up and tells the bridge officers about something called the Omega Directive, which is known only to Starfleet captains. Whenever the computer locates Omega Molecules the ship's captain is then tasked with destroying them because they are extremely dangerous. All around this was a great episode. The other episode "Flashback" featured Tuvok doing a mindmeld with Janeway due to an illness. This takes them back to Tuvok's younger years at the academy. Again this was kind of a weak episode but seeing George Takei as Sulu was a nice treat.

And finally Enterprise gets its chance to play with the Captain's Log. Bakula's pick was "Judgment" from the second season. Archer is put on Klingon trial and sentenced to serve out punishment in a dilithium mine. Like many episodes from the earlier seasons of Enterprise this one had good moments as well as some that left something to be desired. "First Flight" offered a better perspective on Archer's character with a flashback to his past after a friend passes away.

Now, as far as "These Are the Voyages" (Enterprise's final episode) is concerned I didn't care for the episode one bit. It not only featured a weak story with poor writing but essentially put a bullet in the Star Trek franchise and was a horrible way to end the show. I can't imagine that "fans" actually chose this episode.

Like the other Fan Collectives, the Captain's Log is an interesting, if not frustrating, release. This particular set offers some insight into the personalities of the captains but inclusions without context really seem out of place. There were many other episodes that could/should have been picked for this set to keep with the spirit of the theme but that didn't happen. I don't know who actually decides what episodes are released here but I have to say there are many odd choices.

If you're a Trek fan on a budget you might find this set a worthy investment (again, like the others) since it offers a wide perspective on the franchise. Collectors or anyone hoping to one day own whole seasons shouldn't really bother with these sets.

The DVD:

Video:

With such a wide range of production dates as this set has the video quality is quite good overall. Each episode up through Voyager is presented with the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks as fine, if not better than it did when it was broadcast. Compared to the complete season releases the Fan Collective appears to offer the same exact transfer. I did several spot checks between the two and noticed no inconsistencies.

The original series features the most grain and the softest image, but I was impressed with how a show from the 60s could be cleaned up so nicely. The Next Generation, DS9 and Voyager offered good quality that improved with age and Enterprise's episodes looked spectacular (even if "These Are the Voyages" was less-than). Throughout each of the series there were notable sections of grain and rare sprinkles of compression. Overall the featured transfers are well-crafted here and there isn't necessarily anything to be disappointed with.

Audio:

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 though the 5.1 selections certainly packed more of a punch. I found the rear channels got a decent amount of attention and bass was active enough to make its presence known. In some spots the audio mix and presentation is bloody brilliant but in other areas it could have used a little bit of fine tuning to stand out more. Star Trek shows are known for their sound design and music so it goes without saying that these episodes exemplify that standard.

Extras:

Each disc offers its own set of bonus features and for the most part have everything to do with the captain in question. The first disc is all about Shatner and has him talking about a few subjects. The first is, in his opinion "What Makes a Good Captain", the second is "The Importance of the Captain's Log", and the third is "Captain Kirk's Legacy". Unfortunately his thoughts on the matter at hand aren't very compelling. He talks about wanting a Captain's Log for himself so he wouldn't forget things and says that Kirk's Legacy is his sense of wonder and that's how he wanted the character to die.

The second disc offers Stewart's thoughts on what the importance of the Captain's Log is. This little tidbit clocks in at just over a minute and though it's kind of a fluffy feature it's always nice to Stewart talk about his experiences with Star Trek. He continues the interview segments by offering some personal thoughts on the matter of playing a captain. He relates some of his background and details from his recollection of his father serving in the British Navy to walking through New York having people calling him captain. Stewart goes on to talk about his time in the theater, thoughts on Picard's future, and some memories of working on the show. Throughout each of these interview segments he remains very genuine and personal which is quite an accomplishment given this format.

Many Star Trek fans will tell you that it is a rare thing when Avery Brooks gets involved with anything involving the franchise. Due to that special features that include him are few and far between. On the third disc in this set he sits down for some interview segments like everyone else, which was definitely nice to see. He speaks on a wide range of topics including Sisko being a captain and a father as well as an emissary. Brooks goes on to talk about directing, the future, the social commentary involving Star Trek, his aspirations, and Trek's impact. His comments are often insightful though not as fluid or genuine as the other actors and he often seems disconnected with the topic.

Kate Mulgrew appears on the fourth disc with her thoughts on Star Trek and her experiences with some interview subject matter. For the most part it's a rehash of the same topics with her feelings about the captain's log and what Janeway's best qualities were. She goes on to talk about what makes a good captain, Janeway's future, and looking back on her time with Trek. Some of her answers are short and she seems more reserved than the other commentators but all the same it was nice to see Mulgrew discussing her role in the Trek saga.

And finally Scott Bakula wraps things up on the fifth disc with his comments about Star Trek and Captain Archer. He covers what makes a good captain, the importance of the captain's log, his time with Trek, and Archer's best qualities. Bakula also provides a closing statement for this Fan Collective and like Shatner's comments there really are no big revelations here.

Final Thoughts:

Like the other Fan Collective sets you really have to ask yourself where you stand with the Trek franchise. If you already own the complete seasons or plan to pick them up some day then there's no reason to buy into this DVD line. Another problem is that throughout these releases there have been repeat episodes ("City on the Edge of Forever" in this case) and no real bonus features worth getting excited over. While it is nice to have the five captains provide comments it doesn't make up for the cost of the double dip. However, if you're a fan this set is worth a rental for the interviews.

There is also the matter of the episode selection. I do not know who actually decided upon which episodes would appear in this collection but there are some odd selections. Episodes that do not focus on a captain and series finales really feel out of place with the rest. There are some great episodes in this set but plenty of baffling choices as well. If you're an avid Trek fan on a budget I'm going to recommend picking up this collection.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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