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DVD Review

DVD cover

Star Trek
Alternate Realities Collective


Starring: William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £34.99
Certificate: 15
Available 06 April 2009

The latest themed “Collective” box set contains 20 episodes on five discs, spanning all five live-action incarnations of the Star Trek television series. The collection is subdivided into four categories: Mirror Universe, Twisted Realities, Parallel Dimensions and Alternate Lives...

The box set kicks off, as it should, with the original and best Mirror Universe episode, Mirror, Mirror. This not only set the pattern for future “evil universe” episodes of Star Trek, but many other series as well, including Doctor Who and even South Park. The entire cast evidently relishes the chance to do something different, and the episode is only slightly marred by a rather convenient contrivance at the end (how come the Mirror Universe landing party switches places, even though they are not on the transporter pad at the time?). The Original Series episodes in this box set are the remastered versions, sporting cleaned up film prints and improved special effects.

The other Mirror Universe episodes in this collection are no slouches either when it comes to sheer entertainment value. The first disc also includes the Deep Space Nine episodes Crossover, Through the Looking Glass and Shattered Mirror, all of which are full of swashbuckling adventure, even though they involve only selected members of the crew. The Enterprise two-parter, In a Mirror, Darkly, returns to the classic style of allowing each and every member of the cast to do some scenery-chewing. And what scenery it is too: beautiful re-creations of Matt Jeffries’s original designs for a 23rd-century starship. It’s a real shame that the other two DS9 Mirror episodes, Resurrection and The Emperor’s New Cloak, aren’t included here to complete the set. Perhaps Paramount was worried about the collection getting too DS9-heavy, but I would have expected to see them all here. Nor is the Original Series episode The Tholian Web, which is arguably a parallel universe story and is referenced in a big way in In a Mirror, Darkly.

The second disc is rounded off with a couple of Parallel Dimensions episodes. TOS: The Alternative Factor is widely regarded as a turkey, though I quite like it, recalling it vividly from my childhood. The exciting The Next Generation: Parallels is the alternate reality story to end all alternate reality stories, with Worf (Michael Dorn) accidentally slipping into a succession of parallel universes.

I have issues with the third disc, Twisted Realities, which in my opinion doesn’t really belong in this collection, with the exception of the enjoyable Shattered, Voyager’s variation on the theme of Parallels with an added time-travel element. The other three episodes, TOS’s The Enemy Within and Turnabout Intruder, and TNG’s Frame of Mind, are about mental conditions rather than alternate dimensions or altered timelines. If I was putting this box set together, I would have ditched those episodes (even though The Enemy Within is a classic) in favour of Resurrection, The Emperor’s New Cloak and The Tholian Web.

The final two discs are concerned with Alternate Lives. These include the brilliant TNG: Yesterday’s Enterprise, which combines a couple of irresistible plot elements - a trans-temporal encounter between two starships Enterprise and the resurrection of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) - in a fast-paced adventure. Several of the episodes on these two discs take a particular crew member on a trip down their own timeline: Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton and Tony Todd) in the moving DS9: The Visitor; Kes (Jennifer Lien) in Voyager: Before and After; and Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) in Enterprise: Twilight. Characters averting disastrous events by changing history are a recurring theme of Yesterday’s Enterprise, The Visitor, Twilight and two other episodes presented here, Voyager: Timeless and Enterprise: E². The latter has a similar premise to DS9’s Children of Time, which for some reason isn’t included in this collection. Nor is another Voyager alternate timeline episode, Non Sequitur.

Conversely, though it is an outstanding story, TNG: The Inner Light doesn’t, in my opinion, belong in this set, because it is a journey of the mind that Picard (Patrick Stewart) embarks upon, rather than an actual trip through time. The inclusion of the Voyager episode Course: Oblivion is another dubious choice, especially as it is a sequel to an instalment not presented here: Demon.

Rather more upsetting is the lack of any audio commentaries, despite the fact that, in the parallel universe of Region 1, there are commentaries on five episodes (one per disc). At least there are new featurettes: a 10- to 15-minute creative analysis on each of the five discs.

Despite the lack of commentaries and the sometimes questionable selection of episodes, this five-disc mission makes for excellent viewing, because it’s always fun to see familiar characters behaving oddly or finding themselves in strange situations.


Richard McGinlay

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