|Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log (2007)
Starring: William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula
Once again, the folks at Paramount have put their heads together and figured out how to repackage more “Star Trek” episodes and, fingers crossed, get the diehard Trekkies to fork out more dough for material they already have. These “Fan Collective” packages, however, generally do a pretty decent job of rounding up episodes based around a particular theme. Previous editions revolving around time travel, the Klingons, the Borg, and the mostly-omnipotent Q have all been well-composed synopses of their respective subjects, and while they’re not always all-encompassing, they’re based on fan input, so the majority of the folks who’d be most likely to complain probably don’t have very many complaints, anyway.
In the case of this “Captain’s Log” volume, however, the dynamic of the contents gets switched up a bit by bringing in all five of the captains from the various “Trek” series – William Shatner (the original series), Patrick Stewart (“The Next Generation”), Avery Brooks (“Deep Space Nine”), Kate Mulgrew (“Voyager”) and Scott Bakula (“Enterprise”) – and asks them to select their favorite episodes. Beyond that, the fans’ picks for the most shining moment from each captain fill out the rest of the discs. Believe it or not, this is an unprecedented affair: never before have all five of these folks contributed to the same set.
The captains’ episodes selections are occasionally a bit unexpected, although Shatner opting to pick “City on the Edge of Forever” as his fave certainly isn’t. Sure, it’s an easy out – in fact, it’s the only episode within the package that’s previously appeared within one of these Fan Collective sets – but, really, who’s going to argue with the man picking what’s generally agreed to be the single best episode of any of the “Trek” series? No, the big surprise of the bunch belongs to Stewart, who goes with “In Theory,” and admits within his introduction that he chose it because it was the first time he ever stepped behind the camera, as director. It’s still a weird pick, though, because while Picard does get at least one key scene, it’s unquestionably a Data-centric episode. As to the other captains, Bakula’s selection – “Judgment” – is a little surprising in its own right, given that he concedes that, several minutes into watching it, he couldn’t even remember why he’d liked the episode so much! Brooks’ pick, meanwhile, is about as predictable as Shatner’s. “Far Beyond the Stars” was the show when the entire cast got the chance to play roles without their usual make-up, with Brooks playing a sci-fi author in the ‘50s who’s battling against racism. Mulgrew’s selection of “Counterpoint” is none too surprising, either, given that she’s long cited it as her favorite from the “Voyager” run.
Obviously, most “Trek” fans will have already seen these episodes, but, as a sampler, “Captain’s Log” is a nice way to step into this long-running and ever-expanding universe. If the “Fan Collective” concept continues onward – and there’s ever reason to believe that it will – let’s hope the quality remains as high as it currently stands.Special Features: Normally, the special features section for these sets finds us bitching about the lack of content, but that’s definitely not the case this time around. Each of the actors introduces their respective episodes – always their own pick, occasionally the fans’ picks as well – offering whatever insights they can to the events the viewer is about to watch unfold. Shatner, shockingly, proves to be the most long-winded, but, then, he’s forgiven because he also brings on Joan Collins to offer her own recollections about “City on the Edge of Forever.” The captains also answer various questions about their history with “Trek,” how they view their experiences in retrospect, and so forth. It isn’t nearly as illuminating as it perhaps could be, but Stewart’s responses are all very funny, particularly when he relates how, during a break in the midst of a Shakespearean production, he walked into the dressing room – dressed in full regalia – and found the cast huddled around a TV, watching the “Next Generation” episode where he plays Robin Hood.