'Star Trek' Collective: O, Captains, My Captains

By Curt Fields
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 20, 2007

"Star Trek" has appeared in enough incarnations through the years that even the most casual science-fiction viewer has probably been hooked by at least one version of the franchise. "Star Trek: Fan Collective -- Captain's Log," the latest installment in a series of themed "Star Trek" DVD releases, is an excellent sampler for the fan who may have gotten involved with one or two series but never quite found time for the others.

"Captain's Log" ($42.99, available Tuesday) has the captain from each of the five television incarnations select his or her favorite episode and includes two more episodes per series selected by an online fan poll. It joins four earlier "Fan Collective" releases that were centered on the Borg, time travel, the character Q (a personal fave) and the Klingons.

Each of the famous captains who have served on the bridge -- Kirk (William Shatner) from the original series, Picard (Patrick Stewart) from "The Next Generation," Sisko (Avery Brooks) from "Deep Space Nine," Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) from "Voyager" and Archer (Scott Bakula) from "Enterprise" -- appear in episode introductions and interviews. Shatner introduces the entire set, while Bakula gets to sign off with a farewell until the next one.

The interviews, while brief, are interesting. (One drawback, no "play all" option, which would have been nice considering the brevity of the segments.) All the actors offer thoughtful takes on various aspects of their roles while discussing such topics as "The Importance of 'The Captain's Log' " and "What Makes a Good Captain?"

Some of the more interesting portions are when they are asked to speculate on what the future might've held for their characters. Stewart, for example, recalls a poker game in the final episode and the line "I should have done this a long time ago" and wonders whether perhaps Picard would have opted for a less career-centered path. Mulgrew, on the other hand, guesses that Janeway would have continued on one mission after another until she finally died in space, doing what she knew best.

Each actor also offers an introduction to the episode selected as a personal favorite. Brooks, for example, chose "Far Beyond the Stars," one that's also popular with many "Deep Space Nine" fans. In it, Brooks's Sisko finds himself in 1950s New York as a science-fiction writer. One reason he selected it, he says, is because of how it addresses the issue of race.

The other personal favorites were "The City on the Edge of Forever" for Shatner, "In Theory" for Stewart (making his directorial debut with that one), "Counterpoint" for Mulgrew and "Judgment" for Bakula. In talking about "Judgment," in which Archer is on trial before a Klingon tribunal, Bakula says one factor besides its simplicity was how it still resonates today with its theme of helping your world to a better future. Along similar lines, Stewart, introducing the fan selection "Chain of Command," notes how with its exploration of the issue of prisoner torture it "would be very appropriate to be rerunning that episode every night right now."

Such long-lasting relevance is one reason the franchise has garnered so many fans. This latest "Fan Collective" release may win a few more -- or at least expose casual fans to new parts of the "Trek" universe.

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