The Complete 'Q' Arrives on DVDBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at June 6, 2006 - 9:46 PM GMT
I'm one of those fans who didn't dish out hundreds of dollars for complete season sets of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager on DVD, so I'm one of those fans for whom Paramount Home Entertainment's new thematic DVD sets are a wonderful opportunity to watch the series grow without having to decide whether to sit through "Shades of Gray" and "Sub Rosa" again. The flip side, of course, is that there are many wonderful episodes that don't fit neatly into any thematic package and others that fit into more than one, so there's been quite a bit of duplication within these four-disc packages. Star Trek Fan Collective: Q may be particularly frustrating on the latter count, since "Q Who" is contained in the Borg set and "All Good Things..." in the Time Travel set. Since StarTrek.com polled readers about which sets they might wish to purchase and later which episodes should be included, perhaps Paramount Home Entertainment should not be blamed for the repetitions, but it would have been nice to have some of the other superb time travel episodes included instead of those being packaged with other sets.
As a completist as well as an unabashed Q fan, however, I am happy to have every episode in which Q appeared in one place. And what a collection! Twelve in all, including two double episodes, The Next Generation's pilot and finale, as well as one of Voyager's finest hours, "Death Wish." I was very happy when Pocket Books released The Star Trek Scriptbooks 1: The Q Chronicles, and this DVD collection is even better, despite my lack of enthusiasm for Voyager installments "The Q and the Grey" and "Q2", which didn't make it into the scriptbook because they hadn't aired when the book went to press. Star Trek Fan Collective: Q, which arrived in stores today, is my favorite of these sets yet, and that's really saying something because there are no original series episodes included.
Fans have always been of mixed opinions on "Encounter at Farpoint", the rather uneven Next Gen pilot, but there's no denying that Q is one of the more memorable and enjoyable aspects - Captain Picard seems absolutely grim by comparison, which allows the comic relief to shine. So popular was John de Lancie's omnipotent alien with the producers that he returned in first season's "Hide and Q", in which Riker discovers that he makes a terrible god when Q offers him the same powers Q himself possesses. Riker tries to guess and fulfill his crewmates' dearest wishes, yet they turn down the offerings, in part because they resent being meddled with and in part because they come to realize there really are no free gifts. Seeming far less wise than he thinks he is, Q returns again in the second season's "Q Who", in which he hurls the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and reveals to the crew the existence of the Borg.
The comic potential of the character is explored in episodes from the next several seasons of The Next Generation and one from Deep Space Nine. In "Deja Q", the alien's extraordinary powers are stripped and he is forced to live as a mortal, though a selfless act triggers his redemption and gives him the ability to help the crew complete a rescue mission for an entire planet. (A guest appearance by Corbin Bernsen as another Q enlivens this installment.) "QPid", the most overtly comic of the episodes, finds the alien meddling in Picard's tumultuous relationship with archaeological pirate Vash, turning Picard into Robin Hood to play out a historical romance in which the captain must act the part of the hero (Worf's indignant, "I am not a merry man!" is one of the character's most oft-quoted lines). "True Q" has funny moments as well - Q turning Beverly Crusher into a dog, for one - but its theme is serious, with a young Q woman having to decide whether to accept that her parents were Q who were executed for their rebellious behavior within the Q Continuum and to choose whether to accept her destiny or continue to live as a Muggle...oops, a human, but you get the idea, and the similarities to Harry Potter (which didn't come out until years after this episode first aired) are rather interesting for a fan like me of both.
The Deep Space Nine Q episode, "Q-Less", finds Q as a rejected suitor chasing after Vash, with a storyline that is somewhat implausible given that Q is - well, Q - yet it's fun to see him interacting with Sisko's crew, particularly when Sisko belts him and Q objects that Picard never hit him. This is the last of the primarily comic Q episodes, however; when he returns to The Next Generation in "Tapestry", he plays the ghost of Christmas Past for Picard (something of an inside joke since Patrick Stewart has starred in a play based on the Dickens original), allowing him to relive a critical time in his youth which might have shortened his life but which made him the man he has become. There are some lovely comic moments, like Picard waking up in bed with Q, but this is mostly a serious episode about regret and character-building. Q's final appearance in The Next Generation is in the finale, "All Good Things...", where he returns to his persona as judge and jury of the human race, telling Picard that he will be responsible for the destruction of humanity unless he can solve a conundrum across several periods of his own life and in space-time.
The Voyager episodes involving Q are more uneven both in tone and strength of the scripts, but the first one is memorable, partly because of the philosophical storyline and partly because Jonathan Frakes (Riker) makes a guest appearance. Even this late during Voyager's second season, the writers can't seem to get away from an obsession with Janeway's gender and what an anomaly it is to see a female captain, which makes for a lot of bad dialogue between Q and Janeway, though the courtroom drama - in which Q attempts to convince the captain not to let a member of the Continuum commit suicide - allows Tuvok some strong scenes. The sequel, "The Q and the Grey", is even worse, with Q begging Janeway to have his baby and whisking her off to see the war in the Q Continuum for which he holds her responsible while Chakotay and Paris try to deal with his livid mate. The final Voyager Q story, Q2, finds the omniscient alien begging Janeway for help raising his troublesome son, played by de Lancie's real-life son Keegan.
Some fans have protested that the original series episode "The Squire of Gothos" could have been included in this collection, since there are distinct parallels between Trelane and Q and since several Star Trek novels connected Trelane with the Q Continuum. Yet these twelve episodes make up a more coherent arc than any of the previous box sets, even the Borg, and I rather like it as it is despite the repetitions from earlier sets. Three of the episodes are accompanied by text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda - "Deja Q", "Q-Less" and "Death Wish." The set may be ordered now from Amazon.com.
Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.