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Case Number 08751

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Star Trek: Fan Collective: Borg

Paramount // 2005 // 719 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // March 7th, 2006

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky suspects that if the Borg tried to assimilate him, they would just get confused.

The Charge

"You lack harmony, cohesion, greatness. It will be your undoing."—Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), on humans

Opening Statement

Friend good. Federation good. Borg bad. Seven of Nine, so bad she good. That's all you really need to know to make sense of this boxed set.

Facts of the Case

Finally acknowledging after nearly forty years that the fans have made Star Trek, for good or ill, what it is today, Paramount took a poll to determine the fans' favorite episodes on a variety of topics. Then deciding that if fans had this much time on their hands that they probably also had a few bucks left to spend too, Paramount took the results of those polls and started the Star Trek: Fan Collective project. Leaving aside the disturbing implications of the word "collective" for a moment (and those implications will become clear by the end of this review), we should note that the first of these sets, Star Trek: Fan Collective—Borg contains ten episodes from various incarnations of the Star Trek franchise.

Watch the evolution of the Borg from their debut in 1989 to their final television appearance (to date) in 2003. From Enterprise (up first, but produced last), we get "Regeneration." From Star Trek: The Next Generation, we get "Q Who?" "The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II," "I, Borg," and "Descent, Parts I and II." And from Star Trek Voyager, we get "Scorpion, Parts I and II," "Drone," "Dark Frontier," "Unimatrix Zero, Parts I and II," and "Endgame."

The Evidence

In the spirit of the Borg, I will begin by cannibalizing. The following section on Star Trek: The Next Generation is excerpted from my book, Future Present: Ethics and/as Science Fiction (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003, 108-117).

The Next Generation Encounters

Over the thirty-plus years of Star Trek, hundreds of alien races have been encountered, most of whom turn out pretty much indistinguishable from humans (both culturally, and curiously enough genetically, given the number of human/alien crossbreeds, from Spock to Deanna Troi to B'Elanna Torres). Apart from the wealth of apparently god-like beings who turn up occasionally to test our heroes' resolve (but otherwise seem to be above the petty concerns of culture, unless they prefer slumming among humans like Trelayne or Q), the most "alien" aliens, one whose culture is inassimilable with Humanity, are the Borg.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q-Who?" Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is teleported by the nearly-omnipotent alien Q (John De Lancie) to a shuttlecraft floating in empty space. […] Q plays the role of the Other to the hilt, delivering a prophecy of new dangers for which the Enterprise crew will have no recourse. Promising a "taste of your future," he catapults the starship 7,000 light years, far from the comfortable zone of the Same (Federation Space), presumably where the real Alien lives. The Enterprise encounters a cube-shaped ship, "strangely generalized in design," as Commander Data (Brent Spiner) remarks. There is no recognizable technology or signs of life, no landmarks, nothing familiar to the crew. Suddenly, an intruder disrupts the crew's observations: a Borg, face unseen, teleports aboard. The creature is largely colorless, mostly shades of gray and black. It appears as a humanoid covered in machine parts, an obvious cyborg. Q describes it as "Not a he, not a she, not like anything you've ever seen. An advanced humanoid."

The Federation has encountered plenty of advanced humanoids and strange-looking monsters, but Q implies that the Borg are different: they are a cybernetic organism, with no single spokesman, no single face, but a collective voice. The Borg "collective" is totally enclosed, an absolute and singular subject which consumes everything it encounters: "The Borg is the ultimate user…[The Enterprise is] something they can consume." This subject however has no interest in an ethical encounter with another alien; nothing must disrupt its assimilation of the outside (non-Borg) universe. It is relentless and unwilling to reconcile with Humanity.

It is appropriate that the Borg are shown as cyborgs. As both Alien (totally foreign to the Federation) and total consumer (treating all others as Alien to its Same), the Borg collapses the distinction between subject and object. The possibility that multiple subjects might exist in the universe terrifies the Enterprise crew. Q's lesson: we are frightened and inadequate in the face of a universe which we cannot totally assimilate into ourselves. As Picard remarks, "Perhaps what we needed was a kick in our complacency to prepare us for what lies ahead." Indeed, what lies ahead, what Picard anticipates, in an encounter with the Alien. The Borg will be coming…

The Borg Collective finally arrives the following season, in the two-part episode (broadcast as the season cliffhanger) "The Best of Both Worlds." The title is suggestive: can there be two worlds, two subjects? The episode begins safely ensconced in the camaraderie of the Enterprise's crew. In several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the friendly poker game builds a sense of group unity. Betrayal by members of the group is rewritten within the context of the game as bluffing, where such betrayal is rendered harmless (everyone laughs and moves on to the next hand). The key to successful poker is the "poker face," the ability to encounter the face of another and through its blankness maintain the other's position as alien. Thus, poker in Star Trek becomes an ethical act, but only in one's failure to win the hand (that is, to fail to read the poker face of the other player). The frequent poker games on the series (which even become important plot devices occasionally), all the way until Picard's belated participation in one at the end of the series' finale "All Good Things," become a metaphor for the Federation's preoccupation with the ethical, but with respect to its various member races recognizing one another as alien (trying to maintain a certain level of homogeneity while each member races preserves a certain cultural identity). This opening poker scene in "The Best of Both Worlds" sets up the Federation as ethical, taking the moral high-ground in preparation for the plot to follow.

The Federation is portrayed in the course of this episode as heterogeneous: debate rages over how to handle the Borg threat, while Commander Ryker (Jonathan Frakes) finds his position as first officer jeopardized by an upstart officer. The Borg Collective however provides a unified front, so unified that it is unable to communicate with the Federation. To do so, it must kidnap Picard and convert him, in order to give itself a human voice. Data explains, "The captain has been altered by the Borg." Worf counters, "He is a Borg!"

But what sort of Borg is Picard? He looks like a Borg, when he appears on the viewscreen in the final scene of the episode: gray skin, metal, and plastic parts attached to his body. He has physically become a cyborg. But the Borg are not individuals; they have no individual names or identities. They are part of the smooth field of the Collective. The Picard-Borg however has a name, a particular identity as spokesman for the Borg invaders, as he announces in the climactic moment of the episode, "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us."

This cliffhanger is the classic blueprint for alien invasion. The Alien comes to disrupt our lives and place us in thrall. There will be a New Order, raising "the quality of life for all species," as Locutus promises. Picard-as-Locutus announces the Borg as another subject, but in doing so, he draws attention to himself as an anomaly within the Collective. Locutus is neither fully Borg nor fully Human, but a Third Party who observes both subject positions. During the battle which begins "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II," he observes the invasion of the Federation from a monitor on the Borg ship. In fact, most of the battle, as it is presented to the audience, takes place from Locutus' perspective. The preeminence of the Federation, its totality, is threatened by the face to face with the Borg. Yet, Picard, as a representative of the Federation, changes the Borg as well. It is Picard-as-Locutus which marks the moment of change for both groups, as the cyborg Third Party. Emmanuel Levinas observes, "Order, appearing, phenomenality, being are produced in signification, in proximity, starting with the third party" (Otherwise 160).

The Third Party observes the temporal disruption of the face-to-face, the saying, and interprets and orders. The saying becomes said, understood, acted upon. The other becomes indebted to the Third Party as an interpreter, as the Borg rely on Locutus as their mouthpiece: "The extraordinary commitment of the other to the third party calls for control, a search for justice, society and the State, comparison and possession, thought and science, commerce and philosophy, and outside of anarchy, the search for a principle" (Otherwise 161). Judging from Locutus' ultimatum, the principle here is total assimilation, justice as the erasure of difference. But the Borg are not entirely homogenous. Their carefully constructed myth of "assimilation" is undermined by the mere presence of Locutus as the alien within the Borg Collective. The Third Party-as-Other provides the opportunity for a new Saying, rooted in a three-dimensional proximity, the geometry of the first same, the first other, and the Third Party: "The representation of signification is itself born in the signifyingness of proximity in the measure that a third party is alongside the neighbor" (Otherwise 83).

Proximity is not a fixed relation, but a field of trajectories, encounters between others, "a restlessness, null site, outside the place of rest" (Otherwise 82). Even within Picard/Locutus, the interaction between others provides no safe haven. Locutus is not in control, even of himself. Liberated from the Borg ship by a rescue team from the Enterprise, Picard-as-Locutus submits to examination by Dr. Crusher. She notes that restoring Picard to his original state is not a simple matter of removing the cybernetic implants: Locutus is equally human and alien down to his core. As she points out, "Without these interactive signals [linking Locutus to the Borg collective-mind], it would only be a matter of microsurgery. I could do it. But as long as the Borg implants are functioning, there is no way I can separate the man from the machine" ("Best")

Data interjects, "Then perhaps there is a way I can access the machine, doctor." This is one of Data's major tasks on Star Trek: The Next Generation: to bridge the gap between man and machine. He communicates with, and sometimes for, machine-entities of all sorts: the Nanites, the Crystalline Entity, a host of computer systems. Here, he speaks for the Federation, attempting to make contact with Picard-within-Locutus. But it is Picard who speaks first, initiates the contact with Data, as Data searches through Locutus' computer mind. The event is akin to meeting an alien species: Troi asserts, "Data has made first contact with Captain Picard."

Picard provides instructions for Data, to tell the Borg Collective to sleep. Why sleep? Because the Borg are insomniacs, ever vigilant, ever anticipating others to assimilate. Insomnia is the condition of anticipation, "a vigilance without refuge into in unconsciousness, without the possibility of withdrawing into sleep as a private domain" (Levinas, Time 49). […] Bereft of anticipation, the possibility of a contact with the Other, the Collective lapses into solipsism. The power system begins a feedback loop which detonates the ship. Its vigilance interiorized, the Borg Collective destroys itself: total solipsism results in their utter destruction.

In the closing scene of the episode, Troi, the ship's counselor visits Picard to check on his condition. "How do you feel?" she asks.

He responds cautiously, "Almost human." He stares longingly out the window with a haunted expression, but the camera angle makes it unclear whether he anticipates Earth at one edge of the frame, or Outer Space at the other. He keeps watching the sky.

Perhaps Picard anticipates the arrival of another like him. In "I, Borg," the Enterprise, on a routine mapping survey, isolates a signal from spatial background noise, coherent information arising from the field of difference. Beaming down to the planet below to investigate, the crew discovers a wounded Borg. It appears that the Borg Collective was on a routine mission as well and met with a mishap. The Enterprise is the Unexpected now, as Picard orders his crew to remove all traces of their presence on the planet, to restore things to "normal" before the Borg rescues their own. But Dr. Crusher has already taken the single wounded Borg under her care: the Borg's natural process of collecting their dead and wounded has already been disrupted by the interference of the Enterprise.

In "The Best of Both Worlds," the Borg are portrayed as the Invaders. Here, the Enterprise is the potential threat. Picard speculates on ways to use the wounded Borg as a weapon against the Collective (perhaps with a computer virus). Beverly Crusher shows sympathy toward the poor creature who refers to itself as Third of Five, "If I didn't know better, I'd think he was scared."

Third of Five is kept under observation in the brig. This is his new home, and the crewmembers of the Enterprise come to him, intruders into his environment. Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) dubs him "Hugh" (a deliberate pun on "you"). Members of the crew visit Hugh, expecting a monster, and find their perceptions changed. But it is Hugh that changes most of all: from Guinan (the ship's bartender, played by Whoopi Goldberg) he learns that "Resistance is not futile;" from Geordi he learns that humans prize individuality over assimilation. Finally, Picard visits Hugh, assuming the identity of Locutus in order to gauge the Borg's reactions.

Hugh treats Locutus as a god, recognizing him as something other than either a human or a Borg, as the Third Party. Every encounter with the Borg following the creation of Locutus reiterates Picard's difference from the rest of the humans. […] Again we will note that after his Borg implants are removed, the most he is certain of is that he is "almost human." He has become unique and alone, with a different perceptual framework than the rest of the Federation (to the degree that in Star Trek: First Contact, Starfleet tries to keep Picard away from their melee with the Borg, because they do not trust him to act under orders).

By this time of his face to face with Picard, Hugh is no longer part of the Collective either, but an individual, an "I." "I am Hugh," he asserts. Individuality (which Picard dubs, "the feeling of singularity…the knowledge of Self") has become a more powerful virus than any Data could design to infect the Collective. The crew begins to speculate on how the Borg Collective might be affected by Hugh's transformation.

But a curious switch occurs: the crewmembers of the Enterprise begin pressuring Hugh to join them, to become part of their collective, the Federation. LaForge and Picard constantly refer to the crew as a whole, using "us" and "them," while Hugh increasingly identifies himself as a single entity: "You are many. I am one." Which collective should he join, the Federation or the Borg? Which other should he confront face to face?

Hugh's predicament places him in proximity to the Federation and the Borg as a Third Party. In "I Borg," the Federation itself becomes an other from the audience's perspective. This raises an interesting point about Star Trek's Federation and its ever-expanding sphere of influence: most encounters with alien races in Star Trek do little to disrupt the forward momentum of the human-dominated Federation. Quite the contrary, the very need for a Prime Directive in Federation Law, which prohibits direct interference with isolated cultures suggests that in most alien contact situations it is the Federation which is the Alien presence. This is rarely touched on in the series, which takes place primarily from the perspective of the intrepid humanocentric crews.

Hugh's presence as an individual marks the proximal relation between the alien-Federation and the alien-Borg. Hugh must make the responsible decision: he opts to return to the Borg, to confront the Uncertain and trust to Chance. This is the ethical decision: Hugh, no longer entirely Borg, never quite human, acts for the Enterprise crew (protecting them from Borg retribution) and for the Borg Collective (restoring his physical presence to the group), which are both other to him. He is compelled to act responsibly in order to assert his own individuality, as Levinas would note: "Responsibility for the other, this was of answering without a prior commitment, is human fraternity itself, and it is prior to freedom…To be oneself, otherwise than being, to be dis-interested, is to bear the wretchedness and bankruptcy of the other, and even the responsibility that the other can have for me" (Otherwise 116-17).

Here, we need observe that Hugh does not make this decision to return with good cheer: he is terrified. "I do not want to forget that I am Hugh," he tells Geordi LaForge. He fears the other, the pressure put upon him by the Federation, but he also fears for them. This fear is anticipatory and is marked by the possibility of engagement with an unpredictable Other, "the intimate confrontation with the Other's death, or in the shame of one's surviving, to ponder the memory of one's faults" (Levinas, Time 110). As the members of the Collective come to take Hugh away, he looks into directly at Geordi, his best friend, engaging in a face to face with the alien. It is perhaps no coincidence that Geordi LaForge wears a visor that covers his eyes: no complete assimilation will be possible. Hugh, now become more human perhaps than LaForge and the other members of the Federation, must take the initiative and make eye contact. What will happen to him now, and what of the Collective?

The Borg do not appear again until the two-part episode "Descent." Clearly, Hugh's influence has been profound: now there are Borg political factions, even a logo (which turns up on plenty of merchandise at your local Toys R Us). Hugh appears again, having developed into the leader of a rebel faction. By the feature film, Star Trek: First Contact, they even have a Queen (who tries to convince Picard and the audience that she was present in the wings all along). The Borg become predictable and defeatable, all too human: take out their leaders (destroy the Queen), and their unity collapses. Just like the Federation, stripped of Picard in "The Best of Both Worlds" is defeated in battle. Now, like the Federation, the Borg must be vigilant, prepared for the encounter with the Alien. In the spin-off series Star Trek: Voyager, the Borg even fight a viral species more alien to the human crew of the Voyager than the Borg. Meeting the Federation and becoming assimilated into the culture of Star Trek has apparently made it difficult to be a Borg.

The Voyager Encounters

And now, several years after making those assessments of Next Generation (and I find it interesting that the exact episodes I discussed all those years ago are all included in Star Trek: Fan Collective—Borg), I see that Star Trek has continued to find ways to reinvent the Borg, through their use as a primary antagonist on Star Trek: Voyager. This should have been easy to spot in advance: we were warned back on the earlier show that the Borg originated in the Delta Quadrant, which Voyager found itself lost in as its series conceit. In the two-part story, "Scorpion," Voyager finally reaches Borg territory. Now the series redefines the Borg as part of medical discourse: as a virus, an illness to be driven out of proper bodies. The Borg are not so much a race at this point, but a nanotechnological virus. "Our battle must be waged inside the body itself," says The Doctor (Robert Picardo). In a sense, this is the flip side of the Enterprise's plan to make human individuality into a virus in "I, Borg." Colonialism, from any side, is viral, an insidious corruption of body and mind.

Curiously, The Doctor's comment is followed by a sequence in which Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew, who was the butt of many jokes about her resemblance to Katharine Hepburn) reads a file on the Borg, quoting passages in "passable limitations" of the authors (at least according to Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran)). In other words, a covert act of assimilation is taking place: the voices of others are seen as invasive and viral here too.

Invasive organisms are apparently the problem all around in "Scorpion," as we discover a new disease carving its way through Borg territory, leaving a grisly trail of bodies in its wake. We are meant to feel empathy for the Borg (made easier since we saw them as almost human by the end of "Descent"). This new species does not assimilate; it consumes. Species 8472 is meant to be more alien than the Borg: weird organic technology, non-humanoid forms, completely predatory behavior. No compromise; no humanity buried underneath its surface decoration. This is the truly Alien that Q promised back in "Q Who?" And this immediately changes our relationship with the Borg forever in the Star Trek universe.

Now the Borg must become our allies against that real alien other. Their nanoprobes are reprogrammed as medicinal. Janeway proposes, "Let's work together…[to] create a weapon more quickly." The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?

The result: the introduction of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) as a regular in the series. This slinking sex-kitten of a Borg is immediately noticeable by her, well, non-Borg bodily attributes. Ryan's performance in the role is less robotic than dungeon-fetish chic. And lest you miss the point of compromise, we are reminded that Seven is—was—human, so we know that just like Hugh, she is really just like us. As always, Star Trek's ethical compromises are always based on a fundamental similarity: difference is just dress up. In spite of Janeway's remark that "We don't have to stop being individuals to get through this. We just have to stop fighting each other," the real agenda here is the gradual conversion of Seven to human. She must strip off her implants and become like us. Later, when Chakotay has linked Seven with her childhood identity as little Annika Hansen, he says to Janeway, "Her human cells are starting to regenerate."

Seven joins the Voyager crew. By the fifth season episode "Drone," she is even practicing her smile. In a replay of the plot of "I, Borg," Star Trek: Voyager attempts to ask the question again about the superiority of human individuality. Thanks to an accident with Seven's nanotechnology, a synthetic Borg drone begins to grow. Will we now be able to examine a truly alien subject who has no prior connection to humanity? (I want to note here how many major Star Trek characters are introduced as aliens but turn out to be half-human or raised by humans: Spock, Deanna Troi, Worf, Seven of Nine.) Janeway hopes not, immediately proposing that the new creature be converted to human ways. The new Borg, who dubs himself "One" (this guy isn't even as clever as Hugh—at least he got a pun for a name), learns quickly from Seven that "Voyager is my collective." And like Hugh, One takes the characteristic path of the individual hero: sacrifice for the collective. He hijacks a Borg sphere and steers it into a nebula. Alterity is contained once again; the collective's health is ensured.

Once the humans are redefined formally as a "collective," the course for Voyager is clear. In the double-length episode "Dark Frontier," Janeway decides to play buccaneer and loot a Borg ship for its transwarp coil. "I think it's time we do a little assimilating of our own," she says. Two colonial entities biting pieces off one another—this is quite different from the Federation's earlier efforts to "make friends" with alien races, as articulated by Seven of Nine's human father. "Dark Frontier" further tests Seven's commitment to humanity by grounding her identity through extensive flashbacks to her childhood, showing us how her scientist parents studied the Borg but were eventually exposed and captured. But the main focus of the plot is Seven's encounter with the Borg Queen (played in most Voyager encounters by Susanna Thompson, but in Star Trek: First Contact and Voyager's finale, "Endgame," by Alice Krige). Again, I want to stress my distaste at the very idea of a Borg Queen. Is this a hive mind (that is, something alien to human subjectivity) or a tyranny of zombified drones ruled by a dominant subject (a lead individual whose talk of "collectivity" is an excuse to keep her workers in line)? Star Trek could never make up its mind about this, and it kept changing from story to story.

In a sense, there are three sorts of Borg stories in Star Trek. Sometimes, the Borg is a hive mind, an alien other whose lack of subjective individuality makes it difficult for us to breach the ethical divide (at least until we discover, as always in Trek, that they are just like us). Sometimes, the Borg is a virus, an invasive organism that must be driven out of proper bodies, both physical and social. Both of these sorts of Borg have no personal attachments, no emotional motivations. Sometimes, the Borg are a bunch of worker bees ruled by a power-mad and individualistic Queen with a particular agenda and an axe to grind. She talks a lot about how humans are flawed because of their emotions—and then she gets vindictive and personal.

Star Trek: Voyager shifts progressively toward the notion that the Borg are a race suffering under despotic rule and need to be set free. The Queen may assert that "assimilation makes us all friends," but secretly, her drones want to be released. In the two-parter "Unimatrix Zero," Seven discovers a communication network used by Borg drones during their sleep cycles. Again, under their implants, Borg are just like you and me. They are essentially individual subjects, with a hive mind imposed upon them. "They can't change the essence of who we are," says Seven's dream lover Axum. And these dreamers are plotting an uprising against the tyrannical Queen.

You will not hear much about the consequences of this rebellion in Star Trek: Voyager, just as the ultimate fates of Hugh and his renegade Borg seem to remain unexplored. The Fan Collective boxed set wraps up with the series finale, "Endgame," which focuses primarily on a time-travel plot in which a future Janeway tries to help Voyager get home through a Borg transwarp conduit. The Borg Queen is merely here as an antagonist, a villain to be outwitted and destroyed. The episode is not particularly interested in exploring the idea of the Borg (whichever idea that might be) as a metaphor for human identity. Nope, just blow stuff up and get home.

The Enterprise Encounter

This also seems to be the approach taken by the writers of the Star Trek prequel series, Enterprise. Now, I will not go into my extreme disappointment with both the Voyager series and Enterprise (such disappointment that I stopped watching both of them during their original runs, which is why I have never seen most of the Borg-related episodes included on this set). The truth is, most of the Borg episodes on this boxed set are quite fun. Apart from the seminal Next Generation episodes, the mandate for this boxed set seems to be more action, less talking. For example, Borg-centric episodes like "Collective" (which features Borg children) are not included. Is this because they are not "fan favorites?" Or in the interests of marketing, did Paramount want to concentrate (apart from the derivative "Drone") on the effects-heavy battle episodes?

Anyway, the Enterprise episode "Regeneration" is pretty much a straight-up actioner from the show's second season (when the show still insisted on dropping its connection to Star Trek from its title). The monster-of-the-week could have been anything really. But writers Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong (who turn in a commentary track taken straight from the original Enterprise: Season Two box) decided to work this as an ostensible sequel to First Contact. Act One is an homage to The Thing, with Arctic scientists digging up the remains of the Borg ship shot down by Picard during the 1996 feature. What follows is a prolonged chase sequence, with Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) and crew trying to defeat the bad guys and save some infected humans. I say infected because "Regeneration" is Borg Story Type #2, the "viral attack" plot. Now, thanks to the special effects budget, Borg nanotechnology not only takes over your body, but it makes your body produce metallic appendages. Very Cronenberg.

The nature of Enterprise (being a prequel) is such that, apart from these cosmetic changes, there is no evolution in the Borg as a species or as a concept for the writers. "Regeneration" is fairly exciting, but these could have been any aliens. Their function here is to move the story along and not explore any actual ideas. Still, you can enjoy a particularly good performance by John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox, and stuff blows up real good.

Is it any wonder that the Borg have, by this point in their evolution, become mere spectacle? After all, they are the centerpiece of a Las Vegas show, "Star Trek: The Experience." There is a coupon included in the boxed set. While the audio commentary from "Regeneration" is recycled from an earlier set, we do get a fresh text commentaries from Michael and Denise Okuda for "The Best of Both Worlds" and the second half of "Unimatrix Zero." But there are no great revelations in any of these commentaries. Otherwise, technical specs are pretty much as they were when these episodes were originally released on DVD. And Paramount throws in no additional featurettes or clips or anything. The message: these "fan collective" sets are for casual fans who have a few bucks to spend and are not likely to invest in full seasons of Star Trek. Hardcore fans are likely to already have some or all of these episodes in their collections, and there is new nothing in Star Trek: Fan Collective—Borg worth picking this set up for.

Closing Statement

Star Trek's inconsistent approach to the Borg can be chalked up to the changing attitudes of its staff writers over the years. My critical interest in the Borg (and why I devoted that large section in my book to the subject) is rooted in my interest in exploring the ethical philosophies of science fiction texts, and few science fiction texts (books, films, movies, etc.) have been so vocally devoted to the topic of ethics as Star Trek. But as is clear from the case of the Borg, Trek's ethics are very much rooted in 1960s humanism, what I sometimes call the "It's a Small World" approach: difference is merely costuming, and underneath we are all the same. It is not necessarily a bad approach to ethics, but it is characteristic of a certain cultural chauvinism, since the sameness that Star Trek invariably validates is a human—more particularly American—social order. Whatever the Borg are, or might be, as aliens, Star Trek ultimately turned them into yet another race than can be, in some future time, assimilated into the Federation. Of course, if we all get to live next door to a hot Borg like Seven of Nine, maybe that is not such a bad thing.

As to Star Trek: Fan Collective—Borg: if you are a casual fan of the show, and you don't want to shell out for full series sets, this is probably the one Star Trek box worth adding to your collection. There is plenty of action, and most of these episodes are surprisingly entertaining. Looking ahead at the upcoming "Fan Collective" releases though, I have some serious reservations about how much recycling Paramount plans to do among these boxed sets. If this is really for the fans, how much patience does Paramount think the fans have with paying for "Endgame" again in the "Time Travel" collection?

The Verdict

The court warns Paramount against acting too much like the Borg and trying to assimilate the fans' money in sneaky ways. Otherwise, charges are dropped against Voyager and Enterprise in this case: these shows already have plenty to answer for.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 91
Audio: 91
Extras: 80
Acting: 87
Story: 90
Judgment: 91

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic (Enterprise only)
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English, "Q Who?" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I")
• English
Running Time: 719 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Science Fiction
• Star Trek
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary on "Regeneration"
• Text Commentary on "The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II" and "Unimatrix Zero, Part II"

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