16th Jun2009

gotchoo no VOYAGER LOVE!?

by jerad.formby

lets stop bagging on voyager just for fun

Previously on Hey Star Trek!

and they are back

So you’ve been knocking around the Internet behind your co-workers’ backs looking for more information about Star Trek. You know there’s a lot of it and you’re not sure where to start. You delve into Trekcast and have been following this blog in order to get “cool” and “in the know” information of just how to start any of the Star Trek series.

That means that we’ve arrived to Star Trek: Voyager. Like all Trek, I’ve covered aspects of Voyager before, but the idea of a Voyager-centric piece has been a bit frustrating for me to put together. It’s my least favorite of the shows and if you listen to Trekcast, you know that David Ivy is finally ready to give it a try.

And, for you, brothers and sisters, I gave it another look just to ensure that you can be informed and without prejudice.

Voyager was the fourth show to be created and it appeared right when Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air. This was a little less then half-way through Star Trek’s eighteen year run that started in 1987. Star Trek was on the air for eighteen years and what people who bag on Voyager fail to realize is that Voyager is Star Trek for so many others.


i think one other person in the world actually reads these caption boxes is it you

For many fans, Voyager was the first. Voyager was the first step into a wider universe and its fans will defend this show from the slings and arrows of others just as aggressively as any old school fan fought the new movie.

Voyager was designed by Micheal Piller (who worked out DS9), Jeri Taylor, and Rick Berman. Because of DS9’s seemingly “Black Sheep” stigma, these three decided to return to the spaceship format in an effort to make the show more accessible and more familiar. But they also wanted to make this crew to be very different from Star Trek as seen before.

Right away, it seemed a natural choice to introduce Star Trek’s first female captain (at least with her own show). Kate Mulgrew portrays Captain Janeway, but interestingly she was cast after the original actress for Janeway left the show while filming its first episode.

yes hey star trek endorses throw momma from the train do not act so surprised

The main players in Voyager are a mixture of Starfleet, terrorists, and new ‘unlisted’ aliens. The Voyager model was built with conflict ready to bubble up at any time. To add to this pressure cooker, the show’s creators also tossed the ship into a distant region of space where the crew cannot rely on Starfleet nor the Federation.

That choice also gave Voyager its story: when and how will the ship ever get back to Earth?

it is one thing to say it is a long journey and it is another thing to see it

When we first meet the crew of the Voyager, they are tasked with finding a ship full of terrorists and when they do, both ships are thrown across the galaxy. A lot of people are killed on Voyager and the terrorist ship is destroyed. This causes the terrorists to find jobs on Voyager. The big boss terrorist actually assumes the executive role beneath Janeway to make the integration more acceptable to his followers.

With the entire medical staff destroyed on the galactic crossing, Voyager is forced to activate their Emergency Medical Hologram. This EMH is a program in the ship’s database that has a human form and tons of medical knowledge programmed right into him. He is also arguably the show’s most popular character.

the crew of the voyager is the definition of diversity

With the ship so far away from home, Captain Janeway even recruits a local from that region of space as a resource to tap for intelligence on any given species or new governments. The character of Neelix was built to be one part comic relief and one part informant.

He comes with a character called Kes. She is an alien that not only looks different from humans, but she also has a really strange life span –she only lives for nine years! Kes’ development mostly involves the Doctor. She spends much of her time in sick bay acting as his nurse. Tuvok also rocks out as her mentor in regard to her psychic abilities.

She was written out of the show at the end of its third season.

hey star trek says yikes they like date and stuff

When Kes left, another character was introduced. Did I say the Doctor was popular? Take a look at this.
who does not love looking at jeri ryan

jeri ryan might be over being jeri ryan one day hey star trek must ask her

beauty and brains that is right fellas

Every model of Star Trek incorporates the character who stands on the outside and observes the human condition. Voyager has a few of these observers. The Doctor’s observations can be wry and insulting (even though he really wishes he were flesh and blood). Seven of Nine’s observations can be terse and critical (even though she can’t wait for a time that she’ll be able to pass for human).

hey star trek gotchoo back guys

Star Trek: Voyager comes with a built in sense of desperation. Janeway has a very large burden. She not only has to keep the spirits of the crew alive and hopeful of returning home, she also has to be the Federation’s only representative in a region of space that won’t see her Starfleet for at least another century, and she has to make every single decision without the resources of her commanding officers.

There are times on this show where that burden comes out in magnificent and heartfelt ways. Voyager also comes with a strong sense of Star Trek wonder.

I watched an episode recently called “Workforce: Part II” wherein most of Voyager’s crew have been kidnapped and brainwashed into working in an alien power plant. It falls to Chakotay, Harry Kim, and the Doctor to locate and return these crew members. Chakotay finally meets up with Janeway and discovers she’s not only happier without responsibilities, but that she’s found a life with a lover she’s really excited about.

He explains to her that he’s an alien from a starship called Voyager. He tells her he has to find all of the crewmembers. And in that moment where Janeway can’t decide if Chakotay’s a liar, a criminal, or speaking the truth, Voyager contacts Chakotay. They ask him if he’s located any of the others.

Chakotay, whose power always loads in from Robert Beltron’s soft-spoken choices, says plainly, “as a matter of fact, I’m sitting with Captain Janeway right now.”

next best thing to just showing you the damn scene while i weep quietly

Mulgrew’s Janeway responds with a quiet gasp and her eyes reflect that wonder of a better, bigger world. And some how she’s involved. Even if she can’t comprehend it all in that second, the raw power of what Star Trek is and how she’s not there comes out in this powerful beat and is very, very good.

The most popular episodes to its fans are “Endgame Parts 1 and 2” (when Voyager makes it home at the end of the show), “Unimatrix Zero Parts 1 and 2” (which adds a new and unforeseen layer to the Borg collective), and “Equinox” which features a starship from the Federation that is trapped like Voyager and makes severely different choices with their behavior.

Hey Star Trek also has private recommendations. As much as I love that moment in “Workforce Part II,” I’ll ask you to hold back and look at the character driven piece “Meld” in which Tuvok comes across a murderer in Voyager’s crew who seems to have no motive at all. “Maneuvers” which I believe to be Chakotay at his absolute best, and “Latent Image” which is a fascinating approach to the holographic doctor who discovers that something as simple as a choice can lead to unforeseeable regret.

This is also the show that launched Paramounts own television network. You might remember UPN. Voyager was there opening night.

actually i almost did

A lot of Voyager is very good. A lot of Star Trek fans forget that their favorite show comes with a lot of garbage. For every DS9 episode like “Far Beyond the Stars,” there’s something as dumb as “The Muse.” For every episode of TNG like “The Measure of a Man,” there’s a chinker like “Devil’s Due.” Yet these shows are forgiven and championed for the sheer nostalgia and adoring love a fan feels for his favorite show.

Voyager fans are exactly the same. And they do have a lot of good Star Trek over there.

not that i am saying star trek politics are hard to follow or anything


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  • http://www.dvdgeeks.tv DVD Geeks

    Loved this article, Jerad. I’m someone who enjoys Voyager immensely but can clearly see its flaws. One of the aspects of the show I really like is that there is a much more familial feel than with previous series. The TNG crew feels like a crew working and doing a good job together, but we get to see the hair let down a little more on Voyager. The most frustrating thing about the show is all the missed opportunities – they did use the “reset button” more than any other series (Enterprise finally stopped that to some extent), and they started down the path of some really interesting character work that seemed to be abandoned.

  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com apizzagirl

    Yay Voyager! Yay Jeri Ryan’s perfectly scuplted uniform!

  • Damon

    Wow! Jerad and John nailed it on the head. I’ve seen every episode of Voyager at least 2 times most of them a lot more and the biggest problem I have with the show was the dangling carrot. Throughout the first few seasons the “going home” carrot was dangled what seems like every other episode the episodes always seemed forced and you knew they weren’t getting home if they did that would be the end of the show. The sad thing is some of the best Voyager were about the journey not the destination. I wish they all could have been about the journey they were much more fun.

  • David West

    The biggest problem that happened to Voyager wasn’t the clunker episodes (though the ‘go faster than warp 10 and turn into lizards was arguably the worst episode of any Trek series), it wasn’t any bad plotting, any bad character development (but promote Kim already!).

    No, the biggest problem was UPN.

    Here in Omaha, we have 2 cable systems. Only one carried UPN, as they got an exclusive deal to do so. This meant about a 1/4 of the city could never tune in, and I know a number of Trek fans with that service. Immediate loss of folks right there. Voyager had the best ratings of any show on UPN, but it never reached even Fox levels, who was its main rival at the time. It was not marketed very well at all, and Voyager (and the subsequent Enterprise) just couldn’t get the numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/Methos1664 Methos

    Although I came late to the game watching Voyager, I shed many of my earlier misconceptions about the show when I decided to invest actual honest viewing time to it.

    Prior to Voyager, I just completed an entire segment of my viewing life absorbing BABYLON 5 because – for those of you who have experienced J. Michael Stracynski’s Babylon 5 – you know that you just don’t merely watch it – you REALLY watch it and embrace all of the trimmings that go along with a series of that dense magnitude.

    But to return to the OT – Voyager, IMO truly harkened back to “boldly going” and exploring – which was, after DS9 and B5 – a more difficult narrative to appreciate because of the immense strength of Voyager’s two science fiction series predecessors. And perhaps that’s where I ran into complications as a viewer.

    Whereas DS9 and B5 locked in the narrative pieces firmly in the sweeping story arcs, there was more flexibility as events unfolded in the Delta Quadrant, and there was the one main storytelling pylon that no Star Trek series before Voyager employed: The Quest. And that quest – to get HOME – allowed us to focus back on the complexities and dangers of unknown space, and the resolve of the crew to band together to complete that goal.

    And that is what got me back into the show – the desire to see them achieve that goal.

    As always – Jarad – your blog is worth many bars of gold pressed latinum!\

    Methos

  • Ryan

    Another great blog Jerad. Not only that but a great bunch of comments from everyone. I have always been a Voyager fan. I loved the whole cut off from everything, fend for ourself aspect. And you have to admit that The Voyager ship has to be the coolest looking ship in Star Fleet. It is sleek and lean like a Corvette. Not only that but it can land on a planet. One of my favorite scenes is watching that baby fly through the atmosphere and landing planetside. It really gave you a sense of scale. The only thing that confused me about the show was I never figured out when high heel shoes became Borg inplants. I must have missed that episode. As far as the whole UPN thing. We only have one cable company and at the time they did not carry UPN. Luckily I had a friend in San Diego that worked for a UPN station and he would come up every couple of months with VHS tapes (remember those) filled with Voyager gold. Those were good days.

  • http://twitter.com/bookworm2007 bookworm2007

    Glad you were unbiased (maybe you can get Darren and David to be a little less biased… hmm?)

    If you think Kes has a sexy voice then stay away from Cold Fire because her scream… it just ruins it. Way too piercing.

    Loved Latent Image and Workforce too.
    Off to watch Maneuvers because I haven’t seen it in a year

    Thanks for a great blog post!

  • Thomas

    I am definitely enjoying the blog here. Well, you just know I’ve got to throw in an opinion on this. I think “Year of Hell” part 1 and 2 are probably some of the best of Voyager, mainly because in those two hours they show what the series could have done if it weren’t for all the reset buttons. Of course, the end of it is a great big reset button, but it’s still an epic climax anyway.

    And sometimes the reset button is a good thing. Case in point is the Emmy Award-winning episode “Threshold”. That one had an invisible reset button, because later episodes just completely ignored that any of it ever happened (good!).

    Now personally the Unimatrix 0 story bugs the hell out of me, because if you stop to think about it, Janeway went totally Ahab on the Borg (why? because they’re mean to her?) and sold out the whole mini-collective (including children) to go fight a war for her.

    Anyway, Jerad, I’m glad you don’t forget my face, since I’ll surely be there should the Neonopolis project ever materialize. Hey, where do I mention that I passed you driving down Maryland last week? I figured honking and waving would be kinda weird though.

  • http://www.dkleparek.blogger.com The Trivia Tribble

    For a while, Voyager was my favorite show. I’ve come to see Star Trek as a whole now. I like certain characters more than others, but there are so many great episodes from all the series that I can’t just say that I like one show and not another.

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