The TV Weekly #192: Star Trek 50th Anniversary, Part 5

THETVWEEKLYLOGO

Here’s parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 if you haven’t seen them already.

A few years after Deep Space Nine debuted, Paramount debuted the first of two new broadcast network in 1995 with UPN and the marquee show for the network was a new Star Trek series in the form of Star Trek: Voyager:

File:Star Trek VOY logo.svg

Star Trek: Voyager is a science fiction television series, set in the Star Trek universe.

The series takes place during the 2370s, and begins on the far side of the Milky Way galaxy, 70,000 light-years from Earth. It follows the adventures of the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which becomes stranded in the Delta Quadrant while searching for a renegade Maquis ship. Voyager has to make the estimated 75-year journey home.

The series was created by Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor, and is the fifth incarnation of Star Trek, which began with the 1960s series Star Trek: The Original Series that was created by Gene Roddenberry. It was produced for seven seasons, from 1995 to 2001, and is the first and only Star Trek TV series with a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew), as the lead character. Berman served as head executive producer in charge of the overall production for the series during its entire run. He was assisted by a second in command executive producer who generally functioned as the day to day showrunner. There were four throughout the series’ run: Michael Piller (EP/showrunner – first and second season), Jeri Taylor (EP – first through fourth season, showrunner – third and fourth season), Brannon Braga (EP/showrunner – fifth and sixth season), and Kenneth Biller (EP/showrunner – seventh season).

Star Trek: Voyager aired on UPN and was the network’s second longest-running series.

In the pilot episode, “Caretaker”, USS Voyager departs station Deep Space Nine on a mission into the treacherous Badlands to find a missing ship piloted by a team of Maquis rebels, which the Vulcan Lt. Tuvok,Voyager‘s security officer, has secretly infiltrated. While in the Badlands, the Voyager is chased down and eventually enveloped by a powerful energy wave, which ends up damaging Voyager, killing several of its crew, and stranding the ship on the far side of the galaxy, known as the Delta Quadrant, more than 70,000 light-years from Earth – a minimum of 75 years travel time at sustained warp factor 9.975, with minimum downtime delays.

There, Voyager finds the Maquis ship, and eventually the two crews must reluctantly agree to join forces to survive their long journey home. Chakotay, leader of the Maquis group, becomes Voyager’s first officer. B’Elanna Torres, a half-human/half-Klingon Maquis, becomes chief engineer. Tom Paris, whom Janeway released from a Federation prison to help her find the Maquis ship, is made Voyager‘s helm officer. Due to the deaths of the ship’s entire medical staff, the Doctor, an emergency medical hologram designed only for short-term use, is employed as the ship’s full-time Chief Medical Officer. Neelix, a Talaxian scavenger, and Kes, a young Ocampan, both natives of the Delta Quadrant, are welcomed aboard as the ship’s chef/morale officer, and the Doctor’s medical assistant respectively.

Due to the great distance from Federation space, the Delta Quadrant is unexplored by Starfleet: Voyager truly is going where no human has gone before. As the ship sets out on its projected 75-year journey home, the crew passes through regions belonging to various species indigenous to the Delta Quadrant: the barbaric and belligerent Kazon; the organ-harvesting, disease-ravaged Vidiians; the nomadic hunter-race the Hirogen; the fearsome Species 8472 from fluidic space; and most notably the Borg, whose home is in the Delta Quadrant, so that Voyager has to move through large areas of Borg-controlled space in later seasons. They also encounter perilous natural phenomena, a nebulous area called the Nekrit Expanse (“Fair Trade”, third season), a large area of empty space called the Void (“Night”, fifth season), wormholes, dangerous nebulae, and other anomalies.

However, Voyager does not always deal with the unknown. It is the second Star Trek series to feature Q, an omnipotent alien, on a recurring basis (Q made only one appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). Also, Starfleet Command learns of Voyager‘s survival when the ship discovers an ancient interstellar communications network, claimed by the Hirogen, that the crew can tap into. This relay network is later disabled, but thanks to the efforts of Earth-based Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, Starfleet eventually establishes regular contact in the season 6 episode “Pathfinder” by using a communications array and micro-wormhole technology. This ability to communicate figures prominently thereafter.

In the opening two episodes of the show’s fourth season, Kes leaves the ship while Seven of Nine (known colloquially as Seven), a Borg drone who was assimilated as a six-year-old human girl, is liberated from the collective and joins the Voyager crew. Seven begins to regain her humanity as the series progresses, thanks to ongoing efforts by Captain Janeway to show her that the perfection the Borg seek is not compatible with the imperfection of humanity; however, emotions, love, and caring are more important to happiness. The Doctor also becomes more human-like, thanks in part to a mobile holo-emitter the crew obtains in the third season which allows The Doctor to leave the confines of sickbay and roam the ship freely. He starts to discover his love for music and art, which he demonstrates in the episode “Virtuoso”. In the sixth season, the crew discovers a group of adolescent aliens assimilated by the Borg but prematurely released from their maturation chambers due to a malfunction on their Borg cube. As he did with Seven of Nine, The Doctor re-humanizes the children; Azan, Rebi and Mezoti, three of them eventually find a new adoptive home while the fourth, Icheb, chooses to stay aboard Voyager.

Life for the Voyager crew continues to change during their long journey. Traitors Seska and Michael Jonas are uncovered in the early months (“State of Flux”); loyal crew members are lost late in the journey; and other wayward Starfleet officers are integrated into the crew. During the second season, the first child is born aboard the ship to Ensign Samantha Wildman; as she grows up, Naomi Wildman becomes great friends with her godfather, Neelix. Early in the seventh season, Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres marry after a long courtship, and Torres gives birth to their child, Miral Paris, in the series finale. Late in the seventh season, the ship finds a colony of Talaxians on a makeshift settlement in an asteroid field; Neelix chooses to bid Voyager farewell and live once again among his people.

Over the course of the series, the crew of Voyager find a number of ways to knock a potential five decades off their estimated 75 year journey, thanks to: shortcuts in the episodes “Night” and “Q2”; technology boosts in episodes “The Voyager Conspiracy”, “Dark Frontier”, “Timeless”, and “Hope and Fear”; subspace corridors in “Dragon’s Teeth”; and a mind-powered push from a powerful former shipmate in “The Gift”. There are also other speed, shortcut and time travel opportunities that the crew are not able to use, as seen in the episodes “Prime Factors”, “Future’s End”, “Eye of the Needle”, and “Inside Man”. By late in season 7, these efforts combine to shorten their estimated journey from 75 years to 23 years. However, one final effort involving the use of a Borg transwarp conduit reduces the total 70,000 light-year journey to just seven years’ duration, as shown in the series finale “Endgame”.

There is much about Voyager to admire, for one thing, the fact that it’s a female captain running this ship this time around, the only time this has happened in the show’s history, the acitng is just as good as in the other series, and the visual look of the series is nicely done just like in other Star Trek series.

But then again, the biggest fault of this series was that the story was not particularly well written at any point during the series, they tried to go for a little too much sex appeal with the addition of Jeri Ryan as Seven Of Nine, and overall, the whole series really doesn’t quite reach the levels of the original shows on any level.

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