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"The series is an anti-action, existential feminist family drama"
June 20, 2013 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all "As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishments, Voyager, the most despised object of fanboy loathing in the franchise's history."
posted by dirtdirt (238 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Other than Nelix I don't actually mind Voyager that much, he is certainly Star Trek's Jar Jar though.

I do kind of envy his ability to turn 90's hospital carpet into a fashionable space tunic.
posted by sourbrew at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


I suppose I'm not a real Star Trek fan since I lost interest somewhere around the first episode or two of Deep Space Nine, but I'm really enjoying J.J. Abrams' take on the series so far. I'd even go so far as to say that Chris Pine might be better at playing Kirk than Shatner (gasp!).
posted by wabbittwax at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, if yours is the series with the space lizards and the space lizard babies, all the feminism and existentialism in the galaxy won't make up for that.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think the writer fails to realize that the reason Trek fans hate Voyager is exactly because it squandered all of its wonderful potential. It was a great concept for a series.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [45 favorites]


Man, I liked Voyager. Way more than that pathetic soap opera DS9 (and I liked that as well). I also liked the reboots.

I sorely miss Enterprise.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Voyager, the most despised object of fanboy loathing in the franchise's history.

I thought that honor belonged to Enterprise?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [31 favorites]


Neelix is irritating, but the bane of Voyager is the charisma vortex that is Harry Kim. Anytime he enters a scene you can feel the charm drain back to the EPS conduits.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [21 favorites]


Is Voyager really the most despised Star Trek series? I thought Enterprise, theme song and all, was still the champ there.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed Voyager.
posted by j03 at 6:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Other than Nelix

NNNNNNGGGGGGGGH!
posted by Artw at 7:00 AM on June 20, 2013




Yeah, this article seems to be starting off from an incorrect premise. Do people dislike Voyager? Yes, and as pointed out already, a lot of that dislike stems from how badly it fails to utilize what could have been an amazing premise. But, "most despised object of fanboy loathing"?

My rebuttal is but five words: "It's been a long road..."
posted by tocts at 7:01 AM on June 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


I loved Voyager, didn't care for DS9. I thought of Enterprise as half-a-reboot. The cheesy theme song hurt it more than anything else.
posted by pjern at 7:02 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is Voyager really the most despised Star Trek series? I thought Enterprise, theme song and all, was still the champ there.

There's only two episodes of it I like, but I like them an awful lot.
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on June 20, 2013


/Pours one out for SG:U.
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Add me to the list who was rather dismayed with Enterprise. How does Scott Bakula, Captain of the Starship Enterprise *not* work?!

And yes, 8 years later, I am still rather shocked about that final episode... (spoilers, obviously).
posted by andreaazure at 7:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Voyager was OK.

(wow, a Star Trek discussion. The Internet sure has come a long way)
posted by jonmc at 7:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


the most despised object of fanboy loathing in the franchise's history.
You ever heard of Wesley Crusher?
posted by shothotbot at 7:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neelix is irritating, but the bane of Voyager is the charisma vortex that is Harry Kim. Anytime he enters a scene you can feel the charm drain back to the EPS conduits.

They killed him, replaced him with an alternate timeline double, and NOBODY NOTICED.
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


I never could get past the fact that the first (and so far only) Trek series with a woman in the captain's chair had her commanding a ship with the same name as a mini-van.

EDIT: Best theme song since the original, though. I'll give them that.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


The first paragraph nicely captures why I, a died-in-the-wool Trekkie, haven't bothered to see STID yet:

it seems dedicated to stripping Trek of its cockeyed optimism, its sense of last-frontier adventurism, and its progressive worldview, and letting the remainder marinate in testosterone and male supremacy politics. So, all the qualities that made Star Trek special—the deep, silly, starry-eyed, predictable, always-inclusive things that sparked a half-century, trans-global love affair? Gone. In their place: a white man-centered Starfleet command. Random T&A.

But to bring it back to the topic at hand, there's a bit of an irony in the way the series is pointed to as thoroughly feminist positive: The demands of shooting cost Mulgrew her marriage and she was barely there for her children. She has said that her kids can't watch the show now because they resent it so thoroughly. Not that I judge her in any way for her choices. Nor am I much of an expert on feminism. But it feels like the show implied the future resolution of a cultural tension that then played out in the Actor's personal life.

Speaking of which, if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the HBO documentary The Captains, which features Shatner interviewing (and generally conversing with) all the other captains from the Trek franchise, including Pine. Really compelling stuff. My references about Mulgrew's career came from her interview.
posted by dry white toast at 7:06 AM on June 20, 2013 [19 favorites]


I agree, Voyager failed in delivery, rather than conception. The actors were fine, not noably worse or better than TNG or DS9, but the writing was... tired, is the best way I'd put it. Neelix is just one example. It felt like that they had a few scripts they kept recycling over and over: here's the ST formula, keep turning the crank.
posted by bonehead at 7:06 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Neelix. I always liked him and Odo, but I've been fans of them since Soap.

Other than Tom Paris, I really liked Star Trek voyager. I liked who he started out as/was occasionally, a bad boy rebelling against his Starfleet father but somewhat misunderstood; but they really did much more showcasing of his fantasy life than I thought palatable. And they seriously made it worse by boring down Harry Kim so he'd have someone to play with/off.
posted by tilde at 7:06 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you try to claim that anything but TOS is the Trekkiest Trek, I will fight you on a planet with scattered deposits of saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur, diamonds and bamboo.
posted by DU at 7:07 AM on June 20, 2013 [38 favorites]


I always thought Stargate Universe was the show Voyager was meant to be. Two ideologically opposed groups lost in space and dependent on each other to survive. The way the writer's handled the tension between the scientists and the military on SGU made for some great drama. Voyager by the middle of the first season had pretty much forgotten they had even set up the Maquis/Starfleet dynamic, it just never seem to come up much and when it did it was a pretty weak story.
posted by kipd at 7:08 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I might have to dig out the episodes I rhee liking after my DS9 rewatch - usually ones where things get badly and the the ship ALMOST gets destroyed and they have to limp along to the next reset button and you can pretend the show lives up to its premise until they get there.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on June 20, 2013


I decided to rewatch some of the recommended Voyager episodes to see if it matched up to the shitty memories I had and ....yeah it kinda does. For every neat concept they'd introduce, they'd add on two awful ones and then ...never follow through with the first good concept. It was just so inert, and not in that oddly soothing babysitter way TNG was ( I content TNG was basically Mister Rogers for older kids, a nice beige world where nothing too awful happens).

Although honestly if you ask me, it's more the general US TV problem of not knowing how to deal with an " all ages" show.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


( also, if you look up " bare minimum check cashing performance" there should be a picture of Robert Beltran. He was the Robert Pattison of Voyager, constantly slagging it in interviews while the show was still on the air.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


By far, the best part of Voyager was Jeri Ryan's Seven-of-Nine. The series ratings went up 60% after she joined the cast in Season 4.
posted by paulsc at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, if yours is the series with the space lizards and the space lizard babies, all the feminism and existentialism in the galaxy won't make up for that.

Yes, but, as Memory Alpha puts it, "Janeway puts Paris in for a commendation for his achievement."

[Enterprise] The cheesy theme song hurt it more than anything else.

Yes. When went back on Netflix and watched one of the season after I'd given up, I found that I enjoyed it much more skipping the opening credits. Seems like a small thing, but a theme song can really set the tone I guess.
posted by aught at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Paris may actually be more awful than Neelix, come to think of it.
posted by Artw at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really liked Voyager, but the writers seems to have watched an totally different series than I did.

In a lighter vein, the “Fair Haven” episode threw viewers out of SF entirely and into ‘Ireland’, courtesy of the ship’s virtual reality holodeck. Captain Janeway meets--and modifies to taste--a hot Irish hologram that she utilizes for some carnal R&R. The episode uses its SF tropes to correct assumptions of female guilt and sexual self-pleasure, specifically the idea that it's impossible for a woman to sleep with a man and not become romantically involved.

Citation needed. Fairhaven was not a about "female guilt and sexual self-pleasure". It was just a stupid holodeck episode.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is with Star Trek and Celtic hotness?
posted by The Whelk at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2013


The best Star Trek series was Babylon 5.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2013 [20 favorites]


"Computer, Delete the wife." might be my favourite Star Trek line ever.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I was a fifteen year old Trekkie when VOY was airing. I never loved it, like I did DS9, but I enjoyed it (I dig anything with Vulcans, and the doctor was great). Until they forced the show's focus onto Seven. It wasn't her character--I actually found that compelling--but her costume, the obvious male fanservice. I had the sudden, striking sensation that this wasn't for me, something I'd never felt with Star Trek before and have only rarely felt since, mostly with the reboot and that containment gel scene in the pilot of Enterprise. It's funny because I was fine with a scanty jumpsuit on Troi, and I'm fine with character sexuality generally, but it just seemed so blatantly a ratings grab, and antithetical to her character, so rankly alienating that I stopped watching it completely.

Maybe it was just the kid in my pre-calc class who wouldn't stop talking about her tits. Dunno. Have heard that she grew into a compelling character past the point where I stopped watching, and I believe it, but it's hard to get over that memory of suddenly feeling very out of place watching something you previously enjoyed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2013 [27 favorites]


By far, the best part of Voyager was Jeri Ryan's Seven-of-Nine. The series ratings went up 60% after she joined the cast in Season 4.

They took the commandment to add some cheesecake and made something interesting of it. Her and the Doctor account for an awful lot if the best bits.

The worst ever Star Trek would be Tom Paris and Neelix going for an extended trip in the stupid shuttle he built with the bullshit flash Gordon controls. Maybe Kim can be there just to hang around.
posted by Artw at 7:15 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Citation needed. Fairhaven was not a about "female guilt and sexual self-pleasure". It was just a stupid holodeck episode.

Janeway Fucks a Leprecaun is up there with The Paradise Syndrome for all time worst ever episide of Trek, IMHO.
posted by Artw at 7:17 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


My brother-in-law is a bro. He was the president of his frat, his friends are 90% frat brothers or guys he went to summer camp with. He also loves Voyager. When he mentions this to his bro-friends, they laugh because it's Star Trek. When he mentions it to me, or his sister, or any of our nerd friends, we laugh because it's Voyager.

It's would be tragic except that Voyager genuinely was awful, so we're right to laugh at him.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:18 AM on June 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


I love voyager, and I love Neelix! Take that, internets!
posted by windykites at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The TOS theme had lyrics too!

Here is what they sound like when performed.

I personally can't get past "strange love a star woman teaches," but what can you do.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:20 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Design wise I always thought Voyager made the most sense. The ship looked like somebody had actually thought through what they were going to use it for.

I can grant DS9 its weird shape, but its still totally not fit for its new purpose, and it makes no sense that they didn't replace it given the plenty that the Federation had.

Enterprise from ST:Enterprise is totally bizarre. It's an experimental ship! Why does it need to be so huge? So round? And inside? Inside it feels so small! It was like an inverse TARDIS.

Enterprise from TNG with its separable saucer section makes no sense. Sure it's a great idea if you absolutely have to carry a huge population around with you. But since returning to Earth always seems quite feasible, why would the family need to be there? If the ship functions fine without a great big hunk of metal on top, why bring it? They brought a cruise liner when they needed a battleship.

Voyager though, Voyager makes sense. It's nicely hunkered down, it looks like it could deflect a shot, it's not unnecessarily rotund.

(it kind of surprises me people watched Star Trek for its plot, its technology was the best bit for me)
posted by ElliotH at 7:21 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The worst episode of theoretical Paris/Neelix/Kim show would be when they discover a cryotube in a derelict ship and it's Neelix-from-Enterprise, whatever the fuck his name was. And then they thaw him out and he becomes part of the regular cast.
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Voyager was really good. Except for Neelix. And Kim. And Chakoay. And Paris. And Tuvok. And Kes. And Torres. And all the episodes that leaned on those very weak characters. But other than that, it was really good.
posted by Garm at 7:24 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Inside it feels so small!

Like a submarine, probably the best analogue to a star ship that we have on earth.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:25 AM on June 20, 2013


Oh god. Phoenix Kes.
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Voyager had the most interesting premise of the spin-offs, by far. And "Eye of the Needle" was one of the best Star Trek stories, worthy of The Twilight Zone and written by Hilary Bader of Batman Beyond.
posted by cribcage at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Artw: "... it's Neelix-from-Enterprise, whatever the fuck his name was ..."

Phlox. Stupid fuckin' Phlox.
posted by barnacles at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was a fan of TOS and TNG, but I remember watching an early episode of Voyager about a black hole and it was weak science, weak plot, weak acting. I wanted to like the series, but I never got back into it after that.

(Also I'm another Trek fan who has been so put off by what I've heard about STID that I haven't seen it. And I really like Cumberbatch, too.)
posted by immlass at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2013


I will in no way retain the information that Neelix-from-Enterprise has a name other than that.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I liked Voyager more than any Star Trek except The Original Series. TNG was a bland and dull by comparison, and as he says they had life a bit too easy. DS9 suffered from being stuck in one place, I missed the exploring of strange new worlds, the seeking out of new life and new civilizations. Enterprise too tended to spend too much time reintroducing elements you already new, and got a bit too self-referention with the time travel stuff.

I also liked the way they managed to sneak in wickedly funny lines: "Get this cheese to sickbay!" The Doctor was a great character, there was some poignancy to the way they casually switched him on and off. It was a good show.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will fight you on a planet with scattered deposits of saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur, diamonds and bamboo.

Dammit, that's too complicated. Can't it just be a planet with gun trees and bullet bushes?
posted by yoink at 7:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


DS9 > TNG > Voyager > Enterprise > TOS
posted by corpse at 7:29 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I only really like TOS and the reboot. Should I report to a camp somewhere?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:29 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Actually I'm going to go on record that the best Trek was TOS.

There is nothing else in the catalogue to compare with the way that mid-60s show fought against the prejudices and stupidity of its era, and it did it in a brilliant way.

Kirk, McCoy and Scotty, and Spock were all characters that male viewers could all recognize in their own lives -- people they either knew or identified with. Kirk, especially, was the very model of a 60s alpha male: smart, handsome, quick both with his fists and his kiss, captain and king, lord of his domain but not an unfair ruler. If you were a kid, he was the father you wished you could have; if you were older he was a role model for you -- or the alpha buddy you wanted to go on adventures with.

But, unlike most real-world dudes of the day, every time Kirk had an opportunity to be obnoxiously entitled* or bigoted, he wasn't. He played it straight. He showed it was possible to be both a strong, alpha, 60s military man who loved the ladies and yet also be unbigoted, fair and open minded and not ever push his natural advantages at the cost of someone else. (* It seemed at times Kirk and TOS as a whole did have some problems with treating women as equals, so in wasn't perfect.)

That's what all the other Treks missed out on: they showed us idealized perfect people that we simply couldn't relate to except as archetype. Kirk, though -- Kirk was us, our neighbours, Kirk was everyman, but better.

He showed us the steps we could take in order to become better people without becoming weaker people, and for that the original Trek was the best Trek.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:30 AM on June 20, 2013 [38 favorites]


I always thought Stargate Universe was the show Voyager was meant to be.

Battlestar Galactica is the show Voyager was meant to me. The writer of Voyager was so frustrated that it wasn't, that he quit and wrote Battlestar Galactica.
posted by spaltavian at 7:31 AM on June 20, 2013 [26 favorites]


I used to work the graveyard shift and Voyage was on in syndication when I got home in the morning and I ended up watching quite a bit of it at that time. I really liked it but I admit to being sleep deprived and not watching critically.
posted by josher71 at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2013


quick both with his fists and his kiss

Sudden vision of him trying to snog that Gorn then remembering "no, fists you idiot, fists!".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I happened to like Voyager a great deal, but I can see valid reasons for disliking it. I never could get into DS9, though, again, I'm sure it had its rewards. I will say, though, that anyone who denies that a part of Voyager's rocky road with Trekkies has to do with a virulent strain of sexist umbrage at the very idea of a woman captain hasn't been reading the same internet that I've been reading for the last decade or so.
posted by yoink at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Voyager was terrible because the show that it *should* have been didn't actually air until the Battlestar Galactica remake. Lone crew out in the middle of nowhere, eating themselves alive, while trying to find their home again.

Voyager should have been *dark* and *bleak*, dammit.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dammit, that's too complicated. Can't it just be a planet with gun trees and bullet bushes?

That would be against Federation policy. How about if we just teleport Abraham Lincoln and a random Klingon warrior dude in to help us in hand-to-hand?
posted by DU at 7:36 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Last time we had a thread about inter alia the Trekkiness of Voyager, I ended up starting in on a Star Trek roguelikelike. Maybe this one will make me get back on track with that.

Voyager is marked largely by the specter of wasted potential. It was a great premise at the right time with a bunch of fun ideas peppered throughout and a solid cast, but, like folks have said already upthread, they bungled and spoiled and wasted most of the good stuff on inert plotting and copouts and a shocking failure to embrace continuity in the one Star Trek series most justifying a continuity plot. In every other series, the crew spends most of its time in presumed direct contact with Federation resources; we take it as a given, unless otherwise specified, that anything that happens during an episode that needs fixing or resupplying or whatever can actually get that attention during the days or weeks between one episode and the next. But Voyager is stranded, scrapping, looking at a decades-long trip through wholly unfamiliar space just to get home. That's terrifying and fantastic; that the show instead makes it feel shrugworthy and inevitable 95% of the time instead is a crying shame.

Janeway Fucks a Leprecaun

The thing I liked about that episode was reading it as a direct response to Geordi's twin Adventures With Holographic Leah Brahms And Then Also Whoops The Actual Leah Brahms episodes on TNG. It's a bit like, okay, what happens when this weird socially taboo thing happens but this time (a) it's the fuckin' Captain, so nobody can say nothing and (b) she's actually had any meaningful romantic history in real life so she's internalized more of a sense of taboo about the whole thing herself.
posted by cortex at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought that Space Cases was the show that Voyager was meant to be. Somehow that weird little show meant for nine year olds captured the frustration of being marooned out in space much better than VOY ever did.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect the trouble with discussing Voyager is that Trek nerdboy sexism is assumed to be the sole objection to it when the show, irrespective of the captain's gender, failed so clearly to live up to its potential.

The article keeps bringing up the undercurrent of sadness. I never perceived that. Wistfulness, maybe. But generally this was the slap-happiest Trek crew what ever sailed.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I liked Voyager a lot more than DS9. Sure, it had some weakly-written episodes, but so did all the other series. When you're telling a new story every week, they're not all going to be home runs.

One of the things I liked about it is that it always got me to thinking and wondering what I would do in their situation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013


Voyager should have been *dark* and *bleak*, dammit.

Why worst thing about Voyager is that it knew what it should have been. We know, because there was that episode where they found a program the security officer made that was training for when the Maquis rebelled. And the episode where they find bizzaro-Voyager, a different ship that let its hair down and that had been killing people to get home. They knew that would been a more compelling story!

The show should have been that, at least for the first three seasons.
posted by spaltavian at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


He showed us the steps we could take in order to become better people without becoming weaker people, and for that the original Trek was the best Trek.

And Spock showed that you could be both smart and strong in all senses of both those words. And McCoy showed you didn't have to like people to help them.
posted by DU at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [20 favorites]


It seemed at times Kirk and TOS as a whole did have some problems with treating women as equals, so in wasn't perfect

At times? I love TOS, but there are few series more widely judged only for what they were at their very, very best and not for anything like their average level. Everything you say of TOS is true enough of a small handful of extraordinary episodes, but it's a very dubious characterisation of the series as a whole.
posted by yoink at 7:38 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Voyager was terrible because the show that it *should* have been didn't actually air until the Battlestar Galactica remake. Lone crew out in the middle of nowhere, eating themselves alive, while trying to find their home again.

Voyager should have been *dark* and *bleak*, dammit.


I forget exactly how many photon torpedos an Intrepid-class ship is outfitted with, standard - a brief googling suggests 40, but Memory Alpha is silent on the subject. But that's the sort of thing that the show should meticulously track. Every time they shoot one, it's gone. That sort of thing. Every time they lose a crew, they are understaffed for the remainder of the show. This should have been a show with Consequence.

Alas. As said above, the failing of Voyager was that it squandered what should have been the best premise for a Star Trek ever.
posted by kafziel at 7:39 AM on June 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


[H]er mission was simplified: aim Earthwards for a 75-year journey home that the crew was unlikely to survive. And that was it. No Starfleet hijinks, no strutting around the galaxy, just 150 or so people stuck together for life. Voyager often feels less like a continuation of Trek as we know it than a challenge in the form of a question: "So you think you know what Star Trek is?" The series is an anti-action, existential feminist family drama, shot through with a persistent melancholy that reflects the crew’s desperation.

This is one of those moments where I have to go and check and make sure I watched the same show, because on spec that sounds amazing. But in practice, they never really sold the desperation ("we're really low on energy cells, but at least we have an infinite supply of shuttles to fly around in") or the melancholy. Consider just how many times they have an episode flash back to earth, or have someone time-travel to earth, or get a signal to earth, or enter an alternate reality earth in just the first season. For a show about a ship stuck on the other side of the galaxy, they spent an awful lot of time here.

It should have been simplified. It should have been about a hundred and fifty people stuck on a ship together for life. But it wasn't. It was just a continuation of the Star Trek we knew, but less well done than it should have been because of the constant tension of trying, and failing, to follow through on its promise.
posted by cjelli at 7:41 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't think people could cope with the prospect of the voyage if all they did was focus on the grim and bleak. A lot of the cheerfulness came across to me as stiff-upper-lip strategies to avoid going mad.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:42 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't stand watching any of the Treks but have spent untold hours reading episode summaries and associated backstory. I'm not skilled enough at criticism to determine whether it was the acting or the writing that I found so off-putting, but sometimes I imagine a Trek with believable dialogue and actors who do more than just pretend to talk to each other.
posted by The White Hat at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never could get into DS9, though

It's easier if you assume that it's, ahem, actually just a role-playing game that Geordi is DMing for the TNG crew.
posted by cortex at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


entropicamericana: "I only really like TOS and the reboot. Should I report to a camp somewhere?"

Those are really the only Treks that I like (Assuming that you include the first four movies as part of TOS too).

Oh and the animated series.
posted by octothorpe at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think people could cope with the prospect of the voyage if all they did was focus on the grim and bleak. A lot of the cheerfulness came across to me as stiff-upper-lip strategies to avoid going mad.

perhaps you haven't actually watched Battlestar Galactica? This is (now) well-plumbed depth in televised science fiction.

(BSG won a Peabody award, even.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:49 AM on June 20, 2013


One of my favourite bits about BSG's bleakness were the moments where they could temporarily relieve it. Very small moments of happiness could lighten up an entire episode and you would feel genuinely happy for the characters.
posted by ElliotH at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I really wanted to like Voyager. I liked the concept and Mulgrew is a decent actress and I though she could pull it off. Tried it for a few seasons, but man it started to drag and never recovered by the time I quit bothering with it.

I will say I lasted longer with it then Enterprise, I think that was all of 4 or 5 episodes, and I like Scott Bakula.


By far, the best part of Voyager was Jeri Ryan's Seven-of-Nine. The series ratings went up 60% after she joined the cast in Season 4.

Yeah, I can bet where most of that ratings "bump" came from... sheesh. Again, not a bad idea and Ryan may be an okay actress but good grief was that ever blatant.
posted by edgeways at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best thing about BSG was that by the end of the first season I seriously wanted President Roslyn to adopt me.
posted by The Whelk at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those are really the only Treks that I like (Assuming that you include the first four movies as part of TOS too).

I'd omit IV and include VI, but sure.

I just watched III for the first time in years on Netflix last week. That movie is so underrated, there's so many great character moments and each actor has their moment to truly shine. And that scene where the big E enters stardock for the last time. Wow.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I forget exactly how many photon torpedos an Intrepid-class ship is outfitted with, standard - a brief googling suggests 40, but Memory Alpha is silent on the subject. But that's the sort of thing that the show should meticulously track. Every time they shoot one, it's gone.

Any discussion of Voyager's photon torpedo complement reminds me of one of my parents' bbq parties, where my ex's super hot best friend was present and talking up her love of Star Trek. All my brother's super nerdy friends were shocked to see a gorgeous woman into Trek and were tripping all over each other trying to impress her with talk of continuity errors including said counting of spent torpedos throughout the series. It didn't work.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Phlox. Stupid fuckin' Phlox.

Yeah, with Phlox the writers took the annoying aspects of Neelix and combined them with the arrogant hauteur of the holographic doctor. It's no wonder he mainly spent time with his experimental test creatures in the lab.
posted by aught at 7:56 AM on June 20, 2013


Aw, but "The Chute"! The Chuuuuuuuuute!

Although, really, that should've been written by Tom Fontana...then it would've been somethin'.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:56 AM on June 20, 2013


By far, the best part of Voyager was Jeri Ryan's Seven-of-Nine.

Even so, the character is emblematic of the misfires and failed potential that characterize the show as a whole: after three series with iterations of Pinocchio Who Wants To Be a Real Boy (Spock/Data/Odo), we finally have a character who is not human and has no use for them. This was some of her dialogue during her first appearance:
"When your captain first approached us, we suspected that an agreement with Humans would prove impossible to maintain. You are erratic, conflicted, disorganized. Every decision is debated, every action questioned, every individual entitled to their own small opinion. You lack harmony; cohesion; greatness. It will be your undoing."
At last, someone willing to put a different spin in things, and who doesn't think the Federation is the ginchiest. If the writers had held her to this point of view for longer than the closing credits of that episode, it might have restored some of the dramatic tension that the show so desperately needed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


(wow, a Star Trek discussion. The Internet sure has come a long way)

It even has a back button now!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, with Phlox the writers took the annoying aspects of Neelix and combined them with the arrogant hauteur of the holographic doctor.

"I have created... A SPACE PATCH ADAMS!"
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "I was a fifteen year old Trekkie when VOY was airing. I never loved it, like I did DS9, but I enjoyed it (I dig anything with Vulcans, and the doctor was great). Until they forced the show's focus onto Seven. It wasn't her character--I actually found that compelling--but her costume, the obvious male fanservice. I had the sudden, striking sensation that this wasn't for me, something I'd never felt with Star Trek before and have only rarely felt since, mostly with the reboot and that containment gel scene in the pilot of Enterprise. It's funny because I was fine with a scanty jumpsuit on Troi, and I'm fine with character sexuality generally, but it just seemed so blatantly a ratings grab, and antithetical to her character, so rankly alienating that I stopped watching it completely.

Maybe it was just the kid in my pre-calc class who wouldn't stop talking about her tits. Dunno. Have heard that she grew into a compelling character past the point where I stopped watching, and I believe it, but it's hard to get over that memory of suddenly feeling very out of place watching something you previously enjoyed.
"

I was a bit older. Voyager turned me off in the first season with it's egregiously bad science, and poor logic in general. (Creatures "evolve" into something that can't breathe the atmosphere they're in. A species with male-female reproduction can only have one baby per female, etc.) I'm a sci fi fan, and I can take a lot of bad science in the service of the story, but there are limits. Every time they claimed to have a science consultant for the show, I always wondered "Where? Wrapped in duct tape in a closet?"

I'd been about to try the show again when they brought in Seven of Nine, and I didn't even bother. All of the things that were wrong with the show, and they thought the problem was not enough T and A? They might as well have painted hetero male audiences only! everyone else go away! on the advertising. I have also heard that Seven turned into a really great character and salvaged a lot of the show, but the blatant pandering made me not care enough to find out.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The characterization in DS9 was just SO FREAKING GOOD. Right from the first episode, you know who these people are, what they bring, and then watch them grow and change. (I love watching Jadzia become more fun-loving, as she gets more in touch with her past lives.) The writers were so in tune with the characters that when they make a huge change to the backstory of one of them, on a series rewatch it still fits!

(Quark: The line must be drawn here! This far, and no farther!)

VOY, on the other hand, was all over the place. Much has been written about how Mulgrew thought Janeway must have mental problems to be so inconsistent.
posted by BeeDo at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh and the animated series.

The Alan Dean Foster adaptations of those are nothing short of amazing - he takes three episodes of wooden often-none-too-interesting Trek and combines them into novels with cohesive narratives that actually work.
posted by Artw at 8:07 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The characterization in DS9 was just SO FREAKING GOOD.

Except for Jake. It's a shame, really, because the writers tried, but Cirroc Lofton wasn't a very good actor and was never quite able to make Jake feel real, even as they made Nog into a vital, interesting, textured young man.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I started rewatching voyager a bit ago and I'm finding I actually like Tuvok's deadpanning quite a lot. I get the sense that even though he is your quintessential hardass Vulcan, he's been around long enough to understand humans, and enjoys tweaking them just a little.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just watched a DS9 episide that alternated between Worf and his son and Ferengi heavy intrigue On the station and it DIDN'T suck. Truly a wonder.

Nothing can be done for Jake though. Writer, whatever.
posted by Artw at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2013


Tuvok knows the pain of Neelix more than anyone.
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like I need to check if you're all sporting goatees now- it seems like the males here can't get past the bad writing and wasted potential of a TV show about the first female space captain, females are focused on 7 of 9's outfits (which seem less skimpy than the ones worn in TOS but that's a low bar).
posted by Challahtronix at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't really remember Voyager all that well, but I'm actually watching it right now. I'm nearing the end of season 1. My impressions so far:

* The Doctor is one of my favorite characters in the entirety of Trekdom.

* I'm digging Janeway, except for her voice, which for some reason grates on me sometimes. But ignoring that, I'm liking her a lot. One thing in particular I like is that they actually show her using her stated background as a science officer. Virtually all Trek characters, including captains, obviously know their science inside and out, of course, but Janeway's always more proactive about it than other captains. She often announces that she's going to run an analysis on the blah blah blah to determine if perhaps blah blah blah, and unceremoniously takes over some science station from some unnamed ensign.

* I like Chakotai. Not much to say about him really, but I like him. Some of the "HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT CHAKOTAI IS AN INDIAN" stuff is a bit cringeworthy. Not all of it -- I'm down with his heritage being an important part of his life -- but stuff like Paris saying to him something like "Don't you have any special Indian magic to turn into a hawk and fly us out of this hole?".

* Neelix, yeah, mostly annoying, but he's got his occasional moments.

* Paris is just so weird as a character. The first episode or two, he was set up to be The Bad Boy Who Never Plays By The Rules. He soon became Obedient Officer Who Happens To Have A Personal Life That Star Trek Writers Think Is What The Personal Lives Of Cool People Must Be Like.

* Torres is kind of the same way - they set her up as Loose Cannon Who Is Always Either Beating Someone Up Or Struggling Against Herself So As To Avoid Beating Someone Up. Then she suddenly becomes Obedient Officer. She's OK, though. It's just weird how they suddenly sterilized her.

* I kind of like Kim's boring everyman routine, actually.

* I am embarrassed to admit that I have a TV-crush on Kes.

* I'm rubbed the wrong way by a lot of the setting, and the crew's interaction with it. I don't know how to describe it in general, but a couple examples:

* * Wait a minute here, this alien spaceship that's putting the Voyager in serious danger is owned and operated by the people who a minute ago you showed living in some hut and being concerned with nothing but their struggle to get water? They are able to take the time out of their busy dig-up-roots-and-squeeze-out-the-water schedule to make spacefaring vessels capable of competing with the best from the Federation?

* * You're telling me they can't find one civilization that's willing to charge up their engines a little for them? Or to donate or even trade for a few seeds for edible plants? They have to beam whole scads of people down to some deserted planet to scavenge for seeds?
posted by Flunkie at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


the males here can't get past the bad writing and wasted potential of a TV show about the first female space captain, females are focused on 7 of 9's outfits

So.. uh what does that make me? Complaining abut both.

My god I'm secretly Jack Harkness.. no wait, shit got my gender and fictional universes mixed up again.
posted by edgeways at 8:27 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like I need to check if you're all sporting goatees now- it seems like the males here can't get past the bad writing and wasted potential of a TV show about the first female space captain, females are focused on 7 of 9's outfits (which seem less skimpy than the ones worn in TOS but that's a low bar).

Yes, but TOS was written in the 60s. By the time, TNG rolled around, we had men in skants. It was hard to view the stilettos and HI I HAVE BOOBS jumpsuit as anything but regressive.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not the Trekkiest Trek. It's the Lost in Spaciest Trek.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:29 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


perhaps you haven't actually watched Battlestar Galactica? This is (now) well-plumbed depth in televised science fiction.

Totally different animal. Applecats and Orangedogs. But if we're going to make comparisons, yes, the constant, unrelenting, horseflogging angst of BG did become pretty tired to me after a while. The first season was the best.

It's easier if you assume that it's, ahem, actually just a role-playing game that Geordi is DMing for the TNG crew.

BRILLIANT!>
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2013


it seems like the males here can't get past the bad writing and wasted potential of a TV show about the first female space captain

I actually really like the idea of Janeway, and think Kate Mulgrew definitely can do awesome Starfleet Captain well. But the show never gives her a chance to really be awesome.

I mean Kirk defeats a massive angry space lizard with nothing but his wits and natural resources, and is Captain Kirk. Sisko holds off a Cardassian battlegroup with nothing but 6 photon torpedoes and nerves of steel. Picard... basically Picard carries TNG for 7 seasons. But I can't think of any "moments" for Janeway... and that makes me sad.

I mean if there are some, please tell me, because I definitely want to watch those episodes.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2013


Challahtronix: "I feel like I need to check if you're all sporting goatees now- it seems like the males here can't get past the bad writing and wasted potential of a TV show about the first female space captain, females are focused on 7 of 9's outfits (which seem less skimpy than the ones worn in TOS but that's a low bar)."

On the other hand, the TOS miniskirts were reasonably close to clothing real women wore at that time. I don't know anyone outside of fetish communities who go around in skintight rubber catsuits, corsetry, and incredibly high heels. Even so, it was less the outfit itself and more the advertising around it, which was very much in the vein of "Hetero boys, please come back and watch the show again. We're adding cheesecake for you! Hetero boys like cheesecake, right? We're all about the cheesecake here, really. Please watch our show, hetero boys!" There was nothing about exciting storylines, interesting concepts, good character development, quality acting, just cheesecake, which was pretty alienating to anyone but the target.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's be clear, we didn't have men in skants for long. Nor on a lead character.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 8:32 AM on June 20, 2013


I liked Janeway. I had no particular feelings either way toward Kim. I liked Torres before she got boring and suicidal. Seriously, I did not know you could make an episode about suicide ideation completely boring and unengaging. And speaking of mental health, there is Janeway's one episode depression. Man, this show tried so hard and failed so hard. Klingon!Torres was cool. I wish she could've stayed around.

Chakotay was mostly boring. I liked Kes. I also liked Seven. The Doctor was mostly annoying. Oh, and mental health again. How exactly does a computer program have a mental breakdown? Paris was ok. Tuvok was great. Neelix was mostly just there.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2013


I seem to remember reading an article about Voyager back when it first started, in which they talked proudly about the fact that in order to get a "fresh" take, they had deliberately hired writers who had never worked on any Trek before and also were not allowed to review episodes, scripts or other details from the prior shows - they had a source book that outlined the Federation and immediate history of the crew, and that was it.

And I instantly understood why I disliked Voyager, despite it being a fascinating premise - the writers were too busy trying to figure out the universe they were in, and were busy recycling old plot lines and story ideas from prior series because they had no clue that was what they were doing; they thought they were being fresh, but in fact they were treading down several paths that the fandom had seen before.

Anyways, great series idea that really never got a hold of what it could have been. As someone said upthread, the show should have had more Consequences; the episodes where they did have Consequences, they got sidestepped in the last minutes by a time travel plot or alternate universe scenario.
posted by nubs at 8:35 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's be clear, we didn't have men in skants for long. Nor on a lead character.

But they were there. And when you're thirteen and spend hours absorbing your Art of Star Trek, it makes a pretty significant impression on you about what the future is supposed to look like and feel like when it comes to equality of the sexes.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:35 AM on June 20, 2013


Voyager once met a small herd of starship-sized interstellar animals, with one extremely large member. They determined it was the male of the herd.

Because they'd never seen these animals before (which is also true of every new lifeform they encountered, ever), they deduced these animals were an endangered species.

Then, the male began head-butting Voyager, and they deduced it must be a mating ritual. Yes, it was preparing to hump Voyager.

Janeway's response: We don't dare do anything to hurt this precious, possibly endangered species, so flip the spaceship over on its back and submit. And (presumably) think of Britain Star Fleet.

--

THAT is what this author described as "most feminist show in American TV history:" one that advocated submitting to rape to avoid endanger the precious attacker.

THAT episode is alone reason enough to hate the entire series.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Karmakaze Heck I was a (mostly) hetero teenage boy and the blatantness of the 7 of 9 pandering still felt kind of insulting.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was nothing about exciting storylines, interesting concepts, good character development, quality acting, just cheesecake, which was pretty alienating to anyone but the target.

I was in that target, and it still wasn't enough.
posted by nubs at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2013


Voyager has what is probably my favorite episode in all of Star Trek, Tuvix, in which Tuvok and Neelix, upon returning from a routine mission, have a transporter accident and are fused together, rematerialized within a single hybrid humanoid organism. The catch is twofold. First, that the resulting hybrid being, Tuvix, is cooler than either of his progenitors, essentially with all the good aspects of their personalities and none of their bad ones. Second, that after some time passes, they figure out that they can bring back the originals, Tuvok and Neelix, but only by killing Tuvix outright, via death by transporter disassembly.

The episode explores the morality of the situation and its possible resolutions.

For extra credit: Discuss President Barge Hulker O'Bash.
posted by xigxag at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


it was less the outfit itself and more the advertising around it, which was very much in the vein of "Hetero boys, please come back and watch the show again. We're adding cheesecake for you! Hetero boys like cheesecake, right? We're all about the cheesecake here, really. Please watch our show, hetero boys!" There was nothing about exiting storylines, good character development, quality acting, just cheesecake, which was pretty alienating to anyone but the target.

I was in that target group -- at least by that definition -- and that marketing push was what made me finally stop watching the show, which has always made me wonder who was watching it at that point. It felt to me at the time, anecdotally, that they picked up new viewers at the cost of existing viewers, but I haven't seen (nor bothered to look for) any actual evidence to back that up.
posted by cjelli at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2013


Watching The Captains now... Bill Shatner is the creepiest uncle ever. The constant touching...
posted by fatbird at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love, love the setup of Voyager and clung on watching it hoping against hope...but by the time I dropped it, I loathed it so much that to this day if the Space channel starts showing it I have to rush to switch the channel to stop exploding in loathing and rage.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2013


Please watch our show, hetero boys!

The addition of 7of9 was actually when I stopped watching. Stunt casting at it's most pandering, I thought.
posted by bonehead at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I knind of expected this whole thread to be a wasteland of moderator comments summarily banning angry trekkies and hinting at deleted nuclear exchanges.

Voyager is my favourite of the Treks.

My favourite Janeway moment was her anguish at the beginning of Night.
posted by zoo at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Voyager was television by committee.

"Hey, let's make a show!
"All right!"
"But first, let's make sure we're checking all the right boxes."
"Yep! We need a female captain, some ethnic characters that aren't too ethnic..."
"Let's make the one obvious white guy a spoiled, disgraced rich kid."
"Admiral's son?"
"Fuck yeah."
"Female Klingon?
"Damn straight."
"We gotta make sure she's not just a 'security officer.'"
"Right. Don't want to be too obvious about our reverse stereotyping."

It's interesting to note that when the Battlestar Galactica remake came about, which checked the same boxes, none of this felt forced. Starbuck wasn't the only female pilot, Adama didn't talk about his proud, once-oppressed Caprican warrior/philosopher heritage, etc.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:48 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


With Voyager, the fanboys would have to learn how to live without a default male lead to identify with, a hero in Kirk/Picard/Riker mode. They would have to learn to identify beyond gender, and the challenge didn't end at the captain's chair. Along with Mulgrew's fascinating, maddening Captain Janeway—bullheaded; childless by choice; at once doctrinaire and impulsive---the showrunners gave us a prickly/brilliant Chief Engineer named B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) struggling with her biracial half-human Hispanic, half-Klingon identity.

Oh come on. You can type this, but it doesn't make it true. None of this had anything to do with me (anyway) not caring for Voyager, and, on a more theoretical note, it bugs me that the intellectual atmosphere is such that people just get to assert this kind of stuff without proof nor defense. If this sort of thing mattered to me, I probably wouldn't think that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the most awesome show of all time. Which I do. (What, I'm going to identify with poor Xander, who the show took pains to humiliate at every turn? Well, there's Giles I guess...)

In fact, part of what drew me to ToS was the hint of a future in which white (human) dudes weren't the only heroes. (And one of the things I dislike about ToS is that Kirk basically does end up doing everyfreakingthing anyway.) The interesting composition of the Voyager cast of characters was a strength, not a weakness.

I could be unrepresentative, I guess, but I'm skeptical.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 8:48 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


cjelli: "I was in that target group -- at least by that definition -- and that marketing push was what made me finally stop watching the show, which has always made me wonder who was watching it at that point. It felt to me at the time, anecdotally, that they picked up new viewers at the cost of existing viewers, but I haven't seen (nor bothered to look for) any actual evidence to back that up"

I was a hetero teenager and I remember being insulted by how pandered-to I felt. I had only watched Voyager a bit up to that point (preferred DS9), but 7of9 was pretty much the final straw. I figured the producers didn't respect anyone in the viewing audience, and I quit. I'm glad to find I wasn't the only one who did so.
posted by barnacles at 8:49 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The addition of 7of9 was actually when I stopped watching. Stunt casting at it's most pandering, I thought.

It absolutely was, yet Jeri Ryan turned out to be a very capable actor who made 7 of 9 one of the most interesting characters. The whole repeating Pinocchio angle was best served in her character. With Data and Odo, you had writers using the 'outsider trying to become an insider' making for lazy observations on the human condition. With 7 of 9, you had an outsider on the inside struggling to rationalize her choice, in comparison to a viable alternative. Data and Odo never seriously considered simply not becoming human.
posted by fatbird at 8:50 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


"I have created... A SPACE PATCH ADAMS!"

That does explain the theme song, at least.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2013


I really liked voyager except for one major issue. My favorite character (the doctor) is also what destroyed the show for me. By including a sentient hologram, the writers then made other stories about sentient holograms (fairhaven, etc), and that's where they painted themselves into a corner.

Because the federation has to deny rights to holograms. Easily created people with rights are a threat to any democracy. So in any story about holograms, where we sympathize with the holograms, Janeway as federation representative has to be the villain.

In ” measure of a man” picard prevents androids from becoming a slave race. In ”flesh and blood” janeway turns holograms into one.

The captain as villain is what messed things up for me. I can't watch season 7 at all because what the writers do (and have to do) to janeway's character upsets me too much. Even the hints of what is coming in any earlier season jameway/doctor interaction greatly diminish my enjoyment of the show.

what I liked about tos, TNG, and even enterprise was the optimism. I liked the message of ”we can be better” with federation officers as role models, who struggle, but still do the right thing. Voyager reverses that and turns the federation into oppressors, which I don't enjoy.

I acknowledge that the topic is important and voyager is fulfilling it's social commentary role, and I acknowledge that the dark take on the topic is legit and that many petiole enjoy it, but I don't. For personally, I prefer the optimism. YMMV.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


 there's Giles I guess...)

The power of Tweed compells you
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


(phone post so sorry about typos)
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:59 AM on June 20, 2013


I think, even ignoring the HERE ARE SOME TITS aspect of 7, there's the basic issue of character redundancy arising from adding a Borg crew member into the mix. Voyager already has a cold, emotionless, monotone crew member; there was already a crew member struggling with being partially human. And on and on. It's an interesting idea, but it would have worked better on DS9, and, you know, not in the form of a metal eyebrow on some cheesecake.

Personally, I started tuning out around the time the Babylon 5 -looking meanies arrived, but the very last straw, where I actually decided never to watch again, was Q Junior. What the actual fuck.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on June 20, 2013


Adama didn't talk about his proud, once-oppressed Caprican warrior/philosopher heritage, etc

Nah Bill Adama comes from a Tauron mob-family. In the BSG-verse Taurons are stereotyped as either mobsters or dirt farmers.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Whelk ( I content TNG was basically Mister Rogers for older kids, a nice beige world where nothing too awful happens).

I agree, and this is exactly what I liked about TNG. Other people can like black-and-grey and that's OK. I don't judge. But happy beige is what works for me.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


OTOH (second-thinking my first comment), if it really is true that males disliked Voyager out of proportion to its not-goodness, that would require some kind of explanation...

But I don't know whether they did or not.

[Italics added in edit]
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2013


The Whelk - The best thing about BSG was that by the end of the first season I seriously wanted President Roslyn to adopt me.

Season one Roslyn, sure. Later seasons, well... didn't clean your room? AIRLOCK'D.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:14 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


one that advocated submitting to rape to avoid endanger the precious attacker

You went straight from "let's let this non-sentient being rub up against our impervious space vessel rather than shoot it" to full-bore rape advocacy? That seems like kind of a weird thing to hang your hat on as your chief beef against Voyager.

A dog tried to hump my leg once, and I didn't murder the shit out of it. Didn't even kick it. I hate to think what that makes me.
posted by Shepherd at 9:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Because the federation has to deny rights to holograms. Easily created people with rights are a threat to any democracy.

I think the examination of the rights of created beings in the Federation is one of the most under-utilized story ideas in the history of the show.

As you mention, in TNG, the rights of Data to exist and be an independent and separate being are fought for and recognized. The rights of holograms to similar recognitions are denied on Voyager, which seems complicated in light of the decision about Data. This is not to even start to re-open the can of worms around the loose ban on genetic engineering in the Federation, and their likely ability to (if desired) create a whole new biological entity from scratch.

And what about the rights of the ship's computer, which appears to be a borderline (if not a full) AI?

If the society in the Federation is capable of creating a being as complex as Data (even if he is the apex of that science), then it surely must have created many lesser-Datas on the way - androids with incredibly strength or abilities, but not with Data's cognitive functioning abilities, although with some level of intelligence...what of their rights? Where, exactly, does the Federation draw that line between machine and being?
posted by nubs at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


The biggest problem with Voyager was it's rollercoaster inconsistency.

When it was off you got Janeway giving someone five-in-the-face to prove her STARFLEET CAPTAIN bonifides (also the reason Sisko punches Q), or humanfish (Fish? We end up as fish, not big, glowy, floating brains, but fish??).

But when it was on, It was on like King Kong. 8742 ( the ICK starts with 3, count 'em 3 legs and wet looking skin. ), Meld (Brad Dourif as a Vulcan-breaking Star Trek Serial Killer!!!!), and the 5 race consortium (that's the hard core SF that I came to Trek for).

so, yeah, it had its problems, but overall, it was worth sticking with.
posted by djrock3k at 9:27 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the BSG-verse Taurons are stereotyped as either mobsters or dirt farmers.

Yes, but those are professions, not ethnicities. There were "white" Taurons and "African-American" Taurons and "Hispanic" Taurons and "Asian" Taurons.

While there inter-colonial prejudices were used as plot points, nobody in BSG wore their race or gender on their sleeves.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:27 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where, exactly, does the Federation draw that line between machine and being?

The line must be drawn HYEAH! This far, no further!

I'm sorry.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:31 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is what blew me away:

But while fan consensus seems to have swung around during the last 18 years

18 years ago? Jesus.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


But since returning to Earth always seems quite feasible, why would the family need to be there?

I assumed it was a work-life balance thing, combined with gentle progress towards abandoning planets as residential environments. That and it was a primarily human ship explaining humans to other species, so as far as diplomatic endeavours it was saying "Here is our species. We like to make nice with other species and work with them and we really care about our romantic and familial relationships. Much of our species way of thinking and being revolves around the means under which we make little humans or use the bits that make little humans."

Plus, it was a post scarcity society with very few meaningful jobs. This way everyone who wants to play space explorers gets to come while the competent people run the cruise and don't actually cause godlike life forms to eat the cosmos, etc...
posted by Phalene at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The entire premise of Voyager was flawed.

1) Ship gets whisked away by remote space station.
2) Turns out they can use that space station to go home.
3) Also, they have to blow up the space station or some local people get conquered (or killed or whatever).
4) They decide to stay around and blow up the station instead of going home. Because they can't rig a torpedo to go off on a three minute delay and go home and let the station blow up as soon as they leave, even though they can create anything they want out of thin air and time delays have been standard on bombs since at least WWII.

I never liked the show after that.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:48 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just want to say... after Man of Steel, ST: Into Darkness looks a lot better as a faithful steward of the source material. I'm going to forgive the Enterprise underwater bit, as it's no Pa Kent in a tornado.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:52 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Halloween Jack had the best diagnosis of what went wrong with Voyager a while back.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:52 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still recall being very excited by the prospect of DS9 and then being profoundly disappointed by the result.

Voyager was a step up the ladder, although not by much. Where it trumped DS9 is, you know, actually being about Star Fleet. There's a lot to be said about the design element of Star Trek, which was almost completely excised from DS9. Then again: Neelix.

I've recently been watching Enterprise and found myself actually enjoying it more than first time around. Again it's a clever concept that they don't quite manage to pull off (trying to join up the dots between the designs of Enterprise with the campy yet futuristic versions in TOS is a tough job), but I like the idea of imposing restrictions on things like warp speed and weapons and exploring the early Star Trek universe.
posted by panboi at 9:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Star Trek in some form has always been on TV when I was growing up, and I'd seen all the movies in the theatres with my folks, but Voyager was the first series I gave a crap about enough to watch all the way through twice+, take from that what you will.

Voyager had some cornball ass episodes, and even I would joke about how many episodes climaxed with some unholy mess/mutation/disease/death/etc and then once the tension is over, we come back to commercial with said castmember in sick bay with the HoloDoc kinda waving a flashy thing at them like "Ah. That should do it."

I think the article makes the points I'd like to about it being a ST with a pro-feminist streak, which is what stood out to me upon my second watch-through. I won't say that the lady captain / "cheesecake" is what rubbed Trek fans the wrong way, but focusing on THIS PARTICULAR Star Trek series being corny or heavy-handed is always strange, considering the first 3 seasons of TNG are right there.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:01 AM on June 20, 2013


By far, the best part of Voyager was Jeri Ryan's Seven-of-Nine.

Ugh. Two-of-fanservice was when Voyager really went from crap to desparate.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:01 AM on June 20, 2013


Data and Odo never seriously considered simply not becoming human.

Dude, there are huge stretches of DS9 that are all about Odo sniffing angrily about Federation life and mooning over how he wants to join his people.

Anyway, a lot of people have already said how I feel about Voyager's wasted potential. I'm a little miffed that the linked article is trying to make the haters sound like they were hating because the show was woman-focused or exceedingly different, rather than just being kind of samey and poorly-written.

I still remember when my household got the TV guide issue about Voyager, and how excited I was to read the descriptions of the characters prior to watching the show. The Doctor, in particular, was utterly fascinating to me, and I loved the idea of a half-Klingon woman as Chief Engineer. I was SO READY to love this show, but man, it was... just... not good.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


Voyager wasn't great TV, but I still enjoyed parts of it. Enough to watch to the end, which is more than I could manage for Enterprise. One aspect of Voyager I enjoyed, and which I'm surprised no one's mentioned yet 134 comments in, is Tim Russ' great performance as a Vulcan.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pecan pie.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the society in the Federation is capable of creating a being as complex as Data.

Not. They didn't not create more Datas because of ethics, they simply were unable to. He was the product of the mind of a mad engineer of sorts. As was his 'evil' 'twin', Lor.

He was unique, he was an individual more than the sum of his parts. Though he could not reproduce or be reproduced (never mind the Data's Daughter thing), he was unique, and sentient enough to be allowed to be a member of the crew, not just hardware; I would like more thought on how that got from here to there, though.
posted by tilde at 10:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to say... after Man of Steel, ST: Into Darkness looks a lot better as a faithful steward of the source material.

They actually appear to like the source material, for a start.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Odo never seriously considered simply not becoming human

Odo doesn't just consider it, that's his final choice in the series. He spent the whole show in love with Kira, fighting his people, and once he gets the chance, he goes back.

Two-of-fanservice

She really did end up one of the better parts of the show.
posted by spaltavian at 10:18 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh my god Pruitt-Igoe I've only seen that episode once to my knowledge and the way she says Pecan pie is burned into my brain.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:18 AM on June 20, 2013


Yeah, Tuvok was pretty great. I thought he was a bit squandered, in ways, but it was the first attempt at fulfilling what Star Trek: Phase II was supposed to do with Xon. They tried again in Enterprise, but they turned that into sort of gobbledygook. Anyway, I like the idea of a Vulcan who has no desire to be human at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:21 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


They didn't not create more Datas because of ethics, they simply were unable to. He was the product of the mind of a mad engineer of sorts.

I get that Data was a unique breakthrough in terms of his positronic brain, but for every mad genius capable of that breakthrough, how many others were creating androids of more limited function than Data?

How many androids are in the ST universe carrying out menial labour or dangerous jobs, and at what point in their development do they become worthy of status is kinda my question.
posted by nubs at 10:25 AM on June 20, 2013


Battlestar Galactica is the show Voyager was meant to me. The writer of Voyager was so frustrated that it wasn't, that he quit and wrote Battlestar Galactica.

I actually think SGU was more inline with what was hyped about Voyager before it launched. I think BSG is certainly the show that came out of Moore's frustration with Star Trek universe as controlled by Paramount. Some of same concepts are there but I think BSG's overarching theme is different from Voyagers. My point was strictly that the most interesting idea of the Voyager concept was completely forgotten and we got a watered down version of TOS.
posted by kipd at 10:25 AM on June 20, 2013


Dude, there are huge stretches of DS9 that are all about Odo sniffing angrily about Federation life and mooning over how he wants to join his people.

Grumpy Pinocchio is still Pinocchio. He didn't want to join his people, he wanted his people to join the Federation philosophically, and not be fluid supremacists, and his return to The Great Link pretty explicitly involved rationalizing it as a means to bring them around to his perspective, not an embrace of theirs.

The real underlying bias of the entire narrative universe was captured in a conversation between Garak and Quark, where Quark pours a root beer for him and asks what he thinks. Garak says it's cloying and sickly sweet; Quark says "just like the Federation", and the most insidious part is that, after a while, you like it. DS9 was, for me, the best Trek because it most consciously questioned that premise.
posted by fatbird at 10:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


How many androids are in the ST universe carrying out menial labour or dangerous jobs, and at what point in their development do they become worthy of status is kinda my question.

That was never really addressed. Even in its somewhat successor, StarWars and other "future movies" that's not even really covered significantly; there seems to be little to no will built into the droids and they aren't a lot of capable of being and functioning nearly as independently as Data.
posted by tilde at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2013


Which is why I think it's a wonderfully rich, untapped vein of storytelling for ST - it puts some big questions into play about what sentience is, and how the Federation deals with the emergence of it from their technology and tools.
posted by nubs at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2013


MetaFilter: a nice beige world where nothing too awful happens
posted by Gelatin at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now it's time for another Good Idea, Bad Idea.
Good Idea : Strong female captain in a Startrek series.
Bad Idea : Your viewer's High School principle as captain in a Startrek series.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:36 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"bare minimum check cashing performance" there should be a picture of Robert Beltran

Compare and contrast his performance as the title character in "Eating Raoul", occasionally chewing the scenery, which eventually returned the favor.
posted by gimonca at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many androids are in the ST universe carrying out menial labour or dangerous jobs, and at what point in their development do they become worthy of status is kinda my question.
Wasn't there a TNG episode about that? Some research station on a far-off planet was using specially designed robots to, I dunno, dig in some dangerous tunnels or something. Data did some investigation, reported, Picard had an "Are you saying they are showing signs of perhaps being life forms, Mr. Data?" moment, head scientist refused to believe it, and a horrible accident was averted due to one of the robots apparently consciously deciding to sacrifice itself for the greater good. Admonitions and shame ensued, followed by emancipation, and the Enterprise flew with full power from the Self-Righteousness Engines.
posted by Flunkie at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Here is our species. We like to make nice with other species and work with them and we really care about our romantic and familial relationships. Much of our species way of thinking and being revolves around the means under which we make little humans or use the bits that make little humans."

These are the voyages of the Star Ship B Ark.

Consider just how many times they have an episode flash back to earth, or have someone time-travel to earth, or get a signal to earth

SG:U did the same thing with the home-phoning body swapping bullshit, didn't it?

Now that I think about it, SG:U was in an awkward place between Voyager and BSG that didn't make much sense. They set up the drama as if they were in the BSG situation (running, hiding, lots of fear and internal strife) but they were really in a Voyager situation (lost, surviving, exploring). It had other problems but I think trying to mix those two incompatible things made it basically not work. If you were intrigued by the setting, the characters were a disappointment. If you liked the characters, their reasons for doing things didn't add up. It wound up just looking like a bunch of assholes being stupid in space.
posted by fleacircus at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


From TFA:

What Trek fans who dislike Voyager are feeling might not actually be hate. It may be more like an aggravated fear verging on outright panic that a type of TV heroine that that they thought had been eliminated or marginalized in the years since the series ended won't be forgotten, and could rise again.

Oh, please.

I dislike Voyager because it was bad. Neelix was, indeed, the Jar-Jar of the franchise. Tom Paris was ridiculous—supposedly a bad boy, but he always seemed more like a Boy Scout, and whoever decided that he was going to be obsessed with 1950s Americana should have been fired, rehired, fired again immediately, then dragged into an alley and shot. Chakotay was a corny and borderline offensive stereotype. Harry Kim was blander than cornflakes. Seven of Nine, though one of the more interesting characters, was treated with such blatant and gratuitous fanservice that it was embarrassing. Et cetera.

I would love to see a Trek series with some good female leads—Kate Mulgrew was among the better actors on the show, but (like other aspects of the show, as others have already observed) her character had a lot of potential that was just never realized.

Overall, the whole thing just felt so dorky and milquetoast.

Or, you know, I just feel threatened by Strong Female Characters, and I want to eliminate them, lest they give anyone the idea of getting uppity and smashing my beloved patriarchy. I guess that could be it, too.

I AM ON THE INTERNET AND I HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT STAR TREK
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:52 AM on June 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


I've been thinking lately about Enterprise and Voyager as the bookends to Star Trek, with the greater story being about the rise and fall of something like Starfleet's golden age. Beginning in Enterprise, the journey out of Archer's naivete was also the journey through the initial development and modifications of Starfleet values -- sure, Archer tortured a guy, but he was also discomforted by increased militarization of the Enterprise. In TOS, Starfleet lived its cocky, expansionist adolescence. By TNG, Starfleet had matured with negotiation as its weapon of choice, still, however, retaining the ability to beat the shit out of anyone if necessary, mainly through its ties to the Federation and the Federation's dominance of the area's research industries; this comfortable position also saw the seeds of Starfleet's decline -- too many crazy admirals back in San Francisco threatening to shift Starfleet's core values. In DS9, Starfleet is finally faced with a seemingly unstoppable military threat and feels it is forced to resort to genocide; meanwhile, on the station, Sisko has Romulan ambassadors assassinated. Finally, Voyager shows how much more difficult and worse off they end up by attempting to adhere to Starfleet idealism -- following the rules drove Janeway to become a crazy admiral herself, ready to steal a ship, fuck with time, and leave a transwarp conduit open for the Borg to head straight to Earth. It follows, then, that Star Trek Online takes place 20 years after Voyager in a violence riddled Federation, now, again, at war with the Klingons and the Orions, still at war with the Romulans, constantly pillaged by pirates, and fully infiltrated by both Species 8472 and Section 31.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


When your empire is in decline, everything looks like a rise-and-fall narrative.
posted by fleacircus at 11:12 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Or, you know, I just feel threatened by Strong Female Characters, and I want to eliminate them, lest they give anyone the idea of getting uppity and smashing my beloved patriarchy. I guess that could be it, too.

That this is, obviously, not true of everyone who disliked the show does not mean that it was not true of a great many people who did. Whatever your personal reasons for disliking the show it is clearly true that there was a strong sexist backlash against Voyager in the fandom based solely on the fact that having a woman captain a starship was unpossible.
posted by yoink at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son and I are embarked on a mission to watch every single Star Trek TV episode and movie ever made. We are 473 episodes in--which is to say we just watched the season finale for the second season of Voyager.

Honestly, I think a lot of the Voyager hates comes from overestimating the other Star Trek Series, all of which have been radically uneven in quality. There are a ton of terrible episodes of the Original Series--as well as of STNG and DS9. And honestly, there have been very few good actors in any of the series: maybe Nimoy in the OS; Stewart and perhaps Spiner (Data) in STNG; Meany (Chief), Shimerman (Quark) and Robinson (Garak) in DS9; and Picardo (the doctor) in Voyager. The rest of the combined crews of the Federation star ships could not act their way out of an interstellar brown paper bag. We remember the best episodes and forget the many stinkers.

So far my son and I are enjoying Voyager--and we just finished the infamous second season. Janeway is not as interesting a captain as Kirk or Picard, but she is at least as compelling as Sisko. Neelix does have a Jar Jar thing going for sure, but is bearable. A lot of episodes have the patented Star Trek "big moral question for college sophomores" thing going on--see for example the episode Tuvix, in which Janeway has to decide if she can destroy a new being to recreate the two old ones who went into making it. (She does, and moral ambiguity of the ending is Star Trek at its best.)
posted by LarryC at 11:21 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Artw: Tuvok knows the pain of Neelix more than anyone.

Cheer up, Mr Vulcan! A steaming bowl of my Telaxian Vomit Gumbo will have you feeling better in a jiffy!
posted by dr_dank at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


honestly, there have been very few good actors in any of the series: maybe Nimoy in the OS

You. Me. Phasers at dawn.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's worth remembering that Voyager was expected to do as well as TNG and DS9 did in syndication, but actually be an anchor show for UPN too. Those kind of financial and network pressures can lead shows to be very syndication friendly. This is one reason why there were more standalone shows and relatively few arcs - shows are shown in different orders in syndication to capitalize on better ratings for some episodes.

Also, with production staff starting to acquire decades of experience, I can't imagine that they'd still have original engaging ideas, not with 22-26 episodes a year.

It was a decent show with a mostly decent cast, and probably too much wear on the franchise tires.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:36 AM on June 20, 2013


The article is funny because one of the better things about Voyager WAS Janeway. It's didn't fail so badly because of her, but because of ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE.
posted by edgeways at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Tuvix" and "Threshold" by themselves put Voyager beyond redemption.

But also, as several people have pointed out above, some of the science is just god-awful. Even knowing that Trek is not "hard" sci-fi, there are still some blatant problems. See for example "Latent Image," the episode where the Doctor undergoes a mental breakdown over guilt about not being able to save two wounded crewmembers at once. Really -- there wasn't enough computing power to run two iterations of the Doctor at the same time? (See also the Doctor giving verbal commands to the ship's computer, which has to be a horrdenously inefficient way for two computers to communicate.)

A few nits from the article itself:
And that was it. No Starfleet hijinks, no strutting around the galaxy, just 150 or so people stuck together for life.

That would have been great. Instead we got the crew of Voyager -- along with the Maquis, who were too easily assimilated to Starfleets norms -- dicking around the galaxy. How many episodes involved them meddling in the internecine conflicts of various Delta Quadrant societies, with seemingly little to no benefit for the crew? Let's not forget the Delta Flyer's participation in the pod-race "Antarian Trans-stellar Rally," which seems like a giant waste of time and resources for a ship and crew in such a precarious position.

This series wasn't built around officers that could project military force, which is itself essentially masculine

I am not a fan of military force, but isn't this statement in and of itself a bit... essentializing? The argument that a world ran by women would be puppies and rainbows seems sexist to me (and seems to imply reciprocally that men can't be sensitive and nurturing).

I think Janeway could have been a better character and Kira and (Jadzia) Dax were excellent characters on DS9, IMHAMO (in my humble admittedly male opinion).

the kinds of spiritual engagements that frequent Voyager scripter Ronald D. Moore

LOLWUT. Moore was thoroughly disappointed with Voyager when he moved over there after DS9, given the lack of solid characterization in the series.
posted by dhens at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, Even the guy who wrote "Threshold" has apologized for how bad it was, and it's been more or less stricken from canon on account of it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2013


TNG was awesome because the writers would recklessly introduce technologies that would absolutely destroy the universe if taken to their logical conclusions. Like, how was holodeck addiction not more of a thing? I mean, you could have sex with _anyone_you_wanted_to_. "Hi, I'm a 14-year-old boy. I'm going into the holodeck now. See you again in, like, 20 years." Also? Given that you have transporters, tractor beams, holodecks, and materializers, why would you need a ship? Couldn't you do everything remotely, like with drones and stuff? And with a level of technology so advanced that nobody ever stays sick or injured, wouldn't that make everyone essentially immortal? But, no matter. We didn't care. We loved it! It's still amusing to load it up on Netflix and watch Great Society-era idealism defeat the evil Space Republicans episode after episode. I don't even mind the Psychic Ship's Counselor Who Can Only Sense the Most Bleedingly Obvious Emotions. (and why exactly is she on the bridge, anyway?) The only real problem with TNG is all the screen time given over to throwing around technobabble. To this day, I can't figure out what they were trying to accomplish there. So much time spent sitting around a conference room explaining pseudoscience. Maybe it was an attempt to throw a bone to the hard sci-fi nerds? It's kind of embarrassing to watch. Who gives a shit how the ship works?

As for BSG ... ugh, there's a wound that will never heal. I've thought of rewatching it right up to the point where they escape New Caprica, but ... it's just too painful. If they had just planned from the beginning to make it a 3-season series, it could have been one of the best shows in the history of TV, sci fi or not. But man, talk about a show that went downhill with a quickness. The finale was so bad, it made the rest of the show suck in retrospect, causing fans to invoke the term 'retsuck'. But even prior to the finale, the show had become a pointless, directionless whodunit. I mean, final five? Really? Kara Thrace returns from the dead? Seriously? Whatever happened to "they have a plan"? What made the show so compelling to begin with was this overriding sense of urgency, which just kinda ... fizzled, in favor of limp religious imagery and plot twists that would make M. Knight Shayamalan roll his eyes. It's really too bad, because it really was a great premise, ditching all the technobabble and impossible technologies, focusing on the characters and introducing some really really great hardcore female protagonists.

Maybe someday someone will get sci fi on TV right, and there's a part of me that holds out the hope it'll take place on a ship called the Enterprise.
posted by evil otto at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just watched 7 years worth of Star Trek: Voyager over the course of about a month, and what I've been telling everyone is that it is an amazing show. But not a good show. It has some of the worst writing I've ever subjected myself to, and through the course of the past month I feel I have truly come to understand the nature of suffering. It is still an AMAZING show.

To address a few points made sofar.

Holographic Rights
This is, I would say, the primary leitmotif of the series. They're constantly turning over and over the idea that these holograms (nee AIs, or programs) are a lifeform with rights, and it gets to a point where they're calling them photonics (as opposed to organics). It's a confused jumble of a progression though; Janeway seems to go through the same development arc over the course of an episode--rejection, impatience, annoyance at the idea, but by the end she's promoting holograms left and right--only to apparently forget all this and do it over again the next time it comes up.

There are some great moments here, despite this inconsistency (and it's not a planned kind of wringing of hands and values--it's the schizophrenic outcome of not having purposed, deliberate narrative that rules all the episodes). So they don't take a stand the way TNG does with Data, but there is an episode with a trial (over a publishing contract dispute... which I thought was hilarious), and they leave the ending open in a very Star Trek fashion in the direction of progress. The great moment being, all of the Doctor's counterparts, which we learn in a different episode have all been superseded by better programs, reassigned to mining dilithium, passing along his treatise on holo-rights the way you'd pass contraband.

Harry Fucking Kim
I think I need to pause here and reflect further on this because I think it'd be pretty easy to just put on the angry asian man hat here. Like a smart nerdy guy who can't get laid OR promoted for 7 years, is the "bad boy's" literal sidekick, plays the clarinet for chrissakes... I mean can this guy BE any more of a stereotype? They have a scene where he is talking to his disappointed asian parents and they're asking him why he's not the captain yet!

He's basically the Geordi of Voyager, where Geordi is the guy the viewer is supposed to relate with because he's like a super talented engineer dude but he's totes awkward with the ladies (RINGING ANY BELLS, AUDIENCE??) except he's in charge of the whole freaking department and everyone reports to him, and his best bro is an AWESOME ROBOT and they go on adventures and oh by the way he's black AND disabled, nbd.

Meanwhile Harry is literally the supporting character even when he's fucking around on the holodeck. So we have Geordi whose character is a walking refutation of dominant racial stereotypes, and then we have Ensign Kim who is nothing but stereotypes.
posted by danny the boy at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sudden vision of him trying to snog that Gorn...

I want to use the phrase "snog that gorn" as much as possible now.
posted by foonly at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sisko holds off a Cardassian battlegroup with nothing but 6 photon torpedoes and nerves of steel.

OK, gotta correct that one. It is Kira that makes that bluff, and in the very first episode too. Kira is awesome.

Also, I'll state my apparently lone opinion that Jake was great. It is true that he might be the least great character on the show, but that's praising with some very faint damnation. His best episode may have had him played by a different actor, but you could really feel the connection between Ben and Jake, Brooks and Lofton.

Jake is also part of this, which I dare thee to top:

Nog: It's not my fault your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement.
Jake: Hey - watch it! There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.
Nog: What does that mean exactly?
Jake: It means... it means, we don't need money!

Aaaaaand just to keep this a bit on topic, I once read that Voyager always made Janeway The Female Captain, whereas DS9 never made Sisko The Black Captain. (DS9 was amazing in this regard, because it never made him The Black Captain, but it never ignored or forgot that race relations haven't always been rosy. The episode where Sisko, Dax, and Bashir go back in time on Earth specifically references the different treatment a white woman and two non-white men receive when found laying on the street. And then there's Far Beyond the Stars, which looks like it may always be the best episode of any Star Trek series.)
posted by BeeDo at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shepherd: one that advocated submitting to rape to avoid endanger the precious attacker

You went straight from "let's let this non-sentient being rub up against our impervious space vessel rather than shoot it" to full-bore rape advocacy? That seems like kind of a weird thing to hang your hat on as your chief beef against Voyager.

A dog tried to hump my leg once, and I didn't murder the shit out of it. Didn't even kick it. I hate to think what that makes me.
The difference is: you probably didn't submit to it, either. And the dog wasn't bigger than you, actually threatening you (they weren't certain the ship would hold).

Hey, if you'd be OK with submitting to forceable sex with an animal physically larger than you and may potentially kill you, I won't judge you. Rule 38 applies. But this was no peek-a-poo humping a trousered leg. (Also, shooting it was not discussed; rather, they considered electrifying the hull to make themselves untouchable.)
posted by IAmBroom at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm not all that familiar with TOS, and I stopped watching Enterprise after the episode where they bring a Klingon onto a prototype holodeck, fire up a simulation of Qo'noS, and he says "I can see my house from here!" (seriously, fuck that), but I've seen every episode of TNG at least twice, most episodes of DS9 at least once, and I'm currently working my way through Voyager on Netflix.

The 10 best episodes of Voyager are, if not as good as the 10 best of TNG, at least in the same league. (The 10 best episodes of DS9 were playing a different game altogether.) The 10 worst episodes of DS9 are about as bad as the 10 worst episodes of TNG. But the 10 worst episodes of Voyager are some of the worst television I have ever seen in my life.

Also: Jeri Ryan might be one of the best non-bald actors TV Trek has ever had. She single-handedly made Seven of Nine the most complex character on the show: she was arrogant, cold, and frequently unlikable, but Ryan played that as a defense mechanism covering a deep well of vulnerability, disorientation, and ambivalence about her journey back to humanity.

Much in the same way I find Matt Smith utterly convincing as an 1,100-year-old alien in a 30-year-old human body, Jeri Ryan sold me on Seven having the practical intelligence of the entire Borg Collective but the emotional intelligence of a six-year-old. More than any actor on that show who wasn't Robert Picardo, her performance carried all but the very worst writing they landed her with—and she did it all wearing that bullshit costume.
posted by Zozo at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


The episode where Sisko, Dax, and Bashir go back in time on Earth specifically references the different treatment a white woman and two non-white men receive when found laying on the street.
Was this really a specific reference? I mean, I know "two non-white men were treated differently than a white woman" happened, but I don't know that it was specifically meant as "non-white men are treated differently than white women", and I don't know that it was explicitly pointed out as such.

In fact, that didn't even occur to me until I read your comment. I have always thought of that more as "pretty woman found by a lonely man is treated differently than two men found by an overbearing jerk cop and his overborne tired partner".
posted by Flunkie at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2013


BeeDo: Also, I'll state my apparently lone opinion that Jake was great.

I always liked Jake, if only for the fact that he represented those who may not think STARFLEET IS TEH BEST EVAR! in terms of a career. I think something focusing on "civilians" in the Star Trek universe could have great promise, though it would take a fair amount of bravery to put it on the air.

Also, IAmBroom, which episode are you referencing? I am a bit hazy on the later seasons of Voyager so it's not ringing a bell.
posted by dhens at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2013


I mean christ, Harry Kim was the only Asian on the bridge staff since 1969. Compare and contrast.
posted by danny the boy at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2013


Hey, neat! I've actually in the midst of watching Voyager for the very first time; I just finished the episode with the Maquis mutiny that turns out to be a holodeck program, and at this point I am fully on-board with the idea of Voyager as Worst. Trek. Ever. because the writers/producers of the show seemed terrified to actually take any chances with plot or character development. The faux-mutiny episode is emblematic of this.

When I saw Chakotay getting his insurrection on, I had a twinge of hope that something about show's setup might change in some significant way. The fact that what should have been the most interesting shipboard dynamic -- Federation/Maquis tension -- ended up being so de-fanged as to only be approachable through a holodeck program neatly encapsulates the static nature of the show.

It was fine for TOS to have people ramble through space without much meaningful character development, because that was their mission and because the main characters (Kirk, Spock, Bones) started out as flamboyant and the supporting cast got to play stock characters that were revolutionary at the time for just existing (a Black Woman! A Russian! A nationality-less Asian!). Voyager, however, was conceived with a built in epic story arc, which turned out to be no more a driver of the characters/plot than TOS "mission to seek out..," leading to whole seasons that were little more than monster-of-the-week followed by monster-of-the-week filler. Even Voyager's seasonal arcs were little more MotW tales where the monster stuck around a bit longer.

Voyager also suffers because it is the Trekkiest trek since TOS, or really more that it took the beige of TNG and cranked it up to grey. The Federation, by design, is full of bland teacher's pets, the kind of squeaky-clean over-achievers that makes you want to punch them in the face and steal their lunch money. It's wish-fulfillment -- the nerds now run the world -- but the Rodenberry maxim that Starfleeters can have no conflict between themselves automatically strips the characters of any real human drama. I have a theory that every Trek show features an emotionless Vulcan/Android just so the other characters appear human by comparison. (It's telling that Voyager's crew, ended up being outshone by those foils.) Also why Trek shows have a token non-human/non-Star Fleet character as well, so at least someone can react to things in a normal human fashion, despite being an alien. Which is why Neelix is clearly the best character on the show, compared to the bland cardboard cut-out around him, he's downright Shakespearean.

I disagree with the article, is basically what I'm saying.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was this really a specific reference?

You are right, that's what I get for reading Memory Alpha while I watch the show. It was actually something Ira Behr said in the DS9 companion:

■ Ira Behr also states that there is a subtle examination of racism in this episode. When Dax is discovered, she is treated like royalty, but when Sisko and Bashir are found, they are treated like criminals. Of this situation, Behr says "the simple fact is that a beautiful white woman is always going to get much better treatment than two brown-skinned men."
posted by BeeDo at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean christ, Harry Kim was the only Asian on the bridge staff since 1969.<>
Point of Nerdorder: Sulu's daughter was helmsman on the Enterprise B (at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations).
posted by Flunkie at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2013


Voyager had its moments. 7/9 almost worked. Ryan is as talented an actress as she is a beautiful woman. Too bad about the costume she had to wear. Mulgrew is a very talented woman. The plot lines dripped with missed chances: the conflict with the Maquis was one that could have made for good drama. Chakotay ought to have been a stronger counterpoint to Janeway. He was lower on the military totem pole, and more embroiled with tactical thinking, she was the political entity, more in touch with the civilian branches of the government. They both were made moot by the displacement of their ship, and had to think about how they and their crew were going to spend the rest of their lives. You get BSG, only with one ship. Great idea, too bad it wasn't a movie instead of a made-for-TV-series.

For the record: I can't find the Voyager episode where everyone but Neelix realizes they are related to Chakotay. Also, I was disappointed that nobody figured out that recalibrating warp core frequencies would let them open a worm hole back to Sector A.
posted by mule98J at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2013


Wasn't there a TNG episode about that? Some research station on a far-off planet was using specially designed robots to, I dunno, dig in some dangerous tunnels or something...

Yep
posted by Avelwood at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2013


People have strong feelings about Voyager? I didn't realize that was possible--the most I could ever feel towards it was apathy.

As for Data being unique, I do wish that they'd at some point during the show mentioned how the original Enterprise crew managed to defeat scores of androids on multiple planets and what happened to all of the technology that created them...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 10 best episodes of Voyager are, if not as good as the 10 best of TNG, at least in the same league.

If you, or anyone else in this thread, would like to make a short list of the best Voyager episodes, I would appreciate it greatly!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2013


fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit: "As for Data being unique, I do wish that they'd at some point during the show mentioned how the original Enterprise crew managed to defeat scores of androids on multiple planets and what happened to all of the technology that created them..."

If fan fiction doesn't already exist where we discover that Harry Mudd was Noonien Soong's ancestor, somebody should get on that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing that most turned me off about Voyager happened when 7 of 9 showed up, but it wasn't her. After they terminate their alliance with the Borg, they had all of these enhancements that the Borg had added that they just ... removed. They had some B.S. about the original systems working better than the Borg bit, which is basically cutting against all of what the Borg are about, but really the idea that this ship that was lifetimes away from resupply would be able to just throw away these resources in favor of keeping a SFX model looking the same as it did before the episode was really distilled essence of the difference between what Voyager was doing vs. what Voyager should have been doing.
posted by ckape at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


On Harry Fucking Kim:
Admittedly, I didn't watch Voyager all the time (because I also didn't like it that much), but I did watch more than I would have if it wasn't for Harry Kim. Asian people on TV were few and far between, and I appreciated his presence even if he did play the clarinet. He was a regular guy and kind of useless, but it was nice that he wasn't some chop-socky overachieving sort. That was my impression, anyway.
posted by emeiji at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember, early in Voyager's run, getting really excited when Janeway and Torres get all caught up in trying to solve a scientific problem together. Two women, talking to each other about something that is not men but is instead something important that they are both very capable in and passionate about.

I do feel the show squandered its promise in many of the ways that have been mentioned up-thread. Just the way everyone's uniforms were still pristine a couple of seasons in, instead of patched, or partially replaced by civvies as they wore out.
posted by not that girl at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I'd just like to remind you all of one of the middling episodes of TNG Season 8.
posted by ckape at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Asian people on TV were few and far between, and I appreciated his presence even if he did play the clarinet.

I parsed this sentence wrong and for a second I thought the clarinet was a character on the show. Like, "And featuring: Garrett Wong as...The Clarinet."
posted by not that girl at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The article suggesting that I disliked Voyager because I can't handle a strong female, minority, or non hetero white male heroic character is almost as insulting as Voyager's showrunners thinking the viewing audience was too dense to handle the complex story arcs that would have fit perfectly with the shows initial premise.
posted by kzin602 at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Star Trek: Voyager

Jeri Ryan
posted by 256 at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2013


You guys I have like a billion more things to say about Star Trek: Voyager, but let it be known it is the origin of my favorite gif ever.
posted by danny the boy at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neelix. I always liked him and Odo, but I've been fans of them since Soap.

This confused me, as neither appeared on Soap ever, but it appears you meant the Soap spinoff Benson.

Anyway, I didn't actively hate Voyager, but I was often disappointed by it, particularly the reset-button plots (although it wasn't always the plots per se but the rushed denouements and conclusions). Seemed to be consistent enough to be an artistic choice.

Yeah, execution left a lot to be desired. Robert Picardo was fun, but I personally reject the assertion that he was an actual intelligent, autonomous being. I felt it was more interesting if he were just a program operating within extraordinary parameters. Tuvok was pretty good, but I felt Torres was too mannered, and Chakotay too dull (making Kim ... uh, his name was Kim, right?). The less said of Neelix and Kes the better. Seven of Nine, though, I thought was a fantastic character, and provided a needed counterpoint to Janeway -- and not just in a character sense, but in a questioning-the-premises sense. Again, this was more evident as an idea than in execution, but I think it became one of the best aspects of the show overall, catsuit be damned.

I can accept both many of the criticisms of the show as well as some very worthy points in the article here.
posted by dhartung at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2013


They didn't not create more Datas because of ethics, they simply were unable to. He was the product of the mind of a mad engineer of sorts.

When I finally get around to writing a listicle of Common Sci Fi Tropes That Don't Make Any Sense, "killing the big scientist" will definitely be in the top three. Data's irreproduceability is in the same league as that part of Terminator II where they try to kill the scientist that invented terminators. In real science, it's incredibly rare for one scientist to be so far ahead of the rest of their field that their work cannot be reproduced. Scientists are always publishing their work; that's part of what makes them scientists. This scenario is made even more implausible by the apparently limitless resources and knowledge Starfleet could throw at the problem. And why is it exactly that there's no way to reverse-engineer Data without killing him? I think the whole thing was just a way to introduce an interesting character without having to deal with the repercussions. See again : introducing concepts and technologies that, taken to their logical conclusions, would probably destroy the universe.
posted by evil otto at 2:44 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


And why is it exactly that there's no way to reverse-engineer Data without killing him?

Seriously. Data seemed pretty knowledgeable about his own inner workings; you'd think they could just plug in a printer and get a hard copy of the plans.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you, or anyone else in this thread, would like to make a short list of the best Voyager episodes, I would appreciate it greatly!

For me the highlights were the "big idea" stories, like:

Blink of an Eye, in which the crew encounters a planet where time moves forward one year for every minute on Voyager. So they can sit back and watch civilizations rise and fall.

Year of Hell, where Voyager does battle with a "time ship" with the power to change the past and re-set history, causing entire worlds to appear and reappear at will.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2013


So much time spent sitting around a conference room explaining pseudoscience. Maybe it was an attempt to throw a bone to the hard sci-fi nerds? It's kind of embarrassing to watch. Who gives a shit how the ship works?

The writers may not have been thinking of it in exactly these terms, but this is an example of Sanderson's First Law: "An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic." The more the bridge crew discusses technobabble in the conference room, the more we feel like they live in a consistent, predictable universe where the problems they face are problems they themselves can solve. If they don't spend enough time on expospeak, (or if the expospeak is contradictory from episode to episode), the resolution is unsatisfactory.
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


What is needed right now is a Star Trek series where the Federation -- infact, all of the "peer" civilizations in all the earlier series -- are confronted by a civilization that is one step further along the scale of power (e.g. not just able to wield the power of a planet, but able to wield the power of a sun) and are told that for reasons of [whatever] that this galaxy is the only one we've been allocated and are permitted to use and that we are all going to have to figure out how to get along on the finite, limited resources that are here without blowing everything up or killing each other off, because TPTB don't let war-prone or "cancer-like" species out of their home galaxy.

That's because biggest problem we face right now as a species is learning how to deal with our own planet as a limited resource. In the 60s we needed to learn a lot about how to get along with each other. Fifty years, and three billion people later, we need to learn how to make do with what we have.

(The Q are not this bigger power. In fact, whoever TPTB are, they need to be completely off stage, and the first season needs to be basically about the Federation, and other civilizations, discovering the limits we've been given through clues found in ruins &c.)

Call it Star Trek: Civilization or something.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:18 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I see where you're going with that. I guess what it comes down to for me is I genuinely _do_not_ care how the ship works. I care about the characters and how they respond to extraordinary situations. All that conference room talk just makes me think of boring meetings at work.
posted by evil otto at 3:20 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm not a huge trek nerd (I even liked the new movie I just saw, even if it's just Alt Universe Trek Where Everyone is Heroic*), but why does a ship which has a replicator even need anything other than raw materials to be stocked? You can make photon torpedoes or food or even a shuttle or warp core or whatever whenever you need, as long as you have the energy and raw materials.

My biggest gripes about any of the new series is the holodeck; it's just an excuse for cutesy episodes and lazy writing.

I too liked the Seven character, though the outfit was ridiculous. In a way, it would have been more interesting if the show had been on cable and Jeri Ryan just walked around naked, the idea being her character had no concept or need of clothes (why would the borg?). The skin-tight suit was stupid. Something utilitarian would have been a lot more compelling.

* Every hit on the enterprise showed tens or more crewmen being killed. In a crew smaller than a modest-sized high school, this would be devastating, you'd know all of the people involved. And yet it affects the bridge crew not-at-all.
posted by maxwelton at 3:22 PM on June 20, 2013


Oddly enough, a lot of the nuggets of stuff that made Seven into an interesting character, including the above suggestion that she wouldn't really see the need for clothes , would be fully developed in BSG with the varring degrees to which the Cylon embrace or reject Human Thoughts And Ideas And Feelings.
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2013


To reiterate my question: What is the Voyager episode in which the alien attaches itself to the ship which IAmBroom mentions? Google is failing me (or I am failing at Google...)
posted by dhens at 3:38 PM on June 20, 2013


And why is it exactly that there's no way to reverse-engineer Data without killing him?

Plus, he's pretty robust. What was the episode where they go back in time and manage to leave Data's head there?

Then later they can only retrieve it in the future (because, reasons) so that Data is now walking around with a 500 year old head or something.
posted by panboi at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2013


If you, or anyone else in this thread, would like to make a short list of the best Voyager episodes, I would appreciate it greatly!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:16 PM on June 20 [+] [!]


Den of Geek recently did a piece on why the 4th season is the best of the Voyager seasons and mentions a few other stand-out episodes. I recommend Year of Hell as well, although it seems a shame that the big selling point for that episode is Kurtwood Smith rather then any of the regular cast.
posted by saffry at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2013


> What is the Voyager episode in which the alien attaches itself to the ship which IAmBroom mentions?

Elogium, the space creature thingy is overshadowed by the fact that Kes enters HyperPuberty in the episode, in order to beat us over the head with the fact that Kes & Neelix are in like, a super-serious relationship. Also to bring up that Voyager is a completely unsuitable environment to raise children, an issue that is pretty much ignored when one of the crew goes ahead an gives birth.

IAmBroom got it a bit twisted though, the creature wasn't trying to mate with Voyager, it was trying to chase of a "sexual rival." As soon as the ship goes "beta," the smaller creatures detach and the big space thingy goes away.

Now, if you really want poor handling of feminist issues by Voyager, watch "Blood Fever," where Ensign OtherVulcan goes into Pon Farr and mind rapes B'Elanna, who then goes into Pon Farr herself and tries to go all Germany on Tom's Paris. This gives him a chance to drive home the very important point that having sex with women who are messed up on drugs alcohol mind melds is not OK. The message then gets completely tossed away because it gets decided that Tom and B'Elanna MUST have sex, OR SHE WILL DIE!

This is, of course, averted by having B'Elanna and NotTuvok fight it out, because apparently that's all it really takes. Anyway, the take away is that rape is totes understandable because hormones or something; they just can't help themselves! Also, sexing up drugged women is also OK, because they really need the sex!

It's basically an episode that tried to make some big important points about consent, but was unfortunately written by someone who didn't actually give a shit about that theme.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:29 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I felt that Voyager was a disappointment after DS9, and the voice of Captain Mrs. Columbo grated on my ears. But there were some good episodes mixed in there.

"Computer, Delete the wife." might be my favourite Star Trek line ever.

I'm not sure it's the same episode, but the one where the hologram-doctor has an imaginary holodeck-family ("I've changed the settings to make it more realistic") turned out to be surprisingly interesting.

But really, I would like a glimpse into the alternate universe where Genvieve Bujold is the captain of Voyager, it sounds fascinating..
posted by ovvl at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2013


Genvieve Bujold is the captain of Voyager

Perhaps my greatest regret about Voyager. It's funny: I don't like Kate Mulgrew as Janeway, but Janeway was easily a complete, substantial character when so many other Voyager characters weren't. Some author or other said "you don't have to like a character, but you have to respect them," and that's Janeway: I didn't like her, but I respected her a fully-realized entity in the Star Trek universe.
posted by fatbird at 4:38 PM on June 20, 2013


You know what forget all my blah blah. I'm going to save you from watching 7 seasons, just look at these:

- The happiest little ship in the fleet
- The Doctor, doctoring
- the theme song
- Seven gets wasted
- Neelix, Neelixin'
- Kes, oh doing Kes stuff I guess
- The Doctor, explaining the birds and bees
- The Doctor, inside of Seven's Body...
- Which resulted in this.
- Tuvok: Smile!
- The Doctor's mind wanders
- And finally, the infamous Janeway and Paris lizard people episode.
posted by danny the boy at 4:38 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


BTW, here's a little taste of the captain that might have been.
posted by fatbird at 4:39 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I salute everyone who gave Voyager a try -- I can still remember my teenage disgust at the first ep, when finding out that they had to make the female captain's (yay!) surname Janeway. I don't know how to explain it, but the realisation that somehow the female captain must have a 'feminine' surname felt to me so patronising I nearly stopped. But I went on... until the next (?) episode with the Chakotay's spirit animals and I gave up.
posted by cendawanita at 4:39 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Two hundred comments in on the subject of Voyager sucking or not-sucking and still nobody at all has yet mentioned:

* The Fucking Kazon, or
* Fucking Seska, or
* The demotion of the Borg.

PS, From here in Ireland: you can do the bullshit paddywhackery and diddly-aye bollocks if you really have to, but for fuck's sake at least have actual Irish people doing it instead of some twat from Iowa or whatever who once saw a fucking advert for Lucky Charms. Wankers.
posted by genghis at 4:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Only sci fi show with Sarah Silverman on it.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:11 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Voyager was the Star Trek I grew up with, and I hated it. It took an awesome premise - a ship, stranded far from home, must negotiate with hostile crewmembers and explore the uncharted reaches of the delta quadrant! and made it bland.

Which again makes it the Trekkiest Trek.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2013


And yes, TOS is the best and only Trek.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2013


i recently re-watched the voyager episode "the void." it's one of the best star trek episodes ever.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:10 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can still remember my teenage disgust at the first ep, when finding out that they had to make the female captain's (yay!) surname Janeway.

She always made me think of the deep-discount Jamesway department store we shopped at as kids. Folks called it "Junkway."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:45 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm in the process of watching through Voyager. It's hard.

The thing that really bothers me is this: Voyager is a dictatorship. Janeway is a dictator. They know the voyage will likely last 75 years, ie longer than they can expect to live. Do they set up representative government? Do they form a committee to consider grievances? Is there any consideration to the stresses and frustrations of those low rank workers who suddenly find themselves forced into a lifetime of (relatively) menial labor? No. Not at all. Janeway just remains in command as if everything is normal. And everyone is just fine with it.

I know why the writers did it. They just wanted to tell fun stories about a normal starship. But it bugs me. It shows a lack of even basic concern for their own premise.
posted by meese at 9:08 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


/Rembered stupid ass politics episides of BSG.

You know, maybe that's for the best.
posted by Artw at 9:10 PM on June 20, 2013


Hey, at least Jeri Ryan can act. I really loathed T'Pol, the hideously flat acting, sour faced, ugly-ass fake Seven of Enterprise like mad. Quit watching that show basically because of her. (Not that it was terribly good otherwise, but....god, she sucked.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:31 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Janeway just remains in command as if everything is normal.

It's of a piece with the inevitability of a relatively timely return home, though. Voyager was averse from the word go of embracing the idea that basically everyone on the ship (except maybe for Tuvok and Vorik, and actually I basically loved Vorik as a recurring bit character) would be dead before they could possibly get home, assuming it would even make it home, even though that was in theory the central premise.

It's just not very Star Trek to doom your entire cast to death from (if they're lucky) old age out in the wilds of the galaxy; you threaten them with that but then resolve it at the end of the episode. If you really want to sell the drama, you stretch it over a two-parter on a season finale and season opener. Voyager could have bucked that and really committed to the premise, but it didn't and that's not super surprising regardless how disappointing it is.

If there's no serious threat of spending 70 years in space instead of 7, there's no serious threat from maintaining status quo and following your Captain's orders. Just about nobody on the ship ever had a proper nervous breakdown or philosophical revolution about their dilemma, which is part of why it was hard for the viewer to really get behind it.
posted by cortex at 10:46 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not the case that everyone would necessarily be dead. Medical technology is better in the 24th Century than it is now, and people live longer then than now. McCoy, for example, was shown to be alive at age 137.
posted by Flunkie at 10:55 PM on June 20, 2013


Fair, at least assuming their medical supplies and tech hold up over the decades as well. Feel free to sub in "thoroughly geriatric".
posted by cortex at 11:19 PM on June 20, 2013


Eh, I don't think even "thoroughly geriatric". Kim, for example, is like 21 at the start. So he winds up in his early nineties; forty, fifty more years to go before reaching the age at which McCoy was thoroughly geriatric.

But even that doesn't tell the whole story: Kim was born about 120 years after McCoy was born. It doesn't seem unreasonable that that extra 120 years of tech would make his expected lifespan significantly longer than that of McCoy and his contemporaries, just like people born today are expected to live longer than any of us are expected to.

And even though Kim is admittedly the best case scenario (or close to it), it's not like he's at or near the cutoff. Even Janeway, who presumably is among the oldest of the human crewmembers, is only late thirties or early forties.
posted by Flunkie at 11:39 PM on June 20, 2013


I had similar reactions to Enterprise. How can you play a Vulcan and act badly? I don't know, but arching your back all the time for no logical reason is probably one way. Seven was awesome because she was a well developed character. The only thing I remember about T'pol is that I think she was always pouting.

But I liked Voyager. Although TNG is my favorite series, the episode "Revulsion" is currently my favorite Trek episode. The actor who plays the hologram freaks me the fuck out and I am always excited when I see him in another serial. He is the Tooms of Star Trek.

And also, that Sara Silverman episode is wicked awesome even though it's totally fake because Tuvok doesn't crack any jokes like a Vulcan would if they were in the 20th century.

And also the Doctor is cool, his character is as if not more developed than Seven's in this series. And also it has Barkley! And also The Rock was in it! Before he was an actor*!

I think I need to lie down.

* You know what this asterisk is for.
posted by chemoboy at 1:49 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can still remember my teenage disgust at the first ep, when finding out that they had to make the female captain's (yay!) surname Janeway

I don't get that, but then I grew up in a town called Janesville -- named after one Henry Janes. And really, there are plenty of famous-ish men with the last name Janeway -- the origin of which, surprisingly enough, is an Anglicisation of "Genoan" or more cognatically "Genovese". But the most famous contemporary Janeway may be the feminist Elizabeth. (Apparently they changed the first name when network clearance found this out.)
posted by dhartung at 3:22 AM on June 21, 2013


People are still posting! What?

I loved Voyager and the last (two) episode(s) made me cry. Janeway for ever!!!!! My hero of heros.
posted by glasseyes at 3:29 AM on June 21, 2013


Weren't the last episodes the bit where Future Janeway pissed on the entire justification for stranding her crew and all of their sacrifices and suffering, ie the Prime Directive? And the Now Janeway just sort of goes, 'OK. I can beez admiral?
posted by biffa at 3:34 AM on June 21, 2013


"Half, Vulcan, half black?" That's a fail. Tuvok is a black Vulcan and Worf is a black Klingon like Drake is a black human from Toronto. Nothing half about it.

I don't care for Voyager much, but I've watched it recently and I think I like it a bit more with age. Some of the Issues episodes are painful, sure. Harry Kim's eternal ensignhood makes me sad. Seven of Nine's costume is ridiculous, though funnily enough, at 40 I have a more prurient reaction to it to suppress than I did in my 20s. The series works best with self-contained episodes, because miniseries underline the writers' lack of adventurousness and the general stasis they refused to abandon. This is a product of its time, though, when accessibility and the syndication cycle were a Thing. Nowadays, there's much more faith in viewers' ability to catch up.

Abrams' Trek is lazily plotted and seems to be running out of ideas already (Old Spock: "Young Spock, go watch the cool movie this is based on!") but from what I understand, is making money, and came with giving Bad Robot strong control of the property. That's a pity, because I think Netflix is probably the perfect place for a new Trek series. Apparently Enterprise has a chance of escaping this because of the way its rights were handled (there's a revival campaign -- see http://ca.ign.com/articles/2013/05/14/join-the-star-trek-enterprise-netflix-campaign) but honestly, my Trek was the TNG era, and it seems that any new development is devoted to wiping that away.
posted by mobunited at 6:05 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that really bothers me is this: Voyager is a dictatorship. Janeway is a dictator. They know the voyage will likely last 75 years, ie longer than they can expect to live. Do they set up representative government? Do they form a committee to consider grievances? Is there any consideration to the stresses and frustrations of those low rank workers who suddenly find themselves forced into a lifetime of (relatively) menial labor? No. Not at all. Janeway just remains in command as if everything is normal. And everyone is just fine with it.

---

It's of a piece with the inevitability of a relatively timely return home, though. Voyager was averse from the word go of embracing the idea that basically everyone on the ship (except maybe for Tuvok and Vorik, and actually I basically loved Vorik as a recurring bit character) would be dead before they could possibly get home, assuming it would even make it home, even though that was in theory the central premise.


I looked at it as the same as those WWII POW camp movies, or the series Colditz. The officers considered it their duty to keep attempting to escape and ignore the fact that the odds were against them ever doing so. Adhering to the strict militaristic procedures and chain of command was their way of keeping order and not giving in to the panic and despair of being lost and cut off from aid. The "stranded shipwreck survivors clinging to as much of their pre-marooning lifestyle as possible" has been a trope in literature and especially sci-fi for generations.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:11 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The actor who plays the hologram freaks me the fuck out and I am always excited when I see him in another serial.

Fun fact he also plays the Lust victim/perpetrator in Seven.
posted by The Whelk at 6:16 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


dhens: Also, IAmBroom, which episode are you referencing? I am a bit hazy on the later seasons of Voyager so it's not ringing a bell.
Don't recall - I quit watching shortly thereafter, and tried to forget the whole damn series.

Like Highlander II+, it was just a bad dream. Never gonna order anchovy and mango pizza after midnight again...
posted by IAmBroom at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2013


Voyager should have been *dark* and *bleak*, dammit.

Not really. It's still Trek.

Season 1 should have been a clash of idealists. The Federation lead by Janeway with the Prime Directive and not interfering until beyond reasonable doubt. And the Marquis lead by B'Elanna who do not want to leave one single wrong unrighted. And sometimes one is right, sometimes the other. And sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. But it should be about planets, dilemmas, and moral conflict. Also the rec room is notably more empty at the end of the season than the start - and two of the shuttlecraft they are using are alien designs.

At the end of Season 1, Janeway shatters in a compelling season finale that pushes her past her limit. She also holds the bridge codes and so can not be removed. And there's a ticking clock (or several of them). And a deathbed promise to someone. By the end of this she's happy to ditch the prime directive, but the Marquis have learned that looking before leaping pays off.

So with Season 2 it is now obvious to even the most deluded that Voyager can't make it home without help. Janeway shattered, and leads one of the two major factions in the dispute I'll call Conquistadores vs Traders. Chakotay leads the other one. Voyager is still the most powerful ship around - and this season is also about compromises with both sides primary goal being to get home. But what sort of compromises are they willing to make? Over the course of this season the crew slowly starts getting filled up by aliens needed to maintain Voyager. And the photon torpedos are all replaced.

The end of season finale is two part. The Borg being their unstoppable selves. It looks blacker than night by the end of the season finale, but there's a ray of hope. You have someone giving a final speech that they will sell their lives as dearly as possible and references to meeting in the afterlife. Elsewhere in the desperate and futile defence of the ship a few borg are going down although the fight is pretty one sided - the only reason any of the crew are alive is that the Borg are going to assimilate them. But the Borg are going down for a reason and to a pattern. Those adjustable Borg shields that block any shot the second time? Have one weakness. They only store three attack patterns at a time, and there are about a dozen different species and twice that many types of weapon held by the group psyching themselves up to sell their lives dearly. Foreshadowed but never made explicit so the final speech ends with the doors opening and the crew charging out into what looks like certain death.

Which leads to season three. The War Against The Borg. All Borg shields have that weakness; they choose only the best tech and expect to face only the opponent's optimal tech. It's political, it's messy, the conflict (other than against the Locutus equivalent - who should be the character who's made the fewest moral compromises so far and is generally the most sympathetic -probably Chakotay), and trying to create the necessary alliance to face the Borg is like herding cats. Do you try to save people who don't want to be rescued from assimilation or who want to go it alone? Even knowing they will attack you for breaching their interdicted zone? How many changes do you demand before they will help?

The end of season finale combines Big Epic Space Battles against an appeal to the humanity of the Locutus equivalent. Complete with the command staff and the Locutus' closest friends sneaking through the corridors of the Borg ship to bring them back to themselves, and disrupt the Borg link.

And Season four is the aftermath. What the people have done is effectively set up a Federation. And they know it. Most are homesick, and they aren't diplomats. But the big conflict here (other than over the entire colony of self aware borg and protecting them) is whether Voyager stays or leaves. Because if it leaves the whole Federation is probably going to fall apart. Voyager is the only neutral meeting space anyone has and are the only independents anyone trusts. So both the ship and the crew are needed.

The Finale is the Grand Finale. And rather than being the grand arc that all the rest were, it's about the crew splitting. Who stays and who goes. And the slightly insane plan the leavers have to leave - which involves using the self-aware Borg to hijack a Borg scout ship. High action in places and heartwrenching in others (at least one of the show's major relationships gets split over this decision).

The final scene is those of the crew of the Voyager who left appearing in the orbit of Earth. In a Borg scout ship, with the main Federation fleet present and immediately going to red alert. Fade to black.
posted by Francis at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


I loved Voyager and the last (two) episode(s) made me cry.

The other reason to hate on these is that Chakotay and 7 of 9 end up romancing. I just don't think that this is convincing when you consider that one of them thinks all expression of emotion is irrelevant, and the other is a borg.
posted by biffa at 7:04 AM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't get that, but then I grew up in a town called Janesville

For sure, I completely admit at that age my familiarity with Western names was still not as wide as it is now. Still, naming a character is a deliberate choice, and it's one that really really tweaked me, for some reason.
posted by cendawanita at 11:53 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched Voyager again recently on Netflix and it was not nearly as bad as I remember it being when it was on originally. They actually had some really interesting story lines but it bothered me that anytime the constraints of being stranded in deep space got in the way they just ignored them. Ship heavily damaged, no problem, back together back new. There was rationing on the replicators but that didn't stop them from creating elaborate holodeck programs. I think if Voyager had been less episodic and more arching storyline and had Ron Moore been allowed to make it what Battlestar Galactica later became Voyager would be remembered as the defacto modern Trek.
posted by helmsb at 12:03 PM on June 21, 2013


There was rationing on the replicators but that didn't stop them from creating elaborate holodeck programs.

I always assumed that anything created in the holodeck was just re-absorbed when the program ended.

had Ron Moore been allowed to make it what Battlestar Galactica later became

I don't see why there isn't room on TV for both approaches. Let Battlestar Galactica be what Battlestar Galactica became. Anyway, the dramatc and psychological differences between being cut off from your society and having your society destroyed are great and vast. I imagine that if England had blown up in the first few pages, Robinson Crusoe would have been an entirely different book.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:28 PM on June 21, 2013


Having been a TNG and DS9 fan and reading the entirety of this thread, what I gather is:

Voyager should have been FTL the series
Watch season 4

bout sum it up?
posted by The Power Nap at 3:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


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