Setting the Universe to rights in a few easy steps…

The Ups/Downs of Star Trek Voyager.

Okay, this will take the format of one ‘up’ point and then one ‘down’ point. I was inspired to do this by the Hero/Zero Up/Down formats found in PC Zone and PC Gamer magazines (UK editions, of course), so credit given where credit is due. These are just little niggling issues that I have with the show, like I’ve said before, its awesome but its not perfect, and its a nice way of showing that, despite my extreme partisan love for Voyager, I recognise that it has faults.

(I’m sure I’ll come up with more Ups/Downs, they will be added in due time).

UP:

New plots/storylines: The Brain in the Jar they keep at Paramount certainly does the job in coming up with fresh ideas.

DOWN:

Yup, some storylines are recycled. Some hostile spatial anomalies seem familiar, and a few of the storylines are rehashes of previous episodes. Though not always in a bad way, Season 6’s ‘Good Shepherd’ is far superior to ‘Lower Decks’. I have seen both, and Voyager’s is a much better story. And, like normal, they actually SHOW the action instead of pussing out at the end with TNG’s ‘oh btw, your friend got killed on the mission, god forbid we should actually show something exciting and perhaps even graphic on this show.’ That’s a cop-out.

WINZORZ:

The Hirogen. Damn, some of the most menacing aliens ever seen in Trek. I like the culture, the visual look of the aliens, the ‘prey’ doctrine that dicates much of their actions and ethics (or lack thereof). Oh, and not forgetting the big-ass guns they wield.

FAILDOGS:

Under-used after ‘The Killing Game.’ A cracking sci-fi yarn, and the Voyager crew did defeat them in the end, but I still think the Hirogen would have attacked the ship again, despite the losses they suffered during this battle. They are nomadic and have massive territories, we see them again in Season 7’s ‘Flesh and Blood’, a welcome return and another fine two-parter. Voyager has crossed thousands of light years between these two episodes, largely thanks to the events of ‘Timeless’ and ‘Dark Frontier’, but the Hirogen could have conceivably reached the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant in their endless search for prey. Still, we had them for a whole half of a season where they featured very heavily, and a guest appearance from a Hirogen in the mindless but fun ‘Tsukatse’, so its not all down.

HERO:

Janeway.

ZERO:

The Overseers, aka the Hierarchy aliens. Those guys are almost as annoying as Ferengi. Almost.

WIRED:

Recurring extras, appropriate for Voyager’s situation and the closer bond between the crew. eg: Vorik, the Vulcan engineer, Joe Carey, Torres’s deputy, Samantha Wildman, the Science Officer, her daughter Naomi Wildman, (Scarlett Pomers, you are the best Child Actor EVER. Not annoying like Anakin Fucking Skywalker, not immature and whiny. Bravo, young lady), Icheb and the Borg children when they arrive. Even the named crewmen who have few lines, but are present simply for a sense of continuity in the tight-knit crew. Ayala, the other Maquis who beams onto the Bridge in ‘Caretaker’ along with Chakotay and Tuvok who becomes a senior Security Officer, Ashmore, a engineer seen in the background of many scenes, the officer assisting Kim in ‘The Killing Game’ to distract the Hirogen and who Janeway speaks to and supports in ‘Memorial’, Susan Nicolette, one of Voyager’s best engineers whom Torres’s frequently mentions and works with, Lang, a security officer who is assigned to the Bridge to shore up dwindling numbers as the crew is translocated one by one in ‘Displaced’ and is consequently seen as a Bridge Officer, presumably due to her actions in ‘Displaced’, Ensign Brooks, seen in ‘Caretaker’, ‘Displacd’, ‘Darkling’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Year of Hell’, and and any number of unnamed but recurring extras. A nice touch to the show. (I’m sure we see more than one hundred and fifty over the course of the show, exceeding the crew complement, but as I’ve said, I care not a single jot for such small oversights). Cool bit of trivia, Ensign Brooks is played by Sue Henley, Kate Mulgrew’s stunt-double. I understand KM is a quite the ‘all her own stunts, just like Jackie Chan’ type, but she wouldn’t have been allowed to do everything!

TIRED:

The fluctuating crew complement. How many is it? Starting with 155 at the end of ‘Caretaker’, by the time of Season 5’s in ‘Dark Frontier’ the complement is listed as 143. Casualties totalling 12. Now, they lost people to the Vidiians, the Kazon, one unlucky soul in a shuttle crash (uh oh, shuttles!) the disconnected Borg from ‘Unity’, the aliens from Scientific Method (Svirani, I think they’re called, though they are never named on-screen), the Kyrians (One of the alien species from ‘Living Witness’, they are worthy of mention because they senselessly gun down and kill three of the engineering staff. One was perhaps revived later, or perhaps not), the destructive nebula from ‘One’, and, of course, to the Hirogen’s guns and blades. 12 seems slightly too low, it should be more like twenty or so. Its a small niggle, and Voyager is the hero ship so the writers have prerogative, but it vexes me. They acquire additional crew over the years, (Neelix, Kes, Seven, Borg children, Equinox survivors), but they would suffer casualties which they wouldn’t be able to replace in the dangerous space they journey through.

UP:

Fully fleshed out, intriguing and layered characters in the form of Kathryn Janeway, The Doctor, Seven of Nine, Tom Paris, B’Elanna Torres, Kes. (Tuvok is an odd ‘in the middle’ character here. He is both explored, then neglected. Odd.) The sub-plots and interpersonal relationships between the characters is deep, and great to watch as they develop and change over the years.

DOWN:

Underused characters, with potential and flavour of their own which is not fully realised in the form of Chakotay, Harry Kim, Neelix. Often Chakotay’s relevance overall is measured by his importance to Janeway, and their relationship, dependence on each other and friendship is an integral part of the show. Now, this is an important facet to his character, but he is still underused in other regards. He shines in the episodes that are dedicated to him, such as ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Natural Law’, and when he is left in charge in Scorpion, Part 2 when Janeway is badly wounded and put out of action for a few days, he proves he is up to the task. His actions (see the episode for details) I personally disagree with, 8472 were the greater threat, not the Borg, (I know, wow. They must be a hell of a threat to usurp the Borg’s crown) but he chooses his path and sticks with it. Much like Harry Kim, whose overall worth is measured by his friendship with Paris and their interactions.

PWNERS:

Seven Of Nine.

PWNED:

The first silver catsuit. That looked uncomfortable for the woman. Sure, part of her appeal is sex appeal for boys of a certain age with the dicks, but she’s a great character too. The later outfits were much better. They got her out of the borg get-up to quickly. That was a mistake by TPTB. (The Powers That Be, the from-on-high producers who were worried that she’d be in the Borg get-up for too long. Sigh).

STIMULANT:

Same amount of technobabble jargon jargon crap bunch of bull crap as all the other shows.

DEPRESSANT:

Same amount of technobabble as the other shows. Grrrrrr. I understand the majority of it, I am interested as to what it means, so I find out and retain the information, but I don’t need it to be in the show. Other sci-fi manages just fine without it. I understand it is part of Trek, but tone it down a little, please.

EPICS:

Good episodes. About ninety percent of them. Mmm…maybe eighty five.

LESS-EPICS:

Not so good episodes. When Voyager strayed from what it did best, it would falter and stumble like a moth looking for a light. But by god, when it got it right, its the best sci-fi/drama/adventure in the universe. In the first season, it started off with a jog, built up to a run in the second, stumbled for a bit and nearly tripped, found its feet in the first half of the third and worked up into a fast sprint, and from there it was a strong sprint all the way to the finale.

As with anything of real class, quality sometimes runs headfirst into shoddiness, and the two have a nasty argument with lots of pushing and shoving, with quality ultimately prevailing due to artistic creativity. Without the Downs, how would we recognise the Ups?

Voyager out.

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