Trek Week: Voyager

By Shamus
on Dec 4, 2014
Filed under:
Nerd Culture

In contrast to TNG, Voyager was a show with all the right ingredients going in, but was completely unable to pull them together into a coherent whole. The cleverness of the setup is only matched by the awfulness of the execution. We’ve got a lost ship, a divided crew, an eclectic mix of non-standard characters, and a solid long-term goal. This is arguably a better setup for Trek-style stories than TOS, TNG, or DS9. “Tiny boat in a big ocean” was the phrase people used to describe it.

I actually really loved how Mulgrew played Janeway. I loved her performance so much it wasn’t until the second or third season that I realized Janeway was a stupid irresponsible bully jackass. Mulgrew was able to take that idiotic dialog and make the character come off as compassionate and smart. For a while I would respond to Kirk vs. Picard arguments by saying my favorite was Janeway. But it became increasingly hard to defend that position when I couldn’t cite anything really smart or clever behind her decisions. She was basically a real-world politician: A dunce with a wobbly moral compass who suggests terrible ideas in a confident and compelling voice.

The most painful part of it is that as much as I dislike Voyager, it has my favorite character in the Trek universe: The Holodoc is brilliant and every moment he’s onscreen is pure joy. Even when he’s in stupid episodesWhich is good, because there are a lot of those.. Even when he’s in stupid scenesPlenty of those, too.. Even when reciting stupid dialogYou get the idea..

Please state the nature of the medical emergency.

The rest of the crew unraveled almost instantly. Tuvok was written and performed as a prickly cantankerous grouch, lacking the calm dispassion we expect from Vulcans. Chakotay had no personality beyond the cringe-worthy native American stuff they gave him to do. Kes was an obvious case of “Hire a pretty actress, we’ll figure out what to do with her once the show takes off”. (And then they forgot to do the second part.) Neelix was a comedy character in a show where all the comedy was unintentional. Having a “bad boy” like Paris was a great idea, except they could never really figure out what “bad boy” meant and ended up making him argue for often sensible things in an unreasonable voice. Kim was the closest thing on the ship to a human being with a soul, so of course everyone treated him like a doormat for no reason. Torres was an interesting idea but ended up competing with Tuvok for the title of “most pointlessly petty and cantankerous person”.

That was a bad enough start, but instead of gaining traction like TNG, the show slid from simple mediocrity to outright travesty. For me the last straw was when someone slipped their fanfiction into the script pile and got their odd, awkward, poorly-paced Paris / Torres pairing made into canon. The worst thing about this pairing is that they really thought the audience would love it. It was the centerpiece of the trailers for the show every time it came up. It came out of nowhere and the trailers made it sound like this was the long-anticipated Confession Of True Love that we’d all be waiting for. It was bizarre.

It was like the writers never watched Trek before. What happened to “Strange New Worlds”? What happened to mystery planets with puzzles for us to unravel? What happened to tricky ethical dilemmas? What happened to having a good old-fashioned Socratic Exercise? In Voyager we just ran into a never-ending procession of idiots with lumpy foreheads who wanted to shoot at us for various reasons.

I thought that Kim and Paris made a perfect “Odd Couple” and Wang and McNeill had good on-screen chemistry together. So OF COURSE the writers ignored that in favor of odd romance pairings and more dumb scenes with Neelix. I suspect that half of all Trek fans have written an episode at some point. When I wrote mine, it was a Kim & Paris adventure. Paris vs. Kim was the closest thing Voyager had to a fun Spock vs. McCoy battle of personalities. I really wish they had more episodes where those two bounced off each other.

Neelix, what are you doing outside of the cafeteria? Again? Please tell me this episode isn’t another “Neelix” episode. It’s too soon. It’s always too soon.

Once the writers had mangled the crew and ruined the premise, they started sucking other bits of Trek lore into their black hole of joyless dumb recycled cliches. The Q Continuum were turned into childish dunces. The Borg became an army of useless mooks to mow down.

It’s heartbreaking. Some shows are ruined by bad casting. Or a bad concept. Low budget. Executive meddling. Bad timeslots. But this show had almost everything it needed to succeed. The only thing lacking was a decent script. (Disclosure: I got disgusted and lost interest somewhere in late season four and early season five. If the show got magically brilliant at the end, I missed it.)

The producers had all the wrong instincts. As the show struggled, they leaned even harder on the things that were ruining them. More Seven of Nine fanservice! More amazing technology driven by technobabble! More cast romances! More adventure and danger! More stuff from the Alpha quadrant! More Neelix-based “comedy”! Time-travel to the 20th century! WHY WON’T THE FANS LOVE US!? They tried everything but improving the plots, characterization, and dialog. They tried everything but making some science fiction.

I have no idea how it lasted for seven seasons.

Still, all the love for Holodoc. Why haven’t I seen Robert Picardo since then? He’s really busy, but hasn’t landed anything really big and hasn’t wound up in anything I’ve watched. Too bad.

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Footnotes:

[1] Which is good, because there are a lot of those.

[2] Plenty of those, too.

[3] You get the idea.


A Hundred!A Hundred!2019239 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. silver Harloe says:

    3 words: Tao of Gilligan

    and not just the “we almost found a way home” repetition, but also the fact that they put a Gilligan on the show (arguably in multiple roles).

  2. Mormegil says:

    Such an awesome set up for a show, squandered so thoroughly.

    Half the crew are terrorists? How will they deal with that? Well, the starfleet crew will ignore it and the terrorists will forget it and it’s all resolved in the first couple of episodes.

    Years away from home? How will it change the crew? How will it change the ship? Easy – it changes neither.

    My vision of how the final few episodes should have played involve a ship that is 1/4 starfleet tech, 1/4 borg, 1/2 who knows what, pulling into starfleet headquarters. There are tears and reunions and medals and ceremonies. Some crewmembers go home. As for the others, there’s a mission. Beyond the dominion territories the gamma quadrant remains unexplored. It’s going to be a long trip though. And most of the crew go back to the only home and the only job they can comprehend now. Voyager pulls out of dock, a strange little ship with an odd little crew, heading into the comfort of the unknown.

    • gtb says:

      This would have been so much better.

    • I expected the ship to start looking like the Enterprise in Star Trek 3, but apparently having limited resources meant everything down to the wall paint could be repaired. I was hoping for a patchwork ship made out of found/captured tech, a crew that slowly included new aliens to replace fallen Alpha Quadrant personnel, and possibly at least one or more major characters to give their lives in dramatic fashion during the dangerous times between the Delta Quadrant and Earth.

      As I said below, the show really needed a head writer. They needed at least a general idea of a beginning, several key arcs in the middle, and an ending based on how many of those arcs would be completed, should cancelation become a factor.

      I think the show lasted as long as it did because Trek fans (myself included) will watch any new episode at least once, eventually doing so just to make fun of it as if it were an MST3K movie.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I wish Voyager was sprinkled with just a bit of what BSG did, the wear and tear on both the ship and the crew. I do realise BSG is a much darker setting than Trek, and the reset button features heavily in other series as well, but they went to all these lengths to create a situation with both potential scarcity of resources and a set goal and then didn’t really do anything with it. The fact that every episode didn’t begin and end with a lightyear counter slowly ticking down is nearly offensive.

        • Phill says:

          If ever there was a Trek series that cried out for them to dump the infamous reset switch, it was Voyager. In contrast to the other Trek series, Voyager was the one that by definition created a linear, progressive over-arching story.

          Which the writers then ignored.

          A show based around them adapting and improvising, and generally having to deal with life on a complex ship that can’t get back to any kind of port facility and without any supply lines could have been awesome. Obviously it can’t be the sum total of the series (and wouldn’t feel very Star Trek like), but as something built in to the ongoing arc it would have been great.

          But apparently the interchangeability of episodes and the reset button are more important parts of the Trek concept than mere good stories.

          • Tom says:

            I dunno, I think since Voyager’s basic plan required them to go in a straight line, there was little to no chance from the outset of ever visiting somewhere they’d already been, and that sounds like Reset Button City to me.

            Of course, circumventing the reset button would in certain ways be extremely hard – given Voyager’s basic MO of repeatedly blundering into something that doesn’t concern them, making a colossal mess of it after, yet again, totally screwing up trying to sneak, force, bribe or bluff their way through, then running away at maximum speed, most people probably aren’t going to welcome them in for tea and a chat about the old days if they ever show their faces in those parts again.

            Schoolkids in the Delta quadrant in centuries to come will probably have a big map as the centrepiece of their history classrooms, with an erratic but more or less one-directional angry red line passing through it, with shades of red bleeding out of it into the surrounding areas, showing the trail of disruption and chaos left by Voyager.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              You avoid the reset button by showing the effects on the ship and the crew.

            • There could also be a “race” to the Alpha quadrant. Using the Borg would’ve been cliche, but what if something old and powerful decided the Alpha Quadrant needed some cleansing and Voyager was the only ship that knew it was coming? Said ancient race could have set up some method of fast travel like the Caretaker array (but shorter range) that came with the angst of destroying valuable travel-tech or risking the big-bad behind them using it.

              Heck, just making the Delta quadrant a kind of post-apoc playground where some massive empire used to be with all the former “lesser races” vying for the secrets of their ancient masters would’ve been more compelling than yet more foreheads of the week. It was a concept hinted at in TNG but (yet again) never followed up on.

            • “I dunno, I think since Voyager’s basic plan required them to go in a straight line, there was little to no chance from the outset of ever visiting somewhere they’d already been…”

              Not that they didn’t manage the equivalent anyhow! Remember the Kazon from the first couple of seasons? Remember how technologically inferior they are, with ships that could IIRC barely do Warp 4, which is like literally a thousand times slower than Warp 8? Remember how Voyager would have been booking it back to the Alpha Quadrant with all available speed? (Maybe not “full speed” since they have fuel economy issues to worry about, but probably faster than Warp 4, and probably by quite a bit.) Remember how the Kazon showed up over and over again anyhow? Somehow? Through unspecified mechanisms? And even IIRC ambushed Voyager?

              Yeah. This is the equivalent of ambushing a 747 on your bicycle. Even ignoring altitude issues, that’s just not gonna happen.

              • Lanthanide says:

                I think they only ever came across the same Kazon sect a couple of times. The Kazon just had a big stretch of space, which Voyager kept travelling through.

                • And yet we kept meeting the same Kazon leader and Seska. Funny, that.

                • Zekiel says:

                  True, but then they used recurring Kazon characters so that kind of refutes that explanation sadly. I seem to recall at the end of season 2 Voyager had to do a big about-turn to go back to some Kazon planet they’d left behind ages ago for reasons I can’t remember. This isn’t a very helpful post so I’ll stop writing now.

          • Matt Downie says:

            I’m not convinced there was ever all that much potential for an over-arching story. I’m sure there are fun games about getting a spaceship home by scavenging for the stuff you need to stay alive, but in a TV show what they run out of and what they find are entirely under the control of the writers, so it’s hard to do more than arbitrary stories along the line of, “Now they’re running out of Dilithium! And now they’ve found some people who have Dilithium but don’t want to share it! Will Janeway compromise her principles to get hold of it? Give up on getting home? Or find a clever third solution?”

            And unlike DS9, they were (mostly) unable to do any plausible long-running stories involving anyone not on the ship, because they’re moving too fast for anyone else to be able to keep up.

            • Mike S. says:

              The reimagined Battlestar Galactica managed to do long story arcs based on a similar premise. It eventually went south, but I don’t think that’s inherent to the idea of a long, possibly hopeless journey through unknown territory, scavenging supplies and patching systems as they fail. (While the characters are faced with unprecedented stress from being locked up together with only each other having lost their old lives forever.)

              • ACman says:

                Ahhhhh BSG!!!!

                At least Voyager can be at least partly blamed on not having head writers.

                In the new Battle Star Gallactica the head writers decided to go commpletely batshit insane. They had a completely gripping plotline detailing how replicant style robots might reconcile their relationship with their human creators and viceversa mixed with TopGun/StarWars fighterjockery that turned to being a reasonably intellectual allergory of the war on terror, and they copped out with some religious mumbo-jumbo pseudoscience.

                And isn’t the head writer on record that they selected the 5 ‘replicants who are main characters but don’t know they’re replicants’ by using a dartboard?

                I love BSG but that last season. Gah!!

                • Phill says:

                  I think it started to go a bit wobbly once they got as far as the “final five” concept. There are these final five cyclons, but the cylons don’t know what they look like either, or anything about them. I’m not sure how much of the first series uncovering of the nature of the cylons makes sense from the point of view of what we end up knowing about the final five.

                  I’m not even opposed in principle to the idea that you can’t have religion or mysticism in sci-fi that turns out to be true. But when you make the grand cyclon plan such a big part of the series, the audience do rather expect the plan to be revealed and to make sense by the end, not to wrap up with “well, God some random stuff that doesn’t seem to make sense. Mysterious, huh?”

                  It’s a little unfulfilling…

                  (Still a bloody excellent series overall though)

                • I didn’t have so much of a problem with most of the last season except for the ending. I mean, when has forgetting history EVER been a good thing?

                  Later, I heard they were basically making it up as they went along. The Cylons may have had a plan, but the writers/producers didn’t. They had me fooled most of the time, but I can’t help imagine what could have been if they’d actually sat down for a few weeks and figured out where they wanted to go with it.

                  Warning: This next link contains spoilers and has a graphic death. BSG is noted, however, for having one of the more unfortunate transitions from show-to-commercial ever in its original airing.

                • Richard H says:

                  Something something Mormons IN SPACE. (Seriously, though, the original run was produced by a Mormon, and there’s this big reference to the 12 colonies of Kobol and the 13th colony very far away that is Earth.) I actually found the Cylons believing in God more than the humans to be really odd. Like, they’re the only sentient beings out there who might, actually, know their entire history, and here they are claiming that a deity exists? Anyway, I’m not surprised it went back to its magical-thinking roots at the end.

                  full disclosure: I stopped watching one episode from the end of season 1 when I realized I had lost any interest I had and was just watching it because it came on after Stargate.

                  • Ravens Cry says:

                    Actually, it does make a bit of sense. As created beings, their frame of reference would be to consider things as made, leading to the question of how humans came in existence. Their natural conclusion, as made sentient beings, would be that humans were made sentient beings.

                    • Joe Informatico says:

                      This was used in Charles Stross’ Saturn’s Children, which takes place in a future where humanity is extinct, but the sentient robots we created still live and work in a civilization the size of the Solar System. Most robots have a religious awe for their deceased Creators, but there’s a minority sect that argues there’s no evidence for Creationism, and that robots must have evolved to their current state.

            • Thomas says:

              That’s a problem with a lot of science fiction, but one of the key talent of a science fiction writer is about dealing with that.

              Asimov talked a lot about how people complained sci-fi stories shouldn’t work because the author can just say “and now we’ve got a Doo-dad that solves all the problems”.

              His answer was basically “Don’t do that.”

              The number of personnel, the condition of the ship and a handful of clear resources with some well defined boundaries would have solved their problems fine. And then when they want to do a one off episode they can invent a new resource just for that and say “oh our positronic quarkians are low, we could replace them by killing puppies but should we?”.

              • Mike S. says:

                That sort of well-defined problem is one of the characteristics of SF that I like. (In my heart, I’d say “good SF”. But it’s obvious that SF in which new gadgets can be defined at will and the rules can be different from episode to episode is substantially more popular. So who am I to say?)

                It’s also the reason Asimov was one of the early successful practitioners of the SF mystery. Editor John Campbell said it couldn’t be done satisfyingly, because how do you have, say, a locked-room mystery when there might be teleporters or insubstantial aliens or a disintegrator ray? Of course, Asimov did it by establishing the ground rules of what unusual tech or new science existed as part of the story, and sticking to that to construct a fair mystery.

              • Felblood says:

                It’s not really as though this issue is limited to Sci-Fi.

                The Deus Ex Machina is nothing new, and the solution is still the same.

                When the temptation arises to introduce a new element to resolve a sticky plot arc. Don’t cave. Push yourself to make the ending and the story a singular whole.

                That isn’t to say you can’t introduce new elements to a story, you just can’t do it at the end. The existing elements need to have a chance to react to and explore the twist, before the story can have closure.

                If your twist wouldn’t stand up to that kind of scrutiny, it is a bad twist anyway.

            • guy says:

              They have two pretty easy ways to fix that.

              Voyager gets stuck. Maybe they’re getting close to Borg space, maybe they blew something and can barely make Warp 2, but whatever it is, they have to stay in the same general area for a while or double back.

              Alternately, maybe they aren’t the fastest thing in the quadrant. There are people fast enough to catch up to them but not so fast that they’re willing to spend the time to carry the crew to Earth and can’t give a high-speed tow. Voyager can’t afford to trade for one of their warp drives and thinks stealing one is a bad idea.

          • Felblood says:

            I think it says something positive about the way Netflix and Joss Whedon have changed our world, that this show would be so much better if it were made today.

            In this age of DVD box sets and streaming binges, no sane TV producer would pass on the chance to cater to continuity obsessed fans, for fear of turning off random channel surfers.

            A channel surfer might stop on your show or consider adding it to his trawl. A fan who read up on the show online and got hooked, will be a relentless campaigner, preaching the show to everyone he know, and everyone he meets online.

            • ehlijen says:

              While I enjoy a good long running arc, I don’t enjoy endless daily dreadfuls with no long term plan.

              I am very grateful that more shows are trying to tackle arcs and give us more complex plots, but I’m afraid that some writers use it as a crutch to bypass the need to be able to actually end a story well (and the US TV funding system doesn’t really help there, where a show’s continued funding is rarely sure enough in the writing stages to account for).

              Arcs, and shows, are still more satisfying to watch as a whole if they have a good ending that ties things up into one coherent whole, and I’m worried that the skill to write those is being neglected in the continued search for endless franchises.

              • Mike S. says:

                Amen. Too many TV writers think they can knit the parachute on the way down and prove unable to do so. I’m guessing I’m not the only one shying away from heavily serialized shows selling deep, years-long mysteries due to distrusting that those mysteries actually have satisfying answers. I’ve come to the conclusion that Buffy-style year-long arcs is about as far as anyone in TV without the initials JMS is capable of planning ahead.

                (I didn’t even bother with Lost, and I gave up on Heroes early in the second season. But Battlestar Galactica and How I Met Your Mother both rival Mass Effect 3 for underwhelming payoffs to once-fascinating groundwork.)

                Even B5 went through some serious reworkings due to actor and network realities and creator rethinking. But you can still tell that there was a there there when it’s laying the groundwork for something, even if the payoff winds up a little weaker than it should have been. (As with, e.g., “Babylon Squared”/”War Without End”.)

                • How was the War Without End payoff weak? It was actually a coherent time-travel story that didn’t involve parallel universes, new timelines, or changing past events. It even had a few twists and reveals that you didn’t get until War Without End, Part II.

                  • Mike S. says:

                    It’s not weak as such, but you can see some of the seams. (E.g., Sinclair magically aging in an instant to cover the fact that the original story featured an actually older Sinclair.)

                    It still demonstrates the importance of having a plan, even if that plan has to be adapted to changing circumstances.

                • Joe Informatico says:

                  Is JMS like the only showrunner who worked in TV long enough to anticipate these things? I’ve read several interviews where he talked about how every character had a “trapdoor” to remove them from the arc if the actor left the series, and most of the various assistant characters were introduced to pick up their bosses’ plot threads if something happened with those actors. But I never hear this kind of inside baseball from other showrunners and producers.

                  Granted, a regular TV gig is probably more rewarding professionally and financially these days than 20 or so years ago, especially for a middle-aged or older actor. And there’s a lot more accommodation between various studios and networks and projects, so there’s probably less attrition from contract disputes or greener pastures these days. But you can’t plan for everything. The lead actor for the Spartacus series died of cancer before he even turned 40–that kind of thing can still happen.

                  • He seems to be, yet even his planning isn’t immune to the whims of TV realities.

                    If you watch the show he did for Showtime, “Jeremiah,” you’ll get 1 and a half seasons of some of the best post-apocalypse drama broadcast to date. It’s one of the things that made me hate “Jericho” so much, apart from it being the apocalypse by way of the Hallmark Channel written by some 12-year-olds.

                    He had, I think, a 4-6 season arc, but early in season 2, they told him they were canceling the show, so the latter half of the season became an exercise in maximum story compression.

                • ehlijen says:

                  I must admit that I don’t actually know if Farscape was planned out ahead of time or if it was, who made the plan, but it pulls the wormhole weapon arc off rather well, in my opinion. Or it did until the 5th season was cancelled, though they made a passable saving throw with the miniseries to finish things.

                  But yes, Babylon 5 is still the gold standard for making, sticking to and fighting for a plan in TV. Also for pushing a limited budget as far as it will go, in my opinion. Some of the best Scifi to hit the screen, ever.

    • James says:

      yes they should have got home earlier, and then had this dilemma of they have spent 5-6 years in unknown space, and cant really acclimatize to normal life, and even on other ships things feel strange, because they have changed. a few episodes of ugh this is odd and then they someone Kim maybe convinces them and Starfleet to send them all off to explore the Gamma Quadrant on long term deployment, because long term deployment to unknown space is just what they are good at.

      2-3 Seasons of gamma quadrant and old school new aliens of the week and we might have never had to talk about the Borg EVER outside of 7 of 9, which we can rework into Janeway helps Borg defeat 8472, ‘cus 8472 (played slightly different perhaps) Borg help VOY and Janeway get home / closer, 1 season or so of 7 of 9 “becoming human” or whatever, (this is ‘cus i liked Jeri Ryan’s portrayal of a Human/Borg who has been Borg basically all her life)

      • Don Alsafi says:

        YES! I’d long felt that the show should have given us some really awesome character development by finally getting them back home, then showing the aftermath. How hard it is for them to return to normal life, etc.

        Instead, what I recall of the final episode is essentially:

        “We did it! We’re back home.”

        END CREDITS LITERALLY ONE SECOND LATER.

    • Don Alsafi says:

      And the thing is, the Trek writers had actually done a GREAT job in setting up the Maquis terrorist faction on both DS9 and TNG. You understood why they were so angry at the Federation. So the idea of a ship with two factions that kind of hated each other, but having to figure out how to rely on each other to get home? GENIUS!

      And I think it was in the very first episode past the opening two-parter that I saw two characters from these opposite sides walking down the corridor like total friends. Not bothered at all.

      Voyager: Fantastic potential, immediately wasted.

      • cassander says:

        I wouldn’t swear to it, but I’ll bet that if you search all the scripts, word “maquis” shows up more in Ds9, where it was always a side plot, than it does in voyager, where is was supposed to be essential backstory for about half the main cast.

    • Burning says:

      I want a time machine so I can take you back and make you show-runner.

    • Ivan says:

      “Half the crew are terrorists? How will they deal with that? Well, the starfleet crew will ignore it and the terrorists will forget it and it’s all resolved in the first couple of episodes.

      Years away from home? How will it change the crew? How will it change the ship? Easy – it changes neither.”

      This really reminds me of the setup for Star Gate Universe, which while Atlantis was the only series I really got into, I found that all the drama that being lost in space created just turned the show into a soap opra and I can’t really remember a single episode that was just about good old exploration. I didn’t make it through the first season, in fact, I couldn’t have gotten farther then 10 episodes in.

      All I’m saying is that maybe it’s actually a good thing that while Voyager had this setup, that they screwed it up before they could do anything truly awful with it.

      • RCN says:

        Interesting. These threads are making me realize I wasn’t the only one that got into Atlantis first. Nor the only one who liked Atlantis better than SG-1, generally.

        I still love Daniel and O’Neil relationship, of course. But McKay never went guns akimbo with a high-caliber pistol and a submachine gun, so he’s got that going for him.

    • cassander says:

      I remember the exact moment I totally lost faith in voyager. In the 2 parter where they pick up 7, voyager was modified with a bunch of cool looking borg tech. In the episode after that, there is this throw away line, right in the beginning, something to the effect of “isn’t it great that got all that borg crap out of our system.” I remember my pre-teen jaw just dropping at that. why would you get rid of it? it’s borg tech. it’s the definition of cool! Obviously, not the most sophisticated analysis, but the moment has since come to represent the perfect confluence of everything that was wrong with voyager. the laziness, the reset button, the sheer disinterest in their setting, the inconsistent characterization, everything.

  3. gtb says:

    I hated voyager, because of how disappointing it ended up being when it should have been amazing. Neelix was jar-jar before there was jar-jar, and as the show progressed he was in. every. scene. The premise of a ship trapped in unfamiliar space being forced to survive was immediately transformed into goofy dream episodes, like watching TNG except on shrooms. TNG did a few of weird dream/alternate reality/drug haze episodes, but voyager did one every other week it seemed like, and those are my least favorite.

    I like scifi that is grounded in reality, and voyager basically stripped all the reality out of each episode whenever possible. Back in time, through another dimension, then forward in time, while asleep, but you’re really awake, except the other characters are aliens, back in time again, now you’re the alien! Or are you?! INSERT JANEWAY GROWL.

    Oh, here’s a borg episode for you, since we know some people hate these stream of consciousness things. Except the borg are pants-on-head retarded in voyager so it doesn’t count.

    Now there’s a borg on the ship! great! that will be really interesting… oh except she’s here for boobs and not much else. Okay.

    It was the worst of Startrek, and this is a franchise with a show based around Hotel Space. It’s like they fired the writers who came up with the premise for the show before the premier and hired writers laid off from Dynasty to replace them. They don’t understand what’s going on, who are these space people? What is a wormhole? But they’ll give it their best shot. And the result is this awful shit fest of a show.

    And that doesn’t even touch on the terrible inter-crew drama story lines that nobody ever cared about or wanted, shoehorned into each episode like the writers were on some kind of weird quota system.

    • 7 of 9 was such a disappointment. Coming off of the movie “First Contact,” I was hoping if there was a Borg crew member that it would, y’know, look like a freakin’ Borg. But no, we got 36 of D, complete with catsuit and stiletto heels. Nothing against Jeri Ryan, but I was hoping for more HR Giger and less Rule 34.

      • gtb says:

        I was okay with Ryan being hot, but I would have liked more Ryan being horrifying too. I would have been fine with a sexy half-dressed borg character (after all I was in high school when this ran originally), if she had terrifying tubes and modifications and spikey bits and built in laser weapons. As you say, more H.R. Giger.

        I would have preferred to feel weird and slightly nauseated about my boner.

        • el_b says:

          I agree in a way. You see that she still has quite a lot of implants, and that a lot of her human appearance is simply cosmetic surgery. It would have been really cool if when Kim had a crush on her she just casually removed part of her face to interface with something and that is why he gets freaked out around her and has weird nightmares that just Made him look even more pathetic When the show ran. borg did used to hook themselves up to machinery to repair it after all… They can’t have always just use those alcoves.

          • Tom says:

            Nice idea! But if there’s ever a golden rule I’ve learned about Voyager’s writers, it’s that they always go with the safe option. Which obviously is the exact opposite of what you want given the initial premise of the show – you’re farther from home than any of your kind has ever been, you have no friends here, you have no allies here, you don’t even know anything about here, you have only the resources you were carrying, which you packed for a very different mission – that’s the time to get daring in the writers’ room. Voyager could have been, and would probably have worked much better as the darkest and edgiest of the Trek series.

            • krellen says:

              Oh hell no. The last thing Star Trek needs is to be “darker and edgier”.

              • Tom says:

                Well, OK, not exactly “darker and edgier” in the sense it’s commonly used – but certainly more philosophically stimulating, more morally challenging. In this context, by “safe option,” I really meant never exploring a controversial or challenging issue except in a fairly superficial way; or, seemingly often, bringing it up in detail but then resolving the episode without really addressing the issue itself – it’s like there’s a big exciting bottomless ocean out there, and they tended to just paddle about in the shallows.

              • MikhailBorg says:

                If this commenting platform allowed it, I would “favorite” your comment about a dozen times.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Indeed.You can have a harsh situation,and yet still remain uplifting and morally sound.

                Imagine,for example,voyager being stranded,the ship failing,rations getting low,morale of the crew going to the gutter,so they decide to do something radical:Create a federation outside the federation.With the help of their newfound friends,neelix and kes,they find an alien planet besieged,and help them out.In return,they get not only provisions,but also volunteers to help man the ship.Even more,they are offered some ships of the natives they can refit and use as their escort.Planet by planet,one bully thwarted after another,voyager leaves a trail of this new federation of planets and its missionaries while slowly treking towards their home.Their ship constantly being patched up by various tech,their escort being a ragtag team of different aliens,all not trusting of one another,yet all being glued together by janeway and her federation ideals.

                At least,thats how I would try to handle such a situation,instead of slamming the reset button after every episode.

              • 3 of 4 says:

                I think I know WHY you would resent this, but perhaps a better statement would be to say we needed the “environment to be darker and edgier”.

                IMO, the overall “enemy” of TOS was the Klingons, which Roddenberry even admitted were modeled after the 60’s USSR. TNG it was Romulans, and then the Borg. As I said yesterday, you could even make a case for Q being the Arch nemesis of TNG. In all of these situations the show was really how humans react to such forces, or more precisely, how we wish humans would react to such forces. Hence your fondness of idealism and such. Each series more or less showed us what we aspire to be, more or less.

                In Voyager (which IMO was simply a collection of all other Star Trek series unused episode scripts mashed together with the names changed) the overall enemy was the Delta quadrant, which isn’t really a thing, so each week it could be whatever you wanted it to be. Each week test the crew’s loyalty and devotion a little differently. And that’s what they tried to do….I guess? But maybe their biggest failure was not going far enough. Nothing tests military discipline like being cut-off and trapped behind enemy lines. “Darker and edgier” would have been great if only to show the strength and resolve of the crew to grueling hardship. It’s what made “Wrath of Khan” the most beloved. It easily had the darkest and fiercest antagonist, and the sacrifice at the end to triumph over him was epic.

                Without heroic actions, than can be no heroes.

                • Tom says:

                  This is pretty much what I was getting at; I would only add that often, even when the environment is dark and edgy the crew seem able to escape from the situation without really engaging with it, testing their cleverness and principles and seeing how much compromise they can tolerate.

                  It’s been said that without transporter malfunctions, there could be no Star Trek, and I agree. The purpose of the transporter is to make it easy for characters to very quickly get themselves off the ship and into trouble early on, so you’ve got more episode time left to depict something interesting, then break down so they can’t just cheat their way back out of it again; once they start the game, they can’t walk away when it looks like they’re losing.

                  The overall feeling I got with Voyager is that, while they were very good at repeatedly getting themselves into philosophically interesting trouble, they far too often* seemed to basically get out again not by solving the actual problem they’d been landed in, either on its own terms like Picard was often really good at, or by cheating an unfair test in a clever way (I think Picard and Kirk both did that a fair bit – not watched much DS9, so I can’t say if Sisko ever had any moments like that, but from what little I’ve seen I would guess he probably did), but literally waiting it out and just staying alive until the transporter got fixed, or the engineers on the ship came up with some equivalent technobabbly deus ex machina (that isn’t interesting because they never explore the techology in any depth, they just treat it as a timer: the engineers will take X amount of time to come up with the single-use doodad of the week that fixes everything; will the away team survive that long?), or a heavily armed extraction team came to get them.

                  Perhaps that’s Voyagers big writing problem – because Star Trek technology doesn’t actually exist, doesn’t have many established, consistent rules (unlike their multiple civilisations’ social rules, like the prime directive, which are well fleshed out), it can’t be engaged with in any meaningful depth, so at best it can be used as an excuse to set up the plot; it cannot *be* the plot. Which goes a long way toward explaining why episodes like “Threshold” are terrible (there are no underlying rules governing what goes on when you go past warp 10, so it’s just a bunch of random weird effects) and “Year of Hell” are great (because the writers actually bothered to set up multiple specific rules governing the technology in use, they – and, crucially, the viewer – could explore interesting interactions within that system).

                  *Not always. And those were the best episodes.

              • Felblood says:

                The last thing Voyager needed was to fail even harder at being “edgy”, but it would have been vastly improved by more darkness.

                This show was really uncomfortable confronting the inherent darker aspects of it’s premise, which is what leads to it’s sterile and bland deliver on what should be awesome. You can’t double down on a premise where feds and rebels have to join forces to survive without support or supplies, in a hostile and distant region of space, and then start pulling your punches. It only works if you follow through on that promise of conflict.

        • Neil W says:

          There were a couple of good touches touches; she made a deadpan joke or two in the episodes I saw with her in. A little darker on the humour and a little weirder on the cyborg.

          • Tom says:

            I believe Jeri Ryan herself has gone on record as saying that she felt, upon reading the scripts, despite the costume, that her character was more than just a boobs delivery platform, and wouldn’t have taken the role if it had been just that.

            • cassander says:

              I heard her tell a great story about getting the part, I think it was on the nerdist podcast, but I couldn’t swear to that, about how rick berman sort of lured her in. she was hesitant to take the role, but the bit they had her read she read was this great character piece about the formerly human her. the line that appeared in the show was her asking Kim if he wanted to copulate…

            • Zekiel says:

              7 of 9 was far more than fan-service. She’s easily my second favourite character on the show (after the Doc, obviously). She was essentially a more sarky version of Data who was less whole-hearted in wanting to become more human. She was a really interesting character.

              It was just the whole stilletos-and-catsuit thing made it all quite embarrassing.

              • Tom says:

                One could argue that the bodysuit is something like what an AI such as the doctor might design – it makes maximally efficient use of material to provide complete coverage and insulation, doesn’t flap anywhere so it can’t snag on anything and has no unnecessary ornamentation, neither adding nor subtracting anything to the existing form underneath. But then the heels make a complete joke of any such argument, because they’re the least sensible footwear imaginable even for someone who isn’t on a damn spaceship.

      • 3 of 4 says:

        7 of 9 would have been better if she hadn’t been given lines originally written for a ham-fisted Klingon, but told to read them like she was the most painfully boring Vulcan ever. Her schtick was so bad it made George Lucas face-palm.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I really didn’t like that “Wannabe Vulcan” thing at first, until I realized that it wasn’t Ryan trying to act like a Vulcan, it was 7 of 9. Then I started to really like it. It came off as a transparent and failing attempt at suppressing emotions that frightened her.

  4. Random points from Shamus’ post:

    “I loved her performance so much it wasn’t until the second or third season that I realized Janeway was a stupid irresponsible bully jackass.”

    Welcome to Star Trek’s biggest problem in trying to have a show with an ongoing story arc: Let anyone who wants to write a friggin’ episode, so of course Janeway’s personality and moral compass are going to swing like a party with a fishbowl full of keys. Voyager (and let’s face it, any future Star Trek shows) really, really needed a head writer.

    “The Holodoc is brilliant and every moment he’s onscreen is pure joy.”

    I’m mixed on the Doctor. He represents a problem I have with A.I. or not-A.I. in Star Trek. He’s a program, but his program can break down irreparably, as if he were an organic creature instead of a bunch of zeroes and ones that can be backed up, restored, etc. He once talked about how precise he was since in sickbay, he was a clever array of force fields and tractor beams used to manipulate tools and so forth. If this was the case, why does his program exist at all, especially (like in the first episode) there are multiple casualties in need of attention that, presumably, a computer could handle simultaneously without generating a 3D animated GIF of Robert Picardo? From his description, sickbay could function like a giant Auto-Doc from Fallout 3, which even brings up why a mortal attending physician would have to be on hand for anything in the computer’s medical database. Picardo is a fine actor, but holograms in ‘Trek are such a sore spot for me.

    “Having a “bad boy” like Paris was a great idea, except they could never really figure out what “bad boy” meant and ended up making him argue for often sensible things in an unreasonable voice.”

    Fun fact: Tom Paris was originally supposed to be Nicolas Locarno, from the TNG episode, “The First Duty.” In that ep, he and four other cadets at Starfleet Academy (including Wesley Crusher) formed a flight team that performed a forbidden stunt maneuver, resulting in the death of one of the cadets. In the end, Locarno takes full responsibility and is exiled from Starfleet, making for a very interesting disgraced pilot candidate for the upcoming Voyager show. However, if they used Locarno, the writer(s) who created him would get royalties, so the accountants nixed the idea. Not that this was Voyager’s biggest problem, not by a long shot, but it was one that sticks out in my mind.

    • gunther says:

      Yeah, that’s the same reason they dropped Ensign Ro for Kira on DS9 – they realized they’d have to pay royalties to the original writers who came up with Ro.

      On topic; Voyager isn’t the worst Trek show, but it’s probably the most disappointing; it’s more tragic to squander a great idea and a (mostly) great cast with crappy scripts than it is to just make a show that’s pretty much bad all round like Enterprise.

    • Neil W says:

      …why a mortal attending physician would have to be on hand for anything in the computer’s medical database.

      Because in Trek 1. AI/holograms always go wrong (so having a holodoc is dumb but cool which seems to be about 50% of Starfleet’s ideas); and 2. they always come across a new and interesting medical emergency that isn’t in the database.

      I think one reason the doc worked even when things were dumb was not just the actor (the acting was generally pretty good; they just didn’t have good stuff to work with) but also the character was inevitably in the wrong situation. He’s the front end of a database of medical procedures, but the nature of an emergency almost always means acting on incomplete information, or with too little time or resources, or dealing with something previously not considered. So he’s always having to deal with things which he’s not equipped for. Doesn’t matter if it’s well thought out or pulled out of the writer’s pile of 6 AM deadline ideas; he’s still going to struggle amusingly.

      • I did say “not in the database.” Which the Doctor is hooked up to, I might add.

        But regarding Starfleet’s ideas on EMH’s, think about this: They replaced the “failed” Robert Picardo hologram with an Andy Dick hologram!

        I’m amazed there was a Federation for Voyager to get back to.

    • silver Harloe says:

      but, but, you would have to ‘get’ how computers work to make the holodoc like you imagine. and that was never, ever gonna happen in Star Trek.

      they simply refuse to deal with information technology as the technology of information, and instead it’s just a fancy version of 50s robots. TNG had this problem, too. not with a holodoc but with most things dealing with the computer and holodeck in general.

      to be fair, that can be said about almost every thing on tv or in movies.

      to be unfair – I think it’s a sign of of the strange, almost Luddite, relationship that the Trek universe has with technology in general. They’re fine with gadgets, but never with their implications.

      • el_b says:

        a few episodes overall did deal with the holodeck in a decent way although non-dealt with the fact that it would be the last piece of technology any society would develop since you would just stay in your holographic paradise until you die of old age.

        Fontaine in deep space nine was a surprisingly good therapist and dealt with problems in a way that no one in the era seems capable of from the councilors as we have seen. DS nine also showed that it could be used as a way for black marketers to show off inventories of illegal goods while not having them anywhere they can be captured or you can be arrested for holding them. They are also used quite a lot for prostitution…but it is never explained how the rooms are cleaned afterwards since all of that goo has to go somewhere when the holograms disappear.

        The next generation, although one of the most embarrassing in terms of holodeck use, did have another incredibly realistic use for it, barclay beating the crap out of the people who pick on him at work and winning over unrequited crushes In fantasy scenarios.

        • Mechaninja says:

          The forcefields and stuff that are used to switch from holodeck to danger room could probably clean up the goo easily enough.

        • Matter reclaimation is probably used for all “waste” on the ship. Given how the holodeck usually works out in any given episode, some “goo” is probably preferable to the more common contaminants: Blood, body parts, whole corpses, etc.

    • Wide and Nerdy says:

      I may be alone in this but I really liked Tom, at least after he warmed up a bit. I liked his relationship with Harry, his interest in mid 20th century stuff and his 50s sci-fi serial holodeck program. Also liked his idea to build a decked out hot rod of a shuttle, the Delta Flyer.

  5. James says:

    I just want to add, VOY was the first one i ever watched fully and “properly” so i give it ALOT of leeway, bu yes you are correct, and no, i do still love it.

    Kim was my favorite character, i feel partly like he was a audience insert, not because he was the one who asked all the questions but because he was a naive young officer.

    And “The Year of Hell” was imo the best two-parter of the entire run of Voyager. Equinox was fairly good as well, and asked some very good questions about what if Voyager never got lucky was never so well equipped.

    To Shamus, no unless your a fan post season 5 doesn’t have much other then Timeless, which was good and has LeVar Burton in it. and had a focus on Kim and the Doctor (…..and Chakotay).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “And “The Year of Hell” was imo the best two-parter of the entire run of Voyager.”

      If only it were the actual year,and not just two episodes.

      “Equinox was fairly good as well, and asked some very good questions about what if Voyager never got lucky was never so well equipped.”

      And didnt have the reset button.

      • Zeta Kai says:

        Fun fact: The Year in Hell storyline was originally intended to be an actual season’s worth of plot, an honest-to-goodness arc for this arc-less show. There was even some foreshadowing in season 3 with Kes having some weird vision of events from the next year. And that was the problem: the showrunners ultimately were fearful of interfering with the episodic nature of the show, so they scrapped the planned serialization. The writers took the remains of the plot & condensed it into the two-parter that we have now. Kes’s vision ended up in the episode, reworked to account for her absence, Seven’s presence, & other changes in the concept that took place in the interim.

    • “And “The Year of Hell” was imo the best two-parter of the entire run of Voyager.”

      Which is kind of like being the least offensive book in the Twilight series. If they hadn’t made it one giant “you’ve watched two hours of show which will be negated at the very end so nothing you saw matters or even happened,” I would be far more charitable. There have been far too many Star Trek (and other sci-fi shows, to be fair) reset buttons for that kind of stuff to cap a two-part show for such a big franchise.

      I started out liking Kim also as a foil to Tuvok on the bridge, but Harry was the butt of too many jokes. His personal theme song became the Sad Trombone sound effect.

    • Phill says:

      I enjoyed “The Year of Hell”, aside from the inevitable reset at the end, but (as mentioned above), that really should have been the ongoing story of the show spread over several years. It was a good (double) episode, but for me underlined the difference between what they’d done with the Voyager concept versus what they could have done with it.

    • Wide and Nerdy says:

      I really liked SFDEBRIS suggestion for that episode. When you hit the reset button, have Kim behind some of that shielding they had so that it doesn’t reset for him. That way you have a suddenly more world weary hardened Kim (which they would later discover, they really liked) and he could tell the rest of the crew in episodes to come about the amazing things he knows they’re capable of (while being a bit more disillusioned and unsure of Janeway who was kind of crazy that year

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ah voyager.If you watch just the good episodes,you see just how much potential it had.The cast was great,the premise was awesome,but the one thing it lacked the most was the one thing ds9 had in spades:Continuity.If only there were consequences after every episode,half the stuff that was awful wouldve been drastically improved.

    So,question for everyone,which was better:Voyager of V-ger?

    • V’ger. That was a “BIG SCI-FI” concept. Sure, it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but for fans of writers like Arthur C. Clarke, it was pretty good.

      By the way, that was another hope some of us had for Voyager: Maybe the Delta Quadrant would be where the machine planet was, and we’d learn more about the aliens that sent the death-cloud at Earth.

      Then we saw what the show was like and prayed they wouldn’t do that, since it’d probably be said it’s where the Borg started out or something.

      • AdmiralCheez says:

        I don’t know if it’s canon or not, but William Shatner co-wrote Star Trek: The Return, a book that did worse and revealed that V’Ger was built by the Borg. It also had Kirk resurrected by the Borg and Romulan alliance, and features crossovers with the TNG and DS9 crews, as well as some of the surviving TOS members. It’s basically a novel-length fanfiction.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          Then again, Star Trek V was a Shatner fanfic made into a movie so there is precedent.

          Maybe he could team up with Marissa Amber Flores Picard.

        • Blackbird71 says:

          Warning, spoilers below (in case anyone actually plans on reading a book with William Shatner billed as its author):

          For all its faults, I actually thought that the way the Borg were handled in that book was rather interesting – Starfleet “special forces” teams infiltrating Borg-captured worlds with Defiant-class vessels, using Picard’s persona as Locutus to override some Borg, etc. And the V’ger connection to the Borg just made sense to me. Having Spock recognized by the Borg as already part of the collective because of his mindmeld with V’ger? Classic plot twist!

  7. Voyager also fell prey to something that plagued both it and Deep Space Nine: Popular movie franchises coming out with what would (in theory) be hit films making the shows’ producers do stories that were obviously attempts to tie into pop culture. For DS9, I believe it was “GoldenEye” that made the writers give Bashir a 007 fandom, but for Voyager, it was pretty blatant.

    They even called the episode “Lost World,” like the Jurassic Park film that was soon to be in theaters. Ugh.

    Then there was The Swarm, which was supposed to be the new Borg but didn’t succeed, and they managed to suck more than Species 8472, which also tried and failed to be the new Borg. Double ugh.

  8. ben says:

    Oh man, voyager! the only star trek series that I watched consistently. See I’m French, and the holodoc is a look a like of a famous politician, alain juppé. not only do they look alike, but they had that same prickly personality. so every episode with the holodoc was hilarious, and me and my family started watching it only for him.

    It was never a serious show for us, as it seem to be for Americans, but we grow fond of the crew and it become a regular thing. I think we perceived the show as a kind of a comedic sitcom with interesting sci-fi idea throw in the mix, so we never tried to overanalyse it. lacking any reference to previous show probably helped a lot: 7 of 9 was the first borg we saw, we knew spock but tuvok was the second Vulcan we ever see, so there was no personality shock, never see a klingon before, ect…

    and in the end, I liked the overarching theme about the nature of men, and the contrast and interaction between the holodoc (the machine who want to be human) and 7 of 9 (the human who is all machine)

    perhaps you missed the show because you took it too seriously.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye, glad you enjoyed it! So did I, something close to half-the-time.

      It’s not really about taking it too seriously, though, but just the obvious potential obviously squandered – even obvious to someone like me, without a creative bone in my body.

      Definitely less obvious to someone with no prior Trek familiarity, though – you make a good point there. The major new aspect was to have two different (and previously antagonistic) crews sharing the same ship … and they just did nothing with that. Nothing! I mean – even if we just view it as a space-based sitcom, there was boatloads of comedic potential there…

  9. Perhaps of interest, this “Subtitle Subversion” of Voyager is not only hysterical, it highlights a lot of the show’s sillier tropes.

  10. RTBones says:

    One of the things that always niggled the back of my brain about this show was that everything was far too clinical, far too perfect. I dont care how sound a ship design is – if it isnt maintained properly, it will proverbially rust.

    Think about it – you are in a lost ship far away from home. For a while, you’ll have spares to fix things. Eventually, though, you are going to be relying on your engineering team to get creative in order to keep things ship-shape.

    By way of example – Apollo 13. They didnt have what they needed, but solved a problem with what they had. (Yes, they had ground support – but they didnt have supplies on their wounded ship.)

    • One thing they promo’ed quite a bit before the show aired was that Voyager would have “Bio-Neural Gel Packs” as part of its computer system. Some detail was included about them being more vulnerable to heat but somehow made the computer faster. I think they were mentioned in only a few episodes, one of which was where they were infected with something and the Doctor was trying out his bedside manner on one for a gag.

      I figured for sure we were in for a “the ship becomes self-aware” episode, but thankfully, that never happened.

      • venatus says:

        the bio-neural gel-packs are a weird sort of artifact that kinda dates the show. there was a brief period of time were writers and well a lot of people I talked to were convinced that computers were going to become more and more biological. I remember the sci-fi channel’s show eureka made a big deal out of a few bio-computers as well.

        • Mike S. says:

          Babylon 5 also had all the most advanced tech be “organic” and somehow incorporate biological components.

          • To be fair, that was the Elder Races like the Vorlons and the Shadows, whose ships were said to be “grown.” Other sci-fi shows using this were Farscape (Moira) and Doctor Who (the TARDIS was said to have been “grown” sometime in the new run). It’s still a macguffin, since those all came from godlike species, and we don’t know what they’re made out of, whereas Voyager’s gel packs were basically Ziploc bags full of Jello.

            And really, I don’t mind that route for sci-fi, I was just disappointed it was yet one more premise for Voyager that went nowhere.

            • MichaelGC says:

              Indeed – although … if the best they could come up with was “Neelix’s strong cheese nearly destroys the entire ship,” perhaps it’s no bad thing they let that one slide.

              Cheese. OK, strong cheese. Very strong cheese?

              Nope, no quantity of adjectival intensifiers can salvage that one!

              • Exactly. It was part of the whole “why this ship is so awesome” setup that was pretty much ignored. It’s not like it couldn’t have made for at least interesting plot points: Could they be semi-assimilated by the Borg? Could Species 8472 do something weird to them? Could it start making the computer freak out? What if they died?

                Needless to say, I wasn’t a writer for this show.

    • Csirke says:

      “Think about it – you are in a lost ship far away from home. For a while, you’ll have spares to fix things. Eventually, though, you are going to be relying on your engineering team to get creative in order to keep things ship-shape.”

      If you want some of that, you can watch the Battlestar Galactica reboot. But the mood is kind of the opposite of Trek there.

    • krellen says:

      Think about it – you are in a lost ship far away from home. For a while, you’ll have spares to fix things. Eventually, though, you are going to be relying on your engineering team to get creative in order to keep things ship-shape.

      This idea completely falls apart once you remember that they have replicators in Star Trek. Kind ruins any sense of “where are we going to get the parts?”

      • venatus says:

        they always come up with some reason why they can’t replicate the important parts, the bio-neural gel packs couldn’t be replicated according to the show.

        and even if you don’t want to go for the “because of reasons” approach, the replicators were fairly small (at least all the ones I remember seeing)so you just have to have the engineers occasionally mention that x-part is too big to be replicated.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          The small ones that dispense food and personal nicknacks are small. But there are mentions of “industrial replicators”. I don’t know if they had bigger ones on the ship but . . .

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Replicators need energy though,and that is one thing they cannot replicate.And when you need every ounce of energy just so you could make the trip home,not to mention life support and other essentials,like food,you cant really waste it on making sure you have every spare all the time.

        Then again,their holodeck remained in perfect working condition 100% of the time,soooo yeeeeaaaah….

        • Abnaxis says:

          To be fair, if we assume near-perfect efficiency, a holodeck needs WAY less energy than a replicator. E=mc^2 adds up REALLY quick compared to force-fields and photons

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Not really.First,because holograms can interact with stuff,they are forcefields as well.Second,some stuff,like food and water,are probably replicated instead of being just hard light,seeing how when the simulation ends,people are still fed with the food they ate,and wet from the water that splashed them.

            • Tulgey Logger says:

              Don’t be silly. Holodecks are actually magic.

            • Abnaxis says:

              Not…sure what you’re saying. The holodeck is force-fields and photons. The replicator creates matter.

              It takes a lot less guesswork to estimate how much energy the replicator requires, so let’s start with that. Bare minimum, you need m*c^2 worth of energy to create m kilograms worth of mass. Creating a 100g hamburger patty requires, at minimum, .1 * c^2, or 9 pettajoules (10^15 joules).

              Continuing, health experts say we should be drinking 9-13 cups of water a day. If we split the difference at 11 cups, that’s right at 2.5kg of liquid per person per day. For a crew of 1,000, that’s 2500kg. This amounts to ~2250 exajoules (10^18 joules)

              This is way, WAY more energy than is required to light the holodeck. The light energy needed should not be radically different then that needed to light up a room, on the order of hundreds to thousands of watts–or the order of hundreds to thousands of kilojoules per hour. The numbers here are small enough that we’re talking eons before the photons used in the holodeck equal the energy required by the replicator.

              The forcefields are another matter. In a perfect system, they require less energy than the lights–absolute energy required for an ideal force-field is |F*r|. In English, force times the distance the force acted over (accounting for some vector math in case the force and distance are pointing in different directions). By definition, the characters aren’t moving around much in the holodeck, so virtually all consumption stems from waste.

              By these numbers you would have to assume that a holodeck generates 26 pettawatts (10^15 watts) of waste–roughly equal to 7000 times the average power consumption of the entire United States in 2012–to make the two quantities equal. All this, just to be comparable in usage to a perfect replicator making “tea, Earl Gray, hot” and nothing else.

              There is no way the holodecks require as much power as the replicators. E=mc^2 gives you huge, huge numbers to compete with.

              As far as “leaving the holodeck wet” goes…eh…I always just chalked them not wanting to have to figure out how to show the water disappearing when the simulation ends, more than it really being supported by any sort of real in-universe justification…

              • Abnaxis says:

                Dang it, I kept changing how I do the calculations, and the exponents have me juggling.

                For posterity: 2250 exajoules/day *1/3600 * 1/24 = 26 pettawatts (average)

                I found a statistic that says the US used 3.7 Terawatt-hours total in 2012 3.7 TW-hr *3600 = 13.3 pettajoules * 1/3600 * 1/24 * 1/365.25 = 422 GW (average)

                26000000000/422 = 60000000. So the holodeck would need to waste ~60 million times the electricity consumption of the US, not 7,000. We’re talking a lot of energy.

                EDIT: and now that I’ve done all that juggling, I see it would have been easier to do 2250000*365/13.3 = 60 million…

                So yeah, 60 million. Final answer.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                No I get the math,thats ok.But the thing about holodecks is that they dont do just light all the time.For example,there are times when they eat on the holodeck,heck theres even that episode when nog spends days living on a holodeck.That means that the food has to be actually replicated,otherwise he wouldve died(well probably due to dehydration rather than starvation).Same goes for people being wet while there.

                And yes,I get why it was done in the real world,but we are talking about the trek world implications of such scenes.And that implication is:holodecks also replicate some of the stuff inside them,like food and liquids.

                So yes,holodecks do require huge amounts of energy themselves.Especially when they have to generate something like a full body of water.

          • guy says:

            Well, replicators almost certainly don’t make matter from energy because that would be completely insane in terms of energy. Like, feeding the crew one meal requires using up more antimatter than is in a photon torpedo levels of insane.

            Evidence suggests that they probably need to be fed the right raw elements and have trouble with complex organics.

            • Tulgey Logger says:

              I guess it would make sense if a Replicator were a kind of teleporter. But considering what teleporters are able to do, the idea that Replicators can’t handle complex organics—even theoretically, or by hooking a Replicator up to the teleporter’s processors— is ridiculous. Another example of Treknology not really making any sense.

              • Blackbird71 says:

                I do recall an episode or two where it is mentioned that the replicators were based on transporter technology. I always assumed that they used basic raw materials (possibly even reclaimed waste for food; isn’t that a lovely thought?) and rearranged those materials as needed.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Well that depends on which show you are looking at.Voyager was the one that included organic things.But deep space 9 had the self replicating mines that did it out of thin air.So,in the end,replicators do what is required by the plot,as every other piece of tech on star trek actually.

              • Abnaxis says:

                I’m pretty sure that even from TOS, transporters have always been devices that take matter, convert it to energy, beam it somewhere, and then reconstitute it. Replicators have always been portrayed the same, only using a pattern stored in the computer instead of copying something, and making it out straight of energy instead of the interim conversion.

                The replicator’s ok with organic molecules, but for some reason the arrangement of molecules in something that’s actually alive is too complicated to store the pattern permanently. The transporters rely on some complex system of buffers to move the more complicated living things without killing them.

                I think Voyager tried to shift away from this, because people actually got more familiar with the monumental amount of energy replicators would require, and that doesn’t really jive with a ship that’s supposed to be short on supplies.

                • guy says:

                  Well, the weird thing about transporters is the accidents. There are cases where something goes wrong with a transporter and there wind up being two copies of a person.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Ah yes – but that was entirely satisfactorily explained by the fact that the holodeck operated on a separate and incompatible power source from the rest of the ship. Some people expressed skepticism as to how that could possibly make a lick o’ sense, particularly since they were often able to integrate alien technology with approximately the same level of difficulty as we might have inserting a USB cable the right way ’round. But it’s really quite simple: dbdbexf snjd d dodgeball Negev bcchf catfish exponentially.

          PS Sorry for any typos: commenting via my phone.

          • What? Next you’ll be telling us that when they’re out of power, they should hook up systems to all the independently-powered shuttlecraft they have on board. Or when the transporters go out, they use the ones on the shuttlecraft. Or when their weapons go kaput, they launch one or more of their heavily-armed shuttlecraft.

            Madness!

          • Russ says:

            dbdbexf snjd d dodgeball Negev bcchf catfish exponentially

            Not sure what the typos are in your comment…

      • RTBones says:

        Which is completely fine, until a) you have a part too big for the replicator, b)you have a part too complex for the replicator, c) you have a power failure of some sort, d) the replicator itself breaks, e) the replicated part, while looking like the original, doesnt FUNCTION like the original, f)you need to replicate large pieces of hull/engine/warp core/etc g) you land planet-side and bring back some form of XYZ creature that does the proverbial ‘mice chewing on power cords’ routine….

        My point, really, is that at some point you’ll end up with the Star Trek Universe equivalent of duct tape SOMEWHERE.

        • Kalil says:

          I’d also add (speaking as a ships engineer) that personnel are a major constraint on your ability to fix everything and fix everything /right/. The Voyager is canonically under- and mis-manned, by a crew who are under significant psychological duress. That is going to start to get noticeable.

          • RTBones says:

            You’ve hit the nail exactly on the head. There is a distinct difference between making an impromptu field repair out of necessity to get you home or to a port you can affect repairs at, and properly overhauling an engine, servicing a screw, or repairing a hull. In the field, you wont necessarily have the parts you need, the tools you need, or as you correctly point out, the people with the appropriate expertise.

            There WILL be duct tape. :)

      • Mike S. says:

        Tell it to O’Brien, who had to turn to a Ferengi teenager to get hold of a graviton stabilizer.

        It’s pretty clear that there’s enough nonreplicatable stuff that being out of range of resupply for years would be inconvenient, then dangerous. (And dramatic necessity practically demands that this include at least one critical replicator component.)

  11. MichaelGC says:

    I liked Tuvok. I’ve heard it claimed (by people who know Trek a lot better than I do) that he was a rare example of a vulcan-done-well – i.e. competently written* and very well performed.

    Sarek was the other example given of a vulcan-done-well. (Spock doesn’t count…)

    I mean, I totally understand the description of him as prickly & cantankerous, but if we are going to use such terms, then we’re going to need to invent some entirely new adjectives for talking about T’Pol! (Although if it’s the movies tomorrow, then Shamus doesn’t intend to talk about T’Pol? – which is probably very wise…)

    * Most of the time – if anyone counters with e.g. Blood Fever then yeah, I got nothing! :D

    • Rick C says:

      “I mean, I totally understand the description of him as prickly & cantankerous”

      Sure, because it’s completely true. I was just watching Year of Hell part 1 last night. There’s a scene where Neelix comes up to ask him something, and he’s dripping contempt for Neelix, and I can’t remember right at the moment what exactly was said, but Tuvok made one crack that someone with no emotions _would not say_. The only explanation for it is disgust. If anyone wants to look it up, it was the scene after T’s accident where Neelix talks about the new intruder alert warning.

  12. Gunther says:

    Yknow, I consider myself a Trekkie, so this week’s blog posts have been kinda depressing as they’re pointing out just how much of Trek is either outright bad or at least needs to be qualified with a “oh this show is good, but you should skip these episodes and that whole season, and try not to pay too much attention to how dumb that plot element is, etc”. Makes me wonder why I have so much affection for it when so much of it disappoints me.

    It’s like being a Bioware fanboy all over again.

    • Phill says:

      I guess that a lot of people who developed a love for Trek did so at a time when it was, despite its flaws, the best sci fi on TV by a fair margin. And also not able to be found on TV 24/7 so the one day a week that the Star Trek was on TV was something you looked forward to and planned around.

      • It should probably have had a better reboot long ago.

        It was made in a time when sci-fi could get away with being a LOT goofier and still be “serious” to its consumers. As the show went on, it just couldn’t shake its past completely, which is exemplified in the JJ Abrams movies. Rather than being sci-fi that kinda came from our era, we’re back to uniforms by Crayola with mini skirts and go-go boots.

      • Mike S. says:

        I think the trick is to just accept that the world is not a perfect place, and that something can be enjoyable and worthwhile, while still containing howlers and maddening tics. I can spend plenty of time critiquing Trek’s baseline assumptions and failures, the places where Gene Roddenberry or Brannon Braga and I see the world differently, etc. But at the end of the day I like Trek. (Likewise, Tolkien may be my single favorite writer, but that doesn’t mean I believe in the logistics of Mordor or the demographics of Middle Earth or the highly negative view of technological progress.)

        But then, I like Bioware too, despite being fully able to catalog and complain about its tics.

    • Zeta Kai says:

      Shamus put it best: “When it was good, it was really good.” One can forgive a lot when the reward is so great.

      • A gould says:

        And there are some good, if not great, Voyager episodes. Year of Hell to name one. Just as there are terrible episodes of TOS, TNG, DS9, and Enterprise.

        The problem is that there are no good *seasons* of Voyager. There’s nothing to stack up against season 5 of TNG, or season 6 DS9, or even season 4 Enterprise. Voyager had good and great individual episodes, but there’s no season you can watch without stumbling over some god-terrible stinkers.

        • cassander says:

          If voyager was just universally bad, it wouldn’t bug me so much. the good episodes, though, they show us the soup we could have had instead of the tepid water we actually got.

    • crossbrainedfool says:

      That’s the thing about trek – as a inherently experimental and ‘out there’ show, if it connects, there’s nothing quite like it. When it doesn’t, it disintegrates horribly, because it doesn’t have a formula to work from in the same way, say, an action movie does.

  13. John says:

    Oh, Voyager. I don’t have a lot to say about the show that Shamus hasn’t said already. In fact, I salute you Shamus for enduring multiple seasons. I gave up halfway through the first one.

    The most important thing that Voyager did for me was teach me about Internet fandom. First, I learned about fans’ tendency to rationalize. “TNG was bad for two seasons. Therefore, all Trek series are bad for two seasons. If we just keep watching Voyager, it will eventually get good.” I loved, loved, loved the first two seasons of DS9. (I was actually disappointed by Season 3, which shifted the focus away from Bajor & Cardassia.) These were fighting words. Then I learned that when you say thing that fans don’t like, they would rather find a way to exclude you from the discussion than confront your arguments. “If you don’t like Voyager, don’t watch it.” Check. “If you don’t watch the show, you’re not allowed to talk about it.” Wait, what? “Your opinion is automatically invalid. You don’t even watch the show.” Argh!

  14. Matt Downie says:

    I found myself quite enjoying the episodes of Voyager I watched a couple of years back. I never knew how an episode was going to end, even though I’d seen them before – that’s how unmemorable they were.

  15. krellen says:

    Did anyone else get the feeling that Enterprise’s Dr. Flox was somehow the same species as Neelix? I always got that feeling.

  16. venatus says:

    I always have this sort of knee-jerk reaction to defend Kess. yeah the show didn’t do much with her and didn’t know were to take her character. but as a kid watching the show I really looked up to Kess, she was basically who I wanted to be when I grew up (and I’m not just talking about the being on a space-ship type stuff).

    so yeah her character didn’t go anywhere, but then most of the other characters on the show didn’t either.

  17. 3 of 4 says:

    My idea to make Voyager more interesting:

    Around season 2-3ish (maybe a season finale’ even) have Voyager stumble across an old, faint and barely working distress signal that doesn’t even register on anyone other species range because it is so old. And uniquely Terran. To any other species its just static, but the Voyager’s CPU still recognizes it as of Earth origin.

    Usual hijinks ensue…problems getting to source…tribal hijnks of some kind..blah blah prime directive…finally reach source of signal…open door…frozen humans. Who are they? Where did they come from?

    Why, it’s another of the escape ships launched form earth centuries ago! This one slipped through the same black hole Voyager did and wound up here. This ship has 3 people left alive: KhaL Noonien Singh and his two children. The brother, niece and nephew of Khan. They join the Voyager back to earth and the rest of the crew spends the rest of the series trying to NOT let the genetically engineered sociopath find out what happened with the rest of his family.

    NOW THAT……is an interesting crew addition. To hell with the fish faced bartender.

  18. I skimmed comments, so I apologize if this has been brought up, but Voyager was my show.
    As a teenager, I didn’t have a lot of role models. I didn’t see a lot of women interested in what I was interested in (science, fantasy, Magic, that sort of thing), and here was a Captain who was awesome and used to be a scientist and a female chief engineer and okay, a fanservice borg but even she was really smart and kickarse. (Didn’t discover Voyager till season 4 or so, I vaguely remember Kes leaving and being glad about it)
    Voyager had loads of problems, but I will forever love it for giving me women who inspired me and who I looked up to when I really needed it.
    Though I’d kill for a reboot with Kate Mulgrew still playing Janeway (and with consistent characterization).

    Note: it’s entirely possible I missed a ton of potential role models as a teenager, since I wasn’t aware of needing one till I found one.

  19. Jeff R. says:

    There were a handful of good episodes of Voyager. Almost without exception, they achieve the task of being good by not being about the actual Voyager crew but rather a more interesting alternative version of them. This should have told the producers something more than ‘let’s do a whole lot of that in the last couple seasons’.

    Also, Janeway straight up murdered Tuvix, and the idea that she would get promoted rather than courtmarshalled for that alone let alone everything else she did is more damaging to the Federation ideals than anything that happened in DS9, Pale Moonlight included. And what she did to the holodoc on the way to that murder was almost as bad itself.

    Voyager marked a general pole shift in Trek’s moral compass: somewhere along the line it suddenly became the case that whenever they did a ‘moral dilemma’ episode the show wound up endorsing the least right/most wrong possible option more often than not. This would continue to worsen, and by Enterprise the show pretty much always found itself on the wrong side of every possible issue.

    But the series and the entire Trek franchise hits its absolute Nadir with Friendship One, which should be marked even below Threshold for Janeway’s speech about how exploring space isn’t a worthwhile enough cause to justify a single lost life ever…

    • Rick C says:

      “Also, Janeway straight up murdered Tuvix”

      Grrrr. Even though I just watched that episode a month or two ago, I had forgotten that again. That pissed me off when I saw the show when it first aired, it pissed me off recently, and now I’m mildly angry again at being reminded me of it.

      You can spin all you want, but she killed the person that was Tuvix. Frankly I mostly liked him better than Tuvik or Neelix (but I actually like Neelix.)

  20. Roxysteve says:

    Shamus, though you are a solid, God-like media comentarianist I have to take issue with you on the “all the right ingredients” theory on account of the basic idea being so un-trek that it was doomed form the get-go (the boring theme and ridiculous folding starship were just icing on the failcake IMO).

    Consider: ST – exploration. Go out and find interesting things to see, destroy and/or make love to.

    ST:TNG – more of the same. Ever upward, ever outward. The skies are not the limit.

    ST:DS9 – Not going anywhere but people who are pass through and share their space. A bit of a hit-and-whiff especially during the later seasons with the endless Gem-hadar or whatever they were called.

    ST:V – Run! Run for the safety of home as fast as we can! Aiee! Wait, why aren’t we getting nearer? Oh wait, the show is cancelled. Home we go.

    In my opinion, if Paramount wanted a Trek vehicle that had a short lifespan with a definite conclusion (Yippee! We’re home!) and a female captain, they could have done a lot worse than tell the story of the Enterprise C.

    And the script idea re-usage on Voyager and Enterprise (down to a scene-for-scene copy in one case I know of) said nothing as loud as it said “We have no meat to put on these sad, sad bones”.

    But you could sing along to the theme. I often did. The words went:

    Booooooring song it’s a boooooooooring sooooong
    A boring song
    A boring song,
    What a boring song
    Booooooring song it’s a boooooooooring sooooong
    A boring song
    And what a boring show!

    (At which point the trouble and strife would throw something at me).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Being lost in the uncharted part of the universe is not just run,run for home.Its an uncharted part of the universe,so wherever you go you are exploring.Thats the trekiest you can be.

      • Wolf says:

        To be fair they did not play it out very Treky. Which is extra weird considering the first season should have them deal with the fact that they would never see earth again and then make them actually make the journey back worthwhile in a “WE might not get home, but our descendants will and what a tale they will have to tell when they get there”. THAT would have been Trek! All about exploring, improvising and carrying your ideals into the universe.

  21. Abnaxis says:

    Since we’re on the last installment today, I would like to point out that doing one Trek a week was way too fast for this content. I could post for weeks on some of the discussions these posts have been spawning, but they came too fast for me to keep up.

    I know the whole point of the series was to fill a dead week, but I would have been happier with one of these a week, rather than one a day.

    • Shamus says:

      Agreed. If I had guessed that the topic was going to be THIS popular I would have made this a weekly feature. I didn’t get to participate nearly as much as I would have liked. Instead I spent a lot of my time just trying to keep up with the comment surge.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Actually laughed out loud. (But if I may be serious for a moment: I’ve really enjoyed reading all your posts. I do hope this is not out-of-line, but: I like the general attitude, and was continually impressed – and entertained! – by the ways you defended and argued for your position. The word I’d have to use is ‘elevating.’ So, thank you.)

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          But I thank you krellen,for giving us this opportunity to decide which show was the best.

          Enterprise – 118 comments
          The original series – 247 comments
          The next generation – 255 comments
          Deep space 9 – 300 comments
          Voyager – 142 comments

          Its clear that ds9 is the most liked,the best,etc.Hey,even you care the most about it,since youve spawned and participated in the longest comment thread there.So I think its time to admit it:You love ds9 as much as the rest of us.

        • Zeta Kai says:

          I enjoyed debating with you, Krellen, & I appreciate that you remained civil despite being of the minority opinion that DS9/Sisko was rubbish, or however you would phrase it. You made your assertions without taking the internet-standard meltdown approach, & for that I am glad. You even said more than one thing I could agree with, so cheers, mate. To Trek!

      • “Captain! The Comment Surge is causing a tachyon feedback loop that’ll tear the ship apart!”

      • 3 of 4 says:

        Keep up with the comment surge? I can see how that would bleed a lot of your goof-off time. And..you know, that game isn’t going to play itself.

        I think you have built up a time surplus just from the not combing your hair for the last decade.

  22. Lord Nyax says:

    First, because nobody has mentioned this, and it needs to be said, no matter what you thought of the show itself you have to admit: it had the best theme song of all the trek series. I still get all emotional whenever I hear it, it’s full of all that stirring potential for exploration and nobility and hope and I can’t help getting choked up.

    As far as the show goes, it’s my favorite Trek but mostly because it is the only series I ever got to see on TV, week to week. DS9 was at a bad timeslot for me and I’m too young to have caught TNG. My brother is in the same boat: we both love Voyager, even though we now realize it’s pretty stupid. My brother could tell you every single stupid plot point, excruciating line read, and ridiculously out of character moment. Why? Because he’s seen the entire series about four times now, he puts it on while he paints.

    I think most SF fans have a love/hate relationship with their favorite shows. Voyager will always be my favorite, no matter how much it sucks.

    • Twisted_Ellipses says:

      I have to say the same. In the UK they would show Voyager in the same timeslot as Voyager, so I saw that rather than DS9 and I’m irrationally attached to it…

    • krellen says:

      TNG was my Trek, and I have a love/love/love relationship with it.

      • Lord Nyax says:

        I was mostly thinking about this kind of SF fan behavior. Those who love something are most critical of it’s shortcomings.

        And to be honest? I love Voyager. I don’t hate it a bit. I recognize all of it’s flaws but I love love love love it. Like a parent with a kid, I guess: you know your kid isn’t perfect but that doesn’t change the fact that you love it. I love Voyager like I love an old friend.

        Its funny how other people can make you hesitant to be honest about your love for a show.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I can be critical of the stuff I love,and still not hate it.Buffy,firefly and doctor who I love,but if you ask me Ill give you a huge list of stuff wrong with either of them and how they couldve been improved.Well ok,except for firefly,which is perfect.

          • krellen says:

            Firefly has one glaring flaw: it ended too soon.

          • Mike S. says:

            I love Firefly, but I think a perfect show would have figured out its astrography to begin with, rather than making it up as it went along. You’ll never convince me that the megasystem with hundreds of terraformed moons was something they’d come up with as of the early episodes.

            (“Out of Gas”, in particular, clearly wasn’t written to take place inside a solar system, where it would take hours at most for a distress signal to reach someone.)

            I’m also not sure about the economics of a world in which a washed up rebel vet can finance an energy source sufficient for interplanetary travel (plus the hull to surround it), but countless towns (that have enough surplus wealth to be worth Serenity’s fuel to get there and trade with) can’t swing widespread electricity or motor transport.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              @krellen
              Thats not the fault of the show however,but of those asinine morons at box delivery service.

              @Mike S.
              I wasnt really serious.Of course firefly has a bunch of flaws.However this:

              “(“Out of Gas”, in particular, clearly wasn’t written to take place inside a solar system, where it would take hours at most for a distress signal to reach someone.)”

              is not one of them.First,the density of the traffic in the outer reaches of a solar system cant be that big(and outer reaches of a solar system are huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge).Secondly,and more importantly,its not just enough for the distress signal to reach someone,the someone needs to be willing to respond as well.

              • Mike S. says:

                It’s been a while since I saw it, but my recollection is that the running tension is “we’re so isolated no one will hear us, unless we can cleverly boost our signal”, not “lots of people will hear us, of course, but odds are no one’s going to try to help some pirate criminal who got in trouble– or is pretending to have– off in the boonies”.

                Space is big, but their ships are fast. (Serenity is kind of a heap, and gets from place to place in days at most.) You can see and get transmissions from anything in a system from a long way off. (Stealth in space is essentially impossible even if you’re trying.[1]) The whole idea of an isolated path between inhabited worlds, where no one’s going to notice you, really strongly implies an interstellar milieu.

                (And my recollection is that the show didn’t start making the idea of a single huge system explicit till later on in the series.)

                [1] http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardetect.php#nostealth

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Heres the thing about radio waves:They dissipate even in perfect vacuum.The reason sunlight gets colder the farther you are away from the sun is because the radiation from the sun dissipates.And sun is a huge source of radiation.So yes,you can easily spot anything that generates radiation of any kind in space,but determining what that thing actually is is a different thing entirely.A radio message is not something that you can just pick up and instantly recognize,you have to decode it.And unless you are at a perfect spot to get the message(for example you are targeted by a directional emitter),you will detect only noise.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      Sorry, I much prefer DS9’s fanfare to Voyager’s theme when it comes to an emotionally stirring theme song.

  23. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    The writing was generally pretty bad. The Scorpion 2 parter had the intriguing/completely illogical step of Janeway siding with the Borg based purely on the chance that Species 8472 might not stop after defeating the Borg. Spoiler:they had every intention of stopping That said, it’s still one of the better episodes…

    • venatus says:

      8472 stopping after the borg was a a retcon. when they were introduced they would say things like “your galaxy will be purged” and stuff about killing the weak. according to sfdebris they were meant to be the new enemy of voyager but for some reason they didn’t have the staying power so the writers went back to the borg being the baddies.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        They weren’t conceptually compelling. They were just powerful scary and weird.

        Borg, you had that whole hive mind things and the cybernetics. It felt like something that could happen to us or an effective metaphor for a number of things (I’ve heard it compared to consumerism and communism both. Kind of a good sign when you have a creation so robust that it works for such disparate ideas).

    • guy says:

      They did not. That happened later.

  24. Abnaxis says:

    [Janeway] was basically a real-world politician: A dunce with a wobbly moral compass who suggests terrible ideas in a confident and compelling voice.

    And when she got back to the Alpha quadrant, they promoted her to admiral…

    • John says:

      Of course they did. Picard didn’t get promoted to Admiral. Sisko didn’t get promoted to admiral. Okay, Kirk did, but it didn’t stick. This is one of the few instances of Voyager doing something new–and also one of the many instances of Voyager doing something without much in the way of justification.

      Actually, this kind of thing is a natural, if deplorable, tendency of any sufficiently long-running franchise. (I’m speaking of Trek as a whole here, rather than just Voyager.) I don’t follow the Star Wars novels closely, but my impression is that they must have had half a dozen each of (i) Jedi who are even more powerful than Luke Skywalker and (ii) threats to the Galactic Republic even more dangerous than the Sith!

      • Veylon says:

        Actually on i) Luke Skywalker continued to be the standard-bearer for the New Jedi; anyone surviving from the old era was either not much of a Jedi or crazy. Arguably, some of the new Jedi are more powerful, but he’s still the leader.

        On ii) The only enemy they’ve had that could be considered more dangerous than the Sith was the Yuuzhan Vong (basically an analogue to 8472). Everything else has either been more Sith, more Empire or local menaces.

      • RCN says:

        Hey, if they could they would have made Archer admiral as well. To hell Earth basically has the only one ship. To hell that Archer has the mental age of a mayfly and a half-eaten potato. To hell that there isn’t even much of a federation. If one man could be the physical manifestation of bad ideas being acted upon (and forcing everyone to work with him DESPITE not convincing a single soul) it is Archer.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      A little lesson about military ranks and those who rise through them: admirals (and their counterparts in other branches, generals) are politicians. The only real way to get into the admiralty (except maybe during time of war) is by playing politics and beating out the other candidates for the position.

  25. Blackbird71 says:

    “Tuvok was written and performed as a prickly cantankerous grouch, lacking the calm dispassion we expect from Vulcans.”

    This was pretty much my complaint about the Vulcans on Enterprise. In my experience, condescension and pettiness are generally emotional reactions, and Enterprise Vulcans seemed to have those emotions in spades.

    • Tulgey Logger says:

      Practically every Vulcan besides Spock is portrayed as an emotionally distant asshole rater than what Vulcans supposedly are: practitioners of emotional discipline in order to acheive unblemished rational thought. Most of the time, it’s pretty unsatisfying to watch, even though I do like Tuvok.

      • silver Harloe says:

        In Enterprise, they “explained” this in season 4. Spock was a disciple of the new order that was a minority (and hunted) faction on Vulcan until T’Pol helped them rise to dominance. While the new faction was more open about using their psychic talents, it was also more disciplined and pacifistic. (Actually, it was closer to a restoration of an older order – the ‘new faction’ had a stricter reading of the founding documents or some such) (Something vaguely like that, the details elude me)
        Of course, that only explains the Vulcans from the first 3 seasons of Enterprise. It doesn’t explain Tuvok very well at all.

      • Blackbird71 says:

        That was my point though; the Enterprise Vulcans seemed to be anything but emotionally distant; many of them seemed to have their hatred and contempt barely below the surface, if not displayed outright.

  26. Thomas says:

    Oh wow, I just learnt today that both Picardo and Jewel Saithe (Kayleigh from Firefly) were in Stargate Atlantis. I’m going to have to watch that now

    • krellen says:

      Atlantis is pretty good. I liked it, at least.

      • I liked all the Stargate shows, even Universe, which was just getting going when MGM shat the bed.

        Atlantis only had one major flaw for me: Its portrayal of the Ancients. These were pretty much highly-evolved godlike humans with access to technology that placed them so far above us that our mere tinkering with it once destroyed a solar system. However, they were just refugees from a troupe of itinerant artists putting on a sci-fi version of Julius Caesar.

        I do miss Rodney McKay. He was fun to watch be arrogant and awful to everyone else.

        • RCN says:

          Yeah, I really miss McKay as well. He was another odd concept that the writers of Stargate completely nailed down: The SYMPATHETIC arrogant scientist. Even the usually marvelous Battlestar Galactica (Season 4? What are you talking about? It was canceled on Season 3) would often run Gaius Baltar into the ground and make him completely abominable to the audience instead of relatable (only to regain our love a couple of episodes later, but still…).

          Stargate really had a lot of really clever handling of archetypes and the creation of new ones. The honorable warrior with a bad past? Actually has quite a bit of depth to his sense of honor and never forgets his awful past. The obtrusive boss? Can actually (and often) be reasoned with. The brilliant scientist? Often has to fail through the empirical system a couple of times before getting it right. The analytical bureaucrat? Actually brings good points and arguments, and is actually competent.

          My main problem with Stargate is that they often went a little crazy in the action. Especially with the dual-wielding guns akimbo with AUTOMATIC GUNS (Teal’c I can actually kind of buy firing two MACHINE GUNS at the same time, Daniel shooting a pistol and a MP5 at the same time? Not so much. Heck, it’s sketchy when he shoots a single HANDGUN with competency and accuracy. I believe it took McKay three seasons before he started actually training with firearms.)

    • ehlijen says:

      By the time those two join the show it’s passed it’s high point, in my opinon, but it remained a well above average show all the way through.

    • Raygereio says:

      Jewel Staite’s character was pretty much just fanbait without any substance.
      But Woolsey (Picardo’s character) was good and actually had a pretty neat character arc starting from SG-1.

      • dp says:

        Picardo’s Wolsey is an interesting character, originally presented as an but over time it becomes clear his real role is to run interference between the genuinely clueless oversight committee* and the people who actually do stuff (which is what competent people in his position should actually be doing).

        Stargate-SG1 is mostly where the speculative sci-fi tv went after Star Trek. Its mixed in with a lot of episodes of fighting alien bad guys, but those episodes are fun too.

        • dp says:

          Oops, looks like I missed a closing bracket. Sorry about that but at least the link still works.

        • It also had pretty damn good ongoing continuity. Just by being smart about its setting and premise (“Hey, lets take this power source and these weapons back and figure out how they work! And lets retro-engineer this stuff over here and eventually we can have real spaceships!”), it set itself above most other shows with robots & lasers.

          It really is a good model for having a coherent ongoing story while still having mostly stand-alone episodes throughout. If there’s another Star Trek show, I hope it cribs this concept.

          • ehlijen says:

            And while it did not as fully embrace the pure optimism that Star Trek had, at least half the lead SG team was always arguing for it in most dilemma episodes, so it didn’t ever go fully dystopian or grimedgy.

            In fact, I think the interactions between O’neil and Jackson tested those ideals in more interesting ways than Star Trek often managed, making the optimism more meaningful because it wasn’t the default or easy path.

  27. ThaneofFife says:

    “(Disclosure: I got disgusted and lost interest somewhere in late season four and early season five. If the show got magically brilliant at the end, I missed it.)”

    Having read/skimmed every comment to-date, I can’t believe no one has said this: Shamus, Voyager got magically better (though not brilliant) at the end.

    The last three seasons were hands-down the best three of the entire run:
    – They build a new, more capable shuttle,
    – Paris gets imprisoned (at least for a month) for violating the prime directive
    – They meet an evil federation ship that delivers on at least some of the promise of terrorist crew members.
    – They find ancient earth artifacts, have moral debates with sentient WMDs, start an Irish holo-village that tries to burn them as witches, get assimilated by the Borg, have their ship taken over and turned into one giant holodeck where they’re forced to re-fight WWII, and actually start talking to Starfleet on a regular basis.

    These were some dynamite episodes. Most of them weren’t as philosophical as TOS or some TNG episodes. That being said, they were tremendously entertaining. Neelix also gets de-emphasized, which is good.

    Seriously, watch some of Voyager’s last three seasons, and see if you feel the same way. Most people never saw this stuff because the first four seasons were sooooo bad. I’m curious what the other commenters think, as well!

    • ehlijen says:

      On the downside:

      If awesome shuttles are that easy to build (a lone ship without support on the move can do it), why is Starfleet bothering with anything worse? Is because they’re genre savvy and don’t want to lose the good shuttles to dramatic crashes?

      The evil ship is defeated and then there are yet more people on board that clearly don’t buy into the Starfleet ideal but are never again shown as mattering.

      There is always the reset button. Assimilated? Nah, we’re fine now. Ship taken over and rebuilt? Nah, fixed that last Monday.
      The irish village? Ok, fine, but that plot would have fit better in TNG. Is a lone starship far away from home really going to permanently lock one of its few recreational areas into one mode when presumably an entire crew has their own needs and interests and no other means to release stress? Or is this the designated ‘everyone likes ireland’ ship and happened to only pick up those maquis that also do so?

      There were decent episodes, but none saved the show overall.

      • ThaneofFife says:

        Fair points.

        I think the idea behind the Irish village was for more people to use the one holodeck without scheduling conflicts. If enough people liked it, it could free up time on the remaining holodecks for the people who didn’t.

        Also, Starfleet should definitely be genre savvy if it ever read the logs from TOS & TNG. ;-D So many tropes came from those shows…

  28. Taellosse says:

    If you liked Picardo’s Holodoc, you might want to check out Stargate. He was a an occasional recurring character in SG-1, starting a few seasons in, and his appearances became gradually more frequent, then he became a regular cast member on Stargate Atlantis. Woolsey is different than the Holodoc, but there’s certain similarities, and he has a lot of the same feel to him.

  29. RCN says:

    Aww man, I completely forgot Chakotay on my “Inclusion Match-up” from last Trek update.

    I wonder if it’s because he has all the rich flavor of lukewarm glue.

    Also, probably was already mentioned, but Picardo eventually showed up on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis as something completely and entirely new in fiction: The COMPETENT BUREAUCRAT! I know, even now I find it baffling.

    EDIT: Oh, the comment RIGHT ABOVE MY OWN already mentioned Picardo. Sorry.

    Oh, and I also loved Mulgrew. Too bad she literally had nothing to work with. I instantly recognized her as the Witch of the Wild in Dragon Age: Origins. If you want to see something recent she’s in, she does “Red” in Orange is the New Black. And she perfectly encompasses the big Russian momma in that series (don’t worry about the blatant titties of the first episode. They’re pretty much literally only in the first episode.)

    Finally, I actually liked Tuvok a bit. Even if only because he got the closest to actually killing Neelix with his bare hands in that entire series. For that alone, I concede a few points to him.

    BTW, I think the reason you liked the Holodoc so much is because he was basically written as “Imagine if a Medic thought and acted like an Engineer”

  30. Rob says:

    I don’t know if Shamus got as far as 4×23, but Living Witness is a good stand-alone episode with a nice classic sci-fi premise, definitely worth checking out.

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