In what will seem like a strange beginning to a page about Voyager I’m going to start by discussing Deep Space Nine.
When Deep Space Nine began TNG was still in production. So it made sense not to have two shows about a starship because their would be nothing to separate them. Deep Space Nine was therefore a show about a space station. It told stories that couldn’t be done on TNG. In TNG, like TOS before it, the Enterprise could just head off into the sunset. In Deep Space Nine the problems couldn’t be avoided and had repercussions for episodes to come.
Star Trek: Voyager had a new theme also. It was about a ship lost in space and trying to get home. It had the added intrigue of having a crew made up of Starfleet, Maquis, a criminal and two civilian aliens. This had the potential to be an excellent show. However in my opinion the only reason it isn’t the worst show in the franchise is because Enterprise was created.
Before I continue I’m going to assume that you have at least a passing familiarity with the show. I’ll start where the problems all began – the pilot.
At the end of the pilot Captain Janeway gives a speech about how the crews are going to have to work together. There is just one problem with this – it seems they already are.
At the end of the pilot all the Marquis are wearing Starfleet uniforms. They have assimilated into Janeway’s crew. We hear about a discussion between Janeway and Chakotay but don’t see it. In fact if you look over the series as a whole there are very few episodes that focus on that aspect of the crew. It makes me wonder why they bothered. Seriously if you think about Voyager how many episodes would have to be rewritten if it was just about an ordinary crew heading home? The answer is very few. The other issue I have with Voyager is the exploring.
In one episode Seven says ‘If you maintain a direct course to Earth and avoid all extraneous contact with alien species, it will increase your chances of survival.’ Janeway dismisses this as being a ‘dull ride home.’ However I find it hard to argue with Seven. I know that Starfleet’s mission is to explore the galaxy but it still seems a little silly to keep doing this when it delays your journey home and you know that there is no backup.
Had I been writing Voyager I would have made a few changes these are my suggestions.
1. Make the Marquis more of a feature. Not only were they assimilated into the crew so fast but there wasn’t even much of an indication who was marquis and who was starfleet. I think they should have spent at least a season with this integration.
2. Keep Chakotay’s ship. This would have made the series very much its own thing and it would have really felt like the crews were working together.
3. Keep track of ship’s supplies. Its a running joke in Voyager that they never run out of shuttles or torpedoes. There is some suggestion that they could rebuild shuttles but it is stated that the torpedoes can’t be replaced.
(Just as an aside it was mention on a DVD extra for Lost that when guns started to appear on the island the writers had to make notes of where all the guns were to assist with the story. I think that Voyager should have done something smiler.)
4. The main thing that Voyager should have concentrated on is stories only they could tell. Stories that wouldn’t have worked in any other series. ‘State of Flux‘ is a good example. It has a Marquis crewmember trading technology to the Kazon for protection. This story wouldn’t work in the other series because the Federation is always near by.
5. I would have had far fewer ‘Will they get home? Stories. These fail because its the premise of the show that they are lost. If they get home the show is over. The difficulty is that these shows need to be included because it is what the show is about. However perhaps a more creative approach was needed. An example that springs to mind is ‘The Zeppo‘ which is an episode of Buffy. In that there is an apocalypse and it is the B story. So Voyager could have had a story about a wormhole but made it the B-story and focused the A story on some aspect of character.
6. Finally I’ll do the unfair thing and compare Voyager with Battlestar Galactica. I know that the two shows are entirely different animals but Battlestar Galactica had a lot of drama just regarding being low on supplies. On Voyager they still use the holodeck and do unnecessary exploring.
I hope you’ve found these thoughts to be of interest. I will just say that I did enjoy many episodes of Voyager. One that springs to mind immediately is ‘Message in a Bottle‘ The problem was that, for me, these episodes could only be enjoyed in a vacuum (no pun intended) and didn’t make so much sense as a part of the whole.