Star Trek Month – Star Trek: Voyager (1995 – 2001)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Flickering Myth writing team look back at the classic sci-fi franchise. Next up for Star Trek Month is Ozzy Armstrong looking back at Star Trek: Voyager….

Star Trek: Voyager follows the Captain and crew of the USS Voyager as they track a renegade Maquis ship into The Badlands where, thanks to a highly advanced alien, they are flung over 70,000 light-years into the uncharted Delta Quadrant. Our crew soon realises that they must fight to survive the unexplored territory and somehow make their long journey home.

You’d be forgiven if the synopsis sounds a little familiar. This is because it’s very similar to other sci-fi behemoths such as Battlestar Galactica and Lost in Space. Despite the unoriginality of the initial premise, this is of course a Star Trek outing and as such has a very different tone and further- reaching ideals that can easily be enjoyed.

Thanks to their distance from Earth, one of the best things about Voyager is our opportunity to meet and interact with a whole host of new species ranging from the frustrating to the sublime. One such excellent species would be the Vidiians. With this race we meet a group of humanoids who, due to a horrible genetic disease known as the Phage, harvest the organs of other races to keep themselves alive. While there are many excellent encounters with a whole host of races, a couple standout for all the wrong reasons, most notably the Kazon. This warrior race is almost a carbon copy of the Klingons and as such become increasingly annoying as they rip-off everything we love and fear about The Federation’s most famous foe.

Something that doesn’t really sit too well is the fact that the crew seems, most of the time, fairly content to be so very far away from home as they show little angst or despondency on their journey. This could well be attributed to sticking too closely to the Star Trek formula but one would think that after Deep Space Nine’s darker and sometimes more adult stories, this show could have had a similar edge to it.

However, the different interactions that we bear witness to does allow for some excellent storytelling and fantastic episodes; my favourite being the double bill called Scorpion. Named after the Aesop fable, this episode teams up the Voyager crew and an old nemesis in The Borg as they both battle against a race known only as Species 8472. Unlike any other episode, we see Starfleet working together with The Borg to combat Species 8472 in a way that’s both revealing and excellently portrayed.

There are many other noticeable notable episodes which including Timeless and Message in a Bottle, both of which perfectly show the complete range of what this show is capable of in terms of both humour and pathos.

Unfortunately there are also quite a few stinkers which you’ll have to endure, the worst being the universally- despised episode Threshold. Ask any Trekkie and they will tell you that this is probably the single worst Star Trek episode of all time, due to its complete ignorance of previous episodes and ludicrous story. To save myself from fully describing it, I’ll just say that the captain turns into a lizard and has sex with someone in her crew. Sounds terrible? Believe me, you have to watch it to realise how awful it is.

There are several other dreadful outings such as The Disease where Harry Kim effectively catches an STD off an alien and no, I’m not joking.

And speaking of Ensign Harry Kim, while there are many excellent characters in Voyager, there are a couple whom you will loathe almost immediately and Harry is one of them. His youthful earnestness and childlike demeanour instantly maddening and can occasionally ruin a good episode.

They’re not all bad though and some characters really do jump out as being thoroughly excellent; especially the resident doctor, the Emergency Medical Hologram. Activated due to the death of the main physician, the doctor is amusing from the offset and you look forward to seeing him on-screen, praising himself and sardonically mocking the other crew members.

Further to the doctor, other mentions should be given to Tuvok and Tom Paris. While completely different, these two often serve as excellent counterpoints to any story. Tuvok, being a Vulcan, will be logical and dispassionate whereas the fighter pilot Tom seems to work on impulse alone (pun intended).

Of course there is one character who had everyone talking back in her day and that is Seven of Nine. As a Borg freed from the Collective, we watch her struggle to adapt to her new existence on the ship with interest, and her interactions with Captain Janeway become compulsive viewing. It also has to be said that she introduced a new level of ‘sexiness’ to Star Trek rarely seen before in any other character.

While it may have faults in tone and its lack of originality; and the fact that stories and episodes may not be classics, you can’t help but like Voyager. Many truly touching and funny moments will make you want to ignore the tedious and dissappointing and focus solely on the reason any of us like Star Trek in the first place: to see our crew boldly go where no man has gone before.

Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.

Star Trek Month continues tomorrow with Andrew Naylor looking at Star Trek: Enterprise…

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