No smooth sailing aboard Voyager

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  • #1477

    One hears so much about what a pro and “mother hen” the star of the show was, it’s a bit disheartening to hear that this wasn’t extended to every member of the cast. [LINK]

    RYAN: Right, there’s no better way to do that. Consequently, all the scripts revolved around Seven of Nine and her relationship with the other characters, of course — which actually ended up leading to some really rich storylines for the other characters.

    TYLER: There was probably more diversity in terms of storyline for everybody.

    RYAN: Exactly — but that’s hard, when the new kid comes in and suddenly it’s all about them. That was tough, and it was particularly tough for some more than others, which was not real fun. It really made it an unpleasant work experience.

    TYLER: Did that continue, or did evolve?

    RYAN: It continued, for quite a while.

    In later seasons, the intense, laser-like focus on the Janeway/Seven relationship is gradually widened to Seven and the Doctor, Seven and Icheb, Seven and damn near anyone else… so it’s not as if this went completely unaddressed.

    #7319
    Steve W
    Steve W
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    And there’s another reason not to like Mulgrew.

    Around the time Voyager was halfway through the first season, I remember reading something about the previous actress hired to be the captain walked out and they had to hire somebody else, quickly. I think I caught a bit of L.A. Law on TV one day and I thought that Susan Dey would have made an interesting female captain. I would have liked any one else other than Kate Mulgrew, I never cared for her limited acting ability but mostly because I found her voice kind of irritating.

    #7320
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    Aha! Now we are getting to the core of Steve’s hatred of everything Voyager: It’s all about Kate Mulgrew. It sets the stage for the rest of the show. If you don’t like the main protagonist (or the actor of said protagonist), there is nothing they can do to the show to make it acceptable to you.

    You probably hated “Mrs. Columbo”, Season 3 of Warehouse 13 and “Orange is the New Black” as well. 😉

    #7321
    ZLoth
    ZLoth
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    And, here I was blaming the writing of the show. Silly me. 😕

    #7322
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    Naturally there are issues with the writing on many of the episodes of VOY but I’m looking for the core of Steve’s hatred. The essence of it all.

    Besides, I’ve seen far worse writing on TNG episodes, especially the first two seasons. Currently I’m watching the last season of TNG and some of those episodes are just godawful. Barclay as a spider? Come on!

    #7323
    Steve W
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    @ubikuberalles wrote:

    You probably hated “Mrs. Columbo”, Season 3 of Warehouse 13 and “Orange is the New Black” as well. 😉

    Never watched any of them.

    No, there were plenty of problems with Voyager for me not to like it that much (I didn’t hate it, I still watched it throughout its run). Mostly it was the wasted concept. Long before Voyager was ever started, I wondered about the idea of a Starfleet ship getting sent to some other part of the galaxy via a wormhole and them having to find their way back and “go native” as it were, doing whatever they have to do to survive and make it home in one piece. I was happy when they’d announced a new Trek show with the same idea, and after watching it realized that they weren’t going to do anything interesting with the concept. And it seems the corporate culture happening at Paramount at that point was stifling creativity and guaranteeing they would make a bland program. And to be honest, none of the Voyager crew other than Tim Russ and Jeri Ryan seemed to be cast well. A show like DS9 had great casting, they all seem to click in their roles, whereas on Voyager nobody really “owned” their role, any actor could have been slotted in. Like I said, Voyager’s problems were mostly behind the scenes but the acting did contribute to my dissatisfaction of the show. If the actors aren’t watchable at least they can have good strong stories to fall back on, and the show didn’t have that either. It might be why there was so much jealousy with Jeri Ryan as she joined the show, everybody’s focusing on her because she suddenly stands out on a program where absolutely nobody stands out. Plus, skin tight silver jumpsuits.

    #7324
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    Aha! Something I can sink my teeth into. Specifics! I love it.

    Back with the previous incarnation of the forum I remember hearing a lot of “Voyager sucks! The writing is bad! Poor Acting!” and nothing specific. I hate generalities like that and we didn’t have a “why Voyager sucks” thread, just a lot of cat calling. Now I have something I can work with.

    Wasted Concept: I totally agree. After the first season I realized they were never going to realize the potential and I just accepted it. That made it easier for me to watch the episodes since I lacked that anticipation. However, there were a few episodes that showed promise and reminded us of what they could have done if they fully realized the potential of the concept. “Blink of an Eye” comes to mind and I wished they did something like that as early as season one instead of making us wait until season six. In fact, the first season seemed more like Gilligan’s Island than Voyager. “Hey look! We found a way home through this micro-wormhole! Oops! Nope. Too bad, so sad.” Groan. The whole Borg space and Seven of Nine showed promise but they didn’t quite get there because, throughout most of the season, they would have their standard episodes – but with a Borg on ship.

    Bad Casting:

    And to be honest, none of the Voyager crew other than Tim Russ and Jeri Ryan seemed to be cast well

    More or less, I agree. I liked Robert Picardo, he did a good job. Garrett Wang, Robert Beltran and Jennifer Lien? Meh. They could have done a WHOLE lot better. I’m on the fence with Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan MacNeill and completely unsure about Kate Mulgrew. She was hot (to me, anyway) but she always had this expression on her face that looked like she was trying to hold back a major fart. Distracting and it made her less attractive.

    Bad Stories

    If the actors aren’t watchable at least they can have good strong stories to fall back on, and the show didn’t have that either.

    I don’t entirely agree. Most of the stories were kinda meh with a few bad ones in the mix and a few brilliant ones. The meh episodes could have been good or great if they casted better and – more importantly – better defined at least three or four of the main characters of the show (I’ll get into that later). the premise of many of the stories were good but the writers got lazy or something and they lacked an edge that would have made them good. So, more or less, I thought most of the stories were good but they failed in execution due to poor writing, casting and character development.

    Here’s a few more criticisms of my own:

    Poorly Defined Characters I wanted to like Harry Kim but they did such a poor job with his character I just found him annoying. I did not find his lack of confidence credible. He’s a Star Fleet academy graduate for goodness sake! He should be full of piss and vinegar and not plagued with this lack of self-confidence. Besides Barclay already filled that role with much better effect, no need to repeat themselves here.

    Kess bored the hell out of me. She was just a big blob that did little. It was clear the writers had no idea what to do with her.

    Chakotay was, well, fine, I guess, but they needed to better define him. He needed to be more edgy and hard core about his cause, the Maquis. More friction between him and the Captain would have made things more interesting. Part of the problem is Beltran and Mulgrew did not have good chemistry and the few scenes where romance seemed possible were just, well, awkward.

    I actually liked Neelix – though he did annoy me from time to time. However, most of the credit should go to Ethan Phillips, who portrayed him. Any less of an actor would have turned Neelix into a boring blob like Kess.

    Despite those flaws I still found the show entertaining enough to watch each episode as they were broadcast. It wasn’t until Enterprise came out that I shouted “Enough!”.

    #7325

    Paramount really should’ve cut Gerry Anderson a juicy check for all the Space: $19.99 scripts they ripped off wholesale. Nearly every story that was done revolving around Maya in season 2 of Space was done nearly beat-for-beat with Seven on Voyager. Not just a case of “well, similar stranded-far-from-Earth setup, so similarities are inevitable” but wholesale copying of specific plotlines. Think Tank and Hope & Fear are two Voyager episodes that ripped specific plotlines off; there were numerous others. With a few exceptional highlights, the writing on Voyager tended to be dull, bad, or “borrowed.”

    #7326
    ZLoth
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    @ubikuberalles wrote:

    Bad Casting:

    And to be honest, none of the Voyager crew other than Tim Russ and Jeri Ryan seemed to be cast well

    More or less, I agree. I liked Robert Picardo, he did a good job. Garrett Wang, Robert Beltran and Jennifer Lien? Meh. They could have done a WHOLE lot better. I’m on the fence with Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan MacNeill and completely unsure about Kate Mulgrew. She was hot (to me, anyway) but she always had this expression on her face that looked like she was trying to hold back a major fart. Distracting and it made her less attractive.

    Hmmm…. Jennifer Lein left acting after 2003 and is reportedly an nutritionist now. Two of the Voyager actors are directors now.

    Now, if you want to talk about a series that crashed, try Heroes. The first season was fantastic. Second season, like most other series in 2007, was affected by the writers strike, and was cut short after 13 episodes. By the time season four came around, even the fans were rallying for cancellation. So, Voyager had a slightly better fate.

    But, swinging back around…. you would think that they would be airing the Star Trek series to correspond with the the second rebooted Star Trek film, but no. Especially on Viacom-owned Spike TV. Go figure. I’ve just let Star Trek go, and moved on to other things that are more relevant.

    #7327
    Steve W
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    @ubikuberalles wrote:

    I liked Robert Picardo, he did a good job.

    Dammit, I forgot about Robert Picardo. He was actually typecast to that kind of role, his character seemed like a cross between Data from TNG and Picardo’s doctor character from the show China Beach. He actually did a fantastic job with a role that could have been very bland with the wrong characterization by a different actor. He was really the one great character on the show, and it now annoys me that I forgot all about him. Damn.

    If Voyager were up to me, this is how I would have done it. Instead of the Maquis being the ones who joined Voyager, I would have made it Romulans. Somehow a small Romulan ship got pulled along with Voyager, their ship was too damaged to go on, so they end up joining the crew and do not immediately fit in. The ship was shuttling a seasoned Romulan captain when it met its fate, and he becomes the unofficial first officer. The other three or four Romulans get along with the Federation crew to varying degrees, one of which really enjoys the experience and takes the place on the crew that Neelix did as the lighthearted character (without being annoyingly cheerful and eventually grating). You could even cast Robert Picardo in that role, and have a Romulan doctor be the resident physician instead of a hologram. Maybe one of the Romulans would form a bond with Tuvok and start to adopt the path of logic. Instead of having “redshirts” get killed here and there, introduce a background character at the beginning of a season and work them in a little more here and there, then kill them off, to give it a Game Of Thrones kind of feel where nobody is safe, eventually killing a bridge officer (Kim or Paris would have been fine with me) and eventually, with a good story leading up to it, the captain. The Romulan captain, being the highest military ranking officer on the ship, would assume command and try to get them home, slowly learning how to captain a Starfleet ship and learning to temper his Romulan “shoot first, don’t bother asking questions later” training. And here’s the part that would make it completely different from the Voyager that we ended up with… let the characters grow and evolve, so that they’ve drastically changed from the time they leave to the time they return. I think about Farscape and how Crighton had changed so much that when he got back to Earth, his family kept pointing it out. I would love to see the characters progress from each situation in a natural way rather than hitting the Simpsons style reset button each episode. It wouldn’t have to be hardcore episodic, you don’t want to drive away casual viewers like that, but carry a strong emotional and personal narrative for the main characters so that on viewing old episodes you can tell how fresh they were in the beginning.

    That is one of the reasons I responded to Enterprise so well. You can see in the fourth season that Archer had changed quite a bit from the beginning of his mission. He had the dream of exploration destroyed by numerous “bad guys” trying to kill them, and that dream started to coalesce into something entirely different and eventually greater. Most of the characters on Enterprise were well cast and portrayed strongly with a couple of exceptions (Hoshi and Mayweather were just not interesting, even when they attempted to expand their characters further). It had the same core concept as Voyager, a ship of various characters and species exploring a new and hostile universe, but being set before Roddenberry’s mandate of “everybody in the Federation gets along with no conflict”, the characters get to behave in a more natural way unlike the two-dimensional cast of The Next Generation. Enterprise’s first two years were rough, just like every Star Trek series since its return to TV, but they were reacting to those early missteps and were really heading toward something interesting when they got the axe. By then, the casual Star Trek audience had given up, a faction of the hardcore fans were offended by the different take on Trek history and gave up, and it left only a small audience that was able to appreciate it for what it was. In the end, that wasn’t enough for Paramount. It’s such a shame, I would have really enjoyed seeing Captain Shran join the crew in the fifth season and see Archer pulling together the elements that would become the Federation.

    #7328
    ubikuberalles
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    @earl wrote:

    Paramount really should’ve cut Gerry Anderson a juicy check for all the Space: $19.99 scripts they ripped off wholesale. Nearly every story that was done revolving around Maya in season 2 of Space was done nearly beat-for-beat with Seven on Voyager. Not just a case of “well, similar stranded-far-from-Earth setup, so similarities are inevitable” but wholesale copying of specific plotlines. Think Tank and Hope & Fear are two Voyager episodes that ripped specific plotlines off; there were numerous others. With a few exceptional highlights, the writing on Voyager tended to be dull, bad, or “borrowed.”

    Sorry Earl, but my reaction to your charges of story theft is one big fat “meh”. There are several reasons for that:

    1. I’d rather watch a stolen story on Voyager than an original story on Space: 1999. After watching every episode of Space: 1999 I came to the conclusion that the show did not deserve the adulation I gave it when I was a kid. It plain sucks. Sure, the FX is pretty cool (along with the set design) but the rest of it is so bad I’m in agony watching the show. The acting, the directing and many parts of the script (especially the dialog) are just terrible. The plotline is original? Great. I’m too distracted by the bad parts to care. Voyager is not a masterpiece in acting or directing either but it is far better than what I saw on Space: 1999. Voyager is, overall, nice to watch. Sometimes I cringe, but not as often as I did with the other show.

    2. Story isn’t important (apparently) Years ago I complained to a co-worker about some show and how they merely ripped off the story of some other show (Obviously I don’t remember the show, I just know it wasn’t Voyager). My co-worker responded by laughing. “It’s not about the story”, he explained “It never was.”. He never really explained that statement and so it took me a while to figure it out.

    The obvious part of his statement is that it’s more about the characters, how the ensemble cast gets along, the dialog and so on (all the things I complained about in S:1999) but it goes beyond that. It’s clear Hollywood doesn’t care about stories, they never did. If you look at the plots of most movies (and TV shows) they’re all similar. Sure details change but, overall, the plots are copies from other shows. How many times have you seen a Groundhog day story in a Sci-Fi? I’ve seen lots. That was the first unique plot to come out in years and Hollywood started copying it right away.

    I don’t like the revelation that story isn’t important, but, based on Hollywood’s actions and attitude, it’s clear they don’t think story is important.

    Now, after writing the above, my reaction to Earl’s charge of story theft is no longer “meh” but a sad, long drawn out sigh. 🙁

    #7329

    As I come down the home stretch on WARP!2, which is all-TNG, it’s easy to get a little burned out, so I’ve begun mixing some Voyager and DS9 in. I’ve even made a point of including some Voyager episodes I remember disliking greatly.

    • Generally speaking, I’m enjoying some of these more than I expected.
    • The really lousy ones are still really lousy. I’m looking at you, Cathexis and other “alien mind control” episodes. Too damn many of those.
    • Chakotay, and Robert Beltran, were sorely underutilized, but they so quickly painted him into a corner as The Token Native American that no one had any idea what to do with him. (I also understand that he clashed with the producers over script quality, and in retaliation, they gave him less and less to do, possibly as a precursor to writing him off the show.)
    • On a similar note, especially after Jeri Taylor retired, the show has a problem with how its female characters are written – sometimes a real embarrassment when you’re the first Trek with a female captain.
    • Seeing some of Bryan Fuller’s Voyager episodes makes me really hopeful for Discovery. If they can maintain Trek’s essential optimism and not go too dark (or, heaven help us, “HBO-ify” the show with profanity, etc. that would make the show unsuitable for broadcast, meaning my kids couldn’t watch it), I have very high hopes for the new show. Favorite Fuller Voyager episode I’ve rewatched: Living Witness. Perhaps more timely now than it was when it was first broadcast.
    • Voyager was as handicapped by the whims of UPN as Enterprise, but overall had to deal with a less clueless regime. “Add a sexy Borg” is on a slightly different level of clueless than “let’s have boy bands on the show every week”.
    • The cast was fantastic, which is a constant with Trek series. Some of the scripts they were lumbered with were less than fantastic.
    • Rewatching some of these has changed my mind about them. But I still twitch involuntarily when I see an “alien of the week shows up to kidnap/dissect/exact revenge upon Seven of Nine” that’s a 1:1 lift from an “alien of the week shows up to kidnap/dissect/exact revenge upon Maya” episode of Space: 1999.

    TL;DR: Voyager was better than I gave it credit for at the time. Some of the writing – not all of it, but some of it – was really sharp. I will admit that I was probably, during the show’s run, “too close” to it, working at a succession of UPN stations where I had a vested interest in the show performing well, and being too sensitive to certain corners of fandom claiming that it wasn’t delivering. I had a horse in the race, I needed the show to not suck because the ratings partially justified my continued existence on the job. At that point, you can no longer be a fan. It’s nice to come back to it without that pressure and just enjoy it.

    At this rate, the Voyager book might land before the DS9 book does.

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