Referring to Star Trek: Voyager 20th Anniversary Blog back in 2015!


It has been more than 6 years ago since I wrote that blog in honor of Star Trek: Voyager’s 20th Anniversary. However what was meant as an anniversary, which should be something more positive, I did wrote a not so kind blog about the 4th incarnation of Star Trek! Last few years I am wondering, was this uncalled for or was it right on the money?! Back in the 90’s I bought all the VHS tapes releases of both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as Voyager. Sure, I preferred Deep Space Nine more than a little, still, I did like Voyager also, especially from season 3 on.


Star Trek: Voyager of course did also have a story-arc but this was mostly how to get home. In the meantime the ship would fly from planet to planet like the crew on the Enterprise did. So in essence, mostly episodic with some character evolving, more so I think than on The Next Generation. Still usually it was each week a new story, sometimes a two-parter and indeed also at times also a plot that was playing out over a certain number of episodes, like Paris being unhappy and wanting to leave Voyager, so he could infiltrate Kazon, late in season 2. Deep Space Nine also started out more episodic than an overarching story but already in the 2nd season there was talk about a vast imperium called the Dominion who were nothing like the Federation and would become a threat in the coming seasons.


At that time I was also watching Babylon 5, which is a one big story from the beginning right through the end. I didn’t took long for me to realize that I really found the overarching themes hugely more interesting than a new story every week where there is a beginning, a middle and an ending after 45 minutes, without a lot of character growth. With Voyager though, I do have the feeling that most characters did evolve, more so than on The Next Generation. For me it feels a bit like Voyager was okay to purchase each month, simply because I also purchased two other shows, DS9 and Babylon 5, and both these were superior, so it didn’t matter to me that Voyager had more mediocre episodes, because I knew I would have more options. Especially the first two seasons Voyager has about half of its season, mediocre episodes, which in my opinion is a lot!

In the first two seasons there still are episodes which are above mediocre of course! The Pilot “Caretaker” is a strong opener. And also “Phage”, “Eye of the Needle” and “Jetrel” are strong episodes. “Cathexis” is the dud for me in the first season which only has 16 episodes. I have two favorite season two episodes: “Meld”, a fantastic episode with Brad Dourif as guest star. The other one is “Deadlock” were a schism duplicates everything in Voyager. Other good episodes: “Projections” with Dwight Schulz, “Non Sequisitor”, “Death Wish” with Q, “Investigtions”, “Tuvix” and “Basics” Part One. “Elogium”, “Tattoo”, “Threshold” and “The Thaw” I find these less than mediocre! I know there are fans of “The Thaw”, but I absolutely hate it.


With season 3 there is some improvement, a few exceptional episodes like “Future’s end”, “Distant Origin” and “Scorpion” part two. A fair number of episodes which were above average like “Basics” Part 2, “Flashback”, “The Swarm”, “Macrocosm”, “Coda”, “Blood Fever”, “Unity”, “Before and After”, “The Q and the Grey”. Season 3 was definitely an improvement, although there still were some mediocre or less than that episodes: “False Profits”, “Sacred Ground” (awful!), “Warlord”, “Alter Ego” and perhaps a few more. Still, I thought something had changed, slightly better stories, the cast got more and more comfortable with their roles and I thought this showed and it helped Voyager.


Season 4 was an important season! Kes left the show, which did not bother me, because Kes was not really interesting character. Perhaps more the fault of the writers than of the actress Jennifer Lien. Jeri Ryan came in as a Borg named Seven of Nine and most likely in part because of her, season 4 is definitely Voyager’s very best season. The fourth season is mostly top notch, spot on. If season 4 was the norm, Voyager would have been so much better! I think the fourth season can measure up with any other season of any other Star Trek show. What I really liked in the beginning of the 4th season is the relationship between Seven and Captain Janeway, that mentor thing that is going on there.


I also liked the Tom Paris and B’Elanna relationship, I think it helped both characters evolve. What are my favorite season 4 episodes: “Scorpion” Part 2, “Revulsion”, “The Raven”, “Scientific Method”, “Year of Hell”, “Message in a Bottle”, “Hunter”, “Prey”, “The Killing Game”, “Living Witness”, “Demon”, “One”, “Hope and Fear”. My absolute favorite of the season I think is “Year of Hell”, shame though afterwards everything is mostly status quo. Season 4 went out with “Hope and Fear” where an presumably helpful alien Arturis (Ray Wise) want to help the Voyager crew get home. Only a few episodes fell flat in my opinion: “Random Thoughts”, “Concerning Flight” (with John Rhys Davies), “Waking Moments”, “Vis a Vis” and “The Omega Directive”. The last one sounded good in theory but fell flat in the execution, if you ask me.

Season 5 overall is certainly not a bad season but a bit of a disappointment after the successful 4th season. Still I think I can consider the 5th season my second favorite Voyager season. Some fantastic episodes came from that season! The best episodes are “Timeless”, the two-parter “Dark Frontier” and the season finale “Equinox”. There are a few more above average episodes which are well worth to rewatch: “In The Flesh”, “Infinite Regress”, “Latent Image”, “Think Thank” and “Relativity”. One real stinker: “The Fight” and a few which I wouldn’t miss for a bit: “Once Upon a Time”, “The Disease” and “Warhead”. The season finale is phenomenal, another ship which was pulled into the Delta Quadrant but had a much harder time staying alive, keeping the Starfleet values no matter what. This was something to look forward to, because it was the first of a two part episode. I was hoping it wouldn’t be status quo again after the first season 6 episode.


Well as I told in the blog from 7 years ago, season 6 started promising, although after the first episode the situation indeed was status quo again, which is a shame. I would have like to see 4 or 5 episodes of that sort of a situation on Voyager. Anyways, despite this, season 6 started out promising, in the first 12 episodes only one (HUGE) stinker, “Fair Haven”, but also a fair number of very satisfying episodes like “Equinox” part 2, “Survival Instinct”,  “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy”, “Dragon’s Teeth”, “One Small Step” (perhaps my S6 favorite), “The Voyager Conspiracy”, “Pathfinder” (Another personal favorite of mine, I love those Deanna Troi guest appearances) and “Blink of An Eye”.  Oh man really, I really was impressed with some of these episodes, I was beginning to think this would become the best Voyager season. But I celebrated too soon! After episode 12, there are occasional good episodes: “Tsunkatse” (with Jeffrey Combs, JG Hertzler and Dwayne Johnson), “Life Line” and the season 6 finale “Unimatrix Zero”. All the other episodes after episode 12 were mediocre at best. This really was disappointing to me, such laziness in the story telling, so bland it was just shameful to be honest.


The final season, season 7 is a bit better than the second part of season 6. It redeems itself a bit with the last season compared to the last 14 episodes of the 6th season. But I have to be honest, although I’ve seen the last season at least 5-10 times, the whole season has become a bit of a blur, only a few episodes for me really stand out. Episodes like “Inside Man”, a Barclay episode, where Marina Sirtis also reprises her role of Troi. “Body and Soul” is also a very entertaining episode where Seven becomes a host to the EMH! “Flesh and Blood” was a good episode where the Hunters are back. “Shattered” was a good episode, “Author, Author” was enjoyable and of course also the series finale “Endgame”.  So, for me at least, Voyager, as well TNG, winded down in their last two seasons, while it is my opinion with DS9 the last two seasons were working towards firing on all thrusters! Not counting the “get to know” episodes of Ezri Dax in the beginning of season 7. Of course my view is colored because I am a HUGE DS9 fan, can’t help it. But I do think so, if you see how DS9 went from season 4 through 7, it really was a rollercoaster ride, with the last 10 episodes as desert! This is way different for the other two shows TNG and Voyager, which is a shame. It’s like the writers didn’t know anything exciting anymore to write for these two crews.


So Star Trek: Voyager has a lot of exciting stories, but I always felt, the difference in terms of quality and entertainment between an exciting story and a less exciting story was too big and not enough really exciting stories. I do have the same feeling with The Next Generation, some fantastic stories, but almost as much mediocre ones. I know I am not going to be popular with you when I write this but that is just my feeling. I think in part it has to do with the episodic nature of both shows.


Star Trek: Voyager does have a good cast! I mean, I had to get used to Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) but after a season or two I really thought she was a fine captain! Like all other Star Trek captains, and for that matter, beyond Star Trek, Janeway is certainly not perfect, but I find her to be straightforward, shows emotion, good and bad, can be stern but is a caring captain. Chakotay (Robert Beltran) I thought was mostly okay, but not that interesting! More the fault of the writers than the actor himself I think. He is the center of one or two good episodes but most Chakotay centered episodes are awful! Think of “Tattoo”, “Nemesis” and “The Fight”. Also I did not really was a fan of the Chakotay/Seven relationship.


Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) was the “enfant terrible” in the beginning. Paris was imprisoned because he got caught after he had joined the Maquis. I have to say I think Paris was one of the most interesting characters. He evolved quite nicely. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson), half Klingon, was also an interesting character and her relationship with Tom Paris did also benefit her growth. Another fan favorite is of course the EMH (Robert Picardo) and Seven (Jeri Ryan). These two are probably my favorite characters of Voyager. Tuvok is…yeah Tuvok, bit boring, but what can you expect from a Vulcan, still, actor Tim Russ gave a good performance each time. I think it’s hard to always play a character without (much) emotion. Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) wasn’t too bad either, he was interesting enough, I liked his friendship with Paris, not in the same league as Miles O’Brien and Julian Bashir on DS9 but still a good TV friendship nonetheless. Last two of course Jennifer Lien’s Kes, a bit bland, not very interesting and her relationship with Neelix I also found to be….a bit strange. It’s not for nothing the writers ended that. Neelix, well I don’t hate him, he has some endearing qualities and he has become more interesting over the course of 7 seasons but still one of my least favorite characters. Of course the ship is also a character and what a fine character it is! Truly beautiful ship, very manouverable, fast, a great home to our crew!


The adversaries:

Voyager’s first adversary were the Kazon, for two whole seasons! I think they weren’t interesting at all, I think they are the least interesting foes of all Star Trek, yet they held on for two seasons! For some reason they ruled over a vast space because even though Voyager travelled back to the Alpha Quadrant, they kept running into them. Finally with the “Basics” two-parter they are dealt with once and for all. The Borg were of course interesting adversaries, exciting at first but this changed over the seasons in my opinion. Voyager was always able to defeat the Borg, which is of course a bit unlikely. In The Next Generation, The Borg were feared, they were a great adversaries but the more you use them, the less impressive they get. Species 8472 was an interesting foe, an adversary where even The Borg had problems with and the writers didn’t ruin it by showing them too often. Perhaps my favorite Voyager adversaries where the Hunters, living for the hunt, and they didn’t care who it was, the bigger and scarier the adversary, the more the Hunters felt the hunt was rewarding, it was a calling, a standard which Hunters live by.


Well like with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a Voyager documentary was also announced, on January 1st of this year and the crowdfunding campaign went live on March 1st and was a big success, an even (much) bigger crowdfunding success than DS9 was. Does this mean Voyager is much more popular than DS9? Well I think so, in general, but I think the reason for this success was also due to DS9’s successful crowdfunding campaign and also I believe the Covid19 is in part responsible for this, but overall I do think Voyager is more popular than Deep Space Nine, which will always be a puzzle to me. Anyway, according to the crowdfunding page, the Blu-ray release is October 2022, so I figure just before that time, the documentary will be released. Really looking forward to that!


Star Trek: Voyager (and Deep Space Nine) in HD:

Well I have written a blog about that too, in January 2015, where I am pessimistic about these shows coming to Blu-ray and more than 6 years later we still haven’t got these two shows on HD. There was some hope though, after the DS9 documentary because most scenes where added in HD and perhaps even more hopeful was that Babylon 5 has been released in HD this year on streaming platforms! If it can be done with Babylon 5, why not Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager? Well Babylon 5’s live action scenes have been transferred to HD, the CGI stuff hasn’t. That would be okay for me too with Star Trek, better than the alternative! But what also bugs me is that Babylon 5 hasn’t been released on Blu-ray yet. Hopefully this will happen in the near future and hopefully we still might see DS9 and VOY in HD and on Blu-ray also. We can keep wondering, we can keep dreaming.


Final Word:

Well I can keep writing about Star Trek, I just love to do this but I have to end this blog at some point. So my question I started this blog with, was I too harsh about Voyager in my 20th Anniversary blog? Well ultimately I think so, I was too harsh on Voyager! If only because it was a 20th Anniversary blog, it should be a happy blog! But I have to admit, Voyager is not all bad, it has a good crew, it had some fantastic guest spots, recurring characters and although perhaps not as much as I want to, it has some fantastic stories over the course of 7 seasons. But that is what bugs me particularly, too many mediocre or even worse episodes, but I will have to try and remember the good and the fantastic stories.

Screencaps taken from: TrekCore.com

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