Today is the 18th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager. While at that time I was a Star Trek fan, I still wasn’t in the habit of watching the episodes. I already have an article planned for Friday to tell my story of becoming a Trek fan, so unless something comes up that supersedes it, you’ll see the whole story there. Of course even if I had been in the habit, I wouldn’t have been able to watch very easily as Voyager didn’t air at any decent time in my area back then.
It wasn’t until 2002 that I finally was able to watch Voyager regularly. One of our local stations started airing it at the 11pm hour so I started watching. All this while I was beginning my collection of TNG DVDs. I thought the show was quite good. So, when news came out that Voyager was going to get the DVD treatment I stopped watching and waited till they came out so I could go from beginning to end. I did and I was not disappointed, it was still a good show.
Voyager did have some problems. Overall for me the characters never really gelled together the way they had in previous incarnations. The actors did a fine job, but even in later seasons there always seemed to be a distance between all the characters that couldn’t be bridged. I don’t know if that was by design or just happened, either way that sense of them being a crew never struck home to me.
While I love Janeway, I also had an issue with her as well. While she was a good Captain, she didn’t look that part. Kirk and Picard both, the first moment you saw them had a command presence, especially Picard. Even Sisko, who also had the problem with the look of command, made a change to bald with a goatee and it worked. Now Janeway would’ve look silly with a goatee, but she never had that chance to change and really grow into that role. While I believe Voyager was Janeway’s first command and that explains some of it, I think she should have grown into the role more as the years progressed.
One of the good things about Voyager, I truly think it did a wonderful job of getting back to the original spirit and mission of Star Trek. Finding new life and civilizations and going boldly. With TNG you never had that feeling they strayed far from Federation space and DS9 was set on a space station so they rarely strayed much at all. Voyager brought back that sense of exploration that we hadn’t had since the original series.
As far as best episode or episodes in this case, Year of Hell is it. It was two episodes that were basically flawless. Great acting, great effects and an awesome story. If you haven’t watched any Voyager, start here then go back and watch them all.
As an aside, I’ve seen a lot of interviews (I believe there’s one on the DVD set that talks about this) that the original premise of Voyager was going to be like Year of Hell. We were going to get something like 24, where damage to the ship and other problems actually would’ve carried over from episode to episode. New technologies would’ve been added to the ship to replace broken parts, external hull damage would’ve been patched together as well as they could do (which would’ve been easy to show since the ship was a computer model). I really think this would’ve been an interesting concept and should’ve been allowed to happen. Of course this was before TV shows like 24, Lost and the like, so the powers that be decided that something like that would confuse viewers who would be watching the show in syndication rather than as it was happening. Can’t blame them for that, but it would’ve cool to have had a Star Trek series pave the way for that type of television.
While Voyager isn’t my favorite Star Trek series, DS9 actually is, I don’t rank it lower or higher than any of the others. I think each incarnation of Trek is unique to itself and to the time that it aired. The key thing is, like all incarnations of Trek, there were more stories that will continue to have relevance for years to come. That’s the beauty of Star Trek as whole.
Anyway, Happy Anniversary to all involved in Star Trek: Voyager. May your journey, along with all of Trek, continue for decades to come.
Originally posted January 16, 2013