Friday, March 29, 2013

Giving Star Trek: Voyager another chance

I was originally going to write about Supernatural today, a TV show I fell in love with, then got annoyed, and now slowly learning to love again. But I'm not. Carrying on a trend I said I wouldn't, I'm going to talk about Star Trek some more. Actually Voyager, to be specific.

Why? Because I went hunting through my archive to check if I'd written about Supernatural when I first got hooked. What I found instead was the last time I started to sink back into a Star Trek shaped hole. That entry ends with the line “Despite a few friends arguing it, I’m not going as far as watching Voyager though.” which I found pretty funny, because that's exactly what I'm now doing.

I've only just finished the first season but there has been quite a few revelations. First of all it's not as bad as I remember. In fact I quite enjoyed it. My main problem with Voyager was the complete disregard of the Starfleet/Marquis divide. I always felt that a crew that is made up of a group of rebels/terrorists and the military should be a lot more frayed then we were shown. I remembered it getting swept quickly under the rug quite quickly. And it is, not quite as bad as I remember, someone does at least bring up the idea of throwing a revolt, and Janeway and Chakotay get into an argument over how to handle the Marquis officer, but for the most part it is quickly ignored.

Other minor improvements include Neelix, who isn't quite as annoying as I remember him, though I have the feeling that's only going to get worse as I carry on.

Also, with a vague idea of how the next three seasons plays out for the character, it was interesting to have another look at Chakotay. When Voyager first started, I remember thinking he could be quite cool. That never happened, in fact he ended up pretty boring. But looking at the sixteen episodes here, I can see why I thought that, and how the character quickly fell apart. He has moments where he really stands out, such as one Marquis crew member saying he wish they did things their way, only for Chakotay to promptly crack him one, and the entire episode dealing with who will be the new Chief Engineer. On the other hand you get an episode where he saves the ship as a ghost and Beltran does nothing but lie in sick bay till the last thirty seconds of the episode, and “Chakotay faith babble” that's just insulting.

However, two things really did raise my opinion of Voyager's first season. That of Seska and the Emergency Medical Hologram.

Seska was something that never really got me originally. I liked someone switching sides, but I totally missed how they slowly built her up to be a problem Marquis officer, always going against the Starfleet way. Maybe I was too young, or just not used to paying attention to background characters as more modern TV has taught us. When they reveal she's actually an undercover Cardassian the pay off really works, even if the relationship with Chakotay is thrown in at the last second.

The Doctor on the other hand, is a highlight through the entire season. With no medical staff surviving the pilot, something that should only be used in emergencies becomes the ship's HEAD only medical officer. His journey from some emergency holo program to a proper character is great, as is the failure of everyone to take him the slightest bit seriously as they still just see him as a tool, not a person. Early on his concerns are completely ignored by the senior officers. Meanwhile, any scene with Neelix and Kes are highlights as these two new people to the crew treat him normally. Then slowly everyone comes round, his programming gets tweaked to give him more independence. Through it all Robert Picardo's acting is amazing.

Despite being told that Seasons 2 and 3 are some of the worst, I am genuinely enjoying revisiting this, especially getting to the 5 through 7 which I've never seen. I just wonder how I'm going to cope when they start neutering the Borg.
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