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DigificWriter October 1 2013 12:15 PM

The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Hi, all. I have recently begun watching Voyager in its entirety after having originally seen much of the series in syndication, having read all but one of Christie Golden and Kirsten Beyer's continuation novels, and having listened to many of the Trek.fm To the Journey podcast discussions, and have reached the firm conclusion that, despite various claims to the contrary, there is a great deal of serialization and continuity to the series that gets largely overlooked, and have decided to post some in-depth analyses of the continuity and serialization of the series and how both of these things relate to and/or are affected by the producer mandate that things by and large be 'reset' at the conclusion of each episode.

The first thing I'm going to talk about is the issue of in-universe story continuity.

Although things were, as noted, largely 'reset' at the conclusion of any given episode, there is nevertheless a sense of forward progression and sequential development that is primarily manifest in the form of character development and progression and that actually belies the desires of the producers to be able to have the series syndicated in any order.

Several good examples of this from very early on in the series are the evolution of the 'crew dynamic' in the episodes Caretaker, Parallax, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, and Prime Factors, which manifests as follows:
* Janeway and Chakotay announce their intent to merge the Voyager and Valjean crews into one and Janeway allows Neelix and Kes to stay onboard (Caretaker)
* As the process of actually creating a single crew out of two begins to be put into practice, tensions and friction arises but is ultimately resolved - at least temporarily - through crisis (Parallax, Time and Again, Phage, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Emanations, Prime Factors)
* Neelix and Kes try to acclimate themselves to Voyager and ' find' themselves a place among her crew, sometimes awkwardly, with Kes ultimately becoming the ship's unofficial 'gardener' and chief nurse (thanks to forming a friendship with The Doctor) and Neelix ultimately becoming the ship's unofficial chef and 'morale officer' (Parallax, Phage, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, Emanations)
* Thanks to Kes, The Doctor ceases to be thought of - and think of himself - as just a 'temporary medical tool' and instead as a valued and valuable full-time crew member (Time and Again, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto)
* Tom and Harry's friendship starts to gel as Tom tries to get Harry to help him pick up women, specifically the Delaney sisters, and they work together on different projects (Caretaker, Time and Again, Ex Post Facto)
* Janeway begins to let her guard down and get to know her crew as a whole (Parallax, Time and Again, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, Emanations, Prime Factors)

There are other examples from much later in the series that I don't have time to delve into in depth, but they include the gradual development of Tom and B'Elanna's romance, the crew's search for ways to shorten their journey home, and the progressive evolution of The Doctor's program, abilities, and individuality.

With regards to serialization, each of the seasons has a common element or theme that is revisited or that is running through any given number of episodes and that serves to 'unite' the episodes of a particular season together, as follows:
Season One
The first season of the series is focused on the Starfleet and Maquis crew and their passengers/alien guests coming together, their search for resources and ways to get home, and on their encounters with various Delta Quadrant races, inhabitants, and phenomena, and on the development and progression of the show's main characters.

Season Two
Season Two is largely focused on both internal and external threats posed to the ship and her crew in the form of Seska and the Kazon, Michael Jonas, and the Vidiians, and the ways in which the stress caused by these threats begins to unravel the crew's sense of togetherness and cohesion, juxtaposed against the expansion of the crew and the establishment or continued development of various character relationships.

Season Three
Season Three begins to set the stage for the primary over-arching conflict between Voyager's crew and the Borg that will ultimately come to define and feature heavily in the show's remaining seasons, and introduces new character dynamics and antagonists as well, such as the introduction of possible romance between Tom and B'Elanna, the Krenim, and a return encounter with Q.

Season Four
Season Four is primarily focused on integrating Seven of Nine into both the show and the crew, on shortening the distance between the ship and Earth, on establishing the crew as a family and their surroundings as 'home', and on reconnecting the ship with Starfleet, which leads directly to the introduction of a dangerous new antagonist in the form of the Hirogen. Conflict also brews between Voyager and Species 8472 independent of the latter's issues with the Borg.

Season 5
Season 5 is focused primarily on introducing some gritty and grim elements into the show in the form of character development for various characters, moral quandaries as embodied by the likes of the Malon and the Equinox crew, and the return in force of the Borg.

Season 6
Season 6 is a 'rebuilding' season of sorts, focusing primarily on character development, the introduction of new characters and antagonists, and the return of familiar ally and antagonist races and characters such as the Hirogen, the Klingons, the Borg, Kes, and Reginald Barclay, and on furthering the shortening of the ship's journey back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Season 7
Season 7 is focused primarily on resolving or revisiting story threads, encounters with familiar races, and character relationships from the previous six seasons, and on concluding the ship's journey with a successful return to Earth. The season also introduces a few new races and character dynamics, such as the Quarren and the romantic relationship between Seven and Chakotay.

KaraBear October 1 2013 01:41 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
I think that was very well said. Many episodes of Voyager can be taken as stand alones, there aren't realy any sweeping story arcs other than their overall quest to get home. But that doesn't mean there aren't mini-arcs, or threads that run through each episode. Having watched through the series many times they are pretty clear.

DigificWriter October 1 2013 06:33 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
The producers might've wanted to create a series in Voyager that could be syndicated out of order, but the episodes that were being written and the stories that were being told do not, in the end, mesh with that idea even though things do by and large end up 'back in the box' after nearly every episode.

I have and will continue to view Voyager as being the Star Trek equivalent of a 'serialized procedural', where you have a series that IS episodic, but that still has a 'through-line' of serialization and serialized elements running through it.

IOW, people might talk about how Voyager doesn't have any continuity or serialization and that the producers designed it that way, but the reality of the situation is that there is in fact a 'proper' order in which to view the series, an order that is as follows:

Season 1
1x01/1x02: Caretaker
1x03: Parallax
1x04: Time and Again
1x05: Phage
1x06: The Cloud
1x07: Eye of the Needle
1x08: Ex Post Facto
1x09: Emanations
1x10: Prime Factors
1x11: State of Flux
1x12: Heroes and Demons
1x13: Cathexis
1x14: Faces
1x15: Jetrel
1x16: Learning Curve
1x17: Projections
1x18: Elogium
1x19: Twisted
1x20: The 37s

Season 2
2x01: Initiations
2x02: Non Sequitur
2x03: Paruition
2x04: Persistence of Vision
2x05: Tattoo
2x06: Cold Fire
2x07: Maneuvers
2x08: Resistance
2x09: Prototype
2x10: Death Wish
2x11: Alliances
2x12: Threshold
2x13: Meld
2x14: Dreadnought
2x15: Investigations
2x16: Lifesigns
2x17: Deadlock
2x18: Innocence
2x19: The Thaw
2x20: Tuvix
2x21: Resolutions
2x22: Basics, Part 1

Season 3
3x01: Basics, Part 2
3x02: Sacred Ground
3x03: False Profits
3x04: Flashback
3x05: The Chute
3x06: Remember
3x07: The Swarm
3x08: Future's End, Part 1
3x09: Future's End, Part 2
3x10: Warlord
3x11: The Q and the Gray
3x12: Macrocosm
3x13: Alter Ego
3x14: Fair Trade
3x15: Blood Fever
3x16: Coda
3x17: Unity
3x18: Rise
3x19: Darkling
3x20: Favorite Son
3x21: Before and After
3x22: Real Life
3x23: Distant Origins
3x24: Displaced
3x25: Worst Case Scenario
3x26: Scorpion, Part 1

Season 4
4x01: Scorpion, Part 2
4x02: The Gift
4x03: Nemesis
4x04: Day of Honor
4x05: Revulsion
4x06: The Raven
4x07: Scientific Method
4x08: Year of Hell, Part 1
4x09: Year of Hell, Part 2
4x10: Random Thoughts
4x11: Concerning Flight
4x12: Mortal Coil
4x13: Message in a Bottle
4x14: Waking Moments
4x15: Hunters
4x16: Prey
4x17: Retrospect
4x18: The Killing Game, Part1
4x19: The Killing Game, Part 2
4x20: Vis a Vis
4x21: The Omega Directive
4x22: Unforgettable
4x23: Living Witness
4x24: Demon
4x25: One
4x26: Hope and Fear

Season 5
5x01: Night
5x02: Drone
5x03: Extreme Risk
5x04: In the Flesh
5x05: Once Upon a Time
5x06: Nothing Human
5x07/: Timeless
5x08: Thirty Days
5x09: Infinite Regress
5x10: Counterpoint
5x11: Gravity
5x12: Latent Image
5x13: Bride of Chaotica!
5x14: The Fight
5x15: Bliss
5x16: The Disease
5x17/5x18: Dark Frontier
5x19: Course: Oblivion
5x20: Think Tank
5x21: Juggernaught
5x22: Someone to Watch Over Me
5x23: 11:59
5x24: Relativity
5x25: Warhead
5x26: Equinox, Part 1

Season 6
6x01: Equinox, Part 2
6x02: Survival Instinct
6x03: Barge of the Dead
6x04: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
6x05: Dragon's Teeth
6x06: Alice
6x07: Riddles
6x08: One Small Step
6x09: The Voyager Conspiracy
6x10: Pathfinder
6x11: Fair Haven
6x12: Tsunkatse
6x13: Blink of an Eye
6x14: Virtuoso
6x15: Collective
6x16: Memorial
6x17: Spirit Folk
6x18: Ashes to Ashes
6x19: Child's Play
6x20: Good Shepherd
6x21: Fury
6x22: Live Fast and Prosper
6x23: Life Line
6x24: Muse
6x25: The Haunting of Deck 12
6x26: Unimatrix Zero, Part 1

Season 7
7x01: Unimatrix Zero, Part 2
7x02: Imperfection
7x03: Drive
7x04: Critical Care
7x05: Repression
7x06: Inside Man
7x07/7x08: Flesh and Blood
7x09: Body and Soul
7x10: Nightingale
7x11: Shattered
7x12: Lineage
7x13: Repentance
7x14: Prophecy
7x15: The Void
7x16: Workforce, Part 1
7x17: Workforce, Part 2
7x18: Human Error
7x19: Q2
7x20: Author, Author
7x21: Friendship One
7x22: Natural Law
7x23: Homestead
7x24: Renaissance Man
7x25/7x26: Endgame

Guy Gardener October 1 2013 07:42 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
This is how Voyager was written.

The producer decides who gets to be the star of each episode for half a season. Rings a mate, asks for a pitch, and then puts their name on the white board that Writer X is going to write a character Y story that will be be delivered in the next 1 to 2 months. The producer makes 12 of these phone calls or has actual lunch meetings in the course of a week or two. So you have half a season being written by 8 to 10 different writers who are completely isolated from each other and have no idea what the others are doing.

When all those scripts are finally handed in, it's the Producer and the writers room job to rewrite those scripts so that they appear to have a consistent linear progression, while in general, just making them "better" and risen to the Berman standard of excellence.

A lot of good TV was made like this.

And I'm not saying that a good producer can't create the illusion of continuity from a hodge podge, but you know my feelings on this subject.

garaks the best October 1 2013 08:07 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
There was hardly any continuity with voyager and here are some early examples where other shows would have followed up on plots

1)kes and neelix's breakup in warlord was not followed up on properly at all, i mean other than when she was being controlled by that guy we didn't even get to see her actually break up with him.

2)The swarm was another episode where the ending should have presented a change in the doctor because of his memory loss but if you had never seen the episode you wouldn't have been able to tell because it was never focused on again.

3)Janeway and tom have sex and had little lizard babies but nothing is ever mentioned of it again. You would expect a certain degree of awkwardness and maybe a debate over whether chakotay should have been allowed to leave their children on that planet without even consulting them.

Other example where they tried continuity but gave up were the kazon who got no resolution just because fans didn't like them.

KaraBear October 1 2013 08:23 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Quote:

garaks the best wrote: (Post 8714380)
There was hardly any continuity with voyager and here are some early examples where other shows would have followed up on plots

1)kes and neelix's breakup in warlord was not followed up on properly at all, i mean other than when she was being controlled by that guy we didn't even get to see her actually break up with him.

2)The swarm was another episode where the ending should have presented a change in the doctor because of his memory loss but if you had never seen the episode you wouldn't have been able to tell because it was never focused on again.

3)Janeway and tom have sex and had little lizard babies but nothing is ever mentioned of it again. You would expect a certain degree of awkwardness and maybe a debate over whether chakotay should have been allowed to leave their children on that planet without even consulting them.

Other example where they tried continuity but gave up were the kazon who got no resolution just because fans didn't like them.

they might not have followed up on a few things but if you watch the show there are plenty of arcs that go through multiple episodes, character development, friendships developing, romances blossoming, spies and traitors on the ship, aliens that appear multiple times. There might not be large sweeping arcs but there are many little ones if people can just look past the overall general hate of Voyager

garaks the best October 1 2013 08:32 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Quote:

KaraBear wrote: (Post 8714467)
Quote:

garaks the best wrote: (Post 8714380)
There was hardly any continuity with voyager and here are some early examples where other shows would have followed up on plots

1)kes and neelix's breakup in warlord was not followed up on properly at all, i mean other than when she was being controlled by that guy we didn't even get to see her actually break up with him.

2)The swarm was another episode where the ending should have presented a change in the doctor because of his memory loss but if you had never seen the episode you wouldn't have been able to tell because it was never focused on again.

3)Janeway and tom have sex and had little lizard babies but nothing is ever mentioned of it again. You would expect a certain degree of awkwardness and maybe a debate over whether chakotay should have been allowed to leave their children on that planet without even consulting them.

Other example where they tried continuity but gave up were the kazon who got no resolution just because fans didn't like them.

they might not have followed up on a few things but if you watch the show there are plenty of arcs that go through multiple episodes, character development, friendships developing, romances blossoming, spies and traitors on the ship, aliens that appear multiple times. There might not be large sweeping arcs but there are many little ones if people can just look past the overall general hate of Voyager

I don't hate voyager it just frustrates me a little.I really like the doctor,tuvok and most of the time janeway.:)

DigificWriter October 1 2013 08:37 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Quote:

garaks the best wrote: (Post 8714380)
There was hardly any continuity with voyager and here are some early examples where other shows would have followed up on plots

1)kes and neelix's breakup in warlord was not followed up on properly at all, i mean other than when she was being controlled by that guy we didn't even get to see her actually break up with him.

2)The swarm was another episode where the ending should have presented a change in the doctor because of his memory loss but if you had never seen the episode you wouldn't have been able to tell because it was never focused on again.

3)Janeway and tom have sex and had little lizard babies but nothing is ever mentioned of it again. You would expect a certain degree of awkwardness and maybe a debate over whether chakotay should have been allowed to leave their children on that planet without even consulting them.

Other example where they tried continuity but gave up were the kazon who got no resolution just because fans didn't like them.

Not resolving certain things or not revisiting certain things is not the same thing as a lack of continuity.

There are things that they seemingly abandon or that aren't resolved, but, when you look at the series as a whole, there is actually a continuity being established, albeit in a much different fashion than you see with a show such as DS9.

We can argue/debate about how well Voyager maintains and builds its continuity based on and in relation to its more episodic nature, but that's an entirely different argument/debate than the common perception that the series lacks any continuity at all.

I just listened to the Trek.fm Literary Treks podcast discussion/interview with Kirsten Beyer, and one of the reasons she's as successful as she has been in writing her Voyager novels is because she's been able to draw on an extensive knowledge and understanding of the series as it was aired, and if it were as devoid of continuity and serialization as is the common perception, the things that she does with the characters and the stories that she tells would not seem as organic and 'true' as they do.

I grew up watching TNG and DS9, but when you look at the post-series TNG novels, they have a much different 'feel' to them than the series itself because TNG was almost exclusively episodic. Things aren't so radically different that the post-series TNG novels don't read like the TNG that we're familiar with, but they do do things with the characters that, by and large, the series itself never did. You could pick up any one of the post-series TNG novels without ever having seen the show or any of its related movies and get a very clear and developing picture of the characters and the universe they inhabit, but the way the post-series Voyager novels, particularly Beyer's, are written, you do need at least a passing knowledge of the series and its characters, which again belies this perception that the series lacks continuity and serialization.

KaraBear October 1 2013 08:39 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
there are some great multi-episode arcs:


Seska
  • "State of Flux
  • "Maneuvers
  • "Alliances
  • "Lifesigns
  • "Investigations
  • "Basics, Part I
  • "Basics, Part II
  • "Worst Case Scenario
  • "Shattered
Q Civil War
  • "Death Wish
  • "The Q and the Grey
  • "Q2
The Hirogen's Hunt
  • "Message in a Bottle
  • "Hunters
  • "Prey
  • "The Killing Game
  • "The Killing Game, Part II
  • "Flesh and Blood
The Pathfinder Project
  • "Pathfinder
  • "Life Line
  • "Inside Man
  • "Author, Author

DigificWriter October 1 2013 09:58 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Quote:

KaraBear wrote: (Post 8714575)
there are some great multi-episode arcs:


Seska
  • "State of Flux
  • "Maneuvers
  • "Alliances
  • "Lifesigns
  • "Investigations
  • "Basics, Part I
  • "Basics, Part II
  • "Worst Case Scenario
  • "Shattered
The Pathfinder Project
  • "Pathfinder
  • "Life Line
  • "Inside Man
  • "Author, Author

I'd add Parallax and Prime Factors to the Seska arc and Message in a Bottle to the Pathfinder Project arc.

Time-travel episodes are also a rather significant part of Voyager's continuity and serialization, particularly the two-parters Future's End and Year of Hell, the Kes-centric episodes Before and After and Fury, the episodes Timeless and Relativity, and the finale Endgame.

KaraBear October 1 2013 10:17 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
you could also include the "journey home arc" any episode in which they got a bump or explored some alternate way home

DigificWriter October 1 2013 10:30 PM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
^ Getting home is more of the overall premise of the series rather than an 'arc' per se, but you could very easily have a coherent and fulfilling experience watching the show if the only episodes you watched were the ones that most directly impacted that premise.

teacock October 2 2013 12:43 AM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
The time travel arc with Braxton is my favorite, I love that it takes place over several seasons.

Anwar October 2 2013 06:17 AM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
That the show didn't really have a plot is part of what hurt it. "Going Home" is far too nebulous to really work as a plot, and it's not really that sustainable in the first place.

What Voyager really needed were plots that could drive the series and be accomplished without ending the show.

Guy Gardener October 2 2013 06:55 AM

Re: The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager
 
Quote:

teacock wrote: (Post 8716057)
The time travel arc with Braxton is my favorite, I love that it takes place over several seasons.

Two "stories" is not an arc, and it really doesn't count since they had to recast.

And did they really have to recast?

Was Bruce McGill such a "get" that they didn't even check in on the original Braxton?


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