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NightJim January 5 2014 07:56 PM

The Essential Voyager
 
This idea was originally for my recent introduction of classic Doctor Who. A friend, who's also a Whovian, picked one serial per Doctor for me to watch so I can get a little bit of a deeper appreciation of the show.

However, it was actually TNG that got me thinking about doing this for Star Trek. As some of you may be aware, I'm rewatching Voy S1-5 then for the first time ever watching S6-7 (this was more of a big deal when I started because I thought I'd watched a lot less when it first aired). I'm also diving headfirst into Trek-lit with Peter David's back catalogue and occasional forays into the odd other novel. So I got thinking with TNG, what are the episodes that have to be watched to get the story of the Enterprise-D or are just brilliant, while what can be skipped. A “I want to watch the show but I don't want to have to put up with all the drek” list. Since I'm actually watching Voyager right now I figured lets work it out for that show. I think this can be boiled down to three categories.

The Essential
Caretaker, Basics, Scorpion, End Game are all obviously must watch to get the story.

The Optional
Episodes that add a little something

The Skippable
Don't add anything, or are just plain bad. Threshold for instance.

Let's do it a season at a time, I'll update this top post after each week or so after we come to some sort of agreement, and maybe we could do a sticky thread at the end to help people who just want the 'Essential Voyager.'

My thoughts

Caretaker – Essential - Duh
Parallax – Essential – the assigning of B'elnna to head of Engineering
Time and Again – Essential – Kes' psychic abilities debut
Phage – Essential – Introduces the Vidiian
The Cloud – Optional? – Fair few elements see their introduction here, including the Galley
Eye of the Needle – Optional? - I think the idea that the crew contact the Alpha Quadrant is important, there's no real consequence to it due to it being the wrong time period.
Ex Post Facto – Optional - I'm almost leaning toward essential for how good a Tuvok episode it is, and the revelations about the character.
Emanations – Skippable – what does this add to the overall story?
Prime Factors – Optional? - Nothing major to Voyager's story but a decent chance to get home, and being on the receiving end of the Prime Directive is nice.
State of Flux – Essential – Big revelation of Seska and intro of Cullah
Heroes and Demons – I'm torn between Essential and Optional – Doctor's first 'away' mission and a big part for his character.
Cathexis – Skippable - Not sure it adds a lot
Faces – Essential – Huge Torres and Vidiian episode
Jetrel – optional or skippable? - Good Neelix episode, but other than that.
Learning Curve – Optional – nice nod to the Marquis adapting to life, but nothing major going forward

Isolinear January 7 2014 01:08 AM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
I agree with most of it, but Jetrel and Learning Curve are both essential in my opinion.

- Jetrel is the most important Neelix show of the entire series. Without it, you can't understand Season 4's 'Mortal Coil', one of Voyager's essential (imho) episodes.
- Learning Curve is, sort of, the end of the Maquis-crew integration arc.

- I don't think Heroes and Demons is all that essential. Totally forgettable holodeck episode.

My suggestions for Season 2. Obviously all the Kazon arc episodes are essential.

The 37's - Optional. Good, but not a must.
Initiations - Optional. Ok standalone Kazon episode.
Projections - Essential? - Incredible Doc episode. Plus it has Barclay.
Elogium - Skippable. Optional if you're a Kes fan.
Non Sequitur - Optional - Great Kim episode, but not essential.
Twisted - Skippable - Forgettable space anomaly episode.
Parturition - Skippable - Optional if you like jealous Neelix.
Persistence of Vision - Optional - Great Kes episode.
Tattoo - Skippable - Most boring s2 episode I think.
Cold Fire - Essential - Big sequel to Caretaker/Kes episode.
Maneuvers - Essential - Kazon arc. Seska pregnant.
Resistance - Optional - Good, but not a must.
Prototype - Optional - Very good, but not a must.
Alliances - Essential - Kazon arc. Jonas introduction.
Threshold - Skippable - So legendary, it's almost essential.
Meld - Essential - Introduces Lon Suder, essential for Basics. (And Tuvok killing Neelix is essential. :devil:)
Dreadnought - Essential? - Nice Caretaker continuity. Jonas.
Death Wish - Essential - First (and best) of the Q arc.
Lifesigns - Optional - Fantastic Doc episode. Denara Pel.
Investigations - Essential - Kazon arc. Jonas.
Deadlock - Essential - Naomi Wildman's Birth.
Innocense - Skippable - Forgettable Tuvok story.
The Thaw - Essential? - One of Voyager's best episodes.
Tuvix - Optional - Very good, but not a must.
Resolutions - Optional - Good, but not a must. Denara Pel.
Basics, Part 1 - Essential - Kazon arc.


Projections and The Thaw are not Essential (for continuity), but I think they should be. :drool:

NightJim January 7 2014 11:58 AM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Fair point on Jetrel. I actually wrote this when I watched it a year ago, so was basing it purely on my thoughts of the episode itself. Heroes and Demons again, I agree. You'll notice as we get deeper in that Picardo's acting slid a few by me that probably shouldn't.

Learning Curve was one I couldn't make up my mind on. I left it Optional because I had The 37's as the end of the Marquis integration arc, since it specifically addresses the matter. Both work though...

Captain Kathryn January 10 2014 06:45 AM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
I'll argue that "Lifesigns" is essential because Denara Pel comes up again in "Resolutions" and refers to the Doctor by the name that she gave him in "Lifesigns". "The Thaw" is a great episode and features one of my favorite actors Michael McKean, however I wouldn't call it essential. Just highly recommended.

I would argue that "Resolutions" is essential if you had any hope of Janeway and Chakotay getting together!

And "Threshold" is essential for mocking purposes. Come on! :)

Sophronisba January 10 2014 12:32 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Quote:

And "Threshold" is essential for mocking purposes.
Yeah, you kind of have to watch Threshold just so you will know how terrible it truly is. And it is one of those episodes that turns the "so bad it's good" corner.

NightJim January 10 2014 03:30 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
My season 2:

The 37's – Essential or optional – I think this is really the bonding of the crew as a whole.
Initiations – Optional? Essential at a push – sets up some Kazon stuff that's good to know.
Projections – Optional – Nice Doctor episode, but how much does it add to the over all thing... well maybe Zimmerman, so maybe Essential?
Elogium – Skippable or Optional – It's not a great episode, but the Kes revelations/Neelix behaviour maybe should be seen for context?
Non Sequitur – Optional – since it's one of the few good Kim episodes
Twisted – Skippable – Doesn't add anything at all for me.
Parturition – Essential/Optional – Important part of the Paris/Neelix friendship, but then without Elogium might not make sense to have it...
Persistence of Vision – Skippable/Optional – Nothing strikes as particularly needed about it, but one of our Janeway fangirls may be about to correct me on that one.
Tattoo – Skippable – I don't care what it reveals about Chakotay, it's rubbish.
Cold Fire – Essential? - Pretty important for Kes' powers
Maneuvers – Essential – For the (ret-conned) Chakotay DNA baby and damn important to the Kazon storyline.
Resistance – Skippable?
Prototype – Skippable? Maybe optional for Torres backstory?
Alliances – Essential – Kazon story line importance.
Threshold – Skippable - so bad even the show ignores it
Meld – Essential - for Suder
Dreadnought – Skippable, especially if Prototype is Optional since it's a variation of the same story.
Death Wish – Essential – Good episode and huge for Q Continuum.
Lifesigns – Essential – Doctor, Vidiians and also the start of the Paris undercover.
Investigations – Essential, maybe optional – More Tom being bad.
Deadlock – Optional with leaning towards Essential just cos I liked it.
Innocence – Skippable – because what does it really add?
The Thaw – Part of me wants to say Essential because of its outright TOS fun. But really Optional I think.
Tuvix – Essential or optional – It's notorious, an important story that always generates 'discussion' and Janeway's decision is epic.
Resolutions – I wanna say Essential because of my belief of Janeway and Chakotay get in on while marooned, but willing to accept Optional.
Basics – I'm putting the two parters together because you can't watch one without the other, even if the quality drops in the 2nd part like it does here. - Essential obviously.

I can't in any good conscience make Threshold essential. How about "Special mention: This is terrible, basically ignored by the show, but a big reference point for fandom" ;)

Isolinear January 10 2014 04:52 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Quote:

Captain Kathryn wrote: (Post 9106438)
I'll argue that "Lifesigns" is essential because Denara Pel comes up again in "Resolutions" and refers to the Doctor by the name that she gave him in "Lifesigns". "The Thaw" is a great episode and features one of my favorite actors Michael McKean, however I wouldn't call it essential. Just highly recommended.

That's the problem with these Essentials. They're not the best episodes. The standalones have better stories most of the time.
My list of Season 2's best episodes is quite different:

- Projections
- Non Sequitur
- Persistence of Vision
- Cold Fire
- Prototype
- Meld
- Deadlock
- The Thaw.

Now on to Season 3.

Basics Part 2 - Essential - Kazon arc finale.
Flashback - Skippable - Great homage, but a poor story.
The Chute - Skippable - ok. Harry Kim suffers. nothing more.
The Swarm - Skippable - Doctor stuff is ok, but the rest is meh.
False Profits - Optional - Fun episode and nice TNG continuity.
Remember - Optional - Incredible, one of VOY's best.
Sacred Ground - Skippable - Hated it. I just don't buy scientist Janeway getting all mystic.
Future's End I/II - Essential - Doc's mobility + Brax
Warlord - Essential? - Bad episode, but it has the Kes/Neelix breakup, sort of.
Q and the Grey - Essential? - Another bad episode, but it's part of the Q arc.
Macrocosm - Skippable - Commando Janeway in Attack of the Giant Germs!!!!. Need I say more?
Fair Trade - Essential - Turning point for Neelix.
Alter Ego - Optional - Liked it very much.
Coda - Optional - Another S3 favorite of mine! Nothing real happens though.
Blood Fever - Essential - Start of Paris/B'Elanna romance + first Borg.
Unity - Essential? - First real Borg episode.
Darkling - Skippable - Evilll Doctorrrr wantz Kes. Meh.
Rise - Skippable - Neelix and Tuvok in an elevator. Yawn.
Favorite Son - Skippable - Awful cheap B-movie story. More Kim "suffering".
Before and After - Essential - Great! Sets up Year of Hell.
Real Life - Optional - Skippable? Loved the fake Family, B-story is another forgettable space anomaly.
Distant Origin - Essential? - Best S3 episode and 'sequel' to Basics.
Displaced - Optional - Great takeover episode.
Worst Case Scenario - Essential? - Seska's Revenge. Kazon arc Epilogue.
Scorpion Part 1 - Essential - Borg, 8472.

Isolinear January 10 2014 05:38 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Interesting choices for S2 NightJim. Couple of things:

- You have to have Deadlock if Naomi Wildman will be in one of the Essential episodes. Also a big moment in Harry Kim's life.:devil:
- Why does Cold Fire have a questionmark? Caretaker!!! nuff said.
- Lifesigns. Ok, I forgot about the Paris-undercover setup. Makes it essential. I agree.
- Parturition essential? Only if Neelix was jealous in one of the earlier essential episodes. Was he?

NightJim January 10 2014 09:03 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Parturition - I actually have no idea. I guess I was going on how it follows Elogium. But since I have that as optional then not really.

USS Triumphant January 10 2014 11:11 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
"Threshold" and "Bride of Chaotica!" - These two are ESSENTIAL, and tell a potential viewer EVERYTHING they need to know about Voyager. Set them out like a warning buoy and leave the sector at maximum warp!

:devil:

USS Triumphant January 10 2014 11:17 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
(I shouldn't admit this, and if you tell anyone, I'll deny it, but I actually quite enjoyed a lot of Voyager - and I'm about to rewatch some of it with my teenage kids. I just also enjoy ribbing the Trek fans that primarily like Voyager. So it's a gift that just keeps giving! :rofl:)

teacake January 10 2014 11:24 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Bride of Chaotica is great!

And Threshold is also great for a whole lot of reasons.. what other Trek has the captain mutating AND breeding? Okay I thought maybe Archer might breed a bit in Hatchery but I think he was just there for the breastfeeding.

I keep telling people, VOY is full of comedy, Bride of Chaotica is classic.

Captain Kathryn January 10 2014 11:42 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Quote:

teacake wrote: (Post 9108490)
Bride of Chaotica is great!

And Threshold is also great for a whole lot of reasons.. what other Trek has the captain mutating AND breeding? Okay I thought maybe Archer might breed a bit in Hatchery but I think he was just there for the breastfeeding.

I keep telling people, VOY is full of comedy, Bride of Chaotica is classic.

Voyager's comedy is great. It's there in subtle ways in nearly every episode, but also in big ways like in Bride of Chaotica....and unintentionally in Threshold. :lol:

Captain Kathryn January 10 2014 11:44 PM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
Quote:

USS Triumphant wrote: (Post 9108469)
(I shouldn't admit this, and if you tell anyone, I'll deny it, but I actually quite enjoyed a lot of Voyager - and I'm about to rewatch some of it with my teenage kids. I just also enjoy ribbing the Trek fans that primarily like Voyager. So it's a gift that just keeps giving! :rofl:)

I don't know how much of Trek your teenage kids have watched, but VOY was my first introduction to Star Trek and that was years ago and it has obviously stuck with me and caused me to subsequently watch (and rewatch) all of the series and films. It might have the same effect on them! :)

teacake January 11 2014 01:29 AM

Re: The Essential Voyager
 
I've introduced a lot of teenagers to Star Trek and I've always started with Voyager which I think is accessible, amusing and has characters that easily become well loved.


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