Star Trek Voyager Review
On February 8th 2009, history was made; it was my 8400th day of living. There's no significance to that number, I just believe that every day of my existence is historic.
It was also the day when I watched Caretaker
and started my rewatch of Voyager, almost seven months ago, and I never would have guessed back then that the whole thing would have proved so popular. So, did the rewatch give me a more favourable opinion of Voyager, or did I see even more flaws this time around?
Here's the graph for the ratings I gave to each episode of the show:
Out of 168 episodes, the average score I gave Voyager was 4.875, just a little bit below average. What does that mean? It means that the things I don't like about Voyager slightly outweigh the things that I did like, but not by much. Personally, I found a lot to like about Voyager and I can certainly understand why some people love it, but as an annoyingly picky person I found a lot of things to dislike too. What I find most interesting about the graph is the red trendline which suggests that I found the show to be very consistent in quality over the seven years, the only two exceptions are seasons 1 and 3 which I rated above and below average.
(Also an interesting thing to note; other than the beginning of season 2, every other season premier saw a drop in score on the previous season finale.)
How close did Voyager come to breaking even? Very. 168 episodes rated out of 10 means that there was a potential 1680 points of which I gave Voyager 819, just 21 short of 50%. However, I deducted 1 point from episodes I felt were TNG clones, and I certainly did that to more than 3 episodes per season, so if you gave those points back to the show it would push it over 840 points. So for those of you who wanted me to score the show below average, I have, and for those of you who wanted me to score it above average, that's how you can spin it.
Regular readers should know how this graph works, and you can see that the scores form a bell-curve around 5, as you'd expect. The most popular score I awarded was 5 to a total of 28 episodes.
I rated 77 episodes below average, 28 were average, and 63 were above average.
Top and Bottom 10 Episodes
168. Spirit Folk
167. Fair Haven
165. The Fight
163. In the Flesh
162. Favourite Son
161. False Profits
159. The Darkling
10. Message in a Bottle
9. Distant Origin
8. Eye of the Needle
4. Author, Author
3. Prime Factors
1. Living Witness
What started out as an attempt to rate Brannon Braga's role on the show ended up as a race to find my all-time favourite writer on Voyager. So who won?
Michael Piller managed to hold one just one more season in order to retain the top spot. Out of only 9 episodes he scored 5.667. Joe Menosky and Brannon Braga made a valiant attempt to catch him but they never quite managed it, both scoring 5.529 and 5.417 respectively. Raf Green came in for the last two seasons and only wrote 6 episodes to earn a score of 5.5. Biller slightly underperformed at 4.926, while Michael Taylor and Bryan Fuller fall further back at 4.823 and 4.8 respectively. Jeri Taylor remains at 4.786, Sussman ended up at 4.667, and Klink stayed at 4.308. But Robert Doherty managed to recover his score just enough to bring him to 3.454 meaning that Nick Sagan has returned to bottom place at 3.2.
So, in my opinion, Brannon Braga was a positive force on the show as a writer and I look forward to analysing his impact upon Enterprise. But Michael Piller is the real winner here, and I would have given him an award were it not for the fact that he's dead.
I would give the award to the runner up, but I don't want to reward somebody who has the bizarre personality which I've randomly attributed to Joe Menosky.
I thought I'd give my final impressions on each of the main characters.
Janeway: I have found that Janeway includes some of the best and worst characteristics of a captain. She's a good character to watch and she is a strong leader, but she is wildly inconsistent and there were times when her authority should have been challenged but it wasn't. I thought that in the later seasons I was seeing too much Kate Mulgrew on screen rather than Katheryn Janeway, and I feel that in the final episode the Admiral Janeway character committed a heinous crime. She is strong and entertaining, but sometimes she suffered from shoddy writing.
Chakotay: I've said it before and I'll say it again now, the Chakotay character lost his purpose on the show after Seska died. He still had some good episodes such as Unity
, but those episodes could easily have been based on Harry or Tom and it wouldn't have made much difference. He was a poorly developed character that only showed a backbone during the times that Janeway wasn't in charge. A disappointing character.
Tuvok: An underused gem. Tim Russ played a Vulcan very well and is second only to Leonard Nimoy. I wish they hadn't paired him up with Neelix so often because that pairing damaged both characters in my eyes, but he had some great episodes on his own. He lacked direction and his relationship with Janeway deserved more screentime.
Paris: He had an annoying habit in the early days of saying sarcastic things on the bridge, but he proved himself to be a respectable character during the Kazon arc. His redemption was well-handled, but his relationship with B'Elanna was poorly developed for several years and led to a few episodes where he did nothing but annoy me. After he got married in season 7 I found his character to be much more enjoyable and I liked where his character ended up. He lacked direction for a lot of the series but he certainly underwent some positive character development.
B'Elanna: She started out on the show very well with episodes like Prime Factors
, but around season 2 she started to become the standard engineer character whose episodes revolved around fixing things. She rebounded very strongly towards the end with some fantastic scenes in Lineage
and Author, Author
, another case of a character experiencing some positive development.
Harry: Poor, dumb Harry.
The perpetual ensign who was always reset back to Caretaker
Harry at the beginning of each episode. He died, he got thrown into a parallel dimension, he mutated into an alien, he was eaten alive, he got an STD... but he always remained poor, dumb Harry.
I like Harry in a way, but he's a very badly developed character.
Dr Kenneth H. Shmully, M.D.: Not only Voyager's best character, Shmully is responsible for some of the best episodes the franchise has to offer. He transformed from someone who treated himself as a piece of technology into a social revolutionary with strongly-held beliefs about equality. There were times when his more annoying traits got the better of him and dragged some scenes down, but the character proved himself to be great in serious and comedic roles.
Seven: Seven is okay. She added some much-needed conflict with Janeway in season 4 and really shook-up the show, but eventually she settled down and these positive aspects faded away. She developed well as a character who was trying to reclaim her humanity, but I began to get annoyed by the way she spoke. "Resistance" this, "comply" that, "collective" this, "adapt" that... it got old some time in season 5 but it didn't go away.
Kes: Kes certainly had a lot of potential, but I'm not sure if the writers knew what to do with her. She was a pleasant character and it would have been far better to keep her around rather than poor, dumb Harry (
), but what was she hoping to accomplish on Voyager? Her true potential as a character was never unlocked and I'm not sure that it would have been if she had stuck around all 7 years.
Neelix: I started my rewatch by loathing Neelix, but I've come to respect him far more now. When episodes focused on Neelix they were usually quite strong, but as a background character he was very poorly used and far too often annoying. He was a successful character and a complete failure at the same time.
Shuttles Lost: 16
Harry Deaths: 3
Season 1 Average: 5.867
Season 2 Average: 4.692
Season 3 Average: 4.269
Season 4 Average: 5.231
Season 5 Average: 4.92
Season 6 Average: 4.769
Season 7 Average: 4.792
Overall Average: 4.875
So, has my impression of Voyager improved over the course of this rewatch? Yes. There are still continuity problems and too many aggressive and intransigent alien species, but I managed to connect with several of the characters this time around that I didn't care for before. And while the show didn't have any big story arcs it did have some smaller character arcs which were just as interesting.
The things I dislike about the show are still there and they still outnumber the things I like, but I did find more things to appreciate about the show, so it was a more balanced contest. I'm certainly less inclined to bash Voyager now, it is not nearly as bad a show as many people make it out to be.