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Old January 9 2013, 04:29 AM   #1
Lighthammer
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Crew members and their roles

I've been rewatching Voyager and something has been sticking out in my head a bit: in many occasions, I don't understand the the choices used for various activities.

Here's a few examples:

On many occasions, Chakotay is asked to take the helm, tactical and other posts when another officer isn't readily available for it, yet we've never been told anything about his background that leads us to believe he'd be the ideal person to take over as a relief anything; he's a social scientist and as such would have been wearing a blue uniform pre-command.

Paris is almost always brought on away missions. I can easily see him being the go-to go for shuttle missions but it makes less sense to bring him on the typical away mission unless they REALLY had it in the back of their head he was forth in command of Voyager (which they certainly brought up on a few occasions) and as such it was an experience gaining thing. One could suggest it was also because he was the ships chief medic, but that's only come up on rare occasion and rarer yet is the times he's walking around with a med kit a tricorder rather then a flash light and a phaser.

On a few occassions B'Elanna takes over Ops, but one has to suggest there were far better persons to take over that position other then the ship's chief engineer.

What other assignments strike you as weird and are there any really good in universe explanations for these other then budget?
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Old January 9 2013, 04:55 AM   #2
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Can't think of any weird "take over my station" scenes off the top of my head, but the solution seems pretty simple. We've seen Starfleet does a lot of cross-training of their people, both enlisted and officers. O'Brien, on TNG/DS9, had a variety of things he was very capable at, including engineering, ground assault, transporters and manning the tactical station. Spock excelled at science but also was very capable at command and diplomacy. Sisko was heavy into starship design before taking over DS9. It seems that Trek's positive view of the future includes excellent education and very capable learners.
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Old January 9 2013, 05:40 AM   #3
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Or maybe they're all Mary Sue's on the ship without consequences called Voyager.

Like Harry Kim being in every single round table meeting when he's a "Wesley Crusher/Nog; I'm a nobody with the rank of ensign" character. Was this a diversity quota or could Janeway not spare any pips to promote poor boring Harry?

Or B'Elanna making chief engineer over a Starfleet officer. When B'Elanna is a 2nd year drop out of Starfleet Academy and is somehow an expert in temporal quantum mechanics (See episode Parallax in season 1). Who thought of that?

Chakotay is pretty much an undefined character. I'm still on my first view through of VOY currently at season 5. The only time I saw any command presence in Chakotay was in Scorpion while Janeway was out of commission. Other than that Chakotay is a generic officer who needed to fill the Starfleet suit and sit next to the captain. Also Chakotay is the resident "crash dummy" for the shuttle crafts. He's totaled enough so far in my run.

Tom is suspect is supposed to be the fun guy. I don't really see the need for a "pilot class" officer when we see anybody can pilot a shuttle with expertise and style. See DS9 crew with the runabouts and Picard in INS and NEM for shuttlecrafts and captains yacht. Tom I feel would do better on TNG or even with the DS9 crews. His laid back and have a good time demeanor would mesh better with the likes of Riker and Worf, and or Bashir and O'Brien. Tom's choice company of the sanitized Harry or Big Chief Chakotay who combined are about as entertaining as watching grass grow, makes Tom seem out of place A LOT on VOY.
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Old January 9 2013, 05:44 AM   #4
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Re: Crew members and their roles

In those situations we're talking about people who have very well established backgrounds that makes them prime choices to take those sorts of stations. Riker, for instance, has been established to be one of the best pilots on the Enterprise, a very good tactician and previously has held high ranking engineering positions. It makes sense for him to take tactical, the helm or ops in a crunch. Chaktoay? Not so much. He's always come across as a thinker and an explorer, not necessarily a "doer".

O'Brien, as you pointed out, has a whole slue of very well established backgrounds in both engineering, tactical and to a lesser extent, command (as far as that will take him being a non-com).

In a crunch, it seems like a better solution on Voyager for the relief officers to take over positions instead of someone like Chakotay; you know, those guys who have hundreds of hours of experience running that position? I mean seriously, who would you rather have take the helm? Someone who has been piloting Voyager ever since getting to the delta quandrant or someone with some semi-regular, mostly recent shuttle piloting experience and was never established as any kind of exceptional pilot?

I suppose its a little weird for us where Voyager is concerned. Its the first ship we saw where both the captain and the first officer came from the sciences division and not the command or engineering/tactical division.
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Old January 9 2013, 06:00 AM   #5
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Re: Crew members and their roles

I'm not sure how you could pull B'Elanna out while she's clearly established from episode 3 on to have continued her education else where (informally) and was very much considered to be genius level in her understanding of engineering concepts.

I think if Tom was on the Enterprise, I'd be willing to bet he'd clash with Riker considering how we saw how he reacted with Levelle.

Picard is established to be an excellent pilot too. Everything suggests he followed a similar career path to Tom Paris (IE starting off as the ships Conn officer).

But even at that, my point is there are other members of the crew who have a TON more experience running particular posts that you would generally have step in over a first officer who lacks the same level of (recent) experience running that position.
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Old January 9 2013, 06:15 AM   #6
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Harry is effectively the quartermaster. He's very important in those meetings. If they want to do anything, they have to ask him if they have the tools, toys and resources to carry through with their mission, and he has to juggle Voyagers very limited and very finite resources until he can say "Yes Captain, that will not be a problem".

Harry being given command of the Ship in Futures End, that one is a head scratcher.
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Old January 9 2013, 06:45 AM   #7
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Lighthammer wrote: View Post
I think Tom works on Voyager. I'd be willing to bet he'd clash with Riker considering how we saw how he reacted with Levelle.
I think that had Riker been on Voyager, he and Paris would probably have gotten along royally.

Ensign Lavelle was just that: an Ensign. He had accomplished nothing in his short career. Meanwhile, Paris is an accomplished pilot, one who clearly has earned the ego that he carries on his shoulder. That's exactly the kind of guy Riker would like.

As far as people stepping into roles in critical situations, I think that was overall one of the failings of Voyager. There should have been at least three pilots on board, one for each shift. We never really meet any of them (except Ensign Jenkins), but one wonders what they were up to whenever a pilot was needed. Kim should never have been Ops department head as a freshly minted Ensign, which isn't even as a result of the Caretaker because he was declared the Ops Officer right out of DS9. Especially considering there were other Ensigns who would relieve him from time to time.

So, Voyager dropped the ball.
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Old January 9 2013, 06:48 AM   #8
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Guy Gardener wrote: View Post
Harry is effectively the quartermaster. He's very important in those meetings. If they want to do anything, they have to ask him if they have the tools, toys and resources to carry through with their mission, and he has to juggle Voyagers very limited and very finite resources until he can say "Yes Captain, that will not be a problem".

Harry being given command of the Ship in Futures End, that one is a head scratcher.
^ Wow Guy, Ive gone 5 seasons not knowing what Harry's actual function on VOY. Thanks. I always assumed he was some sub-class of engineer since he's wearing gold and does help create things and help B'lanna sometimes. It always puzzled me why he's stationed on the bridge and not in engineering. Tuvok is a gold shirt but he's the security and tactical officer so it makes sense. Were there QM's on Picard and Kirk's bridges?
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Old January 9 2013, 07:03 AM   #9
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Re: Crew members and their roles

I say "Quartermaster" to explain one of the roles performed by the Operations Officer, so on Picard's Enterprise, that was Data. The rest of Operations Officer's job is to observe the air conditioning and rest of the ships bodily functions, then yelp if anything goes wiggy.

The bridge position is about error alerts, whereafter he tells people to fix stuff, which means that he organizes damage control teams and lets them know how many bandaids they're allowed to use and where those bandaides are, and makes sure they don't run out of bandaides.

He's a facilitator.

Deciding which half of the ship gets their hull microbreeches fixed and which half is sucking vacuum.
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Old January 9 2013, 08:10 AM   #10
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Lighthammer wrote: View Post
On many occasions, Chakotay is asked to take the helm, tactical and other posts when another officer isn't readily available for it, yet we've never been told anything about his background that leads us to believe he'd be the ideal person to take over as a relief anything; he's a social scientist and as such would have been wearing a blue uniform pre-command.
He was also an experienced pilot, it Future's End he tells B'Elanna about his qualifications, so him covering for Paris makes sense. Plus tactical controls would be laid out in a manner to select weapons, firing pattern and then press shoot button. Ensign Taitt (a science officer) manned tactical in Descent easily, whilst in Generations Troi took the helm. Starfleet officers will be trained to cover posts, in case of dire emergency and they're the last one left on the Bridge, it won't be their speciality, but they'll at least know how to press the buttons.

The main reasons the senior officers take over at other posts are that: (a) anyone who could have filled in has likely been needlessly killed off at some point before, and/or (b) its cheaper to move them to a console or on an away mission than it is a guest character or extra who'd have to be paid to speak.
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Old January 9 2013, 09:33 AM   #11
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Roy Schneider('s character) had some kind of mental fit down on SeaQuest DSV once where he's ranting at the top of his lungs "Have you ever noticed that you people always sit in the same chairs every day doing the same jobs? THAT'S BORING! For gods sake people this is a last man standing bridge! Any one of you is supposed to be capable of taking over any other position once things start exploding and some of you start dying... So everyone stand up! Stand up! I said Stand up! Stand up and move one position to the left and sit down.... ...SEE! SEE! Isn't that so much better?!"

Stephanie Beechum was unrecognizable on the britcom Trollied this year, and oh the many, many rude words that came out of her mouth.

"Last man standing Bridge"

It's got a ring to it.
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Old January 9 2013, 12:24 PM   #12
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Re: Crew members and their roles

tighr wrote: View Post
Lighthammer wrote: View Post
I think Tom works on Voyager. I'd be willing to bet he'd clash with Riker considering how we saw how he reacted with Levelle.
I think that had Riker been on Voyager, he and Paris would probably have gotten along royally.
Whoa, I was more tired then I thought when I wrote that.

Guy Gardener wrote: View Post
Roy Schneider('s character) had some kind of mental fit down on SeaQuest DSV once where he's ranting at the top of his lungs "Have you ever noticed that you people always sit in the same chairs every day doing the same jobs? THAT'S BORING! For gods sake people this is a last man standing bridge! Any one of you is supposed to be capable of taking over any other position once things start exploding and some of you start dying... So everyone stand up! Stand up! I said Stand up! Stand up and move one position to the left and sit down.... ...SEE! SEE! Isn't that so much better?!"

Stephanie Beechum was unrecognizable on the britcom Trollied this year, and oh the many, many rude words that came out of her mouth.

"Last man standing Bridge"

It's got a ring to it.
I like the explanation and would buy into it more if actually saw the prep for it.

Harry, like Julian Bashir on DS9 was top of his class (Well Harry was #1, Julian was #2). We've seen a trend already were those who come out of the academy so high get some real posh assignments immediately. Voyager (although its a little hard to swallow) might not need a Lt Cmdr at Ops like the Enterprise did, but then why would he have no room to get promoted? I think the Ops, Conn and Chief Engineer could have all at least pushed Full Lt for the rank structure on Voyager.

You're right though, Harry was an eager beaver. He wanted to do and try everything. That's actually specifically why I didn't list Harry as one of those oddities when he assumed tactical in "Riddles" while Tuvok was recovering. It was clear even from early on that Kim wanted to expand his operational knowledge of the ship.

But that does bring up a really good point; on occasions when B'Elanna can't be chief engineer due to be away from the ship or incapacitated why was Seven put in charge? It seems like Kim or Kerry would be the ones potentially filling in.

Seven has a huge repository of knowledge, but frankly, I've always thought as her as the defacto chief science officer, which, surprisingly, being a Science ship and the Intrepid Class being the replacement for the Oberth Class, not have a prominent chief science officer always seemed weird to me.
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Old January 9 2013, 01:19 PM   #13
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Lighthammer wrote: View Post
Seven has a huge repository of knowledge, but frankly, I've always thought as her as the defacto chief science officer, which, surprisingly, being a Science ship and the Intrepid Class being the replacement for the Oberth Class, not have a prominent chief science officer always seemed weird to me.
For a show which allegedly focuses on exploration, Star Trek always had a weird way of portraying science officers. The original series and Enterprise had the science officer be the first officer as well, as if science wasn't interesting enough on its own. In The Next Generation, science was more or less the Ops Officer's hobby. Deep Space 9 had a science officer which didn't do much science-ing and Voyager had none.
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Old January 9 2013, 01:20 PM   #14
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Nova Class is listed as a science vessel which is half the size of the Intrepid.

Janeway had a two week mission to bring back Tuvok and blow up Chakotays homebase with her tricobalt weapon. Not roaming about the Federation until something popped up like Picard, or 5 years to hammer against the limits of known space like Kirk.

2 weeks, and then back to a Starbase, Sam left her Husband on DS9, it's possible that Janeway would have been directly under Sisko waiting for him to give her her next 2 week mission, and then she slips right back under him.

Methinks that this is the crew she wanted for this mission.

But if her next 2 week mission was completely different, she might switched out a lot of her floating crew for mission specialists...

Does that mean that the crew she was stuck with for seven years were all mission specialists in hunting and killing Maquis?

No wonder they weren't frightened by living with terrorists.

That's like a cat being afraid of a mouse.

They were all Starfleets version of Homeland Security.
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Old January 9 2013, 01:43 PM   #15
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Re: Crew members and their roles

Oh, I don't dispute that this was a 2 week mission on the ships maiden mission (I don't know if we can call it maiden voyage or shake down mission for sure or not) but it was clearly not a mission where Janeway felt compelled to have every single position filled right out of the gate where as the Enterprise D was planning on deep space exploring and wouldn't have time to go back and get more crew.

That being said, when they hit the Delta quadrant, it seems like it would have been really practical to fill out the science position better. Even Chakotay would have for a more compelling Science / Executive officer especially since the series never really focused on a science officer who's expertise focuses on social sciences which is in contrast to Janeway's pure physical science background. Heck, I think it might have made Chakotay more compelling of a character.
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