Why was Kes written off the show?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by Kooz, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Huh? "Mosaic" was a flashback novel relating the story of Janeway's pre-Voyager family life and career. Kes was barely in it.

    "Pathways" was a collection of "origin stories" of all the other main characters, told round the campfire. Kes had already left the show, so Taylor had to rewrite the Kes tale to be channeled by Neelix.

    Neither of which example proves your claim that Jeri Taylor told lies. When a show-runner says a character is hard to write for, and therefore not working as they'd like, they are obviously not telling you all the reasons why that is so. But the writers certainly painted themselves into a corner. Kes was scheduled to become an old woman - very soon - wearing expensive latex wrinkles in every episode till the end.

    But... ideas and opportunities can be exhausted.

    Unemployment and auditions.

    It worked. Wil Wheaton got more fan mail than any other character while he was on the show, AFAIK.

    I thought it was that he was originally scheduled to be killed off in the cliffhanger of the pilot episode, but they decided to keep him. This decision was before any episodes had aired.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  2. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Juggernaut aired on Monday the 26th of April 1999 and Someone to Watch Over Me aired two days later on Wednesday 28th of April, after a month long hiatus since March flapped off.

    Voyager mostly aired on a Wednesday and the loyal audience was prepared for Wednesdays and were blindsided by anything but Wednesdays.

    Jugernaut was a bonus show, becuase if there was a show on Wednesday how on earth would they be prepared to suspect that there were going to be two brand new epiosdes of voyager that week! it's an unthinkable ineffiable impossibibility.

    This is back when TV Guide ruled the world, and we got paper cuts trying to figure out when we could go out and get laid or when we had to stay in for must see tv.

    I swear to god, my step father didn't like the sound of the tape rolling from reel to reel in the VCR while recording Tv on a timer in the lounge while I was out, that he would turn the machine off. It got to the point that going out just wasn't worth the risk even if there was a good chance of running across a drunken orgy.

    How was I to know that some numb nuts was going to invent dvd box sets or bit torrent?
     
  3. DeepSpaceWine

    DeepSpaceWine Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, "Juggernaut" is 1 of 2 Voyager episodes that aired on a special night first-run. The series was like a yin-yang, all Monday with 1 Wednesday episode amongst it, all Wednesday with 1 Monday episode amongst it. Those episodes were "Investigations" & "Juggernaut". The 1st was to demo Voyager on Wednesday before moving it there in the fall, the 2nd was for unknown reasons.

    "Juggernaut" had such a low rating because it aired (4/26/99) the same week as a new episode and aired before that new episode aired ("Someone to Watch Over Me", 4/28/99). Very easy to miss. And it was the 1st week back from 3 weeks of reruns (Voyager was mostly reruns since "Course: Oblivion" aired 3/3/99, with 2 episodes airing in the middle to break up what would've been a 2 month stretch of reruns). Tune in Wednesday and you wouldn't even know you missed an episode.

    I saw every episode of Voyager on its premiere or on the Saturday/Sunday 2ndary timeslot (tv was on for "Resistance", but I slept through the most of it past the beginning...) and regularly kept a tv guide (TV Week from the sunday paper?) around because I watched DS9, Hercules, Xena, et al and their station had a habit of shifting them around for baseball. I was a conscientous viewer to make sure I knew when new episodes were airing to catch or record them and despite all that I still almost missed "Juggernaut". I only remembered 10 or 15 minutes before it aired that it was supposed to air that night. And I knew from the internet (probably Vidiot's site) that it was the more interesting of the 2 episodes that week (it's the Juggernaut bitch, you know. Aren't we all supposed to know what it is?)

    Contrast with "Investigations". Now, the week before was a rerun, but if you tuned in Monday 3/11/96 and didn't find Voyager, you'd probably try and find the tv guide and flip through and see it was airing on Wednesday. Where a special timeslot is relative to the primary timeslot is key to the audience having chances to remember or not.


    Now, for a little more than a month, there were Tuesday reruns around Sept 1999 in addition to episodes on Wednesday and 1 episode aired on a Tuesday in a summer (Summer 97 I think).



    Now, the story behind why "Juggernaut" aired Monday- I'd like to know. It wasn't an issue of not being ready. Star Trek usually wrapped production in March, maybe early April, Juggernaut had 5 episodes ahead of it. They always seemed to have episodes finished well ahead of time. They were no X-Files (they usually finished episodes that Sunday after working all weekend. "Gethsemane" only finished right before the upload date and the West Coast actually got a different version, one that had more CGI work in it). I doubt it wasn't ready to air Wed 4/21/99.

    I remember history well (I damn well better since I lived through it and wasn't a child) and there was a certain event Tuesday 4/20/99, one which had an impact on tv scheduling. Columbine led 2 episodes of Buffy to get pulled, 1 episode of 7 Days (Voyager's companion show) to get pulled. "Timeless" aired the next day (4/21/99). Was "Juggernaut" pulled because it was about anger and violence? No. "Timeless" (R) was on the schedule for at least all of April for 4/21/99. Besides, all the delayed episodes aired in Fall 99 or in the case of Buffy's season finale, in July. If it was for its themes, it wouldn't of aired 6 days after Columbine. Now, that 7 Days episode was scheduled to air 4/28/99 but was replaced with a rerun.

    Was it just a matter of UPN scheduling being stupid and not scheduling a new ep for 4/21/99 meaning they would have to fit one somewhere? The much loathed Tribune was that incompetent (1 ep of Earth: FC & 1 ep of Mutant X aired in July because they were idiots when it came to scheduling the spring block), but UPN... we have schedules for all 11 1/2 seasons it was on the air. They may have lost a billion dollars over their short history but they weren't idiots when it came to scheduling. Was it just 1 scheduling error that can even happen to other networks every once and awhile (Simpsons in 2002 had a 'bonus episode' air after the season finale)? Who knows. We still don't know why Season 5 had such a late start (mid October).


    And "Investigations" is memorable as the only Star Trek episode a future head of state appeared in. The current King of Jordan is seen talking to Harry Kim in 1 scene. I think he was wearing a blue uniform. His father died and he took over in 1999, sometime around the airing of "Dark Frontier" if I recall correctly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  4. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Neelix was supposed to annoy TUVOK, not the audience.
     
  5. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Her superpowers was just a way to have a plot device to get her off the ship. She hadn't used her powers and refused to do so after "Coldfire". She said so at the end of the ep. and in "The Gift" again explains how she hadn't been using them in a while. TPTB had no intention of using Kes' abilities to any great degree because it made her too powerful, therefore there'd be no challenge Voyager would encounter she couldn't fix. Plus we saw how every time she'd used them, she'd cause something dangerous to happen.

    This is another reason why she was written into a corner. They gave her abilities that she could never use.
    If Kes has the ability as in "Fury" to transverse space and time, then she had the ability to get Voyager home by season 4. Couldn't have that, so she had to go.
     
  6. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm going to go out on a limb an assume it might have been a test audience then.
    All your other points, I agree with as well.
     
  7. 22 Stars

    22 Stars Commodore Commodore

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    This implies that they were going to add a character so someone had to go... No, the it worked was, let's get rid of Kes and replace her with a bombshell. That is very different and it was unfortunate.
     
  8. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    She wasn't "written into a corner," she had some of the best potential of any of the characters. If they were going to keep her around, they simply wouldn't have "powered her up" to the levels of "The Gift."

    If they could write for Troi on TNG, they could easily write for Kes on VOY. Kes was like a more powerful and more interesting version of Troi.
     
  9. spot_loves_data

    spot_loves_data Captain Captain

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    Agreed, there's no room for a mini-Q/omnipotent elf living on the ship full time. But to reiterate Sonak's post, her powers wouldn't have been supercharged if they hadn't planned to write her off the show.

    Hey, that just adds more drama and it's one more reason to keep her on the show. I would have liked to watch her powers develop over a season or two.

    Yup, Troi makes for the best comparison, but let's not forget all the other aliens with superpowers, who were also regulars on various series. Vulcans have super strength, telepathy, the ability to mind meld, and greater intelligence. Klingons have super strength. Guinan was old as dirt, had ability to sense alternate realities, and could sort of take on the Q (though she's a recurring cast member, I suppose). Seven was a borg - she had all sorts of super human abilities, and held the health crisis reset button (nanoprobe cure-all). Data and the EMH were superhero-esque.

    So, yeah, I don't see any reason why Kes's powers would be too much for the writers to handle.

    I'll bet they could've come up with some way around that. There was that colony of Ocampans who lived to 18 or 20, that guy from Seinfeld cured the phage in no time, nanoprobes work wonders, the EMH came up with all sorts of new treatments... there's no shortage of medical miracles.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  10. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    please read every other post in this thread.

    Wang was going to be fired.

    They changed their mind because of the People sexiest list.

    Wang Stayed.

    But they had to fire some one.

    They'd budgeted for a Termination.

    A Termination had to happen.

    Jennifer was terminated.
     
  11. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Keep in mind that Deanna Troi gave the writers many headaches, and they ended up not even using her in several late Season One scripts. Troi was slated to be written out for Season Two, but then Denise Crosby asked to be released from her contract. Then Gates McFadden's contract was not renewed.

    Thus, they were stuck with Troi, and added the Ten-Forward set - and planned a counselor's office set - to give Troi some potential strong scenes. They also realised that "The Child", an old Ilia "Phase II" story, would work for Troi. Whoopi Goldberg had declared her availability, Guinan was given the bar set, and Whoopi ended up getting Troi's best potential scenes most times she was able to shoot an episode.

    So comparing Kes to Troi is quite apt. Difficult characters/powers to use well.

    Why not? They'd already stretched believability that the one woman with only seven years left to live would undertake training as the only ship's nurse.
     
  12. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re-read "Mosaic" and you will see that Kes played a very important role in the story during the crew's adventures on the planet.

    And in "Pathways", Taylor managed to come up with a good and detailed background story for Kes, in fact one of the most interesting background stories in that book.

    Ideas and opportunities may be exhausted but it's still a somewhat lame excuse in this case, especially if you watch season 3 where it looks like Kes is getting a more important role in the future of the series.

    As for the aging thing, my theory is that they probably would have prolonged her lifespan to avoid all the make-up work. It was actually hinted already in "Cold Fire" that it was a possibility.
     
  13. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, she was not "written into a corner" in any way. That's just one of the lame excuses they tried to come up with to justify their actions. In fact, if you look at season 3, I get the impression that Kes was becoming a more important member of the crew.

    However, I must state that the somewhat ridiculous development of her "superpowers" in "The Gift" was a way to dump the character as soon as possible, just as the writer who wrote the story was ordered to do.

    It's also ironic that they used Kes's "superpowers" as a way to get rid of her when they just had brought in another main character with "superpowers" who could fix everything with her Borg knowledge.

    As for the comparision between Kes and Troi, I think that Kes was the more interesting of those two. Kes had more guts and were in many ways smarter than Troi. Mind you, I actually like Troi too but compared to Kes, she was a bit wimpy sometimes and not as clever. And Kes had at least the good taste not to end up in soppy relationships now and then.
     
  14. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm aware of the early difficulties they had with Troi, but the bottom line is that they worked through them. By the second or third season, she was a solid character. And Kes had MORE potential than Troi, so it's kind of silly to say that they had to dump Kes because it was "so hard" to write for her.
     
  15. Kooz

    Kooz Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I completely agree with this! Kes was an interesting character, and while Seven was as well, having both could have made for some interesting moments. I think he show could have done without a lot of the other characters. So few actually created a lasting impression.
     
  16. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    As I mentioned at the start of this thread, the actress playing Kes was also hard to write for, not just the character. Ms Lien is painfully shy in real life and, although she is capable of incredible performances on-screen (I liked her in the sitcom "Phenom" before I knew her on VOY), it could be that some directors found it hard to communicate with her. Why she made public appearances at conventions when she is so shy is also hard to fathom; Jennifer Lien came to Australia and was so freaked out on stage that the audience thought she was under the influence of drugs. Some demanded their money back. Hence the many rumours that were racing around about her dismissal.

    As we've heard with other actors, some characters inspire the staff writers to greatness. Others, for hundreds of reasons, don't work out the way the creators imagined they might at initial casting.

    "Kind of silly", but the writers did find Kes a difficult character to write for. You can see them tinkering with the character every season (her powers, her appearance, the relationships with other characters), but nothing seemed to be working as well as they wanted. Seven of Nine, however, opened many wonderful opportunities for character building.
     
  17. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't see how Ms. Lien's shyness would be relevant to the way writers treated her character. And no, I really didn't get the vibe that she was getting hard to write for, I think she was improving as the show went on. I think that's stuff made up after the fact as justification for dumping her to get a more conventional "babe." If anything, the show struggled with finding Neelix a role, as he went from "guide" to "morale officer" to "ambassador."

    If there's stuff from long before her dismissal about the difficulties writing for her, then I'd believe it, but otherwise it just looks like rationalization.
     
  18. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    And not the reason why it happened since the original idea was to get rid of Kim and keep Kes alongside the bombshell. They only kept Kim because Garrett Wang got noticed by People Magazine and felt that any press would be good for the show.

    But they weren't going to have ten regular cast members for budgetary reasons no matter what.
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    OK, so the fact that they were going to keep Kes and drop Kim would seem to settle the argument about how Kes had to go because she was so difficult to write for. Had that been the case, she would have been the first choice to go.
     
  20. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    You know, having worked in a couple of writers rooms now, and having observed and at times participated in conversations regarding the direction of characters, story arcs, and what not, it is entirely acceptable to me that they got rid of Kes, and I can absolutely believe that the writers genuinely ran out of stories for her. This kind of thing happens. Stories have endings.

    The other thing to consider is the high turnover rate of the Voyager writers over the years. The same way everyone was up in arms a few months ago about "Tattoo" being racist because they never quite figured out what nationality Chakotay belonged to, getting rid of Kes could easily have been the result of the same writing staff still being there after three years and just creatively burned out, it could be that Jeri Taylor herself was burned out, it could be that a bunch of new blood couldn't figure out what to do with the character.