Voyager's main problems

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by DS9 Gal AZ, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. DS9 Gal AZ

    DS9 Gal AZ Captain Captain

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    I think there is probably at least one similar thread like this, so if this feels to redundant, feel free to ignore me. But I was thinking about Voyager and how it could have been really great. I feel like these were the main problems it failed to overcome (in no particular order):

    1.) Excessive use of techno-babble. Now, I'm one of those people who would get pissed at season 7 of DS9 when they would throw in a whole song by Vic Fontaine - made me feel like the writers couldn't be arsed to write another scene so they threw a song in. What's even worse than that, IMO, is throwing in technobabble exposition to pad the episode or for whatever other unfathomable reason. I'm not even one of those people who cares if the technobabble explanation is remotely scientifically plausible or not - I don't watch Trek for scientific accuracy, I watch it for the same reason I watch any other show - to be entertained by a good story. I have no interest in seeing the characters technobabble their way out of a situation every damn week. I'm not saying that this was the only Trek show guilty of this, but it seems to be most prominent on Voyager, and it just smacks of lazy writing.

    2.) Wasted opportunities: Mainly the ST crew and the Maquis. The tension between these two groups pretty much disappeared in like, two episodes, and they were pretty much one big happy crew after that. I wanted more of a struggle to integrate. Heck, we saw more tension between the Bajorans and the Feds on DS9, and the Feds were INVITED their to HELP them. I'm not saying the two crews had to be at each other's throats every episode, but a more bumpy integration, a gradual dissolving of tensions and slow progress to mutual trust and respect would have been more compelling to watch than the insta-integration that happened. Why bother making half the crew Maquis if you're not going to use it as a plot point for more than five seconds?

    3.) Poor character development. This is not to say all the characters were poorly developed - I'd say it was mostly Chakotay and Harry who got the bum rush when it came to character development. Chakotay never got much to besides his "Spritual Indian" shtick, and Harry ... wow, what can I say? About the only Harry-centric episode I can say where we ever saw any potential for character growth was when he was in that prison with Tom - and even then, the focus wasn't so much on Harry, but on the Harry/Tom dynamic, a friendship in the vein of Bashir/O'Brien - which was about the only part of Harry's underdeveloped character that I find interesting.

    4.) Little to no character growth. Strongly related to above. Even those character on VOY who were given character development remained rather static through the course of the series. I can't help once again comparing it to my favorite Trek series, DS9, where even a recurring character like Nog went through more growth than a supposed "main" character like Harry Kim. I'm not saying there was no character growth at all - Seven was good example of successful character evolution - but there should have been a lot more.

    5.) Imbalance of characters (seeing a theme here? A lot of my complaints have to do with character stuff, heh). Example: When Jeri Ryan came on, VOY became the Seven of Nine show. Now, this is not to say I dislike the character. I know she was pretty much brought on because the powers that be believe the stereotype that the typical trek fan is a droolin hormone-fueled adolescent fanboy, and she provided the T and A. And heck, maybe that's true. But aside from her obvious ... assets ... Seven was an intriguing, complex character and I actually think she was one of the best-written, best-developed characters on the show. I just wish her character development did not have to come at the expense of other characters. Again comparing to DS9, we see a show that managed to develop main and recurring characters and maintain a balance between them (though arguably Jake sort of fell by the wayside towards the end). And they even managed to screw Seven up, by putting in her an out-of-nowhere romance with Chakotay. These two character had nothing in common and, despite the fact that they were both portrayed by attractive actors, have zero chemistry IMO. Yawn.

    6.) Overabundance of supplies/happiness for a ship stuck however many billion light years from home. I didn't want VOY to be all doom and gloom, with them barely surviving, but it seems they could've been more of show of struggle, some scarcity aboard the ship, the ship itself showing more wear and tear than looking all magically shiny and new every episode. Look writers, if you want to do another TNG, just does do another TNG damn it! The premise was certainly successful enough. But no, you deliberately stranded them decades away from home, and half the time it's like they forgot they were trying to get back to the Delta Quandrant and were just exploring the galaxy, TNG-style. And they have all that time (and power!) to waste on the holodeck! Which leads us too ...

    7.) Excessive and cringe-worthy use of the holodeck. I say "excessive" because unlike other Trek series, Voyager was supposed to have limited resources. I don't care if they gave a technobabble solution about Voyager's holodeck having a different power source than the rest of the ship (which - WTF? Who designs a ship that way?!). Holodeck episodes tend to be hit or miss when it comes to Trek, and Voyager is no exception. The only time I enjoyed holodeck eps on this show is when the did the Captain Proton episodes, because it was such cheesy, scene-chewery good fun (in black and white!) and a homage to the sci-fi days of yore. As for the rest ... well, Fairhaven. :barf: Enough said.

    8.) Character inconsistency. Yes, another character complaint. Even when characters got significant development, it was hard to tell, because it often felt like they were written differently from one episode to the next. Janeway is the most egregrious example of this. One week, the writers have her cleaving the Prime Directive like it's the most sacred, sacrosanct rule in her universe, the next week, she's throwing it out the window. Come on, people. Even if you didn't it write it, would it at least kill you to glance over last week's script! Yeesh.

    So, those are my main gripes with Voyager. Feel free to add, critique, ignore, agree, or tell me I'm utterly and completely off the mark! It's all good. :D
     
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  2. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything you've listed, and would actually add one more: Neelix. (And I'm not adding him because he was the most annoying character since Wesley Crusher...he was. I'm adding him because his whole reason for being on the ship really didn't bear out all that much.) He was supposed to be the crew's "guide to the Delta Quadrant," but more often than not he knew little more than the crew about where they were in any given episode. And the contradiction of him being the chef because they had to conserve the replicator energy, but at the same time seemed to have unlimited energy to run the holodeck, build new shuttles and torpedoes, and repair the ship to a brand-new state after the pounding it took from some alien-of-the-week at the end of the previous episode, was nothing short of ridiculous.
     
  3. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Voyager's main problem was it was a spin off of a spin off. When you've already put your best writing into two previous spin offs, nothing offered could top it because you've already pushed creativity to its limit. They had already pushed the limits of what a captain was with Picard and more so, Sisko. After loosing a spouse and "....Pale Moonlight", there way no task set before Janeway that would have challeged her more than what we've already seen.
     
  4. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Along with everything correctly mentioned above, I will add... VOY didn't bring anything new to the table.

    TOS originated the idea of a starship's adventures exploring the final frontier. TNG was able to expand on that idea, having more years to tell all the stories that TOS was denied due to cancellation.

    DS9 took this well-established ST universe and pushed the limits in widely different ways than either prior series.

    VOY went back to a starship exploring the galaxy again. Not that there aren't more adventures to tell, but it was a lot of retread or variations. And what VOY claimed to bring as "new" to ST failed to materialize. Maquis/Starfleet conflict, a focal point of the entire series, was way underdeveloped. The premise of "Lost in Space" was not a good idea and it, too, was way underdeveloped as a series foundation. Week after week, most any eps could have played as TNG Jr. Same old, same old. And frequently, not even as good as.

    VOY broke very little new ground in ST and had a definite taste of being created as deliberate commercial product for Paramount rather than any creative desire to add to the ST mythos.

    Really came across to me not as a really great Star Trek idea someone wanted to tell, but much more of the suits telling someone to come up with more ST product.
     
  5. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Admiral

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    In Nelix's defense, they did address the episode where his usefulness ran out. It occurred in season 3, episode 13 "Fair Trade". You can't really expect the guy to know everything about an entire quadrant.
     
  6. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's easier to list what they did right.

    1. The cast.
    2. The premise.

    Maybe the VOY writers were creatively burnt out, but the topic certainly wasn't. Not that particular premise and not all the other premises you could devise for a Star Trek series.

    In that case, they needed to clean house and bring in a new crew.

    What could have saved the series was to ditch the TNG formula and go for a heavily serialized plotline that actually makes use of the premise, and allows for significant character growth. But I doubt UPN would have much cared to take a risk like that at the time. That's the sort of thing that even today is mainly relegated to cable.
     
  7. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One major problem was that they didn't have a complete premise. That whole "Lost ship" thing is only good for 1 season, 2 seasons AT MOST. Beyond that, there needs to be another plotline to drive the show and their actions. "Heading through unknown space to get home" isn't enough.

    Look at all the other "Single ship" series worth remembering over the years:

    1) Blakes Seven, the plot was about the crew (or just Blake, forcing the others to go along with his plans) trying to take down the evil Terran Federation Government. An actual plot.

    2) Farscape, this show had "Crichton wants to go home" as the only real plot for most of the 1st Season and then shoved that into the background in favor of the grander Wormhole Arms Race/Peacekeeper-Scarran War plotline that drove the remainder of the series.

    3) LEXX, had the "Stop the Shadow from destroying the Universe" plotline for Seasons 1-2. Season 3-4 was about their battles with Satan.

    4) NuBSG, the "Lost Fleet trying to find Earth" thing was a background plot while the rest of the show focused on how to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment and whether they retain the old systems or make new ones.

    Also, NuBSG was only good for 2 seasons out of 4 which is further proof of the limited concept.

    If Voyager had a real plot beyond "Get home" (which is one that obviously could never be accomplished because it would end the show) it would've helped.

    Sad thing is, they HAD such a plot but budgetary constraints/network interference/lack of foresight kept it from going anywhere: The 8472 aliens.

    If the 8472 invasion had been a major plot point from early on, and the show was about VOY realizing they had to stop them now or they'd end up destroying the Galaxy (including Earth) and most of the show revolved around that then there's a worthwhile plot.
     
  8. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Even if they did, what would make Voyager any different than DS9 but on a starship instead? They had already pushed the moral/ethical and emotional limits with Sisko with such examples as "Emissary", ""For the Uniform" and "In the Pale Moonlight". It's why much of the reaction to Voyager is: "That was cool but we've seen it done better on DS9." because they already reset the standard. The farthest they could have push it after that was with a captain purposely killing someone, as in Tuvix. No challenges set before Janeway would have emotional/ethically/morally topped the limits they pushed with Sisko even if the show stuck to it's premise and was "YOH" for the whole series.. All it could ever be was so-so in comparison because it wasn't going to break new ground.

    Law & Order has some of the top writers in the TV industry writing their shows and are always bringing in new blood. Even they didn't have the power to make every spin off as good as the ones before it. Neither did Norman Lear, nor did the CSI spin offs, Happy Days spin offs(Anybody remember the series about Fonzie's guardian angel?), etc....

    You can only water down an idea but so far.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  9. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think nuBSG surpassed Trek in their exploration in the concept of God. It gives nuBSG more depth and more stories of interest and conflict than Trek has been willing to go.
     
  10. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Trek never has addressed the concept of God, really. It always turns out to be advanced aliens (which in turned inspired Stargate) or something like that.

    Heck, even with NuBSG they never address the concept directly. They left it ambiguous enough that we can assume that "God" there was just another alien being; If anything, their "God" was closer to the Old Testament God with all the death and pain to impart "lessons" that weren't that worthwhile in the end.

    The NuBSG "God" was more their take on Count Iblis than anything else.
     
  11. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The Gods of Kobol were Cylons. That was pretty clear half way through season one, that the Cylons came first, invented man, who ran away to the 12 Colonies who then invented Cylons.

    What came later cleared up and confused that original intent.
     
  12. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Wow, that is total BS. Its not like the exact same writers had written TOS and TNG and then had to move onto VOY but were burnt out and had pushed their creativity to the limit.
    There was plenty of potential left in Trek, and VOY ran concurrently with DS9 so really what are you talking about??

    Voyager's premise totally gave it the opportunity to carve out its own special place in Star Trek. Being the 4th installment in the franchise had nothing to do with it underwhelming.



    Well that's the whole problem in the end. They didn't do any kind of worthwhile story arcs after season 2. I think it had more to do with network interference and lack of foresight/enthusiasm of the showrunners than budgetary constraints though.

    Once again, you're talking as if Voyager was filmed after DS9 had finished. You also keep focusing on the Captain. There was lots to explore that DS9 couldn't. DS9 was still about a hierarchy of people set in a fairly rigid Starfleet command structure. Voyager had the chance to create a new kind of command structure and society onboard.
    Its quite depressing to see you assume that creativity is so limited. Just because YOU can not think of how to push the envelope or make Voyager special in its own right doesn't mean other people couldn't have.
     
  13. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It didn't really help that VOY's "Lost Ship" thing had already been done in both TOS and TNG, and resolved much faster.
     
  14. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When discussing The Odyssey, Aristotle said the plot was, to paraphrase, Odysseus sets out to get home, then gets home. And everything along the way is incident, stuff that just happens. In other words, the premise simply does not admit of much development. (As Anwar pointed out.)

    The kind of incidents that befell Voyager suffered from the bizarre belief that "science" (standing in for common knowledge and simple logic as well) were all just technobabble. For example, the Borg could have been much more interesting if they had really been thought through. The preliminary sketch in Unity was the high point in Borg episodes, even if it didn't have the slam bang action and space opera shenanigans of other Borg episodes. In particular, thinking through the implications of Chakotay's vision inducing technology could have been fascinating. Dropping that thread left the character gutted, essentially functionless (except as beefcake.)

    Another big problem was the underdevelopment of the Paris and Torres characters. Paris was supposed to be both the bad boy and the victim, while never quite being bad nor getting victimized (the Chinese actor got the victimization:rolleyes:) What a woman would do in a Klingon fight club of course is a complete mystery, and never solving it left Torres as a question mark. She would have to be stupid to want to be a shrimp in the hand to hand combat ordeal of Klingon society, but she was supposed to be Klingon and proud. What a mess. They asked bat'leth boy Ron Moore to do something with her and he couldn't. Sticking Paris and Torres together did nothing to solve the problems with the characters. Since Paris and Torres were main characters, much more important than Chakotay, Neelix and Kim, this was a big emotional hole in the show.

    Seven of Nine was pretty inconsistent, downright schizophrenic in fact. This could actually have fit the character but they didn't seem to notice that she was sometimes proud to be a Borg and other times ludicrously guilt ridden. Which Seven of Nine was on deck depended upon the plot. Ordinarily people don't change much, but in her situation, coming into an astonishingly different way of life, it would be inevitable that she would actually change. The change was not well developed.

    Almost forgot, the Prime Directive is too vague. No one's really quite sure what it means, except that our heroes are noble for adhering to it, or possibley, independent minded for questioning it. Not knowing what it even is means both options are more or less by definition meaningless. Meaninglessness is not good drama.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
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  15. Zeppster

    Zeppster Commodore Commodore

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    If the show was more like Year of Hell over several seasons it had the potential to be a great show. As others have shown Voyager never could get a theme for a season held down for long. The Borg thing was about as close as they got from the end of season 3 to when 7 of 9 was getting acclimated to the crew but after about 6 episodes that was pretty much gone. They also tried the Kazan for about 5 episodes but I think the Kazan were just never something the fans of ST or the show really saw as a threat. Even when they took over the ship they weren't a threat.

    TNG got away without a real arc because the actors were better and the characters were better written overall. Voyager had some good character moments particularly with the Doctor and 7 of 9 but they just weren't enough to carry the show.
     
  16. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's odd. The premise seems to set up ongoing stories - Statfeet vs. Maquis, Voyager being out of range of easy repair, everyone seperated from friends and family etc. But TPTB wanted a series of stand-alone epsodes, like TNG, so all that stuff was swept under the rug for the most part (Stargate Universe would later run with these concepts, and was cancelled after 2 seasons)

    I just enjoy Voyager for what it is - a fun, light, space adventure. With infinity shuttles.
     
  17. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Voyagers only problem was 7 years of TNG.
     
  18. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Starfleet/Maquis thing could never last more than 2 seasons or so, unless they were truly mentally unbalanced people.

    They weren't "Out of range" of easy repair. We already know from all the other series how stuffed the Galaxy is with aliens, and it wouldn't make any sense for the DQ aliens to be harder to communicate with because we already saw all the GQ Aliens in DS9 who had no trouble adjusting to Federation explorers and any aliens in TOS from other Galaxies who had no problem communicating.

    Not to say it was alright for them to not even do those two seasons of conflict/integration, but it was never going to last more than that even if they had done so.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    One problem with Star Trek: Voyager is that too many episodes ignored the premise. Cutting off the ship from from Starfleet was often irrelevant to the plot and the characters. At least 25% of the episodes could have been produced for Star Trek: The Next Generation with a change to the character names. Even more episodes, of course, ignored the fact that a quarter of the ship's crew had been drafted into service when their Maquis ship was destroyed. They weren't part of Starfleet, yet with a few exceptions (Seska -- who turned out to be an evil spy, anyway; "Learning Curve") they became idealistic Starfleet explorers with little or no adjustment period. Anwar points out that the Maquis/Starfleet conflict wasn't enough to hang seven seasons on, and I agree. But they didn't even hang one season on it.

    The big problem, though, was that most of the episodes fell into a comfortable, safe, uninteresting mode of storytelling that was afraid to take risks or shake things up. Seven of Nine injected some life into the series for a while, but as stj points out, she was never consistently written, nor advanced. By season six and seven, the show was extremely stale.
     
  20. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The whole idea is that the combination of Maquis/Starfleet would create a more unique, distinctive crew and that would obviously last the whole show setting it apart from TNG and DS9

    And why would most of these aliens help fix Voyager for little in return?