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Marten van Wier
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:30am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I have been talking with someone on a Trek forum recently about Star Trek Voyager who has never seen the series himself, only a handful of episodes
I told him that I find it very difficult to recommend the series to him or any new viewers who want to get into Star Trek and watch everything.

I do think all of the Star Trek series could be reduced to the "essentials", the episodes that are worth watching and help develop the characters and build the world/universe and cutting out the rest. They may contain material or background lore that would be referred again or perhaps be build on but don't really are not worth watching just for those parts.

If any series could do with such trimming than it would be Star Trek Voyager followed by Star Trek Enterprise.
There is so much in these series that could have been done without.

While I lament how many probably future Star Trek writers for comics, books, television, and movies may not have watched the series, basing most of their stories on what the audience perceives the universe to be, tropes, and quick references in encyclopedia/Star Trek bibles, I don't think they should watch all the series completely.

From you wrote Steve about why Voyager turned out the way it did it sounds like Berman buried the series long before it even stopped being entertaining on television (around season 6 and 7)

The series also took another hit when Berman and Braga started working on their new show piece Enterprise. I think it is probably that at that point he and the other producers did not really have any interest any more in continuing Voyager. It was just something they needed to finish before they could move on.
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:36am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

As far as I am concerned, syndication - especially the race to produce 100 episodes of something, the traditional syndication threshold - is (was) the archenemy of quality.

Because of it, we ended up with countless examples of watered-down series, containing too many episodes and uneven quality throughout.

For this reason, I like the British approach far better.     
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:49am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I think there's something to be said about TOS' cancellation after only three seasons actually working in its favor. While the show barely managed to squeak into syndication, due to its low episode count, the relatively short run (...especially with that less-than-stellar third season!) left fans wanting more. There was a hunger for new STAR TREK because the show didn't grind on long enough to outstay its welcome and/or become formulaic and played out.

The spin-offs (except for ENTERPRISE) all ran for seven seasons, and none of them were consistently excellent or fresh from beginning to end. TOS had two great seasons and one lousy season, which wasn't enough to make people bored with it.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 5:27pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

JB, you should at least hold on until you get to Threshold in Season 2.

Considered by many (most?) to be the single worst hour of televised Star Trek ever produced, trumping anything that Enterprise ever crapped out and makes the third season of TOS tolerable by comparison.  

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Steven McCauley
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 5:54pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

My vote goes to Threshold -- by a mile.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 6:17pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Threshold's reputation suggests that it's premise is somehow a singularly bad idea, when in fact it's another retread on a twice-told Next Generation story from that same, tired, burned-out old writers' room.

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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 8:35pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

It's best and only redeeming feature is that it's a retreaded TNG plot!
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 02 April 2017 at 2:36pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

My problems with Voyager:

1. Once she started displaying emotions more, it would have been logical to progress to the point where Seven of Nine started using her real name again. 

2. The finale. I regard it as the worst finale of any Star Trek series (even beating out Sisko becoming Bajoran Jesus in DS9's), because Future Janeway's actions made the future events we saw earlier in the episode completely irrelevant. Her helping Voyager return at an earlier point in the time would have changed things. Also, I don't like Janeway (any version) laying the smack down on the Borg. The Borg's worst nightmare should be Picard, since he actually was a Borg for a while. Or even Seven of Nine. Not Janeway.

3. Too many weak episodes compared to the other Trek series. (Note: I don't count ENTERPRISE as a Trek series in this instance, and I quit watching that early on in season two and only saw a few episodes after. I've seen every episode of TOS, TNG, and DS9, and at most I've missed two or three episodes of Voyager, if any.)


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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 02 April 2017 at 4:50pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I didn't have a problem with Janeway " laying the smack" down on the Borg. Because she had more dealings with them and because Voyager was on their own when they face the Borg. There were no other Federations ships around to help. With Picard there was always the possibility of another Star Ship showing up to help them. 
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 02 April 2017 at 7:44pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Voyager struggled to get itself to a pretty good season four and five (with season three being okay), but tanked real hard in the seventh, and the first two are godawful.  I don't blame Jennifer Lien/Kes, who was a very good actor and interesting character that suffered from the usual writers' problem with not knowing what to do with her (see also Troi, Dax).  I actually think the problem with the first two seasons was leaning too heavily on Robert Beltran/Chakotay, a leaden actor playing a ludicrous character.  As soon as he became more of a supporting player in season three, the show improved immensely.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 03 April 2017 at 11:19pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

A couple of the 'shoulda beens' for Voyager:

-Robert Duncan McNeil playing Nicolas Locarno instead of Tom Paris.  Locarno would have been a great hook character, with roots back in TNG and a shady past that Locarno-lite Paris could only dream of having. They were hot to have RDM as a lead so we get the same actor playing a watered down version of the same character.  Turns out (and this is a very common occurance in the TNG-era spinoffs) the Voyager creators didn't want to pay a royalty to the writer of THE FIRST DUTY for every episode of the show.

-In a similar vein Chakotay's character was also gimped of it's full potential without his original backstory from the Native American colony on Dorvan V.   Voyager loses what would have been a nice subtle callback to TNG and instead the writers gave us a lazy Q appearance, some fake Klingons, and eventually the Borg when the ratings started to sag. 


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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 4:35am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Another  'shoulda' for me would have been to make Neelix a Cardassian. Not a soldier but a trader trapped in the Delta Quadrant the same way Voyager was, just several years earlier. I think it would have added just a little bit more tension to the crew mix.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 4:49am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Every time I hear phrases like "subtle callback" or "roots back in…" a little piece of me dies. This is the same kind of thinking that slowly eroded superhero comics, with every character, every concept, every story eventually requiring readers to be familiar with a broad backstory. Sometimes they called it "continuity".

But go back to TOS and NONE of those episodes demanded any prior awareness of the series. Even the two part "Menagerie" caught up new viewers in the opening teaser. Harry Mudd was explained in a quick exchange with Kirk. The Klingons and the Romulans were clear from context. Etc.

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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 11:09am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

If we have a series where one can watch any episode independently and/or out of sequence, we are looking at a procedural show rather than a serial. It seems that TOS is a typical procedural show. 

But what happens if you want to tell a longer, more complex story, which goes over a number of episodes (or over an entire season, or even the whole series?). 

There are pros and cons of both models. My sense is that TOS as a procedural show and Voyager as a serial (because of the whole story premise) would've been way to go. I am not sure how true both were to the form.  
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 11:42am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

There are indeed pros and cons for both models.

With the done-in-one model, any episode of TOS can be enjoyed by a casual viewer. Certain ideas may benefit from the context of having seen other episodes and getting a broader feel for the characters, but you can still dive into any episode of any season and not get lost.

Multi-episode/season arcs which rely heavily upon continuity can be very rewarding and artistically brilliant, but, by their very nature, they limit the size of the audience due to potentially being confusing (or even impenetrable) to first-time viewers. Context is everything.

With the former, you get the potential for a much larger audience. With the latter, you can get very complex and rich stories. Neither one is necessarily "better". STAR TREK is my favorite TV show of all time, and it's incredibly friendly to first-time viewers. BREAKING BAD is probably the best TV drama I've ever seen, and is full of complex/layered storytelling and symbolism, but I would never recommend that someone start watching it in the middle of a rerun cycle, because the power of that show largely comes from its beginning-middle-end progression. You need to start at episode one of that show to fully take in and appreciate the long-form story it tells. (That being said, my first experience with it was a repeat from the end of the second season, which sparked my interest enough to go back to the beginning. But, I still wish I hadn't been spoiled for what would come.).


Anyway, I've occasionally wondered if some viewers who came in for random episodes of VOYAGER were even aware that the ship was supposed to be stranded, or if they assumed that it was just another TOS/TNG-type space-exploration show. The "lost in space" plot wasn't made clear for the audience in every single episode, after all.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 04 April 2017 at 11:43am
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 12:37pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Procedurals and serials are two very different storytelling devices, giving the viewers two different types of experience, and asking in return for two different types of commitment from the audience. 

Voyager had a perfect setup for a serial: a ship gets thrown out incredibly far into space, and somehow they succeed in coming back (a clear beginning, middle and end). In my opinion, this was a great way to make Voyager unique, to stand out from the rest. The rest of the Star Trek shows - in both generations - worked quite well as procedurals. 


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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 1:46pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I'm looking at the 14th episode of season six. 'Memorial' is the name of the episode. I'm not going to say what it's about in case anyone hasn't seen it yet. 

My point of mentioning anything has to do with something B'Elanna does for Tom Paris. She replicated a television set circa 1950's and programmed the computer to play entertainment from that era.
I got such a kick out of that. That's something I would do.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 2:23pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The rest of the Star Trek shows - in both generations - worked quite well as procedurals. 
--------------------------------
DS9 was really a blend.  There were plenty of standalone episodes.  There were also blocks of episodes, sometimes five or six in sequence, that were essentially serialized.  Even in the standalone episodes, there were ongoing subplots.

Berman, as I mentioned before, was fiercely against any kind of serialization.  To the point that Ron Moore had to fight like crazy in the fourth season of TNG to be allowed to do a Klingon episode that was essentially a lightly connected thematic sequel to an episode the season before.  I think they got some more latitude with DS9, and when the ratings were below TNG's, the serialization is part of what took the blame, and so Voyager, in addition to being a 'ship show', was made even more self-contained than TNG was, more in the model of TOS.
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 2:55pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Rick Berman should have been bolder. To rely so much on the planet/alien/anomaly-of-the-week formula was the safe route, tried-and-true approach that dated back to TOS - but at the point in time when there was more than one Star Trek series running in parallel it all become overly used, aged and repetitive. I have no doubt that factual examination would probably show more of a blend than I remember, but my overall impression is that I was consuming a number of procedurals. 
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

p.s.

More on Rick Berman's later era: I am wondering now if having a particular mix of two parallel shows - one purely procedural (DS9) and one purely serial (Voyager) - plus the movies (with TNG crew) would have saved the day. Essentially, there would be three different avenues potentially tapping into three different types of audience. 

Also, here is an idea for a 100% pure procedural show (any Star Trek era), called "The Alpha Quadrant" - every episode somewhere else, different ship, different crew. An anthology series!    
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 8:00pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

<JB> Every time I hear phrases like "subtle callback" or "roots back in…" a little piece of me dies. This is the same kind of thinking that slowly eroded superhero comics, with every character, every concept, every story eventually requiring readers to be familiar with a broad backstory. Sometimes they called it "continuity".

But go back to TOS and NONE of those episodes demanded any prior awareness of the series. Even the two part "Menagerie" caught up new viewers in the opening teaser. Harry Mudd was explained in a quick exchange with Kirk. The Klingons and the Romulans were clear from context. Etc.

I hear you, but I think you misread what I meant by "subtle callbacks".  I was alluding to the type of continuity that rewards longtime or careful viewers but doesn't punish newcomers. To paraphrase you, "Every episode is someone's first episode".  If the reference is missed it's not critical to the plot of the episode but if someone catches it on a second viewing then the experience is enriched.

I'll attempt to tread lightly hereon in case you are still trying to cold watch Voyager...

A lot of the Voyager interactions with the Borg take place post-First Contact and almost require you to watch that film to keep up with how the Borg are portrayed and motivated.  Very heavy handed and clumsy writing and plotting, almost as if Rick Berman wanted to say "Hey, I wrote a hit Star Trek feature film, you should watch it because it's great".  It became a huge crutch whenever Voyager needed a ratings boost to lazily add a Q appearance or some other overt reference to TNG or TOS.  The decline of televised Star Trek started the moment they began to service the whims of their core fanbase to the exclusion of everyone else.

It's not that the Voyager writers weren't capable of nuanced writing either.  Eye of the Needle has a very nice subtle payoff down the line, but it's also not ultra critical to the episode that makes the callback.   For TNG-era Star Trek fans it's a nice treat that fills in a few blanks in the then-current Federation-Romulan relationship, particularly since they were forced into being reluctant allies against the Dominion.  If you had just tuned in to Voyager that week you wouldn't feel like you had missed something important and maybe decide against watching Voyager the following week.



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 04 April 2017 at 8:03pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 April 2017 at 9:47pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I think getting ensnared in dense continuity which requires familiarity with previous iterations is a rather easy trap to fall into.

Bringing it back to BREAKING BAD, the prequel series, BETTER CALL SAUL, works perfectly well as its own self-contained story, but is greatly enriched if viewers are already familiar with BREAKING BAD. There are people who watch and love that show even though they haven't seen the original.

Compare that to VOYAGER, which began with a text scroll about the Maquis from DS9. Some of the spin-off TREK shows require a certain degree of familiarity with the previous series. DS9 and its pilot were rooted in TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds", and VOYAGER spun out of DS9's Maquis arc. 
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 05 April 2017 at 9:33am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

The most difficult thing to do is to reward those who are familiar with what came before without confusing brand new viewers. 

That black and white prologue to Better Call Saul series opener does it perfectly - we get our first glimpse of the post-Breaking Bad world for one of the characters, we know exactly what happened and how the protagonist got there. On the other hand, if you never watched Breaking Bad, you simply get that this is not going to end well at all, which is perfectly fine... 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 April 2017 at 10:23am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

There's also the mystery angle of BCS--something to keep both new viewers ("How does Jimmy McGill end up like this?") and viewers of the parent show ("We saw how Jimmy ended up like this, but is his story really over?") interested.

With TREK, mystery and putting puzzle pieces together is an element which seems to have been lost, over time. A lot of TOS episodes unfold like a procedural would, with theories being developed, tested, and rejected/proven, and experiments which fail and/or succeed. The later shows became more and more about talking and technobabble, rather than building up a compelling mystery with lots or zigging, zagging, and fistfights to keep it interesting.
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Joe Boster
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Posted: 01 May 2017 at 6:46pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Just finished Bliss. S5E14. I don't remember much of any of the episodes so they are new to me. They Suck less than Enterprise. You would think they would have come up with some sort of reasoning for seven's cat suit. 

Infinte Regress was one of the better ones. It was nice to see Jeri have a chance to act. Tuvok seems to have hit the Gym this season. This seems to be the point in the show where doctor is mr. .know it all, which is starting to get old. The less I see of Paris and Kim the better the episode is

Comparing to ENT I find the cast is better actors but less likable. And some bits just seem to be there to give an actor the contracted amount of lines for the week. 

I'm 95% certain that they do state they are lost in the delta quadrant and trying to get home in every single episode.

2 episodes a day. No more. It's my morning orgainze my day and check the store email routine. 
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