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The Crazed Spruce said on December 29th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I actually started watching Star Trek: Voyager again about a year ago. It was definitely one of the weakest shows of the franchise (almost as bad as Enterprise), but it really picked up in quality in the later seasons, after Bryan Fuller (yes, that Bryan Fuller) became story editor.

That being said, I agree, this was one of the weakest episodes. Not as epically horrible as, say, “Threshhold” (the one where Top Paris breaks Warp 10, mutates into a lizard creature, kidnaps Janeway, mutates her into a lizard, and they run off and have little lizard babies together), but it was hardly a high point in Trekdom.

But try not to judge the entire series by this one episode. There are a lot of good episodes out there. Just a matter of finding them.

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It sounds a little like a prototype for the idea of the Silence in Doctor Who, except one of Who’s strengths is its general unwillingness to overexplain things so that goofy concepts like this can remain unexamined and thus superficially reasonable.

Every so often, I’m glad to see more evidence that my decision to drop Voyager after half a season was a good one.

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Despite being a huge geek in lots of ways, I never got into any Trek show. I’ve seen very little of the franchise, but from what I have seen, I’d say that there are two things about it that bug me too much to get past: how it takes itself so seriously, and how the characters in it are so reverent of the pre-warp era* (if that’s the term) for no reason other than that’s where the viewer is. Reading this makes my barely-informed prejudice feel so much more vindicated.

To use an analogy from a franchise I liked more (and I fully realize that I might be opening myself up to ridicule here, but hey), it’s as if the Asgard on Stargate SG-1 thanked the team for thinking outside the box such as by using projectile weapons, so they start living out a theme park version of the Old West.

* You have a holodeck. You use it to LARP Horatio Hornblower? And half your crew plays along? Voluntarily? Seriously?

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Seven of Nine and the Doctor singing.

That is all one needs to know about Voyager before purging it from your memory banks.

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I’m enjoying The Star Trek cartoon immensely. I knew it existed, I’ve just forgotten every episode. It’s classic Trek, but new (to me), and it’s always better than Voyager.

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But this kind of thing was also a problem in previous Trek series. Remember the TNG episode “The Naked Now” in which the crew is affected by some kind of disease, and even DATA is affected, causing him to have sex with Tasha Yar? This is the same, stupid plot contrivance of a machine being affected by a biological agent, but in TNG, not Voyager.

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dangermouse said on December 29th, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Eight year olds shouldn’t have to learn cursive because it is fucking abominable.

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dangermouse said on December 29th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Things everyone in the entire fucking universe does as soon as they’re allowed to:

goes back to just printing shit

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@Walrus-

I’m not gonna defend Naked Now, but that isn’t what happened in it. Data was, in fact, unaffected by the weird sexy disease. TASHA was affected. Data had sex with Tasha because he wanted to, not because of some ailment.

Question for the hive mind: I haven’t seen an episode of DS9 or Voyager in… man, something like a decade now, and I’d like to go through both series again. Problem is, if I remember correctly, like most Trek series there’s a LOT of filler in there. A lot.

Has anyone done up a list, not just of episode reviews (the AV Club is actually about to start in on DS9) but an actual ‘Guide to Watch’ thing? Like ‘okay, if you just want the character development stuff and the myth arcs, watch episodes 1, 2, 5-7, and 15-20. 9 and 10 feature some Quark stuff that is generally considered to be pretty funny, so you might want to watch those as well. Do not watch 8, its Jake being precocious for forty minutes and you’ll want to murder yourself. 11-14 are okay, but eminently forgettable.’

Something for those of us who’d like to relive the Dominion War and the better parts of DS9 without needing to slog through an endless stream of temporal anomalies and derelict ships with horrible secrets.

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Data was totally affected. He started going off about a dirty limerick, remember?

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I gave up on Voyager when they made that episode where they give the reason we can’t go to Warp 10 is because we’ll turn into Salamanders. Salamanders. /groan

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The Trek cartoon is way more enjoyable than Voyager. Oddly, I’m playing Star Trek: Encounters now–it’s not great, the controls are a bit fiddly, but you get to fly the Defiant!–and the first Voyager level is whupping my ass. I can’t help but think it’s because I’m not attached to it…

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Murc: watch it again. Data is clearly acting as out-of-character as everyone else during that episode, and intentionally so, not just in the “it’s season one and we don’t have the characters nailed down yet” sense.

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I’d have to watch Naked Now again to do that, though. You can see the bind I’m in!

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To be fair to the writers of “Naked Now”, at least Picard expressed surprise that data was affected, to which Data replied “if you prick me, do I not … leak?”

I recall no belabored explanation of why it affected him, just that exchange which acknowledged the illogic of it and basically didn’t delve into the details, it just told the viewer to roll with it.

If the episode didn’t suck, that would have been fine.

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“But no, Robert Beltran is deadly earnest when he asks these questions”

I don’t think you can blame Beltran, if the concept is written as something everyone believes in, an actor can’t just go off being sarcastic – especially if there isn’t going to be a payoff for that sarcasm.

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Not being sarcastic is also (sadly) quite in character for Chakotay. Mainly because if he was sarcastic then, he’d need to be sarcastic in almost every episode and he’s just not built that way.

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I’m gonna suggest that the simplest rationale for the “pheromone” thing is that the Ramurans themselves don’t know what’s behind this. Given their secretive and xenophobic culture, and that they have multiple means of wiping memories and records, it makes sense that even their own people aren’t allowed to remember what’s behind it all. “Pheromone” is what they say because they’re unable to recall their own telepathy.

It’s still stupid. It seems like there’s a lot of Voyager episodes that pull this sort of nonsense. Slap some gimmicky theme on an episode, then explore the idea without making it fit in the context of the show. “Threshold” was built on the idea of Paris getting to make a historic test flight, but it got bogged down when they tried to marry that with the Warp 10 concept.

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SimpleSimon said on December 30th, 2011 at 9:59 am

Voyager ALSO gave us badly-CGI’d Gorn. And that is unforgiveable. I like the Gorn.

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Mike Smith said on December 30th, 2011 at 8:13 am

I’m gonna suggest that the simplest rationale for the “pheromone” thing is that the Ramurans themselves don’t know what’s behind this. Given their secretive and xenophobic culture, and that they have multiple means of wiping memories and records, it makes sense that even their own people aren’t allowed to remember what’s behind it all. ”

This is the kind of a concept that a really good science fiction show could exploit.

We are not talking about that show.

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I think sometimes you just have to let plot holes like that go and enjoy the general idea of the story. The idea – an alien race that wipes its presence mixed with a bit of romance – was novel enough to merit a decent episode, so sometimes you just run with it and screen out the drek.

That said, there were so few actual episodes of merit in Voyager. It seemed like the writers were just pumping out Star Trek fan service at every opportunity. I know the romance plots in Trek are inevitable (and inevitably bad) but I think Voyager went above and beyond. “Hey, look! Sexy borg! Hey look! Jail-bait aliens! Half-Vulcan hotties! Finally, we can have our Piccard stand-in actually have sex with Q!”

It was like they distilled everything bad about TNG into its own series. That’s what had me turning it off inside the first season.

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If she’s the product of so secretive and xenophobic a culture that they mindwipe everyone they come into contact with, maybe she’s LYING about the pheromone thing (intentionally or out of reflex, or maybe their version of Section 23 spreads misinformation about it so defectors can’t spill the beans).

That the Commander fell for it is another matter.

Maybe she likes her ‘em big and dumb.

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@The Crazed Spruce: As noted, this is one of the few Treks I hadn’t already seen, so I’m not judging Voyager on one bad episode. Voyager had some good points that make the show as a whole worth looking at, but it has a lot of problems, on a scale much greater than the other shows.

Voyager always felt to me like the most fanservice-y of all the series, the one that knows it has a large built-in audience and can afford to jerk off on technobabble or the crew’s holodeck fantasies or shipping. That’s not to say you can’t do a show that feels like TNG fanfic (I’m sure some people consider it the best one) but it’s not what I go for. Enterprise has similar problems but for my money it gets back closer to the “scientist-sailors doing their jobs” stuff that I prefer.

@Walrus: Not that I want to defend anything about “The Naked Now,” but the idea was that Data could get “drunk” because he contains various biochemical compounds which were somehow affected by the whatever-it-was just like the crew. (This was before Data’s construction was firmly established as a robot covered in human-like skin.)

Comparing “Naked Now” with “Unforgettable,” one is has atrocious overacting and overwriting of a premise I’m willing to forgive, and the other has passable performances and dialogue that can’t save a ludicrous plot. But I don’t deny that TNG on its worst days is way worse than most episodes of Voyager.

@Bryan: I wasn’t intending to blame Robert Beltran for his delivery of the line; I just meant that because he’s reading the line sincerely we know the script intends it to be a legitimate question.

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Ah yes, The Naked Now.

“Does anyone think having all the cast act wildly out of character might work better later than the third ever episode?”
“Nah.”

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Jason Barnett said on December 31st, 2011 at 11:20 am

perhaps because of the pheromone thing the Ramuran found that their encounters with other alien species were always frought with tension and danger because these other species were always suspiscious of them or acting as if they weren’t to be trusted. So the Ramurans took steps to make their tech as hard to identify and remember or detect as their people were so their contacts with species would be rare and on their terms

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MadHierophant said on December 31st, 2011 at 11:22 am

I wish there was a place that could just point out all of Voyager’s flaws in a way that even the most delusional fan can’t deny them. Even though I’ve explained to friends of mine that consider Voyager to be the best Trek series why it’s mediocre at best, they still remain willfully blind. :/

It’s too bad Mr. Plinkett at Red Letter Media doesn’t review individual episodes of Star Trek instead of just the films.

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What they should have done, was after Basics, done a Red Dwarf thing and continued the show with just Paris, Suder and the Doctor. “It’s cold outside…”

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I dunno. I’ve been getting the wife into TNG and we’re almost done with the first season. There are some turds in there too. I don’t think it’s fair to judge these shows based on 2011 sensibilities. When they were made the average IQ of its viewers was lower. Take them as what they are – escapism with technobabble. I guess I’m disillusioned by how poorly TNG has aged…

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I don’t think anyone’s saying that TNG or any shows before Voyager were the perfect, golden mean of sci-fi television.

And even if we just take it as escapism with technobabble, not all escapism with technobabble is created equal. If the show is inconsistent or filled with plot elements that preclude the willful suspension of disbelief, then there is no escape and the show has failed at being escapism with technobabble.

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“When they were made the average IQ of its viewers was lower.”

Huh? How old are you?

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Not to plug, but Wil Wheaton has self-published an awesome book called “Memories of the Future” that both recaps the plots of (the first half of) Season One and discusses his experiences making the episode. He’s promised a Volume Two, and maybe if enough people buy Volume One he’ll get to it. :)

His discussions of “Naked Now” are particularly interesting, because he does bring up what a bad idea it was to put this as the first episode after the pilot, both because having everyone act out of character is less meaningful when you don’t know what their characters are yet, and because rehashing an old Trek episode right out of the gate practically begs for the unfavorable comparisons.

All of which is by way of distracting everyone from the fact that I gave up on Voyager after the pilot and have nothing to add to this conversation. :)

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Mecha Velma said on January 1st, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Voyager was insultingly bad.

They tried to make Janeway a know-it-all mother hen. This made her annoying on two very grotesque levels.

Chakotay had no character other than being an occasional plot device to show how spirituality could still be relevant in a science-driven society.

Ensign Kim existed to play straight man to Tom Paris’ shenanigans. This wouldn’t be so bad if ensign Kim had a legitimate personality of his own or if Paris’ motivations for his shenanigans remains relatively constant instead of just throwing nonsense wherever the plot need it to go (eg Thirty Days).

Now take the previous paragraph and replace Ensign Kim with Tuvok and Tom Paris with Neelix.

Seven of Nine was added to the crew because TITS. Despite her monotone delivery she actually does well in the series because she could legitimately replace any of the more useless characters without the mind-numbing irritation.

Belanna Torres only becomes interesting when she becomes romantically involved with Tom Paris.

The Doctor is the only awesome character on the ship. He has a well-developed ego and limitations that humble him. He has a cold bedside manner and a strict adherence to his ethical code of conduct.

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@Murc:

Has anyone done up a list, not just of episode reviews (the AV Club is actually about to start in on DS9) but an actual ‘Guide to Watch’ thing? [...] Something for those of us who’d like to relive the Dominion War and the better parts of DS9 without needing to slog through an endless stream of temporal anomalies and derelict ships with horrible secrets.

That idea is very relevant to my interests. I might work on something like that for this very blog sometime.

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Voyager isn’t really awful or great. It’s the sci-fi equivalent of five-minute-noodles. You generally know what you’re gonna get, and what you get isn’t very good.

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Marionette said on January 2nd, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Voyager has a few good moments. I think my favourite is the episode opening with the Borg doing their “You will be assimilated” shtick only to have 5 cubes explode as they meet someone bigger and badder. It goes downhill from there like a ski run, and they end up making even Species 8472 merely cuddly and misunderstood, but that teaser sequence is lovely.

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Marionette said on January 2nd, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Also The Year of Hell is a must-see for any Voyager haters, as it comprises a sequence running over many months where Voyager is slowly torn to pieces and her crew damaged and broken, ending with Janeway alone, piloting the wreck of Voyager to smash itself against the evul alien time manipulator ship.

Of course everything immediately snaps back to smug as ever with no lessons learned because it didn’t happen, but you don’t need to watch that part.

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Julio Monteiro de Oliveira said on January 3rd, 2012 at 9:30 am

I wish they did Voyager as it was marketed: a really alien situation, where the federation regulationss don’t always fit, and where they have to consider multigenerational survival (having kids, trading or stealing tech, some kind of civilian representation not only military). I also wished there was more tension for them to settle somewhere and gave up going home. Really, Chakotay’s people on the ship should really be troublemakers, from time to time maybe even outlaws.

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Kid Kyoto said on January 3rd, 2012 at 9:39 am

Voyager was terrible on so many levels it’s hard to pick just one. But something no one has mentioned is just pure old acting.

Of the cast only the Doctor put in good performances. Everyone else seemed content to stand stiffly and deliver their lines.

The writing also… but the failure of any of the cast to act like human beings is what really killed the show for me. TNG had similar issue but at least Picard and Data could carry a scene.

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Voyager makes sense once you realized that they didn’t get lost..they were sent by the Federation to a known Delta Warp to get rid of them because they were the dumbest people in Starfleet.

Proof?

In the second season premiere, they find a floating truck in space. No one knows what it is. Why? There are no wheeled vehicles on Earth anymore? Or on any of the other planets in the Fed? Or do they not study history of transportation as they do every other thing in the Academy? Kirk knew what a truck was…Spock did to, and he was from Vulcan. Picard and Riker knew what trucks were. Sisko did and you can bet Kira new all about wheeled ground vehicles that could carry cargo, even if she didn’t know the brand.

Janeway? Nope..Chkotay? uhuh..Torres? too busy talking about her latin and Klingon blood, I guess. Only Paris eventually figures it out because of his obsession with old vids.

I’ve never used one, but I know what a chariot or a covered wagon is. So do you.

Thus, Voyager..the dumbest ship in the galaxy!

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There’s this one Voyager ep involving time-traveling via Tuvok’s memories (don’t ask) of serving aboard the Excelsior with Captain Sulu. At the end, Janeway says something like: “Boy, those were the good old days, swashbuckling around the universe with phasers at the ready and when the Prime Directive didn’t mean shit”. I was like, “Yeah! Why not try making THAT show, dummies?!”

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@DMcK: that ended up being “Enterprise”. Be careful what you wish for…

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Voyager is terrible. I just re-watched the whole series, and had so much trouble getting through it. This episode stood out to me as stupid as well. I agree completely with your take of her explanation. Also, Chakotay is one of the lamest, most wooden characters on the show, and I have a hard time thinking anybody finds him interesting–much less this Ramuran. I covered the top 5 characters on the show (http://kooztop5.blogspot.com/2012/03/top-5-best-star-trek-voyager-characters.html). Obviously, Chakotay didn’t make the cut.

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Why Dont They said on July 1st, 2012 at 9:39 pm

My wife is watching Voyager on netflix as we speak. I have never been a big trek fan but can watch an episode or two. Why on Earth don’t they have a backup file of the damn doctor?

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