Twenty-five years ago today, the United Paramount Network debuted with the premiere episode of the third live-action Star Trek spinoff, Voyager. The first Trek show to have a female lead, Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, joined Kirk, Picard, and Sisko in the ranks of Trek captains. She was joined by a cast that included Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo, Robert Duncan MacNeill, plus a few people not named Robert: Roxann Dawson, Ethan Phillips, Jennifer Lien, Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, and, later, Jeri Ryan.
Every Monday and Thursday, starting next week, Tor.com will run my rewatch of an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Yes, really.
This was the second time Paramount considered forming a network. In the 1970s, the venerable studio floated the notion of forming a fourth network to compete with CBS, ABC, and NBC, and they were going to lead with Star Trek. The notion was abandoned, and the pilot for Star Trek: Phase II was repurposed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, which was the first of a baker’s dozen of movies.
In 1995, almost a decade after 20th Century Fox had succeeded in creating their own fourth network, both Paramount and Warner Bros. decided to follow suit. In January of that year, both UPN and the WB debuted, the former with “Caretaker.” After having success in first-run syndication with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Paramount used Trek to launch their fledging network.
Voyager was a return to ship-based adventures, but with a twist: the U.S.S. Voyager was (ahem) lost in space, stuck seventy thousand light-years from home in the Delta Quadrant, cut off from home and from support.
We’ll be looking at this journey from the Delta Quadrant twice a week going forward.
“But wait,” I hear you cry, “you kept saying you wouldn’t do Voyager! What changed?”
And this is true. While I did do rewatches of TNG and DS9, instead of moving on to Voyager after DS9, I instead went back and did the original Star Trek, and then moved on to other things. Every time I was asked, I said I wasn’t going to do Voyager (or, for that matter, Enterprise).
However, I have reversed that decision for a couple of reasons. One is that it is, as I said in the first sentence, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Voyager. Just as the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch was in time for the fiftieth anniversary in 2016, this will celebrate Voyager’s silver anniversary in 2020.
The other is that my own general dislike for Voyager has come under fire from many friends and colleagues, including several women who are younger than me, who grew up watching Voyager, and who count Mulgrew’s Janeway as a role model.
It’s been ages since I watched any Voyager episodes. Back when I was regularly writing Trek fiction, I would rewatch episodes for research purposes, but that hasn’t been a factor in over a decade. The only episode I’ve seen in “recent” times is “Flashback” for the DS9 rewatch’s “Tribbles Week Redux,” which was in 2014.
I’m older, and I like to think wiser, and so I think it’s time for a re-consideration of Voyager.
So that’s what we’re doing.
In the vein of my three previous Trek rewatches, the entries will be broken down into categories:
Captain’s log. A summary of the episode’s plot.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The science, and the technobabble, used in the episode.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway’s role in the episode.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok’s role in the episode.
Half and half. B’Elanna Torres’s role in the episode.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH’s role in the episode.
Forever an ensign. Harry Kim’s role in the episode (I’ve always had a soft spot for Kim).
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix’s role in the episode.
Your high heels will be assimilated. Seven of Nine’s role in the episode.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. From the Delaney sisters to the Paris-Torres relationship, not to mention the Janeway-Chakotay sexual tension, this will cover love, lust, and romance on Voyager.
Do it. A memorable quote from the episode.
Welcome aboard. Listing the guest stars.
Trivial matters: Various bits and bobs, including continuity hits, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and other random thingies about the episode.
Set a course for home. My review of the episode.
Warp factor rating: The least important part of the rewatch entry, an out-of-ten rating for the episode, with 10 being one of the best Trek episodes ever done and 0 being one of the worst.
Since this coming Monday is a holiday, we’ll kick off on Thursday the 23rd with “Caretaker.” Looking forward to journeying to the Delta Quadrant with y’all!
Keith R.A. DeCandido will also be reviewing each new episode of the first season of Star Trek: Picard on Fridays. It’s three Treks a week!