Monday, December 3, 2012

Why Does This Coffin Think It Needs More Nails? Star Trek: Voyager Season 6

The Good: Moments of acting, The Doctor
The Bad: Terrible stories, Dull characters, Unexciting effects, Some of the performances
The Basics: With its desperate attempts to bring viewers in using gimmicks like guest stars from more popular Trek series', season six of Star Trek: Voyager sinks.

As Star Trek: Voyager entered its penultimate season, it was in trouble. I do not refer to the circumstances of the prior season's finale, which put the ship in jeopardy and split up important members of the crew yet again, no I mean as a series, the show was seriously floundering. Lacking any direction and failing to keep the interest of devoted Trekkers even with the added sex appeal of Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager limped on into a sixth season and at this point, the stress on the show began to show. There were more holodeck episodes, desperate uses of Seven's sex appeal, and Star Trek: Voyager was even paired up with wrestling as part of UPN's desperate bid to keep viewers.

The U.S.S. Voyager, of course, manages to survive its deadly encounter with the aliens that had been massacred by the U.S.S. Equinox and the resolution to that storyline puts more malcontents on Voyager who are never heard from again. Following that, the Voyager runs into yet more Borg (we were supposed to be well beyond their territory after the second episode of the fourth season), lame aliens, a number of mind-controlling aliens who influence crewmembers (The Doctor and Paris), and even an old Earth ship that was abducted from the Mars area. And if that were not enough, Voyager begins to get regular contact from the Federation and an old ally returns as a new enemy.

This season is one big, long sigh. As the series lists around for direction, viewers are given nude scenes of Seven of Nine ("Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy"), appearances by Star Trek: The Next Generation alums Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi, "Pathfinder") and Dwight Schultz (Barclay, "Pathfinder" and "Lifeline"), and the brief return of a completely reimagined Kes who makes no sense ("Fury"). To add insult to injury, there is not just one, but two episodes on the holodeck where Janeway attempts a relationship with a holographic Irishman (who Kate Mulgrew noted at a convention she had absolutely no sexual chemistry with).

This season is mostly just bad. It's dominated by Seven of Nine, like the prior seasons since her entrance. Out of the twenty-six episodes, six are solidly Seven episodes (at least one other focuses on a minor character and uses Seven as the primary main character in the storyline). The Doctor does well, with four solid Doctor episodes and two with him as a primary supplementing star. Janeway finally gains some traction and makes moves to make the story more about her with four episodes as well. Season six marks an unusually high number of stories that are not revolving around main crew, but rather around guest stars or new, minor players, like "Pathfinder" relying almost entirely on a Barclay story and "Child's Play" revolving almost entirely around Icheb. And with Kes no longer a regular, "Fury" devotes much time away from the main crew and "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" weakly tells a Voyager story to the Borg children.

Star Trek: Voyager, by this point in the series, is pretty much a write-off to anyone save those who unquestionably worship at the altar of Trek. I'm a huge fan of the Star Trek franchise, but by this point, the well was running dry. What separates the Trekkers from the Trekkies is the demand for quality. Trekkies will eat whatever Trek is shoved in front of them. "Trekkers" want it to make sense within the confines of the cannon and demand a certain level of quality. Star Trek: Voyager Season Six will only appeal to the undiscriminating Trekkies.

At this point, Star Trek: Voyager is barely bothering with character development, but here is how year six finds the primaries:

Captain Katherine Janeway - After defeating creatures that look suspiciously like flying versions of the creatures from Alien, Janeway takes a break to occasionally worry about finding faster ways home, tries to develop a love interest on the holodeck and has to outwit alien conmen who have been posing as Voyager who somehow learned a great deal about Voyager and then managed to precede the ship into new areas of space,

First Officer Chakotay - Is he even still around? This is a question worth asking because there is not a single solid episode he is featured in, though he is an integral part of the ensemble storyline "Memorial,"

The Doctor - He rules. After making his way back to Voyager, The Doctor is used as a spy by aliens, goes off to a planet where he has a family, becomes a singing superstar, and ultimately returns to the Alpha Quadrant to be with his creator,

Tuvok - Gets brain damage. Seriously. In "Riddles," he is mentally incapacitated, teamed up with Neelix (because you might as well have the blind leading the blind, right?), and after that he pretty much sits the season out,

B'Elanna Torres - As her relationship with Paris seems to stall, Torres explores her Klingon heritage and then becomes the object of a writer's fascination,

Tom Paris - After being manipulated by an alien who makes him love a shuttlecraft, Paris returns to his holodeck fantasies with Fair Haven and his character is basically gutted,

Ensign Harry Kim - Picks up some airtime by paling around with Paris on the holodeck, then falling for a dead crewwoman-turned-resurrected-alien. Go figure,

Neelix - Messes with the head of brain damaged Tuvok by giving him riddles, then becomes the local day care for the Borg children who are on board,

and Seven of Nine - From a plum position in the season premiere to multiple Borg episodes throughout the season to the season finale which finds Seven attempting to rescue individuals from The Borg, this is the Seven of Nine show. Sadly, all the airtime for Seven serves little in the way of character development and ultimately just does more to weaken the menace of the Borg.

Season six of Star Trek: Voyager takes the crew further from the ideals and quality of the Star Trek franchise and continues to gut all that was good about the show before now.

For a better understanding of what is in this boxed set, be sure to check out each episode’s review! This boxed set includes:
Equinox, Part 2
Survival Instinct
Barge Of The Dead
Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
Dragon’s Teeth
One Small Step
The Voyager Conspiracy
Fair Haven
Blink Of An Eye
Spirit Folk
Ashes To Ashes
Child’s Play
Good Shepherd
Live Fast And Prosper
Life Line
The Haunting Of Deck Twelve
Unimatrix Zero, Part 1


Check out how this season stacks up against other seasons and episodes in the Star Trek franchise by visiting my Star Trek Index Page where episodes are organized from best to worst!

© 2012, 2006 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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