Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: Voyager!

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The Basics: What started out with so much potential quickly sank in the saga of Star Trek: Voyager: here are the episodes that can be safely avoided.

As I near completion of my reviews of Star Trek: Voyager, I find myself wistfully looking back at the series. And, as my readers have come to expect, I am now happily able to reveal my list of the Worst 10 Episodes of the series! I was actually surprised, when compiling this list, to discover that while Star Trek: Voyager had more consistently low-rated episodes (all of these episodes have a lower rating than the series rating for Star Trek: The Animated Adventures!), Star Trek: The Next Generation actually had more episodes that hit the lowest possible ratings (and are fairly painful to watch).

It is worth noting that the usually-despised episode “Threshold” (reviewed here!) does not make the list. For all the problems most people had with the special effects, I think it’s a great performance by Robert Duncan McNeill, the concept is good, and the episode actually tries to make a plot-based technology problem into a character episode that explores Paris’s feelings of inadequacy. And it lives up on that front.

So, without fanfare, here are the bottom ten episodes of Star Trek: Voyager!

10. “The Fight” (reviewed here!) – I can’t think of an episode in the Star Trek franchise that, when it was finished, I sat and said to myself, “What the hell was it I just watched?!” like “The Fight.” Chakotay has to train for a fight as a method of communication with an alien race and the idea seems needlessly complicated and ill-executed. Sure, it’s an excuse for Ray Walston to show back up one final time as Boothby, but it pretty much undermines his legacy when the DVD bonus features for the episode have actors talking about how far gone he was when working on the episode (and the episode that preceded it with him). “The Fight” is just a mess and I would not be surprised if Robert Beltran left it off his filmography whenever he had the chance,

9. “Resistance” (reviewed here!) – Honestly, the last time I watched the episode, I liked it a bit better than I ever had before, but this episode is a sad excuse to have Janeway use her feminine wiles (even momentarily) to accomplish a goal. The plotting is obvious and for all of Joel Gray’s wonderful performance abilities, the episode is gutted by obvious direction that telegraphs the ultimate demise of his character. And, oh yeah, because their plight is treated like something of an afterthought, Tuvok is so completely un-Vulcan in the episode and the experience never seems to have any ramifications on either Tuvok or Torres! And I write all that having enjoyed the bulk of books written by the episode’s writer, Michael Jan Friedman,

8. “Repression” (reviewed here!) – It speaks poorly of an episode when, a month after watching it and writing about it, it was so unmemorable that I had to go back and read my own review to even remember what the episode was. “Repression” is terrible, is what it is! Voyager, apparently, has no anti-viral software and a message gets through that reprograms the most obvious person possible, to start incapacitating former Maquis members . . . because of something that once happened long ago and blah de blah blah blah. I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm for writing about it the first time, I’m not wasting more time on it here,

7. “Innocence” (reviewed here!) – The real idiocy of “Innocence,” an episode that tries to make Tuvok dealing with three (apparent) children into an awkward situation for him is that Tuvok is the first Star Trek franchise character who begins the series with adult children. So, of all the characters in the entire Star Trek pantheon, the one best equipped to deal with children effectively and in an unruffled manner is Tuvok. But then, the kids aren’t kids and the “reversal” is something so unclever, it could have been an episode of the Star Trek: Animated Series,

6. “Learning Curve” (reviewed here!) - Star Trek: Voyager apparently did not particularly want a second season, because they left four decent episodes in the can and ended the first season with an episode that had Tuvok, a former Academy instructor, struggling with basic education principles when teaching members of the Maquis how to serve aboard Voyager. And the villain is . . . cheese. Seriously, not “cheesy,” the villain in “Learning Curve” is cheese. That would be fine; I can suspend my disbelief to believe that Voyager and its experimental bio-neural gel packs could get an infection. I fail to believe, though, that Voyager is so poorly designed that the air vent from Neelix’s kitchen would lead to open circuitry where the cheese could ever be exposed to a bio-neural gel pack,

5. “Fair Haven” (reviewed here!) – Filled with terrible Irish stereotypes and the most underwhelming sense of menace for any Holodeck episode in the Star Trek franchise, what really sinks “Fair Haven” is the casting. Janeway (and Kate Mulgrew) had more sexual chemistry with the guy from her governess holonovel in the second season than she did with Michael the bartender (Fintan McKeown),

4. “Nemesis” (reviewed here!) – Apparently, nothing good comes from naming something “Nemesis” in the Star Trek franchise. When Chakotay is brainwashed to be a soldier for an alien race, the only thing more annoying than the pretense that he might get killed on the planet is how the word “nemesis” is used almost every other line. The episode is a great example of how a good theme can be presented in an absolutely terrible way. And the make-up in the episode is just painfully lazy. The villains are clearly redressed Naussicans. Or Predators,

3. “Prototype” (reviewed here!) - Star Trek: Voyager went through something of a lull in its second season. When it came back from its hiatus, it was with an episode where Torres is abducted by robots. Things did not look good for the series. “Prototype” is one of those episodes that might have worked if it was ever put in context. B’Elanna Torres might be the most-abducted character on Voyager. “Prototype” was at least her fourth time she was abducted (she had been abducted and tortured in the prior episode, “Resistance!”) and she never developed a complex about leaving the ship. How Torres ever ended up trusting anyone or wanting to leave Engineering is a mystery to me. “Prototype” hinges on a false sense of emotional attachment that Torres has for a robot she helps repair and because that bond is not plausibly sold, the episode falls apart,

2. “Twisted” (reviewed here!) – Arguably the worst-conceived spatial anomaly-of-the-week episode, Voyager enters a distortion ring where everything gets stretched and skewed. The best part of the episode is the end; not that the episode ends, but rather that the solution to the problem is surprisingly original for the franchise. Beyond that, “Twisted” makes no sense unless the ship and crew are made of gummy candy. Metal snaps, plastic cracks and tears, nothing in the episode satisfactorily explains why Voyager does not hit the anomaly and get torn apart, as opposed to ridiculously warped around,

And . . .

. . . the worst of the bunch is . . .

1.“Spirit Folk” (reviewed here!)! Star Trek Voyager revisits the pathetic setting of “Fair Haven.” And, if that episode’s romantic subplot was poorly executed, its follow-up is even worse. Why? Michael’s faith hinges on the virtually gutted relationship he has with Janeway. But long, long before it gets to that point, “Spirit Folk” is an ugly mess of an episode with a double-helping of the Irish stereotyping that made “Fair Haven” so bad in the first place. The doctor is hypnotized, another hologram takes the mobile emitter, and the Holodeck safeties fail yet again. This episode features the bulk of the actors looking bored or walking around in a daze, like they realized while making the episode that they were involved with creating something preposterous.

For other “Worst Of” lists, please check out my lists of:
The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek
The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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