Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2005-05-19 Entry: "Voyager"

I skipped cataloguing Monday night's viewing, as most of it was taken up with the rest of Jonny Quest's second disc. It was thoroughly unmemorable, so I'm not even going to bother writing the episodes up... what a weak show that turned out to be! And I've got two discs to get through yet...

But I did decide, for some insane reason, to go on and watch Voyager, Season 1. So Monday night finished with the feature length pilot, "Caretaker" and I hadn't realised how good the first thirty minutes of it is. For those thirty minutes, it's probably the best of the modern Star Trek pilots... there's very little clunky characterisation, there's plenty of action, and we've got the show actually going somewhere. However, about that far in, Neelix shows up, and everything goes to pieces.

Now, Neelix never bothered me when watching the show on a weekly basis, but in this pilot he really grates on the nerves. It's still a good setup for the show, with two crews at each others throats, and plenty of future tension, and even some mystery in Kes's future abilities. Lets hope the show continues to hold that promise!

Tuesday night sees our first spatial anomaly in "Parallax." The ship gets a distress call that they respond to, and there's some singularity that they don't appear to be able to get away from. But the episode is really just a set up to appoint a Chief Engineer.

The top candidate is B'Elanna Torres, but ignoring the fact that she's one of the Maquis, she's got a bit of a temper on her. This episode does a good job of continuing the tension set up in the pilot, but the spatial anomaly story is pretty dumb (and the shrinking doctor even more so!).

"Time And Again" throws all that out the window with another spatial anomaly episode... this time they detect a massive explosion on a planet that they're passing. Kes gets extra powers here - she feels the death of the population, even though she's asleep at the time. They beam down, find the planet used Polaric energy which is apparently highly dangerous, and had an accident which wiped them all out. Of course, Paris and Janeway get sucked back in time to before the accident so they can try and stop it.

But where's the tension gone? There's a little bit of discussion of the Prime Directive, but that's between the two lost in time, and the Maquis crewmembers are friendly members of the crew here. So what happened? During the explosion, Section 37 snuck on board and installed the Federation Happy Chip in all the crew? Agents of the Temporal Cold War came back to make a show that sucked because they knew decent Star Trek would lead to a peaceful future where everyone got along? Or Paramount left a pair of brain dead morons who just wanted to remake The Next Generation in charge?

"Phage" picks up a bit of the tension, but it's external tension - Neelix has his lungs stolen on an away mission (Yay! Let him die! Let him die!), and the crew have to chase after them while the Doctor tries to keep him alive.

Lets ignore the silliness of holographic lungs and celebrate the character study of the Doctor in this episode. And the introduction of the Vidiians, the second of the recurring villains in this show (before someone beats the writers over the head with the clue stick and tells them that if the ship is supposed to be making its way home then they should presumably move beyond the range of these species), gives us a few moral dilemmas...

"The Cloud" leaves the ship with a lack of coffee (amongst other things) and we get the dopey line from the Captain "There's coffee in that nebula!" Neelix points out the stupidity of Janeway here - in the most powerful ship within 100 light years, and what do they do with it? Seek out the nearest spatial anomaly in the off chance that it'll rip the ship apart!

Ignoring the giant amoeba (or whatever the nebula really is), we get the introduction of Tom Paris' holodeck getaway of Chez Sandrine. Yes, there's a major energy shortage, but running the holodeck is important for ship's business! And what's with the stupid animal guide bit with Chakotay?

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