Appreciations for important science-fiction series have something of a tradition for me.
After the two Star Trek series "Next Generation" (TNG) and "Deep Space Nine" (DS9), as well as "Babylon 5" and its spin-off "Crusade" it's "Voyager" (VOY) to celebrate a big anniversary now:
Exactly 20 years ago on January 16th 1995 it has flown on television screens for the first time in the United States.
In contrast to "Deep Space Nine" or "Babylon 5" I was really keen to see more of Star Trek and to get known with the much anticipated successor of the new Enterprise, that from 1994 on only continued to fly in the cinema.
Voyager for certain does not belong to the very best but for certain belongs to the really good science-fiction series.
It co-initiated Star Treks peak of success in 1996, but also the strong downturn of Star Trek from around the year 2000 on.
Voyager takes place in the same universe and at the same time as TNG & DS9. But not at the same location, the ship together with a Maquis fighter is carried to the delta-quadrant by the "Caretaker", a very powerful being. There the Voyager is dependent on its self and even at top-speed is around 75 years away from home.
This scenario, where the story takes place secluded from home and largely without the rest of the Federation distinguishes Voyager from all other Star Trek series.
And dealing with this new, difficult situation, where things taken for granted are no longer available and you have to struggle for survival, especially makes season-1 very interesting for me.
Despite the stand-alone scenario, it is a proper Star Trek series which offers not only excitement, fun and action, but also attaches great importance on values like tolerance and moral integrity.
The Voyager is also much brighter than Deep Space Nine, is visually reminiscent of the Enterprise-D.
The character composition is very well made – independently from the question whether you'd have to shape it as politically highly correct as it has been shaped.
Janeway, the first female Star Trek Captain, the native-American Ex-Maquis-Insurgent and first officer Chakotay, the Vulcan security-chief Tuvok, the half-Klingon Ex-Maquis-Chief-Engineer Torres, the holographic doctor, later also the ex-Borg "Seven of Nine" and all the others provide a blend with a lot of tension, humour and variety.
However there are also several points of criticism:
- The character of Captain Janeway has very large discrepancies, particularly in referring to her own values. On many occasions she has hyped up the values and ideals of the Federation into the sky and vehemently has demanded compliance by the crew to these. At the same time it was herself making decisions which were morally questionable (e.g. the back-splitting of Tuvix, the hybrid-creature of Tuvok and Neelix) or even contradicted the federation-laws (such as her personal hunt on the USS Equinox).
- In contrast to its 2 predecessors the quality did not improve from the 3rd season on, but it droped sharply in the 2nd season and then was again considerably better, but fluctuating.
- The character of deputy chief-engineer Joe Carey, who always participated in exiting episodes of the 1st season, later is almost irrelevant. That displeases me, because potential excitement had been given away and even some absurd situations arised (E.g. "Seven of Nine" substituted Torres as chief-engineer, although Carey still were on the ship).
- In contrast to TNG & DS9 there was a strong discrepancy between the beginning and the end of the series, which makes VOY inhomogeneous. While the Caretaker and his partner play a key-part at the beginning of the show, the Borg play the decisive role at the end of the series. The Borg were introduced in the serie's third season for quota reasons.
But it very clearly has to be said that the character "Seven of Nine", introduced with the Borg story-arc, has much more to offer than large and clearly visible bosoms. It's one of the best developed characters in the entire Star Trek universe. The "becoming-a-man" of this Borg can easily measure even with Data's "seeking-for-humanity".
Voyager is a really good science-fiction series that I have really liked at it's first appearance and I still really like today. Despite significant weaknesses, I would not want to be without it and even today see the show as enriching to me.
If it hadn't to measure with it's 2 outstanding predecessors "Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine" VOY would even be a remarkable piece of television.
In this sense once again congratulations on this anniversary!