I’ve been watching Star Trek: Voyager (having watched all the “good” Star Treks I’m scraping the bottom) and it occurs to me that this television series was porked on day one. Done in. Messed up by forces beyond the control of a mere writer.
It was sabotaged by the producers, who must have been Gilligan’s Island fans or something. I really do not like the “lost and trying to get home” plot. I just dislike it. Maybe my life has been too much like that, but Lost in Space used to give me nightmare. Swiss Family Robinson gave me a life-long dis-affinity for the Swiss, for families, and for people named Robinson. I do not like “going home” stories except for the one about those dogs and that cat. That was good.
Speaking of dogs, the creators of Voyager molested the mongrel when when they made it into a “lost in space” show instead of a “five year mission” show. I’ll never understand why they did that. Why didn’t they just send Voyager off into unexplored space where “no Earthling had gone before?” Huh?
I mean, when The Next Generation started up, it seemed to be saying something that was dangerously close to “no worlds left to explore” or something.
In the original Star Trek series, you have a starship traveling out into unknown regions, so vast and so un-knowable that even a “five year mission” is too short to discover all of it. Forever would be too short.
But along comes The Next Generation and suddenly we have a real problem with the final frontier. What happened? It closed? What??!!??! Then along came Deep Space 9 and suddenly the galaxy is full up, with no trespassing signs and no parking and Romulans and Klingons and Dalmations and Strudles clogging up the freeways and no place for the son of man to lay his head.
It was as if they moved the show from wide-open Montana in 1880 to Manhattan in 1980. No galaxy to explore? It was all full of too much stuff and too many “races” and with population pressure forcing various little guerilla groups to wage war for food, water and air. It sucked. How could this happen? Was it that the writers, living in a “closed” world, stopped being able to imagine an open one?
I don’t know. But a number of dumb maps of the Star Trek galaxy have shown a galaxy chock full to bursting with empires and alliances and federations and collectives–and no room for a captain to point her ship at the farthest star and light a fire under its tail. It’s a claustrophobic nightmare.
So is this the reason they had to “sling shot” Voyager out into the Alpha Quadrant in order to get away from the madding crowd? If so, that’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. What idiot came up with that? You can’t just have her captain sit down with some admiral and have the admiral say “we need to send your ship off on a seven year mission of exploration.” Why was that not possible?
We’ll never know, because they chose not to do that. They chose not to send the ship of into the unknown, acting as if there WAS no unknown (“totally explored galaxy–yup–so sorry sir–galaxy go bye-bye”). That’s garbage.
We all know the result of the bad decisions they made when they made Voyager. But what if they had just sent the damn ship off on a long range mission of exploration? New stuff? Maybe some new “races” or new ideas. Maybe some “encounters” with Romulan or Dominion or whatever “explorers” and maybe some tense moments. But the main thing would have been novelty. Newness, without the dumb “lost in space” sub-plot.
Why would this be important? It would allow the writers of the show to push back against the tendency of DS:9 to hog up all the canon and write up the whole history of the Federation. It would open the door to the new and the cool. It would allow the producers and the writers to re-consider many, many things that just got weirder and sillier over time. Like the “Prime Directive.” They needed to explore that a little more. They also needed some real “diversity” in the plots and the ideas presented. Not enough to scare the horses in the street but enough to make the show fresh and interesting and not just more of the same.
They needed to show more of the “final frontier.” They needed to show how the explorers would relate to strangers, and how and why they would communicate with them. All of this, by the way, would be accompanied by the ever-important science. That’s right, instead of idiot plots about who has the hots, they could have actually tried to explain what “sub-space” was (for example). A show with a real science story-line would have been mighty fine.
But they didn’t do that. They thought about it, and they rejected it. Probably thought it would be dull. Not “exciting” enough for your drunken sister and her jock boyfriend.
Well, sis and her baby-daddy were not going to watch Voyager anyway, and in trying to make it appeal to a “wider audience” they almost lost the one they had. Some of it, anyway. Me.