After I watched the first season of Star Trek: Discovery (on DVD), I decided to kill the time before the release of season two by watching the other Star Trek spin-offs, starting with Enterprise (season four only). After that I moved on to The Next Generation and following that, Deep Space Nine. (It took me seven months to watch seven seasons of TNG, but an entire year to finish DS9.) Up now: Star Trek: Voyager. It took DS9 a while to grow on me (and, until this past year, I had seen the episodes only once each), but I thought Voyager picked up the baton from TNG and ran with it.
I watched all of seasons 1-4, and I was also a member of the Columbia House Voyager VHS club. (I never did cancel my membership; the tapes just stopped coming. It was a huge rip-off, anyway, in comparison to the DVD sets; my VHS tapes are now worthless (in terms of resale value). Unlike DS9 (of which I have only the initial episode for $4.95), I watched the Voyager ones, and am familiar with many of the episodes simply by the title.
I stopped watching after season four because UPN got squirrelly about how they distributed the show. TNG and DS9 were first-run syndication, but Voyager launched what was intended to be a new network, the United Paramount Network. By the fifth season, though, a station couldn't buy just that show; they had to buy the entire slate of UPN programming. I lived in St. Louis at the time, and had access to six or seven channels: the three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), the local PBS channel, two local stations, plus a local religious network. None of them wanted the whole package. St. Louis was the 45th largest television market in the country at that time, and we couldn't get Star Trek!
A letter-writing campaign was directed at Larry Rice, the owner of the evangelical station I mentioned earlier. Star Trek is not exactly the kind of programming his station carried, and I'm sure the desperate fans wouldn't have deigned to watch his channel under any other circumstances. A word here about Larry Rice: technically he was a "televangelist," I suppose, but he wasn't one of those millionaires in white suits and wearing gold rings. The office where I used to work in downtown St. Louis was right across the street from his facility, and when supply trucks came in, he was right there in his shirtsleeves helping to unload. Every Thanksgiving, the line was around the block to feed the homeless. But I digress.
I remember some of the local coverage when Voyager debuted. Tuvok was described as the first African-American Vulcan. "African?" "American?" "Vulcan?" Well, he was one of the three. Tim Russ may have been the first African American to play a Vulcan, but that's different. I also recall some controversy surrounding the casting of Robert Beltran as Chakotay. IIRC, Beltran is an Indian, but not of the same tribe as Chakotay. the woman originally cast as Captain quit early on, too.
Because I have never seen seasons five through seven, I am really looking forward to this series. I have a friend who used to work on a newspaper, and he snagged a VHS of the final episode from the review table for me to watch. I did watch it, but I didn't allow myself to retain any of the the details, in anticipation of the day I would be able to watch the entire series. I don't know how much detail I will go into here, but I don't anticipate taking as long to get through this as I did DS9.
COURSE: OBLIVION: The episode begins with the wedding of Tom and B'Elanna. I immediately knew something was up because Tom was sporting lieutenant pips. Soon, the ship begins disintegrating as an epidemic sweeps through the crew. B'Elanna is the first to die. Tracing their path back about 10 months, they determine the problem began when Voyager landed on a planet (in an untelevised adventure) and the ship and its crew were duplicated. Evidence suggests that they themselves are the duplicate crew. The farther they move away from their planet of origin, the worse their condition becomes.
One may think once that revelation is made that the viewer would lose interest, but these duplicates are so perfect they hadn't even realized they were duplicates. All of the memories and personality traits of the originals are intact, and the ethical dilemma "Janeway" faces as she decides whether to return to their home planet or press on to Earth is fascinating to watch as it unfolds. Just before the duplicate ship and crew vanishes for good, the real Voyager appears on the scene but, by the time it gets within identification range, the other ship is gone.
THE FIGHT: While Voyager flies through "Chaotic Space," Chakotay hallucinates.
THINK TANK: A race of bounty hunters known as the Hazari have been hired by parties unknown to deliver Voyager. Jason Alexander plays the spokesperson of a "think tank" which offers Voyager it's assistance, for a price. The price is Seven of Nine. We known from the opening sequence that the think tank is ruthless and not to be trusted. When it is revealed that it was the think tank itself which hired the Hazari, the Hazari and Voyager band together to defeat their common foe. Harry Kim has brought an alien game aboard, a sort of 24th century Rubik's Cube. It is Seven's solution to that puzzle which leads to the defeat of the think tank.
JUGGERNAUT: Voyager rescues two crewmen from a damaged Malon freighter dumping hazardous waste. An away team led by torres is then warned not to board the freighter for fear of arrousing the ire of the Angel of decay, who wreaks havok aboard the Malon cargoship. This episode spotlights Torres' volatile temper and what she must do to contain it.
This was a good episode for B'Elanna. During a meditation session with Tuvok, she reveals that a boy tormented her when she was young. He called her "Miss Turtlehead" and made fun of her cranial ridges. (From Wiki) Tuvok analyzes Torres' anger, "Your anger was a source of strength, it protected you, gave you courage." He demonstrates how easily provoked Torres is by calling her the name that the boy called her.
It was a brilliant scene between two characters that rarely relate on a personal level.
As someone who struggles with quick anger and loss of control in situations, I am looking forward to seeing this storyline play out.
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME: In this comical change-up, the doctor tutors Seven of Nine in human dating rituals. (The B-plot is comical also, dealing with an ambassador from a straight-laced race who overindulges in what Voyager has to offer during his brief stay aboard.) Playing Henry Higgins to Seven's Eliza Doolittle, the Doctor develops romantic feelings for Seven, but they go unrequited. Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan have both sung on previous episodes, but here they sing a duet. They can really sing, and sound wonderful in harmony.
Don't take my word for it... here's the clip!
11:59: This episode engages in "time travel," not Star Trek style, but Dark Shadows style (meaning that Kate Mulgrew plays one of Janeway's ancestors). It perpetuates the fallacy that The Great Wall of China can be seen from outer space with the naked eye, and it brings up the "debate" about the beginning of the millennium I had hoped not to hear for another 80 years. Easily my least favorite show of the season. They can't all be winners.
It wasn't a great episode, I agree. The payoff for me was the crew photograph at the end. The doctor sets up the camera and everyone gets in position. Seven is standing in front by Janeway. B'Elanna is in back, way too short to be seen. Tom puts his arms around her and leans her to the side so she is smiling, clearly happy and in the picture.
Frankly, it was adorable.
RELATIVITY: Captain Braxton (of the 29th century Federation timeship Relativity) contacts Seven of Nine too have her travel through time to solve the mystery of who planted the 'temporal disrupter' on Voyager, a device which will ultimately destroy the ship in the future. This is time travel Star Trek style!
WARHEAD: Answering a distress call, the crew discovers it's being sent by a sentient "smart bomb." The weapon soon takes over the doctor's program and eventually Voyager itself in order to continue its mission of mass destruction. It's up to Harry Kim to out wit the AI, in a role usually reserved for Captain Kirk.
SEASON SIX: (This two-parter is the season five/season six crossover.)
EQUINOX, PARTS I & II: Voyager encounters a renegade Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S. Equinox, in the Delta Quadrant, violating the Prime Directive by committing mass murder against a race whose corpses can be used as super-fuel. Janeway goes all "Ahab" on captain Ransom, the ship's EMH programs secretly switch places (Equinox's has had it's ethical sub-routine removed), and Voyager ends up with five new characters, all officers demoted to crew.