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.

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GOOD SHEPARD: It comes to Captain Janeway's attention that three misfit crewmembers have never volunteered for or have otherwise avoided ever going on an away mission for six years. She assigns all three of them to a mission she herself leads, and they run into trouble.

LIVE FAST AND PROSPER: Voyager falls victim to identity theft. Antecedent action: a trio of con artists were able to scan enough of of Voyager's records to pretend to be three of the crew  (Janeway, Tuvok and Chakotay) on the "Delta flyer" (actually their own ship). They used their stolen credentials to set up trade deals they reneged on and to "sell" membership in the Federation. A clever premise. 

MUSE: B'Elanna crash-lands on a primitive planet and is befriended by a young playwright who uses her for inspiration. First, before she regains consciousness, he bases a play on her log entries. Later, he trades help and supplies for information about the ship and crew on which to base his plays, which are a mix of Greek, Roman and even Elizabethan traditions. (That would bug me if this were set on Earth, but it's not.) The playwright ultimately uses his last play to change public opinion to avert a costly war. It was a good episode, but perhaps it shouldn't have immediately followed "Live Fast and Prosper" because both episodes featured "alternate" version of the crew. 

FURY: That was a good episode! Thanks, everyone, for not spoiling it for me when Kes went away. Her return was totally unexpected, and this episode gave her character the closure she didn't have before. 

LIFE LINE: Voyager receives a transmission from Starfleet via the communications array pioneered by Reginald Barclay. Pggy-backing off of a regularly occurring stellar phenomenon, communication between the Alpha and Delta Quadrants can be established for 17 hours every 32 days. This time, the EMH learns that Dr. Zimmerman, the one who invented the Doctor's holo-matrix and whose face it shares, is dying of a rare disease. The Doctor thinks he can cure it using a combination of Borg and Vyan techniques and has himself beamed back through the array to the Alpha Quadrant. He finds his namesake somewhat quarrelsome and difficult to deal with, however. Robert Picardo plays a dual role. Reg Barclay and Deanna Troy also appear. 

Robert Picardo does an excellent job in his dual roles. The writers did a fine job with this storyline. 

Yes, Dr. Zimmerman put a lot of "himself" into the Mark I EMH (in more ways than one). While Voyager has been lost in the Delta Quadrant they have since become obsolete, and reprogrammed for menial labor, "cleaning toilets" essentially. That's a huge blow to his ego.

THE HAUNTING OF DECK 12: An encounter with an alien species is related by Neelix to the Borg children as a ghost story.

This was a good way to incorporate the children in a crew story without being annoying. They did a great job of making Voyager scary. The corridors were empty and doors would open and close repeatedly, banging in the background. Strange gas menaces the crew. 

UNIMATRIX ZERO, Pt. 1: This is the first part of the sixth-to-seventh season crossover. For previous season-to-season crossovers, I had been waiting until I'd seen both parts before posting a comment, but this one really has me intrigued. "Unimatrix Zero" refers to a sort of Borg "dreamtime" to which only a small portion of Borg, 1/1000, have access. It is a shared space where drones can interact during their regeneration cycles and retain their individuality. They lose all memory of it upon awakening, though. 

It seems Seven-of-Nine used to congregate there when she was a drone. Suddenly, she regains the ability to "dream" again, and is reintroduced to her former friends and colleges. They have a plan to spread access to Unimatrix Zero to all the Borg and start a Borg civil war, but they need someone from outside the collective to initiate it. The next time Voyager responds to a distress call from a ship under attack by the Borg (which they would do anyway), they are to initiate the plan. Seven runs it by Janeway (Tuvok initiates a mind bridge between Seven and Janeway allowing all three of them to enter Unimatrix Zero) and she agrees.

But the Borg Queen is onto them, though. One by one, she's tracking down the affected drones and dismantling them. When Voyager next encounters the Borg, Janeway leaves Chakotay in command while she, Seven and Tuvok attack the Borg cube in the Delta Flyer. the flyer is destroyed, but the three manage to beam aboard. Unfortunately, they are soon overwhelmed and assimilated! Chakotay orders Voyager to retreat and acts as if this was all part of the plan. Hmm...

UNIMATRIX ZERO Pt. 2: Because they were infected with the virus, Janeway, Tuvok and B'Elanna (not Seven as I said above) were safe from assimilation, at least safe from becoming part of the collective. It was revealed in the previous episode that Seven had had a virtual relationship with one of the drones in Unimatrix Zero. (His physical location is in a remote sector of the Beta Quadrant, though.) This was a very tense conclusion as the fortunes of war ebbed and flowed. Could this be the beginning of the end of the Borg? 

IMPERFECTION: All of the remaining Borg children except the oldest one, a teenage boy, leave the ship for their new home. Seven-of-Nine needs the Borg equivalent of a kidney transplant, and the boy donates his to save her life. 

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