I remember watching the two-hour premiere episode of Star Trek Voyager when it came on.
On the surface of things, the show had much to recommend it. The captain was a woman, not for the first time but for the first time in a featured role on television. Oh yes, we had a Romulan captain way back in the original series for one whole episode, and there had been other similar minor characters in the Next Generation (and fairly regularly), but rarely human, never front and center, never for real. Janeway changed that. And she wasn’t the only woman as a main character – we got three (out of nine).
We also had some diversity among the crew, and not just in terms of aliens. Tuvok was our first black Vulcan, so I suppose that counts in both respects. But we also had Harry Kim the token Asian, and I think Native Central American is probably the right phrase for Chakotay’s character.
We also had the potential for a great deal of extra conflict among the crew because they were coming from two very different points of view, two very different backgrounds, even though some of them had originally been Starfleet. That potential mostly went unrealized as the series went on, though there were hints and pieces, and one of the characters would become a significant, if only periodic, antagonist for quite a while. But really, the crew got along pretty well, with two of them ultimately getting married, Tom and B’Elanna. I feel like Voyager had a rough first couple of seasons as well, writing-wise, and the technobabble quotient skyrocketed for this series, which didn’t help.
But, like TNG and DS9, Voyager got a chance to grow, and it did, getting better quickly. I’ll admit that I didn’t find that out right away, as the first season didn’t hold me very well, and moving into a family life with small children seemed to leave me far less time than ever before. Funny that. I didn’t really discover Voyager until the series had nearly finished its first run. Already in syndication, I more or less caught up with the major story arcs before the final episode aired, but there are still a handful of episodes I haven’t seen fifteen plus years later. Once we finish watching DS9, I’ll likely start in at the beginning of VOY again.
That said, in syndication, the show grew on me. And there was a time in the not-too-distant past, before we got rid of the cable, that I would catch an episode, or most of an episode, on Space before going to sleep when the rest of house was quiet.
I think that a fair bit of the potential I saw in Voyager in those first few episodes largely went unrealized, but the show grew in completely different directions, and it was an adventure, and it was fun, and we did explore strange new worlds and we kept seeing interesting ideas.
And really, that’s what I expect to see in Star Trek, what I want from it: characters, ideas, and adventure. If I had to guess at a single overall arching concept for the series, it would be that you need to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination. Even through all kinds of danger and desperation, the crew of Voyager made that plain, even stating it outright on more than one occasion. It’s a good lesson.
Live long and prosper.by