My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


In Star Trek there is an expectation to have aliens working hand in hand with humans. This makes things more interesting from a story telling point of view, and also more interesting visually. This is true in all cases, except in regard to Ethan Phillips character of Neelix. I have no idea if Phillips pulled an Anthony Daniels by changing the personality of the character once he was in costume, but either way Neelix is creepier than C-3PO on any given day. To put it mildly, I am not about to trust Neelix to be alone with anything that breathes.

Neelix' function on Voyager is to annoy the crap out of everyone, cook disgusting meals (this bit of canned Three Stooges routine is suppose to be funny). When he is not engaged in those activities he is briefing Janeway on whatever sector of space they happen to be crossing through. Neelix is suppose to be a culinary expert, and an authority on cultures and customs in the Delta Quadrant, the latter due to his extensive trading enterprise prior to running afoul of Voyager. Neelix' knowledge quickly dries up, leaving him in the galley. But he is listed in the opening credits, so we are unable to trap him on the mess deck and forget about him. Nope! For some unexplained reason Janeway feels it is necessary to have Neelix present in every briefing to offer simplistic advice. (Trust me when I say this does not happen in the real world. Captains of Navy vessels do not demand the presence of the chief cook during mission briefings.) Apparently serving as the cook (a time consuming job) was not enough for the writers. They had to invent new reasons to drag Neelix out of the galley. He launched a news program that felt like reading an elementary school news paper, and he convinced Tuvok in allowing him to join the security force--giving me the false hope Neelix would meet with the wrong end of a disruptor blast.

What do we have when Neelix is removed from every scene? Well, think about Star Wars Episode I without Jar Jar Binks and Baby Anakin, and you get the idea. The show remains bad, but at least it is no longer unbearably annoying. Neelix is simply another crew member that would not be missed if he had found somewhere better to be at the end of Voyager's first episode.

The Doctor:
Robert Picardo is perhaps the only actor on Star Trek: Voyager who is worthy of being called an actor. I enjoy the way he handles his character, The Doctor, though he was not given much to work with. Picardo was cast to play what amounts to as an interactive video game, and did what a good actor does, he made the role his own as The Doctor worked at becoming something more than a medic hologram. Unfortunately, much of the charm and ingenuity of the character is lost when we realize we have already seen technology strive to be human in the form of Data. The main difference between The Doctor and Data is that the former wrote a program that gave him human emotions while the latter required his creator to build an emotion chip. (I suppose that means The Doctor is more advanced than Data, though Data still remains more advanced than Lore . . .) The Doctor is nothing more than Data with Captain Picard's hairline and emotions. Despite Picardo's success with the role, we really do not need to see this evolutionary story again.

Imagine what life on Voyager would be like without The Doctor. If you are like me, you are thinking there would be significantly less humor in the show, and a larger number of people would have died--including the entire bridge crew. The Doctor is perhaps the only indispensable character. I doubt Voyager would have had a chance to return to the Alpha Quadrant if not for this hologram's ability to patch, mend, and cure.

Lieutenant Commander Tuvok:
Tim Russ first appeared as the villain Devor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and promptly got his butt kicked by Captain Picard in the episode Starship Mine. Apparently getting your ass kicked by an old man makes you perfect for the position of chief security officer on a Federation starship. Actually, that is unfair since Tim Russ was playing two separate characters in the franchise.

Tuvok is perhaps the only frequently seen Vulcan in Star Trek who does not develop beyond the unemotional, logical, and arrogant mindset his species suffers from. We watched Spock grow from a robotic first officer to a warm grandfatherly character, and it worked well. After Tuvok, we witnessed the struggles of T'Pol to maintain control after a mind meld assault and drug addiction. None of these exercises in character development were planned for Tuvok. He remained bland throughout Voyager's run, and therefore fails to differentiate himself from all the other Vulcans who have appeared in the long history of the franchise. The only value he provided to the ship was in the fulfillment of his duty as chief security officer, a job most anyone can successfully execute after proper training. As a person, he offered nothing that improved or detracted from the culture of the ship. The nature of the show would not have changed if his character failed to exist.

Ensign Harry Kim:
Garrett Wang's character, Harry Kim, is a naive and impressionable boy fresh out of the academy. He is eager to please, unsure of himself, and misses his parents and girlfriend. All he wants in life is to be the best Starfleet officer he can be, thereby pleasing his parents and captain. This is where the character begins and ends. In seven seasons he fails to grow and develop. We know nothing more of his back story, and never will. But that is fine by me. He is one boring fellow, and any scene without him is improved, though not by much. He adds nothing to Voyager. If he had been killed off in, oh say, the first episode, nothing would have changed in the entire run of the show, thus making him another worthless character.

Seven of Nine:
Ah! Jeri Ryan! This is when Star Trek truly realized sex appeal improves just about anything . . . except Star Trek: Voyager. The single purpose of Seven of Nine is the sex appeal.* She offers little more than a touch of tension among the crew members, but this, thankfully, is not limited to her . . . attributes (the type of attributes which prove men remain shallow in the future.) She also frustrates the crew due to her Borg mentalities of efficiency and perfection. Seven of Nine spends the four seasons we are forced to endure her in attempting to reclaim her humanity. Hold on a second! I thought The Doctor was suppose to be the re-imagined Data. Seems the originality of Voyager knows no bounds. Once again we have another character stepping on the holographic shoes of The Doctor. Like with having two medical gurus in sickbay, having two characters searching out the meaning of being human in the same series is redundant and ludicrous. Besides, what do the writers have against The Doctor? He is clearly their best character, and yet they seem intent on trying to over shadow him with, well, boobs.

Can you guess what happens when you take Seven of Nine out of Voyager? That is right! It looks much like it did during the first three seasons with the exception of well placed curves. (And now I am in some serious trouble with my wife after spending all this time referring to Jeri Ryan's anatomy. I deserve what's coming.)

There are bound to be characters in any Star Trek series who seem destined to drag down every scene they are in. In The Original Series . . . well I am going to leave that alone to avoid hateful comments. The Next Generation gave us Wesley Crusher (pre academy days), Tasha Yar, Geordi Laforge, Deana Troi, and Beverly Crusher. They did the right thing by culling the herd, first by killing off Yar, and then sending Wesley Crusher to Starfleet Academy (note to Wil Wheaton: I blame the writers and not you. Stand By Me is proof the TNG writers failed you.) Deep Space Nine had anything Ferengi with the exception of Quark (when he was not in drag), and Jake Sisko--at least until the writers figured out what to do with him. (It is as though Star Trek does not know how to write for characters under the age of eighteen.) Voyager leads in annoying and worthless characters in that all but The Doctor were uninteresting and unnecessary. With the mental power and abilities the crew of Voyager brings with them I am surprised Janeway did not loose possession of the ship more often (I think Kirk still holds the record for hostile take overs). I am even more surprised she ever regained the ship. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not that surprised. The Doctor was usually stuck on the ship, and his program was the only thing on Voyager with brains.

Who cast this show anyway? Did they get fired?

*Penni Russon offered a great counter argument to this assertion concerning Seven of Nine in the comments of the previous post, 11 REASONS WHY I HATE STAR TREK:VOYAGER #2 (PART 1)

Reason 1
Reason 2 (Part 1)
Reason 3
Reason 4 (Part 1)
Reason 4 (Part 2)
Reason 5
Reason 6
Reason 7
Reason 8
Reason 9
Reason 10
Reason 11

Related Links:
Tuvok Kills Neelix--if only!!!
Penni Russon's Excellent Blog: eglantine's cake
Only Ever Always by Pennie Russon

Author Links:
Shadows Beyond the Flames
J. M. Tresaugue Books


  1. Oh I am so depressed, I've just spend ages writing a comment and it disappeared.

    Anyway. This is the alternate comment, from the alternate universe that Harry Kim comes from.


    The Doctor.
    The key difference between Data and the Doctor is the Doctor does NOT aspire to be human - he aspires to be considered equal. I think in fact they deliberately modelled the Doctor on the Data story (piece of tech built in the engineer's own image), and then subverted the Data story (perhaps because some of us could never see what Data saw in the humans, because we perceived he had the better deal). In Voyager, the creator feels no love for his creation. The creation wants to be accepted on his own terms, instead of simply reflecting the humans back at them. Also the Doctor is a more convincing model of future space travel - downloading some aspect of ourselves into tech and sending it through space rather than the romantic yet clunky and improbable starship - something they explore later in the series in that hilarious episode.

    I think Tuvok is a great Vulcan. If Neelix serves any function in the narrative it is to be the threat he poses to Tuvok's emotional containment. No other Vulcan has ever done barely repressed simmering rage as well as Tuvok has. In Tuvok we see Vulcan evolution as process not product.

    Thank the Prophets Janeway killed Tuvix though. Has a more annoying transporter malfunction ever been known to occur?

    Of course the "real" Harry Kim actually (spoiler) dies quite early on in the series. Harry represents the Federation's naive optimistic view of itself as "the good guys", and as Harry grows through the series, the Federation becomes more complex and Harry accepts moral ambiguities, no long slave to such quibbly trifles as the temporal prime directive (the one where you can't change the past, not the other, more important one where you aren't supposed to question the mechanisms of time travel or the narrative will get stuck in a discontinuity loop and suspension of disbelief will be neutralised - Woody Allen excels in his application of this one in Midnight in Paris). Although I never fell in love with Kim, I appreciated his character growth over the series.

    1. Penni, I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. Life intervenes.

      The differences between The Doctor's quest that of Data is the difference between throwing the Ring into the fires of Mordor and searching for The Dark Tower to do battle with the Crimson King. Something is going to get broken! Or in the case of The Doctor and Data, something artificial going going to improve. I simply believe The Doctor would have been a stronger character if we had not seen seven seasons of Data before Robert Picardo entered the Star Trek universe. Picardo is a fantastic actor, and deserved a role that was completely original to the series.

      The choice to make The Doctor's creator a bit of jerk was logical. To have two Doctor Noonian Soongs would have been too much. The writers really had no choice. That being said, it afforded Picardo the chance to prove he is a versatile actor. Also, through The Doctor we get to see my favorite Voyager moment: Doctor's all over the place, mining, and learning there is more to existence than slave labor. (Though the over all episode felt like a remake of Data's trial. . .)

      Tuvok: Neelix is an unfair source from which to annoy a person. Even the dead run from that creep. I'm sure Spock would have had visions of murdering Neelix. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and assert that Spock from the mirror universe would have gotten the job done. I was actually more interested in Tuvok maintaining control when knowing he was missing out on so much of his family's life. That is something a mass audience can identify with. I spend a night away from my wife and daughters, and I'm more than ready to come home. Even when it comes to Vulcans we need to be sympathetic to the characters. Focusing more on Tuvok's battle with his forced separation would have been great to see.

      The only problem with killing Tuvix is Janeway did not do it fast enough.

      I did like the idea of the Harry Kim who finished the series was not the same Kim who joined Janeway on her three hour tour. I was not sure I had that right, but that will be explained in reason 9--oh the anticipation!

    2. And thanks again for another fantastic counter argument! Always a pleasure to read your comments.

  2. Followed you here from twitter, and just finished re-watching all 7 seasons of Voyager via Netflix, but I can agree with much of your post. Not all, but much.

    Tuvok: It was quite refreshing at the time to see a Vulcan...acting like a Vulcan. After TOS hounding Spock to become more human, and TNG's lack of Vulcan regular cast, it was kind of pleasant to see a Vulcan who didn't aspire to connect with a human side, and a crew that mostly left him alone about it. Except for Neelix.

    Neelix: I get what they were trying to do--Neelix had to play Basil Exposition in several instances, and with the lack of a large Federation infrastructure, one single military ship wouldn't be out of line to employ and use local resources. But Neelix wasn't tough enough to command respect, and not cute'n'fuzzy enough to be the Woobie.

    Harry Kim: They get props for keeping him around on the show for the whole run, especially in the later seasons. Most of Harry's purpose for us was to keep us asking, "You'd think he'd get a promotion before the former terrorists did." and to remind us occasionally just how much they all left behind. Kim was the only bridge crew whose life had been okay, everybody else was either terrorists, ex-cons, or career military.

    Seven of Nine: Boobs. And dating one of the producers by the end of things. Her writers aggravated me the most because they were SO ham-handed with throwing her into either cutely awkward situations (like the whole episode where she and the Doc sing and dance and that crap), or take the *least* motherly being on the ship and hand her a litter of Borg children. But the most egregious sin in my opinion was the end season's pairing of her and Chakotay. Paris and Torres were already playing the star-crossed lovers thing out, and sticking the emotionally-stunted Seven--whose emotional maturity might have put her in early teens--with one of the more mature members of the crew--and in a position of authority, no less--felt more than just off-key, it felt painful to watch.

    Also, if I remember correctly, UPN cable network by then was struggling against WB, Voyager was locked into exclusivity, and their demographic was getting younger every month. I suspect the show's creators, and the whole franchise, were exploring territory they'd never try (and maybe not need to) if the Great Bird were still at the helm.

    1. Athena, Thank you for using your valuable to read and respond to the blogs. I'm always interested to learn what other people think of Star Trek, particularly when it comes to Voyager. Why do some many people enjoy that series when every attempt to watch it leaves me in pain? Did I miss something? In some instances, yes I did.

      You and Penni have left some of the best comments on this series. This does not change my mind, but only gives me hope I can find something more than pretty special effects (and the Doctor) to appreciate in Voyager. There is still fear the next viewing will leave that nasty taste in my mouth. For example, I recently read a blog encouraging machete marathon for Star Wars movies in the following order: IV, V, II, III, and VI. I love the complete absence of Episode I. The purpose of this method is to treat the newer films as an extended flashback to show how Darth Vader is Luke's daddy. My oldest daughter and I were intrigued with the thought, and excited that this method might redeem two of the three newer films. We were fifteen minutes into Episode II, and I found some dishes to clean. My daughter continued to torture herself. So I'm excited about the counter arguments from you and Penni, but I'm terrified of being disappointed once more.

      Recently I mentioned to another fan of Voyager that I have tried hard to like the series. I've even attempted to start a Star Trek marathon with Voyager, thinking after TOS, TNG, and DS9 I might have been burnt out. That didn't workout either. We will see what happens. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

  3. Great series, real fans enjoyed them alot, wish we could have a new series. My concern is why you bother after all those years? Go watch something else instead of making your opinion public. Great producers , extraordinary work for a tv budget... I know why you dislike it, i assume you prefer a darker future than then one star trek offers....

  4. I have to say I disagree with some of what you have written (well written as it might be). I'm by no means and trekkie and never hope to be one although I appreciated very much what they were trying to do. I would never have thought I would be someone watching any of the ST shows. That is until ST:Voyager. I understand die hard fans not liking this show but for me it was great. It was so different from any of the other ST shows I just happened to catch while channel surfing. I found NG absolutely boring and couldn't get into any other incarnations of the show besides Enterprise recently. I actually really enjoyed Voyager and the crew...Although Neelix and Kes could have gone on a slow boat to anywhere and I wouldn't have cared. And the whole Chakotay and Seven thing could have been interesting if it hadn't come out of nowhere. They took time to build the Paris/Torres relationship. But that's neither here nor there. All I'm saying is this show like other versions of ST isn't supposed to be for everyone. I think the creators and writers of the show knew that and didn't just make carbon copy shows that catered to one audience. At least I'd like to think they had this in mind when creating each show. Just my two cents but I did enjoy your blog cause even though i didn't agree there were many points that had me nodding my head in agreement :)

    1. Your comment is among those I have been hoping to respond to, and now that August is half over. . . Well, here I am! Please forgive me for the tardy response.

      I've been picking away at another series that explores each captain (though in a tongue-in-cheek manner) as to why that captain was the best. I think Sisko was first. Janeway is shaping up to be second in the series. (I'm almost done with her blog.) While working on this new series, I have noticed a common trend in that the preferred captain tends to be the captain the fan grew up with or was first exposed to in a significant way. I am curious if you think this might have some validity? There is something fun and worth exploring in the thought.

      I almost fully agree with you when stating the creators did not go out of their way to make each Star Trek series a carbon copy of the previous to pander to the base audience. Each series has a different tone, a different feeling. The producers and writers had an unique chance to build upon a preexisting fan base that grew and grew until somewhere around the sixth season of Deep Space 9. I don't blame this on Voyager, but on over saturation of the market. Since the dawn of DS9, we were treated to two Star Trek series a week and a movie coming out every few years. Plus there were all the syndicated episodes. The audience was not given a chance to want more. That is my theory, but plenty of other valid theories exist. I enjoyed seeing the differences in TNG when compared to TOS. The same was true with DS9. Enterprise was how a prequel should support the previous shows. The writing of Voyager alienated me. To illustrate this, I can watch a little person ride Kirk all day long since the scene was intended to be absurd. Lizard-Janeway was presented as series episode. (By no means am I suggesting you adore or in any way appreciate the lizard episode, Threshold. I am simply comparing two cheesy moments.) I believe the writing contributes significantly to my dislike.

      How many tangents was explored just now? To sum it up, I believe the writers wanted to keep their current fan base, but to also build upon it. With that caveat, I agree with you that Voyager was not intended to be like anything previously aired in the Star Trek universe. I can't present you with the same product time after time, and expect significant growth in profits. I need to present something new, and new products necessitate a risk. You are also right in implying Voyager was not made for me. Would it be fair to say Voyager was made for people who needed to see Janeway on the screen the same way Whoopi Goldberg needed to see Uhura? Or is that ignorant? (It's all about learning.)

      In my defence, I did enjoy some aspects of the show. The special effects were fun. No! They were beautiful! And there was Sulu, Odo, and not so much Nog (short of eggnog).

      Thank you for reading the blog, and leaving a comment. I am glad you enjoyed the rambling 11 Reasons.

  5. Wow, such hate. of course it is your opinion, you are entitled.

    1. I do appreciate you took some time to read the blog. Opposing opinions are welcome if you have the time to share. Thank you!

  6. Your comment about Robert Picardo being the only good actor is unfair on Robert Duncan McNeill. I consider him equal to Picardo in acting ability, and he is clearly more talented than the other cast members when you see them together in a scene. I think Picardo just got the more interesting material to work with in the long run.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I can accept Picardo was given more fun material, but ultimately the presentation falls on the shoulders of the actor. Paul Giamatti is an actor who has taken lousy rolls only to turn them not only into something watchable but entertaining. Of course a director like George Lucas will gather names like Natalie Portman, Ewan Mcgregor, Samaul L. Mother F@cking Jackson, and Liam Neeson into the same room and give the audience a boring performance. So yes, I understand your point in regard to Picardo. If you are willing, I would like to read a comment with examples of why McNeill deserves the same credit as Picardo. Again, thanks for reading!

  7. I agree picardo is about the only 1 that can act his role in anything even stargate, i put up with voyager just for the doc's wit, but it cudnt live up to NG or even enterprise it was the only 1 that left me wanting more

  8. I would have Airlocked everyone but the E.M.H on Voyager.

  9. All of the Voyager cast are wonderful actors.
    Perhaps your lengthy comment is not up to standard.