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.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

11 REASONS WHY I HATE STAR TREK: VOYAGER #11

11. Finally, the series finale views like it was ghost directed by William Shatner. After seven years of ignoring lessons well learned while working on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, producer Rick Bermen and writer Brannon Braga decided the time was ripe to implement those fourteen years of experience smashed into twelve when conceptualizing Voyager's big finale. There is a slight problem with this. Seven years of lazy writing and decisions cannot be fixed overnight without firing the entire writing team, and brining in fresh talent. Watching the final episode, Endgame, brings to mind the series finales of the preceding Star Trek titles, though not in a good way. Endgame comes across as though C and D list writers decided to plagiarize previous episodes in the franchise, namely All Good Things. . ., which concluded The Next Generation's television run, and What You Leave Behind, the bittersweet send off to Deep Space Nine.

All Good Things . . . was a fantastic story spanning three time periods in Picard's life: the present, taking command of the Enterprise D, and Picard as an old man. Picard is cast as the underdog in each of these time periods. The current time setting has his crew supporting him, but only tentatively. The past Picard's crew are unsure of their new captain, and go so far as to openly doubt him. In the future sequences Picard is cast as a crazy old man worthy of pity and succeeds in accomplishing his goals by trading upon the benevolent indulgence of those who formerly called him their captain. We also have Q in the episode, once again challenging Picard to save humanity while doubting the captain's intellect along the way. This provides us with a nice full circle scenario as we were first introduced to Q in Encounter at Farpoint, the original episode of The Next Generation. A wonderful story, great characters, and the proper amount of conflict combined with the overall Star Trek feel. All Good Things . . . was perfectly executed.

With Deep Space Nine, we see the epic conclusions to The Dominion War and the centuries long struggle between the Bajoran Prophets and the Pah Wraiths in the masterfully rendered What You Leave Behind. We see our heroes triumph, and the villains fall. We see noble sacrifices, we witness evil turn upon evil, and nothing is left the same when all is said and done. The episode is filled with drama, action, and passion, all to leave you wanting more while knowing this is it. You will only make the mistake once of watching What You Leave Behind without a box of Kleenex within reach. The level of emotion as the characters say farewell to each other is as heart rending as the final episode of M*A*S*H and the final three episodes of Babylon 5. I doubt there are many television shows with such a strong conclusion.


At this point, Star Trek is proving it cannot fail to please when wrapping up a series. And then Voyager comes along.

I have a near perfect image of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga in my mind, talking to each other as the conclusion of Voyager's seventh season approaches. What to do? How to end the series to ensure Voyager's final episode will be remembered for years to come? Naturally, they discuss what made All Good Things . . . and What You Leave Behind such excellent viewing. From there it is a logical conclusion to plagiarize from themselves. Steal a bit from The Next Generation and grab some from Deep Space Nine, throw in a bit of original thinking, and Voyager's final episode, Endgame, is born.

Like with All Good Things . . ., Endgame deals in time travel. The episode starts thirty-two years after Voyager returned to Federation space, having been gone only twenty-three years rather than seventy-five. Janeway is an admiral because apparently the new Starfleet (post Captain Kirk) looks for officers with the ability to fail with upward momentum--the best way to explain why Picard was never promoted to admiral.

Janeway is plagued with guilt. We learn her decisions in the Delta Quadrant resulted in the deaths of Chakotay and Seven of Nine, who had a clumsily written romance late in season seven (it reeks of after thought.) Tuvok has succumbed to insanity, and the rest of the crew has aged under the ministrations of bad makeup, though they fail to develop as people. Older Janeway cannot live with the guilt anymore. She decides a bit of time travel is in order to set things right, proving once and for all she is not command material. These events are tragic (if you care about the characters), but not a reason to alter the past. Starfleet personnel and the Maquis adoptees knew the risks. And what about all the other members of her crew who died along the way? Why not go back in time to the point they encountered The Caretaker? Or better yet, why not go back in time to the moment before they entered The Bad Lands, and curtail the events leading to Voyager being tossed into the Delta Quadrant? I smell a plot hole. Point being, she could have saved many more lives than those three. Janeway is a bit cold hearted and selfish if you ask me.

As expected, Older Janeway meets up with Old Janeway, who is still aimlessly cruising the Delta Quadrant. They argue for no other reason than to increase the drama. Seriously, of the two, Older Janeway has the better notions. However, she wins the arguments by repeatedly stating, "I know because I was once you." I can except that argument once. After the second time, well I stopped paying attention to their spats since the resolution is predetermined.


Old and Older Janeway form their plan, and this is where Berman and Braga decided a touch of Deep Space Nine was necessary. No one who has watched What You Leave Behind can forget the bittersweet conclusion, and that is what they wanted with Voyager. How to accomplish this? By forcing Older Janeway to sacrifice her life. The problem with her death is in the timing. Older Janeway takes one for the team while the bridge of Voyager fills with cheers, smiles, and back slapping as the ship returns to Earth. There is one exception. Old Janeway! Yes, Old Janeway is mourning Older Janeway's death, and thereby the only person on the bridge who is moping around (not to mention isn't this a bit self indulgent? To mourn herself?) The music and closeups on Janeway's face tells us we are supposed to be sad, but that is made difficult if you never liked Janeway to begin with. Not to mention the joyful crew celebrating the achievement of their goal pretty much neutralizes the pity party.

On a lesser note, The Doctor finally picks a name after seven tedious years of debate. He settles on Joe. That's right! Joe! Why? Because the hologram got married to a flesh and blood woman (a sign marriage equality is honored by the Federation? We can hope.), and decided to take her grandfather's name. (I suppose in the future people have fetishes for their grandparents.) No other explanation is given. For all we know, Grandpa Joe made his living ripping the ears off of Ferengi, and selling the bloody lobes as fertility charms. Joe! What a let down!

I cheer every time I finish watching Endgame for one reason, and one reason only. It means I don't have to watch Star Trek: Voyager again for a damn long time.

Watching Voyager is painful. I'm talking more painful than watching a little person ride Captain Kirk like a horse. Plato's Stepchildren is perhaps the worst episode in The Original Series, but every one involved can blame the drug culture of the 1960s when pressed for an explanation (this also works for the Alice in Wonderland ride at Disneyland--the original park in Anaheim, California). Voyager does not have that excuse. In fact, it is guilty of regressing in the expectations of television viewers. The continuous storyline was finally taking shape in the weekly shows, gradually leaving behind the episodic format--though more than a fair share of these type of shows still exist. We had watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, and Deep Space Nine, all of which required a continuous story arc for their success. Even elements of Seinfeld and Friends relied upon building on previous episodes. The days when the Reset Button was pressed at the end of the episode were thankfully dwindling as television began evolving into something more sophisticated, culminating with (what a surprise!) J. J. Abrams' Lost.

Yes, Voyager aired before Lost, but that is not an argument for demanding forgiveness in not keeping up with the more sophisticated tastes and trends of the viewing audience, particularly when this new sophistication was helped along by the producers of Star Trek through the seven year run of Deep Space Nine. As was previously mentioned in this blog series, the producers returned to the format of 1980s television in that the most entertaining segment of any given episode was the opening credits. That is what you have in Voyager. Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote numerous Star Trek scores, beginning with Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture, wrote a beautiful piece of music. The shots of Voyager flying through space, navigating around asteroids and planetary bodies is breathtaking. But that is all Voyager can hope to be. A lovely score, and gorgeous special effects. In all else it fails miserably.

Reason 1
Reason 2 (Part 1)

Reason 2 (Part 2)
Reason 3
Reason 4 (Part 1)
Reason 4 (Part 2)

Reason 5
Reason 6
Reason 7
Reason 8
Reason 9
Reason 10



Related Links:

Kirk Ridden Like a Horse

Voyager Theme


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15 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading these. Your reasons are shared by many - I'm not a fan of Voyager but I can appreciate it at times for being trek. I think there were a small handful of good episodes, good being watchable by voyager standards.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog series! I do enjoy the opening to "Timeless" when we see Voyager trapped beneath a sheet of ice. I also enjoyed the episodes "Blink of an Eye" and "Gravity", however my enjoyment is hampered when realizing the same device--time moving faster for one set of characters--was used in both episodes. Like you alluded to, these are not amazing Trek episodes. In TNG or DS9 they would have been mid level. But since they belong to Voyager, I was left asking: "Is this the best I can hope for." Sadly the answer was, "Yes!"

      Thanks again for reading the series. I'm off to watch some good Trek. You know, Kirk fighting the Gorn? . . . Oh....

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    2. Am I the only one who thought that the Star Trek: Elite Force games did a better job than that of Star Trek: Voyager? Heck, even Star Trek: Elite Force 2's Endgame ending was better than Star Trek Voyager's ending. I kept wondering why no dramatic music was added in to make the show's ending better. Elite Force 2 did it and left me satisfied.

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  2. I have to agree about the ending, and actually the whole last season was a big anticlimax. I don't think this is uncommon - the last was the least engaging season of Buffy for me as well and what the hell was the last season of Lost? I think although television is getting better at sustaining series long narrative arcs, the nature of television means that there are still too many writers, not enough vision. Admittedly Deep Space handles these long term threads better than Voyager but ultimately there's is a more complex universe and so more satisfying. Voyager's singular mission (which in my opinion gives energy and direction to the early seasons, I know you disagree) means that the ending can only ever be anti-climactic. They either get home (which undermines the tension of the earlier seasons) or they don't (which means drifting in space). I actually think a GREAT ending would have been them being in tangible reach of home (say 5 years) but deciding as a ship to take a detour for humanitarian reasons, making some giant sacrifice at the end for the greater good. Sad but still an end in sight.

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    1. I've never made it through season 7 of Buffy. Love the preceding seasons for the most part. I blame this on Dawn since that is where my interest begae to slacken.

      My dream conclusion for Voyager is Janeway returning to find The Federation in a civil war. Insurrection would have provided a nice point from which to jump into such a mess if that damn admiral was working under orders rather than going rogue. So Janeway arrives in middle of a bitter battle. Both factions are sending her propaganda, and she must decide quickly with whom she will align herself with. Think of Voyager firing on Picard's Enterprise, and then rol credits. We now have to wait for the next movie to see the out come. In the meantime, we get to watch Excelsior with George Takie as Captain Sulu..... Oh that would have been nice too. But if you notice, my scenario is rather self serving in that I love space battles and clif hangers. Your dream conclusion would fit the Trek universe much better.

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  3. Why don't you just NOT watch Voyager again? That's what I do.

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    1. Sometimes I feel the need to flog myself.

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  4. the Voyager final was better then what they did for Enterprise, it finished up being about Riker... I cannot stand Johnathon Frakes and think his ego is to blame for what could've been done to give us some closure for the series...

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  5. I've only watched season 1 and a few episodes of season 2, and found this blog after a search wondering if it gets any better.

    My main complaint so far is how pathetically weak they are. Okay, it's nice to not be a bully or whatever. But in one episode some aliens steal Neelix's lungs and get a harsh warning not to show up again. Then they show up again a few episodes later and skin a crew member. The other captive crew members escape, but instead of freeing the other slaves (who will be consumed for body parts later) and bombarding the prison camp, they just leave. Different episode, a Kazon is recovering on the ship. Two others beam aboard and murder him. Janeway's retaliation is to say "Get off my ship!" Well, that's what they wanted... kill this guy and leave with impunity. After all this, I thought they couldn't get much more pathetic. But then they got trapped in a school of fish, and the only way they managed to escape was by rolling over and submitting to the alpha fish. But maybe that makes sense since as you mentioned later Janeway gets impregnated by a lizard. So okay at least there is some consistency.

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  6. The Writing:
    Writers did not develop the characters as well as they could have. I feel that if your character is depressed on Voyager, they simply go to their room and sit alone and mope. Most complain about something with another crewmate who then lets them brood it for the remainder. They didn't communicate their feelings as well as I would have hoped.

    The Borg:
    My God. Terrible. Looking back now all you can see is how ridiculous the Borg were in Voyager. How can Captain Janeway make a deal with the Borg? It defies everything the Borg stand for. The Borg DO NOT MAKE deals. They assimilate. They evolved into that because making deals is not worth their time. Talking is irrelevant. Spontaneously Created Borg babies? [TNG, I remember had real babies] Janeway chose a lesser evil role in harming the Undine (I believe that's Species 8472s' name).but she knew DAMN well that she would be opening a gas chamber on that race. And are they worse than the Borg?

    Chakotay: Poor, poor man. He has almost no standing on any issue and becomes little to nothing on the entire series. He is most like the VP of the U.S. Always there, but in the background. Did he stab a writer?

    Neelix: I love the Jar-Jar bit! They have replicators [yes, I'm aware of the early "energy crisis"] but this is the 24th century. You STILL need a chef? Neelix has no reason to go to Earth. He's a trader, not a diplomat. Slapping him with his own people [what's left of them] makes perfect sense. He was a goddamn babysitter on some episodes. That was it. A babysitter in Star Trek.

    Janeway DOOMS us all:
    Didn't anybody notice Janeway giving future tech to the past federation ship in the last episode? How the hell is getting home faster more important than the human race? She follows no logic by this action as if logic dictates, the Borg have now adapted to her neurolytic [sp?] toxin, ablative armor, trans phasic torpedoes.. How does the fight go NOW against the Borg?

    Janeway doesn't discipline: "I'm disappointed in you." "I can't put you in the brig for 75 years." Repercussions NEED to happen. I do respect that Tom Paris lost his rank for a few years in one episode.

    Borg-Kazon Debacle:
    What would've been better is if Janeway came up with evasion/stealth plans before the big "deal". Remember the Borg REFUSED to assimilate Kazon's because they felt they were not even worthy! Theorize that for awhile....stealth cat and mouse may not be the most exciting, but we all know a head-on battle with one ship vs an unlimited amount of cubes and spheres is in reality, complete suicide.

    Bad:
    - Shore leave on worlds you know nothing about.
    - Away Missions = Total Disaster 86% of the time.
    - Advanced technology shared with clumsy, one dimensional races.
    - Who cares about the Ocampa, Kazon, Talaxian, Vidian? Nobody.
    - They saved Amelia Earhart?
    - The first humans assimilated were Sevens' parents and herself?
    - The first reclaimed Borg was Seven? What's the odds?
    - Nobody ever left a Mark I EMH on and just added more data?
    - Janeway quoting the prime directive where no allies/respite are found.
    - Who really is Chakotay? I saw him spirit walk and kiss Seven only.
    - Inventing new ways to get home with limited input from outside sources without advancements in science or starfleet experts, hardly believable early in the series.
    - Holographic Irish-Village Obsessions....guys...relax IT'S A HOLOGRAM.
    - B'elanna was way too bitchy and uncontrollable. Tom Paris and her are total opposite, but no chemistry.

    The Good:
    - The Doctor is the only character with actual character development.
    - Ensign Kim...obsessed with the most unreachable women. [Dead, Terrorist, Borg, Holographic] Pretty funny actually!
    - Ablative armor is highly underrated and completely bad ass.
    - Seven of Nine had some memorable episodes as well.
    - Maquis ideals are mentioned throughout and that was some tension in some early seasons.

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  7. Why I never understood about Voyager is why they never encountered the Robinson family from lost in space, I would have watched that.

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  8. You are simply a moron... a whiney little Enterprise fanboy who didn't understand why it got cancelled because it was essentially crap and didn't do anything new except make up stuff like the Xindi. You call Voyager bad... How dare you insult Janeway, you arrogant, small little man. Janeway would not at least let millions of people die to protect the Prime Directive, like Picard did (Pen Pals TNG). Picard was a stuff burocrat at time but completely missed out the human element of the show. Janeway was human, she made mistakes but she was certainly never incompitent.

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    1. Indeed Enterprise was TOTAL SHITE, exempting Dexter Producer Manny Cotto's excellent work in Season 4, with the noted exception of that horrid finale. But Voyager was overall a FAR better show than Quantum Leap Trek lol (BTW love Bacula and his work on QL, but Captain Archer was a terrible character IMHO)

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  10. Thanks for these articles. I am completely with you and actually relieved, that I am not the only one hating ST:V (by the way, I also share your feelgins towards ST:Enterprise... I just loved it. It was fun, nice aliens, highly philosophic form time to time and most of all a struggling, but still wise (enough) captain. Not the moronic Janeway we never could get used to. I am at season 3 now, not really expecting it to get any better and as it couldn't get worse, I'll probalby just watch firefly for the 1000th time to get this ST:V rubbish our of my memory banks :-)

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