Space Ramblings

Monthly Archives: April 2001

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Star Trek Voyager review – Friendship One

Summary: A well meaning but predictable and uninspiring rehash of standard Star Trek material.

Between the Vidiians and the Maalon, the disfigured race preying on other species and using their problems as justification has become a

star trek voyager Friendship One

"We come in bulky spacesuits"

staple of Voyager. But where the Vidiians were compelling as both monsters and victims, the alien species of Friendship One are merely a series of victims. The episode repeatedly suggests that they’re our victims and that Voyager should somehow feel guilty for their conditions, but Voyager had nothing to do with the launching of the probe and all the probe did was provide them with advanced technology meant to serve beneficial purposes. Their inability to properly use that technology was their own fault and responsibility.

That leaves us with the same Star Trek setup we’ve seen a thousand times before. There’s the bad ruthless alien, the potentially good but uncertain alien and the human interest female. Our crew attempts to convey our humanity to the aliens through personal exchanges which humanize them. The good alien helps Voyager thwart the schemes of the bad alien. There’s the red shirt whose off the cuff conversations about family make it certain that he’ll die before the episode is over. We’ve seen the same material used – in more innovative ways- before; and without any standout performances or dialogue, the show has little to contribute except the irony of Friendship One itself as a defense of the importance Prime Directive.

Though it doesn’t really accomplish this either since the problem wasn’t so much that the technology was given out but that it was given out blindly and without supervision. And they’re only saved by more interference from the Federation. This isn’t a very convincing criticism of Starfleet or exploration. And Janeway’s final statement about exploration not being worth the lives lost sounds ridiculous and bizarre since exploration, like it or not, runs precisely on those who gave their lives to see over into the next horizon. Star Trek has always acknowledged this and paid tribute to it, as recently as the far superior Voyager episode, One Small Step. Indeed Janeway’s entire policy has been to conduct exploration rather than a straight route home.

Friendship One had the potential to construct an intricate commentary on Starfleet and Voyager’s own mission using the trial of Friendship One, but One Small Step did a better job of handling that material. So all that was left was a lesson about helping people, but as in Insurrection that lesson was buried by the generic undistinguished nature of the people who needed to be helped, as well as their persistent whining about “nobody understanding how hard it is for them” which was more than a little reminiscent of the Baku’s touting their advanced spiritual values. Except where the Baku’s sense of superiority seemed to actually come from sort of accomplishments no matter how questionable, the FO species accomplishment was to be murderous, miserable and diseased.

Janeway’s initial incompetence e.g. failing to detect both an alien civilization and the people living there, even though Voyager had encountered a close cousin of this same state of affairs in Dragon’s Teeth, and then attempting to push Brin into giving up the hostages instead of demonstrating their good faith first finally and unexpectedly gives way to good command skills when she actually does the sane, practical thing and shockingly enough pulls off a successful rescue mission to release the hostages. Unfortunately by this point the hostages have developed Stockholm Syndrome and demonstrating very little regard for the fact that one of their friends and crewmembers was just murdered (Paris argues that it was only one man who did it, conveniently overlooking that it was their leader and that no one else found the act objectionable in the least) jostle Janeway into risking Voyager to clean up the planet’s atmosphere.

Considering that these people have anti-matter weapons and anti-matter missiles, it seems odd that Janeway doesn’t just propose giving

star trek voyager Friendship One

Friendship means saying "Sorry we blew up your planet"

them instructions for constructing their own ships and evacuating themselves. Or for that matter since it was doubtful that they could have produced anti-matter without leaving their planetary orbit, they should have had their own starships. Not that doing so would be a very smart idea, since the last thing the Delta Quadrant needs is another set of Vidians murdering and torturing people while whining about how hard their lives are. Voyager was quite ready to accept the Vidiians justifications for their actions and certainly has no trouble accepting the Friendship One species sense of self-righteous victimization. Wonder if it’ll make Lt. Carey’s family feel any better that his killers had “a bad childhood” ?

But this is characteristic of Friendship One as a paint-by-the numbers episode that relies on reusing Star Trek formulas to produce a predictable episode whose values are barely skin deep. After VGR of STTMP, the Mars spacecraft of One Small Step, the old American ship of Casino Royale and now Friendship One it seems a few too many old Earth space program vehicles have gone a lot further than they were supposed to go and it really strains all credulity that two of these would have ended up in the Delta Quadrant. Reusing this notion cheapens One Small Step and has no real purpose since this episode would have worked just as well if the aliens had found any advanced technology which they misused and blame all aliens for their own foolishness.

In part it seems Friendship One is introduced as a possible buildup for Series V. The entire fairly extraneous conversation about the timetable for the probe’s launch and Tuvok’s comment about its launch “preceding Starfleet” seems like it might have been planted as possible background for Series V. Or at the very least it may have been informed by the Series V premise. And I suppose it is a measure of how little Friendship One has to offer that its most intriguing aspect involves sifting a minor piece of dialogue for clues to the premise of the next series. And it may well be a clue as to how little Voyager’s seventh season has to offer as well.

Star Trek Voyager review – Author, Author

Summary: A strong episode that addresses some important issues but its reach far exceeds its grasp.

The issue of the Doctor’s holographic rights has been Voyager’s most consistent and longest running arc and now finally seems to be at a

star trek voyager Author Author

Who needs word processors when you are a word processor

close at about the same that Voyager itself is ending. Unfortunately the deadline seems to have caused the writers to try and do too much in too little time. Like the Void, another strong recent Voyager episode, Author Author is at times clever, imaginative, and finally, addresses the substantive issues but it is overstuffed with material that far outstrips the forty minutes available to deal with it.

While Voyager early on displayed great facility with the Kazon arc, running it as a B-story in unrelated episodes very effectively, the later Voyager seems to prefer stuffing its return-to-Earth arc into large single pieces placed throughout individual episodes. So Author, Author has to spend time dealing with Voyager’s first regular connection to Earth AND the issue of the Doctor’s holographic rights brought to contest AND the issue of the Doctor’s relations with the Voyager crew. Each of these would have made a good episode. Together stuffed into one single episode, none of them has the time to be fully developed into a natural storyline.

And so, The Doctor’s humanity arguments are reduced to a several-minute footnote towards the end of the episode. The Voyager crew’s phone-calls are well handled but this sort of thing should have been shown to have more impact on the crew than a few quickly edited scenes of ‘phoning home’. It’s odd that at a time when the Voyager crew have the first semi-permanent connection to their families, the main topic of conversation is The Doctor’s insulting holo-program. This should have really changed things, followed up on the promise of scenes like Barclay’s “gift” of the live shot of Earth. After all, this is what Voyager has been working for all these years; it should have meant and mattered more.

For once, Seven’s family scenes were tastefully and very effectively handled with the stimulus towards change coming more from her, than from scenes with Janeway or The Doctor lecturing her on getting to know her family. Having Seven come towards the incentive to “phone home” by acting as a silent observer while Kim and Torres get in touch with their families is the kind of subtlety that the Seven arc could’ve used more of. Kim’s scenes are used for their comic potential but Wang underplays the material so that it works, instead of being an over-the-top Asian family joke as it was written. Torres’s scenes with her father also do a good job of following up on prior material–continuity is one thing Author, Author demonstrates abundantly.

The entire holonovel material, though, feels unnecessary. Instead of the entire circus of alternate universe doubles, we could simply have had the crew read off a few of the same lines from a PADD and spend the time on the arguments over the EMH’s humanity or the actual issues involved. After all, the comic potential and the whole concept of distorted perceptionmirror universe Voyager crew members was handled far better in Living Witness. There was no real need to do it again except as an attempt at a gag, which only distracted from the actual issue of the Doctor’s political advocacy and feelings.

It would’ve been far more effective, however, if The Doctor had made the Voyager crewmembers more true to life, but distorted in subtle

star trek voyager Author Author

It's called a mustache. They reportedly went extinct during the Eugenics Wars

ways so as to put a negative spin on their actual conduct and behavior. This would have brought home the notion that The Doctor might view the crew’s behavior differently than they themselves or the viewer do. Instead, The Doctor produces ridiculous caricatures that make him look ridiculous and the crew look petty for taking offense at such ridiculous and patently unrealistic distortions.

Certainly, literary works of political advocacy don’t tend to be very subtle and with The Doctor drafting his own Uncle Tom’s Cabin, he couldn’t have likely produced a quiet masterpiece. Still, the problem remains that most of the Voyager crew’s caricatures are excessively and inhumanly psychotic and evil while works of political commentary are more effective if they address actual, everyday evils as they appear. Political advocacy of evils as practiced by demented cartoon characters doesn’t make people re-examine their own behaviors and participate with their victims in the healing process; it just distances the problem and makes it seem unrealistic. More so, a lot of the Voyager “evil crew” are evil in ways that have nothing to do with holographic rights. They’re simply crazed and demented. Janeway phasering a wounded crewmember has nothing to do with holographic rights. Her treatment of the EMH by contrast seems almost merciful.

The plot twist of having the publisher of the EMH’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” work exploit him as a hologram with no rights is smart and politically sophisticated, while being quite true to life. Having the test of the EMH’s humanity be copyright law is also ingenuous and unexpected, even though the publisher has no chance of victory. If the EMH were a thing rather than a person, than he and all his works are property of Starfleet, which has sole authority over them. The problem is that much of this comes as an afterthought. In TNG’s Measure of a Man, the arguments over Data’s humanity forced the crew to really reconsider their feelings about Data, the arguments hit home and the answer was in actual doubt. Picard had a point but so did Riker. Here there is zero doubt.

The crew has fully acknowledged the EMH’s humanity and they’re ready to tell stories about it all day and all night. The use of The Doctor’s betrayal of Voyager as a point in favor of his humanity is a smart touch of continuity. But there is no real challenge anymore. Only the Federation doubts the EMH’s humanity and the Federation isn’t actually here, they’re far away listening-in. The final scene of the holograms breaking the proverbial rock in the dilithium mines, spreading the word about freedom, is a wonderfully inspirational final thought and the episode is full of so many similar nice moments. Unfortunately, this episode could have been put to better use if it had done a better job of connecting all these instances into a more seamless, cohesive story.

Star Trek Voyager review – Q2

Summary: Q2 indulges in Deja Q, revisiting a far superior TNG episode with a weak and clumsy imitation centered around a character with none of Q’s charisma.

The first problem with Q2 is that essentially it delivers exactly what its title suggests it does, an episode not about Q but about a second Q.

star trek voyager Q2

I'm only on this show because my father is a good actor

The problem of course is that the second Q isn’t all that interesting of a character. Q works mostly because of de Lancie’s charisma and over the top personality that allows him to dominate a scene with a single look. This allows for the kind of over-the-top material and dialogue that make the Q episodes entertaining to begin with. Corbin Bernsen as Q wasn’t quite his equal but had a certain amount of presence and so did the actress who formerly played K’helyar returning as Worf’s mate. The actor playing Q2 on the other hand is competent enough but completely uninteresting in that sort of way.

Q2 (the episode) revisits Deja Q, the far superior TNG episode that featured Q stripped of his powers by the Continuum for abusing them and left in a human shell to function on a Stafleet vessel and then prove his worth by offering to sacrifice his life to save his human pals at which point his powers are restored. Sound familiar? Well it’s essentially a workable synopsis of Q2. Without even addressing the lack of originality behind the episode (bemoaning the lack of originality behind recent franchise material is as useful and as commonplace as complaining about the weather, those with sharp eyes will note that DS9’s entire Pah Raih arc sprang from a single TNG episode just recently rerun), Q2 fails simply because once again Voyager tries to redo a TNG episode without understanding the facts that made that episode work.

By the point of Deja Q, Q was a malign, greedy, childish God. He was all those things but he was also superior and omnipotent in more than just powers. Q Who demonstrated that he had something to teach humanity and so did TNG’s own finale, All Good Things… In other words, he was a true antagonist to the TNG crew and to Picard. He was also dangerous. Rather than the benign wish-granting, amusing genie he later became, Q was quite capable of killing the crew. He genuinely disliked and felt contempt for humanity. This made his transformation into human form all the more dangerous and his sacrifice meaningful. The chilling scene that features Guinan stabbing Q with a fork to prove his humanity is genuinely disturbing. The only thing Q2 has to offer is Q2 removing Neelix’s vocal cords (an action most people agree with anyway) and all is quickly forgotten and forgiven. And that’s the trouble with Q2; Q2 far too quickly becomes a model human and Starfleet officer.

With Q having been thoroughly contaminated by TNG and Voyager episodes that have weakened and diluted him as thoroughly as the dreadnought Borg he introduced, introducing Q2 as a new Q with all the edge and darkness the original Q had lost was not a bad idea but instead the new Q is an even weaker model than the old. But this was only to be expected. Voyager has focused its Q episodes on having Q come to Janeway and have her help him with Q problems. Where Picard and Q struggled over human issues, Voyager was too insecure to allow Q to challenge Janeway in that manner and so Q quickly ran for help to her every time there were problems in the Continuum. So of course it’s not likely Voyager would allow the new Q to challenge Janeway, anymore than the old Q could.

And so stripped of any edgy or challenging material, Voyager’s version of Deja Q quite literally becomes a babysitting episode with Q2

star trek voyager Q2

If she's not in a catsuit, then she's out of the catsuit

learning to be a better person thanks to the Voyager crew. His transformation is pretty meaningless since he never had the darkness of Q. He’s just a kid and Q’s description of him is apt, he means well and you just have to get to know him. This is ultimately quite true but it also guarantees that the episode will lack any dramatic or comedic value.

Furthermore, where original TNG episodes like Deja Q were laser-guided and focused on what they wanted to achieve, Q2 stumbles as if it’s not quite clear on what it wants to accomplish or how it wants to get there. Voyager’s writers believe the Q are funny and popular but as with so much else of the ST franchise, they don’t quite understand why and so they go to the equivalent of having the Q doing juggling tricks. They try one thing and then another and throughout it all they have the distinct feeling that something is not right and not working just right. And so the focus is lost and the result is yet another poorly thought out episode. The writers clearly believed that simply having a kiddy Q would be entertaining by its very nature, failing to understand that like the Borg, nothing is entertaining by its very nature. It requires work. It requires understanding the essentials of the original and building on it.

This can also be read as a summation of the reasons for the failure of the Voyager franchise itself.

Next Week: Evil Voyager characters in the HoloDoc’s novel. Now that should be entertaining.

Custom Avatars For Comments
UA-32485431-1
%d bloggers like this: