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Robert Beltran gives interview complaining about his role in “Unemployment Line”


Robert Beltran, famous Shakespearean actor noted for his Academy award nominated role in Night of the Comet and his starring roles in such hits as Models Inc and Models Inc, is at it again giving an interview criticizing his latest employer, the unemployment office.

“I mean I thought I had nothing to do on Voyager.” Beltran says. “But at the unemployment office, all I do is stand on line all day. And the facilities are terrible.”

Indeed the noted actor who once had a 5 second appearance in Oliver Stone’s Nixon chafed at both the lack of a makeup department and the fact that he now has to pay for his own food.

“I mean it’s bad enough that my weekly salary is ridiculously low and there are no residuals, but part of the check has to go to pay for food. And how am I supposed to stay in shape without an in-house gym” Beltran complained while in the background a video monitor played highlights from all his 3 appearances on Murder She Wrote, playing 3 different characters.

The noted actor who once played El Diablo in John Carpenter’s El Diablo has had trouble finding work since Star Trek Voyager ended.

“I really don’t know what it is.” Beltran says chewing on a stale donut. “I have amazing credits. I mean I guest starred on Murder She Wrote, three freaking times. Do you have any idea how much talent that takes? Three different characters, think of the range! The entire idea that an actor of my credentials and talents would be unemployed is so implausible that no one would believe it, if it wasn’t true.”

Indeed Beltran has found standing in line all day at the unemployment office to be very tedious and exhausting.

“I’m a Shakespearean actor, I mean I’ve always wanted to read something by Shakespeare but the words are all so big and funny.” Beltran said. “But at the unemployment line all my dialogue seems to have been cut. I tried improvising a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf but it’s hard to play a drunken college professor when you’re surrounded by urine, crazed drug dealers and out of work Time Warner executives.”

The former star of TV’s Stormy Weathers is quite upset.

“I mean how am I expected to grow as an actor and a human being when I keep slipping on human waste and waiting for a small check to be handed to me through a glass window?” Beltran spews. “I don’t know who runs this unemployment office but I want to have a little talk with them. I mean I don’t even know who my character is supposed to be, do I even have a motivation beyond being talentless, unemployed and in need of a check to pay the rent and buy food for my cat?

Currently Beltran does not have an answer to that question but he has started a new foundation to raise money for himself.

“I call it Save the Actors.” Beltran states. “It’s dedicated to helping me direct a movie that would showcase my talents to Hollywood while showing that I won’t be typecast by my work with that Star Trek show or my performance as Bad Guy No.3 in Desperado.”

Information on this planned film is not currently available but Beltran describes it as an update of Richard the Third which instead of taking place in ancient Denmark, will take place on a futuristic starship, commanded by himself. Robert Duncan McNeil is set to direct.

Star Trek Voyager – Human Error review

Summary: Another sleazy UPN promo serves as a misleading introduction to a nice and poetic if not particularly outstanding episode. Seven goes Barclay and Chakotay gets more action as a hologram than he ever has as a human being.

The gap between who we want to be and who we are has always been an effective source of human drama. And Seven is a character inserted

star trek voyager Human Error

Is this 7's fantasy or Robert Beltran's?

on Voyager with a progressive self-improvement arc that at times makes Voyager seem like a self-improvement tape. And indeed a lot of the Seven episodes have fit neatly into that package. At the start of the episode Seven demonstrates how close to the Borg and far from humanity she is, events happen during the episode which cause her to grow closer to some aspect of humanity and with Janeway’s guidance and pithy speeches, by the time the final 90 seconds come around, Seven is one step closer to being human. The problem with this approach is that of course it’s mechanical and crude as if becoming more human is an assembly line process and some machine attaches human qualities one by one as part of a drawn out process. It’s also meant that a good deal of the “Seven learns to be human” episodes have been dull, predictable and ultimately uninspired affairs. Even the better episodes like One and One Small Step, which deserve to be called classics by Voyager and perhaps even Star Trek standards, follow this same formula.

It’s all the more shocking then that Human Error actually dares to turn the entire formula on which the Seven development arc has been based from day one completely on its head. As we begin the episode Seven is running a holographic simulation in which she’s doing a good job of mimicking a human being and by the end of the episode she’s a Borg again having turned her back on her humanity. Instead of another mechanistic grinder in which Captain Janeway and Co. lecture Seven on what it means to be human, the entire crew ignore her altogether except for acting annoyed when she doesn’t perform up to Borg efficiency standards. Beyond making token attempts to invite her to parties, none of the crew cares very much about her exploration of humanity, they just want her to stay Borg, show up on time and solve everybody’s problems. And so the actual exploration is left to Seven, as it always should have been. Of course being a product of the most technological society conceivable, Seven explores an experiment in humanity through a holodeck simulation as the EMH himself suggested she do in “One”.

More to the point “Human Error” spends less time talking about what being human means and spends more time showing the impact and feeling of being human. It’s all very well for Janeway to deliver another nauseating lecture on what being human means according to the Federation charter but instead Human Error shows Seven actually trying to bridge the gap between who she is and who she could be. And it’s the transitions from the potential to the reality that causes the viewer to care about whether she does choose humanity or not. For these past years when we’ve seen Seven we’ve seen a two-dimensional neurotic superhuman being who seemed to be stuck that way, in Human Error’s holodeck simulations we see an interesting character who combines both the human and inhuman qualities of Seven in a more complex and three dimensional way and that character was far more interesting than the version 1.0 of Seven we’ve been stuck with for several years now. A character who could interact with the rest of the crew on a more complex level than preset roles like Student, Teacher, Efficiency Expert or Rude Outsider. And so for the first time in Seven’s Pilgrim Progress something is actually at risk and finally at stake. And when Human Error dares to let Seven lose and disposes of that character, it finally brings the element of risk and suspense to the “Seven learns to be human” arc that should have been there all along.

In “One” Seven was faced with the bleak reality of isolation. In “Human Error”, Seven is faced with actually choosing her future. She can remain an exotic Ex-Borg and maintain the level of contact she has with people or try and actually become human removing the entire Ex-Borg thing from the table altogether. She runs a simulation to decide choosing to oscillate like the metronome of the simulated piano (standing in as a lovely metaphor for the Borg aspect of her nature) between Ex-Borg and human. But experiencing doses of humanity makes the metronome oscillate unpredictably and out of step with the order of her life. And it turns out that her Borg implants have their own built in metronome swinging back and forth insider her head. A metronome that will allow her to be the Ex-Borg Seven of Nine who lives by routines, avoids most social contact and is an outsider looking in at humanity. It won’t however allow her to be Annika Hansen, human being who can have deep complex feelings, intimate relationships and act out of accord with the things that are rationally correct. But ultimately Seven still has the final choice to remove the metronome or keep it, choosing between being fully human or ex-Borg.

By using musical expression as a metaphor for human expression, “Human Error” hints at the richer and deeper aspects of being human that no television program or pithy Janeway speech could actually convey. Instead of delivering its ideas about humanity merely as character speeches, the episode uses metaphor and imagery to convey humanity. By rejecting her humanity, she’s rejecting not merely the music but the ability to create the music. She’ll always be able to listen to the music as an outsider but without any real understanding of it beyond the mechanical. She can even perform pieces in that same polished and perfect but completely soulless way. As in the early parts of her simulation she may in time perfect her mimicry of human beings to the point where she can actually pass for one, but it will remain an inhuman performance in which she can mime humanity but never feel it. On the other hand, she can commit to imperfection and humanity and actually live life as a human being from the inside.

A subplot in which Voyager stumbles unprepared into an alien equivalent of an artillery testing range provides a somewhat original and plausible crisis to lend intensity to her choice as well as reinforcing the underlying themes of the Seven story. Also, after “Shattered”, “Workforce” parts 1 and 2 and now “Human Error” Robert Beltran gets plenty of material. He even gets to participate in one of Voyager’s more plausible relationships, albeit as a hologram. A while back Barclay was still struggling between real humanity and simulated humanity. Where Barclay always ended an episode supposedly improving but never really improving because by the time the next episode came around he still seemed to be suffering from the same exact problems. On the other hand, by raising the idea of removing her Borg implants and by having Seven reject her humanity, “Human Error” suggests that this matter will indeed be resolved. Paradoxically when an episode ends on a negative note, this makes it far more likely that it will be followed up and significant changes will follow than one that ends on a positive note. And this material is worth following up, too bad it wasn’t followed up a year or two ago.

Next week: Reruns return again with Flesh and Blood.

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