Star Trek Voyager Series Analysis


Star Trek Voyager Series Statistics
SeriesAverage Rating# of EpisodesPoints
Voy season 15.061681
Voy season 25.1926135
Voy season 35.5426144
Voy season 45.6226146
Voy season 5626156
Voy season 65.7326149
Voy season 76.0426157
Voy as a whole5.63172968

After TNG ended there was a desire to create a new show to supplement DS9. One of the concerns about DS9 was that it was a potentially disastrous experimental format for Star Trek show, seeing as how they were not "boldly going" anywhere, so Voyager was created to fill the "boldly going" void that TNG left in the Trek universe. But so as not to be a mere rehash of TNG's adventures with a new cast, the idea behind Voyager was that it would be a crew who was lost on the other side of the galaxy. Their mission throughout the show would be to find a way home, putting a different spin on chronicling the adventures of a Federation starship. Voyager had an absolutely wonderful premise. At the beginning, it seemed to live up to TNG completely, as well as introduce new interesting details of its own. The crew was a mix of friend and foe, the ship itself was newer and more exciting than the Enterprise-D, yet also not designed for long journeys, and resources were scarce. It had all the ingredients necessary to create good drama out of a Star Trek show, with just enough exploration potential to keep the hardcore fans happy as well.

However, the show was taken in directions the fans neither wanted nor expected on numerous occasions. The first major problem was the trivialization of the trip itself. Finding resources and fuel never turned out to be a major, recurring problem. Everybody seemed to live in almost as much luxury as the Enterprise-D except on a few, isolated occasions. The next annoying problem was the trivialization of the Maquis. There were virtually zero real Maquis-Federation conflicts in Voyager, in fact you could count them all on one hand. Instead, everybody just became friends right at the beginning. There's something nice about that, but I think it wrecked quite a bit of the show's potential. In essence, the thing that separated Voyager from TNG was the scarcity of resources and the internal crew conflicts. These, as I've said, were wholly trivialized. As a result, Voyager just became as much like TNG as possible, save only the primary mission of trying to find a way home with a side of exploration instead of simply pure exploration. There's nothing inherently wrong with Voyager wanting to be as much like TNG as possible, and I forgave that early on. In fact, Voyager was in many ways a better TNG. There were less true filler episodes, and the episodes that were filler were better executed.

The largest problem Voyager actually faced was the development of its long term arcs. From day one, with Voyager being lost in the Delta quadrant, the writers and the fans both knew that a conflict with the Borg was inevitable. Borg space was surely between Voyager and the Federation as was established in TNG. In the beginning, this was executed extremely well. The season 3 finale and most of season 4 were some of the best stories Star Trek ever told, airing right along side DS9's Dominion War arc. While the show's overall quality continued to remain high until it ended, the initially awesome Borg, Species 8472, and Hirogen arcs were unfortunately watered down significantly. Both Species 8472 and the Hirogen were entirely trivialized just a few episodes after their awesome introductions, and the Borg were taken in unfortunate directions as well. Nearly every Borg episode after Dark Frontier was annoying, because Borgbuster Janeway was wiping the floor with Borg, trivializing them as well. By the end of season 5, the show's attempts at or avoidance of arc storytelling was just becoming ridiculous. The introduction and quick destruction of the Equinox was unforgivable, Unimatrix Zero was underwhelming in many ways, and Endgame was downright disappointing. A better Voyager show would have condensed the Borg, Species 8472, and Hirogen arcs into seasons 3 and 4 and would have distinctly avoided Janeway finding some convenient way to be so quickly rid of them as enemies. Season 5 would have been Voyager's homecoming and participation in the Dominion War, and seasons 6 and 7 would have been more traditional exploration, possibly also dealing with, finally, an all out Borg assault on the Alpha Quadrant (perhaps in response to Janeway having stolen Borg transwarp coils to reach Earth, as opposed to the deus ex machina way they reached Earth in Endgame), giving Voyager a way to end in an epic way, instead of a whimper.

But also like DS9, despite clear (but perhaps more severe) issues with the way the various story arcs were executed, Voyager managed to produce numerous utterly fantastic, memorable episodes. Episodes like Death Wish, Scorpion, Year of Hell, Timeless, Dark Frontier, Relativity, Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy, Life Line, and my personal favorite Voyager episode Distant Origin make the series among the best Star Treks, successfully rivaling TNG. Distant Origin in fact is such a great episode that it ranks second only to DS9: In The Pale Moonlight as my favorite Star Trek episode of all time. In addition to numerous memorable episodes, Voyager had one of the most memorable casts as well. Colorful characters like Tuvok, the doctor, Kes, and Seven of Nine gave the show a special place in Star Trek's chronology, much like Data's contributions to TNG, or the contributions of Odo, Garak, Weyoun, and Dukat to DS9. Voyager never set out to be a character show, but it succeeded in being one in many ways; also succeeding in easily having the best executed humor of any Star Trek show.

People are well within their rights to criticize Voyager for not living up to its potential. I am personally very unhappy with how the show was done overall. It had the potential to be every bit as awesome as DS9, but with more diversity, more exploration, more continuity, and more profundity. Voyager could have been a truly epic story if the writers had taken advantage of the critical acclaim DS9 was receiving for its arc-based storytelling. But I suspect fear of transforming Star Trek from a formulaic, light hearted show into a continuing dramatic story was quite strong. For all DS9's critical acclaim, it was a story that would easily lose viewers who didn't keep up with it, whereas Voyager and TNG were easy to jump into at any point. Measured against the formulaic standards set by TNG, Voyager was a very well executed show. But measured agaist the emerging third generation of science fiction which DS9 was almost, but not quite a part of, Voyager was a total failure, a regression backwards from DS9. Indeed, Voyager's disappointing treatment of its arcs and disappointing series finale was the beginning of the end for the Star Trek franchise. While Voyager was still popular enough to end gracefully, the fans were beginning to get fed up of the formulaic approach to storytelling, viewing the TNG days as a great period in history, but archaic by modern standards. The end of TOS, TNG, and DS9 left fans wanting more, but Voyager signaled the end of a tired formula. A better executed version of the tired formula, but still the same formula.