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"Think Tank" is a good Voyager episode. - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2008-08-07 02:11
  Subject:   "Think Tank" is a good Voyager episode.
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Yeah, I know - I was surprised too. But this is one Voyager episode that didn't make me wince the whole way through. Season 5, ep 20.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2008-08-07 22:56 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I caught a glimpse of this episode, but didn't bother to watch it in its entirety. I have to admit, I don't have a very high opinion of Voyager (and Enterprise, for that matter). I tried to like it, I really did. Even now, I'll watch an episode here and there, but it probably has more to do with my desperation for wanting to see more Trek.

It's unfortunate b/c when I first heard about Voyager, I thought it sounded very promising. The first female captain (a departure from the likes of Kirk, Picard, and Sisko - who wasn't a captain, but a commander to begin with), a renewed committment to the idea of a Starfleet ship exploring new and untouched territory much in the same vein that Kirk's Enterprise had (let's face it, as big a fan as I am of Picard and that Enterprise, a lot of TNG exploration involved already explored territory and familiar races), being sent to the Delta quadrant which we knew was Borg territory, the return of a Vulcan as a member of the bridge crew; all of these were things I was looking forward to.

What followed was a rather disappointing series in which a lot of the story concepts were rehashed from previous Star Trek incarnations, uncreative villians of the week that were meant to seem threatening, but weren't. This included the total declawing of the Borg as the pre-eminent enemy. To the point where even one of the producers mentioned how, as often as the Borg were used as villians, they were completely castrated by the end where, despite overwhelming odds, the Voyager crew managed to best them time after time after time.

The largest criticism, though, probably is the fact that a displeasingly large portion of Voyager dilemmas were solved through technobabble. While Star Trek exists in a sci-fi universe, what made Trek popular with a large part of its audience was the examination of the human condition, social issues, and other analogies to modern life. Kirk's Enterprise tackled racial tension and other social issues of its time along with ethical and moral challenges. TNG continued with that theme and proved successful. DS9 adopted a B5-style, story-arc based format (a departure from the traditionally episodic nature of the previous Trek series) and managed to earn respect among the fans through a different method. And, though the previous Trek series did delve into the actual realm of science fiction (through episodes that explored a Dyson Sphere and the like), Voyager's attempts felt hamfisted and poorly executed by comparison.

I looked forward to the crewmembers like Tuvok and Kim, but what I found surprising was that my eventual favorites turned out to be the Doctor and Seven of Nine while Janeway turned out to be the most grating, unsatisfying character in the Trek franchise, personally. The surprise in my eventual preference for the Doctor and Seven was because I found the Doctor, initially, annoying and a bit too trying in his overly comedic role while I resented Seven for her obvious attributes and the creators' seemingly blatant and desperate attempts at boosting ratings. What won me over was the eventual development of their relationship and the interaction of the two characters. It was more compelling than either of the two frontrunners I was originally hopeful for; Tuvok and Kim. While Kim was a bit thin on character earlier on, Tuvok was featured more, but while Tuvok faded down the line, Kim never felt entirely whole even as he came to the forefront in some of his own episodes.

In contrast, the Doctor and Seven highlighted the strengths of the previous incarnations of Trek, namely TOS and TNG, by exploring a variety of 'human issues'. In that way they do seem derivative of Spock or Data's characters. An 'outsider/non-human' offering various insights about humanity or exploring related topics, but they managed to give it their own spin/take.


-J
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2008-08-08 05:44 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Voyager's attempts felt hamfisted and poorly executed by comparison.

Most of the time, they are. This episode, on the other hand, was very well executed. It was taut and well edited, the technobabble (while present) was kept to a minimum, and it (briefly) explored an interesting moral issue - the corruption that comes with power.

Yes, I admit, you don't get to see much of B'Elanna or Harry Kim (the nerds on the crew; of course they're my favorites), but all in all, this was a great episode, especially by Voyager standards. Hence why I bothered posting about it.


As for DS9, to my surprise, I'm finding that the more I watch it, the less I enjoy it. I think it's the glacially slow pace. With a few rare exceptions, nothing ever really seems to happen.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2008-08-08 13:47 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Yeah, I'm glad to hear it. I have watched some episodes of VOY I enjoyed, but the series, as a whole, is severely lacking in my eyes.

I don't detest any of the crew with the exception of Janeway, but some are a bit thin in the character category and some tend to be rather stereotypical. Kim as the wide-eyed, innocent ensign who is inexperienced and always goes by the book (until later when they have a specific episode that tries to break him of this mold), Paris as the rogue with a checkered past. B'Elanna as the hothead who is at odds with her Klingon and human halves (we did this with Spock before). The Doctor and Neelix for comedic effect and an outside look into humanity (Seven would actually serve this role later, also). Chakotay as the sagely and pleasant native American. Oddly, I find Chakotay's character to be very likable (probably the most so out of all the bridge crew), but he is just so stereotyped and very thin on storylines.

I understand that it's hard to avoid certain character archetypes and it's not fair to call anything and everything that uses those archetypes as just hollow stereotypes, but, sometimes, it's true. Most of the VOY crew are not bad. Maybe not the most interesting, but not bad. My main objections with VOY, much like ENT, lie more with the writing, character development and the lack of compelling stories.

DS9 is a bit tricky for me. One of the best episodes of any Trek, ever, for me, was a season 6 episode titled "In the Pale Moonlight". I thought the story was excellent and it summed up the differences between TNG and DS9 superbly. I think the point of DS9 was to provide a counterpoint to the utopian society that the Federation appeared to be in TNG (which also followed the flagship of Starfleet and the very elite that the Federation had to offer). Of course, the very concept behind DS9 is in contradiction to Roddenberry's vision of the future and the Federation. Roddenberry stressed the utopian nature of the United Federation of Planets and how humanity and the worlds it was united with were above many of the concerns we are embroiled in today (in fact, in an infamous spat with Harlan Ellison, Roddenberry had refused the portrayal of a murder by Starfleet personnel in the early scripts of 'City on the Edge of Forever' citing that a Starfleet officer would not murder someone else in cold blood).

DS9 which, incidentally, was the first Trek not to have been created by Roddenberry, seemed to want to provide a contrast to TNG. To show a seemier, more gritty side of the Federation in the far reaches of space (though, they call it 'Deep Space' 9, I'm not entirely sure that Bajor or the Cardassians really exist on the fringes of the known territory). But, I think they suffered from a lack of direction in the first couple of seasons and the inability to express these concepts on film. The resulting flagging ratings forced DS9 to adopt a more B5-esque story arc format (and which was proving to be succesful for them). That meant coming up with a long, large story arc that developed over seasons rather than within a single episode. This meant that the first couple of seasons of DS9 felt directionless and the first episodes introducing the Dominion conflict seemed to take forever to build up to anything (some story elements, much like in B5, wouldn't be solved until seasons later).


-J
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2008-08-08 13:49 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
(continued)

So, I can see where you're coming from when you say that DS9 seems glacially paced and I'd agree. The problem is that if you aren't willing to watch through the first few seasons, DS9 might just not be the series for you. In fact, b/c TOS has been around forever, I've watched every single episode, TNG, I grew up with and so watched every single episode, as well. VOY, I watched b/c I was so desperate for Trek and Spike used to show 3, 4 hours of it a day (I'd originally started out by taping the entire first season b/c I was so hopeful back when it premiered) and I was also hopeful of ENT until they horribly, horribly offended my sense of the existing Trek universe and for its horrendous writing. DS9 wound up taking a backseat, for me, because it aired at the same time as the last few seasons of TNG and, when TNG ended, VOY had premiered. Add to that the shaky direction in the first couple of seasons and the slow development of the Dominion arc and it slowly faded away for me as well.

Another issue when watching it in re-run might be its story arc format. It's possible to pick up just about any episode of TOS, TNG or VOY and the story is self-contained. Sure, you may miss the nuance of character development that was explored prior to that particular episode or subtle references from a previous episode, but the story, as a whole, stands on its own. The 'umf' of a story arc comes from watching the characters and storylines that are developed over the course of a season or seasons that culminate further down the line. Sometimes, much further. Watching moments of triumph and failure. Some detail that affects them in some profound way down the line, etc, etc. It's more crucial, in this case, to be able to experience the story in its entirety instead of picking up bits and pieces here and there.

If you don't have the patience for a large story arc (much less if the stories aren't even compelling in the first place) or have the opportunity to watch it from beginning to end (to see what leads into something else) especially since I don't think Spike (the only network I know of currently airing DS9) shows them in order or, possibly, skips some of the episodes, DS9 may be completely uninteresting.


-J
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2008-08-08 14:02 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Also, this is totally obligatory...

We were in the Badlands, one day
Chasing B'Elanna and Chakotay
We were whisked into the Delta Quadrant
Fuck, that's far away

I wanna go home
Please, let me go home
I say screw the Ocampa
I wanna go home

The Caretaker had an array
That could get us home safe
But, Janeway that ignorant slut
She blew it away

I wanna go home
Please, let me go home
Drop me off at a wormhole
I wanna go home

So, now, I'm stuck here for years
In the Delta Quadrant, I fear
With the Kazon and Hirogen
And a brother with pointy ears

I wanna go home
Please, let me go home
Talaxian chicks are ugly
I wanna go home

So hoist up the aft nacelles
See how the warp core burns
Tell Janeway to go to Hell
I wanna go home

I wanna go home
Please let me go home
I say fuck the Ocampa
I wanna go home


Free to download on his website.

And, yes, I am a shambling zombie servant of his willing to, shamelessly, plug him on my friends' lj pages.


-J
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2008-08-08 14:25 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Failure, Will Robinson! Failure!

That would be 'Free to download on his website' meaning Voltaire's website. Jeebus Christos... I hope you don't mind me spamming your lj >.<


-J
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