I saw an article headline on io9 that read, “Why Star Trek: Voyager Meant the World to Me.” Oh how my heart sang. A pretty major website published an article about my beloved Voyager. Then, in the second sentence, the author claims that the show is tied for worst Star Trek with Enterprise.
Oh how my heart sank.
The only reason people dislike Star Trek: Voyager is that it’s the only Star Trek that ISN’T propaganda for the American Military Complex.
For the uninitiated, Star Trek is about a super-powerful space organization called the Federation, which is based on Earth and expanding its influence throughout the galaxy while keeping its less powerful, yet still dangerous, enemies in check. There’s a male captain who wrestles with tough ethical decisions every episode, the hallmark of the series, though behind every option is his super powerful space army. Perhaps in the original series the Federation was a bit susceptible, but The Next Generation’s Captain Picard is basically Space Ronald Reagan.
Star Trek: Voyager, on the other hand, takes a wholly different approach. A powerful ship is launched through a wormhole 70,000 light years from Earth. Alone on the other side of the galaxy, Captain Janeway, a decidedly flawed female captain, has to bring her crew back to Earth.
This to me this is the series’ greatest strength. Whereas TOS and Next Generation and even DS9 under-equip their forces, sending one crew into a caustic situation and then sending an away team of like 3 guys into a dangerous planet, the Voyager crew has no choice. More often than not, they can’t fight. Sure they have a powerful ship, but there’s no space army behind them. You wanna talk about boldly going where no man has gone before - Voyager is doing exactly that.
Voyager’s second biggest strength is that it reaffirms Roddenberry’s vision of diversity. One of the earliest criticisms I heard of the show was that it was some sort of affirmative action, that a female captain, a black vulcan AND a Latino gangmember first officer was too transparent. But this is almost literally what TOS was. Gene Roddenberry purposely made his cast diverse just to inject some into television. Nothing wrong with that. The next series, The Next Generation, nearly undoes Roddenberry’s good work by claiming that if you’re not white, you gotta be weird. I mean, look at the cast.
The only non-white people are a monster, a blind man, and Worf.
Now, was the series perfect? Eh, of course not - but you’re not gonna get much perfection on UPN in the ‘90s. The Next Generation is pretty good, of course, but it was broadcast just a few years before. Voyager has to do a lot of side-stepping in an inspired effort not to touch upon the same themes and plots. Also, I’ll put Voyager’s series of episodes through Borg space up against any other show’s episodes. Species 8472? A masterpiece. For the first time, the Federation goes from being untouchable to a helpless sidekick desperate for help.
Deep Space 9? It’s ok, but there’s something a little silly about a Federation space station that is hard-up for light bulbs. And Enterprise? Yeah, that’s what people want - ships and weapons we’ve seen work for 40 years suddenly not working.
So let’s stop hating on Voyager. Or at least, if Voyager pisses you off, really think about why.
May I also add: the Doctor is basically the best character in series history.