Saturday, May 19, 2012

Coming Soon: Star Trek Voyager

Blog Readers!  I have some good news!  You may have noticed that, here at RightFans, we started our efforts by primarily focusing on the canons we LIKED.  It is a logical thing to want to share the reasons that you enjoyed a certain show with others and talk more about such things than about why a show you wanted to like bombed so spectacularly for you.  But...I think it's important to offer point/counterpoint sometimes.  I think one of the things we haven't done enough of here at RightFans is to show you why the things we like work by showing you an alternative model (one that, for us, does NOT work).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is in the books at RightFans.  You can look up any review by going to the cloud and clicking on that franchise, and what you'll find is that, though the series was inconsistent from time to time - offering up utter clunkers to go with ordinary sci-fi plots, it produced a sustained run of excellence based on characterization, canon consistency, the assumption that fans were intelligent and wished to be challenged, and gritty, relatable, real-world dilemmas solved (or not) in grown up ways.  Even the secondary characters developed huge fan followings, inspired volumes of fan fiction and officially licensed novels, and elevated the universe to something that felt more real.

In contrast - I give you...Star Trek: Voyager.

In Voyager, precisely TWO characters actually evolved in meaningful ways.  Three if you count Kes, but I'll talk more about why I don't when we get to third season.  Seven of Nine and the EMH.  That's it for adult storytelling based on characterization and growth.  Within this canon universe, moral dilemmas were generally solved either by devising third options out of whole cloth when your two opposing sides don't appeal to liberal orthodoxy or by an edict from Captain Janeway not to be argued intelligently.  Her word is gospel and there is no allowance for a different perspective.  On DS9, diversions from the running plots were fun, creative, and frequently illuminating to the nature of some of our favorite characters even if primarily silly, whereas, on Voyager, stand-alone diversions were commonly high concept fluff without any utility other than in the heads of the writers.  "What if this strange and seemingly impossible thing happened?  Let's brainstorm that on national TV!"  On DS9, although some technobabble was used just for atmosphere or as a way to save a bottomless plot, most was logical and canon-consistent and, generally, the science (while not 100% perfect) was easy to understand.  On Voyager, they began literally combining two sciencey-sounding words into portmanteaus that sounded cool but meant absolutely nothing (as if from a random-tech-generator) as a means for closing almost every tech-based high concept "anomaly of the week" story and even some stories in which the enemy was actually sentient.

You get the point here...I will make it in (almost) every review I do from this point forward.  We are launching Star Trek: Voyager and the reviews will be a little different.  I will still rate the episode as I do for other fandoms on site.  But in each review, there will be a shorter "Skinny" followed by a section entitled "Let's Go With That!"  In this section, I will grant the writers their concepts (even if I've dismantled them as gibberish in the Skinny) and then demonstrate how - even if I wanted to do the same stories that they chose to do and follow in-house rules regarding the tone and structure of the franchise (such killing regular characters without a REEEEAALLY good reason and no blowing up the ship or actually getting them home until the end unless it's reversible)...I could do it better and in a manner more consistent with DS9's intelligent approach to storytelling.  I've started doing this every time I watch a Voyager episode and I think I've gotten pretty good at it.  Maybe I should pitch a franchise to Paramount.

There are some great Voyager episodes and the series has its charms.  I, for one, am not a Neelix hater (ducks the barrage of rotten tomatoes and gunshots), nor do I necessarily believe that Torres/Parris is entirely bad (though it is cliche).  Their attempts at humor even work better on me than they seem to for SFDebris and other Star Trek critics.  So these reviews won't all be bash-fests.  But I think that you'll see as we go along how my vision for that franchise differs from theirs and you can decide for yourself which approach you prefer.

I also think that this format will provide me with more of an opportunity to inject a little entertainment value and humor into the review process...and believe me...where Voyager is concerned...there's lots to love to hate...and to make fun of with child-like joy.

This series will be launching very soon so...looking forward to starting off on a good foot with "Caretaker".  Stay Tuned.

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