Friday, December 21, 2012

Classics: Voyager 3:8 - Future's End

Overall Rating: 5.5

A mish-mosh of incredibly routine "future-past" cookie cutter characters and comedy tropes mixed with a plot that has enormous holes and one of the most obvious uses of the reset button ever.  Yay.  Guess who wrote it?  Go on, guess!

Plot Synopsis:

Enjoy these descriptions, courtesy of Memory Alpha:

Part I
Part II

The Skinny:

I told you to guess who wrote this one.  If you had to pick the guys most likely to write bad fic about the "future-past" (that is to say, the present time), who would you pick?  No cheating and looking at Memory Alpha.  If you guessed Brannon Braga or Joe Menosky - you're right either way.  They are TERRIBLE at character writing in general and worse when it comes to writing plots that make sense.  What you get from them when they do a temporal story is invariably a crap-burger with cheese.

Let me ask you folks this - why is it that every science fiction story that occurs in the recent past or in contemporary times has the following elements:
  • The heroic contemporary character is a hippie with a heart of gold who is street-wise and figures out quickly that the people from the future are clearly not of this world.
  • The contemporary villains are gun-toting militiamen, overzealous military folks, or venture capitalists who literally do not care if millions of people die as long as their companies turn a profit.
  • The future characters always find themselves commenting on just how strange and backward we are, and yet how fascinating our culture is.  The most exaggerated aspects of our popular culture are displayed to the exclusion of normal society and the main characters chuckle at what they're seeing.
  • The method of time travel is destroyed or inaccessible, making it seem like we're totally screwed, and then some deus ex machina arrives at the last minute to take us home.
  • Extensive discussion about the need for money and transportation arises.
  • One of the main characters has a thing for the hippie hero but can't do anything about it except have a goodbye kiss.
I mean, every beat in this story has been in some other time travel sci fi story a half dozen times before this episode aired.  And it's not even like I'm stretching here.  The heroin's name was RAIN Robinson and she drove a friggin' powder blue hippie van to her job working at SETI and to her home near the taco stand in downtown LA.  She even geeked otu with Tom Paris about alternative art and cheesy B-rated sci fi movies from the 40s.  I mean, c'mon!  The villain stole a time ship and used it to ignite the computer revolution, and now doesn't care if he blows up Earth in 900 years as long as he gets his technology to turn a profit next fiscal quarter.  Voyager is seen in the night sky above LA but the media decides that it's a hoax...why exactly?  Two of the good guys get taken in by a pack of LITERAL militiamen who rant insanely about being individualists and about the government being "the beast."  In fact, when we first arrive in LA of 1996, we are treated to a survey of the landscape, complete with crazy guy in clown suit, guy on unicycle holding an anti-war sign, shirtless guy leering at Janeway, really raggedy looking street venders, a hippie couple smoking what look like hand rolled cigarettes (or perhaps joints?), and several other freakshow attractions, with the predictable joke:
We could have stayed in our Star Fleet uniforms - I don't think anyone would have noticed.
You REALLY want to be THIS cliche, Brannon?  WOW!  But it's not just that it has all been done before that ticks me off.  The bias in what the writers take as "virtue" vs. "vice" is shockingly obvious.  They might as well be screaming "REPUBLICANS = INSANE!!" during the militia scene, and boy howdy am I glad they didn't ram in a military encounter for lack of time (though I'm told the original script had that in the militia takedown).  Oh and BIG BUSINESS IS EVOL!!!!  GOT IT?!?!

How about fuck you, Brannon.  Seriously - fuck you.  Why don't you try not being such an arrogant, closed-minded elitist and painting your characters with a fine brush rather than a mat roller.  Holy CAT could write with more subtlety than you.  I mean...Jesus,'s like you don't even care that you're probably directly insulting half of the people watching your show and for no good reason.  And's like you don't care enough to try to make a quality product for what they paid you.

*disgusted sigh*

There were several attempts at contemporary humor and only one worked - Neelix and Kes watching soap operas...that was actually funny. :)  The rest of the episode is some combination of boring, and frustrating, and it all ends with non-insane Braxton showing up for no good reason to save Voyager - he's got an all-power time pod and can take them anywhere in space and time...but you know...temporal prime directive and all that rot...they're on their own.  But not so on their own that he can't magically appear to send them back to the future present.  Because...he just HAPPENED to be doing a scan and saw them there as an anomaly.  What a boatload of crap.

Let's Go With It! want to do a story where we get thrown back into the past by a criminally stupid time captain?  I enjoy temporal paradoxes as much as the next guy, but I'm gonna refer you to the DS9 episode "Past Tense." how you do a temporal paradox into contemporary America.  Yes, that happened slightly into our future, but it was still recognizably contemporary, right down to the baseball chats and homelessness problem.  The villain was basically the situation, not some over the top caricature.  The good guys were just people doing their best in a bad situation.  And the return to the future was actually engineered by the characters and made a tiny bit of sense.  Oh...and all of the characters are human and relatable.  Real folks that you can understand.  They took TIME to think about what message they wanted to send and how the people in their world would be motivated.  This slapdash pile of crap just needed a similar commitment.  Just spend some time THINKING about your characters and fleshing them out...and for the love of all that is good and pure...give your audience enough credit not to treat them to characters that don't even belong on a dumbed down children's movie.  Thank you.

Writing: 3.0

Cheesy, unoriginal, and full of plot holes and deus ex machina abuse.

Acting: 8.0

Actually...although I detest their characters, Sara Silverman and Ed Begley Jr. did a very solid job as you'd expect from real pros who inexplicably volunteered to appear on Voyager.

Message: 4.5

I won't be TOO hard on this one...the problem is lazy writing more than 2X4 bitch-smacking...but still...I am not thrilled with a show that goes out of its way to propagandize for no good reason.

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