Friday, December 21, 2012

Star Trek Voyager: Capsule Reviews

We will work to maintain this review summary (one line for each episode and its overall rating) as we work our way through Voyager.  Keep this reference on hand for the sake of comparison.

Season 1: A Journey Begins
  • 1.1) Caretaker: 6.5 (C) - A promising pilot that feels rushed and a bit ordinary and that ends in a way that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
  • 1.2) Parallax: 4.3 (D) - Totally illogical and pointless main plot + very cheesy Hollywood ending = painful to watch.
  • 1.3) Time and Again: 4.8 (D) - Janeway establishes her pattern of speaking from on high without justification and the writers establish their pattern of solving moral dilemmas with a cheap escape hatch.
  • 1.4) Phage: 7.0 (C+) - A solid first crack at intimidating aliens and a decent character piece for Neelix.
  • 1.5) The Cloud: 6.0 (C-) - A bland, pointless, but ultimately watchable episode that won't wow you or piss you off.
  • 1.6) Eye of the Needle: 7.5 (B-) - The first "will they get home" story (a bit too early), and perhaps one of the best, this one actually feels like a bit of a gut-punch when it all unravels.
  • 1.7) Ex Post Facto: 2.7 (F) - Reminds me of some films I saw in college film festivals (that ain't a compliment), and is completely pointless and immoral at the same time.
  • 1.8) Emanations: 7.2 (C+) - They made a good faith effort to stop and consider the nature of faith and the role it plays in all our lives, but they missed opportunities to further develop their characters, so it falls short of its considerable potential.
  • 1.9) Prime Factors: 6.8 (C) - They had a good point to make about the nature of hedonism, and a fascinating mini-mutiny to watch as well...but it lost my excitement when everything is resolved in Janeway's favor despite her being in the wrong regarding the needs of her crew vs. her almighty ethics.
  • 1.10) State of Flux: 7.8 (B-) - A well-written, well-planned episode from the guest-writers pool that falls short of feature status only due to some awkward acting.
  • 1.11) Heroes and Demons: 5.0 (D) - A boring, lazy effort from the staff writers that really has no place being told this early in the franchise.
  • 1.12) Cathexis: 3.0 (F) - Frivolous, racist, and dull beyond belief, this one achieves nothing for any of the characters and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • 1.13) Face: 6.5 (C) - A very promising plot concept ruined by some over the top acting and a weak conclusion that makes one question whether the writers have a healthy view of the self.
  • 1.14) Jetrel: 8.3 (B) - A charming and well-written story in which were learn something useful about Neelix and feel that the writers really had a reason to tell this particular story.  It's not Duet...but it's not a bad homage.
  • 1.15) Learning Curve: 8.0 (B) - Another very good effort, but this one could really have been a signature achievement for the franchise if the ending hadn't been so forced and so pat.
Season 1 Rating: 6.1 (C-) - A rocky first season, but one that did show some flashes of promise.  If this had been a rough start leading to bigger and better things, I would not be so hard on Voyager today.

Season 2: The Year of Strange
  • 2.1) The 37s: 5.5 (D+) - It's weird to see an episode about a famous 1930s pioneer in which that pioneer gets about 12 lines of dialogue.  Very weird.
  • 2.2) Initiations: 3.5 (D-) - If this was the episode that was supposed to more firmly establish the story behind the Kazon and give us a reason to find them interesting as an adversary, then I'd say they badly failed.
  • 2.3) Projections: 7.0 (C+) - A confusing, plot-hole riddled mess, as are most Braga stories, but in this case it's all in the mind, so it works. :)
  • 2.4) Elogium: 4.3 (D) - The tragedy of a warmhearted, likable story with a positive message in the hands of a hack - this episode just begged to be written by the king of pathos, Renee Echevarria.'s Kenneth Biller.  What a shame.
  • 2.5) Non Sequitor: 5.7 (C-) - The idea had some promise, but it really should have been a two-parter where we further developed the alternate universe version of Tom Paris. is merely dull and illogical.
  • 2.6) Twisted: 3.7 (D-) - SFDebris is harder on this than I, but I still detest this episode, mainly because the direction and writing are lazy as hell.  The ship is being crushed and twisted and every camera shot looks normal.  WTF?
  • 2.7) Parturition: 7.0 (C+) - More pathos, less flung spaghetti would have helped this one, but on the whole, it's a little sloppy, but still enjoyable.
  • 2.8) Persistence of Vision: 6.2 (C-) - A Janeway episode that doesn't suck...but that doesn't end with Janeway doing anything.  Weird.
  • 2.9) Tattoo: 4.0 (D-) - A horrendous, dull, nonsensical story filled with abject racism and silly plot points that don't hold up to even young minds - partially rescued by some good acting.
  • 2.10) Cold Fire: 7.0 (C+) - Interesting, but a little on the incomplete side - not information was gleaned from our encounter with another sporocystian life form to make the story all that interesting, and Kes's telekinetic gifts are just beginning to be explored.
  • 2.11) Maneuvers: 5.6 (C-) - Sloppy writing from Braga again...whodathunkit.  Another Kazon story where none of the characters make sense and the audience is highly bored.
  • 2.12) Resistance: 9.0 (A-) - Holy crap, it's a feature!  A touching portrait of human dignity in even the most oppressed and traumatized man.
  • 2.13) Prototype: 6.8 (C) - The moral dilemma does not apply as the episode demonstrates, and the plot takes too long to get moving, so I am left without much of an emotional response.
  • 2.14) Alliances: 7.5 (B-) - Real disagreements among the different sects within Voyager's crew...Janeway outside of her comfort zone improvising in dangerous political waters...the introduction of the former masters of the Kazon?  This should have been special, but off-base and insulting moralizing from Janeway killed it.
  • 2.15) Threshold: 0.0 (OMEGA) - You've heard of God being the alpha and the omega...well this is the singular opposite of our alpha episodes - the worst Star Trek episode ever made.  A simple F does not describe it - watch it and attain enlightenment, for you will never again reach the zenith of utter suckitude.
  • 2.16) Meld: 6.3 (C) - The psychological drama is not portrayed in a believable manner nor is it the central focus of the episode, which is a shame.
  • 2.17) Dreadnaught: 8.0 (B) - Very fun and engaging thriller with some good character work for Torres...can't complain here.
  • 2.18) Death Wish: 8.8 (B+) - An intriguing look at the implications of life in the Q continuum - thought provoking, intelligent and moral.  Good show!
  • 2.19) Life Signs: 4.5 (D) - All of the worst aspects of Trek romances plus uncomfortably bad dialogue writing to boot.  Yay.
  • 2.20) Investigations: 8.0 (B) - Ah, now this one is much better.  Jeri Taylor almost manages to channel Renee Echevarria in her mastery of certain characters - especially Paris and Neelix.  When she's doing a show that is NOT about how awesome Janeway is, she is very talented.
  • 2.21) Deadlock: 6.5 (C) - Standard Trek spatial anomaly of the week episode with the added virtue of involving the Vidians in their customary roll as morbid, evil organ-snatchers.
  • 2.22) Innocence: 5.0 (D) - Really...really...boring episode with no sense of jeopardy and an implausible core concept.  PASS.
  • 2.23) The Thaw: 8.3 (B) - Flawed, but fascinating psychological drama well acted and well-directed. Fear as an avatar to torment and destroy you, unless you can conquer it...chilling idea.
  • 2.24) Tuvix: 9.0 (A-) - Really silly plot concept written, acted and executed BRILLIANTLY, to the point that we feel the loss of Tuvix more than we would the loss of, say, Kim.
  • 2.25) Resolutions: 7.8 (B-) - A fluff piece reasonably well written and very well acted.  Mulgrew and Beltran had real chemistry and the Voyager plot was equally compelling.
  • 2.26 / 3.1) Basics: 6.5 (C) - Given the mistakes of the past regarding the Kazons and Seska, this is about as good as they could reasonably have expected to do.
Season 2 Rating: 6.2 (C) - Very weak start, much stronger finish - still struggling to get momentum going)

Season 3 - No More Kazons!
  • 3.2) Flashback: 7.0 (C+) - The window-dressing was far more interesting than the main plot (which was nonsensical and unnecessary).
  • 3.3) The Chute: 5.3 (D+) - Long, drawn out, dull, and pointless jailbreak story featuring the least interesting person on Voyager.
  • 3.4) The Swarm: 6.0 (C-) - Disappointingly short term, wimpy thinking on the part of the writers keeps this episode bottled up where no one will ever remember it.
  • 3.5) False Profits: 2.5 (F) - Oh goody...another Ferengi episode.  Watch me do my happy dance.
  • 3.6) Remember: 7.9 (B) - Engaging, but overly simplistic story that needed better-defined villains and more back story in order to work.
  • 3.7) Sacred Ground: 4.0 (D-) - Hollywood pseudo-spiritual bullshit in a package that doesn't know what it wants to be.
  • 3.8) Future's End: 5.5 (D+) - A big messy ball of time-traveling cliches and insulting Hollywood stereotypes does not a good story make.
  • 3.9) Warlord: 8.0 (B) - Not my type of plot, but I don't rate just for me and I have to recognize the quality work that went into this one.
  • 3.10) The Q and the Grey: 7.3 (C+) - Better than many think - the ideas were sound, the dialogue was painful in places.
  • 3.11) Macrocosm: 2.0 (F) - Comically bad CGI and blocking meet porous and implausible script in the hands of a madman. Beaga should stick to the realm of the mind and stay away from other types of stories where his illogical plot constructions always fail.
  • 3.12) Fair Trade: 9.5 (A) - The first truly great character piece Voyager has ever managed to produce - this one does for Neelix what Doctor Bashir, I Presume does for Bashir and adds a nice moral message about the nature of family.
  • 3.13) Alter Ego: 4.8 (D) - And...this returns to Voyager's more typical pattern regarding character stories - horribly boring and nothing is gained from the experience for anyone involved.
  • 3.14) Coda: 7.4 (C+) - Sloppy and not all that well-written, but the concept is interesting enough and there are just enough memorable scenes too make it worth the watching.
  • 3.15) Blood Fever: 3.5 (F) - Juvenile, illogical and just plain dumb - this one makes no sense and will cost you brain cells to watch.  A Klingon having pon farr from a mind meld, needing to screw a human or throw a few punches to resolve it?  PASS
  • 3.16) Unity: 8.2 (B) - A fascinating (if imperfect) take on the dangers of social engineering through groupthink.  Definitely a fine addition to Trek's Borg saga.
  • 3.17) Darkling: 5.6 (C-) - Over the top acting and direction in a story as impersonal and tepid as one could ever imagine for such sweeping emotion on screen.
  • 3.18) Rise: 7.9 (B) - A worthwhile story despite major plot flaws characteristic of Braga's writing.  For Neelix, this is another important moment, and yet another chance to point out the errors with modern fanatical Vulcan characterization.
  • 3.19) Favorite Son: 5.7 (C-) - They fail to give humanity enough credit when they assume that we would really be so easily tempted by random acts of casual sex and a life of complete frivolity.  If they'd focused more on the character flaws that might sucker a man into believing a lie (spent more time showing how these aliens could pick out our biggest weaknesses and exploit them) could have been chilling.

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