Response To VoyagerBy Fred Shedian
Posted at July 8, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
I have been watching Star Trek since I was a little boy. I have spent a lot of time gaining information about the shows, reading novels, and technical manuals. I have spent the last four years participating in Star Trek role-playing games and looking on the Internet for information regarding the franchise. I have refrained from commenting, as many uproars have developed over the years. However, with the recent issues regarding Voyager and Brannon Braga I must remark.
I watch Voyager and like the show. When I compare it to some of the garbage that enters our homes each week I cannot say to myself 'This show stinks.' I do not like some things have occurred, however you cannot please everyone all the time. Throughout it's entire run, the spin-off has been missing an important character that helps us relate with it as a Star Trek adventure. This character's absence, in my opinion, is one of the primary reasons the show is not the great success that it should be. The character's name? Take your pick, but either "Starfleet" or "The Federation" fit the bill. These two entities have played such an important role in the other shows, it's lack in Voyager has done nothing but hurt it. For example, if Voyager was stuck in the Delta Quadrant but somehow had a way to communicate with Starfleet, the show would turn into what Trek is all about ....exploration....not "Lost In Space."
Perhaps there is also another issue that is present. Voyager's ratings have continued to drop, however this is not completely the show's fault. The United Paramount Network has been loosing stations left and right. They simply do not have enough quality programming. If Voyager and some of the network's other popular shows were put solely into syndication would we see a difference? Perhaps. Shall we recall what happened the last time a Star Trek show was network affiliated? UPN itself is considered a joke among most networks and most people have yet to truly accept it as a source of good entertainment. Voyager's connection to this quickly dying franchise might be the iceberg that is sinking the ship.
Now why I have stated all of this? To put it simply, although I do not agree with many of Brannon Braga's decisions, overall he has done an excellent job. I agree that Ron Moore's departure from Voyager will be a great loss, however there is still no solid evidence showing what caused him to leave. The story itself originated from TrekWeb.com, yet not a single source has yet to be officially quoted. Many people have cited sources at Paramount, however with the simple volume of posts, at least a quarter of the studio's employees would have to know about a specific event and then tell two or three other people. In my time online, I've found that the months of July and August are the worst for false rumors. Many might recall several sources were saying last July that Voyager would be home within six episodes. Did it happen?
Ron Moore's departure might be a good thing in the long run. Paramount has finally confirmed that a new Star Trek series is under consideration. I must agree the next step will either make or break the franchise. It would be a highly logical move to have one of the best Trek writers in the business on the project. It is highly likely that Mr. Moore might have been transferred from Voyager to work on this new series. We simply do not know. Many people claim to have "top secret information," however given the quality of these posts, one must ask if these folks have graduated from high school.
Brannon Braga is not an angel, nor is anyone else. People have always loved to make remarks about this man. However, it is far easier for people to type words on a computer than for those same people to write a quality script and submit it. Very few people online are involved with the performing arts, including television. Most simply do not understand the complexity and hard work it takes just to produce a mediocre performance. To those that have done nothing but attempt to criticize and ruin Braga's reputation, I would ask you to try and act as a Producer or Technical Director for one week and see how good you are at it. I am positive you would have a more generous attitude to what you see each week. And yes, I have been a Technical Director for a theatre company for the last three years.
I see many people complaining, but people do not seem to be thinking the situation through completely. A mixture of the primary premise of the show and a dying UPN could quiet possibly be the contributing factors to poor ratings. Many people, myself included, thought that this past season was Voyager's best thus far. With excellent character development and intriguing story lines, it is clear that the writers are beginning to bring the show into focus. However, it is not Brannon Braga's fault or anyone in the Trek franchise's fault if UPN cannot get people to tune in. If you are quick to criticize, I would hope you would be knowledgeable enough to provide a suggestion for improvement as well.
Finally, as far as the show's cancellation goes, perhaps it would be best if everyone took a deep breath and waited. It only takes one person to start an unfounded rumor and the Internet to create a world wide scare. Currently Voyager still holds as a top show on UPN. If Paramount was going to cancel it, they would be acknowledging that they had intentions to terminate the United Paramount Network. From a business sense, I doubt Paramount would be willing to take such a risk.
I would implore all Trek Fans to write with suggestions for Voyager, not criticisms. Paramount, Braga, and the Stat Trek Franchise itself cannot defend themselves here. Being frank, if you dislike Brannon Braga and Voyager to the point where you would make some of the remarks I've seen on message boards, then do us all a favor and don't watch. Save your strength and time and let those who would like to help the show and the franchise grow and develop attempt to do so.
Read our Ron & Brannon Feature for more on this!
Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.