After a bumpy start, this show undergoes one of the greatest redemptions of late. Let me explain its ins and outs, and the profound affect it has had on me.
The opening episodes, where we are introduced to misfit no.1 Dal R-el, (Brett Gray), an outcast trapped on a prison asteroid and who knows nothing of his past (cliche number one of many). He attempts an escape, and unwarily stumbles upon a hidden starship, the USS Protostar, a gleaming, shiny modern starfleet vessel that doesn’t quite look as silly as the Discovery. He is then joined by various other misfits; Gwyndala (Ella Purnell), whose father is the despotic tyrant running the asteroid – and whose mining plans are to find the aforementioned Protostar); Jankom Pog,(jason mantzoukas), a tellurite who has a penchant for engines; Zero, (Angus Imrie), a non-corporeal floating piece of nebula inside a hovering suit, reminding me of a Zeriod from Terrahawks; Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), a humungous rock person who looks like The Thing from Fantastic Four; and finally an amorphous blob called, obviously, Murf, after the girl from Interstellar.
I happily admit i struggled. I’m possibly too old for the cartoonish antics and the fist-into-face morals that seem intrinsic to these modern cartoons. Its all about friendship, and working together. Now don’t get me wrong, its lovely to see the kids being sent messages like this, its very important. But for me, it wasn’t the cartoons that delivered this to me. I was brought up believing in teamwork when Red Squadron took down the Death Star. Friendship was the running banter betwix Venkman, Stanz and Spengler. Love was, well, “I Love You, ” “I Know”.
But i knew something was coming. Something i had no right to be excited about.
The Protostar has a resident hologram. The mentor for the band of merry gumblewits that had stolen it. Somebody to teach them the meaning of Starfleet and galactic harmony. And that hologram takes the form of Janeway.
You see, as much as i adored The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, it was truly Voyager that turned me into a die-hard Trekkie. The (mis)adventures of the displaced crew and their journey home from the middle of the Delta Quadrant were my first VHS’s that i ever bought myself. The very first video i spent my pocket money on was Season 3 video 2: The Chute / The Swarm. The Chute, to this day, is likely my favourite episode of the whole show. So for me, Captain Janeway is my Captain. I am often out voted, with Stu preferring Picard and Mark preferring Sisko. I don’t conform. Before either of these two i’d even pick Archer. Hate me.
So Hologram Janeway is aboard the Protostar, and the initial salvo of episodes bring each characters story forwards and establishes them as a crew, young and ready to learn, despite their differences. Hints at a little cliche romance between Gwyn and Dal hangs in the air. Its all standard stuff, introducing the world of Star Trek to younger viewers.
But then things heat up. I was first alerted to the unexpected by the excellent “Time Amok” (which is a neat little homage to the history of Trek), which revolves around the timey wimey plot involving different areas of the ship slowing down depending on their distance from the temporal explosion. An excellent concept, an excellent episode.
The big reveal comes with the finale of Part one of the series. You see, it turns out the Protostar’s original captain was none other than CHAKOTAY (i had goosebumps, and i hadn’t even been hit with the biggie yet)… and that a certain Vice Admiral is desperate to find her first officer. Yes, you guessed it, JANEWAY. Not some lame hologram, no, the real deal, complete with silver sheen to her hair.
And its not just a cameo. The whole show then starts to revolve around her pursuit of the Protostar, and even her crew get big parts to play.
The highlight of the whole show is when Dal and Janeways minds are swapped (“Mindwalk”), allowing Kate Mulgrew to flex her comedy muscles as Dal struggles to act-Janewayish to her crew. Her jogging on the spot in the turbolift had me in tears.
At its heart, the arc of the show is devilishly clever and sinister. The kids want to get to Starfleet, but hidden inside the belly of the Protostar is a construct which will turn any starfleet vessel against itself. So they can’t talk to the people they want to join, and they can’t ask for help. (opening comms creates a link for the construct to do its menace). Great hook, and the finale is devastating to watch.
Season Two is on its way, but we are left open to wonder just whats going to happen. Theres hints that they won’t be aboard the Protostar next season…but something else. Its the hunt for Chakotay, trapped in time.
My money is on the Voyager-A.
Now with Chakotay and Janeway on board the show, who will be see next year? Picard has reunited the TNG crew…will Prodigy do the same for Voyager? Will be get to see Kim – finally promoted? Paris. B’Elanna? The possibilities have me horripilating.
Second star on the left, straight on till morning.
Oh….and that theme tune. Engage!!