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The premise of ST:VOY seems like it would introduce a whole new ethos and a whole new way of doing things for Star Trek. During the same time, you had DS9 being set mostly on a station hanging out at the same place each week, allowing for longer and more convoluted/interesting storylines involving the Bajoran/Cardassian situation (among others), which arguably changed the "tone" of the show compared to other ST series (TOS and TNG).

Similarly, you'd think that the premise of VOY - a ship stuck on the other end of the galaxy without support - would lead to a different tone. You'd have supplies running low, difficult moral decisions needing to be made, Starfleet principles needing to be sacrificed on the pyre of survival, redshirts needing constant replacement with Delta Quadrant locals (perhaps getting shanghaied into joining), and so forth.

This probably sounds very opinion-based so far, but as an illustration of what I mean, take for example Year of Hell. That had a beat-up Voyager on hard-scrabble survival mode, half the systems busted, people dying left and right, parts of the ship being visually replaced with alien tech scavenged along the way (at least Borg components if not others), etc.

Instead, what we got was a villain-of-the-week style of show with little regard or need for continuity, somehow maintaining a luxurious level of existence (with replicators, holodecks, and so forth), and every time something bad happens to the ship, it gets fixed by the end of the episode or at least before the start of the next one. Occasionally there's some lip service to resource scarcity or the need to get home or something, but it's mostly to drive the plot for one episode or two-parter only. Apart from that, and apart from giving Neelix a reason to maintain a galley in a universe with replicators, there are no permanent repercussions for their situation. They still maintain a luxury liner level of comfort right up to the end.

Doubtless, in-universe reasons have been constructed for this, but what I'm interested in is the out-of-universe reasoning for seemingly neutering the premise.

Have the series creators ever commented explicitly on whether they meant for VOY to be (for want of a better term) "more hardcore," but were hampered in doing this for some reason? Or conversely, have they addressed any concerns similar to mine as to why the premise seems to have little impact on the good ship Voyager's day-to-day, besides find-and-replacing "explore" with "go home" for an overarching motivation to go anywhere?

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    You can also contrast Voyager's easy ride with the plight of the USS Equinox... – Praxis Nov 10 '15 at 6:21
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    In early interviews, the producers talked about how running out of supplies, having to wear torn and/or dirty uniforms and so on would be part of the story of Voyager. I was hoping that was included, but it seemed to be forgotten rather quickly. – Tango Nov 10 '15 at 6:28
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    I don't know all the intents of the producers, but at one point you see Nick Sagan do a few stories, then he comes on as Story Editor and there's an episode where Neelix says to Tom Paris, "You don't scare me with your technobabble." From then on all the technobabble stopped and the storytelling style changed. Characters and character arcs were emphasized more and it appeared like longer arcs were planned and used. – Tango Nov 10 '15 at 6:28
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    I think you mean yellow shirts, not red shirts ;) – Often Right Nov 10 '15 at 23:47
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    @TheDoc Heh, well ... it's an expression :P – Wolfie Inu Nov 11 '15 at 4:53
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One of the show's writers, Ronald D Moore, would agree with you. In fact, he left Voyager because of a lot of the issues you mentioned. Eventually his ideas for what Voyager should have been were remodeled into the remake of Battlestar Galactica.

Have a read of these interviews:

Exclusive Interview: Ron Moore – Fighting The Trek Clichés - TrekMovie.com:

I really think…that when Voyager gets damaged it should get damaged, we should stop repairing the ship, the ship should be broken down more and devolving a little bit more.’ One of the ideas I had is that they should start developing their own culture within the starship and letting go of Starfleet protocols and stop thinking of themselves as Starfleet people on some level, even though they still wear the uniform and still try to adhere to the regulations. I thought it would be interesting that by the time this ship got back to Earth, that it didn’t even belong at Earth anymore.

[...] I probably would have sent it into a darker direction and sent it into a more harrowing journey yes. And made them more on the run and more less of a pretty journey getting back, [...]

"LCARSCom.Net", lcarscom.net

In short, yes, Voyager was watered down.

75

Voyager was supposed to be more intense than TNG, but multiple concurrent projects forced the creative team to revert to the TNG format of episodes.

The official Star Trek web site published the following recent interview with Voyager producer Rick Berman, in which he comments directly on what Voyager was supposed to achieve and why it did not achieve those things.

Overall, how satisfied were you with Voyager?

BERMAN: It was difficult. We had just ended TNG and DS9 was in its third year, and they immediately wanted another show to take the place of TNG. We asked them to wait a couple of years. They said, “We have all these time slots available. We don’t want to lose them.” They felt very strongly about a new series. The fact that TNG, a ship-based show, was going off the air and that we had a space station-based show on the air, meant that the obvious thing to do was create a new ship, which we did with the Voyager. We came up with a premise that, I think, was fresh or that certainly was different. We didn’t just want to have another ship, give it the name Voyager as opposed to Enterprise, and fill it with a nice balance of humans and aliens. This was a show that I asked Jeri Taylor to join Michael and me in creating. The whole idea of being thrust to a far-off part of the galaxy and being out of touch with Starfleet, out of touch with instructions and rules, in a sense, and having to join together with Maquis that we run into in the pilot episodes, the whole idea of getting back at any cost – question mark; it shouldn’t be at any cost – I think, allowed us to do some new stuff, which was important. We were all aware that these things could get stale. A lot of the writers were the same writers and a lot of the writers were new writers, but we didn’t want to do TNG again.

At that point, just as we were creating Voyager, we were also writing and producing Generations and then, two years later, First Contact. So we were doing movies with the TNG crew, we had DS9 in its last three or four years, and all of a sudden we were asked to do another show, which was Voyager. There was even talk near the end of Voyager that they wanted us to create another show before Voyager went off the air. And I refused. I said, at the very (earliest), we would start it after Voyager went off the air. I think they wanted a one- or two-year overlap. Also, somewhere in there, there was an IMAX project that we developed but the studio ended up not being able to make a deal with the IMAX people. It was in the early days of IMAX. It was before movies were coming out in IMAX like they were today. But it was a great script and certainly something that would have been exciting to do. And, simultaneously, I was involved with putting together the whole Las Vegas Experience. So it was a very, very busy time and it was imperative for everybody to try to keep things from getting stale and repetitive, but it got more and more difficult.

The implication is that they wanted to have a series that was "more hardcore" than TNG (as you put it), but the time demands of various concurrent projects kept the creative team from realizing that ambition.

  • Fair enough! I don't know if it's necessarily that he meant that Voyager was too tame - it seems more like he's saying it got too samey/formulaic, which isn't necessarily quite the same thing. At least not directly. But if this is as direct of an answer as we're going to get from them, then this would be the answer I'm looking for. – Wolfie Inu Nov 10 '15 at 6:39
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    @WolfieInu : It's true that they're not necessarily the same (tame vs. formulaic), but they might be part and parcel of the same thing, as far as Voyager is concerned. One way to make Voyager less formulaic would be to accentuate their plight and focus on dwindling food, degrading uniforms, clashes and grudges between Starfleet and Maquis...all of these would make Voyager less tame and also involve "not hitting the reset button" at the start of each episode, which invariably means eschewing the highly episodic TNG-style formula... – Praxis Nov 10 '15 at 6:42
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    @WolfieInu : I think the idea of simultaneously being less tame and being less formulaic is implicit in the text surrounding Berman's line about "the whole of idea of getting back at any cost". – Praxis Nov 10 '15 at 6:45
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    It's perhaps noteworthy that the "year of hell" was originally going to be an entire season, not just a two-parter. – Valorum Nov 10 '15 at 7:39
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    I think one must also look at the timing. Since about 2000, series with large story-arcs have become much more common; these days they seem to be more common than "reset" series. Voyager ran from 1995 to 2001, a time in which "reset" series were the default, and "story-arc" series the exception. This doesn't mean it's impossible (Babylon 5), but it does explain the mindset of pretty much everyone involved and why, especially under pressure, it became mostly a reset series. If Voyager would be made today, it would be very different due to different assumptions in what makes a good series. – Martin Tournoij Nov 10 '15 at 8:00
-1

Relatively speaking, within the context of the Star Trek universe, the answer to the question in the title is a resounding no. More specifically, I reject the very premise of what you're asking.

You'd have supplies running low, difficult moral decisions needing to be made, Starfleet principles needing to be sacrificed on the pyre of survival...

Relative to other Trek series, that's actually a fairly accurate description of the theme of Voyager. If you mean to ask why Voyager wasn't dark, deep, and serious like the Galactica reboot, the answer is that if it were, it wouldn't be Trek. Star Trek has never taken itself too seriously, and fans would probably revolt if it did.

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    The problem is that the theme of Voyager and the actual execution of Voyager seem to be rather far apart. I don't need it to be "dark," I need it to be competent. But hey, that's why I asked the question. Based on the other answers, the series creators themselves either explicitly or implicitly expressed dissatisfaction about the series for many of the same reasons that I mentioned. That said - think of me more as a disappointed Voyager fan than a hater. Great theme, great cast, great effects and production values for the time ... middling to poor scripts, bar some standout episodes. – Wolfie Inu Nov 12 '15 at 5:11
  • @WolfieInu The theme I'm speaking of was evident in the execution. How many times did Voyager's crew violate the Temporal Prime Directive? It's perplexing that DS9 fans always seem to view Voyager as DS9's polar opposite, when Voyager actually ranks second in the Trek canon for DS9's strengths of continuity, story arc, and character development. (And first for humor.) – Kevin Krumwiede Nov 12 '15 at 20:29
  • All I can say is that the series creators apparently disagree with you. See the other answers. – Wolfie Inu Nov 13 '15 at 4:43
  • @WolfieInu One of those answers quotes someone who left the show, and the other, when read carefully, actually agrees with me. – Kevin Krumwiede Nov 13 '15 at 4:55
  • OK, I'll quit while you're ahead. Let's not rehash the arguments between Moore and Berman here. It's not productive and it's not what SE's for. – Wolfie Inu Nov 13 '15 at 5:11

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