When we set out to write this book, our mission statement was to give you “the best convention ever, in a book.” We wanted to share the funny stories and to explain how things were done. But more importantly, we wanted to give you a sense of what the cast and crew are like and what it meant to them to spend seven years of their lives filming VOYAGER
As we worked on the book, we realized what an incredible bunch of people VOYAGER
’s cast and crew are. Without exception, we found them to be intelligent, insightful, generous, funny people. We can’t tell you how much we laughed when we were doing the interviews, and how much we looked forward to the next one. Our hope is that we’ve managed to communicate at least some of that, and give you a sense of who these people are.
We also hope that by talking to so many people, all of whom had the advantage of being able to look back on the show, we’ve been able to give you some real insight into how the characters evolved. We firmly believe that if you want to understand Captain Janeway, or Seven of Nine, you don’t just want to hear from the actors, but from the writers and designers who shaped their characters. Television is a collaborative medium. Everybody contributed, and you can only just begin to understand what they did by talking to all of them.
On the pages that follow, you’ll find profiles of all the main characters, with contributions from actors, writers, and directors. Each of these is based on a new interview with the actor (the only exception being Jennifer Lien, who we wish the very best). Then there is a series of chapters that deal with each of the main departments, which we hope will give some idea of what went into making VOYAGER
. We have pulled out some of the series’ most important episodes to discuss how they contributed to VOYAGER
’s success. They’re not meant to be our selection of the very best episodes, although many of them are. They are there because, in some ways, they changed things, or they exemplify a particular kind of STAR TREK
. Finally, we have a few stories and tackle a few tricky questions about the show. We hope that when you’ve read all of the above, you’ll want to go back and watch all of VOYAGER
. You should. As Bryan Fuller said when we talked, “It’s a really good show!”FAR FROM HOME THE SEVEN-YEAR JOURNEY
STAR TREK: VOYAGER
went further than ever before and gave the franchise many of its most memorable moments and characters.
If STAR TREK
was to survive, it would have to grow and change. The question was: how to change it without losing sight of what made it special. The franchise had never been more popular and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
was a ratings powerhouse that only got stronger in its final season. It was inevitable that when it ended its run, Paramount would want to replace it. As VOYAGER
’s cocreator, Rick Berman remembers, there was broad agreement that any new show should follow closely in the Enterprise
’s footsteps. “With DEEP SPACE NINE
being a station-based show, we wanted to get back out into space,” he says, “so we knew we wanted to put the show on a starship. We knew it couldn’t be the Enterprise because the Enterprise
was continuing on into the movies. We created VOYAGER
in order to make the series different and fresh.”
Berman brought in writers Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor to cocreate the new show, and together they set about thinking exactly how they could make it different. From the beginning, the idea was that their new ship should have a female captain. “The decision to make the captain a woman was the premise that got it going,” Taylor says. “All three of us felt it was time, but there was a great anxiety about whether the vast array of STAR TREK
fans would accept a woman as a captain, there never having been one. The prized audience was men between 18 and 49, and if they didn’t accept her, it would have been a disaster, so the studio asked us to keep our minds open about the casting of Janeway. For a long, long, long time we were reading and reading, and it didn’t look like we were going to get the right woman, so we began to read some men.”
The implications of this change would have been significant. It wasn’t just that the writers would have been bitterly disappointed, they would have had to reconsider the casting of the new ensemble cast. In particular, Taylor says, they would have reinvented the first officer as a woman. However, they eventually agreed to a deal with an Oscar-nominated actress, Geneviève Bujold, and took a big – if misplaced – sigh of relief. Ultimately, Bujold realized that she wasn’t cut out for the rigors of episodic television and handed in her notice after two days of filming. This left the producers scrambling for a replacement, who they were delighted to find in the form of Kate Mulgrew.
For the rest of the cast, Taylor explains that they concentrated on inventing characters we had never seen before. “We were trying to come up with a combination, an element, a wrinkle, something that hadn’t been done before, anything that would keep it fresh. In the beginning that was our goal. We didn’t want to be repetitive, so we were looking for any little nuance that might provide the propulsion for a character.”
The team started by thinking about elements of TNG that had been interesting and they felt could have been explored further. ‘The Child’ contributed the idea of a character with an accelerated lifespan. ‘The First Duty’ gave them a disgraced Starfleet officer who had broken the rules, while ‘Elementary, Dear Data’ provided the idea of a sentient hologram. Since TNG and DS9 had avoided Vulcans, they decided it was time to bring one into the mix, though this time they wanted him to be a full Vulcan and black. At this point, he was also older and would have been the ship’s wise elder statesman. In a desire to push the show’s inclusiveness, they decided to include a Native American. Finally, they rounded the cast out with an alien guide, a newly graduated Starfleet officer, and a half- Klingon engineer.
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