Hey Star Trek! on Voyager, Farscape, and One More Show You Won't Watch
Call us Hey Star Trek! We have always been Hey Star Trek! Even if our illustrious founder and CEO had called us something else, called us Hey You! or Lookout! Star Trek!, we would have still been Hey Star Trek! For we have always found ourselves in the position of loving Star Trek, but needing to touch it on the shoulder and say: Hey. Excuse us, but?
Or else yanking it from the street as an oncoming car was coming toward it, saying: Hey! Are you trying to get yourself killed!?
When we were a much younger company, when we were making pictures for the very awesome Make Me Dehner Dot Com, mixing sound for the first minute or so for each episode of geek fights, we had made our minds up about all sorts of things.
Amongst these things, we knew, like you, that Voyager was the weakest of the Star Trek shows. We also knew, just like many of you, that Farscape was lame and couldn't possibly be any good. We hope now, that you see where this issue is headed, gentle reader....
...and it's going to be okay. Just relax, read, listen to our proposals, and understand that the end of the world is happening in 2012. Yes, as the Mayan calendar is playing out its final year, its time for all of us to examine those truths we hold dear.
This holiday season and on through til the End of Times, we're giving each of you the opportunity to ignore a petty prejudice and embrace something new. That's what we've been up to for most of the year and it has been very, very rewarding for us.
Because Star Trek typically leads by example, Hey Star Trek! will lay out a few examples of how we did what we're asking all of you to do.
In 2011, we gave Voyager a chance. Yes, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, we watched the thing from beginning to end --keeping our prejudices in mind. Our prejudices were just like yours.
The upfront, and often lamented criticism of Star Trek: Voyager is that the story was set up from the get go to have a built in conflict between its major characters. It was Starfleet working side by side with criminals. There had to be some awesome conflict, right?
We were like you. We wanted more conflict, but then a funny thing happened: logic.
The Maquis are a terrorist group that were established in later Next Generation. They were created on Trek's most popular incarnation to give Voyager a jumping off point. By laying down the ground work for Star Trek's own terrorist element, the show's creators and producers hoped to bring an exciting new element to their newest spin-off.
They weren't created out of the ether to give Captain Picard a special off-shoot story, they were created solely for Voyager. From the Maquis' inception, Rick Berman, Michael Pillar, and Jeri Taylor all agreed that Maquis weren't supposed to be mustache-twirling villains. They were supposed to be humans and aliens with a violent disagreement with the Federation.
The disagreement is born in a treaty that the Federation made with the Cardassians. Basically, a number of worlds were handed back to Cardassia and the persons from those worlds resent losing their homes. These good, Federation citizens (who did everything right by their government) found themselves without the fruits of their labor.
This is an issue hotly contested in other shows. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine features O'Brien speaking sympathetically about the Maquis cause. This prompts Worf to shut him down with the very pro-Federation idea: they are terrorists and must be stopped.
What's fascinating is that the Maquis never do anything to harm the Federation. They behave as a nuisance or an embarrassment that the Federation has an obligation to clear up. So what does this mean for our terrorist characters on Voyager?
Well, they are light years away from their homes. They are a galaxy away from where opinions about the Maquis matter. These guys and gals are actually just Federation citizens stuck on a starship full of, uhm, other Federation citizens!?
Yes, brothers and sisters, this is what folks don't see about Voyager. The Maquis are made up of Federation citizens --I.E. members of Roddenberry's evolved sense of humanity. They aren't cavemen. They aren't rabid dogs. Some of them are rough around the edges, but they are still evolved persons.
They aren't the result of a completely unreasonable plot, ergo they are not unreasonable people. Pretty. Simple. Math.
Once this prejudice, born in 1995, was dismissed on our part... well the other ancient criticisms of Star Trek: Voyager were pretty easy to dismiss.
What's hilarious, and incredibly easy, to get over is the anger we and so many have for a character called Neelix. This character (sometimes referred to as the Rainbow Lion Lizard) gets bashed often by Trekkies (Trekkers, stop it) --he has even been called the Jar Jar Binks of Star Trek.
Yes, we were also big Neelix haters, when he first came out. We might have even called Jar Jar Binks the Neelix of Star Wars... back in 1999, you know, the year The Phantom Menace came out. Did that celebrate a tenth anniversary recently? It must have.
That's not just us getting old, it's you too!
While we were hating Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, we were also ignoring one other Sci-Fi phenomenon. It was something called FarScape. This was a show that was a space show that was not a Star Trek show. So it had to be lame right off the bat.
And then it came to our attention that the thing had Muppets in it. So that means it had to be for children, we guessed.
With all of the Voyager watched, it seemed time to give another space show a chance. It would have been easy to just re-watch Battlestar Galactica and try and figure out what we missed. We had so much love for that show once upon a time.
Daunted by the idea of revisiting a show that somehow rubbed us the wrong way, treading the fresh snowscaps of Farscape seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Yes, the Muppets were there, but they weren't as horrible as we thought they were going to be.
Yes, for some reason, we thought Muppets could be horrible. We are as baffled as you are.
So we sat down in the offices under the assumption that we'd be treated to some nice Muppet-Family-Friendly-Space-Opera.
Everything we thought Farscape was quickly became what Farscape actually was. Sexy, action-packed, humorous space adventures --and not for the whole family. This television show continually rocked a level of intensity that we haven't really seen since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Two creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop are part of the cast of Farscape. One, Pilot, was created to be a creature so colossal that it could never be confused with a guy in a suit and the other, Rygel, was made to be so incredibly small that he could never be confused with a guy in a suit.
After a few hours of watching these guys operate, it became more and more obvious that Muppets in space was not something to balk at... it was a no-brainer. Where most television and movies have embraced computer generated persons and effects, these two and the other creature effects in Farscape argue that practical effects are just cooler.
And they're right. Be they laughing, crying, farting, and yes, even peeing... the imagination to make it all convincing is captured in each episode. And each episode has really great storytelling in a world that could only ever be something called Farscape.
There's just not enough room in this issue to celebrate every single nuance of this show, but our point isn't to sell you Farscape. Our point is to sell you on confronting your younger opinions, forgiving them, and embracing something old that can be especially new.
That's our gift to you this holiday season. We want you to find that thing you ignored or presumed something about and give it another chance. Because you're nerds and you're opinionated, we are saying you can try it again and you just might want to shake your younger selves.
That's what we did in 2011 and will continue to do in 2012, before the world ends.
Speaking of the world ending, there's another show we gave a chance.
This show, we knew in our heart of hearts, we would never ever watch. Not even if it was the last DVD box set in existence. We have always been confident that our younger selves had to be absolutely right about at least one thing:
And we were wrong again.
Maybe you're one of those Deep Space Nine nerds who thinks that show sort of peaked at the end of Season Five. That was the tumultuous season that was building toward the Dominion War and it really seemed each episode was as awesome as the last...
...and the whole thing climaxed with explosions on the station and our favorite characters making fantastic, unpredictable choices with a quality you never saw again. Well there might be a reason for that, brothers and sisters.
Just maybe it was the departure of Robert Hewitt Wolfe.
This name, for us, for a good long time, was the name that appeared below Ira Steven Behr's for a whole bunch of Deep Space Nine episodes. And he left after season 5. He wasn't fired. He just quit. He quit because he felt he had done everything he could do with Deep Space Nine...
...and he had other things happening.
He drew up the show Andromeda from Gene Roddenberry's "notes" and produced that show you rolled your eyes at because it was Hercules in Space! We can't blame you. That was the show on the TeeVee that was ending before Deep Space Nine was starting on a Saturday afternoon.
We too couldn't wait for it to end so that Captain Sisko could appear and do something... familiar.
Now we wish we'd have given it a chance. Not that it needed our help, Andromeda is still thought of as one of the most successful syndicated science fiction shows in television history. It started on top and ended the same way.
Maybe some of you knew that already, but that fact blew our collective minds.
And there's good reason for it. Because you don't have a year to read this issue, we will present just two of our favorite aspects of this show we thought we'd never, ever watch.
First, there's the remarkable villainous species . . .
And if watching something unnerving isn't enough for you, there's the odd thing called Trance Gemini. She dies in the first episode, but she gets better. She comes with a ragtag crew of pirates who become a mainstay on the show and it doesn't take long for you to realize that the pirates don't even know her that well.
She claims to have an unpronounceable species name. She speaks about herself in broad, non-specific terms. She's lighthearted in most situations, naive in others, and always comes from a genuine, heart-felt place.
This character is enthusiastic about new cultures and persons. She approaches everything with a contagious sincerity that makes her character (and possible species) something entirely new to us.
And it just all might be an act. We don't know, because we're far from finished with the show.
On his official site, Robert Hewitt Wolfe has posted the original audition sides for Trance Gemini and we invite you to look at them to get an idea of her character.
And while you're doing that, we'll be doing this...
We have plenty Andromeda left to watch in 2012 and hopefully, you do too. We're certain there are a number of new shows trying to get your attention right now, but we wanted to ring the bell for a few of these things you've been ignoring.
But, Hey Star Trek!, you might be wondering, how can you ask your gentle readers to watch these things they don't like when you won't even re-watch:
My oh my, what a tangled web we've woven. Muppets, Magog, and wasn't Britney Spears tied up in there?
It appears that with all of us so very enthusiastic about these new things we've discovered and our need to share them with you, we've forgotten that there is at least one nerd-prejudice we are not prepared to face.
Let us get the Andromeda off our plate, let us take another stab at Babylon 5, take a look at Earth: Final Conflict, check out Space: Above and Beyond, delve again into the fascinating depths of Blake's 7, marvel at the rich history of seven previous doctors, and catch up on the British version of Being Human.
By then, maybe we will re-examine our own prejudice.
Of course, by then, SyFy will have launched their newly announced Robert Hewitt Wolfe space opera show.
And you'll all be watching that too because you will have watched the last DVD box set on Earth.