`Voyager' off to a smart start

Matt Roush

Though lost in space, 70,000 light-years from home, the crew of the starship Voyager (NCC-74656) will surely find a place in the video log of all but the most persnickety Trekkers.

Launching a new network as it opens the latest chapter of the lucrative Trek franchise, Voyager's mission is fraught with risk. How nice to report, then, that the smashing two-hour pilot is better already than Deep Space Nine, and lets the mediocre Generations movie recede even further into disappointed memory.

It's no classic Trek, or even Next Generation. Those days are over. But this looks terrific, with an unusually well-cast ensemble of showy characters.

The only thing that might have improved Voyager is if DS9's few memorable creations (Quark, Odo, Kira) had beamed aboard the left the static space station behind.

The new story begins when a ship of outlaw "Maquis," Starfleet rebels, encounters a "massive displacement wave" in a "plasma storm" and vanishes. Voyager goes in pursuit and re-emerges on the other side of the galaxy: displaced, in disarray, forced to assimilate new alien cultures and work with the antagonistic "Maquis" survivors to chart a path home.

Nothing revolutionary here, but just enough tweaks on the foolproof formula to hook us for the next five or so years. Most notable: Trek's first female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by raspy-throated Kate Mulgrew as a spitfire of hands-on-hips, lockjawed authority. She's tough, and cool.

Also breathing charismatic life into stock roles: Ethan Phillips as a scalawag alien; Robert Duncan McNeill as a cocky pilot; Robert Picardo as an exasperated holographic doctor; Roxann Biggs-Dawson as a half-Klingon Maquis who loathes her animal nature; and Tim Russ as a Vulcan of deceptively dispassionate calm.

I'd follow them anywhere, and it looks like that's exactly what's going to happen.

USA Today - 1/16/95
(USA rating - 3.5 stars out of 4)

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Last modified on April 20, 1995