Star Trek Voyager Season 1 is the first season of the fourth live-action Star Trek television series. It featured Captain Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew) as the first starring female ship’s captain in any Star Trek television or film work. She leads her crew through the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light years from Earth, where they were pulled by an alien looking for a mate (at least the Caretaker wasn’t a spacefaring jellyfish).
This series has been derided over the years as the worst of the Star Trek television series. I used to be one of those deriders, even though I had only seen parts of the first and second seasons, with a smattering of episodes from other seasons. For some reason, I thought the series had been cancelled after only two or three seasons.
Instead, I found out Star Trek Voyager Season 1 is only the first of seven seasons containing a total of 172 episodes. That’s nearly as many as both The Next Generation (178 episodes over 10 seasons) and Deep Space Nine (176 episodes over 7 seasons). So, I decided to watch the whole series so I could make an informed decision regarding its quality.
The first season was a mixed bag. The pilot episode, “Caretaker”, was a great introduction to the series. It brought together all the major characters for the beginning of the series, and started building on motivations used throughout the series. The enemy Kazon regularly recur in the first few seasons.
I enjoyed “Phage”, as it explored the ethics of killing one being to save another. The Vidiians, the villains in this story, reappear throughout the next few seasons as occasional antagonists (in most cases). While the premise of their existence stretched my suspended disbelief, they got my sympathy vote.
“Eye of the Needle” dealt with whether the crew of Voyager should try to alter their own history so they never end up in the Delta Quadrant. I liked how the writers handled this situation, and it helped to further establish how the main characters worked together and how they defined their guiding principles.
Speaking of characters, my favorite characters in Star Trek Voyager Season 1 were Kes, Neelix, and the Doctor. Kes and Neelix (played by Jennifer Lien and Ethan Phillips, respectively) had a great rapport, and brought a nice non-Federation perspective into the original mix. This is definitely a case of “opposites attract”: Kes is demure, very kind, and very gentle, and Neelix is brash and overconfident. Both characters caught my interest immediately, more so than even the regular crew members.
The Doctor is delightfully arrogant, but mostly just wanting to be respected and treated as one of the crew. I thought Robert Picardo did a wonderful job playing the “Emergency Medical Hologram”. He gradually moves away from being simply a gruff virtual doctor with a horrible bedside manner, growing and positively changing throughout the first season.
Seska was my least favorite character. Something about her just got on my nerves (which was perhaps what they directors were trying to do, but I didn’t even like her as a villain). She seemed to be a caricature of many bad characters from other series, with no real depth of character. She served a purpose, but I rolled my eyes every time she was brought back after she turned enemy and left with the Kazon.
Most of the episodes were standard filler episodes, offering little overarching plot relevance or motion. While it should have been a very strong season in order to draw in viewers, I thought it was only fair to middlin’. Despite this, I still enjoyed Star Trek Voyager Season 1 more than I initially thought I would. It’s an average opening season, but it actually does get better as the series moves along.
Original Air Dates: January 16 – May 22, 1995 (USA)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Network: UPN (United Paramount Network)
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional minor and deity)
Sexuality: 1 (implied sex, some romantic relationships)
Violence: 2 (regular science fiction fighting, space battles, deaths, nothing graphic)