Here’s a mystery of the universe for you to ponder: if space is infinite, and Star Trek fans’ appetites for all things Trek is bottomless, then in theory, Star Trek spin-offs could multiply into infinity and still be successful. Whoa.
In practice, we have yet to see whether this theory holds true, but Paramount boldly went on with its fourth live-action Trek TV series in 1995, Star Trek: Voyager.
Debuting one year after the cancellation of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine still in first-run syndication), Voyager offered a few new looks at the Trek universe. For starters, the captain’s chair no longer had a “men only” sign on it. Captain Kathryn Janeway was the first female commanding officer to helm a Star Trek series, and she was every bit up to the task.
On the premiere episode (which was, coincidentally, the first episode of an original series aired on the UPN network), the crew of the Starfleet vessel U.S.S. Voyager chased a band of Maquis rebels into dangerous territory. A passing probe transported both ships over 75,000 light years away from Earth, a gap that would take 75 years to cross at maximum warp. When the Maquis ship was destroyed, the rebels joined forces with the Voyager crew, and the long journey home began.
On board with Captain Janeway were First Officer Chakotay (the former Maquis leader), dashing human pilot Lieutenant Tom Paris, half-human/half-Klingon Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres, Vulcan security officer Tuvok, Talaxian cook Neelix, Ocampan psychic/telekinetic nurse Kes, human Ensign Harry Kim and holographic doctor Louis Zimmerman. Each week, these intrepid spacefarers made the most of their unwanted exile, exploring strange new worlds and meeting exotic races on their trip back to Earth.
Most of the crew’s encounters were with new species (they were in unknown space, after all), but the series made sure to include the occasional encounter with fan faves the Borg. These collective-dwelling, race-assimilating, bio-mechanical baddies had several memorable encounters with the Voyager crew, but none more important than the two-part Season 3 finale/Season 4 opener, “Scorpion.”
In this series-altering double-hour, the crew was forced to form a temporary alliance with the Borg to stave off an even greater threat. In so doing, the Voyager crew took aboard a disengaged member of the Borg Collective, an assimilated human now known as Seven of Nine. As the crew removed the Borg implants from Seven’s body, she regained the ability to choose for herself, and she eventually joined the Voyager crew. Blessed with a pin-up body to accompany her emotionless, recovering Borg demeanor, Seven of Nine quickly became the show’s most popular character.
As the voyage continued, character relationships were developed and new situations threatened the ship’s chances each week. B’Elanna and Paris struck up a romance, and the series spawned yet another classic race of nemeses in the hunter aliens called the Hirogen. New changes arrived in each of the show’s seven seasons, winding toward a final episode in 2001. And while the voyage may have ended for Captain Janeway and crew, space was still vast, Trekker appetites still weren’t sated, and the Star Trek legacy continued its mission of interplanetary exploration in a new series, Star Trek: Enterprise.
USA / UPN – Paramount / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast 1995- 2001
Creators: Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor / Theme Music: Jerry Goldsmith
KATE MULGREW as Capt Kathryn Janeway
ROBERT BELTRAN as Cmdr Chakotay
ROXANN BIGGS-DAWSON as Lt B’Elanna Torres
JENNIFER LIEN a Kes
ROBERT DUNCAN McNEILL as Lt Tom Paris
ETHAN PHILLIPS as Neelix
ROBERT PICARDO as The Doctor
TIM RUSS as Lt Tuvok
GARRETT WANG as Ensign Harry Kim
JERI RYAN as Seven of Nine (From Season 4)