Voyager may be going off the air on May 23, but Star Trek executive producer Rick Berman is talking as though it won't be as long a wait for the next series as previously indicated. In an interview with the Communicator, the magazine of the official Trek fan club, Berman said he was 'pretty certain that the target date is going to be September/October 2001...with a completed pilot script at this point, we are ahead of the game for launching a show in 2001.'
Though Berman added that the final decision rests with Paramount and that potential strikes by writers and actors could change things, this is a year sooner than most recent speculation had suggested as the likely start date. The exec admitted that he and Braga made 'some serious revisions' in their second draft of the pilot, and claimed Paramount is strongly backing the project. No one knows yet what network might ultimately air the series. Speculation has focused on both UPN and on new Viacom partner CBS, though original Trek network NBC has also reportedly expressed interest. 'I would think that within the next month or two a decision will be made and we'll be
able to get this on a faster track.'
Berman also admitted to the 'sacrilegious thought' that this series title might not have the words Star Trek in it. 'I think that there is a definite possibility that we may have a title that does not include the words 'Star Trek,' he said, hinting that the series concept might make it necessary to omit those terms. This could mean that the series will focus on time travel rather than space travel, as those 'Birth of the Federation' rumors suggest, though Berman said the series will have 'a primary starship.' Stay tuned...after the strikes, at least.
Ian Spelling's most recent column concerns the upcoming Voyager episode 'Workforce' and begins with a description of Kathryn Janeway looking 'positively blissful,' toiling away in an alien power plant with big hair and a big smile. Janeway, suffering from amnesia about her life as a starship captain, has fallen insanely in love with her co-worker Jaffen (James Read).
'There's no yelling or running around or explosions...I'm not getting covered with stuff, and Janeway doesn't have to look quite so severe as she normally does. What is there not to be happy about?' smiles Kate Mulgrew, who says keeping the smile plastered on is ' why they pay me the big bucks.' The two-parter will air shortly during sweeps month. Allan Kroeker directed the first half, while Roxann Dawson, better known as B'Elanna Torres, helmed the second.
Speaking of Janeway's big hair, Startrek.com has reported that
Voyager received two nominations for the Second Annual Hollywood Makeup and Hair Stylist Guild Awards. The holodeck romance 'Fair Haven' was cited for Best Period Makeup For a Single Episode of a Regular Television Series, while 'Tsunkatse' got the nod for Best Innovative Hair Styling For a Single Episode of a Regular Television Series. Trek makeup artist Michael Westmore also received a nomination for the TV movie Geppetto.
Trek This Week: Prophecy Plot Summary
Voyager encounters a ship of Klingons who left home before the Khitomer Accords, but their desire to destroy Voyager ends when their captain concludes that Torres' unborn child is their prophesied savior, the Kuvah'Magh. They destroy their own ship to come aboard, though some are skeptical of a messiah that's more human than Klingon. Captain Kohlar doesn't care whether the prophecies are true; he just wants to end his people's long, difficult journey, and believes he can make Torres' background fit the scriptures. But the Klingons carry a retrovirus that lies dormant until it kills the host, and they infect both Torres and her unborn baby.
Diseased and disillusioned rebel T'Greth leads an insurrection and tries to take over Voyager, but Janeway maintains control of the bridge, and T'Greth awakens in sickbay cured. Kohlar says the Kuvah'Magh has healed them all; the Doctor has used the fetus' hybrid stem cells to synthesize an antidote to the disease. The Klingons prepare to leave, though not before Tuvok's quarters get destroyed by Neelix's lovemaking with a Klingon woman. Kohlar gives Torres a bat'leth as a gift for her daughter, hoping the child will someday learn about the Klingons she saved.
Trek Analysis: Estimated Prophet
Like so many Klingon episodes, 'Prophecy' is pretty stupid but fairly enjoyable. Plus it has the benefit of being on a show that hasn't suffered from a surfeit of ridged warriors who spout off at the mouth about honor and try to kill each other every five minutes. Their cloak-equipped vessel holds up well against Voyager's weapons and inflicts some damage to Voyager's shields. Janeway's condescending announcement that the Klingon ship is no match for hers sounds pretty silly, especially since her own people teach the Klingons to use equipment that anyone with half a brain would know
better than to give to a recent adversary.
It's a good thing Torres didn't successfully remove all the Klingon DNA from her daughter a few weeks back! I'm surprised the Doc can't just resequence her genes to protect her from the retrovirus, but what the heck. What the heck also about why the Klingons can't beam the bridge crew off the ship through the forcefield, but can beam themselves onto the bridge through the forcefield; if I think too much about details like that, I'll start wondering why that idiot Janeway doesn't order the transporters offline the moment Tuvok tells her there's phaser fire in the transporter room.
So Torres, whom a few weeks ago wanted to quit being Klingon, has now discovered that she may be carrying the Chosen One. If only we all had such solutions to our feelings of oddness and rejection. At least B'Elanna has the good sense to resist Nostrakahless' prophecies, which Paris seems willing to accept so he can gloat about his daughter being special even before her birth. Paris is rather charming in this episode, and does what all good men are expected to do, namely: agree to fight to the death to prove their manhood. But hey, Tom is no longer the only Voyager crewmember to have slept with a Klingon woman!
I liked seeing Klingons whose faith is stronger than honor, with a captain whose loyalty to the needs of his crew surpasses his personal obsession with the quest on which he leads them. The one Klingon who spouts off about honor and Sto-Vo-Kor is the bad guy, the sort who says a real man wouldn't let a woman speak for him even if she is a starship captain. Kohlar is an extremely honorable character, without having to challenge people to death matches or spout off about his House. I suppose there are fans who will argue he's not really a good Klingon as a result, but he seems quite in fitting with how I remember the pre-TNG Klingons, and it's rather refreshing.
Trek Books I: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Diplomatic
One of the best Worf stories ever written, Keith R.A. DeCandido's
Diplomatic Implausibility concerns Worf's first mission as Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Several hundred years ago, the old, bad Klingons conquered taD, an icy world rich with minerals; the native al'Hmatti became 'jeghpu'wI',' conquered people who are less than citizens of the Empire (the novel helpfully includes a Klingon glossary of such terms). During the hostilities between the Federation and the Klingon Empire shortly before the outbreak of the Dominion War, the al'Hmatti deposed the Klingons long enough to appeal to the Federation for recognition. Now the Klingons want control so other jeghpu'wI' don't get ideas; the Federation wants to do right by the al'Hmatti; and the al'Hmatti themselves will do whatever it takes to gain their independence.
Into this volatile situation, Chancellor Martok dispatches Ambassador Worf aboard the Gorkon. Commanded by war hero Klag, the ship has a senior staff that includes Martok's son Drex, a terrified engineer with no idea how to be a warrior, a Khitomer descendant rescued by Worf, and an unenthusiastic gunner named Rodek -- who used to be Kurn, son of Mogh, brother of Worf. Thus the new ambassador must deal not only with the al'Hmatti, but with a shipful of Klingons with competing agendas, and a few ghosts Worf hasn't laid to rest. It's a compelling crisis, and the deepening complexities of taD's political situation create striking parallels with the personal struggles of Worf, Klag, and several of the minor characters.
From a plot standpoint, I raised an eyebrow at the gimmick of sending an ambassador from the same species as the conquerors to a planet where oppressors are instantly identified by their forehead ridges. Worf makes clear that his loyalties lie with his responsibilities to the Federation, but the al'Hmatti don't know that. If they somehow got enough information to realize he wasn't raised Klingon, they'd probably learn of his ties to the Chancellor's House, which would make him even less acceptable. Even for readers, it's hard to know whether a volatile situation might make Worf define himself first and foremost as a Klingon; we've seen him place loyalty
to his Klingon heritage above even his Starfleet oath at times. It makes for a good read, because the situation forces Worf to balance all the aspects of his identity, but it seems like poor planning on the part of the Federation. Still, by the end of the novel, we have a more solid perspective on Worf's struggle to keep all of his commitments, and the prices he pays daily in the form of casual insults and misunderstandings.
DeCandido draws upon many Worf stories I'd forgotten, like his relationship with young Jeremy Aster when the boy's mother died on the Enterprise. It's nice to see these loose ends addressed, though it's a bit surprising how little Jadzia and Alexander seem to enter Worf's thoughts. The existence of Rodek must be a constant source of frustration to him, especially now that Worf is one of the most powerful men in the Empire while his blood brother languishes under an altered personality because of a dishonor that no longer matters. We get to hear Worf argue Klingon feminism, crack jokes about being
the target of assassins, and observe quite seriously that if Drex doesn't shape up, Worf will have to kill him. There's a lot of humor, and the Klingons seem more complex than they often have onscreen.
Klag, too, is a fascinating character. The captain lost his arm at the Battle of Marcan, where he singlehandedly fought off a squadron of
Jem'Hadar, and he stubbornly refuses to have it replaced by a prosthetic. Yet he comes to realize that he won the battle on adrenaline and guts, not because he's just as strong without the arm. And he comes to terms with a father who lived out his days in comfort on Qo'noS rather than fighting.
Klag's recognition of the need for reform on many levels of his culture is refreshing. One starts to wonder how long the Klingons can last, given the trends in advancement by assassination and grievous holodeck injuries sustained by would-be-warriors. The obsession with honor is a disturbing aspect of Klingon society -- in this novel, it leads to the killing of a warrior whose mistakes don't seem grievous enough to warrant his slaughter, and it nearly results in war with the al'Hmatti. Although the crisis with the jeghpu'wI is eventually solved to the satisfaction of most, taD is only one subjugated world; we don't get any indication that Martok plans to liberate the rest of the oppressed. Perhaps this story will serve as a wake-up call; I'd love to read about reforms in the post-war Empire.
Trek Books II: Deep Space Nine: The Return of Ro Laren
There's an ad in the back of the new Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Diplomatic Implausibility, that has put me in a good mood. Although editor Marco Palmieri -- who is overseeing the Deep Space Nine relaunch for Pocket Books -- has remained pretty tight-lipped about the identities of the characters who will replace Sisko, Odo, O'Brien, and Worf, the ad reveals that Ro Laren will be the new security chief. She glowers from beneath her Maquis haircut with the tag line, 'Given time, anyone can change. Almost anyone.'
Palmieri told Psi Phi in December that the new security chief would be assigned to DS9 'by higher-ups, under unusual circumstances, and no one on the station is particularly happy about it. Least of all Kira.' He added that her relationship with Quark would be complicated as well, in a different manner from Quark's relationship to Odo. As for why she wears her earring in the opposite ear from most Bajorans, 'We know Ro's an agnostic -- very skeptical of the Bajoran religion. She's also very independent and very willful...she's being nonconformist, making the statement that she embraces her culture, but only her own terms.'
Most people know that Michelle Forbes was approached early on about playing the Bajoran first officer on Deep Space Nine, and some similarities between Ro and Kira remained in the scripts. Nana Visitor told Star Trek Central that she'd like to see a fight between Kira and Ro. 'They're pretty equally matched, and we'd just have to see who remains standing.' Now it looks like we're going to get our chance. May I just say WAHOO!, and I'm only sorry we're not getting to see this on film. I'm sure there are hundreds of Ro fans who agree with me.