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STAR TREK: VOYAGER - Heading Home in Season Seven?
Executive Producer Kenneth Biller on wrapping up the series in its final year.
By Anna L. Kaplan
August 07, 2000
'It's the last season, and hopefully it will be the best season. That's certainly our goal,' says Voyager
executive producer Kenneth Biller. 'We've got a great line up of stuff, I think, and it's going to be fun.' Biller has firmly taken the reigns of the writing staff this year since Brannon Braga is moving on to the next Star Trek
television show. During season six, Biller prepared for the job by alternating the production of shows with Braga. At the end of last season Biller said, 'In some ways, Brannon and I have really been sharing the responsibilities all year this year. I think he would probably tell you the same thing, although maybe not.'
Braga did not disagree with this, but there were differing ideas about when he would be consumed enough by the new television series that he needed to turn the job completely over to Biller. In mid-July it was announced that Braga had signed a three-year deal to create the next Trek
television show along with Rick Berman, as well as develop other series. At that point it was clear that responsibilities were changing. Says Biller, 'Brannon is still around, although he has shifted his focus to the new series. He is technically an executive producer on the show, but is going to be probably at some point relatively soon, taking on a consulting role. I am executive producer this year, so I am running the writing staff and running the show along with Rick Berman. We are already shooting our fourth episode of the season, which means of course that we're posting the first three, and prepping number five, and writing scripts for six, seven, eight.'
Biller's staff includes Voyager
alumni Michael Taylor as executive story editor, Bryan Fuller as co-producer, Raf Green as staff writer, Rob Doherty as story editor, and a new addition, James Kahn, as supervising producer. Kahn, who recently worked as writer and executive producer for Melrose Place
, is a medical doctor who has written science fiction novels as well as novelizations for everything from .Star Wars
. Says Biller, 'There are five writers, plus me and Brannon. Maybe some additional writers, but right now, that's it.'
Braga is still writing, and he and Joe Menosky penned the second half of 'Unimatrix Zero' to open season seven. This will wrap up the Borg story from season six. Biller thought the storyline was full of potential but a bit confusing. He hopes some of the confusion will be cleared up with the second part. 'I think it went pretty well. It looks pretty good.' He adds, that, as expected, 'all of your favorites will be back. We are certainly not going to be Captain-less for season seven, that's for sure.'
The Delta Flyer will also be reborn, and featured in the second episode of the season. Said Biller, 'Episodes are going to be airing a little bit out of order, so I'll tell you in the order they are going to air. The second episode is called 'Drive,' and it's a really fun episode. The Delta Flyer was destroyed in the 'Unimatrix' two-parter, and the episode opens with Paris [Robert Duncan McNeill] and Kim [Garrett Wang] road testing the new, improved Delta Flyer that they have rebuilt. They basically get challenged to a drag race by a sexy alien racer. It turns out that she is actually on her way to a big trans-stellar rally.'
So off they go to a big race, described as something possibly like the pod racing in Star Wars, Episode One
. This episode will also deal with the relationship between Tom and B'Elanna (Roxann Dawson). Notes Biller, 'I will tell you that one of the things that we are going to do this season is explore that relationship and see really where it goes. We've ignored it for a while, and we are not going to ignore it this year. We are going to embrace it. There are going to be probably about 4 or 5 episodes, over the course of the 26-episode season, which will touch on the progress of that relationship. We are going to explore that relationship as it proceeds through the various stages of adult relationships. I don't want to say too much about it because I don't want to give away too many goodies.'
In a refreshing change of pace for an exec producer of Voyager
, Biller explains that he wants to visit the character arcs that have been set up during the previous six years of the show, and bring some kind of resolution or closure to them. He says, 'That's part of an overall scheme. It's the last year of the series. So we are doing an episode in which Harry Kim ends up getting command of an alien starship and really playing out what it means to him to have an opportunity to pursue that dream. I can go down the list of characters and tell you Seven [Jeri Ryan] is obviously going to be continuing her quest for humanity, and becoming more human. That was played out in 'Unimatrix' but will continue through the season. In episode three ['Imperfection'], Seven has to confront the possibility of her own death, which she never really had to do before. As a Borg, the concept of individual death didn't really exist.'
Supervising producer Kahn penned the teleplay for fourth episode of the season, a story about the Doctor (Robert Picardo). Says Biller, 'He wrote a show called 'Critical Care,' which is shooting on stage now, which is my story with Rob Doherty. The Doctor's mobile emitter gets stolen, and he ends up in a nightmarish, alien bureaucracy, an alien, HMO-like hospital, where he suddenly has to deal with limited resources, Byzantine rules, and absurd policies. I think it's dead-on, and I think it's going to be a terrific episode, and hopefully thought provoking too.'
The Doctor will also be featured during a Trek
telefilm for February sweeps. Explains Biller, 'The Doctor has been, obviously, exploring his own humanity through the course of the series, and his struggle for holographic rights. We are going to bring him front and center and up against that very issue in the big two-hour movie, which is called 'Flesh and Blood.' It's about a holographic uprising that the Doctor gets involved in. The Doctor becomes very politicized by these holograms, and becomes a proponent of their cause.'
Biller adds, 'Janeway [Kate Mulgrew], in that same episode, is forced to deal with the repercussions of her life in the Delta Quadrant. She's been trading technology and giving away technology all along to keep her ship alive, and also in the hope that this technology would do good, that replicators could provide food for people, that a database could provide education for people. Now she is confronted with the fact that that technology can also be used to violent ends. In the last season she has to deal with the repercussions of that.'
What else can we expect? Says Biller, 'We will be seeing our old pal Reg Barclay [Dwight Schultz] and our old friend Deanna Troi [Marina Sirtis]. I'm hoping that you will see them in November sweeps. We are working out an issue with Marina's schedule to make that happen. We have an episode called 'Inside Man' in which we will see both of those characters. Barclay's ongoing efforts to try to help his long distance pen pals get home is going to go awry in a funny way. We will probably see him more than once during the course of the season, because he will be continuing to try to help Voyager get home.'
Biller adds, 'We probably will not see the Borg again until the very end of the season. We may be seeing some other kind of old friends that we have met over the years in the Delta Quadrant and play some of those things out.'
One of the old friends we might see are the Kobali, who appeared in the sixth season episode 'Ashes to Ashes.' Their alien makeup was good enough to earn an Emmy nomination for Michael Westmore and his team. 'I think they are cool looking,' says Biller, 'We have an idea, a pretty wild idea [that] ...involves the Kobali. We are not sure if we are doing it yet.'
Obviously, the Captain's arc for the year, and for the series, involves getting Voyager home. Biller plans to explore her obsession, but will not say when or if the ship and Janeway will actually get back to Earth. When asked directly whether the series have a real end or a trick end, like a repeating time loop, he says, 'I don't really want to comment on that, except to say that I am faced with a unique challenge. We all are faced with a unique challenge, which is, how do you both satisfy the audience and also defy their expectations? The entire series has been about the crew trying to get home, and so there is an expected conclusion to that. How we are going to solve that conundrum I won't really tell you right now, but we will hopefully do something exciting and surprising that the audience does not quite expect.'
That answer, of course, will do nothing to end speculation about the end of Voyager
, which will no doubt continue until the last episode airs. Fans will have to wait to see for themselves.