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Stardate 0007.07: Summer Rumors

A look at what's in store for Star Trek: Voyager this fall

By Michelle Erica Green     July 07, 2000

Voyager is back in production, which hopefully will end the ongoing tales about various castmembers threatening to bail for the final season. All the actors are under contract, and--even if she is a Borg at the moment and could conceivably stay that way--Captain Janeway is not going to pull a Fox Mulder and vanish for half the episodes this season. It would be kind of interesting if she remained bald, which would put her in excellent company among Sisko and Picard.

Once all the cast has been accounted for, the only other Voyager issue that matters is whether and when the ship will get home. The two candidates for a return journey seem to be November sweeps, when the producers have promised a two-hour movie like 'Dark Frontier,' or May sweeps, which would drag the suspense until the very end of the show's run. February sweeps would seem to be an ideal time, leaving about half the season to wrap up events in the Alpha Quadrant, but speculation seems to focus on either the fall or the spring.

A source close to the production told me that Voyager both will and won't get home in the series finale. When pressed for details, he explained, 'In the final episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the ship will return home--only to enter a time-loop that throws it back to the start of its voyage. It becomes clear that the ship and crew are stuck in an infinite repeating cycle from which there is no escape.'

OK, it sounds implausible, but just think about the number of time-travel episodes Brannon Braga has written. He seems quite determined not to give the audience what it wants, so having Voyager fail to get back would be completely in keeping with other decisions made in the past few seasons!

Then again, by the time the final script is written, Braga may be too busy working on Series V to care. Another fun story that surfaced this weekend is that former executive producer Jeri Taylor will return to write several stories for the show, but Paramount has thus far had no comment. It seems that Ken Biller will make most of the decisions this season.

So...could those 'Unimatrix Zero Part II' rumors be true? According to the Voyager's Delights site, Janeway and Chakotay will kiss in the episode...of course, they were supposedly going to kiss in Part I, too. Supposedly the struggle with the Borg will take place mostly within Seven's mind, in the virtual reality landscape of Unimatrix Zero. And supposedly the fate of humanity will be at stake!

Personally, I like the speculation that Janeway will remain a Borg and become their Queen. She's certainly no less worthy than the two we've seen thus far, who've made some pretty silly tactical miscalculations. And she'd get to be more seductive and sultry than she's ever been on Voyager! First Arachnia, now the Borg. It's a great concept.

The smaller plot rumors stem mostly from the actors and seem to have more to do with what they'd like to see than with what might actually happen, given that the producers haven't even planned it all yet. Roxann Dawson and Robbie McNeill both get asked a lot whether Tom and B'Elanna will get married and/or have a baby, to which neither seems averse. Bob Picardo has made no secret of the fact that he'd like Lewis Zimmerman to help Voyager get home. Kate Mulgrew seems determined to see most of the crew go on trial--she keeps talking about how they're all criminals, despite the end of the truce with Cardassia and the fact that Starfleet promised Paris his freedom for helping Voyager.

If the ship doesn't get home till May, the series runs the risk of boring the audience to death before they get around to returning. But if they get home sooner, they have to have some plausible ideas for what to do with these characters in the Alpha Quadrant...without screwing up the universe left by DS9, where the next film will likely be set.

Speaking of which, startrek.com yesterday confirmed the name of one of the writers of Trek X, as reported earlier by Corona Coming Attractions. At DragonCon in Atlanta, actor J.G. Hertzler (Martok) first revealed that John Logan is the writer.

Hertzler, who got his information from Marina Sirtis, added that Logan is apparently a lifelong Trek fan, and said that to the best of his knowledge it would be a TNG-only movie with no DS9 crossover. Logan, who wrote Bats and co-wrote Any Given Sunday, worked on The X-Men script as well.

Trek Comics: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

WildStorm's latest Trek comic, based on the Activision-Raven Software game Elite Force, features pencils and inks by Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani respectively--the same pair that did False Colors, the first WildStorm Star Trek Voyager comic. It features the same glossy, pretty style, which I must admit has grown on me greatly after the duller Classic Trek and downright ugly Deep Space Nine artwork of the new WildStorm series.

I haven't seen Elite Force, but if the events of this comic accurately represent the situations in the game, I think I'd like that, too. The comic introduces several non-bridge Voyager crewmembers, most of whom are more interesting than the lower decks officers from last season's 'Good Shepherd'--no compelling new females, but since Janeway and Seven of Nine are well written, that's not a problem. A hazard team, put together by Seven and trained by Tuvok, must put intense combat training to use against the Borg and other deadly enemies, with Voyager's safety as its main priority--more so than the lives of the team members.

The central characters are hotshot Tom Paris clone Beissman, introspective young crewman Munro and clever, competent Lieutenant Foster (who gets assimilated in the first quarter of the comic). Munro suffers a crisis in a holodeck simulation when he is called upon to execute former crewmates turned into Borg drones; that no-win scenario recurs as Voyager deflects a Borg attack, only to encounter an even deadlier threat. Other characters include field medic Murphy and wisecracking Chang, plus Chell, the Bolian Maquis crewmember from the first season lower-decks episode 'Learning Curve.'

There is one extremely silly deus ex machina event to throw the ship into danger, plus conveniently telepathic aliens and some very silly behavior on the part of the Borg, but that's become standard on Voyager--maybe they've assimilated too many irrational humans. Overall, the story is compelling in its own right, but it's not immediately obvious which of the events are jumping-off points for the game.

This is an undeniably attractive book. Even the hideous oozing bug-like villains look good. As in False Colors, Janeway appears stunningly girlish and fresh-faced through every disaster. Also as in False Colors, Seven of Nine's body gets worshipped via both artwork and dialogue, yet she's not as pretty as the captain. (I've heard that Kate Mulgrew, who has in her contract the right to approve likenesses of herself as Janeway, only accepts images that make her look sleek and smiling even during crises; perhaps this explains why Janeway is nearly as tall and sexier than Seven in the illustrations.)

Janeway doesn't dominate the storyline in Elite Force, but she comes across strong and smart, knowing when to delegate and when to step in. Few of the other regular crew members have much to do since the hazard team dominates the storyline, but the drama makes good use of Tuvok, who was seen training Maquis in 'Learning Curve' yet seldom appears in a teaching role on the show. Seven is engaged in the crisis (and wearing a Starfleet hazard uniform, a great improvement on the catsuit), but she neither saves the ship nor interferes, which is a welcome use of the character.

The layout makes use of two-page spreads, close-up circles in the midst of larger panels, and an excellent balance of exterior and interior illustrations of the ships. The backgrounds aren't that much more complicated than those in Deep Space Nine's N-Vector, but Elite Force just goes to show how much difference a little detail can make. A few lines on the floor and some moderate variation in color on the walls makes the ship seem familiar, rather than half-finished as in the DS9 series.

Of the WildStorm comics, this one is my favorite in terms of visuals, plus it tells a good story and gets readers interested in the Activision game. Thus Elite Force is a success on all levels.

An aside: Click here to see a preview of the Star Trek: New Frontier comic art!

Trek Games: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Speaking of Elite Force, both Stomped and IGN have new Web interviews with the creators of the highly-touted game, which got excellent word of mouth at the E3 expo and is expected to be released in August or September. The game centers on an elite hazard team assembled to handle dangerous away missions since Voyager has no reinforcements in the Delta Quadrant. It consists of several crewmembers, both Starfleet and Maquis, trained in combat, stealth and weapons like modern-day SWAT and Spec Ops. Over the course of the game, the hazard team may fight Borg, renegade crewmembers and assorted alien menaces. (See the comics review above for descriptions of most of the characters.)

Raven Software's James Monroe, the game's head programmer, talked to Stomped about the scripted events in the game that allow players to change the outcome of the scenarios. 'For example, you can choose to save a crewmember, and if successful, he will give you extra information to help you out,' explained Monroe. 'Some scenarios have as many as five different outcomes, giving the player more freedom to choose a creative solution. Many of these will affect your performance rating and they could even affect the course of the plot.'

The programmer said that the company will release its tools and data file formats after the game is finished to make it as modifiable as Quake3. Project leader Brian Pelletier told Stomped that the AI for the combat still needs work, but the weapons and architecture are finished, though in need of balancing on the levels. 'We [have impressed] a lot of people with our fun gameplay besides our accurate representation of Voyager and other Trek environments...the authentic sound effects and voice acting from the show's cast really helped the onlookers believe that they were watching a Voyager episode,' he said of response to tests at E3.

Raven Software co-founder Brian Raffel said the programmers worked hard to recreate the feel of classic Star Trek weapons as well as some unique new devices. 'Obviously it's hard to think of something that hasn't been done,' he admitted to IGN's John Coughlan. 'We've tried to get a good spectrum of weapons. I think what we're really trying to do is make you feel like you're part of a Voyager episode...so you're interacting with the environment, and you're interacting with the actual crew which you have that bond with, and feel like you're part of the Star Trek personnel.'

Raffel said that most of the game's storylines are fairly linear, but agreed with Monroe that scripted events offered variations on the outcomes depending on a player's choices. 'In one case, you have a guy running down towards you while you need to put up a defense shield as quickly as possible. If you wait until he is through and safe before putting the shield up then he'll give you valuable information that helps your gameplay, whereas if you don't wait then obviously you won't have that. But either way you can still progress through the game.'

Trek People

Next week, Armin Shimerman (Quark) and his wife, Kitty Swink, will be performing A.R. Gurney's Love Letters as a fundraiser for the Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre in Gresham, Oregon. Call 503-423-9363 for information about the fundraiser. Shimerman, who has been very involved in the Screen Actors Guild commercial strike, also has a non-Trek novel out from Pocket Books, The Merchant Prince.

Some friends from the Rene Auberjonois Internet Link tell me that they have created a cookbook, written by themselves and illustrated by Auberjonois (Odo), which is being sold as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International, among other charities. The book was originally created as a birthday list for Auberjonois, who thought it was a great idea and got involved in getting it produced to sell as 'Sustenance for Solids,' a 75-page volume that costs $15. Click here for more information!

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