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Stardate 0007.28: Be on VOYAGER!

Plus: Voyager Emmy Nominations, Seventh Season Spoilers, Trek Novels

By Michelle Erica Green     July 27, 2000

Paramount issued a press release this week promising a 'Trekker's Biggest Dream'--a walk-on role in the finale of Star Trek: Voyager--as the grand prize in a contest to introduce the new Voyager section of the official startrek.com Website. 'UPN and Paramount Network Television's Highly Popular, Long Running Series Will Become A Major New Component of the startrek.com Site and Will Feature State-of-the-Art Design and Interactive Technologies!' gushed the headline.

The studio is promising a 'a quantum leap onto the World Wide Web' with 'some of the most sophisticated, interactive components available on the Internet' for the new Voyager section of startrek.com. DNA Studios will develop the material, including a trivia contest with three skill levels in a multi-player, real-time gaming environment. 'Trekkers Trivia Challenge' will pit fans against one another, testing knowledge about the series, with an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles and the walk-on role as incentive to win.

Rick Berman also claims that 'It will bring to our loyal fans--and to new viewers--exclusive opportunities and 'insider' information to uniquely celebrate this last season [of Voyager].' The new section on the site will also feature 'Starfleet Mission,' an action game allowing players to create and staff their own Starfleet ships before doing combat with cyberspace enemies.

A major prize to be announced later will be awarded the final winner of 'Starfleet Mission.' The exact date of the site launch, also to be announced later, will be sometime in August 2000. More information may be available at the DNA Studio Website at www.dnastudio.com.

Just think: you could join such celebrity walk-ons as John Tesh and the King of Jordan! All you have to do is prove your mastery of details like Captain Kirk's serial number and the sequence of bio-neural gelpack failures caused by Neelix's cheese...

Voyager and UPN

It was a big week for official Paramount news, as Voyager earned several Emmy nominations and UPN announced plans to change its name. Voyager, which has received four Emmy awards and 26 nominations in technical categories over the six years of its run, once again did well against competitors like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show was nominated for visual effects, sound editing, music, costumes, hairstyling and makeup.

Surprisingly, 'The Haunting of Deck Twelve' earned a visual effects nomination, rather than the more visually complex 'Equinox Part II,' which was cited for sound editing. But it's likely to be irrelevant because of 'Life Line,' in which Robert Picardo played two characters who interacted in some of the most sophisticated motion-control photography and digital split-screen ever used on television. Frankly, Star Trek: Voyager could have locked up all available nominations in this category--this season's work has been exceptional, more subtle than in previous years perhaps, with fewer space battles.

The costuming team led by Robert Blackman earned a nomination for the episode 'Muse,' while the hairstyling team garnered one for 'Dragon's Teeth.' Michael Westmore and crew got their annual makeup nomination for the reincarnated aliens of 'Ashes to Ashes.' Most regrettably, the dreadful 'Spirit Folk' earned an outstanding music composition nomination for Jay Chattaway. Chattaway is certainly deserving--his scoring on Voyager has been outstanding--but now 'Spirit Folk' could join the horrible second season episode 'Threshold' as an Emmy winner.

According to Paramount, Westmore, who received his 35th Emmy nomination, is now the fourth most nominated individual behind James L. Brooks, David Letterman and Dwight Hemion. While Voyager has been nominated in several categories for Saturn Awards and Kate Mulgrew won Best Actress in that genre competition a few years back, none of the performers on any of the Trek shows have ever gotten Emmy recognition for their work within the franchise. Maybe Robert Picardo--whose work and commitment to the series seems tireless--will break through next year.

In acting categories this year, Kelsey Grammer (Captain Morgan Bateson in The Next Generation's 'Cause and Effect') earned a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Frasier. Kim Cattrall (Valeris from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Sex and the City. James Cromwell, who appeared in several TNG and DS9 episodes, then played Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, got nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-series or Movie for RKO 281. The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 10.

UPN announced this week that it will change its name from the United Paramount Network to the Paramount Network, in an effort to increase recognition of the Paramount brand name. The change will take effect Jan. 1, 2001. In announcing the plan, UPN President Dean Valetine said, 'Our closer association with one of the pre-eminent names in entertainment will bring enhanced recognition and credibility to everything we do.'

'Whether it be motion pictures, television production, theme parks or television networks, the Paramount name is synonymous with excellence and innovation,' added Valentine, while his chief operating officer Adam Ware added that the network will continue to target young adults. So I guess we can expect excellent, innovative, fresh, unique material not only for Star Trek, but for such classics as WWF Smackdown! and monster truck specials as well.

Spoiling the Season

Warning: Potential seventh season spoilers ahead! Skip down to avoid them!

Startrek.com, the official Website, has good news and bad news. The good news is that many of the rumors reported earlier here and on TrekWeb, TrekToday and other sites have been confirmed. The bad news is that Voyager's season premiere, 'Unimatrix Zero Part II,' won't air until Oct. 4, 2000.

'Shippers, rejoice: According to a source at TrekToday, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres will get engaged in the episode 'Drive,' which is reportedly the show where Paris enters the reconstructed Delta Flyer in a Star Wars-style pod race (video game coming to a screen near you soon, probably). Producer Ken Biller told Cinescape that the Paris/Torres romance would be resolved this season, so perhaps he is making good on his word.

Startrek.com confirmed last week that 'Drive' was nearly completed, with Robert Duncan McNeill (Paris) and Roxann Dawson (Torres) shooting scenes together. After 'Drive' finished principal photography on July 24, the fourth episode of the final season, 'Critical Care,' was due to start shooting. 'Critical Care' reportedly parallels the current Earth crisis about HMO care, as the Doctor is stolen by an alien hospital ship where unethical treatment has run rampant.

TrekWeb reports that 'Flesh and Blood,' the sweeps month telefilm about sentient holograms who test the Doctor's loyalty, focuses on the holographic technology given to the Hirogen in the fourth-season two-parter, 'The Killing Game.' Hey--not only do we get continuity, we get a Prime Directive violation coming back to haunt the crew! Cheers for Ken Biller.

Another upcoming episode, which TrekWeb claims is called 'Inside Man,' centers on a Starfleet operative sent via a datastream who has a secret mission on board Voyager. Maquis troublemaking? Section 31? Continuity not only with early Voyager, but even with Deep Space Nine--could it be? I'm withholding additional cheers until I actually see the episode, but it's sounding good.

Richard Arnold recently spoke at a convention, attended by Martin McCluskey of ScotTrek.com and reported by TrekToday, where he said that an upcoming episode (reportedly titled 'Body and Soul') has the Doctor's program being downloaded into Seven of Nine's body in order to protect the Doctor. Arnold noted that Bob Picardo planned convention jokes about being inside Jeri Ryan, but it sounds as if this will be a serious story more along the lines of the original series' 'Return To Tomorrow.' It also clearly could further the romantic tension between the Doctor and Seven.

Contrary to statements by Berman, Braga and Paramount execs, Arnold also made the shocking announcement that absolutely nothing has been decided about Series V. He was concerned that Voyager's stages, which have been on continual use since the 1970s when Star Trek Phase II was in the planning stages, might be torn down if the new show wasn't ready to shoot when Voyager wraps. Either Berman and Braga have been lying through their teeth, or Arnold is misinformed. Who do we believe?

Star Trek-New Earth: Challenger and Star Trek: Preserver

Pocket Books released the final volumes in two series this month--though neither one is really a finale, because Star Trek New Earth: Challenger kicks off a New Frontier-type series centered on the Challenger crew, and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens--err, William Shatner--promise that James T. Kirk will return following the end of Star Trek: Preserver, which concludes the trilogy begun with Spectre and Dark Victory.

In the case of both these books, it's rather helpful to have read the five books that precede them. Challenger is quite long and takes awhile to find its speed, unlike its Star Trek: New Earth predecessor Thin Air, one of the shortest and most dramatic of the mini-series' volumes. It's one of those books you can't put down. Carey doesn't have the same energy in her writing style as Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which works well when her characters are being introspective or when she's describing people, but makes it a bit harder to get excited when she's introducing new characters, like in the first New Earth book.

Challenger starts with the man who's going to end up in charge of the new starship, Nick Keller, in the midst of a disaster that leaves him marooned, desperate to get to the Enterprise as it fights a powerful enemy who represent a threat not only to Belle Terre, but to the enemies of the Federation colony there. Keller occasionally lapses into cliche, but for the most part he's a compelling character, cobbling a crew and ship together out of nothing, plotting mutiny and murder when he has to, killing a good friend to save others when he has to. Moreover, Carey brings back a wonderful character who 'died' in the early pages of Wagon Train to the Stars for a critical role at the end.

The only problem is that, in this novel, these guys have to compete with Kirk and with dozens of compelling new characters introduced in this series. So while the plucky little wrestler who doesn't sound a thing like Starfleet can hold his own, Keller doesn't quite do the same. Peter David made MacKenzie Calhoun a boy hero, someone who came in with a legendary past despite his flaws. Keller's reasonably smart and tough and sensitive, but in this massive volume of a mini-series that has introduced many new characters and brought back many beloved old ones, he sometimes gets a little lost.

The same could never be said of Kirk in Preserver. The conclusion of the three-book saga concerning the alternate universe from the classic episode 'Mirror, Mirror,' Preserver focuses on a powerful alien race of Preservers who can create planets and possibly entire universes, though the Federation has doubts that they even exist. For anyone who needs the backstory, in Shatner's Odyssey trilogy, Kirk was revived after Generations by Borg nanotech and married a hybrid Klingon-Romulan named Teilani, who along with her unborn child is dying at the start of Preserver. She's been poisoned. Kirk makes an alliance with Emperor Tiberius, formerly of the ISS Enterprise, to save her life.

Unfortunately, at the time Kirk makes this unholy pact, he doesn't yet know that Tiberius will be responsible for the end of the universe if something isn't done. The story brings in threads of dozens of original Trek episodes, from Miri's world to Balok to the Guardian of Forever (which has surprising links to the storyline). Despite the fact that he is well over 100 years old, McCoy assists Kirk along with Spock, while Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of his younger Enterprise try to sort out what's at stake.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is another Kirk-Picard collaboration, however. This is a Kirk book through and through, which I mean in the best possible sense. It's packed with action, potshots at the Prime Directive, angst about the captain's obligations to his crew, Starfleet, the civilians of the galaxy, and speculation about the nature of parallel universes and parallel personality counterparts. Shatner and the Reeves-Stevenses know all these characters and the affection shows through. Even when Kirk is behaving like a jerk, it's impossible not to feel for him.

That's the uncanny thing Peter David somehow managed in New Frontier, to create a captain who's funny and flawed and brilliant and passionate and absolutely real even though he's larger than life. Carey hasn't quite managed it in Challenger, but this is only our introduction; there's a lot of room to grow.

Singing Vulcan

On Tuesday, radio shock jock Howard Stern announced on his show that Voyager's Tim Russ has agreed to a Battle of the Bands against the Losers, the studio band with whom Stern plays. Later in the week, Stern considered songs from the 1960s the Losers could play, but ended up favoring 'Spirit In The Sky' because the others might be too complicated.

Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga told TrekToday that in all likelihood, Russ will appear with Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra, who usually accompany Russ. Russ has sung at many conventions and coffeehouses, though his discography cannot yet rival that of William Shatner. Stern, a casual Trek fan, made clear his desire to meet Roxann Dawson after seeing the 'hot' episode 'Blood Fever.'

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