Stardate 0010.16: Ratings and Imperfections - Mania.com



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Stardate 0010.16: Ratings and Imperfections

Plus: Trek Spoilers, Trek This Week, Trek Analysis, Trek People, Trek Comics

By Michelle Erica Green     October 16, 2000

Even though NBC's Emmy-winning hit The West Wing was last Wednesday night's ratings champion by a huge margin, the fall debut of Star Trek: Voyager brought in more young male viewers than any episode of the past three years. Average viewership was up over 15 percent from last season's premiere.

The ratings among adults 18-49 also hit a three-year high, with a 34 percent increase over last season, and the show was second only to West Wing in the older male 35-49 category (an important group to advertisers since they often have bigger bucks to spend). According to Variety, 7.10 million viewers tuned in for the premiere, compared to 6.20 million in 1999. 'Scorpion, Part II' was the last time Voyager enjoyed such high numbers.

Whether these ratings will hold, of course, is another question. The Borg often bring in higher-than-average numbers, but the writers can only play that card so many times in a season. There's a lot of genre competition on television in general, but with Roswell's move to Monday nights, Voyager is in direct competition with fewer shows aiming for the same demographics. If UPN's Friday night sci-fi lineup picks up a following, that might help Voyager with crossover advertising.

Trek Spoilers: Critical Drive, Shattered Nightingale

UPN is finally admitting that Torres and Paris will get married in 'Drive.' A network release reads, 'An impromptu space race leads to foul play, danger and a wedding...Tom Paris [executes] a flawless evasive maneuver and a marriage proposal, simultaneously.' In TV Guide's summary of the episode, 'B'Elanna tries to rekindle the spark in her relationship with Tom Paris by enlisting as his co-pilot in a galactic rally celebrating a newly established regional alliance.' First she goes along with his car fetish, then she makes him a television set...when is Paris going to do something for Torres rather than the other way around, and I don't mean just sticking a ring on her finger and getting her pregnant?

I'm not looking forward to 'Drive' or 'Lineage' (if that is indeed the new name for 'Inner Child') nearly as much as I'm looking forward to Torres meeting old-fashioned Klingons and exploring her Maquis past. Zap2It.com has posted an intriguing spoiler about 'Repression,' in which Tuvok hunts for an anonymous predator who leaves victimsincluding Torres and Chakotaywith a post-hypnotic suggestion to take over the ship. Who could it be? Seska's too obvious. Tuvok himself, since we know he's a telepath and worked undercover for the Maquis? A pre-launch plant from former Maquis Kasidy Yates? I just hope it's someone interesting.

From startrek.com, comes the official episode summary of 'Nightingale.' Harry Kim intercedes in a conflict between two Delta Quadrant species and is invited by the crew of a ship he saves to become their captain. Starfleet's oldest ensign assumes command, but discovers it's an awful lot of responsibility. (If he hadn't already figured that out, it's further proof Janeway hasn't been giving him nearly enough responsibility on Voyager, but I'm betting he goes back anyway.)

Now there's an official synopsis of 'Shattered,' too. A dreaded temporal anomaly hits Voyager, splitting different areas of the ship into different time-frames from its past and future. The Doctor develops a 'chronoton serum' to counteract the effects of the anomaly, which struck Chakotay point-blank, thus leaving him at the center of the disturbance. Because he is the only member of the crew who can roam the entire ship, it falls to the first officer to find a way out of the time disturbances.

Rumors have floated around since before hiatus of a future episode in which Voyager would discover a Delta Quadrant invasion plan for Earth. I even reported on that story, reportedly titled 'Eye in the Sky,' when it was rumored to be the start of the final arc. Now those rumors are back, focusing on the ship finding a telescope aimed at Earth. Another rumored episode, a Thousand and One Nights-type episode in which Janeway must tell stories about Voyager to save the ship and her own life, may be in production as well, according to a report on TrekToday.

TrekToday also reposted from the 'P/K All the Way' Website some quotes from a feature on UPN 9 News in New York, including short interviews with several cast members and a few clips from the upcoming episode 'Critical Care.' Robert Picardo summarized that episode thus: 'The Doctor is abducted by an alien HMO that's on a spaceship in orbit around a planet that's had all sorts of disasters. The way that this alien HMO operatesand it's not unlike other ones I've heard ofis that they give medical care based on the 'social worth' of the individual.'

This isn't really a Trek spoiler, but it did make me laugh: David Henderson of PsiPhi reported to TrekToday that the third episode of FOX's new Freakylinks is titled 'Subject: Edith Keeler Must Die.' Keeler of course was the 20th century woman from 'The City on the Edge of Forever' with whom Captain Kirk fell in love, only to discover that her death was necessary to stop Hitler from winning World War II. Freakylinks did moderately well on Friday night, but has already managed to get a phony occult story from its Website into the Weekly World News, credited to the fictional main character.

Trek This Week: 'Imperfection' Plot Summary

Seven's cortical node breaks down, causing her body to reject its Borg implants. Janeway orders the ship to find a Borg debris field so that they can take the Delta Flyer to retrieve a cortical node from a dead drone. But in repeated simulations, Seven dies when the Doctor tries to implant the inactive node. Janeway tells the Doctor she'll take another cortical node from a live drone if she has to, but the Doctor can't countenance ending one life to save another. Meanwhile Seven tells remaining Borg youth Icheb that he must study for the Starfleet Academy entrance exam without her.

Because Icheb emerged from a Borg maturation chamber before he was fully assimilated, he can probably survive without his cortical node, so he proposes to the Doctor that Seven be given Icheb's implant. When Seven insists that the procedure would be too risky for the young man, he disengages his cortical node to demonstrate that he can survive without it, telling Seven he won't accept her insistence that he learn to rely on others when she won't accept help from anyone else. Finally Seven agrees to accept Icheb's node before it ceases to function, and both live to work on Academy test preparations.

Trek Analysis: Imperfect Borg

This episode packs a lot of action and emotion into less than 45 minutes, giving Seven and Icheb a powerful lesson in relationships while creating an ethically fraught situation for Janeway and the Doctor. Some scary words get spoken aloud, like the names of the many crewmembers who have died so Janeway can brag about getting her ship closer to home. I'm hopeful it's a sign that the show will continue to address such fraught issues as the ship moves closer to Earth. Seven's facial degeneration is depicted horrifically, with disgusting squishing noises to accompany the necrotizing skin around the implants. It's easy to believe in Seven's vulnerability because her condition looks so pathetic.

Janeway marches onto a ruined cube prepared to cut open the face of a drone, despite the fact that she was a drone herself not long ago. By pulling a weapon on salvagers without trying to negotiate or trade with them, she gets Tuvok injured unnecessarily, though to her credit she takes orders from Paris when he devises a plan to escape the aliens. In the implant simulations, Janeway monitors the computer while Wonder Boy Paris assists the Doctorcan no one else on the ship read a computer screen or hand instruments to the Doctor? The crew must go berserk over Janeway's elite favorites, particularly when she regularly risks all their lives for her Borg protegee.

At moments, we see the return of 'Crazy Captain' from last season. The Doctor defuses Janeway's plan to hack up a live drone, yet it's appalling she would suggest it in the first place. I'm sure we're supposed to be moved by the captain's devotion to Seven, but as the Borg Queen pointed out to her, all drones were individuals once and could be again. The Doctor won't kill a drone even to save the woman he loves, just as he refused to separate Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelixan action Janeway took for him. What does the woman who spouts Prime Directive to Captain Ransom and tries to teach humanity to Seven really believe about the nature of individuality and the limits of command?

Seven and Torres had some of their best interaction when they discuss the afterlife and their mutual dislike of feeling vulnerable in Sickbay. I like it when this show tackles weighty material and doesn't try to oversimplify the consequences of difficult decisions. The fact that I can rant in this much detail is proof that 'Imperfection' works as a thoughtful, provocative episode.

Trek People: Voyager's Intrepid Crew

StarTrek.com has been running a series of 'Memorable Moments' consisting of various cast and crewmembers' favorite recollections of the show. Last week, Robert Duncan McNeill offered one of his, recalling the night before a past Christmas break when the whole cast was on the lot. 'At the end of the shoot, we all went to Kate Mulgrew's trailer and made martinis. We rarely have time to socialize together since we are so busy with our own lives and families, so it was a special bonding experience for us.'

Mulgrew anticipates that this Christmas will be even more poignant, as she told Cinescape in a brief interview. Asked whether a sense of finality about the series had begun to set in, Mulgrew responded, 'It's too early in the season...we won't actually get around to those feelings until, I don't think, about Christmas. Everybody on the set is aware of this, and there's a bittersweet quality to it.'

The actress sounded more upbeat than she has in recent interviews, saying she had committed to what promises to be a great season, rather than rehashing her desire to see Janeway go out in a coffin. 'We have to wrap up all these individual stories in which Janeway will be intricately involved,' she said, wondering again what would happen to Chakotay, Paris and the Maquis when the ship reached home. Mulgrew paralleled Janeway's need to say goodbye with sending her sons off to boarding school. 'It's a year of letting go for all the right reasons,' she noted.

Though Mulgrew has often complained that she gets restless in the makeup chair sitting for long stretches, she said that 'the Borg makeup was nothing to me...I don't know why actors always talk about the rigors of wearing makeup. If it takes five hours of sitting in a chair to get into your character, then that's what you should do.' To UPN 9 News, she added that she would like to play the Borg Queen and expressed admiration for the scenes Janeway shares with the arch-villainness.

Roxann Dawson, who must regularly endure hours of B'Elanna Torres' Klingon makeup, told UPN 9 that it was 'sorta fun' to have Borg mechanics and lights all over her, but 'a lot of fun to get out of it, too. You've got rubber on rubber...it's like 'how much rubber you gonna put on me?''

Robert Picardo, who along with Ryan has done the least complaining and the most praising of Voyager over hiatus, said he thought the show's impending conclusion probably has contributed to the less-than-satisfied tone of some of his co-stars. He laughed, 'No one is in any kind of danger of losing their job, so I think people are a lot more honest and straightforward about any aspect of the production, so that you will hear people complaining freely where they might have sat on it.'

Trek Comics: Star Trek The Next Generation: The Killing Shadows

Halfway through issue #1 of the four-part 'The Killing Shadows,' I mistakenly thought I was reading a tie-in for a new Trek game. Senior editor Jeff Mariotte writes at the conclusion of the issue, 'There's nothing as cool as a ninja,' and this mini-series seems primed to launch Star Trek: Intergalactic Shadow Ninja, with lots of gratuitous violence and oversimplified Japanese martial arts history.

The villains, the Bodai Shinwhich means 'the awakened of illuminated mind and spirit'are deadly telepathic assassins with supernatural abilities to cloak themselves. Having destroyed the crew of a science outpost, they target a scientist working on vastly improved transporter technology that could move entire cities or possibly entire worlds across vast distances. Data, not sounding much like a logical android, immediately announces that such a device 'would be closely related to planet-destroying weaponry,' though the scientist had never pondered such a connection.

With the exception of Deanna Troi's psychic foray into a mental struggle with the aliens, this story could have been used with any Trek crew. Red-shirted ensigns fall right and left. Riker and La Forge spout technobabble to save the ship. Picard and Data have a brief discussion of strategy that could easily have been Kirk speaking to Spock. The story seems like a thinly veiled excuse for deadly battles.

Though there's wonderful detail in the backgrounds of the illustrations of planet Nydaris, which keeps one populous side perpetually turned away from the sun, the frames on the Enterprise seem spare and dark, with Troi and Crusher barely recognizable. Picard and Data are drawn well, but with the exception of one early scene in which Data tries to understand human belief in higher powers, the characterizations receive minimal attention.

Fans of martial arts video games will probably not care and will enjoy the comic. Though Dr. Noguri, the target scientist, describes Ninja culture as refined, the Bodai Shin appear only vicious and abusive, with no suggestion of illuminated mind or spirit. One hopes that later installments of the mini-series will offer more insights into the motivations of these killers, rather than trying to glorify assassins as such.

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