Saturday 30 May 2020

The Year of Hell that could have been an actual year of Voyager

Star Trek writer Bryan Fuller has shed some light on what could have been an actual year long version of the classic Voyager two-parter Year of Hell (the one where Voyager gets blown to bits while dealing with the time altering hyjinx of the Krenim), while talking Trek on the Inglorious Treksperts podcast.

While thinking back on the production of the whole series, he highlighted Year of Hell as a lost opportunity to take Voyager down a very different, and much more serialised, path:
The Year of Hell and the behind the scenes drama around trying to craft no only that episode, but that season, was fascinating because we wanted Year of Hell to last the entire season. We wanted to see Voyager get its ass kicked every episode, and through that season was going to be marbled the story of Annorax and the time ship that was changing things. So we would go back to it every once in a while to remind the audience that's the larger story.

But because Deep Space Nine had made Rick Berman allergic to serialized storytelling, violently so... That, so many... It was interesting to see how charged up the writing room would become over these ideas, and the capacity to say, like, we are really going to be on the outskirts of the galaxy, and we are going to be fighting enemies that are kicking us when we are down. And the crew is going to have to separate and there's going to be following episodes that are going to deal with people on shuttlecraft with escape pods that are kind of like electrically buoyed together. And there would be an episode where you never saw Janeway, and never saw Voyager, because you are with the people who are on the escape pods trying to find a new source of power or safety. And it was like creative-crack for the writers room, because we were like, all of a sudden there were so many opportunities.

And I remember Brannon going over to Rick's office with all of this enthusiasm and coming back broken, and his head hanging low, and having to break it to the writing staff. We all felt like we were doing it, we are making great Star Trek. And for him to come back and say we can't, and like, we can only do two episodes as opposed to twenty-four, or twenty-two. It was heartbreaking. There was an interesting division between what Rick Berman wanted the show to be, which was episodic, and for the syndicated audience, and what we wanted to be creative storytellers working with the Star Trek toy box. Year of Hell is such a fascinating point in Voyager history.
Oh, what could have been!

He also discussed similar missed opportunities to earlier on with the Maquis storyline.
We lost very quickly the dynamics of the Maquis, interacting with a Starfleet crew. They were terrorists, they committed terrorist acts; and everybody was like, “It's okay, let's all sit in the mess hall together”.
You need to know these characters are culturally coming from a place that is different. So they can't just be regular members of the crew. Which it fell into very quickly to solve the problem of Deep Space Nine.
And that alludes to a wider point in the discussion, that Voyager was been pushed to be similar to, in style and success, TNG, and thus be different from the less episode style of DS9. Check out Inglorious Treksperts to listen to the full discussion, of these issues, but also the successes of Voyager. And then go check out some of their other episodes; they often have really interesting guests on, discussion all corners of the Trekverse.

If you like your podcasts, you can also get a load more Voyager behind the scenes insights from the new Delta Flyers podcast from Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) and Robert McNeill (Tom Paris), who are reminiscing on the series one episode at a time.

And if you do want to get more our of Year of Hell, I recommend you check out Kirsten Beyer's Voyager novel A Pocket Full of Lies, which manages to tie in the events of that lost timeline into timeline we know in an extremely satisfying way (as many of her Voyager novels do with other elements of the series). Christopher L. Bennett's novel Places of Exile (from the Myriad Universes anthology Infinity's Prism) also provides an enjoyable take on an alternate version of what Voyager could have been if other paths had been taken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that would have been awesome! The Year of Hell are some of my favorite Voyager episodes. I’ve often thought one of the biggest challenges for Voyager was the lack of an overall seasonal story lines. Regardless of the damages Voyager received, next episode everything seemed good as new. I thought the original intent was to tell a 7 years long story of this Star Fleet ship, cut off from home, make its way back..

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