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Why were so many characters on Voyager underdeveloped?

Matthias Russell

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Report this Sep. 12 2011, 8:53 pm

Why were so many characters on Voyager underdeveloped? Janeway, the Doctor and 7 of 9 got the lion's share of the development, Tom Paris and Torres got some development, but everyone else:

Tuvok often didn't have much to do, Chakotay never really developed beyond an Native American stereotype, despite trying to give him random hobbies, Neelix never really developed beyond being an annoying unfunny attempt at "comic relief", Kes' character didn't really go anywhere and then there is Harry Kim, about as interesting as a block of wood and the oldest ensign ever, making his character completely static.

It seems like Voyager could not handle an ensemble cast like other Star Trek shows could.DS9's secondary characters got more development than many of VOY's primaries.

Is there a good (or bad) reason for this?

Matthias Russell

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 8:38 am

I'll agree with you there. But I think Chakotay and Kes were underdeveloped while Kes was developed wrong. Kes could have been great- a means to explore aging and mortality but instead they just focused on her mental powers.
Then Seven came in. Mind you she was a great character and actress but all the effort went into developing Seven at that point.

SLagonia

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 9:33 am

Some of it has to do with the fact that they were really one-dimensional at the start, and the rest of it was a lack of effort on the writer's part.  The actors, to their credit, really did a lot to bring depth to their characters, and that should really be recognized.  They clearly took far more pride in their work than the writers.


"If it doesn't work, paint it." -Unofficial Motto of the Starfleet Border Patrol -------- "Speak for the unheard, secure the vulnerable, bring light to the dark, fight for those who cannot" -Real motto of The Starfleet Border Patrol

Blinkn

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 10:08 am

I agree with all that's been said.


Harry, Chakotay, Tuvok, and Neelix did their part by making things seem diverse, if they talked too much would have messed up the astetic.


I think it was sad that stories that focused on these characters were always the same, it almost never took them out of their element. Chute and Nemesis were great for Harry and Chakotay.


They still clung to that ensign eager and the Injun crap but it relied more on testing them as human beings and less on their ethnic personas.


Mortal Coil for Neelix, I think did a good job and maybe I guess Innocence did the same thing for Tuvok. The writers really had to eatting their Wheaties to pull something off that wasn't just an outgrowth of their stock tokenness.


I want to see a character that isn't labeled as 'gay' have a nice, normal romance with no hint of prejudice, no allegory and no message at all. Just put it there, like it happens all the time and no one gives a damn, which is exactly how it should be. I don't want a story about how no one understands them or how society isn't accepting, just have it happen. ~ SLagonia

KelisThePoet

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 12:03 pm

Well, first of all, I just don't agree with the assertion that the Voyager characters were underdeveloped, comparatively speaking.  I would say that the least developed characters on Voyager were Kes, Harry, Chakotay and Tuvok, and in my opinion, these characters were actually less underdeveloped than were Scotty, Uhura, Chekhov, Sulu, Rand and Chapel in the original Star Trek; Wesley, Yar, Dr. Crusher, Pulaski, Geordi and Riker in The Next Generation; or Travis, Hoshi and Malcolm on Enterprise.


Of course, in the above lists, I'm referring to how much screen time the characters got.  How well that screen time was used is another issue.  Personally, I think little writing and acting details helped the minor characters in Voyager establish themselves far better than the minor Next Generation characters and somewhat better than the Enterprise characters.  A lot of people on these boards are quick to say some version of "Voyager was not well written" or "Voyager was not well done," but that's a matter of personal opinion, and if it doesn't get a lot more specific, there's not much I can say, apart from the fact that I have a very different personal opinion.


I am surprised people would claim Neelix was underdeveloped, considering the amount of screen time he got, both in episodes that featured him and in little scenes throughout the series.  I think Neelix is a perfect example of people claiming that something on Voyager was underdeveloped when what's really going on is that they personally didn't enjoy the way it was developed.


Seven got a lot of time devoted to her in Season 4, which makes sense to me, because she was a brand new character that had to be established, and no one else on the show shared that status.  In Seasons 5, 6 and 7, Seven was given no more screen time than the other major characters/relationships (Janeway, the doctor, Tom-and-B'Elanna).  And personally, with a cast as big as Voyager's, I prefer the focus on a few major characters, with the others used judiciously to add a little more texture to the world of the show, but again, that's personal preference.  My standard of judgment for Star Trek has always been the original show, and its focus was always a few major characters, rather than a huge ensemble.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

SLagonia

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 12:08 pm

Quote: KelisThePoet @ Sep. 13 2011, 12:03 pm

> these characters were actually less underdeveloped than were Scotty, Uhura, Chekhov, Sulu, Rand and Chapel in the original Star Trek;


Well, that's by design.  It wasn't an ensable cast, it was Kirk, Spock and McCoy, with a number of memorable minor characters.  Because they were so memorable and well-acted, they came into their own in the movie franchise, but they were never meant to be anything more than background characters in the series. 


That's not a failing, I actually think a more focused cast would really help the next Trek installment - Work on developing a few characters really well rather than try to get everyone a line and never move anyone forward.


"If it doesn't work, paint it." -Unofficial Motto of the Starfleet Border Patrol -------- "Speak for the unheard, secure the vulnerable, bring light to the dark, fight for those who cannot" -Real motto of The Starfleet Border Patrol

KelisThePoet

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 12:32 pm

Oh, I agree: the original series in no way failed by focusing on a few great characters.


I'm just saying that, in my opinion, Voyager also didn't fail by focusing on a few.  I don't think Voyager did as well managing its characters as did the original Star Trek.  The original show was designed from the beginning around two or three main characters, whereas Voyager seems to have started out under more of an "ensemble" premise, and it was only as the show grew and developed, with some growing pains, that the writers started to narrow their focus.  But my opinion is that Voyager was going in the right direction when they prioritized a few of the most intriguing characters and relationships, rather than trying to manage everyone's time equally.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

___Lucifer___

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 12:54 pm

Lazy writers who didn't want to take any chances and just play it safe. The same thing applied to the ship itself, which was pristine and spacedock quality by the end of any given story,  the exception being the addition of the astrometrics lab.


SLagonia

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 12:56 pm

Quote: KelisThePoet @ Sep. 13 2011, 12:32 pm

>

>Oh, I agree: the original series in no way failed by focusing on a few great characters.

>I'm just saying that, in my opinion, Voyager also didn't fail by focusing on a few.  I don't think Voyager did as well managing its characters as did the original Star Trek.  The original show was designed from the beginning around two or three main characters, whereas Voyager seems to have started out under more of an "ensemble" premise, and it was only as the show grew and developed, with some growing pains, that the writers started to narrow their focus.  But my opinion is that Voyager was going in the right direction when they prioritized a few of the most intriguing characters and relationships, rather than trying to manage everyone's time equally.

>


Agreed.  Especially in the early days of Voyager, they forced every character into every episode, even when they didn't belong anywhere near the plot.  They would have done better to focus on a few characters.


"If it doesn't work, paint it." -Unofficial Motto of the Starfleet Border Patrol -------- "Speak for the unheard, secure the vulnerable, bring light to the dark, fight for those who cannot" -Real motto of The Starfleet Border Patrol

Dralek

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 1:16 pm

I think one of the things that caused Voyager's characters to suffer was its originality.  They were cut off from everyone they knew.  In TNG and DS9 characters often crossed the paths of friends or family members.  Those interactions helped show us more of the character than their job.

SLagonia

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 1:36 pm

Quote: Dralek @ Sep. 13 2011, 1:16 pm

>

>I think one of the things that caused Voyager's characters to suffer was its originality.  They were cut off from everyone they knew.  In TNG and DS9 characters often crossed the paths of friends or family members.  Those interactions helped show us more of the character than their job.

>


DS9 also took advantage of their minor characters, and used them to help advance the main characters.  Voyager could easily have done that if they had chosen to, but instead they had two minor characters, one of which was so unimportant that they were all surprised when they found out they hadn't killed him yet.


"If it doesn't work, paint it." -Unofficial Motto of the Starfleet Border Patrol -------- "Speak for the unheard, secure the vulnerable, bring light to the dark, fight for those who cannot" -Real motto of The Starfleet Border Patrol

Blinkn

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 5:49 pm

maybe you are right, Kelis, Neelix was better developed than I had originally thought, because he may have served the very function Lagonia is talking about he advanced other characters and by doing so defined himself. Kind've like Phlox.


I think his lack of specific purpose was probably why I felt Neelix was left in the breeze.


And perhaps a show should focus on fewer characters than a larger cast but as Lagonia said DS9 found a way to enrich the main cast and the minor players. I'm afraid that if they do focus on a select few it will be like Enterprise, the actors will be God awful despite being quite handsome or a great actor and little chance to show it.


Or a smaller cast will end up focusing on the white male captain, the white female sex symbol, the quirky alien robot hologram character, or the overbearing "human" character. Meanwhile we've got the token minor characters running around enriching them with their "other" persepctive.


I want to see a character that isn't labeled as 'gay' have a nice, normal romance with no hint of prejudice, no allegory and no message at all. Just put it there, like it happens all the time and no one gives a damn, which is exactly how it should be. I don't want a story about how no one understands them or how society isn't accepting, just have it happen. ~ SLagonia

KelisThePoet

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POSTS: 636

Report this Sep. 13 2011, 7:19 pm

Quote: Dralek @ Sep. 13 2011, 1:16 pm

>I think one of the things that caused Voyager's characters to suffer was its originality.  They were cut off from everyone they knew.  In TNG and DS9 characters often crossed the paths of friends or family members.  Those interactions helped show us more of the character than their job.
[shrugs] Tom's father was heading up the team in the Alpha Quadrant trying to get Voyager back, so we got quite a bit of him.  Seven ran across her parents' old ship (providing the audience with some flashbacks), and she ran across some members of her unimatrix "family" in "Survival Instinct."  In my opinion, two of the best episodes in Star Trek dealt with B'Elanna's father and her mother.  We got as many outside connections to the Voyager characters as I wanted, personally.  Any more than that, and you run the risk of turning a good sci-fi adventure into family melodrama.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

KelisThePoet

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Report this Sep. 13 2011, 7:29 pm

Quote: Blinkn @ Sep. 13 2011, 5:49 pm

>And perhaps a show should focus on fewer characters than a larger cast but as Lagonia said DS9 found a way to enrich the main cast and the minor players. I'm afraid that if they do focus on a select few it will be like Enterprise, the actors will be God awful despite being quite handsome or a great actor and little chance to show it.

>Or a smaller cast will end up focusing on the white male captain, the white female sex symbol, the quirky alien robot hologram character, or the overbearing "human" character. Meanwhile we've got the token minor characters running around enriching them with their "other" persepctive.
I think your concerns prove my point that people complain about a smaller cast when they really don't like a badly handled small cast, or a cast that's handled in a way that doesn't match up with their personal viewing tastes.  Any size cast can be mishandled, and I don't want to watch a few poorly written, poorly acted characters or a giant miscellany of poorly written, poorly acted characters.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

Matthias Russell

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POSTS: 7705

Report this Sep. 13 2011, 8:03 pm

Maybe future trek works, including Abrams stuff needs to focus just a few great characters instead of several good ones. But then, DS9 did great with many, many characters.

I'd say for a movie, you have to limit your principle protagonists. But with Voyager I think it was just failure of the writing and acting staff. The concepts had great potential.

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