Star Trek: Voyager is a spin off from the original Star Trek TV program in which a Federation ship, Voyager, is transported to the distant delta quadrant, far from Earth. The plot centers on the crew’s attempts to return home.
The show ran for seven seasons (1995 to 2001) and contains significant innovations from previous series (Star Trek: The Original Series; Star Trek: The Next Generation), most notably the woman captain, Kathryn Janeway; the holographic doctor who gained freedom from the holodeck by obtaining a mobile emitter from his future; and Seven of Nine.
Originally a human girl (Annika Hansen), Seven of Nine was transformed into a semi-cybernetic entity when assimilated by the Borg in her childhood. Seven’s humanity is restored when Commander Chakotay stimulates her human memories through a technologically assisted mind-link.
Actress Kate Mulgrew (Left) Stars As (Captain Kathryn Janeway) And Susanna Thompson Stars As (The Borg Queen) In United Paramount Network’s Sci-Fi Television Series ‘Star Trek: Voyager.’ Episode: ‘Unimatrix Zero, Part Two.’
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Although Janeway is fully human, the doctor and Seven each try to learn what it’s like to be human through different means. The doctor receives new programming giving him more spatial freedom or, alternately, which allows him to feel human emotion. Seven learns about her human roots through trial and error and is rewired to feel emotion without the usual Borg constraints. This makes for interesting viewing. We learn afresh what it means to be human, vulnerable, and to take risks.
Janeway’s import lies in her character, played by actor Kate Mulgrew. A strong captain, she has moments of doubt where she relies on the counsel of her male Commander Chakotay. When the show first aired, the time was ripe for this inversion of traditional sex-role stereotypes.
Not unlike William Shatner (who plays Captain Kirk in the original series), Mulgrew’s acting is a little wooden here and there. What’s different, however, is that wooden acting was more common on TV in the 1960s than the 1990s. So this might have been one factor preventing Voyager from becoming a full-fledged pop phenomenon like The Original Series and The Next Generation.
By the time the Voyager makes it home, however, Mulgrew puts in a solid performance as her older self who travels back in time to ensure the safety of her crew as they jump through a Borg infested wormhole. In fact, I felt she played her older self far more convincingly than her present self.¹
¹ For some years there were rumors that Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan were at odds on the set. These have recently been confirmed. Apparently Ryan would feel nauseous just thinking about having to do a scene with Mulgrew. See http://trekcore.com/blog/2014/11/ryan-mulgrew-feud/ This is surprising because Janeway often plays a concerned “mother” figure to Seven, and does so quite well.