The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

The Sixth Season in Review

by David E. Sluss

16 June 2000

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: The good news is that, on average, this was the best season of Voyager. The bad news is that, on average, this was the best season of Voyager.




This season is a lot like the last two. There are a couple of near-gems, loads of mediocre episodes, and several dogs. The near-gem-to-dog ratio was a little bit higher this year, but not enough to make Voyager a truly respectable series. Voyager still hasn't overcome or even attempted to address the many problems that have plagued the series since practically the beginning. I think we all know what they are, though some are unwilling to acknowledge them, but here's a partial list: Lack of consequences, lack of continuity, lack of consistent characterization, excessive use of contrivances and/or technobabble McGuffins, excessive use of cynical stunt casting, reset button and/or five-minutes-to-the-end endings, ridiculous science, and cliches. This show has always lacked focus, consistency and an adherence to the basic premise of the series, and this year was no exception.

Voyager (the series, and at times the ship) seems to be on autopilot, with scripts churned out by an exhausted idea sweatshop, or perhaps by a scripting AI gone awry, and the ratings and demographics are apparently good enough by UPN's bargain basement standards that no asses are kicked, no changes are attempted, and no new ideas are permitted to see the light of day. Indeed, given the lack of focus and continuity this year, the unifying theme for the season seemed to be recycling, or, put slightly more charitably, revisiting the ideas of the past rather than coming up with new ones. This manifested itself in a number of ways:

  1. Two shows for the price of one idea: The Fair Haven concept wasn't good enough for one show, much less two, but we got them anyway. And are Troi and Barclay really such a draw that not one but two episodes were devoted to their escapades?
  2. Recycled plots: Individualized Borg drones, near death experiences, non-corporeal aliens taking over the ship's computer, holodeck drivel. Come on, this is about as fresh as my laundry hamper.
  3. Retrocontinuity: It's bad enough to mess up the continuity of new episodes, but there's no need to go back and wreck the continuity of past episodes as well. In revisiting Voyager's past several times this year, more than just the details were corrupted. "The Voyager Conspiracy" called into question the very beginnings of Voyager's journey and then failed to resolve the many questions that arose. "Ashes to Ashes" retroactively plugged yet another Ensign Expendable into Voyager's history. And "Fury" hopelessly muddled Voyager's first three seasons by making Kes aware of her character's future actions in this gratuitous reappearance. Were Voyager's first three seasons so wonderful that they should be revisited every couple of months? Hardly.
  4. The Borg, the Borg, the Borg returning constantly. They're turning into a latter-day version of the Kazon, following Voyager around and becoming more and more ridiculous with each appearance. It's past time to put the Borg collective out to pasture and come up with something new.

To my mind, these are indicative of a writing staff that is completely devoid of new ideas. I don't look for things to be terribly different in Voyager's seventh and final season under the guidance of Kenneth Biller, and the early rumblings from rumor central seem to support my skepticism; for instance, we've got talk of yet another Big Borg Blast during next November's sweeps, and Voyager's return to Earth not taking place until the series finale, if at all, which will prevent the major repercussions of such an event from being seriously addressed (see the Cynics Corner of the Seventh Season, posted a couple of weeks ago, for more on the latter).

I guess we'll see, and yes, fans, despite my remarks in my "Spirit Folk" review, I'll tough it out for one more year. But enough about the future; let's look to the past, just like the show did...



In this section, I'll make a few comments about each episode, and assign each a Cynics Corner Rating, which in some cases has changed from the rating I gave when I first reviewed the episodes.


"EQUINOX, PART II": This is a bit better than the first part of the cliffhanger, a minor miracle in Star Trek lore, but there are still the usual problems, such as Voyager inexplicably finding an enclave of the cave-dwelling bumpkins who introduced the Equinox crew to the Antimatter-Farting Piranhas, even though their home planet is tens of thousands of light years back. More serious is Janeway's attempted murder of Crewman Lessing of the Equinox. And make no mistake; Janeway would indeed have killed that man if Chakotay hadn't intervened. Many of her actions in this episode are questionable, but this one is clearly indefensible and legally actionable, one would think. But of course, All Is Forgiven at the end of the hour. One also has to wonder what exactly the point of bringing the remaining Equinox crew members was, since they've never been seen since, not even in "Good Shepherd" in which their return might have been warranted.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (unchanged)


"SURVIVAL INSTINCT": There are quite a few "small world" coincidences and other contrivances here, as well as some elements that continue the series' ongoing Borg Emasculation Project, but this is still a well-scripted and well-acted hour. It's also a poignant taste of what might have been, had it not been for Ron Moore's unscheduled departure from the writing staff.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"BARGE OF THE DEAD": I know a lot of people went ape over this episode, and I expect to find it at the top of some reviewers' lists for the season, but I wasn't all that impressed with it, and like it less the more I think about it. The recycled feel of the plot, with its elements of Next Generation's "The Inner Light" and Voyager's own nearly (deservedly) forgotten "Coda," not to mention a heaping portion of Klingon Klaptrap, overwhelmed the episode for me. In addition, the portrayal of Janeway as Torres' mother-by-proxy was heavy-handed to say the least, and while Dawson's acting was competent for the most part, it wasn't quite good enough for an episode like this.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (down from 7.5)


"TINKER TENOR DOCTOR SPY": It has moments and is respectable for a "Star Trek comedy," but not funny enough to justify the suspension of disbelief required in order to buy it.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)


"ALICE": Voyager's first (but unfortunately not last) major stumble of the season, and a good example of an idiot plot, in which events take place only because the characters are idiots. No one insists that the alien neural interface be investigated before Paris uses it? The Captain, usually a meddler and micromanager, has no idea the ship has a neural interface and that Paris has named the vessel? No one locks the garage door? Blech.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.5 (unchanged)


"RIDDLES": There's a good episode in here somewhere, but it's almost as well hidden as the alien-of-the-week menace. It's also the beginning of a trend this season in which the Tuvok character seems to be mocked almost constantly by the writers and by the characters (though in some ways the Ponn Farr musical number in "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" might really be the start of this). Tuvok acting like a child in this show, Tuvok's only real spotlight this season, is the most obvious manifestation, but we also in this season had various instances of Paris and Kim screwing around with his holodeck programs, not to mention Tuvok getting spacesick, Tuvok snoring on the bridge, etc. The contempt and neglect shown this character is really quite puzzling, especially since Tim Russ is the only male actor other than Robert Picardo who puts in a good performance on a consistent basis. Anyway...

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (unchanged)


"DRAGON'S TEETH": "Alice" had elements of an idiot plot, but this one is a textbook example, as Janeway and company wake up the Voir Dire before going through all available databases to learn about them. And then, despite the horrible potential consequences to the Delta Quadrant we were told about and Janeway's schlocky prediction that "We haven't seen the last of them," the Voir Dire just dropped out of Voyager continuity. Oh, well.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.0 (down from 4.5)


"ONE SMALL STEP": Despite truly laughable science and the unlikeliest of coincidences, such as finding Yet Another Alpha Quadrant Connection in the Delta Quadrant and 350-year old components capable of powering the Delta Flyer, this episode manages to tell a moving story, thanks largely to the "interaction" of sorts between Seven of Nine and the dead astronaut. But there are still too many problems.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)


"THE VOYAGER CONSPIRACY": One of several episodes this season to revisit the past, this show is way off the scale on the Plausibility Meter. Seven's conspiracy theories are simply so outlandish that there is no way that Chakotay and Janeway would buy them even for a second. Besides that, the various continuity glitches (if you're going so far in a nostalgia piece as to show clips from old shows, you should endeavor to get the details right) and the unresolved mysteries that arose from Seven's research make this an episode that Jeri Ryan's performance can't save.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (down from 6.5)


"PATHFINDER": An entertaining and perhaps pivotal episode, the show does beg the question: Why is a guest character, Barclay, so competently and consistently written when none of the regulars are? Annoying continuity problems, like Barclay's signal getting through despite targeting a position that Voyager is about 30,000 light years past and the Doctor not knowing who Barclay is, keep this show solidly in the "B" range, but it's still a standout, much as I hate to praise such a cynically conceived and marketed episode.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"FAIR HAVEN": About the best thing you can say for it is that it isn't the worst episode of the season, nor even the worst holodeck show of the season. I think I summarized this episode quite well in my initial review: "An exercise in masturbation, in more ways than one." Janeway's moral dilemma is simply ridiculous when placed in the context of Voyager's situation and the technology available to our sexually frustrated castaways.

Cynics Corner Rating: 3.0 (unchanged)


"BLINK OF AN EYE": Possibly the only episode of the season that comes close to being actual Science Fiction, this show is largely a good one. The guest stars, unfortunately, are lousy, even by Voyager's abnormally low standards, and there are a few temporal problems with the closing attack from the planet's surface, which seems to conveniently pause whenever a Voyager crewperson needs to deliver a line. And I have to say that the notion of the Doctor experiencing three years and having a son(!) while on the planet being treated so cavalierly, played almost for laughs, doesn't sit well. On the Big Picture front, we see something of a mini-trend for the season beginning here, namely the notion of aliens who worship Voyager and/or its crew.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"VIRTUOSO": And here's another one that exhibits the same trend. This show is simply weak. The guest stars are just dreadful. The Komar's discourse about mathematics, I can tell you as a recovering mathematician, is every bit as bogus as every other science that Voyager attempts to use. The plotting is stupid, as is Janeway, for making the right decision with respect to allowing the Doctor to leave and then being talked out of it, as usual. Picardo can only do so much to save this show, and unfortunately, he can't lip-synch.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.0 (unchanged)


"MEMORIAL": As I said at the time, there is a truly superb episode here, but it's sandbagged by sub-par acting (this is about the time that I started to refer to Chakotay, Paris, and Kim as the Three Stooges, after all) and a two-by-four-to-the-head method of delivering the message. Janeway's decision to fix the transmitter is still debatable, though no one puts up much of a fight here, of course.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (unchanged)


"TSUNKATSE": It wasn't as bad as we all expected, but how could it be?

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (unchanged)


"COLLECTIVE": This just isn't a good episode, with holes all over the place. I give the writers some credit for setting up a relatively successful "story arc" with this show, however (relative to past experiments such as the "Tom Paris is a screwup and a traitor" debacle during the Kazon Years, anyway). But what the hell happened to that damned baby!!!!

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (up from 5.0)


"SPIRIT FOLK": What can I say? I declared this the worst episode of Star Trek ever made, and I still believe it. Give me other candidates, and I'll tell you why this one was worse. "Threshold?" Garbage? You betcha, probably in the bottom ten, but nevertheless, there was at least a legitimate goal in the episode, however implausibly and ridiculously it was accomplished. "Spock's Brain?" Yeah, that stinks, but it's a fun stinks, know what I mean? And besides, the stealing of a brain isn't outlandish in the Trekian future per se, though that which followed largely is. "Shades of Grey?" Should be held at arm's length by two fingers, for sure, but there was a legitimate issue (Riker's life) at stake here (plus you have to make allowances for the 1988 writer's strike that necessitated this ridiculous clip show). But what do we have here? A show in which the Captain refuses to pull the plug on the holodeck to save two officers, on the grounds that the loss of the holocharacters within would traumatize the crew. Is this what Star Trek has been reduced to?

Cynics Corner Rating: 0.3 (unchanged)


"ASHES TO ASHES": This year's Harry Kim vehicle crashes and burns like they usually do.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.5 (unchanged)


"CHILD'S PLAY": The climax of the Borg Kids Mini-Arc begun a few episodes before, this one would have been better had the Brunali's plans been thought through a little more by the writers and if their actions hadn't been dismissed so out of hand as being wrong.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (down from 8.0)


"GOOD SHEPHERD": Another episode with a fair amount of potential that just doesn't pay off. And that's got to be one of the more abrupt endings ever. People often complain of Star Trek exhibiting Five Minutes To The End Syndrome in many episodes; this one seemed more like Five Seconds To The End Syndrome.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (unchanged)


"LIVE FAST AND PROSPER": Standard fare. I do think that giving the Doctor the ability to impersonate anyone is a can of deuterium that shouldn't have been opened, though.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (unchanged)


"MUSE": I think I summed it up pretty well at the time: "An interesting, somewhat subversive episode, best viewed as a meta-fictional indictment of Voyager's own storytelling problems, such as rushed, inexplicable endings, inconsistent characterization, and crude acting." It's also another example of Voyager's crew members being worshiped in some sense, for what it's worth.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"FURY": Look up the word "pointless" in the dictionary and this script appears as a footnote. Kes' coda in "The Gift" was a fine send-off, as good as one can hope for from Voyager, and this episode simply sours the taste of that fine, and in my opinion under-rated, episode. And this is probably the worst use of Voyager retro-continuity in a season filled with it, as we are supposed to believe that the events we saw in Voyager's first three seasons still occurred in exactly the same way even though the Kes, Tuvok, and Janeway of that timeframe know of Kes' future psychosis and treachery. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (unchanged)


"LIFE LINE": I felt that this episode was rather predictable, but nevertheless, it's a standout for the season. Why can't most "regular" episodes be made like this (or better)? I just don't know.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"THE HAUNTING OF DECK TWELVE": In retrospect, I did overrate this episode a bit. It is cliched, it is recycled, it is excessively technobabbly; still, the context of Neelix's story made this story seem a lot fresher than it really was.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (down from 8.0)


"UNIMATRIX ZERO": On the other hand, even the low rating I gave to this episode seems high. Some say that we just have to accept the way that the Borg are now portrayed and let go of the past, but my perspective is different. Read my original comments for this episode (or for "Dark Frontier," "Scorpion," and other "Borg episodes" over the last three years), and my own views should be crystal clear: I think that the "New Borg," with its collective of inept and easily individualized mechanical stooges led by a sultry TV addict represent a disgraceful emasculation of the Borg, who were truly unique and menacing in the beginning (i.e. the "glory years" of The Next Generation). I find the Borg's portrayal here truly disappointing though sadly not unexpected. Worse, the willingness of Janeway, Torres, and Tuvok to be assimilated is simply unacceptable, no matter how the resolution in Part II turns out. Either the reset button is going to be hit real hard, so that the trauma that assimilees undergo (amputation, removal of eyes, etc.) is whitewashed, or the New Borg version of assimilation will turn out to be putting on a rubber suit, shaving one's head, and gluing on vacuum cleaner attachments.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.0 (unchanged)



As long-time readers know, the Cy Awards are given out every year in a number of categories to honor outstanding accomplishments over the course of the season. The nominees have been named, the ballots have been counted, and the statues have been recovered from the dumpsters into which malicious pranksters tossed them. But first, our musical number:

To be a Voyager viewer is a thankless, dirty job, but someone has to do it, and a lot of you, relative to other UPN shows anyway, come out and do your duty each and every week. So to honor your sacrifice, here's a little song, a tribute to Voyager and its staff from you, its loyal fans:

    "Every Ep You Make"
    (sung to the tune of "Every Breath You Take," by The Police)

    Every ep you make
    Every end you fake
    Every script you break
    Every out you take
    I'll be watching you

    Every single week
    Hear the cliches creak
    Though the show looks bleak
    It's the fix I seek
    So I'm watching you

    Oh, can't you tell
    I think Voy is swell
    How my poor couch aches with every ep you make

    Every plot you take
    Every gaffe you make
    My brain I'll forsake
    I've a thirst to slake
    So I'm watching you

    Since you're on, I've been rat-ion-al-iz-ing
    Whose bright idea was that Irish village thing?
    Why no alarm on the shuttlebay to ring?
    Why does the Captain think dronehood doesn't sting?
    I'm still thinking, thinking, thinking, ouch!


    Oh, can't you tell
    I think Voy is swell
    How my poor couch aches with every ep you make

    All science you blow
    All contempt you show
    Yet your egos grow
    'Cause you always know
    I'll be watching you

    Yet your egos grow
    'Cause you always know
    I'll be watching you

    I'll be watching you

            (Every ep you make
             Every end you fake
             Every script you break
             Every out you take)

    I'll be watching you

    [fade out]


Well, that was certainly moving, wasn't it? But without further adieu, let's get to our awards, shall we?

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE YEAR: On Voyager, space is malleable. One can travel tens of thousands of light years and still run across the same people. Or over them! [cue canned laughter] As in past years, Voyager's sixth season was a model of altering geography for plot purposes. Here are your nominees:

  • "Equinox, Part II": The Equinox found anti-matter farting piranhas on some backwater world, used them to travel tens of thousands of light years, and yet Voyager is able to get to that backwater world in a few hours.
  • "The Voyager Conspiracy": Seven mentions in passing that Voyager encountered a Talaxian colony a few weeks back. I doubt that Talax's (or Talaxia's, depending on which planet name is fashionable this week) influence extends 40,000 light years.
  • "Pathfinder": Barclay's communications gizmo works, even though according to Starfleet's information, Voyager should be 30,000 light years further away than they actually are.
  • "Ashes to Ashes": Ballard and her ghoulish people can travel 20,000 light years almost instantly in their crummy shuttlecraft.
  • "Fury": Kes flies to Voyager in a shuttle, and in the end intends to fly back to Ocampa in that shuttle, a distance of approximately 40,000 light years.

And the winner is: "Pathfinder," largely because it's a serious gaffe in an episode that is explicitly related to Voyager's journey home, and which seriously harms the credibility of a fine episode.


WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE YEAR: Voyager has never let little details like scientific accuracy and common sense get in the way of telling a story. Still, some of this season's scripts went above and beyond the call of duty in defying the laws of nature. And here they are:

  • "Equinox, Part II": In which we learn that the mythical deuterium is an ore that needs to be mined.
  • "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy": In which we discover that a nebula can be as small as 1,000 kilometers in diameter.
  • "One Small Step" and co-nominee "Good Shepherd": In which dark matter exhibits bizarro and inconsistent properties.
  • "Spirit Folk": In which Janeway's holographic lover is characterized as a "300-deciwatt hologram," which gives him about half the power of my desk lamp. Well, wattage isn't everything...
  • "Ashes to Ashes": Cosmetic surgery by hypospray? 'Nuff said.

And the winner is dark matter, which seems to have been this season's deuterium (a substance that was largely supplanted this year by the old Star Trek stand-by, dilithium), i.e. a real substance whose properties are completely misrepresented.


LAUGH LINE OF THE YEAR: Voyager can be a damned funny show, usually when it doesn't intend to be. Here are the best examples of lines that made you laugh in spite of the deadly earnestness with which they were often delivered:

  • "Alice": Chakotay: "We already have a full complement of shuttles"
  • "Riddles": Tuvok: "Surely you could find something more productive to occupy your time."
  • "One Small Step": Paris: "Chakotay's regaining consciousness"
  • "Fair Haven": Chakotay: "I wasn't thinking anything"
  • "Virtuoso": The Doctor's girlfriend, from a race of mathematicians: "What about the most important equation of all: 1 + 1?"

And the winner is "Fair Haven." They don't call him Chuckles for nothing, folks!


CHEAPO PROP OF THE YEAR: When you're the 116th rated television show, sometimes you have to cut corners. Here are the instances in which that cutting caused arterial bleeding:

  • "Riddles": The View-Master gizmo used to reveal the aliens.
  • "Pathfinder": The photo of Paris and his father, not only cobbled together, but reversed!
  • "Blink of an Eye": The obviously-on-a-string balloon the aliens used to try to communicate with Voyager.
  • "Good Shepherd": The Delta Flyer's escape pod, whose scale is totally out of proportion when viewed alongside the Flyer.

And the winner is "Blink of an Eye." The balloon makes for a simply dreadful-looking scene in an otherwise decent episode.


And now it's time for one of our special presentations this evening, the award for LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN EMASCULATION, which goes to Voyager in general since the show in recent years has so thoroughly chopped off the Borg Collective's spheres that the Borg now seem about as menacing as the Kazon. Congratulations all around.


CONTRIVANCE OF THE YEAR: When stories can't be resolved, sometimes you have to use brute force to make them work. The most "forceful" instances this season include:

  • "Dragon's Teeth": A rare occasion in which the transporter functions properly in an emergency, as Tuvok is successfully beamed up, despite radiation, attacks, and Voyager's shields being up.
  • "One Small Step": Not only do we have to buy another "Small World" coincidence of finding an Alpha Quadrant Artifact, but despite being 350 years old It Just So Happens that the Ares has components that can be used to repair the Delta Flyer.
  • "The Voyager Conspiracy": The conspiracy theories Seven spouts are simply to outlandish to be believed, and yet Janeway and Chakotay do.
  • "Spirit Folk": The enraged holograms are able to shoot out the holodeck controls while the safeties are still engaged.
  • "Fury": Kes says she can't control her abilities, but everything she does, such as pinpoint time (and space) travel, tossing people around psychokinetically, and breaking into computers indicates that she's doing just fine.

And the winner is "Spirit Folk." And we thought holodeck shows had already hit rock bottom...


WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE YEAR: As you know, Star Trek's Welfare Program does charitable work by placing needy actors in unnecessary roles, thus keeping them off public assistance. Let's recognize this important work. The nominees are:

  • "Dragon's Teeth": Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman in an unneeded filler cameo.
  • "Blink of an Eye": Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman in an unneeded filler cameo.
  • "Tsunkatse": Jeffrey Combs and J. G. Hertzler, recently laid off when DS9 closed up shop, get a break here, playing characters that for all intents and purposes are Weyoun and Martok, only with different latex.
  • "Fury": Josh Clark as Lt. Carey, delivering exactly one line.
  • "Life Line": Jack Shearer as Admiral Hayes, the character's second post-mortem appearance on Voyager, since he seems to have bought the farm in "First Contact" four years ago. Oops!

And the winner is Josh Clark, who was nominated last year as well. Hey, Josh, does only doing flashback episodes mean you're owed "back pay?" [cue canned laughter]


SPECIAL AWARD FOR NAME-DROPPING: Voyager's promotional team managed to plug Voyager not once but twice with suggestions that Captain Picard might appear. That's definitely a one-fisted marketing strategy. Keep it up!


COURT-MARTIAL OFFENSE OF THE YEAR: There's little in the way of consistent characterization in Voyager of course, but there's one notable exception: the consistent portrayal of Captain Janeway as inept and abusive of her authority. There are quite a few charges, excuse me, nominees, so many that we had to shoehorn in some extras:

  • "Equinox, Part II": Janeway's interrogation and attempted murder of Crewman Lessing.
  • "Riddles": Janeway offering tactical info about neighboring races to the invisible aliens in exchange for information that might help cure Tuvok.
  • "The Voyager Conspiracy": Janeway assists in the building of the transwarp catapult then leaves it behind for any Delta Quadrant riff-raff to find and misuse.
  • "Virtuoso": Janeway permits the Doctor to resign and leave the ship, leaving the ship's medical care in the hands of -- Tom Paris?
  • "Memorial": Janeway complicit in mass brainwashing.
  • "Live Fast and Prosper": Janeway shows no interest in the fact that the Federation database, and the technical and tactical data it undoubtedly contains, could be in the wrong hands.
  • "Life Line": Janeway permits the Doctor to risk his program so that he can visit the Alpha Quadrant, leaving the ship's medical care in the hands of -- Tom Paris?
  • "The Haunting of Deck Twelve": Janeway gives up her command codes to a potentially malevolent alien.
  • "Unimatrix Zero": Janeway exhibits mental incompetence by virtue of being willing to be assimilated (and therefore mutilated) by the Borg.

Boy, this is a tough one. But the first is the worst. Janeway's actions in "Equinox, Part II" are simply inexcusable and criminal no matter how you try to rationalize them.


And now we finally get to the big awards.

WORST ACTOR: Garrett Wang, for "Ashes to Ashes." On occasion, Wang has demonstrated talent, but he rarely seems to put any effort into his roles. Given the material he usually gets to work with, I sympathize; nevertheless, he's the "winner" for the third year in a row.

WORST ACTRESS: Jennifer Lien, for "Fury"; if you were trying to get a recurring role with this performance, don't quit your day job. I know, I know, Lien's not a regular anymore, but she still gets an "Also Starring" credit, plus I wanted to, so there.

BEST ACTOR: Tim Russ, for "The Haunting of Deck Twelve." The only real competition is Robert Picardo, of course, but frankly he and his character are starting to wear thin. Tim Russ, on the other hand, hasn't annoyed and hasn't gone over the top.

BEST ACTRESS: Jeri Ryan, for "Survival Instinct," though I have to say she and Seven of Nine are suffering from overexposure, in more ways than one. Still, there's probably no one in Voyager's cast who is better at salvaging weak episodes. This is the third year in a row for Jeri, by the way.

WORST EPISODE: Well, there's very little drama here, I guess. Since I've already declared "Spirit Folk" the worst episode ever, I guess it has to be the worst of the sixth season, unless I use Voyager Ordinals.

BEST EPISODE: There are five episodes this season that finished with a Cynics Corner Rating of 8.0. They are:

I hate to pick an Event Show, but I'm still going to go with "Pathfinder," which despite flaws tells a worthwhile story, has good characterization, and features genuine progress in Voyager's storyline (as invisible as that usually is). Ironically, this is the third year in a row that Voyager's best episode has been the one that least involved Voyager's own characters, the prior winners being "Message in a Bottle" and "Course: Oblivion." Indeed, all of this year's best shows, except for "Survival Instinct," focused on the Aliens of the Week or other guest characters rather than Voyager's crew. What that says about Voyager's characters can't be good...

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Next: Season 7 Review
Thank you, and good night.



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