Kate Mulgrew being adorable on “Inside Star Trek Voyager”
what’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to do as an actor? force field acting is a special treat that we got on star trek, which was really fun! [x]
Voyager Line Counts
@killermanatee’s post about line counts reminded me of when the Voyager newsgroup did something similar, back in the ‘90s when people actually used Usenet. The line counting project was meant to settle the constant arguments about which characters were being neglected. Or at least to provide some solid data for the debate.
The above chart uses Chakoteya’s numbers:
They are slightly different than the newsgroup’s (people have different ways of counting lines), but they are public, and they are complete. (I’m not sure we ever got around to counting season 7, since the line counting project was done while Voyager was still in production.)
The chart shows the average number of lines per episode per season for each character. I’m not trying to be a mathemagician by doing that. I tried graphing the line counts for each episode, but that resulted in a ridiculously cluttered and unreadable graph. Then I tried lines per season, but that was misleading because there are different numbers of episodes in each season. So I divided the number of lines each character had each season by the number of episodes per season.
The trends are the interesting thing, IMO. After season one, the rankings are:
By the end, the rankings are:
Tuvok, Torres, Chakotay, and Kim all had more screen time than Paris in the first season. By the end, they were on the bottom and Paris was in fourth place, behind only Janeway, the Doc, and Seven.
The pattern is kind of depressing. Apparently, it really helped to be white when it came to getting screen time.
Other interesting things in the graph: that dip in everyone’s line counts in season 6 is likely due to the emphasis on guest stars that season. The EMH was originally meant to be a drop-in character, not seen in every episode. But he ended up taking over the show, with more screen time even than Seven by the end. Harry Kim’s best season was season 5, perhaps because they were so happy with Garrett Wang’s performances in the “The Killing Game” and “Timeless” he ended getting three episodes that season, instead of the usual one or two.
I’m sure the writers would say that the reason they wrote more for some of the characters is that they are more interesting. But I have to think that might be putting the cart before the horse. If they wrote as much for Tuvok or Torres as they did for the EMH and Seven, maybe they’d be just as interesting.
Wow. In the first season, the top five characters were a white woman, black (alien) man, Latina (alien) woman, Native American man, and an Asian man.
By the end, the top five were a white woman, a white man (though AI, he looked human), a white woman, a white man, and a Native American man.
Yeah… I always thought the EMH and Seven were the most well-developed characters because they had their “becoming human” storylines. Which was apparently all the writers were interested in exploring. The network and producers were very much opposed to character arcs, in general, it seemed. Yet Seven and the EMH were able to get seasons long character development. The only explanation is that those in charge REFUSED to give the other characters much consistency or development. I suppose there was a lot of in-fighting. Cool.
I think there was all kinds of stuff going on, and it’s not all the writers’ fault.
Part of it was the viewers. This was a huge issue at the time. Hollywood was getting pressure to feature more characters of color, but focus groups showed that for a big swath of America, too many non-white faces on their screens would make them change the channel. Especially with certain situations – like a man of color in a close relationship with a white woman. (I suspect this dynamic is what killed Tuvok’s friendship with Janeway; they were supposed to be the Kirk and Spock of Voyager, but that wasn’t often shown.)
And part of it was Rick Berman. Garrett Wang has frequently ranted about what Berman told them at the cast breakfast he invited them all to when VOY began production. Berman told them that the human characters had to be underplayed, or the non-humans would look fake. If they didn’t underplay a scene, it would be re-shot until they did. Wang says for the entire first season, all he heard was, “Bring it down, Garrett, bring it down.”
The writers were also told to emphasize the non-human characters. The “breakout” characters in previous Treks had been non-humans (Spock and Data), and Berman was expecting that to be true of VOY as well. That’s why the writers glommed onto the Doctor. He counted as non-human. He was supposed to be a drop-in character, but ended up taking over the show.
I suspect at least part of the reason the Doctor and Seven ended up such interesting characters is because the writers were pressured to give them more screen time, and the actors playing them were allowed the full range of expression, while the others had to restrain their performances in order to make characters like the Doctor and Seven look better.