Or very near them, if you’re heading to the ExCel Centre in London this weekend. Any Trekkie – or Trekker, if you’ll excuse me, the more-hardcore fans prefer this title – worth his or her salt will be in London this weekend taking part in the biggest Star Trek convention that has ever been on outside of North America in the show’s forty-seven year history. This show is boasting not only the presence of forty Star Trek alumni, but all five television captains on stage together for the first time in Europe. Even those that aren’t Star Trek fans can’t really dismiss the sheer feat of that.
One of the greatest things about Star Trek is the never-ending war that rages on between the Trekkies/ers about a) the best series in the franchise and b) the best captain. For decades this has been fought and discussed, dissected and argued and like religion and science, there will never be an agreement. All I can do is put my two cents in and discuss my favourites of these two.
Controversially my favourite franchise is Voyager and thusly my favourite captain is Captain Kathryn Janeway. Voyager aired from 1995-2001 and like The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine before it, ran for seven full seasons and told the struggling adventures of the 75,000 light-year journey the starship USS Voyager endured in its return to the Alpha Quadrant, where the Star Trek universe is primarily set. This was a huge gamble for Paramount with regards to Voyager as not only was this the first Star Trek series to be set outside of the Alpha Quadrant, there was something even more daring about it – it boasted the saga’s first-ever female captain. Cue: “Shock, horror! What do you mean, a woman flying an intrepid-class vessel? We can’t have that! And she has a winey voice and annoying hair.” Yes. Janeway was definitely a grower, but Kate Mulgrew won them eventually with her gutsy portrayal of Janeway.
So things were certainly not easy for Paramount as they hoped Trekkies/ers would continue investing their love and faith for Star Trek in this new franchise. Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard was a very difficult act to follow, he himself following probably the greatest and most-loved captain of them all, Captain James T. Kirk, some twenty-one years later with TNG. Post-Picard saw the first African-American Starfleet captain take over in 1993 with Avery Brooks’ Captain Benjamin Sisko and his battles throughout the Dominion War on Deep Space Nine (incidentally my second favourite Trek series). Just a couple of years after, Voyager cruised along at warp 9.975 (geek fact) and was unintentionally catapulted some 75,000 light years into the Delta Quadrant where it would take the crew many years to return. Not to spoil the ending, but they didn’t get back without the help of the most feared nemesis in the Trek universe, the Borg. Ooo…
For me, Voyager emitted massive values of courage, hope and a heart-warming sense of family. Janeway had nothing but faith in getting her crew safely back home to Earth and although of course I love all the captains dearly, it was Janeway’s the-only-way-I-will-give-up-is-if-I-die-attitude, brilliant diplomacy skills and her sheer unending will to return home that struck cords with me. Voyager doesn’t have the best ensemble; no Trek series has that glory as there are great characters in all the series. However Voyager was the series that fought endlessly with the Borg, discovered Species 8472, proved that holograms are sentient and even captured and rehabilitated their very own Borg drone and brought her back to humanity. These are stellar achievements and while I’m not belittling any of Picard’s, Sisko’s, Kirk’s or indeed Captain Jonathan Archer’s (from Enterprise) own fights and wars, Voyager in my opinion fought the hardest, dealt with the most and came out through triumphantly in the end. As with all the series, Voyager had its duff episodes too but the greatest ones, Dark Frontier, Unimatrix Zero, Year of Hell outshone these a hundred fold.
Anyway whichever Starfleet captain you love the most you are of course entitled to your opinion of. I am under no illusion that one day people will agree who the best captain was or which was the best series; I’d like to focus more on my hope that as we progress through the years, Gene Roddenberry’s visions of the future will continue to become a reality. Hell, we’re halfway there already… far beyond the stars.
For more information on Destination Star Trek London, click here.