By Joe Nazzaro
Trek: Voyager's executive producer Jeri Taylor is moving on to new
worlds. She recalls four years in the Delta Quadrant.
AFTER four seasons as executive producer, Star Trek: Voyager's co-creator Jeri Taylor is moving on. Taylor, who's been part of the Star Trek franchise ever since landing a staff position on The Next Generation back in 1990, will be exploring new frontiers as a writer, although, as she's quick to point out, her involvement with Voyager is by no means at an end. "It's my last season as executive producer," she explains. "I will continue to be involved with the show as a consultant, and I will continue to write scripts for the show, but I am leaving the day to day running of the show in other very fine hands."
Those hands belong to Brannon Braga, who's also been with the show since the start. "He's going to do a great job, so I leave without any qualms whatsoever." Part of the reason for Taylor's departure is to take a step back from producing, but it's also to pursue a long-time (and long-delayed) dream of becoming a novelist. "I've given a great deal of thought to all of this, and as I say, I plan to write scripts for Voyager and I also plan to turn part of my creative instincts towards more novels. My ultimate goal would be a transition into mainstream, which is a very difficult task and may remain only a goal, but at least it gives me something to shoot for."
With Voyager's fourth season drawing to a close, Taylor is happy to look back at her final year as executive producer. As Starburst readers will doubtless recall from previous interviews, her views are always honest to the point of bluntness, even if they involve an occasional mis-step in the show's direction.
"The major change we made this season of course, was adding Seven of Nine, which has been a very fortunate change; it's worked better than we ever could have expected. And then once you have that, it alters everybody's arc and character. Janeway has had to cope with the presence of this prickly person on board, so everybody was affected in some way; that just happened organically.
"In terms of other kinds of approaches this season, we really continued the drive we'd been making since Season Three, which is to up the adventure quotient, to take our people out of the mould of feeling so sorry for themselves because they're stuck way out in Space, and to emphasize the joy they get from being the first from the Alpha Quadrant to experience many of these things in the Delta Quadrant, so it's not been a major restructuring in that sense. It was really Seven of Nine who provided us with our major challenges, and we were just delighted with everything that's brought us."
Search for Seven
As Taylor relates, there was an exhaustive search to find the right actress for the role of Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone who reluctantly joins the Voyager crew after being cut off from the Collective. They finally cast Jeri Ryan, who ironically had only just left another SF series, the short-lived Dark Skies, where her character had spent most of the time tracking down alien invaders. "It took us a long time, and I don't know how many people we read. This was as crucial as casting the captain; this character had to be right, and we were asking the actors to do something very difficult, which is to play a character that is in many ways inaccessible. The Borg are mindless, not in the strictest sense of the word, but automatons. They have a single mind, there's no individuality, no uniqueness, and this is a tough thing for an actor to bring off and be sympathetic. When we started out, we didn't know how successful it was going to be.
"Jeri Ryan has far exceeded our expectations. She's not only a beautiful, stunning woman, but she's proved herself an absolutely outstanding actress. She owned that role from the moment she stepped onto the bridge."
Voyager image copyright Paramount
Read the full interview with Jeri Taylor in Starburst #240