09:51:31 on June 22
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Review Voyager
Reviews Ex Deus
"Fair Haven" - Written for TrekWeb.COM by 'O. Deus'
Star Trek has never had any trouble doing drama. Death, destruction and
misery have always been up the show's alley whether it be the original Star
Trek, The Next Generation or any of the spinoffs. Comedy though has always
been harder and Star Trek has an uneven history when it tries to go on the
lighter side of things. The Original Series managed to work up a near
perfect comedy routine with its three main characters but still many of the
lighter episodes like "Shore Leave" or "A Piece of the Action" don't work on
anything like a rational level. The Next Generation, with a persistantly
ramrod and humorless ensemble, mostly turned out comedic classics best
forgotten and DS9's idea of humor seemed to involve singing holograms and
little people with big ears involved in crime capers. Like TOS, Voyager has
a less serious tone, a cast with great comedic timing and is more open to
campy humor than its darker and more painfully serious cousin and uncle.
Like TOS, Voyager also has no shortage of unintentionally funny episodes and
"Fair Haven" comes close to qualifying.
"Fair Haven" is the third Voyager holodeck hideaway the crew have tried and the indecisiveness and the lack of originality weighs on the episode. From
the start "Fair Haven" can't seem to decide whether it's going for laughs or
trying to make some points about internal Voyager crew dynamics and
Janeway's lack of a love life. Unable to choose any kind of path, it hugs a
middle road that leads to a bland episode that doesn't even seem to care
about its main storyline. "Fair Haven" is a stereotypical cartoonish Irish
village into which the Voyager crew blend while looking for fun. The
stereotypes aren't nearly as offensive as TNG's "Up The Long Ladder" but the
problem here is more the banality of the premise than any of the P.C.
aspects of it. "Fair Haven" is just boring. We know just about everything
about the place because it's been reused so many times that it's
meaningless. Even Spock and the TOS cast would have gotten little out of
this material and so Voyager's crew is helplessly stranded, lost among
cliches rendered seriously as if the inhabitants of "Fair Haven" actually
Well one of them does anyway, to Janeway at least. The issue of Janeway's
lack of a relationship has been around for as long as the show has, at least
in part because of the double standard which says that every female
character on a show either has to be in a relationship or on course towards
one. Isolated from the Federation or any long term contacts, Janeway never
had much in the way of an oppurtunity for a relationship outside her own
crew. With the producers ruling out her crewmembers as a possibility while
not wishing to offend those fans who still wants Janeway and Chakotay to get
together, the only logical solution seems to be a hologram. Hence Janeway
pays a visit to a lovely Irish village, meets a tall, dark and handsome
bartender and spends some quality time with him.
What's wrong here? Well for one thing he's a hologram, a non-sentient
lifeform which puts him somewhere between a computer program and a really
smart ape. While "Fair Haven" is far more frank about sex with holograms than
the prudish TNG it really doesn't deal with the question of what to call a
person who finds sexual and emotional intimacy with something below the
human level. When the Doctor compares himself to the bartender this cleverly
dodges the point that the Doctor is considered to be a sentient being as
opposed to any of the millions of holograms that can be activated,
deactivated and deleted with a word. In fact when the Doctor advises Janeway
not to tamper with his programming he is not doing it for him but for her.
It is not his rights that we are concerned with, but how best for Janeway to go about having a relationship with him.
"Fair Haven" does have its high points. Mulgrew seems more relaxed and loose than she's ever been and at times seems practically human herself. The rest of the crew though is reduced to diving for cheap laughs that never come
because the gimmicks they're based on are such cliches. There is a certain
amount of cleverness behind some of the writing which makes the core stupidity
of the entire thing so much more incomprehensible. Ultimately the success or failure of a 'light' episodes rests on the affinity of the audience for the characters. Star Trek fans are prepeared to watch TOS episodes that would be embarassing and painful with any other characters in them. Similarly, "Fair Haven" might actually work for those people as interested in the Voyager characters as Star Trek fans are interested in Kirk, Spock and McCoy. For the rest
of us, the storm is preferable to the fair haven.