Saturday, January 17, 2015

20 years ago: When EXACTLY did Voyager premiere?

VGR Premiere Program
Well, that 's a misleading headline—of course, for most of the world, we all know that Voyager premiered with its pilot "Caretaker" on Monday, Jan. 16, 1995—as the ballyhooed flagship of the newly birthed United Paramount Network. As such, for the first time since the original series, as a "network show" its airdate would be on a uniform date and time, unlike the scattered "week of" airdates of syndicated TNG and DS9. (Mostly).

But six days earlier, Jan. 10, saw a special studio premiere at the on-lot Paramount Theater, complete with some press and a celebrity guest to kick off not only the first network Star Trek since TOS, but the first to be led by a woman.

In special remarks beforehand, co-creators Rick Berman, Michael Piller (at left) and Jeri Taylor all spoke about their feelings on the occasion of this newest Trek, as did star Kate Mulgrew—who then introduced an equally historic figure from the real space universe—Dr. Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut, who had flown twice on the shuttle during the 1980s, and who since has sadly passed away of pancreatic cancer far too soon, in 2012.

As a symbol of bonding between historic women of the real and fictional universe, Kate presented her that night with an actual Voyager combadge, making her an official member of Voyager's crew and with the hardware so that Ride could "beam up to the ship any time" she wished. We carried the event in Communicator #100.

And with those words, after a small press posing event, the Paramount Theater darkened while cast, crew, studio honchos, guest and press all saw "Caretaker" for the first time. Pilots and premiere episodes always hold such promise and hope, unaware how succeeding seasons just might unspool, or for how long... but everyone that night was a-marvel at, truth be told, how it was seemingly the best Star Trek pilot yet for character conflict, potential drama, scope and visual effects.

Reverse of VGR premiere program
On a personal note, we had barely been in L.A. for five months, and the prospect of present for a front-row seat to watch a new Trek series launch was exhilarating with its fresh-faced, fandom-naive cast (well, all but for boyhood Trek fan Tim Russ, who knew best of all exactly what he was getting into.) Thus you can imagine my chagrin when all my photography—taken on 35mm Kodachrome slides in the pre-digital age—was mostly ruined thanks to a new Burbank neighborhood photo lab that used old chemicals, and threw off the color of almost all my photos taken that night. (The top two are among the rare pics salvaged). I never did THAT again—but I've been heartbroken ever since that I did not have my shots to archive, from an event not exactly as mangy with photogs as you'd expect.

Along with those, enjoy the premiere program card I scanned here—and no, those are not printed signatures, and no, it is not going in the Trekland Trunk any time soon!

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