This week in The Sound of Star Trek we take a closer look at the soundtrack of the premiere episode of Star Trek: Voyager, “Caretaker.”
They are afraid. They are alone. They are three million light years from home.
Oh, sorry. Wrong franchise.
More from Star Trek: Voyager
- Star Trek: Voyager worked because it recreated what worked in the original series
- Roxann Dawson loved B’Elanna Torres’ character development in Voyager
- Seven of Nine’s story after Voyager is coming from Simon and Schuster
- One fan captures the good, the bad, and the ugly of Star Trek’s Robert Duncan McNeill
- Setting the record straight on Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager
Okay, so the U.S.S. Voyager is somewhat closer than E.T.’s home (at a mere stretch of 70,000 light years) but it would still take Captain Janeway and her starship family anything up to 75 years to get back to Federation space – and in this continuing series, we focus on the score for the 1995 pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Hopefully it won’t take 75 years to read this article!
To accompany them on their first leg of the journey, Paramount hired Jay Chattway, already well-known to fans of the franchise for his work on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. His most recognized piece is still the stunning flute composition for ‘The Inner Light’.
As well as his Trek scores, he has also written music for some cult 80s action flicks such as Maniac, Missing In Action and Invasion USA. Music tough enough for Chuck Norris aside, his themes for Voyager‘s premiere episode ‘Caretaker’ form much of the style that was prevalent throughout the TV era of Star Trek up until the end of Enterprise.
The soundtrack for ‘Caretaker’ was released on CD in 1995 by GNP Crescendo, continuing their relationship with the series and movie music.
Jerry Goldsmith was no stranger to TV work (and certainly no stranger to Star Trek) with work for series such as Dr Kildare and Barnaby Jones to name but two and was approached to compose Voyager‘s main theme by producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor. Our very own KC has written a wonderful piece about Jerry’s career so I won’t dwell too much here about him (but I don’t mind at all if you nip off for a quick read…as long as you come back): suffice to say that ‘The Theme to Star Trek: Voyager’ is a lovely, sweeping piece that lends itself well to the journey that the Intrepid-class starship was forced to endure. Chattaway blended the melody into his own work and it certainly elevates the score as a result. The theme saw a separate CD single release.
I listened to the CD again to prepare for this article while continuing my build of (and this is where my geek credentials are on display) the Revell kit of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek Into Darkness…and hadn’t realized it had finished playing.
I’d like to say it was because I was too wrapped up in cementing them funny-lookin’ nacelles together but no, I can’t use that as an excuse.
I’ve written previously about the nature of the franchise’s TV soundtracks, forming aural wallpaper rather than stand-out melodic and powerful pieces – and while that’s still true here (apart from Goldsmith’s theme), Chattaway himself does raise the quality slightly with some lovely banjo stylings that sadly do quickly make way to a drudgery of synth and strings. ‘Paris Takes the Helm’ and ‘Battle For the Array’ give some life to the score but again it’s the reliance on flat tones and lingering synths that find their way back to the forefront.
Yet it’s an oddly prominent score, for all its by-the-numbers-TV-Trek-soundtrack, but at the same time highly and decidedly unmemorable and mercifully short (running just under 45 minutes). It’s a shame that the man who wrote for Kamin’s solo flute was asked to follow the standard of other scores. His aforementioned banjo piece, written to represent the Caretaker, had a great fun melody that could have easily been arranged for full orchestra and become the main recurring theme outside of the opening and closing credits. Luckily, it has its own reprise at the end of the album.
So if it wasn’t for Goldsmith’s theme and the fabulous George Doering playing ‘The Caretaker’s Hoedown’, the soundtrack to ‘Caretaker’ would have been sent off to the Delta Quadrant.
And I have to wonder… If Voyager was meant to take 75 years to travel 70,000 light years, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial must have had some serious intergalactic hardware under his hood.
Next time: Inside Star Trek featuring Gene Roddenberry