The proposed idea for Star Trek: Voyager’s Year of Hell season sounds great.
Star Trek has the ability to offer great ideas when it’s being pushed. The two-part episode of Star Trek: Voyager called Year of Hell was one of my personal favorite episodes of any series to date because of an idea that was pushed. The idea of visiting other timelines of a show (or different universes) that is already well established is something that really appeals to me.
Whether it’s on Voyager, or on the old animated cartoon Gargoyles with their episode Future Tense that sees Goliath return to New York to find all of his former companions drastically changed. There’s also the comic version, most notably X-Men’s Age of Apocalypse or The Flash’s Flashpoint. Both featured universes similar to the established lore but different enough to reel you in.
So Year of Hell as an entire season? Wow. That would’ve been amazing. The only hang-up is the end, would one really want to watch an entire season be deleted, never having happened? Brian Fuller dived into some details about the idea and how it ended up getting rejected while talking to the Inglorious Treksperts podcast.
"The “Year of Hell” and the behind-the-scenes drama not only to craft episode, but that season, was fascinating because we wanted “Year of Hell” to last the entire season. We wanted to see Voyager get its ass kicked every episode and through that season was going to be marbled the story of Annorax and the time ship that was changing things. So, we would go back to it every once in a while to remind the audience that is the larger story. But [it was rejected] because Deep Space Nine made Rick Berman allergic to serialized storytelling, violently so."
All sounds great. Fuller goes on to talk about the fact the idea for the season lit a fire under the writers and had them create some intriguing ideas for episodes.
"We are really going to be on the outskirts of the galaxy and we are going to be fighting enemies that are kicking us when we are down. The crew is going to have to separate and we are going to be following episodes that are going to deal with people on shuttlecrafts with escape pods that are electrically buoyed together. There would be an episode where you never saw Janeway and never saw Voyager because you are with the people who are on the escape pods trying to find a new source of power or safety. It was like creative crack for the writers’ room, because all of a sudden there were so many opportunities."
Makes one whispy for what could’ve been. The series as a whole may have a more favorable sheen to it had they gone with the original idea. That is, assuming they stuck the landing. The idea that you’re watching this series and seeing if these people get home, only to then lose an entire year due to a re-start would’ve been cruel to the viewers.
It’s like the ending to Quantum Leap, only midway through the series.
Year of Hell, oh, what could’ve been.
That said, thematically, the series would’ve sunk their teeth into that story. You could’ve had characters killed off only for a minor reset to bring them back, allies appear only for a minor reset to turn them into enemies, and to see Kurtwood Smith in what would’ve amounted to his last big gig before landing on That ’70s Show would’ve been amazing. Smith was one of the more talented actors to ever grace a villain’s chair in Star Trek history and to get more of him and his Annorax would’ve been something to behold.
That said, at least the series gave us a truncated version.