Producing “The Caretaker” cost more than $23 million
“The Caretaker” was the series premiere of Star Trek: Voyager, and though it had a lot of special effects for the Caretaker array, the Maquis ship, the Kazan ship, and for Voyager, the actual shooting of the episode shouldn’t have cost as much as it did. But “The Caretaker” ended up being one of the most expensive episodes to produce, even costing more to produce than Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as well as Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
When production for “The Caretaker” was underway, Geneviève Bujold was playing the part of Captain Nicole Janeway, but only two days in, both Bujold and the studio realized she wasn’t a good fit. So Bujold was replaced, and all of her scenes had to be reshot with Kate Mulgrew as the the new Captain Kathryn Janeway. That was a big enough strike to the budget, but there was more.
Why there was so much money involved in producing “The Caretaker”?
The other reason for the expense? Captain Janeway’s hair. When initially filming, Kate Mulgrew wore her hair down but swept back. Unfortunately, after filming, it became clear that the stage lights were shining right through it which required more reshoots. The hair and makeup department came up with the bun Janeway was so famous for in season one of Voyager, which worked for the stage lights.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the only change to Mulgrew’s hair over the course of the seven seasons of Voyager. The producers had a lot of anxiety about Mulgrew being the first female captain on a Star Trek series, and some of that anxiety came out in Captain Janeway’s ever-changing hairstyles. But at least none of the other follow-up episodes cost quite as much as “The Caretaker,” even with the hair changes.