Star Trek: Picard has made the decision to move on from Majel Barrett as the voice of Starfleet’s ships.
Through most of the first 30 years of Star Trek, only one voice was heard on the Federation ships, and it belonged to Majel Barrett, the wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry clearly wanted to give his wife some work so the two can work together. Nepotism aside, it worked out alright. She had a few roles within Star Trek, most notably as the ship’s computer across just about every series from the Original Series to the 2009 Star Trek film.
That said, no one is entitled to a role forever, least of all in death, so it makes total sense to move on Barrett now that the actress has long been gone. Some fans don’t think so and are giving Star Trek: Picard series head Terry Matalas grief about replacing her as the voice of Starfleet ships.
Matalas defended his decision to not use Majel’s voice by citing the time and money it would take to perfect the vocal archive she created in the mid-2000s. No doubt, fans don’t seem to realize that content created nearly 20 years ago won’t exactly sound the best in a show with better recording techniques but some just don’t want to accept it.
Keeping Majel Barrett sets a bad precedent for actors
Why pay new people, and help them make a career for themselves, when you can just use a dead person instead? Sounds ghoulish, but that’s the situation we’re dealing with. Huge swaths of fans would rather never accept change and keep wheeling out their dead icons to do projects instead of opening up the world of Star Trek to new talents.
This is odd, because there have already been 29 other names (at least) besides Barrett to voice computers in Star Trek, yet Picard not having Barrett is blasphemy to some people, even though it’s already happened before.
Now, some people will point out that I was all in favor of Prodigy doing something similar when they used past lines from deceased Star Trek actors for their episode Kobayashi. The difference here is that of the characters used with deceased actors (Spock, Scotty, Uhura, and Odo), three of those characters have already been redone at least twice by new actors. No one is trying to make sure that only Leonard Nimoy can play Spock. Fans made room for Zachary Quinto and are now making room for Ethan Peck.
I’m sorry, but no one has the right to a role for a lifetime, let alone one for eternity. If Gene Roddenberry could be replaced, then his wife certainly can be. And let’s not forget that the holy grail of Star Trek films; Wrath of Khan, was not only made without Roddenberry’s involvement but he actively hated the film.
Maybe, and I’m just taking a huge swing here, maybe someone can actually do a better job than Barrett? Shocking right? Giving someone new a chance isn’t a bad thing, and it sure as hell is a lot better than wheeling out the dead for decades to come, all because some fans can’t accept change.
Let the dead rest, and let’s do something new.