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Star trek: Voyager 5.12a - 11:59

Stardate around 52820 and 27 December 2000 CE
Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Episode propaganda

Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) reminisces about her ancestor Shannon O'Donnell (Kate Mulgrew), the first of her family's long line of explorers and one who helped build the Millennium Gate on Earth. As Janeway relates the story, the episode revisits the town of Portage Creek on New Year's Eve 2000. Shannon O'Donnell nears the deadline to convince the town's last holdout, local bookstore owner Henry Janeway (Kevin Tighe), to approve the building of massive, 800 metre high Millennium Gate, a model for the first colony on Mars.

Persons of interest

  • Kate Mulgrew .... Captain Kathryn Janeway, Shannon O'Donnell
  • Robert Beltran .... Commander Chakotay
  • Roxann Dawson .... Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
  • Robert Duncan McNeill .... Lieutenant Tom Paris
  • Robert Picardo .... the Emergency Medical Hologram
  • Ethan Phillips .... Neelix
  • Tim Russ .... Lieutenant Tuvok
  • Jeri Ryan .... Seven of nine, tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix 01
  • Garrett Wang .... Ensign Harry Kim
  • Majel Barrett .... USS Voyager computer voice
  • Bradley Pierce .... Jason Janeway
  • Kevin Tighe .... Henry Janeway
  • John Carroll Lynch .... Gerald Moss
  • Joe Menosky .... Storywriter, Screenwriter
  • Brannon Braga .... Storywriter
  • David Livingston .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Intelligence report

Wow, 11:59 is really something different.

First off, it's the only Star trek episode in which the main story line doesn't involve any of the regular cast. Second off, most of the story isn't even set on Voyager. Third off, it's the closest thing Star trek has ever come to a vehicle; every character gets at least one episode a season to show off their talents but this one reallly pushes Kate to the forefront, in a character that isn't even Janeway!

It's like asking for a Big Mac and receiving a Whopper with cheese. Spooky.

11:59, referring to the last minute of the real millennium end (31 December 2000) is a story about people. Human beings. Contemporary Human beings. With only a little tweaking this episode could actually be reality. But it's about more than who met whom, it's also about historical revisionism (see Living witness). Everyone's family has a few stories about this or that ancestor and their grand or not so grand adventures. What people tend not to realise (or don't wish to realise) is that these stories are actually legends: kernels of truth sown in the fertile soil of Human memory and reaped in the distant future as larger than life ancestors. Anyone ever played Chinese whispers? It's much the same thing... faulty memories, misunderstood words, missing documents... what does this have to do with Voyager? Just the fact that Janeway's inspirational ancestor turns out to be something different from what she expects. Why is this episode completely different from any other? Because the two protagonists never even meet.

Having Kate play both women (without any funny make-up) is a very strange decision, but one which is ultimately worthwhile: not only does she have the ability to play two similar but different people, it probably helped to keep her in the show (this episode would've been created around the time of the infamous "I want to leave Voyager" remark). What you as a Trekkie get out of it is the opportunity to see exactly where Janeway is coming from. She hails from Nowheresville, USA; she has a small town mentality and values despite being captain of a starship; she comes from a long line of adventurers, innovators, engineers and women who know their mind; she cares desperately and passionately for those in her charge. On top of all that, you get to see how your descendants will view these times (Y2k, shopping malls, astronauts) and how they will misinterpret them (watch the episode to see what I mean).

Another ground breaker in 11:59 is having a story that's set in the very near future (less than 2 years after it was shot). Other episodes either time travel to the present day (eg Future's end) or to a future few will live to see (eg First contact), but this one boldly predicts something you will all witness: Y2k. Zowie (the producers are really pushing things along in an effort to make Voyager more marketable in the USA where its ratings are lower than The next generation or Deep Space Nine, mostly because it began airing on Paramount's UPN TV channel rather than a real one).

Is 11:59 good Trek? Well, in my never-humble opinion... yes, it is. It expands the frontier for this and the next series. It takes you places where you could never otherwise go (ie tomorrow). It takes a story that is not typical Star trek and pulls it off with ease. Even though you know how it's going to end, it is still entertaining: in this case the voyage is more important than the destination.

Watch and enjoy.

Security censorship classification

PG (Low level violence)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental and retail: 2 December 1999

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