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Series / Earth☆Star Voyager

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"What is this? The Good Ship Kindergarten?"
Captain Jacob Dryden Brown, upon meeting the crew of the Earth Star Voyager'

Earth☆Star Voyager is a Pilot Movie that originally aired as a 2-part miniseries on ABC's The Disney Sunday Movie in January 1988. It focuses on a group of over-achieving young people from a late 21st century Crapsack Earth as they trek through the stars to find a new home for the human race. Along the way, the crew has to deal with the usual dangers of TV space travel, along with the drama and awkwardness typical of being a teenager or a young adult on television.

As considerable Artistic License is taken with the science, its nature as a soft science fiction keeps the show accessible to its younger viewers.

The miniseries was actually nominated for two primetime Emmys for sound editing and sound mixing.

Even though the series was never picked up, the miniseries has developed a small but vocal fanbase. Disney almost refuses to admit that this miniseries ever existed, so don't look for an official DVD release (or any kind of release, for that matter). If you look hard enough on the Internet, though, you should be able to find a copy.

NOT to be confused with that certain other TV series named Voyager (which is probably a contributor to Disney wanting to bury the nascent series in the long term).

the cast included

  • Brian McNamara as Jonathan Hays, Command Specialist: Age 21.
  • Jason Michas as Jessie "Beanie" Bienstock, Computer Sciences: Age 14.
  • Julia Montgomery as Dr. Sally Arthur, M.D., Space Medicine: Age 24.
  • Tom Bresnahan as Huxley Welles, Navigation: Age 18.
  • Dinah Gaston as Lani Miyori, Communication: Age 16.
  • Margaret Langrick as Luz Sansone, Communication: Age 15.
  • Bruce Harwood as Dr. Leland Eugene, M.D., Psychiatrist: Age 22.
  • Duncan Regehr as Jacob Brown, Former Commander, Vanguard Explorer: Age 36.

This show provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Multiple characters have this.
  • Absent Aliens: Although "Beanie" is well-known for his interest in extraterrestrials, there is no evidence in the mini-series that humans have yet encountered sentient alien life.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: At one point, Voyager catches up with some old radio waves.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Mixed with Big Brother Bully to a frightening extreme with Vance, who doesn't even seem to recognize Sally as his sister (or if he does, doesn't care at all for her well-being).
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Outlaw Technology Zone has turned Expo Tomorrow (the 2020 World's Fair) into one of these, with elements of Circus of Fear thrown in for variety.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Bauman Drive and plasma-thrust engines that the Earth Star Voyager is equipped with. Presumably allows Faster-Than-Light Travel.
    • From the 'running elastic through the universe' analogy on how the Bauman Drive works, it seems that the drive is capable of allowing them to mimic FTL travel via Extradimensional Shortcut.
  • Artistic License Military: The decision to not arm the Voyager before her flight (but store the components for the heavy laser weapons aboard for later assembly), and give the crew only personal defense weapons. Sending any crew unarmed on what is basically a pathfinder mission through uncharted space on a twenty-six year mission with known enemies out there (even if it was said that the OTZ was defeated) because "Voyager is on a peaceful mission of exploration makes ZERO sense. Of course, that was all part of Admiral Beasley's Evil Plan...
  • Attack Its Weak Point: How Brown was able to defeat Vance in combat. He was, after all, the one who taught him how to build a force-field generator, and knew how to disable it.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Captain Brown has one of these after being marooned alone on Blue Star Gamma for 6 years.
  • BFG: The Rail Gun and the Solar Laser.
  • Big Eater: Bienie.
  • The Big Guy: Whistestick appears to be a major champion among the OTZ warriors - but when he challenges Vance for leadership and is defeated, he's jailed with the Voyager's crew. He escapes with them and becomes a part of the crew, because it's implied that that his fate under Vance would have been unpleasant.
  • Big Red Button: On the Handy Remote Control for the homemade railgun.
  • Blood Sport: the 'Games' that the OTZ warriors engage in at Expo Tomorrow. They are used for training the warriors, for leadership challenges, and (as Vance found out) punishment for failure.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Kinda should have seen it coming that among a group of geek types, the traitor would be the gym coach, Brody.
  • The Captain:
    • Jacob Brown was the commander of the ill-fated Vanguard Explorer
    • Jonathan Hayes takes over as commanding officer of the Voyager, following Captain Forbes.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Admiral Beasley shows up and turns out to be the mastermind behind the whole thing, planning to start the human race over on the newly discovered planet with the young, brainy crew.
  • The Charmer: Huxley
  • Chekhov's Gun: a relationship example, where Sally talks about being attracted to an older man in Part 1, and begins to fall for the older Jacob in Part 2.
  • Cliffhanger: The first part ends with one of these, while Jacob Brown and Vance fight to the death.
  • Command Roster
    • The Captain: Captain Forbes, then Jonathan Hayes
    • Number Two: Originally Jonathan, then Jacob Brown
    • The Medic: Sally Arthur
    • Ace Pilot: Huxley Welles
    • The Navigator: Luz Sansone
    • The Computer: Priscilla
    • The Smart Guy: Jesse "Bienie" Bienstock
    • The Shrink: Leland Eugene (Blame his parents)
  • Captain's Log: Why Jacob wants to go back to the remains of the Vanguard Explorer, to retrieve the records that show his first Officer Vance led the mutiny that caused the loss of his ship.
  • Cool Big Brother: Jonathan to Bienie, and Jacob to Jonathan. Subverted when Sally learns that her brother Vance mutinied and destroyed the Vanguard Explorer.
  • Cool Ship: The titular vessel and the Assembly.
  • Crapsack World: Earth is sinking into this, and Expo Tomorrow is Thunderdome IN SPACE!!!!!!
  • Cyborg: For some reason called "Shells" in the world of Earth Star Voyager. One of them is hiding on the wreck of the Vanguard Explorer. Even Admiral Beasley seems to be one at the end.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jacob Brown is very tight-lipped about what happened on board the Vanguard Explorer, until Vance turns up as a Big Bad out for revenge against Brown.
  • Date My Avatar: The film plays this trope straight, but in reverse chronological order from usual. Priscilla is the ship's computer, a large box of plastics and metals. Thus, Huxley is simply annoyed when she falls in love with him. However, when she shows him the picture of the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter that her personality was based on (possibly recorded from), he's amazed that a woman who looks like that would go for him. (Which doesn't change the fact that this Priscilla is, and always has been, plastics and metal.)
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Admiral Beasley is revealed to be one of these.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: The Earth of 2088 is a world of acid rain and only partially breathable air. Jonathan and Beanie give an old woman a strange look after she says how she'll be "as right as rain" as soon as she catches her breath.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Dr. L. Eugene is not happy being named Leland. He'd rather be called "Dr. Eugene" to avoid using his name.
  • Everyone Can See It: Beanie and Luz. Lani gently teases her about it when the crew learns that the Voyager is a Generation Ship - and Luz's gaze makes it clear she's interested. At the end of the the movie, even the computer comments on it, and they become an Official Couple.
  • Evil Overlord: Vance Arthur sets himself up as "Top Dog" of Expo Tomorrow.
  • Exty Years from Publication: The main action of the film is set in 2088, exactly 100 years from the year the movie aired.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: For a Disney movie, it features a surprisingly high body count and violence.
  • A Father to His Men: Captain Jacob Brown and Captain Forbes.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Earth food of the future includes "Veggie Bioburgers" with optional "Amino Sauce", "Thermachips", and "Nutrishakes" with or without "Biocyclene". The characters are eating what looks like a seaweed patty with rice cakes for buns.
  • Generation Ship: The Voyager is designed to act as one of these for its 26-year mission.
  • Graceful Loser: Admiral Beasley takes his defeat rather well—in fact, he seems quite impressed—and sees Jonathan as a Worthy Opponent that he looks forward to facing again.
  • Handy Remote Control: Jacob Brown builds one for his railgun, complete with a Big Red Button. Too bad it doesn't work!
  • Heroic Rematch: Jacob Brown vs. Vance Arthur. Brown loses his ship when Vance leads the successful mutiny, but then defeats Vance in hand-to-hand combat on Expo Tomorrow.
  • Human Popsicle: the crew has "cryo-sleep chambers" to slow the aging process during the voyage. They don't look particularly chilly, though.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Jonathan has the skills necessary to manually pilot the ship through the Junk Belt because he played Dodgems (a.k.a. bumper cars) when he was 7 years old.
  • Informed Ability: The OTZ is spoken of like it's a major threat to Earth, and Willie (one of Brown's rescued shipmates) tells him (just before they're all captured on Expo Tomorrow) "This is the Outlaw Technology Zone. They know EVERYTHING." However, all we see is the 'Thunderdome-chic' surface and the warriors, and are told that the laboratories and other research areas are located underground.
  • The Lancer: Jacob Brown.
  • Likes Older Men: Ship's doctor Sally mentions to Jonathan in Part 1 that she had a crush on her math teacher during her first year at the academy. She is also clearly attracted to Jacob Brown in Part 2. She's 24. He's 36.
  • Love Triangle: One develops among Jonathan, Sally and Jacob.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Earth☆Star Voyager
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Completely turned on its ear, as here the ship's computer Priscilla has a blatant crush on Huxley. Huxley is not amused, but the rest of the Command Roster thinks it's hilarious.
    • Given that Priscilla is the personality of a woman in her late 30's, and Huxley is either 18 or 19, does that make the computer a cougar?
  • Priscilla also proves in the end to be completely aware of the feelings Bienie has developed for Luz; when playing back the reconstructed data received via long-range telescope array from Demeter, she playfully inserts some footage she made herself of Bienie and Luz walking hand in hand through the Demeter countryside, officially outing their budding relationship to the whole ship (most of whom were aware already anyway).
  • Pilot Movie: given away by the opening Title Sequence that gives you the name, position, and age of each member of the Command Roster.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Vance, who was First Officer under Jacob Brown on the Vanguard Explorer before leading a successful mutiny against Brown in the opening scene. This is assuming he wasn't already evil, in which case he would be a Deceptive Disciple. The miniseries simply doesn't give us enough background on the reason for the mutiny to settle this.
  • Robo Sexual: Priscilla actually suggests this for her and Huxley's 'relationship':
    Brown: (speaking about Priscilla) Well - maybe the real one will be waiting when you get back to Earth.
    Huxley: Yeah - that'd be just what I need.
    Brown: Did you ever meet Priscilla Bowman?
    Huxley: (warily) No...
    Priscilla: (seductively) Would you like to, Huxley?
    (Priscilla's human face appears on the main screen)
    Huxley: (stunned at her beauty) That's Priscilla? ...and she loves me? And she wants me?
    Priscilla: (in the same tone as before) ...And that's only my picture, Huxley.
    (Huxley lets off a short, stunned gasp of disbelief)
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Hoo, boy. Where to begin? The big question is how much time actually elapses between the ship's launch and Assembly, given that the latter takes place in another star system and the crew does not age visibly.
    • Case in point: Their final destination is about 20 light years away, and the trip is expected to take about 13 years. Suppose the events of the movie take place over a 2 month period. After 2 months, they've reached a binary star system, which can be no closer than 4 light years if "Twin Suns" is indeed Alpha Centauri. So...they went 20% of the way in 2 months, but they need more than 12 years to go the final 80%?
    • Also, space station Blue Star Gamma, Expo Tomorrow, and the wreck of the Vanguard Explorer must all be relatively near to each other.
    • The signals mentioned in the Aliens Steal Cable example would have passed Demeter decades before the story.
  • Spaceship Girl: Priscilla, in the "brain wedge" sense.
  • Spanner in the Works: How Admiral Beasley reacts to Brown's appearance - and has actually seen him all along, if you consider that he planed for Brown to be killed or imprisoned after Vance took over the Vanguard Explorer.
  • Stock Footage: Almost every pass of the ship is recycled over and over and over. Doesn't help that almost every shot is reused for the credits.
  • Teen Genius: Over half of the crew, it would seem.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Some starship crewmembers have nicknames like "Beanie" Bienstock. Dr. Leland Eugene insists to be called "Dr. Eugene", partly due to his Embarrassing First Name.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Brody does this to Captain Forbes. He also got the same when he got into a fight with Jonathan after sabotaging the railgun.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Captain Brown starts off clean shaven, and then is marooned alone on a space station for 6 years. When he is found by the Earth Star Voyager, he sports Wild Hair and a Beard of Barbarism. After he cleans up nicely, he decides to keep a neatly trimmed beard. Since Brown is at least 10 years older than everyone else on the ship, the beard helps to reinforce that he is A Father to His Men. It also makes him the Cool Old Guy.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: the dynamic that seems to exist between Sally and Brown. It's also present between the playful supercomputer Priscilla and the surprisingly uptight (around her) Huxley.
  • Vancouver: Was shot entirely on location there, with a fair number of the actors being Canadian. Some parts were filmed in the Soviet Pavilion built for Expo '86, the outside of Expo Tomorrow is Science World, and the glass-roofed hallway outside the ship's bridge was the BC Pavilion, which is now the Edgewater Casino.
  • Vehicle Title
  • We Are Everywhere: The Outlaw Technology Zone, which at one point controlled nearly half the Earth, but was ultimately defeated and kicked off the planet. The OTZ seems to have operatives all over the place.
  • What Have We Ear?: Huxley is a reasonably adept amateur magician and pickpocket. It's how he steals the key that allows them to escape the OTZ cell while everyone else watches Jacob and Vance fight.
  • Wild Hair: Captain Brown has this after being marooned alone on Blue Star Gamma for 6 years.