(written from a Production point of view)
While investigating the origins of a 1936 Ford truck floating in space, Voyager discovers a 434-year-old Earth mystery on a distant planet. (Season premiere)
The USS Voyager detects traces of rust in space. Because the absence of oxygen in space prevents iron from rusting, Captain Janeway decides to follow the particle trail. They discover an ancient Earth automobile, a 1936 Ford truck, floating in space.
When investigating their find in one of Voyager's cargo bays, Tom Paris manages to start the truck (old Earth cars are his hobby), which promptly backfires and startles everyone. While investigating the truck's AM radio, he discovers an odd radio signal. When Janeway asks Ensign Kim why the signal was not detected, Kim explains that Starfleet vessels only monitor their standard frequencies. AM signals are not within this spectrum because they only travel at the speed of light, too slow for interstellar communications. The signal they have found turns out to be an old Earth distress call, called an "SOS".
The decision is made to follow the signal to its origin, but the planet it emanates from is Class L. The planet's atmosphere is charged with trinimbic interference, making communications on the surface and use of the ship's transporters impossible. With use of a shuttle impractical due to the scale of trinimbic interference, Janeway decides to land Voyager itself on the planet, reasoning that whatever brought the truck to this planet could be used to bring them home. This is the first time Tom Paris, Voyager's helmsman, lands an Intrepid-class ship on a planetary surface, but the operation proceeds smoothly.
An away team is sent out to locate the source of the signal and finds an old Earth airplane. Investigation of the plane leads to an alien power source which is powering its AM radio, still sending the SOS. Meanwhile, other members of the away team have found a mineshaft that seems to be the source of the tritanium readings detected by their tricorders. After entering the mineshaft, they find five cryo-stasis chambers. One of them contains eight Human bodies, although with minimal life signs. When Janeway rubs off some condensation of the stasis chamber containing a Human female, she notices a name tag on her jacket. It reads "A. EARHART" – Amelia Earhart, one of the first female aeronautical pioneers from Earth's 20th century.
When the away team returns to Voyager, they discuss their findings in the briefing room. Janeway gives the crew a brief history of Earhart; she was one of the first female pilots in Earth's history, flying across the Atlantic Ocean and later attempting to fly around the world. However her plane mysteriously vanished in the South Seas, and when no wreckage was found many theories were coined about what happened. Janeway notes that ironically the ridiculed theory appears to be correct... that she was abducted by aliens. It appears that all eight Humans are from the 1930s. Reluctant to leave them asleep for possibly more centuries, particularly when they could provide a clue about how they arrived in the Delta Quadrant, the decision is made to remove them from stasis. As a precaution, only Human crew members will be present, so as not to shock them. The exception is Kes, who can easily pass as a Human, as she needs to be present to check their medical status.
When all the Humans are removed from stasis, they wake up easily. Janeway smiles as she goes to greet Earhart.
The 20th century Humans quickly object to their state, demanding to know what's happening. Janeway has trouble getting them to listen, but eventually tells them what she believes, that they were abducted by aliens from Earth in the 1930s, but they only seem to remember the day before. Now, over four hundred years later, Fred Noonan, Earhart's navigator, is very distrustful and draws a revolver, taking the away team hostage. Although Captain Janeway tries to prove the existence of aliens by having Kes show her Ocampan ears, Earhart does not believe her, noting that she has seen before how people from all over Earth can mutilate themselves. Meanwhile, Commander Chakotay has detected alien lifeforms, and after warning Captain Janeway, he learns of the hostage situation. He, along with Tuvok, accompanies a security team to free the away team. Fortunately, Earhart's curiosity provides Janeway the opportunity to persuade her and the other revived Humans to leave the mineshaft and to return to Voyager so that she can prove to them everything she told was true.
Meanwhile, Tuvok and Chakotay's team is watched as it approaches the mineshaft. The aliens open fire.
After leaving the mine shaft, they find Tuvok's security team pinned down by alien weapons fire. In this skirmish, Fred Noonan is hit but is dragged to safety by Harry Kim. With the help of the away team, the aliens are overpowered when Janeway covertly comes behind them and subdues one of the attackers with her phaser. It turns out the aliens are actually Humans as well, descendants from the Humans abducted from Earth in 1937 by the Briori. Back on Voyager, one of them, John Evansville, explains to Janeway and Chakotay that the people they revived are the 37's, and are revered by them as monuments to their ancestors, who were held as slaves. They managed to free themselves from Briori oppression, destroying the Briori ship and its technology in the process. Janeway's hope of using the ship to get back to Earth is thus lost.
Meanwhile, Noonan has been treated for his wounds by The Doctor in Voyager's sickbay. Thinking he will die, he confesses his love for Earhart, but takes it back when he finds himself cured. Earhart promises to forget what Noonan said to her.
Since defeating the Briori, the former Human slaves have built a society, by now consisting of over 100,000 individuals and three cities that Evansville describes as "beautiful". He invites the entire crew and the 37's to tour the cities, with Evansville telling Earhart that he would be honored to show her around once she is introduced to him as one of the 37s. The tour itself is impressive and reminds many Voyager's crewmembers of their home back on Earth.
- "Captain's log, stardate 48975.1. Evansville wasn't exaggerating when he said they have a lot to be proud of here. It was an amazing experience, but it's left me a little disturbed."
When Evansville tells Captain Janeway that they are invited to stay and live out their lives on this world, she struggles to make the right decision. In her ready room, she discusses the invitation with Chakotay. Although she is the captain and responsible for the ship and its crew, she feels she cannot decide for everyone and worries that she may be leading the crew on a hopeless journey in the vain hope of getting home. Chakotay tells her that there's not a day goes by when he doesn't hear someone mention Earth, and while the settlement on the planet is certainly impressive, it doesn't beat seeing the sunrise over the Arizona desert or to swim in the Gulf of Mexico on a summer day... he wants to go home. Captain Janeway decides that everyone should decide for themselves whether they want to stay or not, but this in itself creates a problem; if too many crewmembers decide to stay – Chakotay estimates that the ship needs a crew of at least a hundred – Voyager will become undermanned and so force the remaining crew to remain as well. Despite the risk, Janeway tells Chakotay to prepare the crew for a ship-wide announcement.
At 14:00 hours that day, Captain Janeway informs the crew that those wishing to stay should assemble in the cargo bay at 15:00 hours. In Voyager's mess hall, Neelix tells the 37's he is staying on board because the captain would be lost without him. To stay or not to stay is also discussed by B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim. Kim is not looking forward to spending his whole life on a starship. There are more people who thought that way, according to Torres. While outside Voyager and looking to the blue sky, Captain Janeway is approached by Earhart. Earhart does not want to intrude upon the Captain's privacy. But, the Captain encourages Earhart to join her. The two talk briefly and the captain reveals that Earhart was a personal hero to her. Earhart then reveals that she and the 37's have decided to stay. Although she would have liked to pilot Voyager through space, Earhart felt more connected to the Humans on the planet because they were, after all, a part of all the 37's.
While walking to the cargo bay, Janeway and Chakotay speculate on who will stay and who will leave. Chakotay speculates that Jarvin will want to leave, as he has had a harder time adjusting to serving on a Starfleet ship than most, and has started a relationship with another crewmember in quantum mechanics and they may decide to settle down. Janeway thinks that another likely candidate is the adventurous Walter Baxter who may welcome the challenge of creating a new life on a new planet. Both Janeway and Chakotay agree they'd hate to lose Jarvin or Baxter... in fact, they'd hate to lose anyone but neither could blame any individual who chooses to stay behind. The two come to a stop outside the cargo bay and Janeway hesitates, but Chakotay places his hand on her shoulder and assures her that no matter how many people are waiting on the other side of the door, they'll make it. With the support of her first officer and friend, Janeway summons the courage to walk inside the cargo bay... and it is empty – a fact that visibly moves Kathryn deeply.
When Kathryn Janeway and her first officer enter Voyager's bridge, she nods to her bridge crew in acknowledgment of their decision to stay. She then orders condition blue and inertial dampers to flight configuration. Voyager lifts off watched by Evansville, Noonan and Earhart, and the crew resume their long journey back home.
"I think you'll find that's manure. Horse manure, if I'm not mistaken."
- - Captain Janeway, about the chemicals in the back of the truck; which she differentiated by smell
"I doubt there are many 20th century farmers driving around the Delta Quadrant."
- - Captain Janeway, in regards to the Ford truck
"I suggest we increase the ventilation in the cargo bay before we are asphyxiated."
- - Tuvok, about the tailpipe exhaust from the truck
"So, is this an early hovercar?"
- - Harry Kim, on a Ford truck
"Captain, I think I should tell you I've never actually landed a starship before."
"That's all right, lieutenant, neither have I."
- - Tom Paris and Kathryn Janeway
"Who's Amelia Earhart?"
- - Harry Kim
"Warp 9.9. In your terms, that's about four billion miles a second."
"Think I could take her out for a spin?"
- - Amelia Earhart and Tom Paris, on Voyager
- This episode was written and produced for Star Trek: Voyager's first season. Brannon Braga noted, "This is the episode we designed to be the final show of the season." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 81)
Story and script
- This is the only Star Trek episode that was ever credited (on screen) as a writing collaboration between Jeri Taylor and Brannon Braga, despite a number of similarities between their tenures on Star Trek. Both production staffers were hired during the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, worked as executive producers on Star Trek: Voyager at one point (Taylor served in that position between 1994 and 1998, after which Braga held the title between 1998 and 2000), and co-created a Star Trek spin-off series (Taylor was a co-creator of Voyager whereas Braga co-created Star Trek: Enterprise).
- The writers wanted this story to be a turning point for the crew banding together and complaining less about missing home. "We were interested in having the crew show a little solidarity and standing together saying, 'We will make the best of this situation,'" Brannon Braga explained. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 81)
- The writing of this episode was an uneasy process. Brannon Braga admitted, "We struggled with the story a little bit." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- The producers of Star Trek: Voyager found it difficult to decide whether the story should be one episode or two. Brannon Braga recalled, "I was the only voice on the staff that was saying this should be a two-parter, but it would have had to be a cliffhanger, and since this was [...] designed to be the final episode, nobody really wanted to do a cliffhanger in our first season. I disagree; I think there's a wealth of material in it, and it should have been a two-parter." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- As originally scripted, B'Elanna Torres was not only to discover Jack Hayes inside the cryo-stasis chamber but also comment (immediately thereafter), "From these clothes, I'd say he could be a farmer."
- The episode's script specified that, for blue sky that can be seen through the windows of the briefing room, a "painted backdrop" was to be used.
- The moment when Evansville reveals to Janeway that the Briori ship was destroyed when their Human slaves revolted was originally placed earlier in the scripted version than in the final, televised edit.
- Much deliberation went into deciding how to end the episode, uncertainty that resulted in the absence of the cities that are referred to but never shown. Jeri Taylor explained, "The fact is that the whole fifth act evolved late into the process. The story changed in the script stage and seeing those cities was never really an element until so well into it that there was no way to do it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84)
- The scripted version of the episode's penultimate scene, wherein Janeway and Chakotay visit the cargo bay to find it is entirely empty, differed from the scene's final version; the Ford truck was originally to have still been present in the cargo bay and Chakotay was presumably to have reacted more to the finding than he does in the scene's televised edit as – referring to both him and Janeway – the script stated that, "relief and joy threaten to overwhelm them." Brannon Braga once described this sequence as "very touching". (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- The script stated that the spectators watching Voyager's takeoff, in the episode's final shot, were to be "the group of 37's, Evansville and his colleague." However, the televised version of this shot includes only Earhart, Noonan, and Evansville.
- The final draft of this episode's script was submitted on 1 May 1995. 
- Brannon Braga ultimately felt that the difficulties he and Jeri Taylor encountered during the writing of this episode had a positive impact on its plot. He observed, "If you look at the episode again, you'll see that the first three acts are rip-roaring fun, and in the fourth and fifth acts, it takes a very different emotional turn, which I like because it's very unexpected. What you think is going to be a story about alien abductors and displaced Human beings from the past actually turns in on itself and becomes a story very much about our crew. The unexpected result of all this is that our crew finds itself in a situation where they have to consider stopping this crazy voyage home and possibly settling down on a planet that's quite nice. That, I think, is very satisfying because it's unexpected and makes it about us." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- In summation, Brannon Braga noted, "I'm very happy with 'The 37's'. It's a dangerously broad concept, but I think it's really delightful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51) He elaborated, "I think it's just the kind of show we should be doing: far-out, high-concept shows. It was a hit-and-miss kind of episode. There was some fun stuff, but in the end it really wasn't about much. I thought it was fun. I really enjoyed the meeting of Amelia Earhart and Janeway, the first woman of flight and the ultimate woman of flight. There was some very cool stuff in there." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Braga also remarked, "It's a big show [....] It's great to see Earhart and Janeway together: the first woman of aviation and the epitome of women in aviation. And it ends on a real positive note." (Star Trek Monthly issue 7)
- One point of contention between Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor was the cities that are not shown in the episode. Braga commented, "I think where we got into trouble was with the Humans who had evolved differently and the big cities that we never see. That's where you groan. Up until that point, I thought it was intriguing." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Jeri Taylor countered, "Sometimes you have to compromise. I don't see this as a big deal." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84)
Cast and characters
- Actress Kate Mulgrew was very happy about Janeway's encounter with Amelia Earhart: "It had marvelous resonance for Janeway. Amelia Earhart was her hero. She was well versed in the life of Amelia Earhart. Janeway's a little bit of a historian and to actually confront her... was I think... a kind of epiphany for Janeway... to meet her and to share their humanity and the same essential struggle. I think that's what Janeway came away with, that the heart of an aeronautical heroine remains the same centuries later. It's the same drive and impulse to explore and to confront dilemmas with great courage and humanity. And I think that was reflected in those scenes between Earhart and Janeway." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion) Mulgrew also stated, "What a brilliant concept. Janeway meets her idol, Amelia Earhart, and she learns. Every time Janeway gets to learn, via somebody who... either has preceded her or has a deeper knowledge of what she is seeking, it is terrific for Janeway." (VOY Season 2 DVD) In summation, Mulgrew noted, "I loved the idea of Janeway meeting Earhart." Mulgrew added, however, "I wish it had gone a little further in that respect." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 24)
- The role of Amelia Earhart was first offered to actress Sharon Lawrence after casting director Junie Lowry-Johnson had become aware of Lawrence's Emmy Award nominated performance as District Attorney Sylvia Costas in the crime drama NYPD Blue. Lawrence remembered, "Junie, of course, knew my work and knew how to access me. When the Earhart part came about, they were looking for somebody who had what they perceived to be a professional strength about them. That's something people perceive Sylvia to have, so they thought of me." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 7)
- The idea of playing Amelia Earhart immediately appealed to Lawrence. "When they asked me to play Earhart," she explained, "I just had these visions of her as one of our greatest national heroines. I read the script and what I liked about it, besides [the idea of] playing someone who was a real person, was the relationship she develops with Janeway. I was really happy about that. I loved the idea of playing a character who worked with a woman in a professional capacity." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 7)
- The opportunities inherent in the role drew Sharon Lawrence to accept the part, even though she had – in her adulthood – lost touch with Star Trek, as a viewer. "I watched the original Star Trek growing up," Lawrence recalled, "but most of my career, until I moved to Los Angeles, kept me away from the television set. I was always touring, or performing in New York, on stage. I was interested in playing Earhart and working with Kate. And that is why I said yes." (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) Lawrence also noted, "I've always been fascinated by Amelia Earhart and to get the chance to play this type of character is something I just couldn't pass up." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) The actress elaborated, "The idea of getting into the head of somebody like Earhart and adding the fantasy element of what might have happened to her was so interesting to me." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 7)
- Prior to portraying Amelia Earhart, Sharon Lawrence was already familiar with Chakotay actor Robert Beltran. She explained, "Robert Beltran and I had worked together in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum. So, it was wonderful to spend some time with him, because we really had enjoyed each other's company when we first met." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 8)
- Sharon Lawrence was also a fan of Kate Mulgrew. Lawrence explained, "I had been a fan of Kate's since I first saw her on [the soap opera] Ryan's Hope." Lawrence, who had been born into the community of a mid-size town in the Southern state of North Carolina, had found that the luxurious lifestyle of Mulgrew's character in Ryan's Hope very much appealed to her. "So, to work with Kate," Lawrence continued, "was a kick because I had so many frames of reference with her. We spent a lot of time talking about being an actress, about how she juggles being an actress and a mother. She has a theater background and so do I. So, it was a pleasure to work with her [...] I was just so impressed with her professionalism." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 8)
- When asked about the episode, Lawrence also stated, "Well, the most exciting part of that job for me, besides the honor of playing a version of Amelia Earhart, was working with an actress who I have admired for many years, Kate Mulgrew. It was delightful! Because the relationship that Earhart and Janeway shared was easily influenced by the relationship Kate and I shared. To play peers and leaders, rather than a domestic or familial relationship. It always feels good to me." (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) Lawrence also said of her relationship with Mulgrew, "It was wonderful to play two female space or aircraft pilots. That was a wonderful opportunity for me." (30th Anniversary Moments, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) Elaborating on the similarities between the two characters, the actress said, "With Earhart and Janeway, you have two professional pilots, two women who have made rather courageous and unusual choices in their lives." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 7)
- For her part, Kate Mulgrew was delighted to work alongside Sharon Lawrence. Recounting this experience, Mulgrew exclaimed, "Great fun, great fun! Had a crackerjack actress on the other side. Sharon Lawrence really played the hell out of that role." (VOY Season 2 DVD) Although Mulgrew experienced difficulty with performing in the episode, she also found that Sharon Lawrence raised the episode's quality. Mulgrew said of the episode, "That one was incredibly hard work. Almost every scene was a monologue. The show was elevated instantly and throughout by Sharon Lawrence–what a beautiful actress [...] Whenever we were alone together or addressing one another, it so deepened the show." In summation, Mulgrew commented, "I loved shooting every second of that show." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 24)
- Sharon Lawrence enjoyed the experience of working not only with Kate Mulgrew but also with everyone else involved in the episode's production. "I'm very pleased with the work we did," she explained, "and I loved the people [....] I have to say that I was impressed by everyone involved with the show. All of the actors have to deliver this vast amount of virtually unreferenced text that they have on Star Trek." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 8) In summation, Lawrence remarked, "It was just a great experience." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) She also noted, "I enjoyed Voyager. I was impressed with the stories and I loved their use of the holodeck." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 8)
- Nogami's name is never mentioned in the televised version of this episode but comes from its script. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary)
- This was the first of four Voyager episodes to be directed by veteran Star Trek director James L. Conway. Kate Mulgrew remarked, "I [...] loved working with the director, Jim Conway. He did such a good job." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 24)
- During production on this episode, executive producer Rick Berman's influence on the series became evident to Sharon Lawrence. "Rick Berman oversaw every detail," she said. "You're up there in his office and he's checking out costumes and make-up. He doesn't let a thing go by without approving it himself." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 8)
- Scenes set on this episode's planet surface were actually filmed on location at Bronson Canyon. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) In fact, this was the second installment that partly filmed in that location for Voyager's first season; the filming location had previously been used for "State of Flux". (Delta Quadrant, p. 63; ) Lisa White again worked as location manager on this episode, having previously served in that position during Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and episodes produced earlier in Voyager's first season. The announcement that the cast would be going on location was greeted with immediate enthusiasm. Kate Mulgrew explained, "You know, when you're in the bottle too long – by that, I mean... as you know, that means a ship show – you do three or four bottle shows back-to-back and everybody starts to get wacky. So you're right, the minute location was announced, everybody went delirious with joy." (VOY Season 2 DVD)
- The twin-engine airplane used as Amelia Earhart's plane was actually a Lockheed L-10 Electra. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) Although this designation is not given in episode dialogue, it is the same kind of plane that Earhart flew during her ill-fated around-the-world expedition in 1937 and can be visually identified in the episode. The plane is not specifically named in the episode's script but a note states, "This is Amelia Earhart's airplane – same color, markings, etc."
- The effect of the explosive charges fired at the away team was created by the series' special effects team, under Dick Brownfield's supervision. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) The weapons that the Human inhabitants of the planet use in this sequence were stock rifles that previously appeared in TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II", "Starship Mine" and "Gambit, Part I". (Delta Quadrant, p. 63)
- The filming of this episode wrapped on 12 May 1995. (Star Trek Monthly issue 5, p. 10)
- This episode is the first time in Star Trek history that a Federation starship lands on a planet and returns to space. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) For the original Star Trek series, the fact that showing the Enterprise landing each week would have been prohibitively expensive for a television budget had led Gene Roddenberry to instead come up with incorporating the time-honored science fiction concept of matter transmission into the series; hence, the transporter had been conceived, as a quick and inexpensive means of getting Roddenberry's characters from the starship to the surfaces of planets. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary, The Art of Star Trek)
- The idea of granting Voyager the ability to land was conceived long before this episode. In reference to the ship's landing, Brannon Braga noted, "That's something we've always thought the ship could do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51) In fact, this landing capability was originally suggested by Michael Okuda during the early stages of Star Trek: Voyager's development, as a way of defining the then-new starship design as separate from those of previous Star Trek vessels; in a 27 September 1993 memo to Rick Berman, Okuda stated, "Suggest we give the starship the ability to land on a planet surface. This is not something we'd want to (or could afford to) do every week, but this could be something that sets the new ship apart from previous vessels. Maybe it'd be something we could do two or three times a season." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 207)
- Several early design concepts for Voyager, rendered through CGI by illustrator Rick Sternbach, were clearly influenced by the idea of making the starship be the first built to land on a planet. The vessel's designers also purposefully included landing-leg panels on the blueprints of the ship, just in case the writers ever chose to go ahead with the challenge of landing Voyager. (The Art of Star Trek) Rick Sternbach recalled the design process: "The initial description of the ship said that it had a landing capability. When the miniature was first designed, all we had were four small hatches in a very logical place, at the bottom of the engineering hull, and those hatches were built into the model." (Designing the USS Voyager, VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- When it came time to write this episode, the prospect of landing Voyager seemed appealing. "We were eager to do it," Brannon Braga recalled. "We said, 'Hey, this is the final episode; let's land the damn ship!' So we did." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- However, it was only after the writers decided to land the ship that the physical mechanism required for it to do so was visualized. Rick Sternbach explained, "It wasn't until the episode 'The 37's that the legs had to be designed." The process of designing the landing legs was somewhat difficult. Sternbach noted, "The overriding consideration on designing the landing gear was it had to fit in the belly of the ship, so I had a bit of a challenge trying to fold all of the toes and foot parts into the hull." (Designing the USS Voyager, VOY Season 2 DVD special features) One of the blueprints of Voyager, illustrated by Sternbach in April 1995, features the finalized look of the ship but a landing-leg design that was still to be slightly tweaked before it was ready. (The Art of Star Trek) Sternbach recounted, "You know, I went back to the blueprints of the model and said, 'OK, we can have some telescoping parts and we can have the toes unfold.' And, in a series of sketches, we were able to see how the legs could deploy." Sternbach and his team then passed these designs to the visual effects artists. Sternbach recalled, "We gave that all to the CG artists and we saw that ship land on TV." (Designing the USS Voyager, VOY Season 2 DVD special features) One of the visual effects groups that were involved in creating the landing sequence for this episode was Santa Barbara Studios. (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 15)
- Visual effects producer Dan Curry used a five-foot, styrofoam, foam-core mock-up of Voyager to plan camera angles, scale and perspective from still photos of the mock-up taken during a scouting trip to the filming location of Bronson Canyon. These still photos were subsequently touched up by Curry using acrylic paint, to give an idea of how the actual filmed scenes could later be altered in the "computer paintbox." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 56) Curry said of the mock-up, "It was larger than the available toy, which gave us the opportunity to photograph it as a forced-perspective miniature, so we could see how it would look in frame and we could compose frames to allow for the landed ship." Visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore recalled, "We went out and we did shoot references. And it was all at Bronson Canyon, so we had to paint a lot of stuff out. Dan is... just a genius at doing that kind of stuff." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD)
- However, Dan Curry determined, at one point, that the ship was too large to fit into the canyon. Also, without visual effects, the side view of the immobile Voyager would show the Hollywood sign. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) The visual effects team therefore endeavored to cover up these facts of geography. Curry recounted, "We used the mouth of the entrance to Bronson Canyon and then did a matte painting – I think I did that matte painting in Photoshop – so that it extended the space and we got rid of the Hollywood sign and the other things that are normally there, so it looked like a desolated planet." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD)
- Although Rick Sternbach had created a concept painting that depicted a full-scale landing leg set piece, such a prop was not ultimately constructed. (The Art of Star Trek) Instead, the landing struts were created – especially for this episode – as a physical model that was used here in conjunction with a set of computer generated legs. (VOY Season 2 DVD text commentary) The latter set of legs were included in the landing sequence, which was visualized entirely using CGI, whereas surface shots of the landed ship amid live-action footage used models. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 56) One reason why the landing sequence was done via CGI was that working the landing struts would be impossible if they were connected to the studio model of Voyager. Curry recalled, "The feet mechanism [...] we did CG, because they had to be mechanical and there was no way we could make them fit the five-foot miniature and actually work. But we had little stand-in feet that we could put on that, too." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD) At least one of the four add-on landing legs were applied to the Voyager studio model by Image G employee Dennis Hoerter. Another reason why the landing struts were not motorized on the model was because, at the start of Voyager's first season, no-one knew how long it would be before the original concept of a landable ship would be utilized. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 56)
- An added touch to the model was via the use of brown paper, which diffused reflected glare. Dan Curry explained, "When we shot the miniature [...] we put brown paper underneath the miniature so it would match the color of the ground, so that it would have a true reflection of what a ship in the real context would be like, by creating an environment to reflect light into it that was similar to where the location would be." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD)
- One problem with the shots including the landed Voyager was that the producers thought the landing struts, even when fully extended, looked too dinky, scale-wise, in comparison with the rest of the ship. Consequently, the producers – during post-production – took steps to strategically place rock outcroppings and other features of terrain so as to partially obstruct the audience's view of the struts. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 255)
- Another problem with the shots was that the visual effects artists had unknowingly made the CGI Voyager smaller than the ship would be, in reality. Ron Moore recalled, "We put this all together [but] [...] we had really made the ship too small [....] I don't think you can tell on the show because there's nothing really to relate it to; the people are in the foreground, the ship's in the background and we kinda kept it that way." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD) Regarding the visualization of Voyager's landing, however, Moore additionally said, "I don't think we did it well. The scale of the Voyager on the ground was incorrect." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 110)
Reception and aftermath
- Although this episode was originally intended to be the first season finale of Star Trek: Voyager, UPN held the episode back to air as the premiere of Voyager's second season, in order to launch the season before other networks would unveil their programming. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) In fact, this episode was one of four that were produced in the first season but aired during the second, the others being "Projections", "Elogium" and "Twisted". Of these four episodes, this was the only one that was not a bottle show. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 76)
- Having become less involved with Voyager towards the end of its first season, executive producer Michael Piller returned to the series for its second season, only to find that the upcoming season had been saddled with the leftovers of the previous year, all of which Piller thought had good premises but were some of the weaker installments filmed, as the production staff had been tired and running out of finances during the episodes' shooting. Piller stated, "Even the episode with Amelia Earhart, while it had a wonderful premise, I just felt that it never added up to anything after the first one or two acts. I just never felt a payoff." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) In particular, Michael Piller (in common with Brannon Braga) was dissatisfied with the fact that the Human colony is never shown. He said of the episode, "It created the conceit that there was a Human colony on a planet in space and that it was so attractive that our people had to consider that maybe this was going to be home. That was really the fundamental conflict of the last half of that show and we never show the colony. That didn't work for me. That's what happens when production dictates the vision." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 83) Additionally, Piller remarked, "Amelia Earhart being the victim of an alien abduction along with several other people is major hokey. It's very old Star Trek. But we did get to land the ship, and that's pretty amazing." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- Jeri Taylor felt that, instead of starting Season 2, this episode should have instead ended the first season. She explained, "I think it worked better as a season ender than as an opener, but so be it." She elaborated, "It was a franchise-oriented show, and having the season close with that sort of brave feeling that we've banded together, we're not going to stay on some planet, we're committed to each other and let's head home would have been a nice way to conclude the first season." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) On the other hand, she also stated, "It's a good show and I'm sure it will work nicely to kick the season off. Since the audience will perceive this as the beginning of the next season, there's no reason not to go with the show with the highest production values." (Star Trek Monthly issue 6)
- Brannon Braga was also disappointed that this episode was not used as the finale of the first season. Referring to this installment indirectly, he stated, "The episode we were going to send the first season off with was a very high-concept, action-adventure episode, and that got pushed [...] I was disappointed about that, but it also meant we had a kick-ass opening episode for the second season." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 50)
- Rick Berman once proudly referred to this installment as "a great episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 11)
- Prior to this episode's first airing, persistent rumors abounded that the episode featured George Takei. (Star Trek Monthly issue 8, p. 62) He would indeed appear in Star Trek: Voyager, but not until the 30th anniversary installment "Flashback". That episode, like this one, was filmed during production of one season but aired in the next; in "Flashback"'s case, produced in the second season but intentionally held back for airing as the second episode of the third season. Other rumors about this episode were that Voyager would come across the Borg homeworld, that the superpowered Will Decker would appear in a manner curiously befitting Q and that Captain Janeway would be killed. (Star Trek Monthly issue 10)
- This episode had the earliest first airing of any season premiere in Star Trek history (28 August 1995) until 2020; Star Trek television seasons usually premiered in September. In fact, this was the only episode of any Star Trek series to premiere in the month of August until the debut of LD: "Second Contact", 25 years later.
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 7.5 million homes, and a 13% share. Star Trek Monthly issue 11, p. 14) It was the most watched episode of Voyager's second season and the second most watched season premiere of the entire series, topped only by the pilot episode "Caretaker". The installment also achieved an NTI (National Television Index) rating of 10.0. (
- Despite its high viewing figures, the episode has repeatedly failed to appear in the top five of fan polls testing the popularity of episodes in Star Trek: Voyager's second season. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 108, p. 18; )
- In the lead-up to this episode's VHS release, Star Trek Magazine reviewer Stuart Clark wrote positively of this installment, calling it "an ambitious tale which packs an awful lot into the programme's 45 minute time slot." After detailing the episode's narrative, Clark went on to say, "The interaction between Janeway and Earhart is fun to watch, as is the landing of the USS Voyager on the planet's surface." (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 63)
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 76)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 65) scored the episode 6 out of 10.
- Tuvok actor Tim Russ felt that this episode provided a precedent that more episodes of the series should follow. He commented, "I'd like to see more of what this episode is like. More wild and fantastic discoveries and things. I don't mean just spatial anomalies. I mean cultures and races and beings and ideas that are a challenge, which has always been the case for the science-fiction fanatic. I really like that kind of thing. Stories and things that are bizarre and unusual, things that you've never seen before or never thought about before in certain terms." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- Shortly after working on this episode, Kate Mulgrew and Sharon Lawrence both hoped to again work with or at least casually meet each other in the near future. "We've tried to get together since then," Lawrence commented, "but it hasn't worked out. We've definitely been on the phone together." Regarding the prospect of returning to the series, Lawrence enthused, "I would love to see what becomes of Amelia Earhart. It would also be great to work with Kate and everyone else again. Of course, I would do it again." For her part, Mulgrew noted (in indirect reference to both the writers and Lawrence), "I hope they have her come back on the show." This is, however, the only Voyager episode that features Lawrence, playing Amelia Earhart. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5)
- It was not until the production of the two-parter "Basics, Part I" and "Basics, Part II" that Star Trek: Voyager's visual effects team realized that, in this episode, they had made the landed Voyager smaller than it would be in reality. Ron Moore offered, "We didn't realize [that] until much later [...] It's a kind of thing that we're aware of now, painfully aware of it, although – in a situation like that – we know where we were, we know where we shot it, we know how much room is there, even when you open it up on the back. And so to us, it became obvious." ("Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2", VOY Season 2 DVD) He also stated, "We didn't realize it until we [...] shot 'Basics, Part I' and 'II'." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 110)
- Among the items which were sold off on the It's a Wrap! sale and auction on eBay were this episode's costumes of John Rubinstein,  Dennis Madalone,  and Rita Dail. 
- Although Voyager's landing capability is first demonstrated in this episode, the other times in which the ship safely lands on a planet's surface are in the Season 2 finale "Basics, Part I", the fourth season's "Demon", the Season 6 episode "Dragon's Teeth", and Season 7's "Nightingale". Furthermore, the ship is implied as landing in "Basics, Part II" but is only seen in an atmosphere, prior to setting down.
- In this episode, Janeway states that the year is 2371. This is the same year in which the events of the first season are set, as established in VOY: "Eye of the Needle".
- The plotline here involving the Voyager crew resuscitating cryogenically-frozen Humans from the 20th century is similar to a plotline in TNG: "The Neutral Zone", a precedent set by Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise-D.
- This is one of numerous episodes in which famous historical characters appear on Star Trek, including episodes such as TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah" (in which Flint claims to have lived on Earth under various pseudonyms including Johannes Brahms and Leonardo da Vinci), TOS: "The Savage Curtain" (featuring a simulation of Abraham Lincoln), TNG: "Descent" (with Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking present in the episode's teaser), VOY: "Darkling" (including Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Byron), and VOY: "Scorpion" (featuring the first of five appearances of a holographic Leonardo da Vinci in the series). However, this is the only case where the historical figure featured is the original person, rather than a hologram or some other form of duplicate, with the exception of Mark Twain in TNG: "Time's Arrow" and "Time's Arrow, Part II".
- Like the 37's in this episode, Janeway and her crew are essentially abducted by an alien influence in the pilot episode of Voyager, "Caretaker".
- Whereas this episode references Mars, the planet can be seen later in the second season of Voyager, as it appears in the episode "Lifesigns" as part of a holodeck program used by The Doctor.
- The assumed abilities and availability of the Briori ship represents the third time besides the series premiere (after "Eye of the Needle" and "Prime Factors") that the Voyager crew has a possibility of returning home.
- This is the second time the crew of Voyager discover a direct connection between the Alpha Quadrant and Delta Quadrant, having previously discovered a wormhole connecting the two quadrants ("Eye of the Needle").
- This is the first episode of Voyager in which the ship's combined crew complement is mentioned, as Janeway states, "There are a hundred and fifty-two men and women on this ship." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion)
- Whereas this episode features cryogenically frozen Humans from the 20th century being found by members of Voyager's crew, Voyager crew members would later be found frozen themselves, in the fifth season episode "Timeless". The starship's crew (with the exception of The Doctor and Seven of Nine) are similarly held in stasis in "One", but – in that case – their duration in stasis is of their own accord.
- The text commentary of this episode claims that, at the time of the episode, Voyager has traversed three hundred light years of the Delta Quadrant.
- Tom Paris' passion for vintage automobiles is further referenced in the fourth season episode "Vis à Vis", in which he has created a holoprogram nicknamed "Grease Monkey" – essentially, a garage wherein he becomes obsessed with a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. As with this episode, "Vis à Vis" also references the inner workings of such a vehicle, including its fuel, internal-combustion system and noxious emissions.
- The crew complement for Voyager at this point in its journey is confirmed by Janeway in this episode when she states there are "152 men and women" on the ship. It's unclear if The Doctor is counted among these. This is 11 higher than the ship's crew complement of 141 established in the opening scenes of the pilot episode "Caretaker", accounted for by the addition of the Maquis crew, Kes, and Neelix. An unknown number of Star Fleet crew were lost in that episode, suggesting that the Maquis crew more than made up the numbers. Since that episode, another crew member (Durst) was killed in "Faces", and Seska departed the ship in "State of Flux".
- This episode marks the first time that Torres is seen to be in command of Voyager when Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, and Paris are on the planet's surface.
- Dialogue between Paris and Kim establishes the invention of the hover car as being around 2037.
- Paris states in this episode that Warp 9.9 is equivalent to "about 4 billion miles per second", or 21473 times the speed of light.
Video and DVD releases
- CIC Video released the four season 1 "hold-over" episodes in their production order, as part of the first season release. This is the second episode in Volume 1.10, which begins with "Twisted". Volume 2.1 begins with "Initiations".
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- John Rubinstein as John Evansville
- David Graf as Fred Noonan
- Mel Winkler as Jack Hayes
- James Saito as Nogami
- Kimberly Auslander as command ensign
- Rita Dail as Indian woman
- Brian Donofrio as science division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Emily Hall as Irish woman
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Brenda Jean as Karyn Berlin
- Julie Jiang as operations division officer
- Peter Johnson as Irish man
- Dan Lambirth as Scandinavian fisherman
- Dennis Madalone as Human descendant
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Garret Sato as operations officer
- Lou Slaughter as command division officer
- Unknown performers as
2103; 20th century; 37's, The; alcohol; alfalfa; alien abduction; alloy; aluminum; AM radio; argon; Arizona; asphyxiation; atmosphere; atoll; automobile; battery; Baxter, Walter; bearing; blue alert; Briori; Briori ship; "by comparison"; carotid artery; choke; class L; clutch; Colt Official Police; comparison; compass; compression phaser rifle; corrosion; crankcase; cryo-stasis; cryo-stasis chamber (aka cryo-chamber, cryo-stasis tube, cryo-tube); cylinder; deep sleep; Delta Quadrant; Earhart's husband; Earth; English; Federation; fish; Ford; Ford truck; fruit cocktail; fusion generator; gasoline; ginger; green beans; ground vehicle; Gulf of Mexico; hemisphere; Hoover, J. Edgar; hovercar; Human/37's planet; internal combustion engine; Intrepid-class; iron; jacket; Japanese; Japanese language; Japanese Navy; Jarvin; Jarvin's girlfriend; Jell-O; key; kilometer; laceration; landing strut; leather; Lockheed L-10 Electra; Maquis; Mars; Martians; manure; meter; metallurgical analysis; methane; mile; miles per second; Milky Way Galaxy; monument; Nambu pistol; navigator; New Guinea; Ohio; oil; oxygen; Pacific Ocean; Pearl Harbor; petroleum; piston; pot roast; quantum mechanics; radiator; radio signal; RCA Victor; reciprocation; revolt; rice; rural area; rust; seedling; slave; SOS; space; Starfleet; Starfleet regulations; starter; stasis chamber; summer; swimming; thoracic cavity; trianium particle; trinimbic interference; trinimbic turbulence; United States Government; universal translator; vascular regenerator; Verne, Jules; voice command activation; Voyager, USS; Washington, DC; water; Wells, H.G.; World War II; wings
- "The 37's" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The 37's" at Wikipedia
- "The 37's" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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