Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009 Star Trek Convention Saturday: Voyager Panel

Picture 1: Robert Picardo, Roxann Dawson, Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ laughing with the audience
Picture 2: Robert Picardo and Roxann Dawson concentrating on a fan's question
Picture 3: Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ
Picture 4: Roxann and Ethan
Picture 5: Robert Picardo talking to the audience

Saturday was the day of the Star Trek Voyager Panel. Voyager is my favourite series along with The Next Generation and so it was with trepidation that I was looking forward to this one.
On this beautiful afternoon, in a theatre full of expecting fans, walked on stage Ethan Phillips (Neelix), Robert Picardo (the Doctor), Tim Russ (Tuvok), and the beautiful Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres). It was not long after everyone was seated that jokes were darting all over the stage. The Voyager actors, friends to be sure, were having a field day and much like the Enterprise Panel they were hysterical

The fun started immediately with a conversation about wardrobe. Robert Picardo told the audience that the hat he was wearing served the purpose of cutting the glare from his head. Then the discussion moved on to Tim Russ’s choice of clothes with a suggestion that he may or may not be wearing sweatpants. But then, Picardo added that Russ spent most of his time on set in his bathrobe.

Ethan Phillips later joked that while on Voyager, he had both acting and janitorial roles on the set, to which Robert Picardo again dryly replied that his role was to wrangle and manage Ethan on set – to the amusement of the actors and their equally rapt audience. At one point, Tim Russ declared ''you thought seven years in the Delta Quadrant was bad, try working with these guys for years.'' To which Ethan Phillips replied ''try working with Tim after a three bean quiche,'' and Robert Picardo to add ''Tim Russ, the man, the myth, the methane.'' By then, the audience was just holding their sides with laughter.

During the panel, Robert Picardo recalled that there was, at one point, an idea to bring DeForest Kelley to the show. He had proposed that the Doctor would need to consult the medical database and ask Bones a question concerning medical ethics. However, this scene was never filmed because of Kelley’s health problems. Robert Picardo then said that he later met DeForest Kelley at one time after being on stage at the Creation convention in California, and recalled that Kelley had quipped to him ''I'm a doctor, not a hologram.''

Roxann Dawson shared her thoughts about working on Voyager while pregnant on and off the show (she was pregnant in season 6 but they hid it and then they made her character pregnant in season 7) so for two years we didn’t see her figure. She and Tim Russ also shared in the notion that they hated directing and acting at the same time, which they did in certain episodes. They both agreed that it was better to concentrate on one task at a time.

On working on Stargate Atlantis, Robert Picardo said that it was easier to ad-lib on he newer franchise but not on Star Trek. Also, that he was a secret agent brought in by the other side to take down the show. It was very funny.

One person asked a question concerning the destruction of Vulcan in the newest Star Trek movie. Tim Russ first replied that he was glad to have gotten a weekend pass to get off the planet (laughter from the audience) and then Ethan Phillips exclaimed that he was tired to hear about Vulcan: ''What about Talax?!'' he quipped. The crowd was very amused at this and the comment drew big laughs.

About their favourite Kate Mulgrew recollections, Tim Russ told a completely hysterical story that took place during the filming of Flashback. Tossing some debris from the set, Kate Mulgrew warned Russ not to hit her with it. After thinking about it, he did, and when he got back to his trailer all his clothes were gone. Then, in retaliation, Tim Russ posted pictures of his bare behind all over Kate Mulgrew’s trailer but finally they made peace. At almost the same moment both Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo indicated to the audience that these pictures were now for sale in the Vendor’s room. It was priceless. Then Robert Picardo told a more bittersweet story when he recalled that on the very last day of shooting for pick-up shots, Kate Mulgrew was there and they were literally taking down the set while filming. When they called the very last shot, Robert happened to stick his head there (he claims he was probably stealing pieces from the set and that made everyone roar with laughter) and Kate started crying and hugged him.

When the panel ended, there was a long standing ovation in the packed theatre. The actors were obviously delighted at this very warm reception and stood up in salutation. It was clear that many of the audience members were Voyager fans who totally loved them, and I was one of them.

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