And when I say "younger viewers," I mean younger viewers in 1988, not today, who have a shorter attention span and need more special effects. In fact, today's kids would find the 1988 vintage PC-generated computer graphics on the control screens laughably primitive. (Which they were even by the standards of the day. Most late '80s videogames had much better graphics.) Because of the low budget, the show is almost completely shipbound, except for a few scenes on Earth early on and a fight on Expo Tomorrow halfway through, which doesn't fool anyone with its clearly soundstage atmosphere. The Voyager sets are a variety of vacuformed plastic panels assembled into various compartments, including the lounge, the gym, the corridors and the airlock. Yet the interior did feel somewhat well-designed and -realized as a ship. There are a few space shots, mostly two or three repeated ad infinitum, with the same cheesy music playing. But you can't expect a megabucks blockbuster from a family-oriented pilot produced for the Sunday Disney movie. This was one of the early efforts at reducing production costs by filming in Vancouver, a practice since adopted by many TV shows and movies.
The movie was part "Star Trek," part "Lost in Space," part "Space Academy" and part "SpaceCamp" I actually enjoyed this much more than the early episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" broadcast in the months preceding this, which were so serious and self- important. Bienstock was a dead ringer for Will Robinson, redheaded kid super-genius (with a dollop of Wesley Crusher added). In fact, this is actually much more enjoyable than the 1998 "Lost in Space" movie, which had the splashy effects but not the fun. The cast was generally fine, if a little stiff at times, even veteran Duncan Regehr, whose head-thrashing electrocution spasms in the climax were hilariously amateurish. Pity the show was never picked up, so the young actors never had time to hone their craft.
Alas, aside from the relatively stock plot (including the transparent ruse at the end), the writer really played fast and loose, betraying a poor understanding of science. Here they are, just starting out their mission, and they almost immediately find the Vanguard Explorer. How could the Vanguard Explorer find Demeter with its probes so quickly when it was so close to Earth? (They weren't out there that long since much of the crew including Vance was still young.) They also catch up to a whole passel of radio transmissions from Earth, ranging from Lindbergh's flight to stuff from the '80s. But seeing as how the speed of light (and radio waves) can't vary, there's no way all those signals could all be in the same spot for them to be received simultaneously. In fact, even the newest signals they intercepted, Oliver North's Iran-Contra testimony, should have been 100 light years from Earth (100 years old at the time, traveling away at the speed of light). They were taking 12 years just to get the 18 light years to Demeter, so catching up to signals that should have been up to 160 light years out at the beginning of the mission is supremely silly.
It looks like the show would have had Admiral Beasley chasing them all the way. But since the Triton Corsair was faster than Earth Star Voyager, why did they need Voyager? And transporting billions of humans almost 20 light years to another planet? How long would the trip have taken? With that much life support needed for 6+ billion humans on a 12-year trip, couldn't they just have cleaned the Earth? Was the hitherto rare Baumann Drive that easy to manufacture that they could build them by the millions? That has to be one of the silliest "science fiction" ideas I've ever heard. They would have been better off spending their resources building O'Neill space colonies, especially since they had to build the giant Voyager just to transport a small crew.
Do you want to feel old? Imagine first watching this movie where they say it will be a 26-year mission. Feels like a very long time in the future, right? Guess what? If it were real, we'd be closing in on the end of the mission today, after 19 years.
Review by TVholic from the Internet Movie Database.