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Old December 9 2009, 09:08 PM   #751
Deranged Nasat
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Ebenezer Blackadder wrote: View Post
TheGodBen wrote: View Post
(The British readers are currently rolling their eyes at this obvious joke, while the American readers don't know what I'm talking about.)
Your Dutch readers haven't got a clue either.
Heathen barbarians! You don't have "Countdown"? How do your elderly and unemployed waste their afternoons?
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Old December 9 2009, 09:21 PM   #752
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

HopefulRomantic wrote: View Post
Red-Bonesed Reindeer wrote: View Post
Glacial wrote: View Post
I like to think of Season 3 as a commentary on the War on Terror, and how it should've played out. We can contrast what really happened to how Archer and co. handled it, and maybe feel a little embarrassed.
...this is the stupidest thing I've ever read.
Bones, there is a wondrous variety of ways to disagree with an opinion without being disagreeable. The Mannerly Art of Disagreement has many useful suggestions. You might consider trying a few. It would make the atmosphere of the forum so much more pleasant for your fellow members.
I'm sorry, you're quite right.
saNta and greeD wrote: View Post
Heathen barbarians! You don't have "Countdown"? How do your elderly and unemployed waste their afternoons?
Come now, that's no way to talk about Jeff Stelling.

(Obviously, that would have been funnier if I could still use Vorderman, Whitely, or either of the Deses, but...well, needs must.)
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Old December 9 2009, 09:35 PM   #753
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I love Countdown. Bring back Voderman! And exhume Richard Whitely's grave, none of this Jeff Sterling crap!

Where was I? I love Countdown. Enterprise did a good job from Azatzi Prime onwards, really, of ramping up the tension, so The Council, Countdown and, to some extent, Zero Hour is the culmination of that. Sure, there were one or two hiccups along the way that didn't help the momentum that, and sure, I probably 'cheated' by watching season 3 for the first time on DVD, which I whipped through quite quickly (and thus glossing over some of the shite).

What I want to say, in a very roundabout way, is that season 3 of ENT was some of the best Trek I'd seen since DS9. It was by no means perfect - the season had two episodes that easily rank in ENT's bottom five. It was just good to give the show a bit of a direction. A shame, yes, that the direction didn't include much of the type of politics we had in season 4, but it was a vast improvement over the first two seasons, and probably on a lot of Voyager too.

Degra was a brilliantly sympathetic character. One that we really should have had no sympathy for after all those deaths, but nevertheless his self-hatred, and strong desire to do right by his family was more endearing than any of the main crew this season!

I of course put up my season 3 opinions before GodBen gets to Zero Hour and *that* ending. *runs for the hills*
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Old December 10 2009, 04:37 PM   #754
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

SFRabid wrote: View Post
I'm glad you put this note in because I was totally clueless and wondered if it is because I am totally clueless.
Behold Countdown, one of the longest running gameshows in the world, entertainment for millions of pensioners, the unemployed and stoned students. I only ever watched it for the number rounds because I was good at those, in the letter rounds the best I could normally manage was a 5 or 6 letter word.


Zero Hour (***)

This was one of the most difficult scoring decisions I've made this year (I'll explain why later on) because if the final shot had been the crew on the bridge seeing Earth from a distance and the relief they feel from seeing that the planet is safe it would would have been a 7 rather than a 6. But then the episode throws a ridiculous curveball with WW2 fighters and some sort of space fascist. A part of me considered not scoring that part until Storm Front, but in the end I came to the conclusion that the problem is with this episode for introducing the mess rather than Storm Front which was stuck with it.

Zero Hour is a bit of a step down from the last two weeks because there's not much more that could be done with the plot, Archer destroys the weapon while Enterprise destroys the doom spheres. The Archer story plays out as you would expect; Archer and co board the weapon and blow it up, but not before Archer gets into a fight to the death with Dolim. The first time I saw this I thought it it was cheesy as hell; Archer wins the fight by sticking a bomb to Dolim's back, and then he runs down a catwalk away from the exploding core. It's like something from a crap Hollywood action movie. This time I still thought it was cheesy as hell, but I was in the mood for it so I didn't let it bother me. What did bother me was the complete absence of Starfleet at Earth, Shran showing up is all well and good but I would have preferred to see a few more Starfleet ships surrounding the weapon in a last desperate attempt to save Earth.

Then there's the plot where Enterprise destroys the spheres, which is as standard a Trek plot as you're going to get; Enterprise flies into an anomaly and fires a blue light from the deflector to destroy the spheres. It's very Voyager. It wraps itself up too neatly by having all the spheres destroy themselves, but I do like how this episode manages to cleverly resolve some of the continuity conflicts this season brought by removing the expanse from existence. The episode also provides moments for all the main cast, even Travis gets a scene where he has to use his skill to fly into the anomaly on thrusters alone. And while Archer's "death" did lead to one of the stupidest scenes in the whole show, the first time I saw the episode I began to believe they had actually killed him, which I thought was a brave thing to do.

It's not the strongest note to end the Xindi arc on, but the episode resolves things competently for the most part. As Zefram Cochrane once said, "That'll do pig, that'll do."

Archer Abuse: 27
Captain Redshirt: 30
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Old December 10 2009, 04:56 PM   #755
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Here's the thing about the ending. At the time people saw it, it blew people's minds. They had no idea what to expect. There was so much speculation about what had happened. The end result were two fairly mundane episodes and I'm not sure how I necessarily would have gone about it better, but that doesn't mean the episodes that resulted had to be those two. At the time, the opinion of the cliffhanger was generally positive because nobody knew what to expect. Over the summer, it dropped a bit and, after season 4 began, most people began to hate it.
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Old December 10 2009, 05:19 PM   #756
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Zero Hour: B+ or 3 stars out of 4.

I found it to be a very solid episode and overall satisfying conclusion to the Xindi saga. It wasn't perfect but I think for the most part it captured the high stakes pretty well and answered all the questions that were raised along the way. Granted it held very few twists. The season pretty well set up the resolution with the Expanse having to cease to exist and Earth survive to preserve Trek history. Evenso the writers did a surprisingly decent job of imparting peril into it anyway.

I thought the teaser was interesting and made for a unique celebratory toast and added a little something however small to the Reptilians mindset. The VFX were fantastic. Both plots were equally thrilling cross-cutted between the efforts by T’Pol to destroy the sphere network and Archer confronting the Reptilians and boarding the weapon to destroy it. Something I thought was lacking from this season was character reactions to the circumstances they found themselves in so I welcomed the scene where T’Pol tells Trip that if Earth is destroyed then the only hope of saving the universe including Vulcan is to bring down the spheres. I think it works because it finally shows T’Pol realizing that all this interference from time travelers hints that Earth has a great destiny ahead and will play an important role in future events.

And speaking of future events—the scene where Daniels whisks Archer to the Federation ceremony in 2161 was a neat moment to show a glimpse at a historic moment where we learn the founders include Earth, Vulcan, Andor and Tellar. Although I must point out that Daniels’ cavalier attitude towards suggesting Archer sacrifice Sato or Reed came off not so well. I think this has to do with the difficulty the writers faced in keeping the focus on Archer instead of future time cops who would realistically be the ones sent in to take care of the weapon and eliminate the risk of Archer perishing since the whole attack stemmed from future interference.

I enjoyed seeing the Sphere Builders coming into the fray doing some dirty work themselves although I was hoping along the way they might be explored a bit more than they ultimately were. I would have liked to have learned a little bit more about them and was hoping there might have been a bit more to their invasion of our universe than simple domination. Perhaps their realm was becoming uninhabitable for some reason etc. Lots of little pieces come together--I liked how Phlox used the information he learned about them in Harbinger to suggest a way to fend them off to the MACOs. I also appreciated seeing the effects of the disturbance firsthand as the ship is immersed in the pinkish haze which also goes back to Harbinger and Azati Prime. There was a nice sense of tension present with the ticking clock.

The scene with the weapon dropping into range of Earth was chilling. I did wonder where, tiny as it may have been, Earth's forces were. I suppose one could argue that they had been erased from history but why was Yosemite still there and Archer certainly didn't act like the fleet's absence was strange.

Shran's cameo was okay but sort of came out of nowhere. As popular as he was with ENT fans I have to ask why they didn't have Silik and a few cell ships show up instead. It would have made more sense especially with the ending we got had they been sent by FG to shadow the NX in case they needed some help in stopping the Xindi.

The climax of both threads were pulse-pounding as the NX in a spectacular visual FX shot sees the sphere implode sending out waves to the other bringing down the network. Archer’s scenes on the weapon work well enough destroying the weapon. Although it could have been a bit more suspenseful. I did for some reason like the shot of Archer running as the weapon starts exploding with sparks going off around him as he takes off running down the catwalk and then of course the weapon exploding in a nice FX shot. And like the final arrival at Azati Prime or Archer entering the chamber in The Council, when the sphere network was finally destroyed and the Expanse ceased to exist it was another moment a whole season in the making that was thrilling & satisfying. I would have liked seeing Daniels appear one more time and show us a glimpse of what became of the Xindi in our familiar Star Trek timeline like the TNG era.

Other welcomed moments sprinkled in the hour—T’Pol/Phlox in sickbay, T’Pol/Trip in the situation room after the crisis had passed, Hoshi/Archer pep talk, T’Pol/Porthos, T’Pol/Xindi.

I loved how their homecoming was swiped from them. Everything has ended but the fallout is just beginning to set in. But B&B pulled the rewarding return home to Earth out from underneath the crew by jumping into yet another altered timeline. I liked it. I know some weren't too crazy about it but I’ve been a sucker for alternate reality stories and seeing Archer out of time was appealing. It would only make sense with a Temporal War raging there would be constant alterations in the timeline. Just because one campaign is over doesn't mean that others are. And I say if the writers are going to use a time war why not embrace it and go wild with it. So count me as one of the few who actually liked the Space Nazi cliffhanger. I see nothing fundamently bad about them. We only really had a fleeting glimpse of it and it could have potentially led to something fun. It served its purpose leaving me curious as to what was really going on.

And I have to say I loved the bizarre images of the shuttlepod being fired on by fighters and an unknown alien in a Nazi uniform—this image made me immediately think of Red Skull/Captain America/WW2 pulp comic book.

Overall, I thought this was the strongest ENT season and one of the most enjoyable since DS9. The only real problem was the fact the writers wanted this to last an entire season but clearly didn't have enough material to do so--so we were treated to far too many middling filler episodes to pad it out. I don't really think that needed to be the case. Afterall this was a perfect opportunity to bring in the Suliban, Future Guy, the Tholians and really explore and flesh out the TCW, the players we've encountered over the previous two seasons and their motives. The Tholians would have been perfect players to enter the Expanse given their previous history on TOS with odd spatial anomalies. Surely that could have replaced a few of those fillers.

The writers did a really good job with continuity dropping various elements like trellium into the episodes which at first blush seemed like throwaway stuff only to take on more significance as the season unfolded. Plot this season was priority and frankly I have no problem with that so long as I was entertained. The Xindi mythology was nicely developed providing some interesting players, political intrigue, some history. The spheres were a nice sci-fi device that injected some mystery regarding who built them and their purpose. I also liked how the spheres and the Xindi ultimately tied into one another with the revelation that the XFG=Sphere Builders.

And even though plot ruled the day the writers did manage to insert three pretty decent and compelling character arcs for the Big Three.

I'd give the entire season a B/B+.

Last edited by startrekwatcher; December 10 2009 at 05:38 PM.
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Old December 11 2009, 12:21 AM   #757
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Season 3 Review

So here I am, I've just watched the Xindi arc for the first time since it aired, was it better or worse this time around? I present graph number 1:



The blue line is fairly clear here, an uneven season in the first half and the quality in the second half was better sustained, this is backed up with the trendline which strongly indicates that the second half of the season was better than the first. The average score for the season? 5.833. My favourite season of Enterprise thus far? Easily. Better than every season of Voyager? No. Voyager's first season beat it by 1 point, if Zero Hour hadn't included the space fascist twist this season would have beaten Voyager's 5.867. That's why I had trouble deciding if Zero Hour should score a 6 or a 7, because I wanted this season to beat Voyager's first and officially be my favourite (until DS9), but I couldn't bring myself to cheat the scores like that.

However, my score for Voyager's first season is based off the 15 episodes on the DVD rather than the actual production season of 19 episodes, and that scored an average of 5.474. So there you have it, Enterprise season 3 is currently my favourite and second favourite season of Trek (that I've reviewed) at the same time. It's the Schroedinger's cat of Star Trek.



This graph is almost a mirror image of season 2's graph; flat but skewed to the higher end of the scores, with 7 being the most common score of the season. While this episode did bring the show another 0 score episode it also is the first season I've reviewed to get two 10s, and to make things even better it has two 9s as well. That means there was 4 episodes this season which I considered absolute classics of Trek (Twilight, Azati Prime, Damage, Countdown), and to put that into context Voyager only managed 8 in its entire 7 year run.

Seven episodes this season were below average, three were average and fourteen were above average.
Best episode: Damage
Worst episode: Extinction


The Writers

One new writer this season, his name is Manny Coto, I believe many of you know him already as a messiah.



The best writing duo from last season split up this year and, even though he wrote more good episodes, Mike Sussman was pipped to the post by Phyllis Strong; she scored 7.5 from two episodes while he scored 7 from four episodes. Coto had an uneven start but had a strong finish to the season to earn third place with a score of 6.2 from his five episodes, while Chris Black redeemed himself this season by writing more episodes than anyone else and scoring 6.167. B&B only wrote three episodes this season to score 6, David Goodman wrote two to score 4.5, but Andre Bormanis had trouble recovering his score from Extinction and he only scored 4 from his three episodes.



After three years of hard work (and one year on Voyager), Mike Sussman splits with Phyllis Strong and has a chance to become the best writer on the show. Extinction ensures the fall of Bormanis, he overtakes Fred Dekker, Anomaly and Twilight see him pull ahead of Strong... and then Manny Coto comes along and pips him to the post again! Sussman's average comes up to 5.714, but Coto's score of 6.2 this season still beats him. Strong leaves the show with a strong score (no pun intended) of 5.583, B&B move up to 5.312 with only one episode to go (the one I'm not allowed to name around these parts), Bormanis drops below the series average to 5.143, and Chris Black makes a valient effort to rescue his score but only manages 4.923. David A Goodman managed to pull himself up a little to a score of 4, but he still leaves the show as my least favourite writer.


What Would TheGodBen Do?

The year is 2003. Braga gives a speech at a convention and hints at an idea he and Berman are having for the finale. Their remains are never found. UPN needs somebody new to take the reigns of Enterprise as they head into this exciting new season, so they hire an unknown, inexperienced Irish guy. What would I have done differently?

Not a lot.

Okay, that's not true, this season is good but it is far from being perfect. It's quite obvious that the biggest problem I have had this season is the filler episodes which don't add anything to the Xindi plot or are only vaguely connected to it, so I'm curious how the season would score if I removed them. These are the episodes I'm removing:
Extinction
North Star
Similitude
Chosen Realm
Doctor's Orders

The average score goes from 5.833 to 6.889, which is a very good score considering how toughly I grade episodes. You can't just remove these episodes, UPN wanted more than 18 episodes, so the season needs some sort of sub-plot to fill these hours better. You already have the Xindi/Spheres story, and they included the Trip/T'Pol/Trellium sub-plot (so you can add back in Similitude and E²) but you've still got episodes like Extinction to get rid of.

I mentioned one of my ideas before; bring Shran and the Andorians in for a few episodes rather than just the one. This could have been used as the start of joint fleet operations between Earth and Andor and it could have had big consequences between humans, Vulcans and Andorians once the Xindi mission was over. Besides, it would have given us more Shran, and couldn't we all do with a little more Shran in our lives? Another idea I have is to set at least one episode on Earth focusing on Admiral Forrest, Soval and a few others so that we could get a sense of how the people of Earth are preparing for the possibility of their annihilation once the construction of the Xindi weapon had been confirmed. It would been a huge departure for Star Trek to do an episode like that, but it would certainly have been interesting to see the mood on Earth as well as any possible evacuation plans.

A main character should have died, either in the attack in Azati Prime or in the final trio of episodes. The obvious choice here is Travis since he's a do-nothing-say-little character, which is why I wouldn't choose him. Hoshi is the next choice, but I'd prefer it if she chose to leave Starfleet after her experience of being tortured by the Reptilians, which would probably be controversial, but I think it makes sense. So I'd choose to kill off Reed, not because I don't like him, I like him a lot and that way I'd care about his death. Instead of Hayes dying at the end of the season Reed dies and Hayes takes his place. It makes sense to me.


Statistics

Disappearing Aliens: 29 +11
Archer Abuse: 27 +9
Captain Redshirt: 30 +10
Transporter: 12 +6
Nipples Ahoy!: 16 +5

Season 1 Average: 5.16
Season 2 Average: 4.615
Season 3 Average: 5.833
Overall Average: 5.187

Voyager Average After 3 Seasons: 4.791


In Summation

While Voyager's third season was its worst, and led the show in completely the wrong direction, Enterprise learned that lesson and went the other way. This season is arguably a pointless diversion that took Enterprise away from its true potential, the beginnings of the UFP and the Romulan war, but it was an enjoyable diversion which showed what these writers, actors and the entire production team are capable of. It certainly piqued my flagging interest in the show and convinced me to come back again the following year when I was promised the show was finally going to deal with the issues it should have been all along. So, lets see what I think of season 4, shall we?


EDIT: Contrary to that last line I'm actually going to take a break for a few days because I have many exams over the following week. Hopefully things will be up and running again before Christmas.
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Old December 11 2009, 04:00 AM   #758
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

SFRabid wrote: View Post
Everyone involved in the production was very aware that people would see it as a tie to 9/11 but I don't understand what you mean by "feel a little embarrassed."
Poor choice of words, perhaps. I was on Day 3 of quitting smoking, too, so Bones, please forgive.

What I meant was, in real life the West bombed the hell out of a lot of people after 9/11, which was the crew's desire in the first few episodes of the season. Vengeance! However, in Enterprise they talked with their 'enemies,' and found out said 'enemies' (Xindi/Muslim world) weren't a monolithic group of bad guys as they'd been said to be. They really beat us over the head with this throughout Season 3 -- the Xindi being multiple species and so deeply factional was not exactly the subtlest writing ever. The thing that made Season 3 so different was that it showed us talking with those we perceived to be our enemies, instead of just escalating the conflict with them, and finding out that the majority of them were just frightened, but good people.

Of course, despite the engagement, the extremists (Reptilian/Insectoid/Al Qaeda) attacked us, but they were going to do that anyway. However, thanks to the engagement, the talking, these extremists were doing it alone, not backed by the rest of the people as they would've otherwise been. Without the diplomacy and engagement, the humans would've failed.

This was what should've been done in real life. Instead we got invasions and massive deaths of innocent civilians, which gave the world's real-life Dolims say to their people: "See? They're trying to KILL US ALL." It was very hard for a moderate Arab to argue with that when grinning American generals were on TV, discussing the "Shock And Awe" bombing that was producing piles of dead Iraqi civilians.

Blech, I really didn't want that to turn into an antiwar rant. I think, though, that Season 3 really did its best to show us there was a more human way of doing things.

I'll go away and be quiet now, at least until the end of this damn nicotine withdrawal reduces my propensity for idiocy and ranting
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Old December 11 2009, 04:06 AM   #759
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Also -- thank you Ben for these reviews! May not always agree with them (mostly do), but man they are entertaining to read.
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Old December 11 2009, 04:15 PM   #760
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Glacial wrote: View Post
Also -- thank you Ben for these reviews! May not always agree with them (mostly do), but man they are entertaining to read.
Then it has all been worth it.

<internal monologue> Three seasons in and only 25,000 views, this is rubbish. What's wrong with all these people that don't like me? </>
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Old December 11 2009, 06:40 PM   #761
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I tend to agree with your list of episodes to remove, although I'd probably keep Chosen Realm and certainly would keep Similtude. Then again, I'm not sure Exile was a worthwhile episode, so that could replace one of the ones being put back in.

Your graph pretty much backs up my thoughts on the season. Inconsistent, but got very good by the end.
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Old December 12 2009, 11:37 PM   #762
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Glacial wrote: View Post
I like to think of Season 3 as a commentary on the War on Terror, and how it should've played out. We can contrast what really happened to how Archer and co. handled it, and maybe feel a little embarrassed.
This really is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. In what way does the fictional Xindi war in the Star Trek universe compare to the actual War on Terror?
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Old December 12 2009, 11:51 PM   #763
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Glacial wrote: View Post

Poor choice of words, perhaps. I was on Day 3 of quitting smoking, too, so Bones, please forgive.

What I meant was, in real life the West bombed the hell out of a lot of people after 9/11, which was the crew's desire in the first few episodes of the season. Vengeance!
Except in the Fictional Star Trek Xindi War, Earth had no way of attacking or bombing the enemy.

Glacial wrote:
However, in Enterprise they talked with their 'enemies,' and found out said 'enemies' (Xindi/Muslim world) weren't a monolithic group of bad guys as they'd been said to be.
Is this similar to how Americans, Europe negotiated positively with several muslim countries? Where was the "all muslims are evil" speech that I missed?


Beyond responding to anything else line by line... I'll just put it this way:

There really is no comparison. In the Star Trek Xindi war, Earth is surprised attack by a technologically advanced race. Earth's only retaliation is to send it's one and only ship to destroy the weapon and investigate the cause.

In the war on terror, terrorists, not a government or country used a sneak attack on American soil, and over the years in several other countries. America, England, and a group of allies attack two countries primarily in response. One country that is directly related since it's where the terrorist lived. One country that is not related but is tied in under the guise of possible future scenarios involving WMDs. The allies did negotiate with several muslim countries, Pakistan comes to mind, in order to work together to defeat terrorists.

Other than there being a "sneak attack" I don't see anything similar. I don't see how negotiations with Al Queda would solve anything.


Sorry man, but trying to draw profound political insights from Enterprise season 3 just doesn't sit right with me, at all.
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Old December 13 2009, 12:44 AM   #764
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
SFRabid wrote: View Post
I'm glad you put this note in because I was totally clueless and wondered if it is because I am totally clueless.
Behold Countdown, one of the longest running gameshows in the world, entertainment for millions of pensioners, the unemployed and stoned students. I only ever watched it for the number rounds because I was good at those, in the letter rounds the best I could normally manage was a 5 or 6 letter word.
Just on Countdown, Charlie Brooker did a part of Screenwipe in which he showed a group of Americans various UK TV shows, including Countdown. It's hilarious!
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Old December 13 2009, 05:55 AM   #765
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Glacial wrote: View Post
Also -- thank you Ben for these reviews! May not always agree with them (mostly do), but man they are entertaining to read.
Then it has all been worth it.

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You wanna try reviewing Doctor Who, that makes you popular with no one. Especially as the only people who'd crop up on a Trek forum to talk about Doctor Who would be those who must like Doctor Who quite a lot.
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ben being unbearably smug, episode discussion, review

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