Getting from there to here, an Enterprise rewatch.

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by Richard S. Ta, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 14: SLEEPING DOGS

    [​IMG]

    "Have you identified the vessel, Mister Spock?"

    So one more down as I come to Sleeping Dogs, yet another Season 1 episode that though watchable somehow winds up being neither here nor there.

    Let’s get the obligatory gripe out of the way. *Wink Wink* Reed gets excited because the Klingons have something called photon torpedoes. I wonder if they are going to be important in the future ..? *Wink Wink*

    Ugh. Anyway.

    Good points. They use Hoshi properly for the first time in what feels like forever and her growth feels earned in this episode too. Early in the season she’d have done anything to be off of the ship, but by Sleeping Dogs she’s requesting a seat on an away-team. She’s been in just about enough scrapes so far to make the leap believable, making her (in a sense of her personality at least) the most developed of the crew so far. Thinking about it, maybe the bar is a little low there, seeing as most characters seem to be locked in stasis in terms of personality, or worse as in the case of Archer, frustratingly inconsistent. But still, praise where it’s due, with Park* here providing the emotional core of the episode.

    Other that that… I’m struggling. I can say the episode passed 40 odd minutes in a pleasant enough way. The idea of a few crew members marooned in some kind of unstable environment whilst their cremates work outside to get them back onboard is classic Star Trek stuff and it’s something that Enterprise hasn’t done since… well, actually since ten episodes ago in Brave New World, but I digress. Stuck in the outer layers of a gas giant? On a Klingon ship? Different enough I suppose.

    "It seems we'll have a distinguished passenger with us for a while."

    Bad points then, and this is becoming a recurring theme in these early episodes of Enterprise:

    Jeopardy, specifically: A Lack Of.

    I don’t know if it’s just me but there’s never a sense of anyone onboard Enterprise being especially concerned about the situation onboard the Klingon vessel. Reimagine this as a TOS episode, ostensibly the era that Enterprise is shooting for, and you’d have close-ups of Kirk’s sweaty brow, each attempt to recover the three stranded crew members becoming increasingly desperate… You’d have Kirk losing his rag with the rescued Klingon… In the short course of Sleeping Dogs, Archer has time to study the Vulcan database to learn a little about Klingon culture, the crew members assigned to welding braces onto a Shuttlepod are Archer, Trip and nobody else, Phlox has time to come up with a neurotoxin antidote for the afflicted Klingon. Heck, even the approach of further Klingon vessels is described as being a good sixteen minutes away when the episode only has five minutes left…

    "I went down to my quarters to dictate the accident report and I seem to have fallen asleep."

    The Right Stuff in space? With the right director maybe. Maybe a score that's something other than instantly forgettable might have helped. What could have been a terse rescue operation episode is made to feel so pedestrian. It’s a shame. The ingredients are all present, but to further the culinary metaphor, the cake just never seems to rise. More like one of those cakes where you open the oven door too early and have to dejectedly watch the whole thing collapse in on itself. For an episode in which three principal characters are stuck on a wrecked ship that’s sinking its’ way into a gas giant, surrounded by maladjusted, chemically confused members of a deadly warrior race, there’s no sense of danger. In fact, there’s no sense of anything really other than filling 45 minutes with rather thin ‘space adventure’. This isn’t helped by T’Pol, Reed and Hoshi slowly shedding the layers of their EV suits as we cut back to them… First the helmets go, then then chest plates and outer ‘armour’ layers until they peel back right to a previously unseen skintight thermal suit. Reed looks like he’s in his pyjamas whilst nothing is left to the imagination regarding the shapely forms of the others… which seems largely to be the point, right up to when the three of them end up in decontamination in their pants. Ah, so, that’s the point. Tits and ass.

    You see, Enterprise so far has plenty of this stuff. Wink wink callbacks, space adventure and lads magazine fan service. I recall Braga defending Seven of Nine’s appearance in regards to the sneers of everyone working over on Deep Space Nine. He referenced TOS as being chock full of hot space babes and in a sense he was right, but that’s not all that TOS was. The problem with Enterprise, the great unaddressed elephant in the room here, is that TOS had space adventure, it had the ladies, but at the same time it had episodes that were about something. I mean, all great sci-fi is about something. Some would argue that that is the purpose of it. Sleeping Dogs is yet another void, part of a larger pattern of episodes that add up to nothing. The characters aren’t pushed into new places, Klingons just gonna be Klingons and the whole thing just… ends.

    "Second vessel power supply out. Crew unharmed. They should be able to repair the ship in a few days."

    This is turning into a bit of a slog to be honest. At least I’m halfway through Season 1 now and coming towards a point when they try to retool the show. I’m interested to see what that looks like as well as the subsequent changes made in Seasons 3 and 4, but gosh it’s not easy. Enterprise, at least in the beginning is far from a binge-fest, something borne by the fact it was May since I last watched an episode. I am however a person who finishes what I start, even if that means I’ll be haunting this section of the forum until 2025.

    At least the next one is about Vulcans, Vulcan cantered episodes being some of the more unique entries in Enterprise’s run so far. Hopefully it won’t be September until I see you guys for Shadows of P’Jem.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com

    * As an aside, quite recently I rewatched both Fargo: Season 1 and both seasons of For All Mankind and Linda Park has aged incredibly. I know she’s not exactly ancient, but to me she looks as young as she did in Enterprise in the above mentioned shows. Good for her.
     
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  2. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist redux Moderator

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    @Richard S. Ta, I'm so glad you have returned. I had feared the worst. I've missed your insightful commentary. Welcome back.

    Well, yes, there are unremarkable episodes in this show. I introduced myself to Enterprise by binge-watching the first three seasons, and for some reason the bad shows didn't bother me all that much, while the good shows were really good. I found something to like in all of them, primarily because of the character interaction, and the actors. I got a much better sense of character and story arcs. Plus all the fun references to other Trek iterations, even in passing... like gagh and the Klingon devil dogs here. And the T'Pol / Hoshi scenes were intriguing.

    But Enterprise is the same as the other Treks in that romance and sexual innuendo seem to be cooked up largely by 14-year-old boys. But the actors are champs, and that helps. We'll have more to talk about in that area.

    Nice picture selection! I really enjoyed the production design and direction on this show, and the design of the ship.

    Looking forward to your next commentary. :)
     
  3. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    Things are really bad in Vietnam right now. We are in our biggest lockdown and it looks to be going on for the next two weeks at least... I've been teaching online for a few months and we had a meeting the other day to inform us that online would be the situation until September at least...

    I'm finding the same. The bad episodes don't bother me so much, but as I'm doing this then they have to be written about. I enjoy it after all, because it's Star Trek, but it's becoming increasingly clear that this iteration (at least at this point) has nothing to say about the real world at large and actually nothing to say about Star Trek itself. As I say, 'space adventure', which in and of itself isn't a bad thing... we all just know Star Trek can and has aimed higher.

    Is it only me that found one scene in question to be ever so slightly... sapphic?



    Maybe I'm hopelessly trawling for meaning where there is none, but the way it was played was certainly very sensual.

    Aye, hence the whole process of decontamination disappearing until the chicks are on the away team...

    Agreed on that. The Klingon interiors look suitably grungy and the mess hall was well realised. If there's one thing I can say about Enterprise, it stands up. 20 years later and it holds together visually as a production.

    Anyway, glad to be back. I'll finish this thing one way or another, despite a lot of other shows distracting me... One thing about lockdown. You can get a lot of TV watched.
     
  4. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 15: SHADOWS OF P’JEM

    "Patience. Every planet is dangerous to the ignorant."

    [​IMG]

    Breaking new ground or treading through old water? Enterprise continues to simultaneously delight and disappoint with a thankful balance toward the former in Shadows of P’Jem. I’m not going to lie, getting through Season 1 of Enterprise has been much harder than I anticipated, struggling so far to produce an episode which I’d deem a ‘classic’. Plenty of near-hits, a few outright misses… but now I’m more than halfway through the season, I can see why this show sadly failed to inspire during its’ original run.

    Shadows of P’Jem in fairness stays on target more often than not. Less a story in itself and more a kind of lengthy coda to The Andorian Incident, it is an episode that at least digs into the mythology that Enterprise itself has been developing rather than nodding towards other Star Trek series. For once in Enterprise, actions have consequences, in this case Archer’s decision to hand over Vulcan data to the Andorians in the wake of the discovery that the P’Jem monastery was a covert monitoring station. Through the season, Archer has been taking pot-shots at alien craft willy-nilly, plonking shuttlepods onto whichever planet he chooses and generally losing his rag and sulking whenever whichever alien of the week doesn’t want to be friendly. Last episode he was rather boldly antagonising a Klingon mini-fleet for goodness sake. No matter if it was justified in any case, there is an overriding impression that the NX-01 seems to be able to cruise around space putting galactic noses out of joint without repercussion or reprimand. Therefore, even if we know it’s false, seeing T’Pol recalled by Vulcan High Command feels satisfying in a way that winks and nudges regarding phase pistols and the like doesn’t.

    "The Captain is not answering his communicator and it does not show up on the scanning grid"

    I want to hover over that word ‘false’ for a moment, because I feel I’m being a bit reductive. Yes, we know that T’Pol isn’t going to leave, firstly because we are looking at Enterprise in a sense as historians, but also because she’s quite obviously an essential and unique element of the crew. However, that doesn’t mean that the recall is worthless from a narrative point of view. Out of all the characters featured in Enterprise, T’Pol so far is the one that’s been given the most chance to shine and develop. Without meaning to be disparaging (because it’s not necessarily a bad thing) most of the characters in Enterprise have been quite static so far. Reed, Mayweather, Phlox and Trip are essentially the same characters that they were in Broken Bow and each have had very little in the way of development so far. Reed likes weapons (and apparently Pineapple), Mayweather likes… smiling and doing stuff for other people, Phlox loves new things and is generally genial and Trip likes engines and away missions. As I say, not a negative as such. We are only halfway through the first season after all, but there’s little sense of who these people are beyond a few roughly sketched traits. I think in all cases, the performances have transcended the rather thin scripting and made each more than the sum of their parts, but that doesn’t change how insubstantial these people are on paper.

    Standing apart from these in the first season, Archer, Hoshi and T’Pol have represented more of a moving target. In terms of Archer, there seems to be some disconnect amongst the writers as to exactly who he’s supposed to be (and I suppose that’s something to discuss in the future), Hoshi has had a mini-arc in which she’s transformed from unwilling, almost conscripted member of the crew into an altogether braver soul and then there is T’Pol who, in the beginning, very pointedly did not want to be onboard the Enterprise at all. As with other characters, at times the writing has been rather thin and fortunately greatly enhanced by performance. Jolene Blalock clearly very well understood what it meant to play a Vulcan in a way that Tim Russ, Mark Lenard and (naturally) Leonard Nimoy did. Vulcan characters tend to fly when the unspoken is brought to the fore by what is spoken. Clear examples from this episode would be:

    And:

    All of this has antecedent of course, if I may quote TOS (Amok Time) in a proper sense for once:

    Everybody knows this scene, or at least I’d hope so on a Star Trek forum. I’m sure everybody is also aware that this is not an isolated example. This kind of arch-understatement is something that underpins Nimoy’s original characterisation of a Vulcan and his influence on subsequent performers is far reaching. We’d see much the same from Mark Lenard a few stories later, then again through Tim Russ and of course, Jolene Blalock in this case. Put simply, a Vulcan in principle is a highly rational being who keeps his/her emotions suppressed. If a performer wishes to nail the Vulcan-factor, they need to understand that they are not playing a robot. There is a swirling tempest of feelings underneath that placid exterior and Blalock seems to hit the right notes effortlessly. She is for me the star of Enterprise at this point.

    Vulcans are a tricky thing to write and perform and for much of Enterprise so far, excepting Jolene Blalock, I have been largely unsatisfied by their portrayal. I understand the desire to have them as a kind of underlying antagonist (and on paper this is something that works) but for much of the season so far, there’s been little in the way of nuance for them. They are, to put it simply, kind of just a bunch of jerks. Shadows of P’Jem does little to address this unfortunately, but at this point I’m putting it down to it just being an Enterprise thing. By the time of TOS I suppose the people of Vulcan have come to accept and respect humanity. I’m just a little weary of it and over the season it’s made a rather interesting Star Trek race seem one-dimensional. Still, even though I’ve been doing this mini-marathon for a while now it has to be remembered that we are still only part way through Season 1. There’s time for the balance to shift.

    "I think he said 'maybe'. Well, that convinces me. Ready a security squad. We're going down there. Issue phaser rifles."

    Otherwise we have an episode that shifts through varying degrees of humdrum with one truly objectionable part, that being the scene where Archer and T’Pol have to ‘Harry Houdini’ themselves out of some ropes by vigorously rubbing against each other, the punchline being Archer getting his face stuffed into Blalock’s ample bosom. This kind of juvenilia is something of a Star Trek curse I think, especially in Berman Trek, though it has roots extending all the way back to TOS. It’s not uncommon to hear of a Star Trek fan being somewhat embarrassed to admit to being a Star Trek fan. Personally, I’m not embarrassed to like anything I like, but had I watched this scene with my wife I think I would have cringed. I’m not ashamed of funny head ridges, daft plots, crappy special effects or overly-enthusiastic acting choices from some, but childish stuff like this… It’s crap and it detracts an otherwise serviceable episode.

    "You have mishandled the situation again, Kirk Captain. This one judges you not an intelligent commander."

    In conclusion, as an episode of Star Trek, Shadows of P’Jem success is largely dependant on how much Star Trek the viewer has seen. Like much of Enterprise, it rattles along at a good pace, it tells the story that it wants to tell and it has just about enough to recommend it. However over-familiar elements (rebels of the week/x doesn’t work because of x-storm/fake-out character departure) and unfortunate juvenilia from a production team who have an attitude towards women and sex that mirror a thirteen-year boy who’s just uncovered his older brother’s porn stash prevent it from achieving greatness. In fact, at this point I remain unconvinced that Enterprise will achieve anything more than this level in Season 1 and it’s clear that the show required retooling and rethinking going forwards.

    There’s a good show waiting to break out of it’s constraints here, I can feel it. I wonder if I’ll prefer Season 2?

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
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  5. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist redux Moderator

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    Well, the scene certainly could have been staged in a less suggestive way, right? I wonder what the script said, or whether it was just the actors and director. It is a precursor of T'Pol using touch to help another character later...and again, there's a definitely sensual feel. From a character standpoint, I loved that this supposedly emotionally suppressed Vulcan has this aspect. The juxtaposition of Vulcan emotional control and physical sensuality was also played in that scene in the pilot when T'Pol and Trip are doing the decon gel thing, while they are having an argument about ship protocols. They do not react to the sensual nature of the gel thing, they're too busy fighting. And the one time Trip stops and stares at a body part of T'Pol, it's not her bosom but her ears. So yeah, those 14-year-old boys might have written the scene, but the actors didn't play it salaciously, and I found that much more intriguing.

    But then there's that scene in "P'Jem" with Archer and T'Pol's bosom... ugh. Imagine how Bakula and Blalock must have felt doing that. :ack:

    Archer, the character, suffered from terribly inconsistent writing. I was biased in favor of him simply because Bakula played him - the main reason I tuned into the show. But when Archer was written well, he was wonderful, a Trek captain, worthy of Kirk's admiration. Idealistic, optimistic, compassionate, courageous, strong moral compass. On the bad writing days, it was frustrating to watch--or outright off-putting, for many. I think this is the reason for the polarized views of him, and that's such a shame. He's the captain, and I think the writers should have taken better care of him, as a character.

    I think Blalock's performance is underappreciated. There's a lot of nuance there, especially when contrasting aspects of her character are explored. I really, really enjoyed the evolution of her partnership with Archer, from adversaries who both had preconceived prejudices about each other, to the trusted allies they are becoming, with Archer moving heaven and earth to keep her on his team, as we see in this episode.

    :lol: Maybe that was a way of showing how much of an oddball T'Pol is in comparison, plus giving Archer cause to resent them so much. He was certainly onto them, when everyone else just labeled it racism or prejudice because of his dad. But I admit, I thought it was an intriguing way to do pre-TOS Vulcans - to give them a lot to overcome, in order to become the more even-keeled TOS Vulcans...although T'Pring and Stonn are as conniving and duplicitous as any Vulcan in Enterprise.

    :guffaw:

    I look forward to finding out! Really enjoying your comments.
     
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  6. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Commodore Commodore

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    Great reviews and debate, I hope it doesn't get the better of you like it did to me when summing up episodes.
    I went from one paragraph reviews to endless script, getting to the point when I couldn't watch what was onscreen due to continually taking notes based on dialogue only. And then I just couldn't do it anymore because it was consuming all my time.
    Still love the show, but reviewing in the thread Rewatching Enterprise from a couple of years ago became hard work, too hard to continue with. I had to take a break.
     
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  7. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist redux Moderator

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    You have passion for the show, Delta Vega! Nothing wrong with that...except, as I know too, it can kind of suck you in and you can't get out. :crazy: There has been many a night, at about 2am, when I want to jot down just a leetle comment down in a thread...and an hour later, I have this huge post! I feel you. But I loved your episode summaries and great side comments.
     
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  8. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    I would have much preferred this ending.

    Last time I was in a discussion on this, I couldn't find anything referencing the original draft. I described it, and someone asked for proof, and I couldn't find it. Odd that its just on Memory Alpha. How did I miss that? Lol..
     
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  9. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    Hello everyone, I'm not dead, just busy. Managed to scrape another episode of Enterprise into my schedule so what follows is my thoughts on Shuttlepod One. Hope you enjoy. :)

    Appreciated! I just wish they were less intermittent, but I'm finding it much harder than I thought to develop any kind of lasting passion for Enterprise... :weep:

    I can understand this absolutely. I hate reading a synopsis disguised as commentary. I consciously attempt not to simply spell out what happened in an episode because I guess anyone who is reading what I write has seen the episode at some point and I keep in mind the goal of at least saying something. Be that relative merits, how something could be better/worse or examining the themes of a given episode. And you're right, it is a monstrous process finally to write about an episode sometimes...

    Glad I could help, but I'd hate to start 2022 by jumping down the Dear Doctor rabbit hole again. :hugegrin:

    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 16: SHUTTLEPOD ONE

    "I'm depending on luck, Lieutenant. It's almost the only tool we have that'll work."

    [​IMG]

    So, Shuttlepod One. After viewing each episode (and I think it’s important to do it afterwards, rather than before) I’ll make efforts to do a cursory read of other reviews online, mainly out of curiosity regarding whether or not my views align with the majority. Shuttlepod One it seems is well regarded. Unsurprisingly it’s a favourite of Dominic Keating, but the likes of Braga/Berman seem to be rather proud of it. Also, when it comes to the various polls framed around the likes of ’10 Enterprise Episodes To See Before You Die’, Shuttlepod One makes a regular appearance.

    So, a fan-favourite then. At the risk of sounding contrary, I found it to be slightly average. There’s a good idea or two in here and we even come close to the oft-cited remit of ‘The Right Stuff in Space’, but ultimately I found a sense of narrative cowardice hamper the opportunities that the premise of the episode promises. I think the main problem here for me is that the structure of the show doesn’t really allow a story like this to flourish. I’ll try to express why I think that is.

    "An hour from now we may be right back where we started from."

    The aforementioned premise is excellent. Trip and Malcolm, two characters who are diametrically opposed to each other are forced to share oxygen in a tight space in a situation which is both desperate and deadly. Very nice. The cold open sets this up particularly well as we see an asteroid covered in man-made debris which we are led to believe is the NX-01. That’s all well and good and I think it’s a fabulous way to begin an episode. Where the narrative cowardice comes into play though is after the credits, in which we almost immediately learn that the Enterprise is fine, actually it’s another ship that’s smeared all over the asteroid and the full extent of damage to the Enterprise is a section or two of hull plating.

    For me, the mystery of exactly what had happened to the Enterprise should have been left for the denouement and not let slip so early in the episode. Assuring the viewer that the NX-01 is in fact intact with all crew hale and hearty robs the episode of the mystery box it created in it’s own opening. The final scene in sickbay should have been the only scene in which Archer/T’Pol/Phlox etc. appeared (excepting Reed’s ‘stinky’ vision of course). The interplay between Trip and Reed is far more interesting and far more rich ground for drama than T’Pol and Archer’s musings on the existence of miniature black-holes. This should have been the Enterprise version of the Red Dwarf episode ‘Marooned’. A two-hander almost from start to finish, because some egregious drunk-acting aside, there’s something very entertaining about Connor Trineer and Dominic Keating being stuck in a fridge together.

    "... desperation is a highly emotional state of mind"

    It could have, nay should have been a two-man show until the 40 minute mark. Trip and Reed (or rather Trineer and Keating) are up to the task. One of the ships’ odd-couples, antagonising each other even before any kind of crisis is revealed in the cold open, are trapped in a deadly situation together. No comms, limited food, diminishing air… All are potential signposts for drama that are ultimately trivialised by finding that the NX-01 is fine. Once more, surely nobody watching (even at the time) believed anything different, but the hull-plating on the asteroid at least suggests a crisis onboard the Enterprise. A piece of the hull is ripped off. The Shuttlepod can’t contact the mothership because that ship itself is having a crisis, severely damaged and struggling to make essential repairs whilst also vainly attempting to recover their lost crewmen onboard Shuttlepod One. But instead… it’s fine. Cut to the Enterprise, nothing is on fire, nobody is bleeding, no systems are down and it actually takes some time for Archer to say “Huh, what about Trip and Reed?”.

    It has to be said that sadly Enterprise bears as much resemblance to The Right Stuff as TOS did to Wagon Train. No sense of desperation or survival. No sense of danger. You can literally rip a chunk out of the Enterprises hull and it’s all smooth-sailing. It’s clear that ‘The Right Stuff In Space’ was nice bit of PR guff to sell a new Trek premise that was thrown away almost immediately so the show could become TNG with chunkier buttons and mechanics' overalls instead of jumpsuits.

    "It is the usual end of a decaying orbit"

    Which isn’t to say that there aren’t positives. Keating and Trineer play their scenes for all they are worth. Malcolm at once is rather tragic, gleefully acerbic whilst ultimately becoming sympathetic. Trip, a character who has been well-served in the first season, serves as viewer commentary on Malcolm’s maudlin behaviour. I do feel though, heretical as it may seem, that the episode may have been improved by swapping out Trip for another character. If it’s ebullient positivity that’s required then I would have placed Mayweather in Trip’s seat. I found credulity stretched by the notion that, even when reduced to debris, Tucker wouldn’t realise that he wasn’t looking at human tech. As we know very little of the NX-01 formed the aforementioned debris, surely Trip would be the person most well-placed to realise this? “Well, Gee, Shucks, Malcolm, that sure is part of our hull plating but that other junk ain’t nothin’ made on Earth!” or some such. Mayweather could have provided the same hopeless optimism and ‘can do’ spacefarer spirit whilst lacking the technical knowledge that Trip was supposed to have and what’s more, we’d have received some much needed development for two characters as opposed to one.

    So, sorry guys, gals and other gentlebeings but this one didn’t as much for me as it does for others. It’s funny in the right places, I’ll give it that. The chemistry between Keating/Trineer is a pleasure to watch and on a lazy, Sunday afternoon this may well be a nice episode of Trek to have playing in the background whilst I focus on hobbies, but it’s far from being a pinnacle for Enterprise. There are at least 5 episodes in this season so far that I’d rate above it. Nice idea, shame about the uneven and occasionally vapid execution.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
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  10. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist redux Moderator

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    Enterprise is a mixed bag, because of the inconsistent writing. But when it's good, it's very, very good. I hope you'll stick it out. Breeze past the forgettables, and enjoy the goodness when it comes along.

    I introduced myself to Enterprise by binge-watching the first three seasons during the summer before Season 4. I really got a good sense of overall arcs and themes, the storylines with great potential, and the progression of character development, and I was able to sort of ignore the inconsistencies and start to look at the "ideal" show and its characters. And since I'm a writer, I sort of automatically story-developed the bad stuff in my head as I went along, and found fixes for some of the structural goofs in hindsight.

    Also, I think significantly, I was not yet part of the online Trek community; I was the only Trek fan I knew. So I was spared all the polarizing brickbats--er, passionate discussion about the show until I dived into the deep end of online fandom in Season 4. I had no idea it had become the red-headed stepchild of the franchise; I just wanted to watch Scott Bakula in another series, and I loved Star Trek. And I love this show, despite its faults, because the "ideal" Enterprise had a lot of potential, and the show really soars when it's good, in my opinion. I love the character interactions, even in an otherwise meh episode.

    A lot of folks tend to favor the last two seasons over the first two. I think one reason may be that, by the end of Season 2, the team realized that being on a struggling network wannabe, they weren't going to get a free ticket to 7 seasons, and might just get canned after only 2. The writing staff stepped up and did a better job, for the most part. So you might find smoother sailing if you stick it out.

    Another thought-provoking commentary, on Shuttlepod One. "...there’s something very entertaining about Connor Trineer and Dominic Keating being stuck in a fridge together." Agreed!
     
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  11. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    Oh, I finish what I start. There may be long gaps between write ups sometimes and I wouldn't be surprised if i reach These Are The Voyages in 2030, but providing the board still exists (And I haven't for some reason been ejected from it) then I will stick it out.

    I thought it was worth adding this:

    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 16: SHUTTLEPOD ONE - ADDENDUM (DELETED SCENES)

    [​IMG]

    There's a lengthy deleted scene from this episode that has Trip and Malcolm examine Archer's apparent invulnerability. The conversation begins with Reed discussing how it seemed the Captain was capable of extricating himself from any situation and ends with a lengthy anecdote from Trip regarding giving Archer diving lessons and a prank involving a moray eel (which typically Archer handled with grace and skill).

    It's beautiful stuff. Revealing how two characters feel about their Captain (and in Trip's case, friend) whilst deepening the character of Archer. More than that, it's as funny as it is affecting.

    Watching the deleted scene merely strengthened my resolve regarding my idea that the majority of the main cast should have been kept out of this episode until the final scene in sickbay. The above is way more engaging than Archer and T'Pol engaging in a tit for tat about whether or not miniature singularities exist.

    Authorial intent or yet more cowardice from the network? I dunno.

    Just thoughts. Moving on to the next one (Fusion) as the synopsis makes it sound quite good!

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
  12. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Location:
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 17: FUSION

    [​IMG]

    "I don't need you."

    Another day, another episode of Enterprise. It should come as no surprise by now to find a narrative that’s pulling itself apart by dint of not knowing exactly what it’s trying to say, but for at least the first half of Fusion I found myself admiring the episode for pushing T’Pol and Vulcans in general in new directions. It’s not until the latter half that things really get muddy, and boy oh boy… They don’t come much muddier than this.

    Let's cut straight to the quick and talk about what is clearly coded as a rape (or at least an attempted rape) and that crazy Captain Archer and his inconsistent decisions. Lets be clear first of all, I feel that through the analogy of a mind-meld that the violation of T’pol was a powerful and affecting moment. I’m hardly going to criticise Enterprise for approaching thorny topics bravely. This is a show which could do with a little more drama and less pontificating about micro-singularities after all. I just find myself confused and somewhat offended about how the whole thing was handled in terms of narrative.

    Tolaris, the Vulcan who forcibly assaults T’Pol (complete with a “Stop!” and a “No!”) is clearly coded as predatory from the start. He likes to get into T’Pol’s personal space, seems to take enjoyment in goading reactions from her and (in the above mentioned mind-meld scene) firmly wears the crown of a super-creep when he tells T’Pol how disappointed he is in her reaction to the meld. It’s all signposted and none of it comes as a surprise exactly, as usual with these kinds of stories there is a frightening inevitability built into the story that plays out nicely. When T’Pol drags herself across the floor of her cabin and contacts sickbay it’s a gut-punch. The kind of swing that this show is usually afraid to take.

    So far so good and later when Tolaris is called to Archer’s quarters, there’s a similar sense of inevitability. Because we know Archer is a good guy. He’s the square-jawed, no-nonsense Captain and you can swing for him, he’ll take it, but as soon as you swing for one of his crew then damn… You’re in trouble. That’s how it seems it’s going to play out anyway. However, after Tolaris compounds his earlier assault on T’Pol by physically assaulting Archer too… they let him go. He’s just let go. Is it just me or is “I think you should be on your merry way” a weak reaction?

    "Well then, we can't help you, Jim. The decision is yours."

    Basically, Tolaris waltzes on to the Enterprise full of smug self-satisfaction, rapes the Science Officer and then assaults the Captain and then he’s let go. No reprimand from his own crew. No apology from his colleagues. In fact, after pinning Archer to the ceiling of his quarters, we never see the character again. Just some pithy line about how he maybe isn’t as accomplished as controlling his emotions as we thought. That’s bullshit. He should have been thrown in the brig and brought back to either Earth and Vulcan High Command or Vulcan itself to face charges. End of story. Star Trek Captains don’t let rapists go. Star Trek Captains don’t let rapists who have raped a member of their command staff go. Seriously, what the Hell was going on here when this one went before the cameras.

    Now, for reasons that I won’t fully go into here, rape is a personal subject for me. Thankfully I’ve never undergone that experience myself, but my best friend has and so has my wife. So, while I don’t feel angry about the resolution of the story, I do feel confused about why they did it in the first place and why they decided it wasn’t worth following up in the coda to the episode. Even something like Tavin (the de facto leader of this group of Vulcans) acknowledging that wrong has been done. Apologising, promising reprimand or expressing regret. Anything. Anything other than letting Tolaris “go on (his) merry way”.

    I’ve heard this episode described in terms of being representative of the activities of a cult. I don’t think that’s quite right. Certainly Tolaris is a very shady character and there’s more than a whiff of indoctrination and manipulation about him, but that doesn’t quite figure with how the rest of the group are portrayed. Similarly I’ve heard it described as being a reactionary attack on youth culture, but once more it’s not a great fit in terms of the behaviour of the larger group. None of them are particularly young and while their behaviour may be subversive in terms of what it means to be a Vulcan, their activities are comparatively tame compared to other, human youth subcultures. They dress in the nearly the same conservative fashion as their Vulcan contemporaries, they all have the classic bowl-cut. It’s not like they play obnoxious music all the time on their own ship or cover themselves in tattoos and facial piercings. The V’tosh Ka’tur in the main are just slightly friendlier Vulcans who have a thing for chicken. Hardly Woodstock. So The Way to Eden this is not.

    Tavin and Kov (the other significant Vulcan character) simply aren’t coded in the same way as Tolaris. Tavin is benevolent and friendly while Kov is somewhat naive. So the point of the episode is… It can be dangerous for Vulcans to play with their emotions. Rich ground for Enterprise, who’ve been developing the Vulcans through the first season in a way that previous iterations of the franchise didn’t, but ultimately it’s a case of sound and fury signifying nothing. I don’t have a problem with a Star Trek episode that deals with rape. I do have a problem with an episode that lets the rapist walk away scot-free and further problems with an episode that leaves T’Pol hanging, confused and damaged by the experience with no resolution or follow up.

    "I've seen a part of myself no man should ever see."

    That’s a problem with Enterprise I guess. It’s a show that wants to have it’s cake and eat it. On the one hand it’s pushing characters into new ground and showing us how multi-faceted they can be, whilst with the other hand it’s repeatedly mashing the reset button and you know, I don’t remember much about this show. Maybe it’s followed up on? Maybe we have some closure to come? I doubt it though, because that’s just not the kind of show Enterprise. Enterprise refuses to settle on whether it wants to be a ‘adventure of the week’ show or a character driven drama and as a result it never really settles at all. If you’re going to take one of your attractive female leads, an emotionally repressed character at that, and push them into a rape storyline then a reset button becomes offensive. More so when the rapist himself is allowed to ride off into the sunset with a self-satisfied grin on his face, presumably never to be mentioned again.

    What’s worse for me is the coda. In earlier sections of the episode, T’Pol admits to having felt invigorated by her dreaming experiences. The same experiences that included a dreamt sexual encounter with Tolaris, the rapist. Admittedly, the dream sequence comes before the rape scene, but it’s still difficult for me to square exactly why T’Pol says she envies Captain Archer’s ability to dream nightly. Why? The experience in her dream state was incredibly distressing for her and the subsequent assault she goes through puts her in sickbay overnight. As Archer says “she is in a pretty bad way”… It’s difficult to know what to take from the episode, but the closing scene hovers on the edge of implying that T’Pol has rape fantasies and that on some level she enjoyed the experience she went through...

    So, I have to face the fact that at this point Berman and Braga were both creatively and morally bankrupt. Because we have a well loved regular, hospitalised after what is to all intents and purposes a brutal sexual assault. Yet, T’Pol has no payback, no resolution and ultimately no agency in the matter at all. We have a “no means no” moment, but with nothing of substance behind it and the final take-away from the episode is that if you rape a member of Archer’s crew, you get off with no consequences.

    Well, sorry, but fuck that. If you are going to steer your show into this kind of territory, we need payback as viewers. We need to know that in the future, there are consequences for sexual predators. As it is, we end in T’Pol’s quarters with a pithy line about envy and watch as the show washes its’ hands of the whole matter and that, to me, is not Star Trek.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2022
  13. Ray Hardgrit

    Ray Hardgrit Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2021
    I saw Fusion for the first time recently, as part of a simultaneous rewatch with TOS, TNG and Voyager, and nothing those other first seasons could throw at me were as painful to sit through as this was. I'm not just talking about T'Pol's assault, I mean the whole episode as a whole was a tedious, miserable experience for me and it didn't help that I couldn't stand the jazz. Unlike T'Pol, I was not drawn in by the chaotic music.

    The one bit of joy I got from the episode came from the Trip plot as he put his prejudices aside and made friends with a Vulcan. Though maybe calling it a 'plot' is exaggerating a bit. There wasn't much of a story to any of this episode and what was there just confused me. Like Archer's scene where he provokes T'Pol's attacker and gets thrown across his ready room. Why did he even need to do that? The Vulcans were leaving anyway, he didn't need an excuse to post security to keep him out of sickbay, and it didn't lead to any consequences for him. It's starting to seem like Archer just likes getting beaten up.

    It was nice that Jolene Blalock got to have some fun exploring her character but this really didn't sell me on Berman and Braga's choice to focus on more character-driven stories.
     
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  14. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2016
    I'll admit, I fell asleep watching this and never saw the resolution, but the first half had me really intrigued, hoping/waiting for some implied connection to Sybok, considering they shared his themes of Vulcans with emotions, and Vulcans with weird invasive mental powers. If this is the type of Vulcan he associated with (and I'm sure he and Dr Sevrin were colleagues of sorts) it's no wonder he was banished.
     
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  15. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Location:
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    I quite liked the Trip part of the episode. Wish we'd had more of that TBH.

    You're right though. Not much of a story. It's like doing a rape story was enough. A little shock and awe and hopefully no-one will think about it too much. Certainly no-one involved with writing this did.

    You're lucky to have fallen asleep and truly you didn't miss much.

    Anyway, a very short one:

    ENTERPRISE

    EPISODE 18: ROGUE PLANET


    [​IMG]

    "Although humanoid, it is definitely not Homo Sapiens."

    Well, Rogue Planet was better than Fusion. Perhaps a low bar to clear, but nonetheless, it’s there. In fact with it’s on the nose message about the immorality of game-hunting and a Captain beguiled by a mysterious curtain-clad lady-who-is-not-a-lady, Rogue Planet feels more a homage to TOS than any other episode this season.

    It’s just a bit dull.

    I will say, it’s nice to see Reed get something to do and… well, there’s just not much to say here. Purely average, MOR Berman Trek with all the ups and downs that brings with it. The mystery is neat, the payoff is alright, but I can’t imagine this one will make anyone’s list of ‘most-memorable’ episodes of Enterprise.

    So, I’ll leave this one short but sweet. Rogue Planet is just sort of there. Inoffensive and unregarded.

    If I have a gripe, it’s did the lady have to turn into a slug and crawl off into the bushes at the end? if this was a TOS episode she’d walk gracefully into some smoke, or Kirk would look away and look back only to find she had gone… Archer’s WTF? reaction pretty much mirrored mine. But quite possibly, if not most likely, that's just me.

    I’d love to have more to say about this one, sorry to disappoint. In terms of filling an hour slot on television with a reasonably exciting Star Trek adventure it just about succeeds and maybe that’s all we need sometime. I’m glad that Archer intervened and the way he and Phlox conspired to do it was satisfying in its’ own way, but this is still a show that’s spending its’ inaugural first season not even scratching the surface of its’ own potential.

    Sorry to be a grump about Enterprise in the forum dedicated to Enterprise guys and gals. I’m sure it’s not much fun. Honestly, I’d like to be having more fun, but here we are. Fortunately with Enterprise, we know it eventually snaps out of all this and starts making inroads toward doing something more interesting. But for now, the woods are lonely, dark and deep, with miles to go before I sleep.

    Until next time!

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  16. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist redux Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    chillin with Grogu
    We'll, there's the trivia aspect. Eric Pierpoint, who played one of the hunters, had previously co-starred with Gary "Soval" Graham in the nifty Kenneth Johnson sci-fi series Alien Nation, which was way better than the source film, a real delight to watch. Pierpoint turns up later in ENT in another role, and It would have been great to see Pierpoint and Graham in some scenes together in Enterprise, but plotwise, it would have been too much of a stretch. Still great to see them in this series.

    I enjoyed the atmosphere in "Rogue Planet," the mystery. Nice production design. The scenes with Archer and the mysterious lady were intriguing. I didn't need the slug ending either, though. :lol:
     
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  17. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Pierpoint has been a guest in every Berman era series.

    TNG, "Liaisons"
    DS9, "FOR THE UNIFORM"
    VGR, "BARGE OF THE DEAD"
    ENT, "ROGUE PLANET" and as Harris in several season 4 episodes.
     
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  18. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Location:
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    it rattled along. It wasn't bad exactly and the planet was nicely done. Just a little dull at points.

    That's fascinating and thank you for the info!

    Moving on swiftly to:

    ENTERPRISE

    EPISODE 19: ACQUISITION


    [​IMG]

    "They pay their percentages and the boss takes care of them."


    I’m not going to make any bones about it. I didn’t have high expectations for this story. I do try not to read ahead, but a combination of the title and the little Netflix* icon for the episode kind of gave the game away. I was surprised then to find that (despite still suffering from all the problems I believe Enterprise has in Season 1) that I really enjoyed it.

    It’s obvious at this point that the great and the good had decided to do a prequel, whilst being too afraid to actually knuckle down and do a prequel. Hence the sense of schizophrenia that has permeated the show so far. I’ll be the first to admit that bringing the Ferengi into the show was, at least on paper, a dreadful idea. Not only does it run the danger of undermining Picard’s first contact with the lobe-lovers, it also represents a dearth of creativity and an almost cowardly reliance on elements from past Berman shows (which is still glaringly odd all these years later when there are so many races and ideas from TOS that could have been expanded upon. This show should have written itself) Braga himself is critical of this episode, saying:

    "There's no excuse for the Ferengi, no excuse. That was an act of desperation. I hated it.”

    But somehow it worked for me, partly through the script, partly through the direction and partly through performance.

    "All you have to do is give me about a hundred of these fancy heaters and we'll have no more trouble."

    There’s always something fun about seeing a Starfleet crew deliberately behaving several degrees more stupid than they actually are in order to manipulate a foe. That’s been Trek bread and butter since the beginning and through that, even though it draws on elements of TNG, Acquisition has the feel of a TOS episode. I can easily imagine Kirk planting seeds of dissatisfaction in the mind of a greedy opponent, I can see Kirk and Mccoy getting into fake fisticuffs over the apparent value of a wife and T’Pol dangling the key to Archer’s cuffs in front of his face whilst admonishing him as to his unflattering comments about Vulcans is pure Spock.

    There’s a warmth and a humour to this episode that stays just on the right side of silly. In fact from the beginning Acquisition walks a very fine line between tension and comedy and manages to maintain the balance. The Ferengi themselves aren’t particularly threatening, but that’s lampshaded in their body language and general attitude. They are looters who cower behind their weapons, not warriors. What is scary though is the idea of being dragged off to a slave market whilst the rest of your crew are napping. Add to that that the Ferengi characters here are an untrustworthy bunch who are likely to behave in unpredictable, illogical ways and we have drama. Add to that the mystery box element of beginning the episode with the NX-01 adrift with all hands knocked out and suddenly the ship feels like a vulnerable and dangerous place to be.

    Furthermore, there’s a miniature cornucopia of Trek alumni here! We’ve got Jeffrey Coombs, Ethan Philips and (goodness!) Clint Howard of Blalock fame! That’s a strong guest cast and another element that helps carry an episode that really shouldn’t work, but does. They all throw themselves wholeheartedly into the story, even manages to make dialogue in Ferengi-speak compelling.

    Direction on this one felt solid as well, with the choice of shots really selling the idea that the NX-01 is one huge, interconnected space. I know I’ve come down heavy on Enterprise at times, but 20+ years later it still holds up visually.

    "Astonishing. An entire culture based on this."

    I’ve sort of come to accept at this point that the show simply isn’t committed to the idea of properly exploring a pre-TOS Star trek universe. If it were, this story could have been done with the same cast, same script and just not Ferengi (minus the bits about the Rules of Acquisition), but if we must have a show which sits uncomfortably between two posts, then at least it can be entertaining, which (for me at least) Acquisition most certainly is. Because at the end of the day, one of the overriding purposes of any episode of any television show is simply to entertain.

    Shallow? Perhaps. About as far from the shows’ premise as it’s possible to be at this point? Sure. But it is a lot of fun and there’s something to be said about that.

    Oh, and I learnt that Ferengi have dreadful taste in socks!

    [​IMG]

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    *Lucky enough to still have Trek (minus Discovery and Movies I-X) on Netflix. Also surprised to see that this one had an 18+ warning with ‘Sex’ being the reason, presumably for the Oo-mox scene? WTF Netflix?

    Images reproduced with permission of Trekcore.com
     
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  19. Cyfa

    Cyfa Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    Location:
    over the Cusp
    I enjoy this one, too. The humour on the right side of silliness (the interrogation of Porthos is most amusing!), the guest cast, Trip in his next-to-nothings (again! :adore:), even the socks (good job you can't see mine right now...)! All these things distract from the rather ridiculous premise, but life is ridiculous sometimes so one just has to go with it.

    I'm glad you're continuing with this rewatch, as I enjoy reading your thoughts and notes (even if I don't always agree with everything), so: Thank you! :bolian:
     
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  20. Ray Hardgrit

    Ray Hardgrit Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2021
    Oh no, I missed my chance to hate on Rogue Planet! I'll say a few paragraphs about it anyway.

    Personally I'd put the episode way below mediocre as I couldn't stand it! There's maybe 10 minutes of story, padded out by lots of walking in the dark. It might have helped if it had a B plot, and it would've helped even more if it had an A plot.

    Part of the problem that Enterprise has in season one is that unlike the other series it's all about a ship on a mission of exploration, but the writers didn't know how to make exploration or science interesting. People just land and do scans, often off-screen, and we just have to take it on faith that this is going to be really helpful for scientists back home. In fact T'Pol can usually barely bring herself to do that, so her interest in scanning a geothermal vent or whatever practically counts as character growth. Also the planet having vents and being dark is pretty much the only thing the episode gets out of its 'rogue planet' premise. It's more interested in setting up mysteries and then just leaving you wondering about them.

    The mystery of Archer's apparition and who she resembles is dragged out way too long considering that the answer is "someone from a poem he liked", but I did appreciate that he actually told the others what he saw. Plus they even scanned the planet for psychotropic substances to make sure they weren't on another paranoia planet. It's nice when characters do the sensible thing. I also liked how they finally jumped into action to come up with an ingenious scheme to save the day. Well, more like Archer suggested something and Phlox figured it out off-screen in 30 seconds. That almost counts as working through a problem.

    Yeah, I was really dreading Acquisition after the last few episodes (it's a bad sign when even the showrunner hates it), but I found it to be a step up. Nothing great, but watchable enough.

    Sure Archer gets captured again, but I liked how quickly he had the Ferengi figured out and how he played them so proficiently. T'Pol was a little out of character though, as she lies effortlessly, seduces one of the Ferengi and jokes around with Archer when he's handcuffed. I liked this less miserable, more capable version of the character, but it was a bit of a sudden change.

    Bringing the Ferengi into the area hundreds of years before first contact was probably a mistake, but to be fair it was Dear Doctor's mistake by mentioning they were there. In fact you could say this actually helps fix continuity a little by ending with Archer telling them to stay well away from human and Vulcan ships.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2022