NO SPOILERS, PLEASE: 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 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Moderator's Note: The OP has requested we treat this thread as "Spoiler-free," since he hasn't seen Enterprise for ages and would prefer to remain untainted during his rewatch. PLEASE use spoiler tags for any "spoiler" information for episodes beyond the OP's latest discussion. Thanks.


    I’ve always had a fondness for the underdog. For every The Wrath of Khan there’s a The Final Frontier and for every First Contact, an Insurrection. Whilst I wouldn’t be enough of a contrarian to state, for example, that Season 3 of the original series was superior to it’s forebears, I find there’s something quite fascinating about the many sections of Star Trek that for various reasons reached for something without quite grasping it. No doubt, the later seasons of TNG are technically superior to its debut and sophomore seasons, but there's something special about those early episodes nonetheless.

    I have at some point seen every televised episode of Star Trek and broadly speaking, I like it all. It has however been over a decade since I watched most of it, TOS aside, meaning much of Trek from TNG to the backend of Enterprise have largely been forgotten by me. I’m sort of intent on going through each show, though not back to back (as in TOS to now), but as to what I'll take on after Enterprise... I have no idea. I'll see which one I fancy.

    Enterprise had three advantages in being the first that I take on. Firstly, it’s relatively short, with four seasons seeming less daunting to me than seven. Secondly, I’m looking forward to the tonal upheaval it goes through between Seasons 2 and 3, then again between 3 and 4. Thirdly and finally is the above mentioned underdog factor. It’s never going to be the most loved of the many Star trek shows, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve some love.

    So, enter: Enterprise. The show created in order to shake up a purportedly stale creative team and regain lost members of the viewing audience in one. Intended as a stripped back Trek, an answer to the excesses of the 24th century that had become the norm since the debut of Captain Picard's Enterprise D. No replicators, no shields, no universal translation and crucially, a crew with little or no experience of dealing with the kinds of things a five year mission into deep space might throw at them.

    So…

    ENTERPRISE:

    Episode 01/02: BROKEN BOW

    [​IMG]

    "I should have smelled trouble when I saw the swords and the armour."

    More so than any other Star Trek pilot, Broken Bow is a statement of intent. The Cage, Encounter at Far Point, The Emissary and The Caretaker are all stories which are focussed on showing the viewer all the wonderful things that people can do in the future. Our proud starships are ready equipped with devastating weaponry and more than adequate defences, gourmet food can be summoned by voice command and humanity is but one race in a larger, happy family of aliens. More so, humans as a race have reached a utopian ideal, facing the unknown with open hearts and minds.

    Broken Bow is bold in this regard. We have a vision of mankind that's waiting in the wings, with Vulcan handlers keeping them on a tight leash. Interstellar travel is a known possibility that mankind has been denied for a century due to its perceived immaturity. Transporters are brand new, as are phasers (phase pistols here), Warp 4.5 is spoken about in hushed, reverent tones and the Enterprise has ablative shielding rather than the expected energy shields. Enterprise is a show focussed on a Starfleet that's barely out of the cradle, with the Federation yet to come into existence.

    There are times when this aspect of Enterprise’s premise can be lampshaded in a somewhat heavy handed manner, eliciting from me an internal groan, such as the short exchange around the start, centred around The Transporter:

    TRAVIS: I heard this platform's been approved for bio-transport.
    REED: I presume you mean fruits and vegetables.
    TRAVIS: I mean Armoury Officers and Helmsmen.
    REED: I don't think I'm quite ready to have my molecules compressed into a data stream.
    TRAVIS: They claim it's safe.
    REED: Do they indeed. Well, I certainly hope the Captain doesn't plan on making us use it.
    TRAVIS: Don't worry, from what I'm told, he wouldn't even put his dog through this thing.


    Otherwise though, Broken Bow just about succeeds in making this premise work. The transporter is used, ironically given the dialogue above, to transport Archer himself, but the cast and story sell it as an unusual and last-ditch solution. Everything from the workman-like uniforms to the 'plates and gantries' interior of the NX-01 help to give the impression that though Enterprise is recognisably Star Trek, it’s not the safe and steady Star Trek we are used to.

    Where Broken Bow also succeeds is in the set up of the principal cast, who in their various debuts all get a little time centre-stage. There is at least a sense by the end of ninety minutes that each character is known, in broad strokes admittedly, enough so that I feel I'd like to watch more in order to get to know them. As with any ensemble cast there are characters who are clearly being set up as primaries (Archer, T’Pol, Trip) and secondaries (Reed, Mayweather) with Phlox and Hoshi falling somewhere in-between, yet each is given a moment to shine in a way that feels natural and believable.

    "You're not speaking, yet I can hear you."

    In any Star Trek show, there’s a tertiary silent character, that being whichever ship (or in one case, station) that the action largely takes place on. Enterprise is again successful in this regard. It’s clear that they built a lot of sets for this episode and the episodes director, James Conway spent a lot of time in them, figuring out how to shoot Star Trek in new and interesting ways. The NX 01 feels like a solid, believable, if not entirely secure space. The ship has a fresh feeling, functional aesthetic in the depiction of the bridge, engine room and living spaces (Archer’s quarters are far from spacious) extended to the starship’s attendant communicators, hand weaponry and shuttlecraft. This is low-tech Trek-tech, whilst still feeling like it has enough connective tissue with what follows it to be believable.

    "You recommended a rest, a change of pace, didn't you?"

    There’s also a healthy antagonism apparent in the writing. Clearly Archer, Tucker and T'pol are an attempt at recreating 1966 triumvirate of Kirk, McCoy and Spock, perhaps more obviously than in any other Star Trek show. I mean, hot headed heroic captain, his slightly bumpkin-like buddy and the disdainful Vulcan outsider… it’s nothing less than obvious, but it works largely because Archer, Trip and T’pol are basically Kirk, McCoy and Spock with the rough edges not yet sanded off. Enterprise presents us with a future humanity who haven’t quite yet learned to curb themselves, and a Vulcan race who perceive themselves as some kind of galactic authority, yet to be subsumed by and supplanted by the Federation. In both cases the original Star Trek interpretation of each is bent, not broken. Still recognisable enough to ring true, whilst different enough to retain interest.

    Broken Bow also strikes a neat balance between nodding towards the past and setting up new elements for Enterprise's own future. In terms of the former, in many ways Broken Bow is a love letter to the original Star Trek series. We have Klingons, Starfleet personnel named ‘Williams, Leonard, Forrest’ and a Vulcan named ’T’os’, a pair of alien dancers barely clothed in liquid latex (the Great Bird would have loved it), a tendency to go for colourful lighting gels that Jerry Finnerman would have been proud of and the ever present Star Trek ethos that a sense understanding should come before violence. From the off we have a show determined to honour Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of Star Trek. Broken Bow is a thoroughly human adventure, grounded in character beats rather than technobabble.

    That's not to say Enterprise doesn't have one foot firmly in the future, no pun intended given the background introduced regarding a tantalisingly named 'temporal cold-war'. The Suliban are a race that goes a little further than the much derided forehead latex associated with Star Trek in its alien designs. They look strange and unusually for a bipedal Star Trek alien, are able to move and behave in ways that are at times outright unsettling. Of course, their set-up is achieved as broadly as everything else in Broken Bow, but the gaps left by the end of the episode are, as with the crew of the NX-01 itself and the larger backdrop of Enterprise, intriguing rather than frustrating.

    "May you find your way as pleasant."

    20 years on then and Broken Bow stands as a successful episode of Star Trek and doesn’t collapse generally as a piece of television either. Any pilot of any show creaks in places as writers get used to playing on the actors strengths and explore the limits of the setting. Enterprise is no exception to this. Broken Bow does the job of an introduction though and in more than one place, achieves its goals with a certain amount of flair. So far, the elements any Star Trek show has to juggle (cast, effects, action, intelligence, drama and science) are all turning nicely in the air and I’m ready to follow the crew of the NX-01 on their voyage.

    Thank you for taking the time to read. I've already watched the next episode (Fight or Flight) and I'm going to watch Strange New World over noodles right now. 1 writeup down, 97 more to do.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2021
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  2. ScaryKittenRomantic

    ScaryKittenRomantic boo! mew! Moderator

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    Wonderfully detailed review. Looking forward to reading more. :)
     
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  3. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Second one for today, but work always gets in the way on weekdays so it might be a bit longer for the third episode.

    ENTERPRISE:

    Episode 03: FIGHT OR FLIGHT

    [​IMG]

    “The mission of the Enterprise is to seek out and contact alien life.”


    It’s not out of the way for Berman era Star Trek to go for these kinds of character led episodes. The most obvious and successful example would be TNG which, whilst focussing heavily on characters such as Data, Worf or Picard, would occasionally settle back and put some focus on Troi, Crusher or even the likes of Barclay or O'Brien. Still, it’s surprising that in just the second episode of Enterprise, the attentions of Berman/Braga should have settled on Hoshi and to a lesser extent, Phlox.

    It does make a kind of sense though. Back in Broken Bow, Hoshi was the most unwilling of the NX-01’s crew, preferring a sedentary lifestyle on Earth, teaching xeno-linguistics at her university. Hoshi serves as a kind of audience POV character, thrown into a situation that she’s neither prepared for in terms of training or experience. Linda Park sells her character well, imbuing Hoshi with a sense of vulnerability that we rarely get to see from Starfleet personnel.

    Phlox too get’s his moment in the spotlight. I recall from years and years back that Phlox was one of the characters I felt less inclined to on the show, but here (and not to get ahead of myself, but also in the next episode) Billingsley gives a layered performance, his more worldly character acting as a perfect counterpoint to Park’s relatively green Hoshi. I’m never quite sure if he’s being serious in wanting to feed Sluggo to his bat, but I do feel his sense of kindness and compassionate dedication to his field.

    "It's possible we may have hit the wrong entry point."

    After Broken Bow though, the episode itself is a little tepid. Having found nothing in space for light year after light year, Enterprise finally comes across a grey space-wreck, containing some dead grey aliens, when they are attacked by a rather bland looking grey spaceship, before a similarly grey vessel comes to their rescue. Whilst scenes aboard said space-wreck are at least competently directed giving some sense of claustrophobia, it all seems far too familiar for a show that only an episode before was promising us strange new worlds. There’s a sort of hand wave back to the Axanar, last mentioned in TOS episode Whom Gods Destroy which is nice, but ultimately inconsequential. There's nothing here which truly excites, nothing intriguing and by the end of it, nothing of any real consequence.

    But perhaps that’s not the point? The plot itself serves more as a backdrop here for Hoshi’s struggle with her new position and her need to prove to herself that she’s capable or worthy of taking part in Archer’s mission. In this respect, the episode is successful in terms of character beats, if not in terms of telling a compelling science-fiction story. I think if it had been placed later in the season it would have been an odd fit. Whilst in Broken Bow characters like Tucker, Mayweather, Archer and even the somewhat dour Reed where all raring and willing to go, Hoshi was an unwilling adventurer and that logically needed to be addressed early on.

    Hoshi’s proving scene, when she has to abandon her universal translator and try to speak to the Axanar by herself comes off equal parts effective and silly. On the one hand, Park acts her socks off, clearly enjoying the fact she’s been given something meaty to do quite early on, but on the other hand the scene itself is a nonsense conversation between a lizard person and the NX-01’s communication officer. There’s no actual sense of danger and the denouement of the scene, in which Reed’s torpedo does some damage after previously bouncing off of the mysterious attackers shields feels inconsequential, when I’m sure that the feeling the that all concerned were aiming for was supposed to be somewhat more rousing and victorious.

    I suppose these kinds of ‘nothing’ episodes are a consequence of making a season that has 20+ instalments. It just seems a shame that the story that forms the background of Hoshi’s first great character piece is so dull, because an episode about Hoshi’s struggle to find her place within the crew of the NX-01 has a lot of potential. Fight or Flight reaches, but in the end it doesn't really grasp.

    "He's dead, I assure you."

    Overall then, for me at least, Fight or Flight doesn’t quite work and it’s sadly not made any better by Sluggo’s subplot. Not least because of the rather mawkish coda to the story in which Sluggo is unceremoniously dumped on a totally different planet, accompanied by some trite dialogue:

    HOSHI: This isn't exactly like the place you came from, but it's close enough. It's not that hard to adapt. You're going to do just fine here.

    I’m not a nitpicker, but lacking any mate, Sluggo will die alone, if lucky through natural causes, if not through some predator or another that lives on the planet. I get that Hoshi's struggle to adapt is mirrored in Sluggo's similar struggle, but the rather confused takeaway we get at the end of Flight or Flight seems to be 'It's possible to survive outside your comfort zone, but in the end it's better to back in an environment that's similar to the one where you came from, at which point you'll wither and die anyway'... a mixed message to say the least.

    "Steady as we go, helm."

    It’s somewhat alarming that Enterprise seems to have lost steam by its second episode, especially considering that Broken Bow was so strong. There’s a meandering feeling to the while thing, like now Braga and Berman have got the Enterprise out there, they are unsure as to exactly what they should be doing with it. Ultimately then, Fight or Flight is one of Star Trek’s many ‘meh’ episodes. Neither offensive enough to be execrable nor challenging enough to really feel like it matters. As a quick character study of Hoshi it works, but outside of that then it passes 45 minutes but little more than that.

    One thing that is clear to me watching through is I really do have no memory of these episodes. It must have been… 2008-2009 when I last watched any Enterprise at all and looking through the list of upcoming episodes in Season 1 there’s almost nothing that rings any bells. I can’t say as it’s any different for the likes of TNG, Voyager or DS9.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta.

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  4. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    ENTERPRISE:

    Episode 04: STRANGE NEW WORLD

    [​IMG]

    "Once in the bloodstream, it acts like alcohol, depresses the centres of judgment, self-control."


    There’s a tendency among fans of any long running franchise to gripe about perceived familiarity when it comes to overused concepts. The famed Holodeck, ion storms (or whichever storm of the week you care to mention) conveniently stopping transporters from working, Wesley Crusher saves the day or Kirk talking a computer to death… Insert your favourite here.

    Strange New World gives us the old ‘virus that causes otherwise rational crew members to lose their minds’, but in this case it’s not without a larger storytelling reason and whilst the episode isn’t particularly remarkable it does serve a wider purpose in the ongoing development of Enterprise’s central premise.

    "What are we doing out here in space? Good? What good?"

    Back in Broken Bow, within the context of the Star trek universe it was quite shocking to see members of Starfleet indulge themselves in casual racism. By their nature, our heroes in Star Trek tend to fall on the side of whiter than white, at least in terms of their attitudes towards alien species. Almost without exception, Starfleet officers are coded as good people and when they do encounter less savoury positions on race they tend to be the ones sitting on the liberal end of the spectrum.

    However, in Broken Bow we were introduced to an earlier, proto-version of the Star Trek universe in which the Vulcans, usually benevolent and reliable, are seen to be outright duplicitous and are remarked upon to have been actively holding humanity back. Our Starfleet officers, even as far as the Captain are presented as frustrated people, resentful of the presence of Vulcans within their society and eager to get out into space and remove what they perceive as Vulcan shackles.

    "I see things, how honest you are. I know how you feel. You hide it, but you do have feeling."

    It’s well known that the writers involved with the earlier seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation felt themselves limited by Gene Roddenberry’s rather odd insistence that nobody has disagreements any more in the 24th century. It’s hard to understand how Roddenberry, a seasoned writer across goodness knows how many shows had come to the conclusion that this was an interesting way to go in terms of drama, but, well, I guess early TNG is what it is as a result of that.

    This notion of Roddenberry’s is all the more strange when you consider that characters did very often have arguments within the original series, Kirk often acting as the peacemaker between McCoy and Spock for example, or Scotty and his boys kicking Klingon’s to the curb for referring to his ship as a garbage scow. Kirk similarly mediates between crew members in TOS episode Balance of Terror, an episode that Strange New World consciously echoes. The vast majority of the crew of the NX-01 clearly find T’Pol to be an unwelcome addition and though she has made overtures already regarding Archer and Tucker, this sense antipathy is something that needs to be dealt with, not only for the sake of a little harmony within the crew, but most crucially so that the crew don’t come across as uniformly racist.

    It’s one thing if a random crewman throws a few pointed barbs at Spock when he finally sees a Romulan. Similarly when the stranded crewmen onboard the Galileo 7 cast doubts, it’s coming from a crew who have respect for and like Spock. It’s not even that hard to square McCoy constantly ribbing Vulcans, either through his somewhat parochial mindset or the fact that he and Spock clearly have an affection for one another. These are isolated incidents set against a larger backdrop where the human crew of the NCC-1701 are stuck somewhere between unquestioning respect and outright admiration when it comes to Vulcan’s most famous half-son.

    "When I feel friendship for you, I'm ashamed."

    In a sense so far, whilst proving herself to be benign, T’Pol has done little to help herself in terms of public relations. It’s clear that despite the crew’s suspicions to the contrary, she does support Archer and has done since the first episode. Whilst Archer was incapacitated in Broken Bow she pointedly didn’t return to Earth and understood and supported the nuanced way in which she should ‘request’ to stay on Enterprise, rather than have it come from Archer himself. She is however nothing less than herself, by which I mean, she is a Vulcan and more pointedly a Vulcan from this particular era of Star Trek history. Whilst not openly hostile, she is disdainful, aloof and disparaging. In all three episodes so far she has vocally objected to the plans of the NX-01’s crew, going so far as to question the Captain in front of other officers on the bridge. Notwithstanding the fact that technically in each instance where she has questioned Archer’s decisions, she has been correct she is clearly an unpopular addition to the crew of Enterprise and in Strange New World’s opening scene we see that this stretches all the way from Archer to the personnel within the ship’s lower decks.

    Realistically this is something that can’t continue. One recourse would be to have the character soften over time and as we know, this is what happens. That is however a long term solution to a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to restore at least a sense of humanity at least aiming for utopian ideals within the context of the Star Trek universe. Where Enterprise has been going with this in both Broken Bow and Strange New Worlds is to create situations where prejudiced characters are forced to look in the mirror and contemplate the idea that they are wrong. In Broken Bow, Archer speaks specifically of challenging preconceptions and in Strange New World it's Tucker’s turn. In this, the development of the Human/Vulcan dynamic onboard the NX-01 feels organic, natural and earned.

    "What puzzles me is what brought it to the surface with so much force."

    As mentioned above, on the one hand Strange New World is another take on a tried and tested Star Trek trope but it differs from say, The Naked Time, in ways that are revealing. Because on the surface of the planet, Tucker doesn’t go mad. He instead has his own prejudices brought to the fore while under the influence of a psychotropic. Whilst the ‘rock people’ are inventions of his imagination, his own racist attitudes are not. He means what he says to T’Pol, with the psychotropic acting as a kind of truth serum (indeed, such a use was the original intention of real psychotropics such as LSD). When he finally comes around and is brought face to face T’Pol, the Vulcan who held the mission together and quite possibly saved everyone’s lives, he’s forced to admit he was wrong. He’s embarrassed, even ashamed of the things he said and like Archer in Broken Bow, his own preconceptions and prejudices are challenged and ultimately we feel he becomes a more learned and nuanced person for it.

    I should add at this point that though I’m aware of certain episodes having a ‘reputation’ shall we say (TNG: Code of Honor, VOY: Threshold or even Enterprises own ‘These are the Voyages’), I’m not aware of what fandoms opinions are regarding every single episode of every single series. I can at least say though that I enjoyed Strange New World on a thematic and dramatic level and the fact we get the crew going mad due to some nebulous something affecting their minds seems almost incidental. After a weak sophomore outing in Fight or Flight, Strange New World is an improvement with moments of levity (Tucker’s scorpion encounter, Mayweather’s ghost stories or T’Pol’s ‘poker face for the away team’s group photograph), a genuine sense of not knowing what was going on (Mayweather saw crewmen, Cutler saw T’Pol talking to… someone and Tucker is seeing ‘rock people’) and a denouement that allows the characters on the show to grow and do so for the better.

    Happy times and places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  5. ScaryKittenRomantic

    ScaryKittenRomantic boo! mew! Moderator

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    As I said in another thread tonight, I just love Phlox. He is part wise man, part weird alien, a seasoned pragmatist, but so compassionate. I admire his "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" perspective, and his unfailing optimism. And Billingsley did such a marvelous job with him.

    People talk about the Beebs "franchise fatigue"... the meh episodes from Season 1 and 2 support that theory. But hey, Phlox. And watching greenhorn newbie Hoshi scream like a girl, well, let's get that cliché out of the way so she can get her space legs.

    The whole time I was watching TNG's "The Naked Now," all I could think of was TOS's "The Naked Time." But I didn't do that for "Strange New World." I think the ENT interation was more fun for me because of the characters. T'Pol's deadpan face for the photo, the scary stories around the campfire, the big strong Starfleet guys freaking over the big bug, and the genuinely dangerous face-off between Trip and T'Pol were strong points for me. And there's Porthos, of course. A lot of fans have disparaged Archer for taking the dog down to planets. Setting aside that it's an echo of sub captains who take their dogs to sea with them, I totally grok Archer and his dog, and it fits Archer's sometimes naïve idealism to bring Porthos everywhere. Plus Porthos tells me a lot about Archer the man.

    I like that T'Pol started out very Vulcan, the Vulcan of ENT's time, condescending and arrogant and poker faced. Her change of attitude was organic, brought on by Archer's increasing regard for her, fighting to keep her on Enterprise in later episodes. But in episodes like this, her alienness, so different than Phlox's alienness, was great. Watching her in the face-off with Trip, fighting not to succumb to the bug, was really compelling.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
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  6. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very well thought out and good reviews. I am enjoying them immensely!

    I've also been enjoying a similar DS9 review thread. Plus, my wife is watching VOYAGER for the first time. So I get to enjoy reviews for THREE series at the same time! Some may call this signal overload, I call it great times!

    I agree that "BROKEN BOW" is a very strong pilot. Truthfully, and this is despite DS9 being my absolute favorite series in the franchise, VOYAGER's pilot is the best. Had the Temporal Cold War not been put in, I might have called "BROKEN BOW" the best pilot of the franchise. It's really my only issue with the episode, but it is a big one.


    "FIGHT OR FLIGHT" was a nice, quiet episode... I frankly think it was needed. Great choice to have the focus be Hoshi, for not just the stated reasons but because her position is possibly the most important one, next to engineering, on a ship in that era. I like that Berman and Braga remembered that.


    "STRANGE NEW WORLD"... I never really compared it to "THE NAKED TIME", but you have a good point in your parallels of the two. Looking at the episode through that lens actually makes the episode better.

    I also liked how the transporter CAN screw up, when you see him beamed up like he was. No wonder people think twice before using it.

    Side note, I wonder if this is the world later named 'Archer IV' in TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise".


    I look forward to visiting this thread! Thanks for the insights.
     
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  7. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
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    I was confused by reference to the Beebs until it clicked. Berman and Braga.

    Well, The Naked Now goes so far as to be an outright remake of the earlier episode in everything from the title down. Roddenberry was quite vocal about TNG canon taking precedence over TOS, with TNG seeming to be a more 'pure' distillation of his vision for Star Trek. There's also an argument to be made that The Naked Now was an episode dangerously indicative of the fact that they were lacking in ideas for TNG right off the bat.

    Strange New World at least has the benefit of being made for the right reasons. The face off between Trip and T'Pol does genuinely feel dangerous as you say, and Blalock?Trinneer sell it. The campfire scene is a lovely chance for Mayweather to have a moment in the spotlight as well. Strange New Worlds does its job of strengthening audience bonds with the characters whilst simultaneously strengthening the narrative bonds between the characters within the show. It's a good mystery story that had me genuinely doubting T'Pol until the curtain was lifted by Phlox's findings midway through.

    It is very kind of you to say so and thank you for reading and engaging. Genuinely appreciated.

    She is important, at least conceptually. In practice I've found that the wheels seem to be falling off of her role even as soon as Unexpected in which alien races, both the Klingons and the new lot Trip finds himself with quickly just start speaking English anyway for no explicable reason. I'm prepared to be kind and call it early show inconsistency but at some point I feel Enterprise is in danger of grating on me in this regard.

    I can't help wondering with Enterprise how much they hobbled themselves by creating limitations then gradually handwaving them away. They have to have someone to alien interpret alien languages until they don't. The transporter is not really usable until it is. No doubt this is an issue that's going to become more evident as the series goes on, but it does seem like they built barriers, then instead of cleverly writing around them they just sort of bulldozed through them. Likewise the need for a decontamination process that they adhere to apparently only when they remember to.

    It was a base comparison and not one that hold up under scrutiny. About all they have in common is pollen driving crewman temporarily insane. I'd actually forgotten it was pollen that did it in The Naked Time until I thought about it just then...

    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 05: UNEXPECTED

    [​IMG]

    "You know, you have to see this place to believe it. It's like something out of Alice in Wonderland."

    If I wish really hard then do you think an 80th unseen episode of TOS will appear in which Kirk becomes pregnant?

    I think it’s a healthy sign when a Star Trek show starts to reach for a sense of lightness within its characters. After Tucker was taken to an altogether darker place in Strange New Worlds, here in Unexpected, the character is taken to a more comedic place which, thanks to a deft performance from Connor Trinneer, results in a diverting, if perhaps disposable, episode.

    Unexpected again plays upon the greenness of the crew of the NX-01 as Trip, at first as happy as a puppy to be heading over to fix an alien ship, ends up biting off more than he can chew. The disorientating angles and camera work, coupled with an environment that’s genuinely odd (what are those eels for?) really sell Enterprise’s premise of seeking out new life and exploring strange new worlds. In terms of audio presentation as well, the viewer gets to share our hapless engineer’s struggle to adapt to his new environment, Tucker all but begging to be recalled so he can return to the NX-01.

    Being a fish out of water is a theme that seems to run through these early episodes. Most obviously with Hoshi in Fight or Flight and her brief journey through self-doubt, but also reflected in Reed’s inability to get a torpedo to land in the same episode, the general state of affairs in Broken Bow and the breakdown of relations in the away-team in Strange New World. Our intrepid crew are certainly eager to meet challenges but are often found wanting when actually faced with them. See Tucker’s enthusiasm at the idea of spending three days on an alien ship, contrasted with his wanting to get out of there only hours after boarding.

    "Captain, I know it sounds incredible, but I did not imagine it any more than I imagined he did this."

    Trinneer is a treasure though and it’s easy to see how his character became a breakout favourite with fans. In 45 minutes he effortlessly flips between a kind of puppy-like naiveté, incredible discomfort at the new environment he finds himself in, shock and shame at his coital predicament and comedy in his over-emotional reactions to minor matters of health and safety. What’s more, having an outright comedic situation play out through Trip allows Jolene Blalock a new angle on her character. The ‘three days’ routine is brilliantly delivered by her. A positive sign of her inheriting Nimoy's 'straight man' mantle.

    I suppose a male pregnancy would have been an easy thing to stamp all over, but I feel overall that the concept is treated respectfully. The concept is never stretched so thin that the episode sends itself up and the nipples on Tucker's wrist are equal parts disturbing, interesting and amusing. As an episode Unexpected walks a tightrope but despite a few slips it manages to keep its elements in balance.

    Also, am I the only person who found "I can see my house from here!" to be hilarious?

    "These experiences were intended to amuse you."

    I did mention up above that the story of the episode itself is disposable, but honestly it’s worth it to see the dynamic growing between the principal cast. Star Trek is a show which at its best is capable of skipping between genres. An obvious example would be how the movies bend genres. The Kubrick-ish overtures of The Motion Picture, followed by the terse Melville-lite The Wrath of Khan, then the classical, almost Odyssey like quest structure of The Search for Spock followed by a balls out ecological comedy in The Voyage Home. Part of the fun of Star Trek is its ability to choose a given genre with it’s attendant set of tropes, then drop a Federation starship into the middle of it to cause havoc, only to pull it out after 45 minutes so the whole thing can invade another set up in the next episode.

    Enterprise so far seems to be a show that’s trying on things to see what fits. In part this manifests itself in its harking back to classic Trek with Klingons, D7s and Vulcans aplenty whilst also layering on the likes of the Suliban and Denobulans in an attempt to create something new, but also in the rather schizophrenic way that it flits between tonal spaces. We’ve had an arc-heavy episode, a horror-lite episode, a psychological episode and in Unexpected, a comedy episode. The fact that it has to some degree or another succeeded in comfortably wearing all four styles so far speaks clearly in terms of both the flexibility of Star Trek itself and the diverse skills of the cast that was assembled for the show.

    "But none of this is permanent."

    All of this doesn’t escape the fact that I’m waiting for the show to follow up Broken Bow with an episode that matters in the long term. There is an argument to be made in terms of both defence and in offence regarding the direction Enterprise is pulling itself in in these early episodes. As much fun as it is watching the cast gel in a relatively ‘safe’ space, I am kind of champing to get back to an episode that has more long term implications. Enterprise is often compared unfavourably with TNG, being a non-serialised show made up of disconnected episodes where nothing that happens really has any sense of consequence. For now though, I’m only at the fifth episode and some amount of teething troubles are not only to be expected, but also accepted.

    93 to go!

    Happy Times and Places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  8. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    I haven't seen it in quite a long time, but this is one of the Enterprise episodes I actually remember fondly. Them running away then feeling bad and turning back felt like one of the actually effective examples of bridging the gap between the disappointing present and utopian Trek future.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
  9. ScaryKittenRomantic

    ScaryKittenRomantic boo! mew! Moderator

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    Trinneer is the reason to see "Unexpected." His reaction faces alone make it worthwhile. And T'Pol's perfect deadpan "You were only there for three days and you couldn't restrain yourself" was a scream.
     
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  10. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    The premise is still way too cringe for me. I know Star Trek isn't hard sci-fi, but jeez...
     
  11. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    "UNEXPECTED" was an episode that has Trip as the only saving grace. I found the whole thing ridiculous, but I give Trinneer major credit for going with it full on. It was very much a Frakes thing to do, and I respect that.

    But I couldn't help but shake my head through most of the episode. Definitely a lower tier episode for me.
     
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  12. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    It's alright. I'd say beyond Broken Bow which is very good, it's all been just sort of 'alright' so far. Even the latest one I watched, Terra Nova, is just a bit averagely dull as opposed to dreadful.

    Yes, it's perfect. Blalock is very, very funny as T'Pol at times and has the Nimoy-like ability to make a lot of humour out of very slight moments.

    I guess people come to Star Trek for different reasons. It was silly in places, but I'm a long standing TOS fan so I'm inured to things like 'Space-Abraham Lincoln' and so on.

    Anyways, continuing the stream of consistent averageness that seems to form much of the early part of Enterprise: Season 1.

    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 06: TERRA NOVA

    [​IMG]

    "Not the Earth, another Earth. Another Earth?"


    Not to nitpick, but I have to ask… where is the consistency in the implementation of the decontamination process? They had to go through it in Broken Bow, then they did it the first time they went over to the derelict ship in Fight or Flight, but they didn’t bother on the second trip. In Strange New World and Unexpected they didn’t bother at all, which is maybe just a sign they are getting a bit lax, but then in Terra Nova they make a return trip from the titular planet without going through it, then to make matters worse they go back and drag two of the Novans back to Enterprise and just march them straight into sickbay while they are still covered in filth… It’s a minor gripe, but why introduce the process in the first place if it’s going to be buried so quickly?

    "We hid, then they were gone. Am I doing all right?"

    I try to approach these episodes ‘blind’, by which I mean I watch them then do a bit of reading around the net to catch some differing perspectives. My intention when writing, as far as possible, is too redeem. I don’t go into any Trek episode with a desire to tear it to pieces. My initial impression of Terra Nova was a lingering sense of ‘so far, so inconsequential’ again, but I didn’t find it offensive. I’m quite surprised to learn that it’s one of the episodes that Berman singles out as being particularly unsatisfactory for him, whilst not feeling entirely satisfied by it myself.

    Part of the problem is it comes just two instalments after Strange New World, a story that involved running around a forest and arguing in caves. It’s a worrying sign when five episodes into the run of a Star Trek show, one that’s specifically supposed to be about seeing all the wonderful and strange things beyond our Solar System through inexperienced eyes, things start to feel a bit stale.

    1. Obligatory scene where Archer, T’Pol and Tucker eat breadsticks… check.

    2. Bumpy landings for shuttlepods… check.

    3. Archer gets passionate while T'Pol snarks before acceding... check.

    While so far on one hand Enterprise is a show brimming with optimism and a sense of the crew pushing frontiers, on the other it seems to be treading water. I find I'm enjoying it. I've not watched an episode yet that I've actively felt offended by, but I'm just over a fifth through the Season and I wish I felt a little more enthused.

    "Evidently through some miscalculation, this virus annihilated the entire adult population in a very short period, leaving only the children."

    There are positives. Whilst at first I was dubious about how quickly the Terra Novan society had devolved and the strange patter of its 'citizenry', finding out later in the episode that the whole lot of them were descended from children who'd essentially been left to fend for themselves, aged under 5 makes a kind of sense. Yes, I got a bit tired of hearing ‘human shale!’ thrown about, but there was at least a sense that their language had been thought about in terms of people who’d lived their whole lives underground since childhood and never had an adult around to teach them any different. What’s more, the Novans themselves were portrayed with a genuine dignity by the actors involved. Neither player (Mother and son) sent up the material, and though the script does not represent the finest writing in Star Trek, the performances had an honesty to them which allowed me to engage with the plight of the Novans.

    "A child entering puberty on this planet means a death sentence."

    Secondly I enjoyed the brief debate between Archer and T’Pol regarding the moral implications and general advisability of forcing the Terra Novans to board Enterprise. In fact, I’m liking Bakula’s portrayal of Archer generally, the character being a Captain who doesn’t really know how to be a Starship Captain, because nobody has ever had to be one before. There’s a certain naiveté to Archer, hooked up to a sense of entitlement that stands opposed to his decent moral centre. It's my impression from around the board that Archer and Bakula are not well thought of, but so far I'm liking Archer a lot.

    "Our tempers are growing short, and We're no further along than we were two days ago."

    Sadly though, when push comes to shove I feel the beats of the plot in Terra Nova are ultimately too predictable. Protagonists attempt to convince stubborn antagonists to move due to some danger. Antagonists are suspicious and refuse. Cure a disease here, cut a rock and a tree with a phaser and it’s all over and done with… Unexpected had its flaws and stretched credulity at times, but at least it was pushing the characters in new directions and making an attempt to be visually strange. Terra Nova serves up a plot that feels not only familiar to Star Trek but also to… well, storytelling generally. I’m really hoping an episode comes along soon to break the increasingly bland run of episodes that Season 1 of Enterprise contains so far.

    I suppose I'll do a tentative ranking to try to gauge where I stand so far:

    1. Broken Bow
    2. Strange New World
    3. Unexpected
    4. Terra Nova
    5. Fight or Flight

    See you next time and thanks for reading.

    Happy Times and Places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  13. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was never a fan of "TERRA NOVA". It just didn't grab me. The idea was good, but something just felt... missing.

    Interesting ranking there. At this point in the series, I actually rank them exactly as aired... a truly rare occurence.
     
  14. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2020
    I'd go:
    Fight or Flight
    Broken Bow
    Strange New World
    Terra Nova
    Unexpected
     
  15. ScaryKittenRomantic

    ScaryKittenRomantic boo! mew! Moderator

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    Ha! Same here. After "The Alternative Factor" and "Spock's Brain," Trek has to try reeeeeally hard to get seriously unwatchable for me. (Only one episode of ENT did that for me.) Mostly I'm happy to roll with it and find things I like in an episode. There are wonderful character moments in just about every episode of Enterprise.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
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  16. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Location:
    Danny Street
    I loved Unexpected when I first saw it.

    The transition scene and Trip's early time on the alien ship were fantastic. The anxiety and disorientation were conveyed very well.

    And we all learned an important lesson: Don't stick your hands in a box of alien beads.
     
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  17. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2021
    Agreed. More than any episode so far, Terra Nova just sort of 'is' and nothing more than that.

    Fight or Flight better than Broken Bow? Really? I get why it's liked but what do you think makes it stronger than the very strong pilot?

    Same. It's Star Trek, I'm a fan and by and large I try to enjoy it as I watch it. Getting way ahead of ourselves here but I guess the one episode of Enterprise you find unwatchable is the famously risible finale?

    Welcome 1001001!

    Yea, same for me. Out of all of them so far it's the one that's made the most conscious effort to be strange, including Trip's predicament.

    Anyways, this one was fun:

    ENTERPRISE:

    EPISODE 07: THE ANDORIAN INCIDENT

    [​IMG]

    “half of them mad at the other half, and the whole lot touchier than a raw antimatter pile”


    My memories of Enterprise so far are fragmented to say the least. It’s been… fifteen years since I watched any of this. It’s heresy I know but I’m something of a lapsed Trekkie. Before watching Broken Bow I had a clear memory of the Klingon being pursued through the cornfields, but after that then Fight or Flight, Strange New World, Unexpected and Terra Nova were essentially ‘new’ episodes for me. Honestly, I’d say the same is going to happen to me in any prospective rewatch of TNG, Voyager or Deep Space Nine as well. I have an abiding love of archival 1960s/70s television so TOS is fresher in the mind as I’ve watched it on and off over the last decade or so, albeit randomly, but in terms of the others there are episodes I remember, but only a very few.

    The Andorian Incident is the first episode of Enterprise since Broken Bow that I do have some fleeting recollection of. I recall Archer getting kicked about a bit (which unbeknownst to me is apparently a trope), Trek stalwart Jeffrey Combs making a welcome appearance and something involving Vulcans in a room full of tapestries. So after a rather bland run of episodes I found I was looming forward to watching an episode with a bit more meat on it’s bones and by and large I wasn’t disappointed.

    "Perhaps you should forget logic and devote yourself to motivations of passion or gain."

    The problem with Enterprise so far is that it’s a prequel series that seems unwilling to engage with the material that it purportedly precedes. To use an analogy, it seems Berman and Braga opened a box of old toys only to cast them aside so they could play with new ones. Considering this then we must ask the question, what was the point of opening the toy box in the first place?

    Comparisons to other iterations of Berman trek are inevitable and at this juncture, timely. Voyager and Deep Space Nine are both shows which were explicitly dealing with the unknown, the former though the exploration of the Gamma Quadrant and the latter through its Wormhole. There’s an argument to be made that TNG only really took off when it stopped openly attempting to ape its predecessor and started to explore its 24th century setting in a more direct manner through new villains such as the Borg. Enterprise was envisioned as something different, specifically a show that was to shine a light into unexplored corners of the Star Trek setting’s past. How was the Federation formed? What form did humanity’s nascent steps into the cosmos look like?

    By nature of being what it is, a prequel of any kind is expected to include a certain amount of fan service, yet so far Enterprise has largely steered clear of addressing the larger universe it is supposedly paying service to. The closest we have come, cute flip communicators and phase-pistols aside, is the inclusion of the Klingons in Broken Bow who even then were relegated to the sidelines so that the Suliban could be showcased. Yes, there are tonal similarities (if slight) between TOS and Enterprise, most obviously in the aped trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy in Archer, T’Pol and Tucker, but these things aside there has so far been little to set Enterprise apart from previous Berman-led Star Trek shows.

    “He had some sort of transceiver. It was hidden in his antenna.”

    The Andorian Incident does something to address this issue, with a bold cold-open that is specifically designed to make long term Star Trek fans jump up and down in their command chairs. The scene in question is entirely without dialogue and to a non-fan, almost entirely without context. Some Vulcans are doing Vulcan stuff when ‘Bam!’, it’s the Andorians.

    The Andorians as we all know barely make it into the B-list of TOS Trek aliens, notable for all of one appearance and then relegated to ‘oh, isn’t that?’ cameos in various movie crowd scenes. Legend has it that they were due to show up in TNG only to vetoed due to some corporate antennae fear. However their sudden arrival in Enterprise signals a step in the right direction for the show and that same rather odd cold open heralds the notion that Enterprise is making inroads towards the rich, unexplored universe that it is supposed to be shining a light on. I’m not exactly a fanboy, but a Vulcan temple/outpost laid siege to by Andorians just has more weight to it than a random derelict spaceship or a disparate group of Terra Novans. It feels like something that matters and more crucially, as mentioned earlier, is a sign of Enterprise properly engaging with its parent material. However an episode cannot survive on the strengths of such nods and winks alone and fortunately beneath the fanfare of the Andorians arrival there exists a taut action story that leads the viewer down one path, only to make a successful about-face as a denouement.

    I’ve said before that Star Trek has always worked best as a genre bending show rather than a work of straight science-fiction. Legendarily first conceived as ‘Wagon Train’ in space, TOS had a gangster episode, a surrealistic Western, a version of Jekyll and Hyde and a take on Moby Dick. That’s naming a very few, just from the original series. As a serialised show, Star Trek has maintained it’s longevity by piggy-backing it’s way through different genres, dropping its myriad starships into someone else’s story in order to cause chaos within the tropes of said tale, before pulling its relevant crew out in order to dump them somewhere else next time.

    I may be wrong, but I believe it’s actually quite rare for Star trek to do a hostage episode and maybe that’s what lends The Andorian Incident a sense of freshness. It’s also helped along by the magnificent Jeffrey Combs and the fact that we see Archer take a genuine beating. The stakes are raised, if only slightly, given the appearance of a more weighty antagonist and a few crushed communicators and a series of kicks and punches that feel like they actually land. I think because the story largely concerns two Star Trek races who are ‘known’ then there’s a feeling that what takes place in the story may have some ramifications. It’s a welcome change of pace for a show that so far has been comfortable resting on its laurels.

    “Mutual suspicion and interplanetary war.”

    So, call me dumb but I didn’t see the twist coming. Enterprise era Vulcans seem to have more in common with their cousins, the Romulans, given all the backstabbing and subterfuge that goes on. All of this serves to push T’Pol further along her trajectory as well, Blalock again proving her mastery in expressing so much with utmost subtlety. It isn’t spoken as such, but she’s clearly as surprised and disgusted as Archer and Shran are, if not more given that it’s her own people, nay a respected sect of her own people, that are engaged in reprehensible deception. The episode itself serves as a mini-arc for the character, with T’Pol being against the visit to such a revered place in the first act, reaffirming her loyalty to Archer in the second and finally becoming complicit in the exposure of the Vulcan treaty violation in the closing moments of the episode.

    All in all then, after closing the post on Terra Nova with a wish for something more substantial I find I’m more than satisfied. Of the episodes so far, The Andorian Incident is by far the most satisfactory on every level, succeeding in making good on the promise of Enterprise. More like this and less of the soul searching about a space-slug and we might just have a show that’s starting to warm up and find it’s niche.

    Happy Times and Places,

    Richard S. Ta

    Image reproduced with the permission of Trekcore.com
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  18. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Great episode. Shran is a wonderful character.
     
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  19. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Great directing by Roxann Dawson, too.
     
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  20. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2021
    What's funny is that the Andorian Incident clearly establishes that the Andorians don't have transporters yet in Season 4 they have site-to-site transporters that are in advance of even Kirk's technology.