I’ve been watching the new Star Trek show, Enterprise, off and on for a while now. I haven’t caught every new episode, but those I have, I posted my thoughts on. It doesn’t look like I’ll be doing this anymore, though.
Wednesday evening I turned on my TV to watch the show, and as it turns out, my reception here at the new apartment is actually worse than it was at my old one. So, watching the broadcast isn’t an option, and there’s no way I’m going to pay for cable access just so I can watch one show. At first I was kind of disappointed by this, but something else has happened this week that made me realize that I probably wasn’t going to miss Enterprise all that much.
This Tuesday marked the release of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation in a very nice DVD box set. I picked up my copy on Wednesday on my way home from work, and when I found that I wasn’t going to be able to watch Enterprise, I started watching TNG episodes.
The thing is — I’d forgotten just how good this show really was! Sure, it was their first season, everyone was still getting the hang of their characters, and the special effects were fairly horrid (and that’s not just hindsight talking — I remember being extremely unimpressed with the effects in “Justice” at the time it first aired) — but even with all that, each episode I (re-)watch drives home more and more just how good TNG was…and just how much Enterprise pales in comparison.
Watching the first season of TNG now is actually much like watching it for the first time. I watched TNG almost religiously when it first came on the air — it first aired during my sophomore year in high school, and for quite a while it became a ritual for my group of friends to gather at someone’s house (usually Tammy’s, though I think Royce, myself, and some of the others hosted the gathering from time to time) and watch whatever the newest episode was. However, by the time I graduated in ’91 and moved out to live on my own for the first time, television was less and less of a priority, and I ended up missing the majority of the last few seasons of TNG. In the ensuing years I’ve caught the occasional episode of one Trek show or another in reruns, but those times have been fairly few and far between. I remember bits and pieces of the shows I’ve seen, but much has faded in the mists of memory over the years.
In essence, then, it’s very easy for me to compare watching the first season of Enterprise fresh out of the bottle to watching the first season of TNG the same way — and I’ve gotta say, ENT just doesn’t compare. Up until now, I’ve been somewhat of an apologist for ENT, doing my best to give it a chance, and one of the most common arguments when someone says that ENT just isn’t that good of a show is that it’s still their first season. Often someone will offer up, “remember just how much better TNG was after a few seasons, and how shaky their first season was?” Well sure, it was better after as it went on (which makes me look forward even more to those seasons being released on DVD later this year) — but that argument was a lot easier for me to accept when I hadn’t actually seen first-season TNG since 1987. The episodes and dilemmas presented therein are much more interesting, the characters are more engaging — about the only point that I can see that first-season ENT really has over first-season TNG is the special effects, and much of that is the simple fact that it’s 15 years later (side note — 15 years later? Ugh…I’m feeling old again!) and modern-day F/X technology is that much better.
Perhaps ENT will mature as it goes along, and perhaps it will grow into being a truly worthwhile addition to the Star Trek universe — it’d be nice to see that happen, as I still think that some of the new ideas and directions they’re exploring in ENT could be very interesting (the new take on the Vulcans, for example). However, at the moment — I can’t say I’m going to really miss not being able to watch it anymore.