On S3 of ENT (my first time), and people complaining about how dark DIS is must be forgetting the millions dead on Earth, Archer’s obsession leading to psychological torture, organ farming, and piracy, T’Pol’s drug addiction, and who knows what else. Not a shiny happy show! 🖖

It’s sad, really — for a show meant to continue the fine tradition of boldly going where no man has gone before (or no one, in the more politically-correct TNG era), all Enterprise managed to do was boldly go where no Trek series had gone before.

Straight into the tank.

I started watching Enterprise when it debuted, gave up midway through the first season (when I discovered that first-season TNG was a far better show), then ignored it until I started hearing rumors that this last season was actually watchable. I’ve been using bittorrent to watch season four, and while it’s admittedly better than the first season…well, really, it doesn’t take much to be better than the first season.

Tonight I finished things off, watching the end of the two-part arc following the derailment of the first effort at laying the foundation for the future United Federation of Planets, then following that up with the final episode of Enterprise.

(SPOILERS follow, if you care.)

First things first: while the two episodes immediately preceding the finale were decent — though I’d hesitate to collectively rate them any better than that (individually, the first half was definitely the better of the two) — the single biggest thing that stuck in my mind after watching them?

It’s really hard to take the leader of Earth’s government seriously when you’re expecting him to at any moment suddenly morph into a giant demon snake and start munching delegates right and left.

Samuels

Nothing against actor Harry Groener, of course, but his role as Sunnydale’s Mayor Wilkins in Buffy has been so indelibly burned into my brain that it was all I could do to keep from giggling when he first appeared on screen.

As for Enterprise’s finale episode…meh. I’d say a big “meh,” except that “meh” is such an apathetic term of disgust that give it any sort of emphasis is rather oxymoronic.

First off, it wasn’t really an Enterprise episode, but rather a TNG episode with a lot of Holodeck re-enactments of events set at the end of Enterprise’s 10-year mission (six years after the last actual episodes we saw) and around the signing of the accord that forms the alliance that would eventually grow into the UFP. While it’s kind of nice to see Riker and Troi walking the corridors of NCC-1701-D again…it just doesn’t feel right as an end to this series. Rather, it comes off as last, final, desperate ploy by the Powers that Be to do anything possible to drag a few more viewers to the show.

Secondly, the TNG-era framing story for this episode is set during the events of the seventh season TNG epsiode The Pegasus. Without meaning any disrespect to either Marina Sirtis or Jonathan Frakes, it’s been around eleven years since The Pegasus was filmed, and while they’re both aging well, they’re not exactly identical to their appearance a decade ago. I could even have forgiven that for the sake of the story (though it would have been easier if the overall story was better), but apparently the makeup artists didn’t even bother to reference The Pegasus for this Enterprise episode.

Here we have a screencap (actually a composite of two screencaps) from The Pegasus:

TNG Troi and Riker

And here we have a screencap from These are the Voyages…:

ENT Troi and Riker

Minor things like the ten years of aging aren’t really terribly obvious. Marina’s face has thinned out a bit, and they’re both slightly heavier than they were during TNG’s run, but that’s not really that big of a deal. Amusingly, though, it means that Troi is actually curvier now than she was at the time (compare the shadows underneath her bust, for example), and I remember how much grumbling there was about her being little more than Trek’s version of T&A (that being Tits and an Accent). Of course, 7 of 9 and T’Pol were far more blatant about appealing to the teenage male demographic that way, but back in the TNG days, poor Troi got a lot of ribbing about being little more than eye candy.

More blatantly, though, is that the hairstyle is just wrong for both of them. Apparently when they’re not busy dealing with intragalactic incidents, the crew of NCC-1701-D spent all their free time in the hair salon. Troi is sporting a straighter, more natural hairstyle far closer to what she had in the movies than the heavily permed style of the original show, while Riker’s hair is less slicked back and comes complete with a Superman-style forelock falling across his forehead.

Nitpicking? Sure, and I’ll freely admit it. But if they’re going to not just pander to the old TNG fans by bringing back Troi and Riker, but actually place their framing story within an already existing episode, you’d think they could take a few minutes to pop the DVD in and do their best to match the actors appearances.

But then, given Enterprise’s notorious disregard for Trek canon, I suppose that this wasn’t really that much of a surprise.

Anyway. Continuing on.

Bringing Shran back for the rescue of his daughter seemed to serve two purposes only: to bring back one of the few interesting characters Enterprise has produced (and to give Jeffrey Combs — a fan favorite, and quite deservedly so, in my opinion, I’ve enjoyed all of the characters he’s played — one last star turn); and to come up with an excuse to waste half the hour on pointless “action”.

Oh, and to set up Trip’s demise…which, amazingly enough, actually comes across as even more pointless than Kirk’s death in ‘Generations’. At least when Kirk died he was trying to save his career the galaxy from a madman. Trip died so that Archer wouldn’t miss a speech. Oooh. Quite the noble sacrifice, that.

And speaking of the speech — we don’t even see it! We finally get to the historic moment when the charter establishing the alliance between Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, and Tellar Prime, Archer strides to the stage to make what we’re told is a historic speech…and Riker tells the Holodeck to “end program” and he and Troi stride out onto the corridors of the Enterprise D.

Meh.

Other random observations before I end this little rant…

  1. I’m sorry, Quantum Leap fans, but Bakula has never impressed me. Truth to tell, his intentional overacting and chewing of the scenery in the Mirror Universe episodes of a few weeks ago doesn’t really seem that different to me than his normal portrayal of Captain Archer. Plus, considering that he just senselessly lost one of his closest friends, his face never lost the bemused little “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this tripe” smirk after Trip’s death. Does he have other expressions?

  2. What was T’Pol doing after Archer hugged her? I could understand her being a little uncomfortable with this sudden show of affection, but…she just kind of wobbles. She holds her right hand out at an odd angle, and gives a slight, unsteady sway from the hips up. It’s really, really odd.

  3. Did nobody on the NX-01 ever get promoted or change their jobs in the slightest over the ten years that the ship was in service? When the show opened Mayweather was at the helm, Sato was at the communications station, Reed was doing whatever he does…and ten years later, they’re all in exactly the same place (well, okay, Trip moved to Engineering…then died). No advancement? No promotions? How incredibly boring. The crew of the Enterprise-D at least showed a little motivation, changed things up, and actually grew over time. As far as this last episode shows, the crew of the NX-01 was depressingly static.

  4. Wasn’t anyone curious or concerned about how the bad guys who everyone thought were limited to Warp 2 — Shran even mentions that his shuttle should be able to easily outrun them at Warp 4 — were somehow able to catch up to a top-of-the-line Starfleet ship running at Warp 7, engage it in battle, and board it without any real trouble at all?

Meh.

I wish the head of Earth’s government had turned into a giant demon snake and started munching on people. Right during the signing ceremony. Start with Archer, then finish off the rest of the Enterprise crew (except for Sato, who’s more than welcome to run around in her skimpy lingerie from the Mirror Universe episode as much as she likes…especially in my apartment) before Buffy magically transports a few hundred years into the future thanks to the help of Willow and a mysterious amulet that Giles found hidden underneath the school’s library, slays the demon, and tosses a few bad puns over her shoulder on her way back to Sunnydale.

At least that would have been a finale worth watching.

I hate to have to ask this, but two of the three trackers I knew about appear to be dead (TvTorrents went down a few weeks ago, and btefnet seems to have disappeared over the last week), and the third (novatina) has redesigned, isn’t quite as easy to navigate, and — most egregiously — doesn’t seem to have the last two episodes of Enterprise posted (4-21 “Terra Prime” and 4-22 “These are the Voyages“, respectively). Since they normally go up within 24 hours of broadcast, I’m rather surprised that they don’t seem to be on there yet.

Anybody know of any other good trackers out there? My Google-fu did me no good whatsoever, and as long as Season Four of Enterprise has been a bit more watchable than prior seasons, I’d kind of like to see how it all wraps up.

Courtesy of StarTrek.com:

With Star Trek: Enterprise hanging by a veritable thread the last two years, a new direction for the show has recently been unveiled that is being hailed both as a triumph of corporate synergy for the Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures, and a way to keep the show on the air.

[…]

Enter the darlings of Viacom-owned Comedy Central, Star Trek fans Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. Parker and Stone, you may recall, also made Paramount’s “Team America: World Police,” which ran in theaters last year and comes out on DVD in May. The movie grossed only $50 million worldwide, but it turned a profit for the studio due to its low production budget.

“The pieces fall together brilliantly,” said a top Viacom spokesperson. “Matt and Trey take over Enterprise, and it’s all done with marionettes! It’s like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet all over. Gerry Anderson, watch out.”

[…]

Parker and Stone have already started making a shooting model of the Enterprise NX-01, thus reviving an old Star Trek tradition. “We prefer the look of physical, tangible models over CGI ships any day,” Parker said. “Of course, we have no visual effects budget whatsoever, so we won’t be painting out the strings. You’ll get used to it. Still trying to figure out where to put the propeller.”

“We’re also gonna re-do the opening title sequence,” Stone revealed. “Record a new theme — something bombastic, action-oriented. Y’know, something that isn’t, like, totally gay.”

Over the past couple weeks, I noticed something interesting during my wanderings through the ‘net. During my near-obsessive investigation into Battlestar Galactica, discussion threads would often end up contrasting the new series to Enterprise, and I kept seeing people openly admitting that the first few seasons of Enterprise were dreck, but then going on to claim that their current season was actually quite watchable.

While reading some of the reports about the current fan-driven campaign to rescue Enterprise from cancellation, the same general comments kept popping up. Then I got into a conversation with a customer at work, and he ended up saying much the same thing.

Unconvinced but intrigued, I decided to see what I could find, and ended up downloading all of the episodes to date of Season Four of Enterprise and watching them over the past few days.

While I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m impressed, I do have to admit that I found this season to be far more bearable than what I had seen during the first season. It’s still by far my least favorite incarnation of Trek (out of TOS, TNG and DS9, at least, I’ve yet to see more than a few random episodes of VOY), but the overall feeling I got was that someone on the Enterprise team got their head out of their ass started actually listening to the fans and tried to turn the show around.

First step in the right direction was spending the first two episodes wrapping up the “temporal cold war” storyline. I thought that was a bad idea when it first popped up, and nothing I’d seen or read since then had convinced me any differently. Now that that’s over and done with, things seem to be improving.

They’ve also spent a few episodes working on the Vulcan culture, trying to explain why they’re presented so differently in this series than they ever have been before. It all came off as a little far-fetched, but at least they’re trying.

The storyline touching on the Eugenics Wars and augmented humans wasn’t bad (though I do wish that they’d used some other scientist as the antagonist — as much as I like Brent Spiner, how old must Soong have been by the time he died?), and it allowed them to finally create an explanation for the differences in appearance between the Klingons of the original series and those we’ve seen ever since The Motion Picture. A pity the second half of that two-part story became so muddled, as the first part was fairly strong, and the general premise is at least bearable (and no worse than some of the other convoluted explanations that have had to be created over the years to explain away various goofs).

So, I’ll admit that they’ve gotten better, and the current season of Enterprise is at least watchable. I still don’t think that there’s any great need for it to continue, though — let it die, and let the Trek universe have a few years to settle and regroup before trying to fire up the Paramount marketing machine yet again.

And please, please, please — no more bad ballads over the opening credits in any future incarnations of Trek. Someone (other than the people sitting through it week after week) really needs to suffer for that.

Via /. comes a Cinescape rumor report saying that the latest Star Trek incarnation, Enterprise, might be in jeopardy…

You may remember speculation from last year that STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, the latest TV series in the long-running sci-fi franchise, was in possible danger of being cancelled. Most of these fears seemed to originate with the news that two less episodes of ENTERPRISE would be needed for this season, and when combined with the show’s lackluster ratings, produced gossip that the show could be hanging by a thread. There was also talk that the show was being moved to Friday evenings from its Wednesday perch on the network.

UPN suits and ENTERPRISE producer Rick Berman dispelled the rumor that the program would move to Fridays but did confirm that a shorter run was in store for the third season. Nevertheless, the news was downplayed as a minor issue and not one serious enough to deliver a deathblow to the struggling series. But last week’s abrupt and unexpected cancellation of JAKE 2.0, the series that followed on UPN directly after ENTERPRISE, may have sent a pulse of fear through the cast and crew. At the very least it prompted an individual to write in and tell us what they say the scuttlebutt is on the set right now…

Now, I’ve not seen Enterprise since I moved into my current apartment, and at the time, I wasn’t sorry to stop watching it. It’s still a little sad to see that one of the staples of my life may be coming to such an ignominious end.

Activision, Inc., a leading developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment software products, today announced that it has filed a breach of contract suit against Viacom. …through its actions and inactions, Viacom has let the once proud Star Trek franchise stagnate and decay. Viacom has released only one “Star Trek” movie since entering into agreement with Activision and has recently informed Activision it has no current plans for further “Star Trek” films. Viacom also has allowed two “Star Trek” television series to go off the air and the remaining series suffers from weak ratings. Viacom also frustrated Activision’s efforts to coordinate the development and marketing of its games with Viacom’s development and marketing of its new movies and television series.

(via Lane)

My first response? It’s about damn time! Trek has been going steadily downhill for quite a while now — I’m less than impressed with Enterprise, I’m being told to forego purchasing Voyager, and there hasn’t been a truly good Trek movie since Star Trek VI (First Contact came the closest, but I’ve got some definite issues with it, too). Whether it’s the fault of Viacom, Paramount, or the people writing and controlling the franchise, the fact is that it’s nowhere near where it was — nor where it likely could be.

However, that said — this seems pretty frivolous. Is it really Viacom’s purported mismanagement of the Trek franchise that is causing problems for ActiVision and their Trek-themed games? Or is it that the games themselves aren’t all that good to begin with? I’m not a gamer myself, and have neither seen nor played a Star Trek themed computer game since NetTrek, so I’m not at all in a position to judge the games. I just question whether the downward slide of the Trek franchise is enough of a contributor to ActiVision’s lack of sales to support a breach of contract suit. I’m sure it was one factor, but that much of a deciding factor? I’m not sure.

First off, a confession: I’m a trekkie (trekker? whatever). Have been practically since birth, and it’s all my Dad’s fault. ;) Two years old, sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the original series on television. As soon as the Enterprise zoomed across the screen and Captain Kirk started the famous lines, “Space…where no man has gone before…” I’d be excitedly saying “speesh!” and pointing off into space (which apparently was somewhere behind me and over my left shoulder).

I grew up with Star Trek. I never did get into sewing my own uniform, or donning rubber Vulcan ears or Klingon foreheads, and I’ve only been to one convention, but I’ve got a library of original series technical manuals that I’ve picked up over the years. One of the earlier ones (the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual) had an alien alphabet printed out, which I dutifully memorized, characters and pronunciation both. Imagine my surprise when I later visited Greece, and discovered that the “alien alphabet” was nothing more than Greek, and I could read every sign around me in perfect Greek. I had no idea what I was saying, of course, but I could read it all, and it’s all thanks to Star Trek.

One summer I was at one of the CTY summer camps that I participated in, and much of the talk and gossip at the time was about this new Star Trek show that was being started. Some “new generation” or something. We were all highly skeptical — after all, we’d all grown up with the Holy Trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and now someone wanted to try to recapture that? Not likely! Our skeptical opinions weren’t helped at all when one of the sunday papers printed a picture of the new crew. That kid from Stand By Me was there (a kid?). The dorky guy from that kid’s “Reading Rainbow” show was wearing a banana clip on his face. The captain…was old. And bald. To top it all off, their uniforms were one-piece jumpsuits, recalling bad memories of the horrid 70’s costuming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — and they were hot pink! Obviously, the show was doomed from the start.

Needless to say, we were (thankfully) wrong. The kid, admittedly, suffered from some bad writing (but he’s since turned into a pretty damn cool guy). We got used to the banana clip, and it certainly helped that that “dorky guy” was also a well-respected actor in his own right. As far as old, bald captains go — if I can be half as cool (and sexy) as Patrick Stewart when I’m his age, I’ll be doing well! And, thankfully, those hot pink uniforms turned out to be nothing more than bad color in the newspaper.

Since then, while I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been my favorite Star Trek incarnation (at least, as far as the TV incarnations go — the Next Gen movies rarely approached the cinematic quality of either Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, imho).

However, towards the end of Next Gen’s run, I stopped watching TV. Less and less of what I saw on television appealed to me, and commercials were getting more and more annoying, so I just stopped. With three exceptions (the Y2K turnover, the 2000 presidential debates, and the first couple months of Enterprise), I’ve not seen any more television that what I may have wandered into while at friend’s houses. Because of this, I missed the last couple seasons of Next Gen, and have caught no more than the occasional episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I watched the first few weeks of Enterprise, which seemed passable at the time, but then Paramount started releasing DVD sets of Next Gen, and I revised my opinion of Enterprise.

So throughout 2002, I revisited Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D as each successive DVD set was released. It was a lot of fun — I hadn’t seen many of the earlier episodes in years (some of them probably not since they were originally broadcast), and many of the later episodes I hadn’t seen at all. Once that was done with, though, I faced a dilemma. I knew that I enjoyed the Next Generation series enough to buy it all, but Deep Space Nine was an unknown. I’d caught a few of the episodes from time to time, and generally enjoyed what I’d seen, but I didn’t have enough experience to really make a judgment. Fan opinion on DS9 always seemed to be somewhat divided, too, with fairly equal camps lauding it and decrying it.

However, as 2002 approached and I started reading more about DS9 as the DVD release came closer, I started reading more and more people recommending it. Eventually, I decided that I’d at least pick up the first season to see what I thought of it. After all, if it bored me, I wasn’t out too much money, and I’d know not to pick up the rest.

The blood of a trekkie runs deep and true, it seems.

As it turns out, DS9 has impressed me far more than I was expecting. The series, quite simply, kicks ass. A lot of potentially dangerous decisions were made when putting the show together (not least of which was setting it on a space station, rather than a ship), but they ended up working out incredibly well. They were able to create long-lasting story lines that run not just from show to show, but from season to season, political maneuvering and machinations galore, battle scenes that have had me wide-eyed with surprise, and many other touches that have made my introduction to DS9 incredibly enjoyable.

Today, I brought home the DVD set of season four of DS9, and just finished watching the season opening episode, “The Way of the Warrior“. Wow. There’s definitely a jaw-dropping aspect to watching a fleet of thirty-some Klingon ships, from the now familiar Bird of Prey to newer battleship designs — even a few of the old standard D7 class (yes, I’m a geek, I didn’t need to look at that up) — decloaking around the station. Too freaking cool.

The more I watch of this show, the more I like it. The long lasting story arcs have been handled incredibly well so far, and after reading bits and pieces here and there about the Dominion War for years, it’s a lot of fun finally being able to see it unfold in front of me, without knowing what’s going to come up next, or which directions the various players are going to take. The character arcs have been just as strong as the story arcs, too, and Garak (the Cardassian tailor) is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show. His questionable standing and constant banter with Dr. Bashir (“But which of the stories you told us were true?” “Oh, my good doctor, they’re all true!” “Even the lies?” “Especially the lies.”) are wonderful.

At this rate, DS9 may just end up supplanting Next Gen as my favorite Star Trek series.

(Next year, of course, comes the next question. Once DS9’s DVD run is complete, Voyager will start to hit the shelves. I’ve heard far more people decry Voyager as being the downfall of the Star Trek franchise than any other previous Trek creation [except possibly Star Trek V: The Final Frontier]. So, do I cross my fingers and give the first season a shot? I’ve still got about five months to decide, though, and until then, I’ve got just under four more seasons of DS9 to work my way through.)