Watching another episode of Enterprise this weekend, one thing became worrying clear to me: This show may, oddly, work best when you think of it as a weird condemnation of all the other Star Treks. Suddenly, the show makes so much more sense when you start to think about the Vulcans as old-school Starfleet…
We’re halfway through the first season of Enterprise now, so of course it’s time for the decontamination blue light room to return and remind us of how far we’ve come… especially when, this time around, it’s a threesome between Hoshi, T’Pol and Malcolm. No, really; I only wish I was joking.
Watching “Dear Doctor,” the twelfth episode of Enterprise, I realized two things about the series in general. Firstly, that Doctor Phlox is another incarnation of the “jolly alien crew member” archetype as ably demonstrated by the chef on Voyager. And secondly, that the series would be almost infinitely better if the Captain was a different character altogether.
Apparently, something happened to the creators of Enterprise as they approached the midway point of the first season, because for the first time in my eleven weeks of watching the show, two episodes have not only been outright, no-disclaimers-necessary good, but they’ve also suggested that someone in charge may have realized that there are other crew members on the ship that aren’t Archer, Tucker or T’Pol. Clearly, this can’t last.
There are times when you can just tell that you’re not in sync with the rest of the world. For example, those times when you’re watching an episode of Enterprise and thinking “Yes, this is exactly what I want from this show!” and then go online and see that very episode listed as a much-derided episode that contributed to the show’s ultimate failure by scaring off viewers and turning off fans. This, dear reader, was my experience watching “Cold Front.”
In theory, there’s a lot to like about the ninth episode of Enterprise, not least of which being that it finally turns its attention to some of the world-building that this show has been crying out for since it began; not “This alien race is nuts,” but a look at how the creation of the Enterprise – and the creation of Starfleet in general – affects regular folk out there in the universe. Sadly, theory only counts for so much, and when it comes to the execution of the ideas behind it… Well, that’s where things start to fall apart.
Watching “Civilization,” the eighth episode of Enterprise is a curiously frustrating experience, because even as it fails to excite, it crystalizes exactly what isn’t working about the series as a whole. Is this the benefit of hindsight…?
One of my favorite traditions of the superhero comics that I grew up on was the “breather” issue; the one that came after some epic storyline or another and showed everyone having something resembling a normal day afterwards, as everyone tries to calm down and go about their daily business. No wonder, then, that I was a sucker for Enterprise‘s take on the same idea, “Breaking The Ice.”
Now, that’s more like it. After last week’s disappointing-to-say-the-least “Terra Nova,” the following Enterprise episode, “The Andorian Incident” brings some level of excitement and enjoyment back to the series – and also highlights the show’s attempts to try and build its own mythology as quickly as possible, no matter how sloppily it does it.
What’s worse than a bad episode of Enterprise? As the show’s fifth episode demonstrates, the answer is a boring episode. I can deal with the show being obvious, gratuitous and even downright nonsensical, but if “Terra Nova” is anything to go by, I appear to have a real problem with the show being dull.
Four weeks in, my Enterprise rematch has started to settle into a recognizable rhythm: Eeach episode, it seems, will have its share of small moments that hint at a much more enjoyable show than the one we ultimately get, which could best be classified as “promising, but filled with problems.” The problem is, the ratio of “promising” to “problems” seems to be getting worse with every new episode, with this week’s “Unexpected” proving to be the most worrisome yet.
“Strange New World,” the third Enterprise episode, finally answered a question I’ve had about Star Trek since The Next Generation, if not before. Is that enough to make up for one of the more obvious plot developments in any Trek – not to mention a repeat of one of the biggest mistakes that TNG made in its earliest days?