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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Star Trek Reviews: Enterprise

Part Five of my reviews for all of the Star Trek shows and movies, split across several posts for each “stage” of Trek:

  1. Early Trek (TOS, TAS)
  2. TOS Trek Movies (ST MP through ST VI)
  3. ’90s Trek TV (TNG, DS9, Voyager)
  4. TNG Trek Movies (Generations through Nemesis)
  5. Enterprise
  6. Trek Reboot Movies
  7. Streaming Trek (Discovery, Picard, Trek shorts)

See the first post for an explanation of my letter-grade ranking system. The short version: C is average, something I have no strong feelings about one way or another. To avoid uncontrollable rage, please remember: Average is not Bad. It’s just average.

Quite by accident, there’s only one show to cover in this part, but perhaps that’s for the best, since there’s more nuance to discuss.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Rating: B-

I actually do rank Enterprise almost the same as Deep Space Nine, which is perhaps going to amp up the rage even more than my previous ratings. People love to hate on Enterprise, and a lot of fans rate DS9 very high, so how can they be nearly the same?

They kind of got to the same place by different paths.

While DS9 churns out a well-made show that I didn’t like as much as other shows, Enterprise started with a premise I liked better and made episodes I thought were generally better than DS9 – except nearly every episode would have one really, really bad scene that would ruin it. The most infamous example being the first decontamination chamber scene, with Trip and T’Pol endlessly slathering each other with jelly.

Then there’s the decision to have Captain Archer occasionally become uncontrollably enraged. And the decision to rush adding several features from other Trek series to what is supposed to be a prequel series. Including meeting the Borg, and meeting the Organians.

Plus, as I may have suggested before, I prefer less tightly-plotted extended story arcs. Enterprise does well on this for a couple seasons, but when they reach 3rd season, it’s all multi-episode plot arcs in a desperate attempt to keep people watching.

Something else I don’t like much: the temporal cold war storyline. I liked the Trek time travel episodes where it was an unusual event: an accident that is hard to duplicate, or the remnant of some ancient, lost technology. The more shows talked about temporal agents, the Temporal Prime Directive, and regular incursions and counter-incursions, the less interesting it became.

I also usually don’t like the “mirror universe” episodes, a major fault with DS9. But I think Enterprise did a reasonably good job with their two-parter. It’s the best of the mirror episodes.

The main thing I think about is how disappointing Enterprise turned out to be. Not just because of the way they ruined what would otherwise be good episodes, but because it had the promise of returning to that mysterious, huge, empty galaxy from those first ten episodes of TOS and then failed to deliver. Instead of mystery, we get humans as newcomers to a rather crowded, well-traveled region of space. They focused more on how humans met all the aliens we were already familiar with than on what it was like before space was as well-traveled as in the days of Kirk or Picard, when everything was still new.

Still, despite the disappointment and the poor decisions, Enterprise is still at least a B-, and despite the lower rating, I like it more than I like TNG or DS9.

Next Post: Star Trek gets a reboot.

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