Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Star Trek Enterprise: I Took That Pill

Ok.  Let's do this.

Was Star Trek Enterprise as bad as they(including me) used to day?  I think its about 75% as bad as what they give it.  Did I get used to the horrible beginning song? No, and quite frankly the refusal by the producers to give it up was a huge "F U" to fans that were genuinely trying to help by the 3rd season.  Were the actors horrible?  Absolutely not, the only real fault I could find with the cast was that Jolene Blalock had a hard time playing a Vulcan, especially in the first 3 seasons, but sadly by season 4 the show was just about over.  Was the writing as bad as they say?  Yes, and worse.

I'm not really sure how to proceed aside from maybe expounding on some of those things?

The Cast

I really can not find fault with the actors and actresses that played in this series.  I have always been a fan of Scott Bakula, which is why I gave him the benefit of a doubt when they cast a "known" actor as the new captain.  Bakula has serious geek cred, especially in series that were taking place when sci-fi was not taken seriously on television.  I think the writing keeps Captain Archer from being one of the greats, but overall I do like him more than Sisko, and a hell of a lot more than Pine's Kirk.  Connor Trinneer won me over as Trip Tucker and in the end I think what most pisses me off about the "end" was what they did with his character.  I feel like he knew it was bullshit as well, and so his worst acting, his worst performance was also his last one as Trip, and I feel he did it on purpose.

And thus ends the characters that got enough development to be on par with even the "B" cast of Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager.  The writing kept us from getting to know and love Hashi Sato, Malcolm Reed, and Travis Mayweather.  The actors; Linda Park, Dominic Keating, and Anthony Mongomery, all were terrific for what they got to play as.  The entire first two seasons they are almost set decoration, with one episode each to "shine".  Reed notoriously got "his" episode devoted to how boring absence of his personality.  Seriously, what the hell?

That leaves me with one last character.  This character kept me interested in the show even when it got "slow".  Doctor Phlox, played by Peter Billingsly, deserves a medal for bringing the only bit of character into the cast that resembles what we all loved so much about the characters of Next Gen and its spinoffs.  If you're a fan of Data, Quark, Seven of 9, or ANY of the doctors, he's like all of those in one.  If I have one sadness about Enterprise being over, its because Phlox doesn't get more time in the sun.

The Writing, Plot, etc

Ok we have to separate these into certain "eras" of the show.  The first and second season are easy to group.  The people in charge of the show at this point really did not know where to go.  They had a vague meta-plot that resembled a washed down DS9 type thing, and then had plenty of episodes about nothing.  Things happened, yes, and there were a couple of "our first time blah blah" for the Trek fans, but really not a lot happened to progress characters or anything really.  I would have to say there were 3 "good" episodes if I am pressed: Dear Doctor(easily the best of the first 2 seasons), Carbon Creek, and Dawn.

Season 3 can best be summed up as The Deep Space 9'ification of Star Trek Enterprise.  This is when the Meta Plot took over and ate the show alive.  You can not really watch these shows out of context because its essentially a season long episode.  This is the same problem I had with DS9.  You have to care about that meta plot as well, and frankly it was very slow to start with getting interesting.  I have to say though, that the most exciting and tense parts of the entire series was the last 5 episodes of this season.  This is also the season where Shran becomes the 3rd best character in the series.  I eagerly waited and got much happier when he appeared in an episode.

Season 4 is all over the place.  It starts out strongly, living off the good accomplishments of Season 3, but then gets slow in the middle when it starts being a "we're going to give nods to past Treks" tribute show.  The overarching meta plot style of season 3 is axed, and we're given a 3-4 show meta plot mini-series of sorts.  The writers try and "fix" Vulcans and explain why they are all emotional dickheads for the first two seasons, but its a "fix" that's too late to save them.  The middle of season turns to shit as they focus on Klingons and Wrath of Khan sub plots.  The series starts to end strong as we get the core of the Federation coming together, something we've been wanting to see since season 1.  It was criminal that they did not get around to making Shran the first Andorian in Star Fleet during this season.

The finale.  This is the shit of the shit for episodes, holy crap.  This is also a slap in the face of all the actors and hard working people that put in effort to get this show being better the last two seasons.  They basically take the finale out of the hands of the cast and crew, and give it to a gimmick of being part of a Star Trek Next Generation episode, literally.  They do sort of try and save their ass in case they get put in sindication, and set it to the 10th year of the Enterprise mission, leaving plenty of years of stories left to do for the crew.  Star Trek has had a good track record with finales.  Their writers knew they had to keep things vague enough to allow for speculation and future growth, and yet have things end on a good enough note for the characters in general.  We are invested in these people and we want them to overall end up well.  Enterprise's finale says "fuck that".  We end on a depressingly shitty outcome for 2 of the 3 "headliners".  We have an uncharacteristic turn of face for one of them that leads to easily the worst acted, thought out, and forced scene of the entire FRANCHISE.  It is almost "Spock's Brain" caliber of shit.

You want to come away from Enterprise on a good note?  Skip the last, and leave Terra Prime as the finale.

Final Thoughts

I do not feel like I wasted my time.  There are a handful of really "great" episodes, but really only "Similitude" can be watched out of context and enjoyed, the rest have to be part of a mini-feature length+ movie.  The cast saves the show from being a total wash out, but the writing NEVER gets there like it does for the other series.  Is it worth

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