Thoughts on Star Trek: Enterprise
I recently read an article about the failings of Star Trek: Enterprise and it made me want to spell out my own problems with the series. Star Trek: Voyager remains my most hated series and it’s the only one I stopped watching episodes of. Even then, when they announced their last season, I watched the last season — including that shameful series finale where they basically rubbed their greatest success being Star Trek the Next Generation in the face of Enterprise’s fans. I watched both J.J. Abrams films to my shame. There is a real problem I and other Star Trek fans have to cope with that we will watch ANYTHING labelled Star Trek. That really has to stop.
Anyway — Star Trek: Enterprise.
So, first and foremost, I HATED that theme song. It was just terrible. And the theme song for the Mirror-Mirror episodes was SO good, why couldn’t they have just used that theme? Opening with subtle threat and menace before building into music befitting a young, inexperienced species taking its first steps into a universe fraught with peril? It would have been great.
The Vulcans… I know some people consider the treatment of the Vulcans to have been one of Enterprise’s flaws but I consider it one of their greatest successes. I LOVED the way they treated the Vulcans on Enterprise. Logical doesn’t equal nice. The Vulcans were a logical race in a hostile galaxy with as far as I can tell only the humans, a very minor species/government at the time, as allies. They would have had to have been more militant to survive. The words “Vulcan Combat Cruiser” alone I found thrilling and fresh, as well as the scene where the Vulcan captain says the specs on their tractor beam technology are classified. That the Vulcans treated Earth as a third world country fit the setting and was a jarring, fresh take on Star Trek that dramatically differed from the super-powerful super-benevolent Federation we’d gotten used to.
Having a Vulcan First Officer/Science Officer aboard was a far cry from the “welcome shout out to an older, beloved series.” Spock as a half-Vulcan wrestling with human emotion was awesome. T’Pol was just boring. She’s the only character I’ve ever known who could have an illicit shipboard tryst with another officer and have THAT be boring…
The Andorians were awesome. I loved the Andorians every moment they were on the screen and their ships looked fantastic! The Vulcan ships looked great too. I would have loved to have seen a regular Andorian character on the show. Jeffrey Combs character would have made a MUCH better alien first officer than T’Pol. And the possibilites for scenes between him and Malcolm would have been terrific.
About the ships in Enterprise, the appearance of the Vulcan vessels has given rise to what I call “the Vulcan engine problem.” Namely, why didn’t the humans abandon the nacelle design and go with the round warp engine design the Vulcans used? On the surface of it, the Vulcans are more advanced than Humanity. They’ve been in space longer. They’re logical guys. They’ve got better technology than us. Bottom line, if we’re just trying to get out into space and the Vulcans have better drives than we do, why not just copy the Vulcan design? The problem with that is you don’t know WHY their drives are different. Oh, you might assume that it makes the ships faster or more efficient, but the Vulcans can be, if you’ll pardon the word, a bit inscrutable. They might use round warp engines because its more efficient or better in some way that’s really important to them but that is less important to the rest of us. For example, if the warp field created by the round drive is more stable than that created by two overlapping nacelles, but it makes the ship slower and/or less manoeuvrable, that might be something the Vulcans might go for but other species not. And then there’s the whole history of technology just on this planet to consider. There might be legal ramifications of all things. Vulcan patent law or insurance provisions might mandate the round design. Round warp drives might make more efficient use of some element that’s rare on the worlds the Vulcans have colonized but is plentiful in human space. Who can say? The point is that I’ve learned that you can’t just blindly imitate the work of someone more advanced or proficient than yourself. You may be copying things that don’t aid your efforts and even, in fact, work against them.
I didn’t care much for Archer as a captain. I suppose that it took me this long to even mention him demonstrates how little regard I had for the character. He was boring. Picard was sanctimonious and annoying but I’ll take that over boring. Picard, at least, was a product of his time. He, with his every word, conveyed the philosophy and beliefs of the Next Gen Federation and while I didn’t always agree with him or his decisions, Patrick Stewart did an excellent job of conveying Picard’s position.
I adored Porthos.
Hoshi, Trip and Malcolm were wasted. Malcolm especially. The whole MACO’s thing was ridiculous. If I had been Malcolm, I would have resigned. “It’s Security’s job to see to the safety of this ship and its personnel. If the captain believes that an entirely outside force is necessary to do that job, then I have failed not only the service but each and every single one of my fellow security officers and thus tender my resignation, sir.” I’m sorry to harp on this but displacing Security like that was shameful, humiliating and obscene. Bringing a single MACO aboard as an advisor, or a senior one as an advisor and an enlisted one as a drill sergeant could have been used to good effect in building tension but Enterprise squandered THAT opportunity too. “I don’t know what this is but settle it!” “It’s settled, sir.” Right. Back to boredom.
I would have enjoyed the show more if they hadn’t kept violating the canon of Classic Trek. Meeting the Klingons day one, episode one, was a terrible indicator of mistakes to come. We shouldn’t have seen Klingons until season three. They should have just been this ominous presence people talked about on Enterprise’s travels, almost like the Boogey Man and then, when they DID show up — it should have been the Classic Trek Klingons not the new ones. And when they did introduce the Klingons, it should have been with the music from Classic Trek. That would have been UNBELIEVABLY awesome.
Cloaking devices. Cloaking devices. Cloaking devices. They should NEVER have introduced cloaks to Star Trek: Enterprise. “The selective bending of light rays is theoretically possible,” says Spock. How the FRAK can it be theory if a Starfleet vessel has encountered several ships equipped with cloaking devices and even knows the TERM!? They should have followed the canon of Classic Trek strictly — I mean, having a person on staff as a Continuity Cop and everything — and not violated it even once. And before you say, “but the Temporal Cold War changed things,” the “temporal cold war” was just a bad idea all the way around as was introducing time travel, Borg, Ferengi, etc. to an era that didn’t need them and could have introduced other technologies that were crucial and unique to the era but were flawed and later abandoned.
Transporters should never have been seen in the series. Classic Trek NEEDED a cheap way to get the crew down to the planet because they couldn’t afford to show shuttle landings every episode. That’s why transporters were introduced into the original series. Enterprise had the special effects to show shuttle landings, ship dockings and they did such things and did them repeatedly throughout the series. Eliminating transporters would have been one easy way to emphasize that this wasn’t any of the Trek series we’d seen before and it would have eliminated the whole “how do we keep them trapped where there’s danger instead of beaming out” problem EVERY Trek series has had to deal with. Dumb.
The missiles were the sort of thing they should have gone with but in more places. A technology that’s less advanced than what we’re used to seeing but that it’s completely understandable at a glance why we haven’t seen it in later era series.
I too thought they should have focused more on plots about how the Federation came to be, leading up to the First Romulan War, foreshadowing events that were spoken of in Classic Trek’s past, like Garth of Izar’s famous battles and things like that. I read that they had planned to go back to that sort of thing with the proposed next season that they had pitched doing on Netflix but it didn’t happen.
Doing the First Romulan War over two seasons, and I mean two full seasons, not that Next Gen crap of a war starting in the season finale and being resolved in the season premiere next episode, would have been terrific. Well, it would have been if they’d followed canon and had NO communication between the combatants. “No Earthman, Romulan or ally has ever seen the other,” is what Spock says and I would have stuck to that meticulously. If I violated it, I would have explained it with a “no one can know our most vicious blood enemy is genetically the same as the Vulcans” and had the crew sworn to secrecy or some such. Whatever it took so that all of Spock’s comments in “Balance of Terror” would have been logical and consistent.
Finally, I would have given almost anything for a “Man-Tzenkethi War…” (Larry Niven’s Kzinti were introduced to the Star Trek universe via an animated episode based on his short story, “The Slaver Weapon” which I believe Niven himself wrote. The issue of whether or not the Kzinti are or are not part of Star Trek has been questionable ever since. The only part of the Star Trek franchise that still ever uses the word ‘Kzinti’ is Star Fleet Battles and even then, when the time came to create Starfleet Command, a video game based heavily on SFB, they changed the name Kzinti to Mizak. Many people have used the Next Gen race name “Tzenkethi” as a replacement to refer to an entirely Star Trek hostile feline alien race.)
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Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Thursday at 6 pm CST on FOX Sports 1280 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.
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