Produced by: Rick Berman (executive producer) Brannon Braga (executive producer) Cast: Scott Bakula ....Captain Jonathan Archer / John Billingsley (II) .... Doctor Phlox / Jolene Blalock .... Sub-Commander T'Pol / Dominic Keating .... Lieutenant Malcolm Reed / Anthony Montgomery (I) .... Ensign Travis Mayweather / Linda Park .... Ensign Hoshi Sato / Connor Trinneer .... Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker III
(Cedits: IMDB: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0244365) Images Courtesy of UPN ©2001 - United Paramount Network
Before the premier of “Enterprise”, the fifth and latest Star Trek series, I offered a small prayer to the ghost of Gene Roddenbury and living Star Trek executive producers Brennan Brogga and Rick Berman.
Keep it simple.
We’ve been to the far future, more times than we can count, and frankly, it’s gotten a bit boring. Treknology is so far from the science that we know that it’s more fantasy than science fiction. More and more, Trek has gotten to be a yawn.
But the idea of a near future series, where the technology is limited to stuff we can more or less relate to, full of early space pioneers and sold to us by an actor who can really deliver sincerity…that’s got possibility.
Scott Bakula is definitely that actor, and I wasn’t disappointed in the opening episode at all. Sure they’re going to eventually get all the Star Trek gizmos we’re used to introduced, but it’s going to be fun watching them do it.
Just so we don’t miss the idea that space travel is new and exciting, we’ve got Linda Park as Ho She Sato, the communications officer, as a “white knuckle spacer” scared to death every time the ship shakes. On any ship named Enterprise, that means she’s going to be scared to death a lot. She’s no “hailing frequencies open” spacer either, being a fluent linguist, handy since the universal translator won’t come into being for another series yet.
Also on the ship, in case we miss Voyager’s Seven of Nine, or The Original Series Vulcan Science officer, is the best of both worlds, the drop your phasers gorgeous Jolene Blaelock as T’Paal, a Vulcan assigned as Science officer …and galactic chaperone for the ship.
It’s been a hundred years since the Vulcans made first contact at the end of the movie of the same name, and we’ve been chafing at the bit to get out and do some boldly going…but they’ve been sitting on us and patronizing more than a bit, as our youthful spirit isn’t quite ready for the stars.
Ready or not, here we come.
The first episode, in which Captain Jonathon Archer and the enterprise takes a wounded Klingon back to his home world, is one of the best first episodes Star Trek has fielded yet. It’s also a first contact of sorts, as the Klingon, who gets wounded in a cornfield in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, is the first of his kind humanity has seen. And a farmer shoots him. But he lives.
The episode showed admirable restraint, in introducing treknology, mixed together a uniformly engaging cast, and set us back on the original mission of adventure and exploration.
Not there aren’t plenty of nits to pick. Notice that the human females tend to be understated models of professionalism, while the aliens are exotic and voluptuous. Thus has Trek solved the problem of combining male and female demographics. Women aren’t sex objects…aliens are! Also, we appear to have traded one form of Treknobabble for another, especially in sick bay. If they pull out one more example of intergalactic holistic health care, I’ll lapse into primal screaming. Some Trek tropes were evidentally too good to pass up in this show, and I was saddened to hear them “retuning the main deflector dish” in order to find cloaked ships. Geez. I’d hoped that they wouldn’t use that crutch for another century or so.
Nonetheless, it’s good to be boldly going somewhere again, and Captain Archer is just the man to take us out there in a ship whose name has always stood for the right stuff.
Episode 1: “Fight or Flight”
The first regular episode highlights our “while knuckle spacer’s” growing fear on the voyage. The Enterprise encounters a derelict ship, with the crew’s bodies drained of certain body fluids…which humans have a reasaonbly close analog of. Though our wet rag of a Science officer thinks we should hightail it out of there, Captain Archer wants to stick around to see if they can’t help get the bodies back to their people. Naturally it falls to ???? to crack the language barrier and get through to the ship’s race. Without giving them the impression that Enterprise killed off their crew in the first place.
What do you think the odds are that the space vampires will show up before the ship’s friends? Any chance the Enterprise will be outgunned by just about everyone?
Episode 2: Strange New World
It’s a pity they didn’t save the second show for Halloween. It’s got ghost stories, things that go bump in the night and a “taut psychological thriller” of a plot. Well, maybe it’s not that taut. It’s a pity that the Captain and crew of the Enterprise don’t have any common sense or at least a few boy scouts along. When the Vulcan science officer suggests that they study the “Strange New World” for a while before going on down, Archer says that they didn’t come all this way to stay cooped up in orbit. Nobody likes a party pooper evidentially.
No, evidentially they came to die on the planet surface, and the sooner the better. Wandering around in the middle of a fierce storm with no buddy system, sniffing the flowers, the whole “please kill the red shirts first” routine.
They have the good grace to make using the transporter a bad idea, not that that stops them, and despite all my griping, it’s still fun to watch. But it calls for considerably more suspension of disbelief than I had hoped for.
© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu