COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Things Star Trek: Enterprise Did Right

star-trek-enterprise-season-1-blu-ray-cover-1

In many ways Star Trek: Enterprise has become Star Trek’s Phantom Menace in that it is a prequel that has become almost cliché to poke fun of. I am not going to stand here and argue that Enterprise was the best series of Star Trek because it wasn’t. What I am going to say in this article is that it wasn’t as bad as many make out and while much of the first two seasons were mostly recycled plots from previous Star Trek shows there were some hidden gems and a sign of the promise the show had.

PLEASE NOTE; This is just my opinion but I would be interested in hearing what you have to think.


Technological Inferiority

twilight_713

Like many fans, when I saw the Enterprise NX-01 for the first time my response was “That looks like the Akira-class from Star Trek: First Contact! I thought it was supposed to be set before Kirk?” The most important thing about first impressions of a new Star Trek is the ship and the creators seemed to get it wrong. However…While it took a long time for people to warm to the Akiraprise, as some call it, one thing I have to say I really liked about it was that it was inferior to most of the enemies it faced. For the 30 years leading up to Star Trek: Enterprise we saw our heroes flying around the universe in the most advanced ship of its day. Now we had a ship that really felt like it was the cutting edge of human technology but since humans were new to spaceflight they weren’t the best on the block. In fact the ship didn’t even have shields and in an early episode we saw one of the really awful early torpedoes get shot out of the sky. Over time the NX-01 became more advanced and we started to see some of the more familiar technologies enter service like Photonic torpedoes but even in the last season the Enterprise was still largely the underdog. I really liked this.

“Evil” Vulcans

kirshara_004

OK they weren’t evil exactly but certainly there was an antagonist element about how they were portrayed in Star Trek: Enterprise. This was another of those decisions that seemed to anger militant Trekkies because since the very early days the Vulcans were seen as both peace loving and close friends with humanity. What those Trekkies seem to forget however is that we are seeing an earlier Vulcan people here who aren’t the intellectual element of an alliance of planets but rather they are their own people who have enemies and are cautious about their dealings with humanity who after all hadn’t long come out of a Third World War and were now joining the space faring nations of the galaxy. There is even a brilliant line where Suval actually tells Admiral Forest that humans achieved far more than Vulcan did in the same timeframe and that many Vulcans are fearful of what humans will achieve in the future. Translated, this means that some Vulcans in the 22nd century are afraid of being displaced by humanity in terms of galactic importance which in a roundabout way is exactly what happens. From the Vulcan point of view therefore it is understandable that they are distrustful of humans. One final note; we need to remember that there have been ‘bad guy’ Vulcans before including one who wanted to play Baseball with Sisko to prove Vulcans are better than humans – that’s racist isn’t it?

Racist Humans

terra_prime_084

Overnight humans became wonderful and peace loving? CRAP! Perhaps the biggest thing Star Trek: Enterprise contributed to the Star Trek universe more than anything was showing the transitionary period for humanity and how that by the 22nd century there were still those who were fearful of aliens because they were different. Even better and perhaps more relevant for the 21st century audience was the fact that this racism was largely caused by an alien attack which lends weight behind why these racist elements are still thriving. This mirrors the post-9/11 world where many Muslims feel that the West has the view that all followers of the Islamic faith are terrorists which of course is absolute nonsense. I would have liked to see more of this but sadly the show finished before it could be explored further.

Trip and T’Pol

terra_prime_558

Romances between central characters has been met with mixed responses from fans in the past. Some really worked well (Worf and Jadzia Dax in DS9) and some really didn’t work well at all (Chakotay and Seven in Voyager). Trip and T’Pol did work for me. Not only did it work but it actually interested me. In a pseudo kind of way we saw a little something of what Spock’s parents went through with all the dilemma of a love across species although in this case the genders are reversed. Connor Trinneer and Jolene Blalock had wonderful on-screen chemistry and many of their scenes were emotional in the later seasons. Their relationship showed how their characters had evolved over the course of the show; they were perhaps the only characters who really did.

The Augment Saga

cold_station_190

In the show’s final season multi-part storylines became the order of the day. Without a doubt the most exciting was the three-part Augment story arc which saw Brent Spiner make a guest appearance as Arik Soong, a predecessor of Data’s creator Dr Noonien Soong. When first advertised, this fact was seen simply as a gimmick to try and pull back some of the old school fans who had given up on the show but this episode was much more than that. What we got was a thrilling trilogy that explores more of why genetic engineering is banned in the future and makes us question more about what it means to be human; something Star Trek has repeatedly done with mixed success. It was also brilliant to see the Augments demonstrate their agility and strength far more than we have seen before and it would be something we would see again in Khan himself in Star Trek Into Darkness. Spiner’s performance was flawless and it was great watching him play a character who has not only an abundance of emotion but is actually manipulative and antagonistic. Perhaps Data’s evil brother Lore has more in common with Arik Soong than Dr Noonien Soong would like to admit? This was Star Trek: Enterprise at its best.

There is no escaping it; Star Trek Enterprise was heavily flawed but does it really deserve the disdain it has received? No. Not in my opinion. I am not being a blind Trekkie here as I have already highlighted some of the show’s problems but there was some gold mixed in with the bronze.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Things Star Trek: Enterprise Did Right”

  1. I was one of those who anticipated the series eagerly, but ended up getting left cold By the Xindi story line. That was just too much for a TV series, it was really better for a feature film.

    I think one of the strongest aspects of Enterprise was bringing the Andorians into the picture the way it did. We know from canon that the Andorians were a founding race of the Federation; but seeing them overcome the enmity and distrust they had with the Vulcans and the initial rocky relations with humans to do so really fit in well with Gene Roddenberry’s desire for an optimistic view of the future.

    One of the weaker points, in my view, was Scott Bacula’s portrayal of Captain Archer. He came across so weak and non authoritarian most of the time that I just couldn’t respect him that much.

    1. I agree with all of that especially about Scott Bakula. He was never any good and I always preferred seeing Trip take command. I did like the Xindi story but I hated the Temporal Cold War.

      I may do another Top 5 this time all the things I hated

      1. The Xindi story was OK at first, I can stay with a story line that carries a few episodes, but it just got too long and complex for my own personal TV tastes. As a feature film, I could get quite into it I think.

        I never understood why anyone bashed Captain Janeway of Voyager, especially after Archer appeared. I quite liked and respected Janeway in most regards right from the start.

      2. I don’t follow Orange is the New Black so I can’t comment on it.

        I feel Voyager really harked back to the original series values more than any of the other spin off series did.

        Th stories were mostly resolved in one or two episodes and Janeway was a great balance of heart and backbone. She was forgiving enough to be human and likable, but no nonsense enough to be taken seriously as an authority figure. It was pretty clear that her crew knew where they stood with her the majority of the time.

        She didn’t take much crap from aliens they encountered either. She had Kirk’s willingness to go to the phasers and torpedoes, which I found to be a refreshing break from Picard’s cerebral style and Sisko’s often overbearing intensity.

        Nothing against Picard and Sisko. Picard’s style certainly had its merits and Sisko did grow on me though I was on the fence about him for the first season or so of DS9.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s