Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 

Star Trek: Enterprise Is Cancelled.

Hardly a surprise, today's Paramount press release states that this season of Enterprise will be its last.

While I was never a big fan of the show, I am disappointed. For, if anything, Enterprise represents many lost opportunities.

I'm not a Trekkie, or a Trekker, or any variation on Trek, but I have a fond place for Star Trek, particularly the original series and cast. I was born too late to catch the original series when it first aired, but I grew up watching Shatner kick ass and bed Orion slave girls in syndication. I was old enough to see all the movies in the theater, and few things will ever surpass the absolute uber-coolness of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. It's sad to consider that the pinnacle of all things Star Trek happened over twenty years ago.

As for the new shows, The Next Generation had its moments. I couldn't stand the touchy-feely "U.N. in space" aspects of the show, but every now and then TNG put on some of the best shows on television. Plus, all the characters were original and well-acted, particularly Patrick Stewart's Picard. If I catch an episode on TV, I'll watch it, unless it focuses on Wesley, who was/is a whiny-ninny pants. Give me Klingons and Borg, and I'm there.

Deep Sleep Nine? Great actors, boring plotlines. Diehard Star Trek fans rave about how the show eventually turned out, but I never got interested.

I'd rather have scrubbed my toenails with battery acid than contemplate Voyager.

Which brings me to Enterprise. Unlike many fans, I was actually quite enthusiastic with the prequel plotline. To those who complained "We know how everything ends up, what's there to watch?" I argued, yeah, we know how World War II ended up, but does that make the Revolutionary War boring to read about? I figured that, with a good cast, attention to detail, and smart writing, Enterprise could be the shot in the arm the franchise needed.

Alas, it was not to be. I like the actors in the show, but the characters were all blandly drawn. In the middle of the fourth season, I *still* have no idea who the hell Scott Bakula's Archer really is. And while Jolene Blalock is all kinds of hotness, I was never convinced she was a good Vulcan.

As for detail, while the art design for the show is impressive, it felt out of place in the Star Trek universe, especially as a prequel. While Enterprise is set many decades before the time of Kirk and Spock, the look of the technology-- not to mention the ship itself-- felt more advanced than the retro look of a hundred years later. Obviously, the implication was "design styles change," but Enterprise always made it look as if one day everybody would just kinda get stoned and go all Austin Powers for no good reason.

Which brings me to the show's greatest failure: writing. Taken individually, too many episodes suffered from the Berman/Braga sleepiness syndrome. Also, Enterprise didn't take advantage of the "early days of human starflight" hook enough. The ship always worked, the phase pistols always worked, and the transporter always worked-- unless the screenplay demanded that it didn't.

In this respect, Enterprise repeated the same dramatic failures of Voyager, the most egregious offender. Hmmm, we're the crew of the Voyager, flung millions of light years from home into a strange part of the galaxy. Yet, we never suffer mechanical problems, the food is always plentiful, and the aliens all still look like us. Both series could have benefited greatly from that Battlestar Galactica-style "mad desperation to survive."

Ultimately, the most important reason behind Enterprise's failure, and the biggest reason for it's overall suckitude was the "Temporal Cold War" storyline. This feeble excuse for a plotline not only consumed *three* seasons of the show, it had virtually nothing to do with the future of the Star Trek universe.

It's only now, in the last season of the show, that the storyline has moved to the reason the show exists in the first place: to show the birth of the Federation, the beginning of the whole Star Trek "saga." Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Andorians, Tellarites, Talosians, Organians. . . all the cool races of the original series, brought together wearing excellent makeup. *THIS* is good stuff, and the episodes this season have been a tremendous improvement over those in previous years.

But, because of all that wasted time, Enterprise suffered in the ratings, and is now cancelled. As in so many television shows, it's a case of "too little, too late."

So, now what? Where does Star Trek go from here? Next year, there will be no series on TV. Star Trek: Nemesis-- a movie that ripped off The Wrath Of Khan so badly Paramount should sue itself-- flopped hard at the box office, thus any future movies are unlikely.

Personally, I think they should just let the whole concept die. As much as I enjoyed it, its time is now over. Perhaps one day, many, many years from now, someone will come along with a great idea to resurrect Star Trek. But they need to give it a rest, if only to recharge the creative juices, and give hack producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga a chance to commit their long-overdue "suicides by cop."

Live long, and prosper.


Comments:
I think that if you have watched enough of the gazillion Star Trek incarnations to write an informed 896 word post-morten, its safe to say you ARE some variation of a Trekkie
 
You do know that "Wesley" (aka Wil Wheaton) has a blog, right? I'm sure you could just google his real name and find it. I haven't seen it in over a year, but it's won a couple awards I guess.
 
Ranger, since I started this blog I've written 144,360 words on a variety of subjects, many of which I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT.

I'm a fan of Star Trek; that doesn't mean I can speak Klingon, or have strong opinions about The Nexus ;-).

Mike--
Yup, Average Joe (http://the-omniverse.blogspot.com/) links to Wil Wheaton's blog (http://the-omniverse.blogspot.com/), he likes him a lot.

I'm sorry, he may write like Hemingway and hand out free puppies, but I will never, ever, never take Wil Wheaton seriously.

Permit me my prejudices; they motivate me in the morning.
 
Hi Dave,
Great blog you have here. I'm flattered to have co-guest blogged with you at Ace's. Regarding Star Trek, you sound pretty knowledgeable for someone who doesn't consider himself a trekkie. I also remember watching the old series when it was in syndication. TNG was ok, as was Voyager. Never got into "Enterprise." Out of all the movies, Start Trek II was my favorite. I must have seen it like a gazillion times.
 
I agree that Star Trek II was the best Trek film. It was what no other Trek film managed to be: An interesting, dramatic film first, a sci-fi film second, a Star Trek film third. You could come in knowing nothing about Trek and enjoy. Not so with the other films.

Dave - it's a shame, you should give Wheaton's book a try.
 
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