The Box Office: The Enterprise Box set – By Michael Wilson

 Is it possible to really like Star Trek, but not really like the shows all of that much? I’d say yes. I grew up at a time when The original series was the only trek to be seen. It may seem silly to the younger generation, but back then in the 70’s and early 80’s, even the ‘Space Hippie’ episode didn’t seem so ridiculous.

When Star Trek: the Next Generation aired I was sure that it wouldn’t last more than a season. I was wrong, of course, but I’ll admit I hated the majority of the first three seasons. As a matter of fact, I hated almost any episode with Wesley crusher. No offense to Wil Wheaton, I just thought his character was created merely for adolescent fanboy pandering. I did like Deep Space Nine, and I thought it was the best of the post-TNG-franchise as a whole. I won’t even go into Star trek: Voyager. It had its moments, but they seemed too far and few between.

But the powers that be needed another show to milk trek’s popularity some more. So they decided on doing a prequel to the original series. The trek universe has a lot of fictional history that’s been built up over the years, but the premise did leave a lot of room for ideas. However the men that were holding the reins of the franchise Rick Berman and Brannon Braga seemed to have had the desire to beat the whole thing into the ground.

Titled at least simply “Enterprise”, the series takes place several decades after the events in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. The new United Earth Government has been working with the Vulcans and feels the time is now to begin their exploration of the galaxy. The Vulcans however disagree. They feel that humanity is still too barbaric and unpredictable to let loose in the universe. They have apparently done everything they can to stop or slow down the production and launch of Enterprise, Starfleet’s first vessel that can achieve the speed of Warp 5. This gets the goat of Captain Jonathan Archer, since his father designed the engine that powers Enterprise. Archer senior passed away before he could see the fruits of his labor work and junior blames the Vulcans for keeping the Warp 5 engine’s progress down too long for his dad to see it work.

SEASON 1 (I’ll highlight the episodes that and overall arcs of the seasons here, not a play by play of every single one.)

Broken Bow- One of the problems Enterprise had during its run is that it didn’t follow a lot of the canon that is in Star Trek. Its easy enough to overlook a lot of them. Some fans complained that in other Trek shows that took place in the future (relative to Enterprise) never made mention of Archer or had models of Enterprise amongst the ones of past ships with that name. Another one is that first contact with the Klingons is listed differently in the Star Trek Encyclopedia than what is seen in the pilot here. (That’s not surprising since the ST Encyclopedia was written over a decade ago). A spaceship crashes in the town of Broken Bow, OK with a lone survivor, a klingon named Klaang. (I saw someone make fun of his name in a forum once, asking if he had brothers named “Kraash” and “Bonkk” heehee) Starfleet wants to transfer Klaang back to the Klingon homeworld with their new Warp Five capable ship, Enterprise, though the Vulcans disagree and offer to do so themselves. Starfleet is adamant though, but the vulcans insist that one of their officers, Sub-Commander T’Pol accompany Captain Archer and his crew. Of course trouble ensues en route, leading Archer to find out about a strange race called the Suliban and some kind of Temporal Cold War.

*sigh*….I’ve said it before….Star Trek does…er, did…to many Time Travel episodes in all of its incarnations. Enough that I really didn’t care about this Temporal Cold War at all, making this episode less than compelling to me. Unfortunately the TCW will come up again in later episodes. But one of the uses for a pilot is to introduce the new crew.

Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)- Archer is more like Kirk and Sisko than Picard which is actually a refreshing thing. He’s determined to prove that humans deserve their shot at exploring space and harbors a grudge against the vulcans for holding them back. This of course puts him at odds with:

Sub-Commander T’Pol: (Jolene Blalock) Its good to know that Trek has kept the Seven of Nine custom of dressing at least one female character in the tightest uniform possible. As you’d expect T’Pol is a bit disdainful of her human crewmates at first, but you know that in future episodes she’ll grow to like them, etc. etc.

Commander Trip Tucker: (Conner Trinneer) The ship’s engineer. He’s the emotional one.

Lt. Malcolm Reed: (Dominic Keating) Is the Weapons officer. He’s quiet, secretive and seems to only think about his duties.

Ensign Travis Mayweather: (Anthony Montgomery) Mayweather is the helmsman and I hate to say it like this, he is so wooden with every spoken line that I’m glad he didn’t have many lines throughout the entire series.

Ensign Hoshi Sato: (Linda Park) Its always been an accepted fact that in the other trek shows they used some kind of magical machine called a Universal Translator to explain how all these different races can speak to each other. Since enterprise takes place way before Kirk and his crew they explain a lot of the language problems by using Hoshi, a super duper linguist. She apparently can figure out alien languages after hearing only a teeny bit of them.

Dr. Phlox: (John Billingsley) Doctor Phlox is a Denubulan, one that has been living on Earth for years in a medical exchange program. Since he’s a hotshot doctor Archer recruits him as the ships surgeon. He kind of fills the role that Data had in ST:TNG, as the outside observer of humanity.

Porthos: Picard had his goldfish, Sisko had his baseball and Janeway had….uh….a crappy show. But Archer has a dog named Porthos. Its actually kind of cool, I think.

The rest of Season one is about just what you’d expect. Trek seems to have a few different plots that they use over and over. They did have a few interesting episodes though, don’t get me wrong. In The Andorian Incident we find that the blue skinned Andorians and the Vulcans have a cold war of their own. (this episode features Jeffrey Combs as Commander Shran….its always good to see Jeffrey Combs). It also adds some depth to the Vulcans…in this episode they show themselves to be just a sneaky and conniving as the rest of us mere mortals.

The low point of this season is Acquisition. Trek Canon has that humans did not meet the Ferengi until Picard’s era. It was a dumb idea to have the ferengi in this episode or enterprise in general. The even lower point (for me anyway) is the cliffhanger season finale, Shockwave since they decide to beat the old Time Travel ideas into pulp yet again.

SEASON 2

The events of Shockwave are resolved in the season opener. Other than that season 2 is passable, but not anything you haven’t seen in Star trek already. I’m not saying that the season stinks, I’m just saying that it seemed like more of the same. If I had to pick out a favorite episode from this season I’d pick “Carbon Creek”. In this episode T’Pol tells Archer and Trip about her grandmother, who with another crew of Vulcan explorers crashed on Earth in the 1950’s. Its an okay episode, and even though it deals with the past it didn’t involve time travel.

By the End of Season 2 the cracks were beginning to show though. Enterprise wasn’t doing so well in ratings, and I can honestly see why. As I said, its nothing you haven’t seen before if you watched Star Trek. They tried to spice it up a bit with the decontamination procedures the crew uses when they return from an alien planet. (involving rubbing goo on scantily clad bodies, most of the time T’Pol’s since Jolene Blalock has a rockin’ bod). However season 2’s cliffhanger ender is pretty good….In The Expanse, Enterprise is recalled to Earth after an alien probe shows up, fires a beam weapon on the planet and kills a few million people. (including Trip’s sister). Earth and the Vulcan’s find that the probe came from an area of space called the Xindi Expanse, where Vulcan ships have mysteriously disappeared. Though the vulcan’s object, archer wants to take Enterprise there and find out why the Xindi attacked Earth and to prevent another attack from their superweapon. The season ends with Enterprise entering the Expanse….

SEASON 3

They jazzed up the opening theme music a bit, and added “Star Trek” to the title. Yep, it was because people weren’t watching the show.

The entire season is an overall arc. Enterprise must deal with the hostile aliens called the Xindi and prevent them from using a super weapon on Earth. Archer discovers that the Xindi are being fooled by aliens from another dimension. These aliens can see the future and realize that the Federation will defeat them in a few centuries when they try to take over the galaxy. In order to prevent that they convince the Xindi that Humanity will destroy them if they don’t exterminate mankind first. Thus the Xindi are compelled to attack Earth. If Earth is destroyed then no Starfleet and no Federation in the future.

Season 3 is actually pretty freaking good. Enterprise takes a beating in this season and the damage to the ship ISN’T magically repaired at the start of a new episode. In one episode they even show crew men being flung into space when the hull is breached. It was a bit of a welcome shock, since Trek is a bit mousey with violence sometimes. But the glue that holds this season together is Bakula. As Archer he is completely driven to accomplish his mission and its believable. I have to give him credit.

SEASON 4

Season 3 ended with Captain Archer stopping the Xindi weapon and saving humanity, but it also ended with him and the crew being flung into what I really hate about trek. Another time travel story. At least this time they wrap up the ultra stupid idea of the Temporal Cold War.

You see, I’m convinced that the Killer B’s (Brannon and Braga) had no idea of what to do with that dumbass idea. By this point in the series the writing was on the wall that it was going to be cancelled. So they came up with a crappy plot taking part in WWII and ended that plotline. This is the season that Paramount had to basically eat the cost of airing the show by lowering their prices for advertisement in order to keep the show sponsored and on the air. Now, it seems that they tried to improve the writing and stories in order to save the show….but it was too little too late.

Still Season 4 was the best season. Brent Spiner (Data from TNG) plays an ancestor of Data’s creator Dr. Soong…..thats a criminal. Archer must work with him in order to stop genetically augmented humans from sparking a war with the klingons. The romulans make an appearance in a clandestine attempt to prenvent Andoria and the Tellarites from making peace. They even threw in a two parter in the infamous Mirror-Universe (first introduced in the original series where everyone is evil and stuff) explaining what happened to the Starship Defiant from “The Tholian Web”.

But….and lord, you have to see it to understand how bad this is….the final episode of enterprise is so craptacular, I had a hard time believing I just saw it. Even the cast said it was appalling. (at least Blalock did and I’ve heard the others agreed.) Its all done a holodeck recreation on the Enterprise-D from TNG. Specifically during the episode “The Pegasus”. But the only characters from TNG you see are Riker and Troi, who are noticeably older and fatter. (Good greif, marina sirtis ballooned up. Hey, she’s still pretty, but only in a plump kind of way in this episode. All in all it was a terrible episode and an awful way to end the series.


The Lowdown:

I can honestly tell you that only the most die hard Trek fans will want this collection. I don’t consider myself a die hard fan, but a rampant collector. (I hated Voyager but I own the series….its just so I can say I have EVERY TREK EVER MADE!) Enterprise started off slow, sucked a bit, got better, started getting really good and then was cancelled. If you absolutely must have Enterprise go for it, but unless you’re sure just get season 3 and 4 and you’ll be happy enough.