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Star Trek: Enterprise – To Boldly Go Nowhere

I have been on a Star Trek kick lately. I re-watched the most recent movie, then I randomly started watching episodes of various series before deciding to watch Star Trek: Enterprise in its entirety.

In its original run, I never warmed to the show. I found it boring and the theme song put me off completely. I just finished the series finale, and seeing the whole thing in a week or two has changed my perspective, albeit slightly. The show has its high points and low moments, and I’ll cover both here.

First, the positives. For a Star Trek fan (Trekkie, err… Trekker?), seeing the foundation of the United Federation of Planets and early use (and skepticism of) the transporter was pretty cool. The original series starts out with these things in place, and the later sequels take place far in the future, so the technology is never really explained. Enterprise permitted a glimpse behind the curtain-into Star Trek’s past (and our presumed future)-answering old questions (and raising some new ones).

Another positive is the acting on the show. Not overall, mind you; on a whole, the acting was subpar. However, some performances stood out. In particular, one regular cast member and one recurring role were objectively very good.

Dr. Phlox, portrayed by John Billingsley, is fantastic. He is the ship’s doctor, and is the only alien crewmember aside from the Vulcan T’Pol. His culture is far in advance of Earth’s, so he often greets challenges with an amused smile. His character isn’t exactly written this way, but it’s how Billingsley played the role, and it’s great.

In a recurring role, Jeffrey Combs played an Andorian names Thy’lek Shran. The Andorians are a race of aliens who appeared in the original Star Trek series, and are the classic, campy aliens-blue skin, antennae, the works. Combs played the role brilliantly-the most memorably acted moments in the whole series are those of Combs. As the seasons wore on and the plotlines became more confused, Combs was one of the few reasons to pay attention. He brought a certain dignity to the ridiculous Andorian costume, which no prior “Andorian” actors could do.

On the flip side, the series was poorly plotted. Culturally, and certainly in science fiction (at least since Babylon 5), we are used to story arcs-we want there to be something driving the characters and their actions, not only throughout an episode, but over the course of a season and series. Enterprise attempted to have an over-arching plotline about a “temporal cold war,” but in practice it never panned out. The references to it were confusing, seemingly inserted at random, and episodes focusing solely on the war were out of place. The storyline was abruptly ended and dropped in another disjointed and random episode. Other storylines were started and abandoned, and a lot was left unexplained.

Second, there was some bad acting, supplemented by bad character development. Almost everyone in the cast played a one-dimensional role. In addition to those mentioned above, exceptions included Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), Captain of the Enterprise, and T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), the resident Vulcan. Unfortunately, Archer’s multi- 20 unit: dominoqq pkv itself more as multiple-personality-disorder than depth. He is caught in a web of vengeance, heroism, empathy, and a dozen other emotional states, never quite landing on solid ground. The more layers that were added, the more entangled he became. T’Pol is a Vulcan-the alien race devoted to subduing emotion in favor of logic. Hers is the one character who should have been one-dimensional. Instead, for fear of her being “wooden,” the writers found more and more excuses as the show ran on to have her emotional side display itself. Note that I don’t fault Blalock, who did an okay job (even if she was cast solely to bring sex-appeal to the role).

 

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