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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Aenar (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

The United trilogy does not flow as well as the Kir’Shara trilogy did.

In fact, it is debatable whether these three episodes are best described as a single three-parter or instead as a two-parter with a coda tacked on. After all, the bulk of the action and drama unfolds in Babel One and United, with the penultimate scene of United finding Archer sitting down with the Andorians and Tellarites to begin laying the groundwork for the United Federation of Planets. Even the subplots are neatly tidied up between those two episodes; Trip and Reed get stranded on the Romulan drone in Babel One and rescued by Enterprise in United.

This blue world.

This blue world.

It would be perfectly reasonable to close off the story at that point. The Romulans had been scared off, and Senator Vrax had already made it clear that an embarrassing failure would mean the end of his career and that of Valdour. Even the closing scene of United, revealing an albino Andorian operating the drone ship from Romulus, feels almost tacked on after the previous sequence that had memorably pulled out from the meeting room on Enterprise to emphasise the union of Starfleet, the Vulcans, the Andorians and the Tellarites.

Using that cliffhanger at the end of UnitedThe Aenar pivots away from that to focus on a trip to Andoria. It affords Archer (and Star Trek: Enterprise) one last opportunity to visit Shran’s homeworld.

A cold reception.

A cold reception.

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Proving Ground (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Proving Ground is an odd episode to sit in the middle of the third season’s larger arc involving the Xindi and the threat against Earth.

In a very real sense, it is more serialised than a lot of the episodes leading up to it. The episode even opens with a fairly sweeping “previously…” section that is sure to include a lot of nice action shots from the first half of the year. Proving Ground contributes more to the arc than anything like Carpenter Street or Chosen Realm, featuring the testing of the Xindi weapon. It also features the Andorians, suggesting that Star Trek: Enterprise has not completely divorced itself from its original place in the Star Trek canon.

Drinking away the blues...

Drinking away the blues…

At the same time, the episode is also very episodic. Shran makes a very quick cameo in Zero Hour, but this is the extent to which the Andorians are involved in the larger plot of the third season. Much like the second season, there is a sense that Shran has been slotted into “the obligatory Andorian episode” as a way to fill a production slot in a chaotic season. The sense of weight and impact of the episode is relatively minimal, like Cease Fire before it. The conclusion seems to be that Shran might be a nice guy underneath it all. It’s hardly shocking.

More than that, the structure and plot of the episode can’t help but emphasise some of the more misguided creative decisions of the third season, with Proving Ground introducing a bunch of clever (and exciting concepts) into the arc only to take them right away at the end. The fact that Proving Ground is so fun and enjoyable is almost a detriment, inviting the audience to wonder whether some of that love and affection might have been distributed across the season.

Look who just blue in...

Look who just blue in…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Cease Fire (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

It is weird to think that Star Trek was dying in early years of the twenty-first century.

After all, the original series had greatly increased its cultural cachet at the height of the Cold War. The adventures of James Tiberius Kirk offered an optimistic alternative to total nuclear annihilation and a doomsday clock that was rapidly approaching midnight. Logic would suggest that utopian fantasy was all the more essential when contrasted against harsh reality. In fact, it seemed like cynicism and pessimism thrived in the (relatively) peaceful and prosperous decade following the collapse of the Cold War. The X-Files and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were inescapably products of the nineties.

I'm blue dabba dee dabba dii...

I’m blue dabba dee dabba dii…

So one imagines that the dread and fear that took root in the wake of 9/11 might somehow make the optimism and hope of Star Trek all the more essential. After all, pundits and commentators wasted no time in suggesting that irony and cynicism were passé. Stephen Thompson, editor of The Onion, suggested that the age of irony had ended only a week after the attacks.  Graydon Carter, editor of Variety, observed, “I think it’s the end of the age of irony. Things that were considered fringe and frivolous are going to disappear.” In a highly publicised Time article, Roger Rosenblatt rejoiced.

Of course, irony was far from dead, as films like Team America: World Police demonstrated. The Colbert Report became a cultural phenomenon. The Onion is still in business. However, the speed with which these commentators latched on to the idea of the death of irony suggested that the mood had changed perceptibly. Maybe not definitively, maybe not completely, but there was a change in the air. If ever there was a time for the optimism and the utopianism of Star Trek, it would be this particular moment.

"This is the point where everything changed..."

“This is the point where everything changed…”

However, it seemed like 9/11 eroded the franchise’s faith in utopia. Understandably – and perhaps inevitably – Star Trek: Enterprise found itself warped by images and iconography associated with the attacks. The tradition idyllic alien worlds associated with the franchise – visible in early episodes like Strange New World and Civilisation were quickly replaced by landscapes evoking the popular mood – apocalyptic cityscapes of Shadows of P’Jem and Shockwave, Part II, the deserts of Desert Crossing, the militaristic settings of Detained and The Communicator, or even the darkness of Rogue Planet.

It was as if 9/11 had warped the psychological landscape of the Star Trek universe, throwing everything into doubt. Far from responding to that real-world tragedy with optimism and hope, it seemed that Enterprise only lost certainty in itself. Cease Fire is an episode that feels plagued by self-doubt and insecurity, even as it tries to find its way back to the franchise’s trademark idealism. It may not quite find its way back to the path, but it makes a reasonable effort.

It's all in ruins...

It’s all in ruins…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 1 (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

The first season of Star Trek: Enterprise is caught at a crossroads.

On the hand, it needs to be something new and exciting. The first Star Trek show of the new millennium, Enterprise has to find a way of updating the franchise and pushing forward. It has to find a way to challenge audience expectations and demonstrate that – after fourteen consecutive years and twenty-one overlapping seasons – Star Trek still has something fresh and exciting to offer fans. After all, the television landscape had changed significantly since the late eighties. It was time for Star Trek to change with it.


On the other hand, there’s a clear desire to seek familiar comforts. Star Trek has been on the air consistently for over a decade now. That wouldn’t be the case if the franchise didn’t have its own merits. There’s a sense that the first season of Enterprise is drawn to the idea that it can keep doing what worked before, offering generic Star Trek stories with a new cast and a new theme tune. This is still Star Trek, after all. There’s nothing gained by changing it to the point where it is unrecognisable.

Throughout the first season, these two impulses seem to be at odds with one another, leading to a surreal sense of whiplash. Episodes that feel as unique as Breaking the Ice, Dear Doctor or Shuttlepod One sit alongside generic shows like Civilisation, Sleeping Dogs or Rogue Planet. The show frequently pushes itself in interesting directions, only to pull relent as it approaches the point of committal. The result is a first season that is uneven, but intriguing, one that has great potential – if not necessarily the will to fulfill it.

ent-shockwavepart1m Continue reading

Star Trek: Enterprise – The Andorian Incident (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Andorian Incident is a strange little episode. On the surface, it’s a fairly standard and competently-executed hostage thriller. However, that only scratches the surface. The Andorian Incident is an episode that promises so much more, teasing the potential of Star Trek: Enterprise to evolve into perhaps the most “Star Trek-y of Star Trek shows”, exploring the foundation of the United Federation of Planets and how mankind really found its place in the wider cosmos, building a intergalactic confederation build on peace and tolerance.

The Andorian Incident seems more like a statement of intent from the show, which is a crucial part of any first season.

A bolt from the blue...

A bolt from the blue…

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Star Trek – Journey to Babel (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Journey to Babel is pretty influential, as episodes of Star Trek go. It is an episode that really cements idea of the Federation that came to be at the heart of the franchise, suggesting that the organisation really is a diverse intergalactic alliance of diverse alien species, rather than a union between Earth and Vulcan. More than that, the episode suggests that the individual members of the Federation might not exist in perfect harmony with one another, but may each operate with their own agenda and motivations.

However, what is really remarkable about Journey to Babel is how much of this unfolds in the background. All this world-building and -embellishing is very much a secondary concern for writer D.C. Fontana. Despite its scale and its scope, Journey to Babel is a decidedly personal story about a family in crisis. It works remarkably well, offering viewers a bit more insight into Spock as a character and where he came from.

Party on, Gav...

Party on, Gav…

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Star Trek Sequelitis – Who We Want to See

Never afraid to jump on the bandwagon, we were so impressed by the movie that we’ve seen, we thought we’d write a list of the aliens and creatures that we want or don’t want to see in the proposed sequel. Part of me really hopes that JJ Abrams continues to breath originality back into the series, but there are also a lot of very cool aliens out there in the big Star trek universe. Here are a few of the many, many characters and species we can see being considered for an appearance.

Balok was shocked he didn't make the list...

Balok was shocked he didn’t make the list…

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