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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Communicator (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.

One of the biggest problems with positioning Star Trek: Enterprise as a prequel is that the original Star Trek was very much a product of its time. It is very difficult to line-up a television show broadcast in the early years of the twenty-first century with a series that was produced towards the end of the sixties. It is a completely different world, and so the show itself must inevitably be completely different.

This reflects itself in the production design of Enterprise. One of the more frequent fan complaints about the series concerns the design of the new ship. After all, it doesn’t look like anything Matt Jefferies would design. If anything, it looks like the missing link between a modern submarine and the Defiant from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. All the pastels and mood lighting have been replaced with functional grey and buttresses. Kirk’s Enterprise and Archer’s Enterprise speak to two different aesthetics.

"What we've got here is failure to communicate..."

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate…”

Of course, it is possible to land a little closer to the classic design as Scott Chambliss demonstrated with his work on JJ Abrams’ reboot. Then again, this only reinforces the point. The general mood and tone of design when Star Trek hit cinema screens in 2009 was markedly different from the mood and tone of design when Broken Bow first aired in 2001. It just so happened that one was more compatible with Jefferies’ original vision than the other. (And even then, Chambliss’ update is markedly different.)

However, while the design of the ship itself is a handy indicator of just how difficult it is to line up a show produced in the first decade of a new millennium to a show produced before man walked on the moon, there are more substantial cultural and social differences at play. The Communicator is another second season Star Trek mash-up, this time taking the ending of A Piece of the Action and offering a perfect example of how Enterprise could never be an entirely comfortable companion to classic Star Trek.

"Westmore's not gonna like this..."

“Westmore’s not gonna like this…”

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Minefield (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.

Shuttlepod One worked very well in the first season, didn’t it?

The episode was one of the highlights of the first season, received very well by both the cast and fandom. So it makes sense to revisit that basic set-up early in the second season. This time it isn’t Malcolm Reed and Charles Tucker facing death in the cold void of space. Instead, Jonathan Archer and Malcolm Reed find themselves struggling with a mine as a countdown ticks away in the background. Facing all-but-certain death, characters are thrown into conflict with one another. Sparks fly, drama happens.

Let's go outside.

Let’s go outside.

To be fair, Minefield ups the stakes dramatically. It takes the same high-stakes characters-against-the-void drama that made Shuttlepod One such a success and then blends it with Star Trek: First Contact and throws the Romulans into the mix just two months before the release of Star Trek: Nemesis. It is very much a high-concept cocktail of episode, a show with a lot going on and a lot of focus in contrast to the more relaxed pace of something like Carbon Creek.

Minefield does feel a little bit too derivative and like it is promising something that never quite arrives. However, it is built around a very sound structure, makes good use of the special effects available for the show, and gives Scott Bakula and Dominic Keating a chance to play off one another. It offers a lot of promise for the second season, only to be retroactively tainted by the fact that the second season never delivers on any of these promises.

All I need is the air that I breath...

All I need is the air that I breath…

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