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Star Trek: Enterprise – Daedalus (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.

Discussions of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise tend to focus on the multi-part episodes.

That makes a great deal of sense. After all, no Star Trek show had ever built a season around a collection of multi-part arcs. While Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had embraced serialisation in the second half of its run and Star Trek: Voyager had embraced an aesthetic that supported two-part “event” episodes, there had never been a season of the franchise constructed around a string of two- or three-part adventures. Even the third season of Enterprise had really been on long form story with the occasional episodic diversion.

Padding it out.

Padding it out.

These multi-part stories dominate the fourth season. Of the twenty-two episodes of the fourth season, seventeen are part of seven multi-part stories. Of the five episodes that nominally stand alone, Home is very much a thematic introduction to the season that sets up all manner of ideas to pay off later in the run and These Are the Voyages… is effectively an attempt at a coda for the eighteen years (and twenty-five television seasons) of the Berman era as a whole. Discounting these two “bookends”, that leaves only three standalone episodes.

Two of those episodes, Daedalus and Observer Effect aired back to back in the middle of the season. However, although each episode is self-contained in terms of plot, they do feel like spiritual companion pieces.

Turn the lights off on the way out...

Turn the lights off on the way out…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Battle (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Battle represents a curious midpoint in the evolution of the Ferengi. When they first appeared in The Last Outpost (after being mentioned in Encounter at Farpoint), the aliens had been considered as viable replacements for the Klingons and Romulans as the primary antagonists of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite the presence of Worf on the Bridge, the bible for The Next Generation expressly forbade plots involving the Klingons or Romulans, with the creators afraid of returning to that particular well. (It would be towards the end of the season that both races would make a comeback, in big ways.) With neither of those races available, there was a void, and the Ferengi had been created to fill that void.

However, their introduction in The Last Outpost had been an unmitigated disaster, reducing the species to failed comic relief in their very first episode. The Battle is the second story to feature the aliens, and it never seems quite sure how to handle them. Does it present them as a credible threat, or merely as an awkward annoyance not to be taken seriously? The Battle can’t decide, and that’s just the most obvious of the episode’s fundamental problems.

They have yet to figure out an angle that works for the Ferengi…

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Non-Review Review: The Oranges

There’s an interesting film in here, somewhere. The Oranges teases the possibility of brutally exposing the seedy underside of suburban life, as we follow an affair between a married man and his best friend’s daughter, but The Oranges is far too shallow to land anything resembling a killing stroke. The adult cast is composed of talented veterans, but the script doesn’t give them much to do – instead The Oranges treats their children as the focal point, misjudging the talent of young actresses Leighton Meester and Alia Shawkat. It all feels too light, too cosy, and too willing to pick the low-hanging fruit to really create an interesting study of life in the ‘burbs.

Keeping it in the family...

Keeping it in the family…

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