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Star Trek: Enterprise – Detained (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.

Detained is well-meaning, if a little clumsy and awkward.

It is a rather conscious effort to do a “message show” in the grand tradition of the Star Trek franchise, using the show’s science-fiction premise to offer a commentary on current events. Detained is very clearly structured as a response to the 9/11 attacks, even if Archer only explicitly references the internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar. Detained is full of interesting ideas, and its heart is in the right place, but the execution feels decidedly rushed and haphazard. Detained works much better as a two-line moral than it does as a forty-five minute episode of television.

You can't call him Al...

You can’t call him Al…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Prophecy & Change: The Orb of Opportunity by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels (Review/Retrospective)

The September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

It is fun to imagine the negative space that exists between various episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In its third season, the show was making nods towards serialisation, but there was never really a point where the series could not be broken down into reasonably well-defined episodic units. Even during the ten-hour series finalé, each of the constituent elements had its own narrative thrust and its own clear purpose. So it is fun sometimes to try to connect these threads together.

The ordering of episodes in a season of television is very interesting. It creates a fascinating connective tissue in the minds of fans. Although each episode is its own story, they come together to form something larger and more intriguing. On The X-Files, for example, placing Never Again directly after Leonard Betts changed the whole context of the episode. There are threads that do not necessarily exist within the individual episodes, but can be implied by the sequencing of the shows.

Placing Heart of Stone directly after Life Support is an interesting choice in several respects. It creates all sorts of interesting implications and developments, contradictions and possibilities. It is weird to have an episode about Odo’s attraction to Kira air directly after an episode focusing on the death of Kira’s long-term love interest; give her a week or two of space, guys. Similarly, it is strange to go from Nog’s characterisation in Life Support to his development in Heart of Stone.

The Orb of Opportunity is very clearly intended to bridge the gap between those two episodes, explaining how and why Nog developed in the way that he did.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Allegiance (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

Allegiance is a solid episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It just has the misfortune to follow three of the strongest episodes the show ever produced, and to come directly in front of one of the franchise’s better-received “light” episodes. It would be a tough situation for just about any episode, and the biggest problem with Allegiance is that it’s very much “traditional” Star Trek. It’s very safe, it’s very standard, it’s very familiar.

Allegiance is really a bunch of Star Trek clichés put in a blender. A doppelganger arrives on the ship to allow an actor a chance to flex their muscles; powerful aliens are keen to learn a lot about humanity; radically different people work together in order to overcome an obstacle; there’s even a lovely coda on just how well-oiled the Enterprise crew have become. It’s all executed quite well. Allegiance is a charming piece of work, one that feels intentionally light and breezy. It’s just naturally a bit of a step down from the phenomenal run of episodes that came before it.

Yep, it's a bit of a light week for the Enterprise crew...

Yep, it’s a bit of a light week for the Enterprise crew…

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