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Star Trek: Enterprise – Marauders (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.

Well, it looks like Star Trek: Enterprise used up most (if not all) of its ambition for the second season.

The second season of Enterprise got off to a fairly decent start, Shockwave, Part II notwithstanding. Minefield and Dead Stop weren’t perfect, but they were taking the show in a direction that seemed promising. A Night in Sickbay may have been a pretty serious misfire, but it was still a very ambitious instalment of the series. However, it seemed like that ambition was not to last. The second season of Enterprise becomes fairly conventional from this point out – fairly relaxed and fairly generic.

"We don't like your kind around here..."

“We don’t like your kind around here…”

This is the type of approach that producers will frequently describe as “back to basics.” More cynical commentators might use the phrase “back to the well.” The goal seems to be to offer the audience more of what they’ve had before, to repeat what had worked in earlier episodes in earlier seasons in earlier shows. There’s a creeping sense of familiarity to the whole exercise, as if the writing staff are merely filing the numbers (and character names) off old scripts so that they can be recycled. It is very environmentally friendly.

Marauders starts the trend, offering viewers what amounts to The Magnificent Seven… in space, with Klingons!” It works quite well as a diversion or change of pace. It is significantly less satisfying as a direction for the rest of the season.

"Settlement this!"

“Settlement this!”

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Star Trek: Voyager – Faces (Review)

This 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.

One of the more interesting aspects of the first season of Star Trek: Voyager is just how much of a throwback the show seems to be. In many ways, the show seems anchored in a very fifties mindset. While Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has embraced multiculturalism and the wake of the Cold War, the first season of Star Trek: Voyager seems to be dealing with anxieties carried over from the end of the Second World War.

Caretaker reconnected with the “Wild West in outer space” mentality of the classic Star Trek. Episodes like Time and Again and Jetrel are concerned with the splitting of the atom. Cathexis played out a decidedly Cold War paranoia thriller. Good old-fashioned technological espionage – like the leaking of nuclear secrets – was at the heart of State of Flux. There’s a sense that Voyager may have been a piece of fifties Americana that had the misfortune to arrive forty years too late.

Faces is perhaps the most obvious example of this. Splitting a bi-racial character into two halves as part of a science experiment, evoking classic monster movies, and even the decision to define the Vidiians as stand-ins for the Nazis, all give the episode a delightfully pulpy feel. This is Voyager doing a cheesy fifties b-movie. And doing it quite well at that.

He has you now, his pretty!

He has you now, his pretty!

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