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Star Trek: Enterprise – Dawn (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.

Dawn arrives at a very delicate moment in Star Trek history.

Star Trek: Nemesis had hit cinemas the weekend before The Catwalk aired. It had been an immediate and humiliating disaster for Paramount. It arrived in a stuffed Christmas season, amid a relentless onslaught of big budget blockbuster fare – competing for space against Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Die Another Day and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It was the first Star Trek film not to open at the top of the United States box office, landing second to Maid in Manhattan.

Engineering a solution...

Engineering a solution…

The prognosis for Star Trek as a franchise had not been particularly optimistic for quite some time. The ratings had been in decline since Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air. Star Trek: Enterprise was airing on a dying network. Changing management at UPN was less friendly to the franchise than it had been. However, the spectacular failure of Star Trek: Nemesis was perhaps the most public blow the franchise had taken. The critics now had ammunition; the vultures were circling; the franchise was on the ropes for the world to see.

The Catwalk had aired a few days after Nemesis crash-landed, when the franchise was still reeling. The first episode of Star Trek to air in 2003, Dawn was broadcast after the franchise and the public had time to properly process the disaster. It goes without saying that there was a lot of pressure on the episode.

Alien nation...

Alien nation…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Singularity (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.

Star Trek: The Next Generation casts a pretty long shadow.

Singularity aired over eight years after All Good Things… and it still feels like an attempt to re-capture the mood and atmosphere of that second-generation Star Trek spin-off. Singularity feels like it might have made for a passable seventh-season instalment of The Next Generation, airing somewhere between Phantasms, Masks and Genesis. You would probably only have to tweak Singularity ever-so-slightly for that earlier cast.

"Hai!"

“Hai!”

Of course, this fixation on The Next Generation is not unique to the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise. After all, Star Trek: Voyager spent a significant portion of its run trying to re-capture the magic associated with The Next Generation. There were lots of generic aliens- and anomalies-of-the week. The second season of Enterprise is just interesting in this regard because it is really the last gasp of this sort of nostalgic storytelling on so wide a scale.

It would not be easy. It would take the box office failure of Star Trek: Nemesis, a change of management at UPN, falling ratings and the threat of cancellation. Nevertheless, Enterprise would eventually manage to exorcise the ghost of The Next Generation. In the meantime, Singularity offers a reminder of just how closely Enterprise was hewing to The Next Generation.

"Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.”

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