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Star Trek: Enterprise – Demons (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.

In some ways, Star Trek: Enterprise ends where it should have began.

A lot of the final stretch of the final season seems dedicated to exploring the show’s original sin, the flaws that came baked into the premise as early as Broken Bow. After all, Bound had taken the cringe-inducing adolescent fixation on “sexiness” that informed ideas like the “decontamination gel” and pushed them to their sexist extremes. Similarly, In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II offered the revenge of the two members of the ensemble all but forgotten in subsequent years while pushing the show’s early reactionary tendencies to eleven.

Under the Earthlight. The serious Earthlight.

Under the Earthlight. The serious Earthlight.

Even These Are the Voyages… seemed to confirm fears that the show had been built as a sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: First Contact rather than a prequel to the original Star Trek, a fear shared by many fans frustrated by elements like the design of the ship or the appearance of the Nausicaans in Fortunate Son or the Ferengi in Acquisition. That final episode left open the (admittedly remote) possibility that the entire show was nested inside the holodeck of Picard’s ship.

Demons and Terra Prime touch on the same introspective ideas, by taking the show’s final two-parter (if not its de facto finale) and using it to tell a story that probably should have been told half-way through the first season. It seems like the production team have finally decided to grapple with the core themes of Enterprise. Just at the last possible minute.

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me."

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

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Star Trek: Enterprise – United (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.

The Romulans are a very curious species.

They have a long history within the Star Trek franchise. They were introduced less than half-way through the first season of the show, in Balance of Terror. The Klingons would not show up until Errand of Mercy, towards the end of that first year. The Romulans have appeared in just about every iteration of the franchise, their reappearance in the final episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation serving to connect the show to its legacy. Appearing in both Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Trek, they appeared on both sides of the film franchise reboot.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship…

Still, the Romulans have never truly been defined. Unlike the Klingons or the Cardassians, the Romulans have never been developed into a fully-formed culture. There are great episodes built around the Romulans, from Balance of Terror and The Enterprise Incident to Face of the Enemy and In the Pale Moonlight. However, there has never been recurring Romulan character afforded the depth of Worf, Martok, Quark, Dukat, Damar or Garak; if populating that list with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine characters feels like cheating, no Romulan measures up to Soval or Shran.

Although they only appear in four episodes of the season, exerting influence over another two, it feels like the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise affords more attention to the Romulans than they have received in a long time.

"All right, who arranged the bridge power display to form a smiley face?"

“All right, who arranged the bridge power display to form a smiley face?”

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Babel One (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.

It seems entirely appropriate that the United trilogy sits in the middle of the fourth season.

The three-parter is not the strongest of the season’s multi-episode epics, abandoning the clean three-act structure that made the Kir’Shara trilogy so successful in favour of a disjointed two-parter-and-coda format that prevents the story from feeling as cohesive as it might. It jolts and starts, never really finding the proper flow for the story that it wants to tell. There is a sense that the production team’s desire to do both a “birth of the Federation” story and a “visit to Andoria” story within the same three-part narrative ultimately hinders the storytelling.

"What do you mean I'm not in the third part?!"

“What do you mean I’m not in the third part?!”

However, there is something satisfying in watching Star Trek: Enterprise commit to the idea of the birth of the Federation. It could be argued that this is an example of the fourth season’s continuity pandering, but the Federation is far more fundamental to the fabric of the franchise than something like Klingon foreheads or that ghost ship from that third season episode. If Enterprise is to be a prequel, it should devote some attention to building the fabric of the shared universe. The Federation is an essential part of the idealistic future of Star Trek.

However, the most compelling aspect of the United has nothing to do with continuity and history. Instead, it is simply reassuring to see Enterprise embracing the franchise’s utopianism and hope for the future, particularly in the context of January 2004.

Shran, Shran, he's our Andorian...

Shran, Shran, he’s our Andorian…

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Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror #1 – Fragile Glass (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first and second season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

One of the benefits and the curses of tie-in material is the ability to connect the dots – to tie together two parts of continuity separated by time and space, filling in the blanks in some character or plot arc. Often, this feels extraneous at best. In order for the televised stories to work, there must be enough information conveyed effectively to the audience so they can make their own leaps. Trying to plug imaginary and unnecessary holes is seldom satisfying.

On the other hand, there are occasionally gaps that are worth exploring. These are gaps that have been explained on the show, but which are still large enough that creators can fit their own interesting stories between them. The divide between Mirror, Mirror and Crossover is one such gap, as we go from the original Star Trek‘s version of the mirror universe to the very different iteration seen on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Tom DeFalco’s Fragile Glass attempts to sketch in some of the details around this gap. While it’s not entirely satisfying as either a missing link or a story in its own right, it does offer some nice pulpy fun and gets considerable mileage out of the “Spock vs. Kirk” premise.

I am not Spock...

I am not Spock…

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek (2009)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

Star Trek was not in a healthy place at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The last film, Star Trek: Nemesis, had been box office poison – partially due to the terrible script and direction, and partially due to the monumentally stupid decision of opening it during a winter season including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day.

On television, things hadn’t been much brighter. Ratings had been in decline since Star Trek: Voyager hit the air, and Star Trek: Enterprise went through both a re-tool and a creative shift before becoming the first Star Trek television show since the eighties to be cancelled before running a full seven seasons. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan would have to concede that the franchise did not appear to have a bright future at that point in time.

And yet, against all odds and despite all the goodwill the franchise had lost, JJ Abrams and Paramount managed to reinject both an energy and a vitality into the film, producing one of the best blockbusters of the decade.

A commanding Enterprise....

A commanding Enterprise….

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Star Trek Special #2 (DC Comics, 1994) – A Question of Loyalty (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

A Question of Loyalty is essentially a Star Trek character study, comparing and contrasting the two young Vulcan female characters to appear in the film franchise, providing a meeting between Valeris and Saavik, Spock’s two young protegés. The production history of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is interesting, as there were early plans to include Saavik. For a variety of reasons, this didn’t work out and director Nicholas Meyer and his writers decided to cast a new role, Valeris. A Question of Loyalty allows the two characters to come face-to-face, and offers both some character motivation for the under-developed Valeris and a fond farewell for Saavik.

Her ears are tingling...

Her ears are tingling…

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Star Trek – Space Seed (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

Following the commercial success (and lack of critical success) of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Paramount made a conscious decision to side-line Gene Roddenberry. Given that his plans for the sequel involved Spock travelling through time to assassinate Kennedy, we can likely all agree that was probably a good thing. Harve Bennett was tasked with producing the sequel, and took to the task of researching what would become the second Star Trek film. Demonstrating considerable respect for the source material, Bennett locked himself away and screened all three seasons of the show, looking for inspiration.

Apparently he only needed to reach the tail end of the first season, because he had found the basis of his film by the closing credits of Space Seed.

You Khan do it...

You Khan do it…

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