Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Continued Descent Of The Star Trek Franchise: Enterprise Season 2

The Good: Slightly more serialized
The Bad: Continues to gut established Star Trek lore, terrible acting, lousy characters
The Basics: As the NX-01 plods along gutting Star Trek lore, the stale dialogue and lack of originality makes the viewer want to vomit.

It is only a few moments into the second season premiere of Enterprise that the viewer recalls why they detested the first season (reviewed here!) so much; one of the characters begins to speak. From the opening moments of the season premiere to the closing moments of the season finale, Enterprise - The Complete Second Season is a collection of stiff acting that desperately tries to cover the terrible dialogue written for the characters.

Opening where season one left off, the Enterprise NX-01 is essentially captured by the Suliban while Captain Archer is trapped in the future with Daniels and a ruined library. Fortunately, using technology older than Captain Pike's laser pistol, Archer is able to (inexplicably) contact the past and get rescued. Of course the ship gets retaken and the Enterprise continues its witless wanderings through the 22nd century galaxy.

This season is comprised of twenty-six episodes that puts the Enterprise wandering through the Milky Way gutting the canon of Star Trek by having the crew encounter the Romulans (who, to be fair, they never see), the Borg (just plain terrible as far as ideas go), and the Tholians. Throughout the season, a thread is planted with the Klingons who have it out for Archer in the form of Duras, an annoying Klingon bent on killing the Captain. The Duras plot leads to all sorts of situations that undermine the established Star Trek lore, like Captain Archer ending up on the prison asteroid Rura Penthe (see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, reviewed here!).

But even more revealing, season two of Enterprise illustrates fully how dry the writers well is in the Star Trek establishment. Before I explain that, allow me to clarify: there are a LOT of talented writers in the Star Trek franchise and a decent number of individuals who can write a knockout Star Trek episode. The problem here is that the producers are not using them. The writers working on this series are so inbred in their styles and lack of imagination that they have no real new ideas to present. I suppose this should have been obvious by the lower number of crewmembers on Enterprise (Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager both had nine principle characters they rotated through, Enterprise has seven).

Regardless, the writing here is terrible and it is, unfortunately, nothing new for the series or the franchise. "The Breach" tells a story with Dr. Phlox that is remarkably similar to the vastly superior Star Trek: Voyager episode "Jetrel" (reviewed here!) and a later Star Trek: Voyager episode, "Nothing Human." Similarly, the Borg episode, "Regeneration" is just plain terrible, not making a lick of sense following the events of Star Trek: First Contact (reviewed here!) and the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Drone" (reviewed here!).

The executive producers and writers do not seem to care about what they are doing with this series. The show is still called Enterprise this season, as the producers tried to distance themselves - foolishly on one hand, fortunately on the other - from Star Trek. Ultimately, the effect is watching a show and getting the feeling that the writers and producers could not get a show of their own. They lack talent and imagination enough to successfully sell their own show to a network, so they glom on to an established, successful franchise and then do what they want with it.

Enterprise is the co-opting of the Star Trek franchise the way the Religious Right has co-opted Christianity; they bluster along in conflict to the established word, declaring their way is the only way.

Enterprise focuses on seven principle characters and here is how the second season finds them:

Captain Jonathan Archer - Having been returned to his present, Archer continues to be a tool in the Temporal War set in the distant future. He borrows a page from Jim Kirk's book and gets into a season-long feud with the Klingons,

T'Pol - Still running around with intended sex appeal, the Vulcan first officer pouts and is prejudiced against humans while running into faux Vulcan mysticism,

"Trip" Tucker - The Chief Engineer shows up this season and fights, bullies and otherwise lives down to almost every stereotype of a Southerner in his relations to other characters,

Malcolm Reed - The security chief fights off, among other things, the Borg using weapons that shouldn't have any effect. Not bad. Otherwise, he doesn't really grow as a character,

Hoshi Sato - Continues to baffle to viewer with why she's along other than to make the cast more diverse (which is reason enough, I suppose, but character would be better). Occasionally, she translates something and makes herself useful. Otherwise, they just have her freaking out,

Ensign Mayweather - Sit at the helm like a good boy. Good boy. At least they bring his family around for an episode so he has one where they try to do something with his character,

and Dr. Phlox - This reincarnation, or preincarnation, of Neelix is fun to watch but lacks real substance.

I wish to close my review by apologizing to the cast of Enterprise. What I just wrote about your characters could come across as cruel (sorry, especially, to you Anthony Montgomery - that's Mayweather); it's not your fault. You showed up to work each day, you did your job but the characters you were given to portray were flat, stereotypical, dull or otherwise wooden and uninspired. I'm sure you did the best you could.

I don't know who would like Enterprise - The Complete Second Season, but it's not going to be me or any other fan of the Star Trek franchise.

For a more detailed look at the episodes in this season, please visit my reviews of each episode in the set at:
Shockwave, Part 2
Carbon Creek
Dead Stop
A Night In Sickbay
The Seventh
The Communicator
Vanishing Point
Precious Cargo
The Catwalk
Cease Fire
Future Tense
The Crossing
The Breach
First Flight
The Expanse


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2006 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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